Thursday, September 25, 2008

Independence Day - Tenth anniversary celebrations

September 25th, 1998 marked a huge turning point in my life. It was the day I packed my bags and walked away from my first husband. As the song says, at first I was afraid, I was petrified. Shitting concrete blocks more like. I was 29 years old, and had been in an emotionally abusive relationship for more years than I care to admit. The hardest phone call I ever had to make was when I rang my parents and told them I was leaving him. They were nothing but supportive, but it was so horrible having to admit that I had failed in my marriage, especially as this was a first for my family.

I met C (my first husband) when I was 21. I was spending a summer in London as a student. At first he swept me off my feet. I was head over heels in love with this good looking English guy, who seemed equally mad about me. We shared a very loved up Summer, and at the end of it all I went back to Ireland to finish my degree, hell bent on keeping up the relationship long distance. We managed to do this until the following June, with him visiting me in Galway at regular intervals. Looking back, I think the long distance thing added to the whole romantic element of the whole thing. The following June, I left Ireland and moved to the UK to live with my boyfriend. Unfortunately, the UK was in the middle of a crippling recession (this was 1991) and things didn't work out so well for me on the job front. Eighteen months later we moved back to Dublin, where we lived until we broke up six years later. So I went from being a student largely financially dependant on my parents, to being an unemployed graduate largely dependant in every way on my partner. Not a good move.

It took me a long time to get on my feet after college. My confidence took a huge bashing, and unfortunately, our relationship descended into a downward spiral of emotional abuse. I look back now on photos of myself from my twenties and it saddens me. I was a physically attractive woman, but C tried to convince me that I was two stone overweight. I weighed around 10 and a half stone, I am five feet 7 inches tall, and was a UK size 12-14. Hardly a case of obesity, but he constantly made me the butt of his jokes and nasty remarks. Then he wondered why I wasn't willing to do the business in the bedroom every single night of the week. I used to go to bed every night either giving into his coercion or facing a row or a massive sulking session.

I find it hard looking back on it to understand how I just accepted all this. He had whittled away at my self esteem for so long that I actually thought that this was all I deserved. This was as good as life was going to get. So I think that's the reason why I married him. He didn't want a church wedding, so we went for a very low key registry office do with ten friends present, and only one family member, my sister. He kept saying he didn't want it to be in any way like a traditional wedding. He nearly threw a wobbler when I insisted in having a bridal bouquet. I think he was just in denial that we were getting married.

Within less than two years of us tying the knot, he started the affair that was to be the straw that broke the camel's back. Coming up to our second wedding anniversary, he started to suffer from anxiety attacks. I was worried sick about him, and thought it was all to do with him being in a new job, and not being happy with his career. I had started studying accountancy just after we got married, and I promised him I would support him through any career change he wanted to try. I tried to be there for him as much as I could. He started attending a psychotherapist for counselling, and I was gobsmacked when he came home and told me that all he had discussed was our marriage. After a few sessions, he suggested that I move out and we take a year off from our marriage. I know, you're thinking WTF? But he was such a manipulative little shit, he made it all sound plausible. The plan was that I would move out (but of course it would be me doing the moving, wouldn't want him to suffer any more upheaval, poor pet) and find a new place to live, whilst he sorted his head out, with a view to us getting back together at some stage in the future. Again WTF?

I eventually grew a spine and decided to dig my heels in and give him an ultimatum. So I told him I either left and our marriage was over for good, or we got our sorry asses into marriage counselling. So this week ten years ago, that's exactly what we did. I had had a very strong suspicion for a number of months that a certain friendship that he was passing off as platonic was more than that. After that first session I confronted him with it, and he admitted it. I can still picture him as plain as day sitting in the armchair, fiddling with his tie, his eyes not meeting mine as he confirmed my worst suspicions. My first emotion was relief, believe it or not. I was right all along, and not going mad and paranoid, as he had made me feel. My next question was "Are you going to end it?", to which he replied "I don't know if I can, I'm afraid she'll go back to being bulimic". I think I actually threw a punch at him at that point.

Anyway, the following night I told him I was leaving. It was the bravest and one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. A friend of mine took me in and looked after me until I found a place to live. They say that some of the most stressful things in life are marriage breakup, moving house and changing job. I managed to combine all three in the space of ten days. I had just started in a new job when the shit hit the fan on the homefront. It felt like I was living in a nightmare. I would lie awake for hours on end in the middle of the night, willing morning to come. Other times when I did get to sleep, the nightmares were so bad I would wake up crying hysterically. Like Nick Hornby said in "High Fidelity", when you are going through a breakup, the lyrics of every song you hear take on significance. The friend I was staying with was into particularly cheesey country music, and I remember the lyrics of one song she used to play in her car, which totally summed it up for me. "I loved you to the limits of my self respect, now I'm leaving with what's left".

The final nail in the coffin came two months later. C phoned me up and asked to meet me for some reason or another. The real reason he wanted to meet was to share the happy news that he was going to be a father. Yes, the stupid bollocks had not even bothered to use protection when he was knobbing his 22 year old mistress in our car. At that stage, I had met the man I am now married to, and I knew that this was the end, I was moving on. I told him that I wanted to initiate separation proceedings, but he told me he wasn't emotionally ready. He had got somebody else up the duff, but he wasn't emotionally ready to get our legal affairs in place. What a tosser.

Family law in Ireland states that a couple have to be living apart four years before divorce proceedings can be initiated. That makes for four unbelievably stressful years if your marriage breakup in an acrimonious one, which ours was. The following summer I contacted my solicitor and got the wheels in motion for legal separation proceedings. By this stage, C had moved house, and refused to disclose his new address. This meant that I had to hire a legal agent to serve court papers at his workplace. In the end, after much stress and sleepless nights, it took over three years to get him to court. He insisted that I owed him money for a car I never even drove, and he listed my engagement ring among the inventory of items I had taken from the marital home.

Standing up on the witness stand and answering questions on the downfall of my marriage was one of the most stressful situations I have ever been in in my entire life. I would have sat my accountancy finals ten times over before I would have gone through that. However, my barrister tore shreds off C and the judge kicked his ass out of court and called him petty. The feeling of a weight lifted off my shoulders was immense. The following year, I initiated divorce proceedings, representing myself in court. I went out an bought a red coat and killer bitch heels. I still refer to that coat as my divorce coat. I had my hair and nails done especially for the occasion. He turned up looking very sheepish. Another quirk of Irish family law is that all divorce cases must be heard in court, and the judge is legally obliged to ask is there any reasonable prospect of a reconciliation between the parties. Well if there was you would hardly have made it as far as the courts, would you? When the judge asked me this, I nearly laughed out loud. C looked as though I had made him feel about an inch tall. The divorce itself cost me the princely sum of €20, but the feeling of satisfaction walking out of that court was priceless.

I often think of the last ten years, and I thank God that I walked when I did. I could have spent ten more years living in misery. What I missed out on in my twenties, I more than made up for in my thirties. I finished my exams and qualified as an accountant, I learned to drive, I furthered my career, went backpacking around Australia alone, bought my own home and married a wonderful man. If someone had handed me a crystal ball this time ten years ago, I would not have believed it. I just wish the Gods would smile on me that little bit more, and send us a baby.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Back from hols

God it feels like I haven't blogged in an age, but here I am back to the grind once more. We had a lovely time in the UK, and miracle of miracles, it didn't rain while we were there! Well I tell a lie, it was raining on the Friday night when we arrived, but after that it was sunshine all the way.

We arrived in Bristol on Friday evening, and there was a taxi waiting for us, arranged by wonderful sis in law. It was dark by the time we arrived at their house in the Cotswolds, but next morning this was the view from our bedroom window. Sis in law and her husband bought their current house earlier this year, and ever since have had builders totally renovating in. The result was quite jaw dropping. The kind of house I would fantasise about buying if I won a very large lotto jackpot. Our hosts were overseas when we arrived, and didn't get back until a week later, so we were left a door key and instructions to make ourselves at home, which we wasted no time in doing.

On the Monday, we set off for Leicestershire in our hosts' car (a great big fuck off 3.2L Audi). Yes, as well as leaving us their house keys, they left us their car keys too (with John on the insurance of course!). Did I mention that they're my favourite in laws? We rocked up to our friends in Market Harborough, one of these quintessentially pretty rural English towns on Monday afternoon. These are friends of ours with whom I used to work, in fact at one point all four of us worked in the same place. So on Tuesday, the girlies went off to Birmingham for a days shopping while the boys went off to do Engineer type pursuits, visiting an air force base aviation museum. We rounded the evening off with the usual British tradition, a trip to the local curry house and a feed of lager.

The following day we headed back for base, calling into some of my relatives along the way for a cuppa and a quick catch up. Thursday was the only full day we actually had to ourselves. We took off up the motorway yet again and spent the day pottering around Cheltenham. On Friday, another lovely sunny day, our hosts returned and we fired up the barbie.

John and I had prepared a butterflied leg of lamb, marinated with anchovy paste, rosemary, garlic and olive oil. Slapped it on the bbq and yummmmmmm...... We sat out in the evening sun, with a nice few bottles of wine and watched one of many amazing sunsets over the Cotswold hills.

The following day the weather was again fantastic, and we set off for a walk on the nearby heath, which after much dodging of cow shite, ended in a very civilised al fresco (slightly boozy!)lunch at a country pub. This really is my idea of living. Sunday was the last day of our holiday, and sis in law and husband had some friends arrive at lunchtime. The weather was actually hot, and we had to wear suncream and hats out doors. Once again the bbq was fired up in style. This time, a large rib of beef, which had originally been earmarked as a Sunday roast, was sliced up like large steaks and barbequed. Then the ten year old bottles of red started coming out. Alas, our taxi came to collect us at 4pm for our evening flight, so needless to say I snoozed in the back of the cab all the way to Bristol.

We got back home around 8.30, to our neighbour worrying that he had failed us in his cat sitting duties. Lizzie the little madam (ie our female cat) had been AWOL for the previous 24 hours. While we know this is not unusual behaviour for cats, it's unusual for our two, but once we switched on the lights and called her a few times she and her brother came running in. Queue a lot of cuddling, nuzzling and purring (and that was just the humans!). Home sweet home!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Results are in

Just got off the phone from my teacher, and the blood results were as follows for this month:
*drum roll*
Progesterone 55
Oestradiol 366

So not too bad really, considering it was my lap cycle. She also had a look at my hospital chart, and told me that I had had a considerable amount of adhesions on my left ovary, which would have adversely affected ovulation. So hopefully I'll start hatching good 'uns from now on.

I had a long chat on the phone the weekend before last with someone who has been through the same programme of treatment as me and came out the other side with two daughters, while managing to keep her sanity in one piece. I saught her out mainly to hear a positive story, but what I took away from the conversation was so much more. It was great to talk to someone who had been through the same old ding dong month in and month out (no pun intended) as we have been going through. The knicker watching, the charting, the blood tests, the injections, the clomid, the mood swings, the sheer all consuming bleakness of the whole thing. Her philosophy was that you have to take a mental step back from it all, otherwise your sanity and your relationship will suffer. So she advised me to plan as many nice events as I can in the next few months. Go on weekends away, catch up with friends, go out to dinner, do the things we used to do before we started with all this madness.

So on that note, we are off to the UK on Friday for nine days or so. We're going to be based mainly in the Cotswolds, where John's sister has a house, but we are also going to catch up with some friends who have moved to Leicester in recent months. I also plan to pop into some relatives on my side along the way. I must say, I'm looking forward to the break. I really hope the weather over there is better than here. My poor weather pixie has been stuck under that umbrella non stop for the past week.

We have also decided to do something about booking a big f**k off holiday for my 40th. Depending on how funds are, we might go to the USA, or we might avail of yet more hospitality from my wonderful sis in law, and get our asses on a flight to Dubai. Sis in law was telling me that it's a relatively short hop from there to the Maldives......very tempting. And if I did get knocked up in the meantime and wasn't feeling up to travelling, we could cancel and get a medical letter to claim a refund. Either way, I'm not going to go into a corner and mope goddammit! 40 is worth celebrating and I'm going to put on my little black dress and party! And if I do get up the Ballyjames between now and then, I'll buy a very glamourous maternity outfit. How's that for positivity?

Sunday, September 7, 2008


I was thinking the other day, as I face yet another monthly blood test, of my stats since we started on this long ttc journey.

So here's what I have counted so far:

Number of months since we started trying to conceive: 28
Number of BFPs: 4
Number of losses: 4
Number of ERPCs (D&C's): 2
Number of blood tests: 18 approx
Number of dildo cam scans: 17
Number of laparoscopies & hysteroscopies: 1 of each
Number of general anaesthetics: 3
Number of hcg injections: 30 (2 more to go this month)
Number of clomid cycles: 2
Number of Euro spent on all of the above: 2,600 + approx
Number of successful pregnancies: Nil
Age at next birthday: 40

And they tell me to relax and try not to dwell on it?

Edited to revise upwards no of dildo cam scans and amount of money spent.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Back to the grind

My good buddy Xbox emailed me today to check in on me since I have been very quiet in blogland of late. The reason I have not been online is that I am actually doing a little to earn my salary these past few days, rather than using company time to surf the net and indulge in a little blogging - tsk tsk. Anyway, being a sort of accountant, I have been up to my proverbials in month end. It's a bit like your period. Happens once a month, is a total pain in the arse, and leaves me tired and crabby. Couple that with the fact that the powers that be installed a new in-house banking system while I was out sick, and my daily reports are not pulling all the correct figures, so there's enough going on to keep me out of mischief for a while. But I'm nearly there with it now.

I'm still feeling quite tired and sometimes sore after the lap. The scar on the left hand side of my belly has been itching and throbbing, so either that's a good sign that it's healing, or I am a girl wizard and Lord Voldemort is up to his old tricks again. I like to go with the latter theory, it's far more interesting. I did manage to install a weather pixie thingymadoodaa in the last couple of days. That long haired goth lady under the umbrella standing in the perpetual pisses of rain in the vicinity of Shannon Airport is in fact me. Or what I might look like if I lost two stone and regressed to my college days Curehead image. That was obviously long before I lost all street cred and decided to become an accountant.

I have made the decision to try and take a mental step back from the stress of the treatment I have been on. It's not an easy thing to do, but I was beginning to drive my poor husband insane, as it was becoming my sole topic of conversation, and it was beginning to bug him bigtime. Can't say as I blame him really, I have been a miserable bat this past few weeks, there's no denying it. So we have made a new covenant, as they say, to try and bring back a bit of joy and fun into our lives. I will post more about that anon, right now I am off to bed with a lemsip and a hot water bottle, as I feel a cold coming on. So no action chez J n' J tonight.