Thursday, December 24, 2009

I'm dreaming of a not so shite Christmas

I have been extremely crap when it comes to blogging, answering comments and leaving comments on other peoples' blogs lately, so you will have to forgive me. Recovering from pregnancy loss in the run up to Christmas ain't easy. Although the whole process of having to go through the motions of getting ready for the festive season is a bit of a distraction, I still feel fairly crap about it all. But I would do anything to distract from cleaning my house right now, so I thought I might as well come on here and blog.

So, the year that was 2009:

January - Rang in the new year full of optimism. I believe my phrase was "this has to be our year". Never going to say that again

February - Still not pregnant, but not trying again all that long, so have to be patient.

March - Am told I am going to be made redundant in May. Go on holidays to UK for a week, try SMEP, doesn't work. All that drunken sex for nothing. How bad.

April - This month marks the three year anniversary of us starting to try to conceive. John turns 43. We celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary. Not pregnant.

May - Finish up at work. I turn 40 at the end of the month and have a big party.

June - Ten days holiday in Northern Italy. Fab time. Weather in Ireland turns Mediterranean.

July - Post holiday false alarm on the pregnancy front. Shit.

August - In typical Irish summer fashion, the weather has gone to crap and it is lashing rain every day. I do my first job interview in five years. The role ends up being filled internally, but am told I interviewed well. Considering I was strung out on mood altering fertility drugs at the time, I'm taking that as a good thing. Begin counselling to try and get our heads around where we are going on the baby making front.

September - Weather picks up. I decide to come off clomid after over a year of consecutive cycles on the Satan sweets.

October - Feeling better for being off clomid. Not pregnant though.

November - Another job interview. Again am told that I didn't get the job but interviewed well. John gets struck down with man flu. I take advantage of his weakened state and jump his bones. Results in me getting pregnant. Afraid to hope, but I still feel more relaxed about this pregnancy than any other before.

December - After a week of on and off abdominal pain, I go into maternity hospital for emergency scan at six weeks gestation. Diagnosed with ectopic pregnancy and have surgery. Fifth pregnancy loss and fourth round of surgery since we started ttc. Blurgh.

So that's the year in review. Wishing you all as peaceful and relaxing Christmas as possible, here's to the new decade. And I'm not going to stick my neck out and say this will be our year. Maybe it will, maybe it won't.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ghosts of Christmases past

The grief of pregnancy loss can be devastating any time of the year, but it is particularly amplified at Christmas. Christmas is a time for families, particularly those of young children. A number of times this week on various fora I have read the comment "Christmas is really all about the children in your life". Well the only children in our life are our nieces and nephews, whom we don't get to see all that often, and whom we won't be spending Christmas with. So if you have no kids near you, who is it all about?

This year I am opting out of Christmas as much as I can. I have spent the last three Christmases putting on a brave face, cooking dinner and entertaining parents or in laws. Three years ago we were reeling from the loss of our first baby, the following year we had chalked up three more pregnancy losses, one of which had an unfulfilled due date of December 21st, and last year my period arrived on Christmas Eve. Spectacular timing. This year, I can't quite believe that we have once again been side swiped by the bereavement that is pregnancy loss.

So this year, as far as Christmas is concerned, enough is enough. The in laws are going to John's brother's house and we are having Christmas day to ourselves. Us and the cats and nobody else. I have decided not to send Christmas cards. I don't know if it is etiquette elsewhere in the world, but in Ireland in the Christmas following a family bereavement one is not expected to send Christmas cards. So I'm opting out. And I'm hoping any family and friends with babies will think before they address the obligitary cutesy baby photo card to us.

I have done almost all of my gift buying over the internet. A little voice in my head told me two weeks ago to do this just in case things went wrong and I couldn't face the shops nearer the time. Well yay for pessimism, the negative thinking fairy got it in one. Because I'm not at work at the moment I haven't had to listen to the non stop Santa talk from my work colleagues. And I've had no work parties to attend. So really the only things I have done towards Christmas so far are a little internet shopping and the baking of a Christmas cake for my mother in law. Tonight we are putting up the tree, and apart from a bit of gift wrapping, that will be it from me.

Christmas has never felt so surreal. It's like it has been cancelled but the rest of the world haven't copped on to the fact yet.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Neighbours.......everybody needs good neighbours

I'm still gobsmacked at an exchange between us and our neighbour six doors down on Monday night. A bit of background first of all. We've been living in the same cul de sac for almost four years now. Our neighbours own a large boxer dog. Their gate at the side of their house is not high enough to contain the dog, and she regularly jumps over it and gets out to run around the estate. Loose dogs running around is a bugbear of mine, particularly when you have to pick your steps over the dog shit when you are trying to get out for a walk. As well as that, the dog has ran in front of my car and twice nearly caused me to crash. We have said it to them a number of times that the dog is running around loose, and asked them to keep her in.

The first few times it happened I went around there with the approach "you might not have realised, but your dog has gotten out of your garden". In other words, politely and softly softly saying "keep your dog in your garden". We are not the only ones who have an issue with her. Our next door neighbour has a young son and they used to be afraid to walk by the house when the dog was out because she is so big. The last time she ran in front of my car, early in September, I knocked on their door and gave the neighbour an earful. Her attitude was very much "Ah sure what can I do, my husband isn't home and he's the only one who can get her in". I told her I nearly crashed my car because of the dog, and if she wasn't careful somebody is going to get hurt one of these days.

Anyway the other night John was calling the cats in. We always make sure to get them into the house around nightfall, partly for their own safety and partly because we are mindful that our neighbours do not need to be kept awake by cats yowling all night. When you live in close proximity to your neighbours and you keep pets you have to show some consideration for people around you. Anyway Tigger comes running up the driveway when John calls him, and out of nowhere the neighbour's boxer dog comes running behind him and makes a lunge for him (Tigger that is, not John). Given what we had been through in the past week, John was in overprotective mode. After giving the dog a swift boot up the arse, he went down and knocked on their owners' door and gave them an earful. They said the dog had only just got out that minute, and they basically got very thick with John over it so he walked away.

Five minutes later there came a knock on our door and I went out to answer it. It was the neighbour. This was the exchange.

Neighbour "Did your husband just come knocking on our door"
Me "Yes, your dog was out again and he attacked our cat"
Neighbour "What do you expect, that's what dogs and cats do"
Me "But it's illegal to let your dog run around loose"
Neighbour "We didn't let her out, she got out on her own. She had only just gotten out"
Me "Well she is out running around the whole time" (she is out very regularly)
Neighbour (shouting loudly) "No she's not, this is the first time this has happened since you said it to me last" (absolute horseshit)
Me "Bullshit, I have seen her out loads of times since"
Neighbour "No you have not, she has not been out"
Me (blood pressure sky high at this point and totally losing it) "Look we have just lost a baby and we don't need this kind of stress right now"
Neighbour "Well you shouldn't have come knocking on our door then" and she storms off.

Fucking bitch. I won't be braking the next time the dog runs in front of my car.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Once more through the mill

There's something about the combination of pregnancy and Christmas that always seems to conspire to bite us in the arse, and I was really hoping that wouldn't prove to be the case this time around. Unfortunately, it was not meant to turn out that way.

Events took a dramatic turn on Tuesday morning. I had been suffering with abdominal pain and cramping for a few days, along with a small amount of bleeding the previous week. The pain seemed to be getting worse on Monday, and I was not due to go in to the hospital for a scan until December 16th. I went for my weekly blood test on Tuesday morning, and on my napro nurse's advice I phoned the hospital to request an emergency scan. At this point I have to say a big thank you to my bloggy buddy Fran for raising my awareness of the potential danger of ectopic pregnancy.

So off we went into Limerick, and no pregnancy sac could be located in the uterine cavity. They did however see something measuring 2 cm in the vicinity of my left ovary, pretty much indicating an ectopic pregnancy. I was given some battering by the dildo cam which left me in quite a lot of pain on my left side, and if that wasn't enough violation for one morning, the registrar then came along and gave me another internal. Next time I am definitely coming back as a man. Shortly afterwards I was given a shot of pethadene for the pain, which did sweet FA really, and I was dispatched by ambulance to the regional hospital.

Luckily a private room came free just as I arrived, and our health insurance was adequate to cover it. On Wednesday afternoon I was operated on, and sure enough there was an ectopic pregnancy on my left tube. They managed to save the tube, but only on our insistance. The fact that we really had to stand our ground over this issue we both found quite upsetting, but they respected our wishes in the end and did everything they could to save it. It means that I run a risk of 10% of having the same issue recur again in the same tube, but the thoughts of risking losing one tube now and possibly the other one sometime down the line if God forbid it happened on the other side was too much to contemplate for us. The medics' response to this dilemma seemed a little cavalier for our liking at first, we were told "well you always have the option of IVF if you should lose both tubes". Cause it's just that easy, right?

I had pretty excruciating referred pain under my ribs and in my neck and shoulders after the surgery, which was laparoscopic, so I needed pretty heavy pain relief in order to breath, which was quite frightening. So Wednesday night's sleep was very much broken. Yesterday my belly was bloated up like a balloon, so they wrote me up for peppermint oil capsules. I don't know if this had a direct knock on effect, but I ended up with a severe case of the squirts. Like up to the toilet 8 times last night. Yuck.

Anyway they let me out this morning with a prescription for strong painkillers and antibiotics if needed. I'm still kind on in shock about the whole thing. I think it will take a while for the reality of the last few days to sink in. I was really hoping and praying that life would not be so cruel to us this time, but I'm afraid that's the way it goes sometimes. Shitty things happen to nice people and there's not a lot any of us can do about it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Second beta results in

20 DPO beta hcg = 564.

As good as can be expected. And I'm feeling knackered, also a good sign. Will blog again later when I have more energy.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Deja Vu

Last night I started to feel abdominal pain. I thought it felt like cystitis, thinking it might be (TMI alert) a reaction to the scented panty liners I had been using, since I am on twice daily pessaries of cyclogest. So I sent John down to the shop for some cranberry juice, and tried to put it out of my head.

When I went to the toilet just before I went to bed, there it was. Blood. Not much more than spotting, but definitely there, and dark red. Here we go again. This has been par for the course in all my pregnancies so far, so I suppose I should have been expecting it to kick off between weeks 5 and 6.

There's not whole pile we can do for the moment but just wait it out and see. I'm going for another blood test tonight, and after that I am going to start on hcg injections. I'm not sure that they will be of any benefit, but they certainly won't do any harm. There is no point in going to hospital for a scan at this stage, as they most likely won't see anything at the five week mark, and not being able to see anything will only leave me more upset. I'm still seeing light brown spotting today, so I think if this doesn't settle down in the next week, I will call the hospital if I get as far as six weeks.

Well I suppose I was right not to get too excited. But I really wish I could just have in incident free pregnancy for once.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

So far, so good

I've spent the last few days peeing on sticks, comparing the darkness of second lines and all the usual neurotic shit that pregnant women with a history of miscarriage go on with. I had my first blood test to check progesterone, oestradiol and beta hcg on Wednesday, and the levels were all as good as can be expected at this stage. HCG was 49, but given that was 15 dpo, that is ok. Of course when I got the results, I immediately started googling "hcg levels 15 dpo". Anyway it's all good so far.

I'm going to continue going to my wonderful Napro nurse for weekly blood tests for the next few weeks, so she is more or less taking on my care for the first trimester. It gives me a great feeling of reassurance to have my hormone levels checked on a weekly basis. I felt brave enough the other day to put my name down for an early ultrasound, so I called the Early Pregnancy Unit in Limerick maternity hospital. So December the 16th I will have my first ultrasound. If I am still pregnant by then, I should be 8 weeks along. Part of me is thinking all sorts of negative thoughts. Like what if they diagnose a missed miscarriage then and they take me in for another D&C a few days before Christmas. My sister calls this kind of thought process meeting trouble half way, so I am trying not to think like this.

The other half of my brain is already working out due dates, churning possible names around in my head, and wondering if it's a boy or a girl. For some reason we both think boy this time. Oh well, I suppose we have a 50/50 chance of being correct. I am really trying not to indulge in these kind of thoughts too. I just don't want to make too much emotional investment in this and then have my world come crashing down around me again.

The wonderful thing about not being back at work these days is that I can hide away from the world and rest whenever I feel like it. So there's no trying to stay awake at my desk or answer queries from head office when all I want to do is go home and sleep. If I'm tired, I can just rest up on demand. So there's something to be said for unemployment after all.

Yesterday I took another digital clear blue test and it came up "pregnant 2-3 weeks", so that gave me more reassurance that my hcg levels must be rising to some extent. My next beta is on Tuesday, so I'm keeping everything crossed until then. The a la carte crisis Catholic in me is even lighting candles. I will keep you posted on results.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Conceived in man flu

After thirteen cycles of clomid and (I think!) fifteen on pregnyl injections with nothing to show for it but non stop mood swings, exhaustion and hot flushes, I finally kicked the fertility drug habit two months ago. I had had enough. Physically and emotionally I just had to get off the hamster wheel.

Two weeks ago, John was home sick with man flu. He was making noises about swine flu, but given that he was still getting out of bed and faffing about the house, he wasn't getting a huge amount of sympathy from me. Cups of tea and dinners, yes, sympathy, no. Heartless bitch of a wife that I am. So when I got a smiley face on an OPK, I jumped his flu ridden bones. A woman's got to do what a woman's got to do.

This month marked our twelfth month trying on this stint of the ttc journey. That's not to say we have been at this lark for a only year. We first started humping and hoping way back in the spring of 2006. So imagine my gobsmackedness when I got this result this afternoon.

Believe it or not, ladies and gentlemen. Conceived in man flu and without the aid of fertility drugs. I'm still pinching myself.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

That time of the year again

I ventured as far as Cork at the weekend, to visit one of my long term friends. We went to Uni together, way back in the late 80's, so we've seen each other through many of life's ups and downs in the past 22 years. (Yes we were both child geniuses who gained entry to a B.Sc. course at the age of eight. I wish.) She has just broken up with her boyfriend of the past 18 months, so I was on a cheer my friend up mission. We went out for dinner, drinks and dancing which was nice, it's a while since we have caught up and done that.

On Saturday we headed into the city centre for a spot of retail therapy. And there it was in every shop we entered. Christmas stuff. Arghhhhh! I mean come on lads, I've only just finished gorging myself on the mini chocolate bar multi packs bought for the trick or treaters who never showed up. It's the first week of November for the love of Jehovah. Can't we have a couple more weeks grace before all this shite kicks in?

As we drove out towards my friend's house, she sighed "Another Christmas being single.....it's crap". I agreed with her that I'm not all that keen on the festive season either. She asked why, and I explained that the lack of customers for Santa tends to get to me a bit. It hadn't occured to her. I suppose to a long term single person of our age, being happily married is the recipe for contentment in life. It made me realise that it could be a hell of a lot worse. I could still be married to old Bollicky Head (an affectionate term for my ex husband) and be as miserable as sin, or I might never have met anyone since I left him eleven years ago. I know someone my age who this year was widowed after three years of marriage, six months after her husband was diagnosed with cancer. I can't begin to imagine what Christmas will be like for her this year.

So while we might not have that nuclear family chocolate box dream of Christmas to look forward to this year, we still have each other, we have our health, we have our home. And feck it, Santa still comes to our house. He brought John a top of the range digital Scalextric set the first year we were married. Mind you, he's been having a bit of trouble equalling that one ever since. He aimed a bit too high in the first year I think. It's great fun watching the cats in the middle of it though!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Speaking of me kittehs....

I used to think that teeny tiny kittens had the monopoly on fluffy cuteness until our two grew up. Here's some seriously cute kitteh video footage. Warning: this contains some disturbingly incestuous tongue action between two litter mates.

video

Friday, October 23, 2009

The ice breaker

When we moved five years ago to the town we currently live in, we knew nobody here. I had never lived in a small town before. I grew up in the country, where everyone seems to be a distant cousin of their neighbour and the postman knows what you had for breakfast. From there I moved on to university life in Galway, a small city in the West of Ireland. College life is the easiest time to make friends because everyone is up for partying and meeting new people.

After that I lived in the UK for a short stint, on the outskirts of London, and from there I moved to Dublin. Dublin is an easy place for a country person (or culchie, as the Dubs like to call us) to make friends, as there are enclaves in Dublin, mainly around the Dublin 6 area, inhabited by culchies in their twenties and early thirties. Working in any large organisation in Dublin, you will easily make more friends from outside of Dublin than Dubs. It's a sense of all being in the same boat which fosters a certain cameraderie.

So it was a bit of a culture shock to say the least, when I moved down the the arse end of Tipperary, to a town with a population of around 7,500. Work colleagues my age were people local to the area, who had never really lived anywhere too far from home, so they had their own lives, family units and social circles well established, and had no interest in meeting new people. My sister had moved to a town outside of Dublin in the mid 90s, and she always said what broke the ice for her was her kids. She struck up friendships with women at mother and toddler groups, or even just striking up conversations with other pram pushing Mammys when she went out for a walk. Once her girls started school, she made new friends at the school gates. So all in all, when you move to a new town, kids are the ultimate ice breaker.

So what happens when the kids just don't come along and you're living in a small town? Well we were lucky enough to meet a younger crowd of people through my work. Mainly professionals in their mid twenties to early thirties, these people were blow ins just like us. Unfortunately, now that the plant has downsized hugely, most of these people have moved on, and we are getting back to square one. I often go out for a walk during the day, and I notice how the women with babies and toddlers in buggies tend to stop and talk to each other. I often wonder will I ever be part of that.

One day when the sun was shining last week, I pulled on my runners and set off to walk the three mile round path that starts at the end of our estate. I had borrowed a cat carrier from my vet a few days previously when I was bringing the fur babies in to get microchipped. Since the vet's surgery is only a ten minute walk away and it was on my route, I grabbed the cat carrier on my way out the door since I was going to be passing the way. As usual, I met a few mothers and babies along the way, and I just smiled and nodded hello at them.

Then as I walked along, a lady came up to me and the following conversation ensued:
"Ah, are you bringing your cat to the vet?".
"No, just returning a carrier I borrowed to bring them the other day".
"Are they ok now?"
"No, they weren't sick, I just took them in to get chipped"
"I'm up and down to the vet the whole time with my two, they're getting very old. How many have you?"
"I have two, but they're only four, so they're fairly healthy apart from the odd eye infection or war wounds"
"I don't know what I'll do when mine are gone, you get so used to them around the house don't you?"
"I know, I dread the thoughts of anything happening them, you just get so attached"
"Ah sure they'll be fine, they're only young yet"

And with that, we went our seperate ways, me with a smile on my face. So you see, kids aren't the only icebreakers.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

International pregnancy and infant loss awareness day


DEAR PARENTS

I did not die young
I lived my span of life,
Within your body
And within your love.

There are many
Who have lived long lives
And have not been loved as me.

If you would honor me
Then speak my name
And number me among your family.

If you would honor me.
Then strive to live in love
For in that love, I live.

Never ever doubt
That we will meet again.

Until that happy day,
I will grow with God
And wait for you.

by Christy Kenneally

Monday, October 12, 2009

Why don't you just.....?

This is a topic that had been done to death on message boards and infertility blogs, but it's a bugbear of mine these days, since many people have thrown this question at me.

Why don't you just adopt?

Or, the more sensitive version, have you considered adoption as a possibility?

The more sensitive version I can answer in a calm manner, and I usually get a reasonable response. So I say "no, it's not where we are at for the moment" or "no, we've talked about it and just don't think it's for us". To which the enquirer usually says, "fair enough, it's not for everyone". End of discussion.

On the other hand the "why don't you *just* adopt?" people really rub me up the wrong way. When I give the same response as above, they usually look at me aghast, and ask in wide eyed terms "why ever not?". Recently someone (a mother herself) said this to me, followed by "but those Chinese babies are just soooo cute, I'd love one". To which I replied "Well if you're so keen on them yourself, away with you to China".

It's the word *just* that really gets on my wick. It's not as if there's a special on babies and children at your local Tesco this week. What gets me is that people who have never been faced with involuntary childlessness have no idea what the adoption process is like in this country. A work colleague of mine who was going down the adoption route gave me a brief overview a while back. Basically, in Ireland, domestic adoption is almost unheard of these days. Nobody, or very few, are giving newborns up for adoption. There might be two or three babies a year who come up for adoption, but as the waiting list of couples is several hundred names long, the chances are between slim and nil. As for adopting older children, this doesn't really happen in Ireland either. Social services are reluctant to take children away from the family unit on a permanent basis. So while there may be a large number of children and teens in foster care, these children rarely become available for adoption.

So the only other option is overseas adoption. I don't know a huge amount about this, having never gone down that road, but I do know that it takes a very long time between initiating the process and bringing your new son or daughter home. At least five to six years on average. So if we were to start the process now, we would be in our mid to late forties before we could expect to become parents. Up until recently, a large amount of overseas adoptions were from Vietnam. From what I can gather from internet boards, Vietnam is now closed to prospective adoptions by Irish couples due to international laws.

From what I have read on parenting message boards, it's a very emotionally fraught process, and not an inexpensive one. Also, when you live in a rural location which is not particularly multi cultural, as we eventually will, you are facing a whole other set of issues. I read a thread on one site the other day where a mother was asking others in the same situation how do you deal with instrusive remarks and questions. She said someone came up to her in a supermarket when she was with her adopted Chinese daughter, and asked her straight out how much she paid for her. Enough said.

The other thing that really irks me is when infertility and associated treatments come up as a topic of discussion on mainstream internet sites. Invariably someone will wade in with a comment along the lines that why do these infertiles think they are so special that they have to have children with their own DNA? And that IVF should be banned until all the orphans and abandoned children in the world are adopted. And that the world's population is far too large as it is without bringing more people into it. I shy away from getting into these arguments, as they have a tendancy to raise my blood pressure, but I always wonder about the people who make these comments. Have they children of their own? Are they biological or adopted? Or if they haven't yet gone down the road of starting a family, are they going to consider adoption as their first option in family building rather than trying to conceive a biological child? After all, our planet is over populated, why leave it to the infertiles to pick up the slack? Let's ban natural conception until all orphans and abandoned children have been adopted!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

From the archives


The only baby photo of me that I know of, taken when I was over a year old.


Deep in conversation with my faithful friend Scottie the sheepdog, age 3 (me age 3, not Scottie!)

School portrait photo, age 4 or so (wasn't I a lil cutie?)

Incidentally, me age 36. I really must change my hairstyle one of these decades.



Friday, October 9, 2009

Lapped again

This weekend three years ago we went to a wedding of friends of ours in France. We conceived for the first time on that weekend away, but lost our baby at just over seven weeks. The newly married couple had their first baby just a few days shy of their first wedding anniversary. I've followed her progress on Facebook for the past two years. She's an absolute cutey, with big brown eyes just like her Dad.

This week I noticed a new photo on her Dad's profile. It was the birth tag from the hospital announcing the details of their new baby daughter. We didn't even know they were expecting again. I logged onto Facebook just now, and there are two new albums. One for Julie's second birthday and one for newborn Marie.

And here we still are, standing still while all around us friends' lives move on. I need a stiff drink.

Monday, October 5, 2009

It's simple, black puddings.

Those of you on the other side of the Atlantic might not be aware that Ireland voted yes to ratify the Lisbon Treaty last Friday. In the run up to the referendum, the Vote No side were mounting a campaign based on ever increasingly nonsensical slogans. Some genius in I think Trinity College Dublin developed this little gem, the Vote No poster generator. Just click on the "Click here, receive poster" line for some excellent reasons to vote no to Lisbon. Pure comedy gold!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Headin' Wesht

We seem to be constantly on the road these days attending family birthday celebrations. It was Dublin two weeks ago, Cork last weekend and this weekend we are heading to Mayo for my nephew's 21st party. My parents' and my brother's house are already booked out with visitors/party goers, so I decided to treat ourselves and book into the new hotel in the town where the party is being held.

It just so happens that I will probably be ovulating within the next 24-36 hours. So if I do get preggers this month (which I seriously doubt, but sure you never know your luck), and we were to take a leaf out of the Beckhams' book and name our first born after the place s/he was conceived, then we would to saying hello to little baby Kiltimagh in nine months time. Nice ring to it, don't you think?

As it so happens, Kiltimagh's most famous son is music mogul and X Factor judge Louis Walsh. My nephew (the birthday boy) plays in a band with his nephews. These guys are in no way your usual musical fodder of the Louis Walsh stable. No crooning poof boy band stuff for these dudes. It's more Dad Rock for them, Led Zep, Hendrix, Doors, with a bit of Arctic Monkeys and Talking Heads thrown in. I'm rather proud of them really. So let's hope when they're headlining in Slane in ten years' time, they remember all their ould Aunties and Uncles.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Better things

This time of the year I always get a little sad recalling unhappy memories of the breakup of my first marriage. This song always reminds me of that time.

And better things certainly did come my way.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

18 and counting

My sister and I were talking last week about the Dugger family's impending 19th child. Apparantly my eleven year old niece's comment on the topic was "I think they need to get a hobby". To which her mum replied "I think they already have one, honey".

Sunday, September 27, 2009

21

My oldest nephew turned twenty one today. Boy, that makes me feel old. It seems like no length of time since I used to bounce him on my knee and change his nappies. No doubt that would be a very disturbing thought to remind him of. At this stage, if we do eventually have children, there will be a bigger age gap between David, my oldest nephew, and our kids than there is between him and me. So I will be relying on him to lead them astray at a young age and buy them pints when they are penniless students.

John's youngest niece turned one year old last week. We went down to Cork to visit her last night. She is just adorable. She definitely looks like her Daddy's side of the family, with big brown eyes and the cutest little smile. Whenever I see her it just makes me imagine what our little one might have looked like, as she could easily pass for being John's little girl. He is her godfather, and is so proud of her. If anything seeing her renewed my longing to have a baby, but not in a sad way, more in a positive way. But as it is, it's lovely to have a little one like her in our lives, even if it's just in an Uncle and Auntie capacity.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The joys of domestic goddess-hood

This summer I have really gotten into baking. More for the sake of something to do than anything else, but I've also noticed how appreciated it is when you visit friends or family with some home baked cakes. My mother in law is a typical Irish mammy who has no truck with "shop bread", so when I started visiting bearing gifts of homemade banana bread and madeira cakes, I was elevated to status of daughter in law numero uno.

Years ago I bought "How to be a domestic goddess" by Nigella Lawson for my sister for Christmas. Not that I thought she needed any help in that department, Lord no, this is the woman who single handedly made our wedding cake. But she said in passing that she was dying to get a copy of this particular book. As it turned out, by the time I had bought it, she had already bought a copy from a book club. So I kept the copy I had, flicking through it occasionally but rarely baking anything from it, apart from pizza base.

So early this June I dusted down my copy, and started a baking habit. As I write I have a lemon madeira cake in the oven. It's baking 101, but so yummy.

Here's how it goes:

240 gr softened butter
200 gr caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
grated zest and juice of one lemon
3 large eggs
210 gr self-raising flour
90 gr plain flour

Butter and line a 23 x 13 x 7 cm loaf tin. Preheat oven to 170 C or gas mark 3.
Cream butter, sugar and lemon zest. Add eggs one at a time with tablespoon of flour for each. Gently mix in rest of flour, and finally, the lemon juice. Sprinkle with approx 2 tablespoons caster sugar as it goes into the oven and bake for one hour. Let it cool in the tin before turning out. Tuck in. Yum-yum.

All hail Nigella.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dole office 2009

It's now over three months since I swapped my corporate Amex card for a much less glamourous social security card. The first couple of months were great. I really enjoyed the novelty of having time on my hands, to visit people, potter about the house and garden and just relax for a while. If I was to believe the purveyors of assvice, the relaxing should have done wonders for my ability to conceive. Well newsflash, it hasn't.

But this post is not about infertility, it's about unemployment in the noughties. I went through a fairly long stint of unemployment when I left university, and I have to say Ireland was a pretty grim place to be back in the early nineties before the boom happened. There was very little money about. Now we're back to that again, but I really don't think the reality of it has hit home to a lot of people yet.

I see people walking into the social welfare office in designer jeans. I see people driving up to the post office to pick up their welfare in 4x4 jeeps. Obviously the trappings of former wealth. I think there are a lot of people out there who have received redundancy lump sums who just haven't had the reality of their situation really hit them yet.

The first day I went into my local social welfare office to sign on, I met a girl I knew who used to work in the same manufacturing plant as me. She and her family moved over here from the north of England when the company closed the plant there and moved the production lines to our facility in Ireland. Anyway the Irish plant has now downsized hugely (from a workforce of 500+ to approx 160, which in a town with a population of around 7,500 is a huge blow to the area) and many people opted to take voluntary redundancy.

Anyway, I overheard this girl (you couldn't but overhear her, she was talking at the top of her voice in a very small waiting area) saying the following (think Yorkshire accent) : "Ah missed mah signin' date last week, cuz I were in Baaacelona for t'Man Unigh'd match. Now they've told me I 'ave to sign on in two weeks, but I'm gonna be in fuckin' Mexico on me 'olidays, in' I?".

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Dole Office 2009.

That was easier than I expected

Turned out Saturday night's birthday gathering was just for immediate family, spouses and kids. So no awkward questions from people I haven't met in over a decade as regards our family situation or lack thereof. Phew!

I stayed with my sister on Saturday night and on Sunday morning I went to mass with her and my nieces. I'm not a regular Sunday mass punter, but when in Rome, or in this case Kildare, do as the Romans, or Lilly Whites, do. So off I trotted.

The second reading made me remember why I don't go to church more often. It went something along the lines of "If you want something, pray for it. If your prayers are not answered, then you are not praying correctly". Well that told me rightly, didn't it? What about my sister in law who died of cancer in her mid thirties? She had half the country praying for her recovery. Were all these people not praying correctly?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bye bye clomid!

No, I don't have any "good news", today is CD2. Bleughh! I was of course holding out for this being one of those stories that goes something like "and believe it or not, just when we decided to ditch the fertility drugs, I found I was already knocked up!". Not so for me. No bun in the oven. Meh.

So this month is going to be totally free of fertility drugs. No horrible shitty clomid. No horrible stingy hcg injections. Hopefully I will start feeling a little less down and a little more energetic. Part of me is still holding out for the off chance that we will just spontaneously hit target all of a sudden. But if it hasn't happened after almost a year of ttc on clomid, I don't think it's going to happen au naturel.

This Saturday I'm going to Dublin for my brother's 50th birthday party. He's decided to make it an early evening gathering, so as to be a family friendly bash. Cue Jane being the only one rocking up to the party without an ankle biter or a teenage offspring in tow. I'm already laying bets in my head as to how many drinks I will be down before someone, an in law or friend of the host who I haven't seen in several years, asks the question "so do you have any kids, Jane?" and I give them the inevitable answer, while trying to keep a pleasant smile on my face "No..."
Guaranteed to kill the conversation stone dead every time.

You really like me....boo hoo....


Thanks so much to Melissa at What? IF? and C at Cats with Passports for nominating me for a One Lovely Blog Award. Apologies for the late acceptance, but better late than never! I can't help thinking of Craggy Island's Lovely Girls competition when I think of the term Lovely Blog. Those of you who are Fr Ted fans will know what I mean, those of you who are not, look it up on youtube, it's bound to be there.

Anyway, I'm passing on the award, so the nominees for lovely girls and boys of the IF/pregnancy/parenting blog world are:

Cats with Passports
Murgdan
Diary of a Miracle
Nuts in May
Hot Mama Bear
Paint it Black
Sarah
Hairy Farmer Family
Fee Bee
Mick
Womb4improvement
Xbox

As I haven't been surfing around the blogosphere as much these days as I used to, my nomination list is a little short, and it's one of long term favourite reads.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Not gone away yet.

Throughout the month of August I seem to have been struck down with blogger's block. The truth of it really was that I was beginning to get a pain in my face from all this infertility shite. The clomid and hcg shots were making me more and more exhausted and depressed. We went away for a romantic weekend to Killarney in the middle of the month and AF arrived two days early. That put paid to the romance I can tell you! We still made the best we could out of the weekend, but it was still a downer.

We signed up for counselling a couple of months back, after the false alarm debacle, and I have to say it did help us to get our heads around where we are with this whole journey and what we want to do next. We came to the conclusion that since I am now on my thirteenth consecutive round of clomid and facing into my seventeenth round of hcg shots, it's time for a break. So we went back to the clinic last week and I pretty much threw a hissy fit at the doctor and said (no, sobbed!) that I had had enough. So the plan of action is this: after this cycle, if there's nothing happening, I am going to take a break from meds for at least two months. Then I am going to try another fertility drug, femara. If that doesn't work after a few months, then we are going back to our GP for a referral to a mainstream fertility clinic, with the view to doing IUI.

One piece of possible good news is regards our health insurance. John's employers pay our policy for us, and recently they changed insurance provider. It turns out that the new provider is going to allow a contribution of EUR 1,000 for one course of fertility treatment, either IUI, IVF or ICSI. given that IVF costs approx EUR5,000 per cycle in Ireland that is not a huge contribution, but as they say, it's better than a slap in the belly with a wet fish. AS far as I know, IUI costs around EUR1,000, so that would cover one round of treatment. It's good to know it's there in any case.

So we'll see what happens with this cycle, and after that I am going drug free for a while. I feel as though a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Clomid is nasty stuff and I really don't think anyone should be on it for more than six months. It's just too damn hard on the system. At this stage I am really beginning to wonder if this will ever happen for us, and the idea of it never happening seems far too hard to contemplate.

I have wanted to be a Mum ever since I was twenty years old, when I used to help my mother with minding my oldest nephew. When I was 21 I met my first husband, and I was sure back then that I would be a mother in my late twenties. However, the time never seemed right. I wanted to be married before we had kids, I suppose you could put that down to a traditionalist Catholic upbringing. Then when we did get married, I was 27 at the time, we were renting a tiny flat and were stoney broke trying to save the money for a house deposit. I was in a low paid job and the time just didn't seem right. I started my exams, which was a four year part time course, so the goal posts of starting a family were pushed out for another few years. The plan was to get the exams in the bag by the time I was 31 or 32 and then it was baby time. Every time I felt the tug of maternal instincts I just pushed them out of my mind. We would do it when the time was right, that's what I kept telling myself.

Unfortunately, baby time came around a little early for my then husband, earlier than it came around for me. He started an affair less than two years into our marriage, I actually think it wasn't his first one, and after a number of months of very strange behavior on his part I confronted him and he admitted his guilt. I left shortly afterward, and around that time he and his 22 year old girlfriend conceived their son. It was a very hard kick in the stomach for me. Like now, every time I walked down the street I seemed to see pregnant women. I was like they were creeping up through the cracks in the pavement. Cute babies everywhere. Work colleagues having babies and bringing them into the office to show off. Me fast approaching thirty and further away than ever from motherhood.

I was lucky to meet John soon after my first marriage ended. As a friend of mine said, I met a good guy before I had the chance to grow bitter. It took me a long time to get over the heartbreak, plus I had to wait four years before I could file for divorce, so we both knew that marriage and babies weren't on the cards for us for a few years. All the while we attended weddings of friends and family, and watched many of them start and complete their families while we just sat in limbo. All the time I just kept telling myself it will happen when the time is right. I remember going to visit my sister in hospital when her third child was born. It was two days after John's sister's funeral. As I took my new niece in my arms, a combination of emotions hit me at once. First of all it was the joy of seeing a new life, the grief that I had just witnessed the death and burial of a beautiful vivacious 36 year old woman, and the sheer anguish of "am I ever going to hold my own baby?".

I have felt that anguish, that yearning so many times since then. When at long last the time felt right, my body didn't seem to concur with my mind. Sometimes I feel like it's saying "tough shit, you had your chances, you should have just taken them". Nowadays I go visiting friends who are ten years younger than me, bringing gifts for their newborns. Some of them have already completed their families. Everywhere we go we see couples with babies. Every shopping mall, street, park, restaurant they are there, the happy families. John still smiles and says "that will be us, just you wait and see". I just shrug my shoulders and say "maybe".

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Happy Blogoversary to me!



This day last year I took the plunge and decided to start a blog. I had been following and commenting on a few infertility blogs for a while, mainly The Waiting Game and Xbox4nappyrash . It was around about that time that I realised that I was not going to be a mother before my 40th birthday. This was something I found extremely difficult to get my head around. One year on, and I realise that I am not going to be a mother before my 41st birthday. Such is life. At this stage I don't know if I ever will have a baby of my own.

I have been on clomid for more cycles than I care to count at this stage (I think it's around 12). I have been on pregnyl injections for I think 17 months. I beginning to feel like a 12 stone hamster on a very large wheel. A very very tired hamster to boot. All these fertility meds have taken a huge toll on my body, and even though I have been out of work for two months now, I still feel exhausted. I heard yesterday about the possibility of a new job, but it would involve over an hour commute each way daily. I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but when I am this exhausted on a constant basis I really don't know if I could manage it. We'll see, I will cross that bridge when I get to it I suppose.

In the past few weeks John and I have started going to counselling. After the highs and lows of last month's false alarm I really felt like we needed help getting our heads around this ongoing torture. Luckily enough, I am still covered by my previous employer's benefit plan, one part of which is the employee assistance scheme which provides five sessions of counselling free of charge if needed. Since it is not costing us anything, I thought feck it, why not, so we have had two sessions so far. We're trying to see where we go from here, come to some sort of decision as to how long we will keep on the road we are on, and then see what other options are open to us. So we will see how it goes.

Like all other infertility bloggers, I have gained an amazing support network of online friends in my first year of blogging. It seems funny to know so much about the day to day lives of people I have never met face to face. Last week I met face to face with another infertility blogger (hi M!). We live a twenty minute drive from each other, are the same age and have both been through the experience of miscarriage. Like us, her and her husband are trying to conceive their first child. We met for a coffee, which turned out to be a three hour chat. It was lovely to connect with someone my own age, as most of my friends here are much younger than me, and very few of them have been through a miscarriage. It was both strange and nice meeting someone face to face whom I had read about online. We both admitted that our husbands had misgivings at the idea of meeting someone from the internet. John was cracking jokes that my body would be washed up in Lough Derg without any kidneys, and her husband was worried about me finding out where they lived! Don't worry lads, neither of us are bunny boilers.

To all the wonderful people I have met in the last year, I just want to say thank you for all your friendship and support. Some of you have attained the holy grail of a healthy pregnancy, and to you I wish every congratulations and continued good health and luck. Some of you, like me, are still on this long road, and I hope and pray that we will see the end of it soon, and that one of these days life will bring is the joy that we have awaited for so long.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

False Alarm

I haven't blogged in over a week because I am royally pissed off. I had a false alarm over the weekend. I tested on peak +15 and got a quite strong line. I thought this might be down to residual hcg in my system from the pregnyl injections, so didn't get too excited. I tested again the following day and the line was still there, but weaker. So I thought ok, it's not happening.

Being the POAS addict that I am, I decided to give it one last test on Friday, peak +17. By this stage there shouldn't have been a sniff of hcg left in my system. I got a very faint positive. I went out and bought a double pack of digital tests. Tested again and got a "Pregnant 1-2". I still felt a wee bit sceptical about it, as I was feeling crampy, but then I have heard stories of women getting severe period like pains and then discovering that they are in fact pregnant. I phoned the clinic in Galway and they told me to get a blood test done to check progesterone and oestradiol levels, and start on progesterone support immediately.

This I did, but the following day something at the back of my mind was still making me feel doubtful, so I tested again. Not pregnant. I got another double pack of digital tests from the pharmacy (I'm so going to get a good dividend this year!) and tested again on Sunday and Monday morning. Both not pregnant. So there you are, false alarm. I rang the clinic back and told them, the doctor said it sounds like a false alarm alright, and to discontinue the progesterone support. I said my period was unusually late, but he said that is down to the synthetic progesterone in my system. So basically synthetic hcg remained in my system, temporarily fooling me into thinking I was pregnant, and now synthetic progesterone has fucked up my cycle and delayed my period.

My head is fucking melted. I hate all this.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Holy high risk of multiples, Batman!

I got my bloods tested on Tuesday, results back yesterday.

Oestradiol = 1238 (should be 400-800)
Progesterone = 150.8 (should be 60-100)

This result means that there is a very strong chance that I produced more than one egg this month. So if we hit target, we could have two little stowaways from Italy on our hands. I have never had a result like this before. WTF? Was it the Italian air, the Mediterranean diet, all the wine, or dare I say it, the relaxed state I have been in since I left work? Who knows?

The other day I was saying to John that I don't want to stick my neck out too far, but I have a good feeling about this month. I was on a supplement called FertileCM, which not only improves the go goo (TM Xbox) but also increases the libido. So between that and the heat in Italy, John thought all his birthdays and Christmases had come at once! The marathon 2ww is due to finish tomorrow week, so I will keep you posted. In the meantime I am going to lead a life of virtue with lots of fruit and veg, swimming, gym, and as little alcohol as possible. So begins another painfully long week.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The life of leisure

Well I am now heading into my fifth week since my exit from my previous job. The time is just flying by. Going on holidays for 10 days in the middle of the month broke it up hugely, but I still can't believe a month has gone by. By and large I am really enjoying the time off. It's great to have time to just look after myself. I was given a number of vouchers for a local beauty salon, so I block booked myself a course of swedish massages. So now every Wednesday, I go for a 30 minute massage. It's pure bliss.

The other thing I am loving is that I have really got back into cooking for the first time in years. For the past ten years or so I have been working in large organisations with subsidised canteens, so I had totally gotten out of the habit of cooking dinner during the week. In the past year or so, the standard of food in the canteen was going downhill, but I still didn't bother cooking dinner. Now I cook good healthy dishes for dinner every day. John hasn't been this well fed since he left his mother's house! We had our next door neighbours over for dinner last week, and I even baked a pavlova. I filled it with raspberries, and topped it off with grated dark chocolate. Yummmm. It's been about two years since I have done any baking, so I was really proud of myself.

Anyway, I promised you some Italy photos, so here goes....

Street scene, Riva del Garda


Us on the ferry from Riva to Desanzano, with the Dolomite mountains in the background.

Beautiful Lake Garda
I read in a guidebook that the emblem on the rails outside the Colleoni Chapel in Bergamo of three testicles is a fertility symbol, and it's good luck for couples trying to conceive to touch it. So I duly dropped the hand on the three goolies. Desperate times, desperate measures :o)

While in Milan I decided to take a cultural walking tour....
which finished with us taking in the cafe culture.

This little D&G number was a snip. Perfect for those dominatrix nights.

And finally, a couple of nice pics of me and mah honey.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bella Italia

Bon giorno internets! It's Sunday evening, the sun is shining and we have been in beautiful Riva del Garda 4 days now. All I can say is wow. We have totally fallen in love with Italy. It's our first visit and we are just loving it. We arrived in Bergamo on Thursday morning, picked up our hire car, a dinky little Fiat 500, at lunchtime and took our life into our own hands on the Milan to Venice motorway. I thought Irish drivers were crap motorway drivers, but we're in the tuppence ha'penny league compared to these guys. As a front seat passenger, I would strongly recommend a valium sandwich for lunch before you set off, possibly with a stiff G&T chaser.

Once we left the motorway and got onto the Roverto to Riva road, we entered a long tunnel, which took an age to exit. We soon realised that the traffic was backed up at least a mile. It turned out there was an accident up the road. But even in a traffic jam you couldn't help but smile when you are surrounded by breathtaking scenery and rows of vines at every turn. We got to Riva in the early evening. As luck would have it, our hotel is just on the edge of the town, so we found it in about 3 minutes. It's a stone's throw away from the lakefront, with the dolomites providing a dramatic backdrop. Gorgeous.

We immediately warmed to the Italians. Neither of us had a word of Italian before we arrived, but a quick consultation with the Rough Guide language section afforded us the basics. The old "cupla focail" (couple of words) of Italiano definitely endears you to the locals. Mind you they're probably smiling at us warmly while disguising their mirth at our pathetic attempts to speak their language. So far they seem to be like Paddies with suntans and a jaw dropping sense of style. When it comes to style, these people have it in spades. Same goes for charm, and sense of humour, as well as the innate ability to flirt. I love them. Next life, I want to come back as an Italian.

I'm off now for a swim in spectacular Lake Garda. When I get to it I will uploads some photos, just to piss you all off even further. So until next time internets, ciao!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Joy to the world.....

ET and Xbox have good news!

May I say in my inimitable Wesht of Ireland way, I'm feckin' delighted for ye, lads!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Another proud godmother moment

On Saturday, my twelve year old niece and godchild Lisa captained her school's football team to victory in the county schools final. I'm convinced she will play for our county yet, and when she does I will be there in Croke Park cheering her on. What a wonderful talented kid. I'm so proud to be her godmother.

In other news, AF rode in on her red broomstick this morning. To be honest, I wasn't all that disappointed this month. If anything, after all the partying of the last week in honour of my 40th, I would have been a little freaked out at the thoughts of a pregnancy this month. I pretty much knew that it wasn't going to be our month so no major let down there.

We are all set for our holidays (did I mention we are off to Italy? No? Well we are, on Thursday, nah-nah-nee-nah-naaaaaaah!) I was in Limerick yesterday in TK.Maxx and picked myself up the most blingtastic pair of Versace shades for €80. I mean dahhling, if you're going to Milan, you've got to look the part, right? Oh I can't wait....only 3 more sleeps to go and we're on the plane. Wooo hoooo!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Life begins

I have been keeping a low profile in blogland for the past week or so. Partly because I have shuffled off the shackles of full time employment, so I'm not tethered to a desk and computer for seven hours a day anymore. You can tell I obviously loved my job, by the way. Anyway, a brief rundown of the past week:

Wednesday night was the night before I was due to finish up at work. I was doing some shopping for the birthday party that evening, and then I called in to see a friend of mine. It was 11.30pm before I got to bed, and when I did, the most crippling gut pain enveloped me. I ended up running in and out to the bathroom all night. And not in a throwing up, might be pregnant way. More in a bad food poisoning Johnny Cash song way. Not good. The following day, I phoned work to say I wouldn't be in until lunchtime. So in I went around 12.30. Most of the day was spent copying files and photos onto a memory stick, emailing my goodbyes to overseas colleagues and saying goodbye face to face to Irish based colleagues. I was presented with a yummy cake, a gorgeous bouquet of flowers and a voucher for my favourite beauty salon from my department, along with a 40th birthday card and a Sorry you're leaving card.

That night was a repeat of the previous one in terms of the tummy bug. John was working tirelessly on the sunroom all week to try and get as much of it completed as possible for the party. Mainly cosmetic stuff like indoor plastering and cladding. The house pretty much still resembled a building site the next day when I hit for Dublin to bring my niece to Beyonce. I still had the remains of the trots, but I managed to make it to my sister's house in Kildare by 5.30, and from there we bussed it to the O2 stadium for the concert.

I have never in my life bought a Beyonce CD, but I figured she would put on a good show, and that my 14 year old niece would get a great kick out of going to see her for her first big grown up concert. I was very right on both counts. The show started at 8pm with a warm up act from a singer called Chantelle. She said she was Beyonce's sister, but I don't know if she meant blood relation sister or sistah. Either way, she had a fine pair of lungs on her. The main woman herself came on stage around 9.15. And wow, she was totally worth the wait. As stunningly gorgeous in the flesh as she is on TV, she treated us to what can only be described as a spectacular show. She even belted out an Alannis Morrisette song at one point, as well as a rendition of Ave Maria in Latin. Amazing.

The following morning I was on the motorway again, heading home to prepare for the party. Thankfully the tummy bug had left the building at that stage. When I got home, John presented me with the first part of my birthday present, a Wii! I loved it! Then came the big surprise, when he brought me out to the sunroom to show me the work he had done, and there mounted on the wall was a 42 inch LCD TV. To say my jaw dropped would be an understatement. Shortly after that, an interflora van arrived, with two beautiful bouquets of flowers and a bottle of champagne from some friends who couldn't make it on the night.

I then set in and started vacuuming and making up beds for guests. At around 2pm my cousin phoned from the local hotel where she was staying. She turned 40 that day, so it was lovely to share a big milestone birthday together. For somebody who had never visited us in our house before, she totally rowed in and helped us with the cleanup. It was like "Hi Siobhan, welcome to Tipperary, happy birthday, now here's the vacuum cleaner, I'm off to the hairdresser's, see you in two hours, byeeee!" I had a hairdresser's appointment at 3.45pm, so I had to abandon ship for a couple of hours and leave my army of helpers to it. By the time I got back the place was gleaming, and my parents, sister and more friends from Dublin had arrived.

I had hired two eight foot tables, sixteen fold down chairs and 30 champagne flutes from a cater hire firm in Limerick. Totally worth it. Also, I went very grown up and posh and hired my next door neighbour to do the catering. And what a job she did. Her and her fiance slaved over a hot barbeque, and served up a feast. We set up the sunroom with the tables, chairs, white table clothes, silver star table confetti, gold helium balloons and lighted tea lights. It really looked fantastic. My mum had seen the building site that was our house that morning, and said the transformation was like something out of a reality TV show, like Changing Rooms!

We partied until the sun came up, and long after. The funniest part of the night was when the assembled crew sang happy birthday to me, with the help of the remaining helium balloons. It was like being serenaded by a small army of smurfs! One of my friends caught it on video, so when I get it off her I will post it on here. My brother brought his guitar, so around 2.30am the obligitary sing song started. Around 4am I have hazy memories of playing a four man game of Mario Karts, which I had to do with one eye closed as I was having difficulties focusing on the screen at that stage! All in all an excellent party and a fitting way to embark on my new decade.

The other amazing thing about the past week has been the weather. The mediteranean miraculously came to Ireland this day last week and it hasn't left yet. The weather has been up in the late 20's, although it cooled down a little today. This has meant we've had a few very pleasant evenings since the party, sitting in either the garden or the sunroom sipping rose and feeling like we are on holidays, which we will be this time next week. So I am taking to this life of leisure really well. Already my energy levels are higher and I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. My 2 week wait is due to end on Monday, and quite honestly I'm not obsessing about it, which is a huge change for me. Long may this feeling last

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Counting down

Next Sunday I will celebrate my 40th birthday, and embark on my fifth decade. Well actually, Saturday night at 8pm is when the celebrations are kicking off, with a barbeque in our house for family and friends. A few months back I decided that I wasn't going to go into a corner and sulk about turning 40, no matter what our situation was by then. I was of course hoping that I would be pregnant by the time the big milestone came along, but no such luck. Although I am currently on the two week wait, due to end on June 8th. So I might be, and not know it. Or I might not. I'm not going to tie myself in knots wondering about it, I'm just going to enjoy the party.

I was thinking back the other day on my thirties, and all the things that have happened to me over the past ten years. It was by far the best decade so far. I holidayed and travelled more than ever before, to Greece, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, France, Holland, Belgium, USA, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, and Cuba. I studied part time and gained a professional qualification in Management Accountancy. I learned to drive and passed my driving test finally at the age of 36 (hey, better late than never!) and bought myself a car. I got divorced and remarried. I bought my first house. All in all a very good decade.

So what's in store for my forties? Will life begin on Sunday? I'm finishing up in work at the end of this week, so that heralds a new chapter in life. I'm looking forward to taking time off over the Summer, but hoping that the break won't be too long. We finally booked our Italian trip, and we are flying to Bergamo on June 11th to spend seven days in Riva del Garda and three days in Bergamo, hopefully with some day trips thrown in like Verona and Milan. Neither of us have ever been to Italy before, so I am really looking forward to the holiday.

So here's to the next decade. Let the adventure begin!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Nollaig

This day two years ago, we found out that I had suffered my second miscarriage in six months. I was just over nine weeks along, the furthest I have gotten with any pregnancy. I'm not going to post all the details again, as I have told the story before.

As with my first pregnancy, I had a strong gut feeling as to the sex of this baby. I tend to have witch like tendancies when it comes to babies, in that at one stage, whenever I dreamed of a pregnancy in my family, it was pretty much always followed by a real life pregnancy announcement. During this pregnancy, I repeatedly dreamed about baby girls, so I was convinced that I was carrying a girl. I even tried the old wives tale test of hanging my wedding ring on a piece of thread and dangling it over my belly, just for the laugh. I swore it was going around in circles on its own (circles are supposed to be for a girl, back and over for a boy) although John was pretty sure that it was my hand rotating in circles, not the wedding ring :)

She would have been due on December 21st 2007, so I was pretty much resigned to spending Christmas in the maternity hospital. Sadly, we lost her seven months before that. As with my previous pregnancy, I decided to have her recorded at the Shrine of the Holy Innocents. When it came to naming her, we picked the name Nollaig, which is the Irish word for Christmas, and is the Irish translation of the name Noelle or Noel.

In our lives for a short time, but in our hearts forever. Our little Nollaig.

More condom conundrums

My post last week regarding our fertility clinic and their Catholic ethos and approach to collection of semen for analyis proved to be a bit of a jaw dropper. Xbox was saying that as far as he was aware, the Catholic Church had no issue with IUI, as it does not involve the discarding of fertilitised ova. I thought that they were averse to IUI, on the grounds that the collection of semen by means of "manual methods" constitutes an immoral act. I did a bit of googling to investigate further the Catholic Church's stance on IUI. Here's what I found.

Basically, the Catholic Church is ok with IUI, as long as the sperm is obtained through what they term "licit means", as in through an act of sexual intercourse between husband and wife, using a perforated condom as a collection device. From what I can gather, the condom has to be perforated in order to comply with the church's regulations as regards contraceptive devices. Which is laughable really, considering the fact that any couple pursuing fertility treatments are doing so because they cannot conceive without medical intervention. I very much doubt if any of them with Houdini like tendancies are going to make their way to the fallopian tubes if they couldn't manage it without the obstruction of a condom in their way.

It's all a bit bizarre really. They don't want fertile people to prevent themselves conceiving, and they don't want infertile people enlisting the help of medical professionals to enable them to conceive. No wonder people my generation are deserting the church in their droves. Thankfully we are now living in an Ireland which is not ruled by the church, and fertility treatments are widely available, albeit if you have the money to pay for them. It's about time that health insurance cover was available for fertility treatments in Ireland, but that's a whole other rant.

Monday, May 11, 2009

And so it continues....

I get the feeling that this blog is becoming somewhat repetitive.
Day 1 - Angst ridden rant.
Day 7 - I fucking hate clomid. Boo hoo, sob, sob.
CD 15 - Wooo hoo, let the horizontal tango commence.
8 DPO - Are these real symptoms or am I just pimping?
15 DPO - Oh fuck it I don't care anymore. But I might just do a sneaky test....BFN...fuck.
Day 1 - Angst ridden rant.

I kept the angst ridden rant short and sweet this month. To be honest, I wasn't really expecting to be pregnant. We were a wee bit hit and missing with our timings, mainly due to me being unusually busy at work and running around like a blue arsed fly entertaining my work guest. And let's face it, if the previous month's military campaign that is the SMEP plan didn't work, then this was hardly going to. So no major shock when I woke up early on Thursday morning and blearily went in search of painkillers. This does mean that with my birthday in less than three weeks, there will be no chance for a BFP before my 40th, which sucks.

I mentioned that we had a visit to the fertility clinic the week before last. The fertility clinic we are with have the objective of taking the more "natural" approach. So that excludes IUI or IVF. They do however prescribe clomid, pregnyl and all manner of fertility drugs, which in my book stretches the bounds of "natural" ferility treatment somewhat. Their ethos is very much a Catholic one. The manual we were given at our first appointment was full of quotes from scripture, papal encyclicals, and much denouncing the evil on society that is artificial contraception. Heavy stuff. But if it gets us a baby at the end of all this, then I'm prepared to suck it up (although that's probably on their list of banned acts, fnarrr fnarrr).

Anyway, this visit our good doctor suggested that we get John's side of it checked out, as in an SA. I was always wondering how they did this, since, shall we say manual handling of one's own wedding tackle is after all a mortal sin. It turns out they have a way around this. John was given on our way out of the clinic, a perforated condom and a collecting jar. The rationale she gave us for this was that pre-ejaculatory fluid contains mucho sperm, and this isn't collected properly when one bashes the bishop, so to speak (I'm so looking forward to reviewing my google analytics account after this post). So in keeping with the "Every sperm is sacred" ethos, we have to have sex using a perforated condom, then John has to quickly decant the resulting product into a jar, hose down his undercarriage, get his clothes on, and drive to the nearest lab which is approximately 40 minutes drive away in light traffic, and deposit the sample within one hour of production. Why do I suddenly have the theme to "Mission impossible" going around my brain? The doctor suggested that maybe we have a romantic night somewhere nearer the hospital. This is all well and good but the hospital is in Limerick, a city more famous for drive by shootings and stabbings than romantic getaways. It's just such never ending fun isn't it?

Other than that, the doctor decided to try me on a couple more supplements, since I'm clearly not shoving enough capsules, tablets and horse pills down my neck every day. So here's a run down on my chemical consumption for an average month:

Every day of cycle:
2 x fertility plus for women (seriously evil smelling and tasting capsules, shudder)
2 x pyrodoxine (Vit B6)
1 x probiotic capsule
1 x omega something fish oil
2 x glutamine (for better cervical mucous production)
1 x Vitamin D
1 x Calcium supplement
3 x Fertile CM supplement (same purpose as glutamine)
1 x Low dose Naltrexone

Days 3-7:
3 x 50 mg clomid

Day 12-19:
3 x mucodyne capsules

3, 5, 7 & 9 DPO:
1 x pregnyl injection

Natural fertility treatment indeed.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Here we go again.

I was awoken this morning around 5.45 with period pains. Ding ding, clomid round ten begins.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

This day four years ago...

I walked up the aisle on my Daddy's arm in Holycross Abbey, Co Tipperary, and married my lovely husband John.

I remember waking up at seven in the morning to the sound of rain beating off my bedroom window. So the Child of Prague statue, placed under a bush the night before to bring us good weather, had not come up with the goods. Ah well, you take your chances with the weather if you decide to marry in Ireland, no matter what time of the year it is. By the time we set off for the church, which was an hour away from the house we were living in at the time, it had brightened up a little bit.

I was determined to be as near to on time as possible, to the extent that everyone was still hanging around outside the church when the wedding car carrying my parents and me came rolling down the road. My bridesmaid had to hunt John into the church so that he wouldn't get a glimpse of me before the ceremony.


The walk up the aisle was one of the loveliest experiences of my life so far. Seeing all your family and friends in the one place wishing you well is very special. I was nodding and grinning like a halfwit at everyone. John's jaw dropped when he saw me, which was pretty much the reaction I was going for. The ceremony itself was really lovely, and in no time at all we were walking back down the aisle as Mr & Mrs. As you can see from the photo, John looked very chuffed with himself!

The rest of the day went by in a blur. There just didn't seem to be enough time to get around to talking to everyone, between photos, dancing, eating and drinking. I didn't really relax until the band finished playing, the older generation of non drinkers went home, and then those who were left went downstairs to the residents bar, where the after hours party began in earnest.
At this stage the guitars came out, I had a large glass of white wine parked in front of me, and I finally got to enjoy my favourite part of the reception - the sing song in the ressies bar! One of my party pieces is a reggae version of an old traditional Irish song called Spancil Hill. True to form after a few vinos I stood up and started belting it out. By now my demure Audrey Hepburn look was well and truly blown out of the water! We ended up the last people standing, along with one of my brothers and two friends, at 5.30am. Needless to say the bridal suite saw little action that night, we had to return on our first anniversary to make up for that one (TMI I know!).

Happy Anniversary honey, may we have many more of them!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

8 DPO

This last week has been extremely busy, so much so that I hardly had time to check in here, let alone post. As I said last week, I had a colleague visiting from the US for a handover. It was quite a full on week between training her and entertaining her. She had never been outside America before, let alone been to Ireland, so I kind of felt I should look after her. So I gave her lifts from her hotel to the office and back every day, and I invited her over to our house for a traditional Irish meal of enchiladas one night. I also brought her out to dinner the following night to Killaloe, a lovely scenic village on the Shannon. So at least she got to see more of Ireland than a hotel room and a factory. But man, I was exhausted from all the running around by Friday.

No rest for the wicked though, or should I say the righteous, as I had to jump in the car on Friday night and drive the two and a half hour drive to Mayo for my godchild's confirmation on Saturday morning. I don't know how I managed the drive. I think it was a combination of Lucozade Sport, many sticks of chewing gum and the eighties show on Today FM, which I sang along to at the top of my voice for the entire journey.

I had gotten a really talented artist I know to paint a picture of my niece as a gift for her. I emailed her a photo last month of Lisa, also one of her dog, and gave her an idea of what her interests are - piano playing, Arsenal FC and Mayo gaelic football team. Lisa is also a cracking little footballer herself, and I fully expect to see her togging out for the Mayo ladies team in the next ten years. Anyway Susan came back to me with a fantastic piece of work. It featured Lisa playing the piano, with an Arsenal scarf hanging down from the piano stool. Under the piano stool was a football, and in the foreground was her doggie sitting on a Mayo jersey. She also added her name and "Confirmation Day 25th April 2009" on the bottom. Lisa was absolutely gobsmacked when she unwrapped it and realised that this was a specially commissioned painting of her. She hung it on the kitchen wall in her house and showed it to everyone who called in that day. I was so chuffed that she liked it so much.

Lisa also gave me another reason to be chuffed and very proud when she told me she was taking Jane as her confirmation name. It's a family name with a tradition that goes back three generations before her, so as well as it being her Auntie/ Godmother's name, it has a significant history in the family too. She looked absolutely gorgeous on the day, with her hair in long curls. I like to think of her as my Mini Me, but I don't know if I was ever as pretty as she is now. I wish I could post a photo on here, but I don't feel at liberty to post photos of other people's kids, so I can't do it. But suffice to say I was a very proud Godmother on the day.

So I am 8 dpo today. Yesterday I noticed a dip in my BBT. I forgot to take it this morning, so who knows? We are off to the fertility clinic in Galway today. I don't know that there is a whole lot new they can do for us at the moment. I'd imagine she will say to keep on the meds I am on, since the bloods have been consistantly good for five months now. We'll still have to hand over €200 though.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A quick update from the bunker

No sooner had my auditors left me last week, than I had to prepare for the visit and training sessions of my replacement from the USA. So I'm grabbing a quick minute to catch up in between. Easter was lovely. I brought John to a beautiful country house in County Waterford for the night before his birthday. I had arranged to have a bottle of bubbly waiting in the room when we arrived, so we enjoyed a few drinkies before we sat down to a fabulous dinner. Breakfast next morning included stewed rhubarb with strawberries.....nom nom nom.... I went there on a recommendation of my brother and his wife, both keen foodies, and we will definitely be going back there. Just gorgeous, from the room to the food, to the friendly welcome. Fab.

The following day we journeyed farther south to Dunmore East where John's brother and his wife had hired a holiday home for the Easter holidays. It was a bit of a Walton's Mountain type gathering. John's parents, two brothers, their wives and between them four children. But it was nice to spend time with the clan.


In the past few months John has had his Bob the Builder hat on a lot of the time, building an extension on to the back of our house, onto the kitchen. It's a sunroom, roughly 12ft x 13ft, which is the same floor area as the kitchen. Nowadays it is really coming into its own, as our back garden faces south. So now every day there is any bit of sunshine the temperature in there is in the mid twenties or higher. There still is quite a bit of work needed to complete it, the ceiling has to be insulated and plastered, but we have got to the stage where it's habitable. A couple of weeks ago we dragged the sofas out there from the living room, and set up the computer so that we can watch movies in the evenings. But I love just coming home from work, sitting down with a book in the sunshine and just chilling. Absolute heaven. I just hope that we will get a good summer this year and that I will have a life of leisure in the sunshine for a couple of months.

Today is cd19, and I only got a smiley face this morning, which is rather later than usual. I was beginning to think that this was going to be an anovulatory cycles, but my ovaries have finally gotten off their sun loungers and kicked into action. I'm going through alternating cycles of "Right, this is going to be the month" and "Jeez I am pissed off with all this, I really can't be arsed". We are due back to the fertility clinic on Tuesday week, so we will see where we go from here.

So another two week wait begins. My expectations are lacking as ever.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Ostara

I've just been doing a quick search on the net about the Pagan Roots of Easter and fertility symbolism associated with same. Fascinating stuff. So according to our pagan ancestors, 'tis the season to be gettin jiggy with it if we are in the market for making babies.

I've been in the depths of fatigue and angst for the past week or so (you'd never guess it from my last two posts at all, would you?) due to the untimely arrival of the dreaded red house painters, and the ensuing five day 150mg per day dose of clomid. On Tuesday I went for accupuncture and was barely about to keep my eyes open for the evening afterwards. I was still absolutely shattered with exhaustion the following day, when our auditors arrived to start my interim financial audit. Lovely. I hate audits at the best of times, but audits when one is on mood altering fertility drugs really aren't advisable. But I couldn't really tell them that when they emailed me to say they would be out with me this week. Hey ho.

Yesterday I was somewhat better on the energy level front, possibly due to some little chinese herbal pill things the accupuncturist suggested I try. But I hit the teary gibbering wreck stage of the clomid cycle.

BoohooeveryoneispregnantbutmeandImnearlyfortyanditsnevergoingtohappenforuswahwahwah.

You get the picture. Today I'm feeling a lot brighter. In part due to the chemicals wearing off, in part due to the auditors not working on Good Friday, and part due to the fact it is Friday, and even though I had to work today, I still have a bank holiday weekend to look forward to. It's John's birthday on Sunday, so I'm kidnapping him and bringing him to a secret location tomorrow for the night. I can't give any more information than that in case he reads this before we set off. Suffice to say it will involve wining and dining and marital relations (I hope! Hell, I'm spending money on him, he'd better put out.)

Anyway, keeping with the happier theme, we're thinking about our summer holidays this year. We've decided on Italy, most likely Lake Garda, the last two weeks of June. I want a nice holiday since it's my fortieth, maybe a night or two in Milan or Venice and then onto the lake for a week or so. We don't want the budget to run into big bucks though, since I will no longer be in gainful employment come June. I'm just wondering if any of you internets have been there, and if so, do you have any particular recommendations as regards towns and hotels to stay in? Somebody mentioned Riva to me, and someone else Pesceria (sp?). All advice gratefully appreciated.