Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The thrill of the chase

During the moments when I am brutally honest with myself, I sometimes wonder if I am making a big deal out of not getting pregnant and not having a baby, just because it seems to be something other people achieve so easily. And it is human nature, after all, to want that which I cannot have. Generally, not just in relation to babies. In fact, the more I can't have it, the more I want it.

But-and stay with me here- I only want things which I could have, or think I should be able to have, but cannot, for various reasons, seem to obtain.

For example, a private jet. Never gonna happen. Outside the realm of possibility. However, a plot of land on which we could build the house of our dreams- that is something in theory, we should be able to find and acquire. But no- after a year of looking high and low, there are no plots which suit our needs. We drove ourselves crazy for awhile, thinking there was all this land out there- surely there must be one small acre for us!

With some things, like the plot, I just lose interest and give up after awhile. But other stuff, I get the bit between my teeth and won't let go. Even when I know it's completely dumb to persist.

Another example- gmail- the Google mail account. It's not widely available yet- only certain people were sent invites by Messrs Google & Co to test it out. Those people in turn can invite other people to join.

Somehow, and don't ask me to explain it, these account invitations took on a certain exclusive desirablity and the next thing you know, they are being auctioned off on eBay and the like.

If you think about it, it's kind of dumb to buy an email account which, if you wait a little while, will be offered free to the population at large. When E. and I first read about it in the paper, we were like "huh? Who would be stupid enough to actually buy one?"

Well, duh, me of course. Because as soon as I started thinking about it, I decided I was really curious. I wanted to see what it was like. I wanted to secure my own user name before it could get snapped up. So I popped round to eBay and scooped up a couple accounts for minimal pence. The fact that I lost out on about ten auctions before I was successful only made me more determined. E. was secretly delighted that I had gone to the effort of doing this- turns out he really wanted one, too.

Now that I have it, I wonder why I bothered. Half the fun was hunting it down, the thrill of the chase. And during those brutally honest moments, I recognise that there is an element of this going on here.

But I also know, in the sane part of me, it's not really just about obtaining the unobtainable. At the core, it's about wanting to be a parent, wanting to be a family. The fact that it's easy for some and harder for me ultimately makes no difference. And if it makes me more determined to succeed, to have what they have- well, let's face it, if what lies ahead involves giving myself this kind of shot, hell, I am going to need some incentive.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The form

It's been three weeks since my GP said she would refer E. and I to the infertility clinic, and yesterday, voila, a form arrived in the mail.

I have to say, as a first impression of the people who may very well be helping us with our apparent inability to become pregnant, this form does not exactly fill me with confidence. First of all, it says that we must fill out the questionnaire, and send it back within two weeks, or they will assume we don't want the appointment. Gah! Given my pathlogical inability to buy envelopes and stamps, it may be a challenge for me to meet that deadline.

Secondly, the layout of the form itself is irritating. I'm with Tertia, forms should give you an appropriate amount of space on each line for the required information. This one is ridiculous. There is this huuuuge long line for my age (two digits, doesn't take up much space) whereas the line for my doctor's address is indented into the middle of the page, thus leaving even less room for all the detail.

Spacing concerns aside, some of questions seem a little odd. E. and I puzzled over certain items together as I read out the questions to him over the phone.

"Have you been married before, and if so, from when to when? "

"They didn't ask us that, surely?" E. said.

"They did! They ask it right here! For both of us. They also ask if we are married to each other," I told him.

"I'm not answering the first one," E. said.

"No, you have to. You have to answer all the questions, or they won't treat us!"

"But what difference does it make if I was married before?"

"I guess they want to know if you had any children with your previous wife. Sorry, your only wife. Since we are not married, you can't have a previous wife- that would imply you had a wife now. And I'm not your wife, now, am I? No, I am not. "

"Shut up. You're rambling. If they want to know whether I have any children, and with whom, then why don't they just ask that?"

"They ask that as well."

"Oh for God's sake. Just say no. To everything. No wife, no children, no previous treatment. Sperm of dubious quality. Intentions and willingness to procreate with you= v. good."

"But there's no question on the form about your intentions."

"That's what margins are for, my sweet."

I guess we have two weeks to argue about it.

Monday, June 28, 2004

The injustice of it all

Well. Since I am having a shitty time, I am gonna do what I quite often do (no, not eat floor cake, I already did that earlier) and slap myself around the head with a little perspective. I'm going to write about somebody who is having an even crappier time than me.

The court's decision in the case of Evans v Amicus makes for some interesting reading. The story, for those of you who don't like clicking links, is simple and sad. Natallie Evans, upon learning that she had pre-cancerous cells in her ovaries, and on the advice of doctors who advised that she would be rendered infertile by the chemotherapy, decided that the best chance for having a child was to freeze some embryos. Her then fiance Howard, assured her that there was " no chance" of them ever splitting up, so they decided to go ahead and fertilise those embryos with Howard's sperm for future use. So far, so good.

Except that by law here in the UK, consent must be given by both the man providing the sperm and the woman providing the eggs to allow storage and subsequent use of their embryos in IVF treatment. However, if either party withdraws their consent before the embryos have been used, the clinics must allow the embryos to perish.

You can guess where this is going, right?

Sure enough, one day Howard changes his mind, decides Natallie is not the one for him after all, and the frozen embryos...well, thanks but no thanks. Just slip out the back, Jack, make a new plan, Stan. Natallie, who by this point had her ovaries removed altogether in the course of her cancer treatment is understandably distraught at Howard's decision to renege on the deal. Thus, the court action.

Now, if you are at all interested in things legal, this case is a real hotbed of jurisprudential yumminess. There are some real emotive issues at stake here, including about the rights of a party to withdraw their initial consent to IVF treatment, the rights or lack thereof of the embryos (which in Natallie's mind are already her "babies frozen in time"). Whether the embryos can be considered "property" of one or both parties, and if so should one of them be able to make a decision which unilaterally results in the destruction of that property. Add some extra human rights discussion thrown in for good measure- and what you have here is a heady brew of a couple of guys in wigs trying to sort out what is basically just a big mess.

There are some perturbing angles. For example, in reading an article published by Natallie's lawyer, this made me pause:

A woman who conceives naturally has an absolute right of determination over the foetus but, because of her infertility, Natallie is prevented from conceiving naturally. Is she being discriminated against because the Act permits Howard to have the final say? Is she discriminated against on the grounds of disability (her infertility) when compared with women able to conceive naturally and thereby protect their embryos from the whims and wishes of their partner?

Difficult. The court said no. The logic was that in some cases, it may be the woman who has the "final say" in deciding not to proceed. How equally unjust if the law required implantation where the woman had changed her mind.

It's true that an infertile woman has all sorts of barriers and hurdles thrown in the way en route to motherhood, and it does seem completely unfair. But I think, ultimately, the court got it right on the legal points in this case. The law says that for this particular medical procedure, both parties must consent.

Whether or not that law should be revisited is a discussion for another day. My view is that on a point of principle, it simply should not be for the courts to start re-writing the legislation in "hard cases"- because that way disaster lies.

Imagine if their Lordships took it upon themselves to start denying women abortions, or forcing implantations on the unwilling because of a father's emotive plea. It would be unthinkable and in my opinion, it would be unbearable. The law, my friend, is a sharp, sharp, double edged sword.

It doesn't change the fact that this woman got a truly raw deal. Cancer. The end of a relationship. And the loss of the chance to be a mother to her genetic child. She now has less 28 days to appeal to the House of Lords, failing which the embryos will be destroyed. The prospects of success in her legal challenge do not seem good. My heart goes out to her for her loss, for the injustice of it all, which goes beyond the law.

I hope I've not bored all of you good readers with these ramblings. It's just that I feel, increasingly so, that wherever we live, we must pay attention to these issues. To decisions being made by those in power, by those who make and hold the law in their hands.

Because there but for the grace of Jesus Gay go I.


In answer to the There ain't a baby. Not this month, anyway.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

The test

A day or so ago, the lovely lobster girl was asking me when my test date would be. This got me thinking about my unsatisfactory relationship with pregnancy tests, also known as "peesticks of doom".

Firstly I should explain that I only know of their character by reputation. I have heard tales aplenty, told in hushed, bruised tones, of those who dally with tests of that ilk. There are some women who endure rejection after rejection, but still find themselves unable to resist the charms of the box, sitting so benignly on the drugstore shelf. Others hold on until they think that this time, it might be a two way street and they will get some good loving in return. But no. The test stick is unwilling to commit fully, it is holds back, only giving half of what it should. One line, instead of two.

In the entire year of trying to get pregnant, I have never tested. Not once. My peestick adventures have been limited to the equally fickle OPK, but since ovultation for me is quite regular and easy to predict, I have never really felt the need for additional tools there. I have one box of OPKs which my mother gave me last Christmas, and I have only used two.

The reasons are I don't do pregnancy tests are a mix of the mundane and the complex. Firstly, I am more than a little tighfisted about some things. I detest throwing money away for no apparent reason, and certainly not to satisfy the impertinent little itch of my control freakery that wants to know now.

Secondly, I never get past my usual number of luteal phase days, or days past ovulation. Usually around day 13, when I am beginning to entertain the notion of wandering over to the Boots the chemist for a test or three, I get my period. I've never ever gone past 14 days, not once, so there has never really been a real need.

I admit that despite my cool little Scrooge like attitude toward spending money (an attitude which mysteriously disappears when I enter Harvey Nichols), there is a constant clamouring, of wanting and needing to know . At times it roars in the face of my dispassionate analysis of how many days I should wait until it's "worth testing".

But it's precisely and primarily for that reason I hold back.

It's like that feeling when you really really like someone, and are not sure you should call after the date that went so well. You want to phone, so very badly, just to hear that voice on the other end. You know full well that by doing so, you give the game away.

So I play hard to get. I figure, why should I drop my guard and give in to the test, why should I put myself through the anticipation and courtship, only to have my advances thrown back in my face (or arguably, lower down). Why should I demonstrate what I already know- that I am weak, that I have no power in all this, that I am putty in the hands of those who would take my hard earned cash and deliver up a gigantic NO in response.

I keep hoping that one day, when I know the moment is right, the test and I will finally meet. And it will mean all the things it whispers in my ear, the things I want so badly to hear:

"Positive. Pregnant. Mother. Baby. Family. "

Friday, June 25, 2004

A blast from the past

The internet is good for so many things! Let's see how many we can think of. Well, there's the online banking, and the opportunity to buy varied and unnecessary luxury objects, like Maharishi trousers and Francis Francis espresso machines. Porn. Blogging. Oh, and e-mail, the great reuniter of friends long gone. The list goes on and on.

E-mail, I realised last night, also enables the Ghost of Friendships past to leap up and poke his pointy little finger in your eye when you are least expecting it. Case in point- I received a communique from a friend I used to work with many many moons ago. I have not seen or heard from him in at least 15 years. There is a reason for that- while a very nice individual, George, as we shall call him, used to bore me rigid by repeating the same stories over and over and over and over and over and over and shall I go on? So when I moved 6,000 miles away, we *ahem* sorta lost touch.

Anyway, he was sending out a preliminary cyber tap- you know, the equivalent of "are you still at this address, so that the follow up email doesn't go into the cyber void." And I figured that George must have acquired some new stories in the last 15 years, so it was probably safe to respond.

Well, George has a new story- or three, to be precise. He is the proud papa of triplets. Photos of the bouncing babies attached. They are adorable. All three. Did I mention there were three?

Now, I don't know if he and his wife are of the Uber-Fertiles category, or if they had, you know, help of the Geena Davis variety (c'mon Geena, we all know, don't we?) . I guess it's not the kind of thing you can really ask politely-and to be honest, it's none of my damn business.

However, considering I am pretty sure I am not pregnant, George's revival of friendships past at this particular juncture made me feel....well... mmm... not so great. Nice for him and all the rest of that. I just want one of my own. I'd settle, quite happily, for one.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Tree stump

I have observed that women of child bearing age can be grouped into three separate categories.

Group A- these are the uber-fertiles. You know the type- "my husband looked at me and I fell pregnant". What is with that expression- "fell pregnant" - anyway? As if pregnancy was something you trip over, like a tree stump, whilst leaving the house to go to work or the gym. When you stand up, after your little tumble- looky here! You're pregnant!

Group B- the normal fertiles. These are women who conceive after trying for awhile. Sometimes they need a little extra behavioural modification (drink green tea, have sex even though you are not in the mood). Sometimes a slight medicinal tweakage helps too, like treatment of hypothyroidism- but they generally "achieve pregnancy" (another term I loathe) without invasive rummaging up the fanoir.

Group C- the infertiles. Women who try everything- sex every day for the month, Instead cups, hanging from chandeliers, Clomid, IUI, IVF. Repeat.

The funny thing is, it seems you are not actually restricted to one category for the whole of your life- you can theoretically transfer at anytime. But it's less likely for an infertile to suddenly become an uber-fertile. Far more likely that one day the uber-fertile forgets where she left the tree stump and consquently wanders around staring at the ground with a slightly befuddled look on her face, muttering under her breath. I can see how that would be distressing, too- infertility, at whatever stage in your reproductive life- is a pain in the ass.

I am not sure in which category I belong, because I still don't know what the problem is. My head says Group B, my heart says Group C. Maybe in fact it's somewhere in the middle. Maybe I just don't want to believe that I've been sent straight to Group C without even an audition for Group A. And maybe I don't want to be categorised at all. I'm a person, goddamn it, not a group member.

Oh, and if you see a tree stump near by, will you let me know?

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Is there is or is there ain't...a baby?

Newsflash- I hate suspense. This is well documented. I'm the person who was always nagging my parents to open the presents on Christmas Eve, just because I couldn't stand not knowing anymore whether they bought me, for example, the Princess Leia doll (you know, the one with the removable donut rings in her hair).

During horror films, where the pretty student goes wandering around a darkened basement when the psycho murderer hangs out slobbering in the shadows with the big knife, you'll find me somewhere under the sofa with the cushions over my head. I don't mind the gore- I cannot take the pre-gore.

I skip ahead to the last page of mystery novels.

I frequent message boards that post spoilers to movies and TV shows I haven't seen yet.

You get the picture. It's not that I am necessarily impatient- I can wait with great stoicism for certain things- as long as I know when that thing is meant to arrive. What I cannot bear is the unknowing. If I can know, then I can imagine (falsely, of course) that this gives me some measure of control over my circumstances. Or at least it helps me get on with choosing how I want to feel about it- whether to weep in the shower, or say fuck it and have a large glass of wine.

Therefore, the infamous two week wait ( or 2ww, for those of you who are au fait with your acronyms) is to me the equivalent of an alektorophobic in a chicken coop. It's torture.

During the first nine months or so of trying, I feverishly documented every sign or symptom. Every morning at 7.05 precisely, the thermometer went in the mouth- beep beep beep. Chart, chart, chart. Spend hours on end looking at chart and comparing it to those of people who had become pregnant. Run to bathroom to see if boobs have gotten bigger. Stare at weird veins in boobs, hoping this is indicative of something. Ooh, minor twinge- implantation? Sudden craving for obscure cheese. Eat for two. Refuse to lift heavy things, i.e toilet brush-v. bad for the baby.

But not once have I even reached a point where I could justify spending money on a pregnancy test. And my tendency to worry about it obsessively has lessened- it just takes up too much energy. Now I just worry about it a lot.

So here I am again, exactly halfway through, and I want to know. I want to know now. Is there is- or is there ain't- a baby?

Thursday, June 17, 2004

We are Not Married

E. and I are not married. Both of us had mini-marriages- that is , a short term marriage which you undertake at a point in your life where you are too young and too stupid to know better than to shackle yourself to a wholly unsuitable individual for the rest of your days.

Mini-marriages end approximately a year and half later when you realise that it may be embarrassing announcing the divorce to all the people who you have not yet got around to thanking for the wedding presents, but that you are willing to suffer any amount of social humilation to secure your freedom and sever any connection to the unfortunate match.

I managed to extract myself from my brief and unsuccessful marital state with a relatively minimal amount of fuss and bother. The Ex slunk off with that long hangdog look on his face that used to bug me so much, found himself a new girlfriend within 2 months, and is now happily married to her. In fact, I keep waiting for him to e-mail announcing his impending fatherhood or somesuch. So, except for the minor inconvenience of having burned all bridges and emigrated to a foreign country to live him, it was all pretty much OK.

E. did considerably less well out of his mini-marriage. His fruitloop of an ex-wife (well, I am sure he drove her crazy as only he can) made off with (shock!) half of everything and perhaps a bit more. Worse, she left him with a bad taste in his mouth when it came to relationships, women, and matrimony. Even worse, she has the same name as me!

We have been together for five years, and during that time, there have been various discussions about our unmarried state. He has made it clear that he is in no particular rush to get married, ever. This has led to a series of tantrums on my part. For all my proclamations of how unconventional I am, I really want to get married. To him. And his refusal to do so irritates me. The more I push about it, the more resistant he has become to the whole notion.

You want me to be the mother of your children, but you don't want to marry me?

That's right, he says. Although I would probably marry you if we did have kids.

OK, so no extra pressure there.

My mother, who frequently expresses thoughts out loud like "You can't hold onto your man," and "how are you going to have a baby? you're divorced!" would probably fall over in a faint if E. and I ever did get married. Secretly she thinks he's never going to commit, that he's off womanising in the Other City when he's not with me, that he's going to dump me the first chance he gets. E. simply rolls his eyes when I tell him this, and says (quite rightly, too) that my mother's insanity is simply not inducement enough to wed.

For the most part I have given up though. Marriage has begun to feel like something that will happen, or it won't. Except I think I can live with the idea of never being married again. I did that, I had the big meringue dress, the candlelit venue, the cheesy disco. And although I know a wedding to E. would be infinitely more special, because I love him with every fiber of my being, a part of me can rest on the memory of the wedding that was. Because I know he loves me back, and our life together is whole and fine and good as it.

Plus, we have a joint mortgage, how much more commitment does one need?

I'm not so sure I can live without ever having children. I'm not sure how whole and fine and good things are going to be if the worst case scenario comes to pass. And I wonder, during those really dark 2am moments when you find yourself confronting the worst thoughts- if maybe it would be all too easy for him to leave me after all, for someone more fertile. Proving my mother right in the bargain.

The Bathroom Floor

When I was a small child, my mother was quite coy about certain "facts of life". This is ironic in that she went on to become a sex therapist later in life, and embarrass me in all manner of ways by making up for her previous reticence with with regular TMI conversations.

But first she managed to mislead me about a number of key bodily functions & processes. For example, those ads that were on the TV in the 70s during the afternoon soaps for "sanitary napkins". For years she had me convinced that these were a special ladies' version of the thing you find at the dinner table. Luckily she managed to catch me one day before I managed to raid the grocery bags, open the box, and lay out the pads for the two of us (the ladies of the house).

The other thing which I found confusing was how and when babies were made. My mother hadn't gone into detail, since she no doubt thought it inappropriate for someone so young, but I had a rudimentary idea of the mechanics. She did convey the notion that it involved a man & a woman being naked together.

So I thought about when I was most likely to be naked, figuring that was the same for grown ups. What I concluded was that I was usually naked at three points in the day: getting dressed in the morning, getting undressed at night, and whilst having a bath.

Morning made no sense as the likely time- you had to get to school or work or downstairs to watch Saturday morning cartoons. Nighttime, likewise, you would be sleepy, (and in our house, where heat was considered to be a luxury item) freezing cold. You'd want to get into your jammies quick quick quick and into bed.

Therefore, I deduced- it must be in the bathroom.

Naturally, I realised some years later that my reasoning was flawed, and in fact, the boudoir was the more likely venue.

However, E. and I have been required to undertake our babymaking activities in the bathroom on a number of key dates in the last year. This is primarily because there have been other people in the house, and E. is utterly paranoid about being overheard. He tends to figure we can drown out the noise of our lurrrve by the sound of running water.

The most memorable occasion was at my parent's house last winter, where I flailed for something to hold onto, grabbed the towel rail and snapped it clean off. It's a wonder neither of us concussed ourselves on the side of the bathtub.

And most recently, during their extended stay, we availed ourselves of the relative privacy of our ensuite. I lay on the floor with my feet up on the toilet afterwards. If nothing else, it was a change of scene.

So I wonder, if I somehow conceive after our efforts this cycle, what will I tell my child about where babies are made?

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

My hero

After all my moaning last night, E. came through. I phoned him, and told him I needed him here, and he got in the car without one word of complaint.

I love E.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Hello darkness, my old friend

The parentals have gone, and in the first quiet moment of the last month, I exhaled.

With the next breath, I suddenly felt a great wave of depression come over me. I have spent the past four weeks making sure that my guests were happy, well-fed, entertained.

Now that they are gone, my urges to weep uncontrollably for no apparent reason have returned with a vengeance. Oh look, the phone bill has arrived- tears. The light bulb in the bathroom has burned out- more tears. The poppies are wilting and the rosemary pot has blown over- sob sob sob.

I think it has something to do with the fact that I know this month is a goner as far as our opportunities for catching the egg are concerned. I think- no, I know- that I am ovulating, like, right NOW.

You see, E. and I don't see each other much during the week. He works in the Other City, and the commute is so hellish that he can't face getting up at 5am to be at work on time. So he keeps a flat there, and stays there Monday to Thursday. Then he comes here to the flat we own together. It's an insane arrangement that we can do nothing about.

So to do anything about said ovulation means me getting on a bus to the Other City. Having woken at 4am to get my parents to the airport, then worked a grizzly 9 hour day, it's safe to say I ain't in the mood for a two hour bus journey, much less the act of babymaking.

Or I could phone up E., who is also having a nightmare week (and it is only Tuesday) and ask him to drive through to This City. What are the chances?

I'm a wimp. I should be more motivated. He should be more motivated too. I'm exhausted. I am pretty sure he is.

There is chocolate ice cream in the freezer. I'm going to go eat some while sitting on the kitchen floor, my answer to floor cake, not that my circumstances can really said to be considered floor cake worthy. But I'll cry if I want to.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Things I Hate- Part 1

If Blogger has the capacity to set up various categories of posts, I can't seem to find out how to do it. This is a shame, because there would surely be a category called: Things I Hate- only I am sure I would find some cleverer title than that if it was going to be a permanent fixture on the sidebar.

Instead, we'll just have to have series of posts on that topic. And I'm not feeling so clever today, so let's just keep it simple and call it "Things I Hate Part 1".

The words "should" and "ought to". As in:

-"You should take your parents to [insert tourist location here], since they have come all the way over from America to see you."

-"You should try planting [insert particular plant] in your roof garden, and should water it X many times a day and you ought to sit outside when the sun is out and you should enjoy said garden."

-"You should run a 10k/half marathon/marathon".

-"You ought to open an high interest savings account with that money instead of spending it on Prada shoes."

I can barely tolerate the words "should" and "ought to" generally, because like a lot of people, I have a real aversion to being TOLD WHAT TO DO. Last I checked, I was a grown up with a well-paying job, a nice place to live, a driver's license, and ability to feed, bathe and clothe myself. I am perfectly capable of figuring out what to do with my own money, my own career, and my own leisure time.

And my own body, relationship, and family choices, thank you very much.

So when people start on the word "should" in relation to infertility, it makes me crazed. I know they are generally well-meaning, I know they, in many cases, actually have some good advice to offer.

But please, please, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, don't dress that advice up in a directive fashion. Please think about what the word "should" and "ought to" conveys in this context. I know most of the time, no harm is meant, but to my ears it usually says "I know better than you", or "if you don't, nothing good will come of it".

Try "could". You could drink more green tea, you could visit an infertility clinic, you could soothe your troubled soul by buying little treats for yourself. Try "can"- as in, "did you know, you can order those vitamin supplements to help E.'s funny shaped sperm online for so much cheaper!"

Could is "take it or leave it". Can is positive action. Should is "you better, or else".

Yes, I know I am a little touchy. A little hyper-sensitive. But I'm the one sitting here, confronting the unnerving possibility that I may or may not be able to have the one thing in the world I want the most right now- a baby with E.

If you have a problem with that, then you should shut the fuck up.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

National Infertility Day

Today is National Infertility Day in the United Kingdom. I was unaware of this until I heard it on the radio this morning while I was attempting to unblock the milk frother on the cappuccino machine with a bit of fuse wire. It was a two second blurb, really, except there was a sound byte of some woman talking about how everyone should be entitled to at least one cycle of IVF for free.

My excitement of having a such a day was fleeting, tempered the cynical realisation that there are about a babillion National This & That days and nobody gives a monkey's.

For example, did you know of the existence of:

National Salt Awareness Day
National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
National Moth Night
National Corndog Day
Cow Appreciation Day
National Ample Time Day
Panic Day (March 9, must mark calendar for that one)
International End Gossip Day (don't tell anyone I told you about that)
International Aura Awareness Day

My favourites include:

Coping with Uncertainty Day - November 17 (a date which happily coincides with National Homemade Bread Day)
International Nagging Day on August 14.

Tomorrow is International Skeptics Day. Look it up on Google if you don't believe me.

I'm not thrilled to be celebrating National Infertility Day, and I don't imagine others in the same boat as me are either (I should have saved that last bit for Cliche Day). But I am happy to know that tomorrow is likely to bring a National Day of something even more stupid, pointless and meaningless, by which point this one will seem like a distant memory.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Another needle moment with the good doctor

I think I may have mentioned before that I am not a big fan of needes. Except when Dr Best Friend is doing the sticking.

I went to see the good doctor today to get my thyroxine prescription filled, and to give her the low down on my visit to Dr Endocrine.

He's really good, I said. And a really big deal when it comes to all things endocrine. (I kept the magic throttling moment private though, since some things are too good to be shared. )

Oh, he is good, Dr Best Friend said. You know he discovered TSH?

Eh? Really? Cause, you know, wow. (surely not. Surely my Dr. E didn't actually discover TSH? Must look into that one).

Oh yes, she says. That's why I went to him.

I'm not sure if she meant she personally went to him, or if she went to him as in sending me. I rather thought from the inflection on the "I" that she, herself, has had a taste of a little thyroid difficulty, but one can never ask these things without sounding nosey.

Meanwhile she is sneaking over to the cupboard for weapons, and before I know it there is a needle plunged into my arm. For checking that the MMR worked. I didn't feel a thing. Moreover, I felt like our little needle moments were at last becoming something to look forward to.

I love Dr Best Friend. She sends me to reknowned endocrinologist specialists for free (well- NHS, let's not get carried away) and is referring E. and I to the infertility clinic for further tests. And when she says call any time, I think she means it. Well, she might not mean it so much if I really DID call all the time, but it's a nice thought.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Expectations after the unexpected

Zeut alors! An occurence, the odds of which I would have placed on par with the likelihood of me actually managing to have sex at the time of ovulation this month (i.e. little to none), Wheeze is being transferred. Which means no more insane making shoulder hoverings over the desk, no more off piste meanderings on how to do my work in a way that makes no sense to me.

True, she is only going as far as the desk across the room. This means opportunities will still abound for the Hairy Eyeball. I am hoping this will be partially compensated for by the fact that I might get her desk, the best one in the office. Only, not so likely, since there are at least two members of staff senior to me who will want it. The reality is I will still be sitting pretty much right next to her.

But surely some of the day to day stress will diminish.

Except I will have to do all her work as well as my own until they replace her, or until I get pregnant and go on maternity leave. Both events which at the present rate of progress are likely to be sometime around the date of the next Venus transit.


Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Venus transit

Today, the tiny black dot of Venus crossed over the sun. The last time this happened was in 1882, so not exactly your everyday event.

By observing a transit of Venus, the astronomer Edmund Halley was able to devise the formula in 1716 for calculating the distance from the earth to the sun. The Venus transit was also the impetus for Captain Cook's travels in the H.M.S. Endevour, to Tahiti in 1769. I have to say, Tahiti was probably an infinitely preferable location for viewing, compared to my bedroom window looking over the scrapyard, but at least I can also see the sea.

I nearly missed it. Scotland has been wreathed in fog all day. I woke briefly, when E. left for work this morning at 5.30 a.m. The alarm went off again at 6.30. Staggering out of bed, I realised my parents were already up. My dad stood ready with the binoculars and his welders glass, bought specially the week before in preparation for the event. But- too cloudy, they told me, to hope to see it. So I went back to bed. I woke up again at quarter past nine, at which point they blithely announced there was a break in the clouds at about 7 am.

So I missed it? Oh yes, they said. We thought you probably needed the sleep.

What? What? Hello- I can sleep when I am dead. I just missed the effing Venus transit which happens like, once every 234 years, because you thought I should sleep? OK, so admittedly, it will happen again in 2012, but I could be busy that day, or traveling, or otherwise engaged. Mind boggles at display of parental logic.

Happily, there was another cloud break around 10.30 am. I stood braced against the window, welders glass clamped to the edge of the binoculars. Through the murk, I could see the sun, green through the glass, the small black dot of Venus skimming the bottom. And then two minutes later, the clouds rolled over once more and the fog remained the rest of the day.

Perhaps not a life changing event for me, but I was glad to have witnessed it. And I promised myself that when I become a mother, I will wake my child for astronomical phenomenons, the likes of which we are not to see again in this lifetime.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Are you more or less infertile if you don't actually want children?

For someone who has been described with some frequency by those who have met me & subsequently become friends, I can be a cold and unapproachable bitch. I don't know what the people who I don't become friends with think of me, because presumably I am too cold and bitchy for them to get to know me.

The irony is that I am actually rather open- if prodded, I will spill the beans on all sorts of things. So while I don't run around announcing that I am on the TTC trail, neither do I try to deny it if someone pushes as to my intentions in that regard. Accordingly I find myself having long TTC conversations with certain people, knowing full well I really shouldn't be discussing it, because it will only cause more confusion.

Case in point- I was talking to my good friend C. the other day. We went to university together and survived through a series of particularly grim lectures by writing notes back & forth. (I was infamous for my failure to take proper lecture notes, preferring to doodle mindlessly instead).

C. has recently also become a colleague and works along the hall. We meet for lunch a lot, are the same age, both have long term partners with some vague inkling to get married at some point, like hiking, drink beer and laugh about our ludicrious jobs. Key difference- I want to be a mother and C does not.

C. has never suggested otherwise, and so I have always approached my discussions about my attempted motherhood with her on the basis that I am dealing with someone whose goal in life is to avoid pregnancy. To be honest, it makes a rather refreshing change at times, and C. is so funny and endearing that I truly can never be irritated with her even when she comes out with the usual cliches.

So C. says, "How goes it on Planet Babymaking?"

"Mm. Not so much. Thyroid blah blah morphology blah blah."

C. raised her eyebrows. "Wow," she says, "that is fascinating. I wonder if I could get pregnant. Maybe I am infertile too. Guess I'll never find out, since I really never ever want kids! Hahahaha!"

Strangely, this was not as annoying as it sounds. I left instead intrigued. C. and I might both be infertile- she could be as medically challenged as I, but like she says, it will never even be an issue. The thing that is currently causing me so much aggravation is to her a blessing. Does that make me more infertile, because I want kids and maybe can't have them? Or her, because she hasn't got the slightest inclination to do anything about it one way or another...

if a tree falls in the wood.....

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Wanted: enough babies to form own rugby team

E., like many men, takes his time in making up his mind about certain things. We are opposites in that regard- he agonises and swithers and gnashes teeth over things big & small, while I am prone to sharp and decisive choices. Not always the right ones, I might add, but at least I get on with it.

Once E.'s mind is made up, he will backtrack on more than one occasion. Forget second guessing, this is more like quadruple guessing. Did we buy the right flat? Yes, we did. Or, no maybe we didn't? In which case, should we sell said flat and move somewhere else? Or no, we like the flat. Do we like it? Yes? Do we? Yes, yes, we like it. We'll stay. In the flat we bought and not sell it and move somewhere else.

You'll find me halfway up the curtains during most of these conversations.

Unsurprisingly, E. has taken this same approach to having a family. But he knew how important it is to me to have a baby, so while I suspect he had many of the usual tossings and turnings over what to do and when to do it, he kept pretty quiet about it up til now. He's been a good team player so far, showing up to bat at the right times, making encouraging coaching noises during the two week wait,
doing his bit in the embarrasing test department.

But I know E. And I know that he wasn't, even after 11 months, completely there. Part of it is denial, because he thought it was going to be so easy. Part of it is the ambivalence of doing something which really calls into question our willingness to go the distance to be parents. And part of it is just that guy thing where they bumble along with brain half engaged because they can.

However, I know now he is committed. He phoned me tonight to tell me about a newspaper article that bothered him. Apparently a local rugby club have, unusually, fathered 15 babies between them this year with three more sprogs on the way. E. found himself having odd palpitations as he viewed the pictures of these men all clutching their bouncing bundles of babyness.

"That should be us," he says. "I know, I know. Though maybe not the rugby team part of it. That's a little weird," I replied.

"We must have a baby. We must. A [insert his surname hypen my surname here] hybrid must be made!"

He proceeded then to tell me how a plan of action was needed, urgent and immediate action.

"Sex would be a start," I told him. "Then we will! Lots more! This month," says Decisive Man.

Mmm...difficult when he is going to be away during the crucial week on a trip with the boys to Amsterdam. Perhaps it would have helped if he had seen the newspaper article before he booked that trip.

Yellow Vans

When I was at university, I took six months off and went on NOLS course- for those of you not familiar with the National Outdoor Leadership School, it's like Outward Bound, only slightly more hardcore, or at least it was when I did it. One of my instructors was this sort of Zen god- he exuded this aura of knowingness, and insight into the mundane. In retrospect I don't know if he was actually any more clued up than you or I, but when you are impressionable and 21, he sounded pretty good.

One of the things that he said that has stuck with me for years was this:

"I never noticed how many people in the world drive yellow vans. Until I started sleeping with a woman who drove one."

This amusing little truism has applied to a lot of things for me over the years, but never has it been truer until I packed my bags for my delightful TTC journey. Suddenly, the world around me is FULL of pregnant women, big bellied, glowing, mothers-to-be. Or full of baby buggies with pink cheeked little infants.

After my trip to see Dr Endocrine, my mother and I stopped in at a local department store to do a little shopping. Truth be told, I was looking for a little retail therapy, because I was just feeling so down in general.

And the place was wall to wall babies. Couples arm in arm cooing over precious little poppets, a young mother with said child strapped to her chest FOLLOWING us around the shop. I am not, and have never been, really resentful of other people's children. A mild envy and vague sense of the injustice of it all is as far as it really went. Until then- when it hit me.

The world is suddenly full of people driving yellow vans. And at the moment, all of them have a baby on board.