Friday, 29 October 2010

Messy emotion

One of my very clear memories from childhood is of a time when we moved house. Nothing unusual in that - we moved house regularly due to my father's job, and by the age of 10 I was attending my sixth school.

On this particular move, when I started at my new school I felt that I had a clean slate, and was anxious to keep it that way. Conscious that I was growing up and had responsibilities, I was especially keen that none of my new friends should ever see me cry.

It must have been about three weeks into my time at the new school that I went to get something from under a raised counter top, stood up too early and bashed my head very hard against the corner of the counter. It really really hurt, and instantly tears came into my eyes.

The reason this incident stuck in my memory is that I can still remember how hard I cried, and how miserable I felt for days afterwards. Not because of the pain in my head, but out of frustration, humiliation and sheer rage at myself for having exhibited such a sign of weakness in front of everyone.

This happened shortly after my sixth birthday.

I soon became adept at keeping myself under control, and by the time I went to boarding school at the age of 10, I found it difficult to cry even if I wanted to.

I've spent many years since then keeping my emotions well buttoned up. If something was too painful to talk about without getting visibly upset, then I would avoid talking about it. If it was too painful even to think about without crying, I would push it to the back of the mind and do my best to avoid thinking about it. I've cried more in the last year than I have in the whole of my adult life, and there's a big part of me that despises the weak, blubbering mess that infertility is turning me into.

What's happening in my coaching sessions is the exact opposite of my usual way of dealing with difficult things. I tell my coach about something that has happened, and she asks me questions about how I dealt with it and how it made me feel, and she keeps asking questions beyond the point where I would back off from the subject as being too uncomfortable to deal with. So in two of the three sessions I've had with her, I've cried. And I still hate doing it in front of other people, but these are issues which need to be dealt with, so I sit there displaying all that embarrassing, uncomfortable, ugly emotion and work with her to try to work out how I can make things better.

But I do sometimes wonder with what sort of disgust my six-year-old self would have viewed the incontinently emoting adult I seem to have become.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Benched again

I wasn't really enormously keen on getting started this month. There were several reasons for this - the cycles that I've had since IVF #3 have been so short that I just didn't feel ready, having mentally prepared myself to wait three months. The DHEA and vitamins that we were given after the last follow-up are meant to be taken for at least three months, and it hasn't been three months yet. I'm concerned that my cycle doesn't seem to have fully returned to normal since our last IVF. And I feel rotten this week because I've got a bad cold - yesterday I completely lost my voice, and had the greatest difficulty making myself understood when I rang the clinic.

Because of that last point, I was even more hesitant about phoning the clinic and getting my blood test done. I thought it wouldn't be fair on everyone there to take my coughing and spluttering into the clinic and spread my germs around. I even asked about this over the phone, and the person I spoke to told me not to worry about it, and that having a cold wouldn't affect the treatment if my levels were right.

Anyway, despite all my reservations, I went in and had the blood test. My levels were:

FSH - 13.4
LH - 5.4
Oestradiol - 146
Prolactin - 188

These numbers are almost exactly the same as when I was first tested at the other clinic last summer, following which I got half a dozen eggs and two embryos transferred in IVF #1, so they're certainly not disastrous. The FSH is, however, the highest I've had - despite one month of wheatgrass (I didn't order any more after the first month, because I read that it could affect the immune readings) and almost three months of DHEA.

The nurse who called with the numbers asked if I'd been very stressed lately, since she said this can have a negative effect on FSH. I instantly said no, because I feel as though I shouldn't be stressed now that my job, the main cause of stress in the past, is gone.

But of course, life isn't just about work, and I have had other stresses in my life recently - not least the worry about how I'm going to earn money in the future. And one sign that I probably have been more stressed than I was admitting to is that I've been sleeping badly again for the last couple of months - having some trouble getting to sleep in the first place, then waking up at about 3 and being awake for at least an hour, and sometimes for the rest of the night.

I'm pleased that my numbers aren't any worse, and it's kind of reassuring to know what's going on at the moment, but I'm also quite pleased not to have been starting with the IVF this month, when I just didn't feel ready.

So the next 25 days or so will be spent trying to get myself ready. There are three particular things I'm doing to address the stress - the coaching, following Circle + Bloom's Mind + Body programme, and today I'm going to call a reflexologist who's been recommended to me. She specialises in fertility issues, and I've read that this can help some people - since acupuncture did nothing for me, I'm going to see if this will work better.

I'm also going to get another month's supply of wheatgrass, increase my B vitamin intake, and really concentrate on cooking good, nutrient-rich meals over the next few weeks.

DH and I discussed going back on the Foresight programme. But by the time you've had the hair analysis done, got the report back, ordered the recommended supplements and received them, a good couple of weeks have passed, so DH suggested that we wait until next month, and then if my FSH is high again on the next test, we'll do the hair analysis. Last time round, we had to wait five months for my FSH and oestradiol levels to be good enough to start treatment, so we're half prepared for it to be a while this time as well - but hoping that November will be our month.

DH, by the way, has been very supportive this week, and is really trying to take more responsibility. I have also been stepping back and letting him make more of our joint decisions - things like "this letter came from the water company today - I've left it out so you can have a look at it and see whether you think we need the insurance they're offering", rather than making my own decision and binning the letter like I usually do, and also really asking his opinion on whether I should have the blood test and what we should do next, rather than (as I now see that I usually do) telling him what I think we should do and then asking if he agrees.

I'm not bothered that my FSH is a bit too high for this month, but I really really really want to get it down so that I can get started next month - so now the destressing begins...

Monday, 25 October 2010

Positive negativity

I keep talking about acknowledging the negative in my life, and yet what I'm really trying to achieve is a positive attitude towards our upcoming IVF. It seems a bit contradictory, but this is my reasoning.

As we've gone through failure after failure in the last two and a half years - first failing to conceive naturally, then eventually being told IVF was our only hope, then going through three failed IVF treatments - I've been trying harder and harder to protect myself against the pain of yet another failure.

I'd pretty much reached the stage where I was thinking that it's inevitable that the next IVF will fail, and that it doesn't matter if it does, because my life is pretty perfect as it is.

And yet I know that this isn't the case - it will matter tremendously to me if this IVF fails, and although my life is good, and could be good even if we never have children, I'm kidding myself if I think that I'm happy to move on and live a child-free life.

So my attempt to protect myself from having negative feelings is actually contributing to my negative attitude towards IVF, where I'm already convinced that it's going to fail before I even start. And because of that, I'm terrified to start, because until I do, I still have some hope. But after the inevitable failure, there will be no more hope that I'm ever going to have my own biological child.

I think I need to allow myself to acknowledge the extent to which my life at the moment is not what I want it to be, in order to start visualising again the sort of life I do want and imagining that it's possible to have that. The friend I stayed with last weekend said that she's convinced I will be a mother, but she's not sure how that will come about - whether I'll give birth to my own child, give birth to a donor embryo or adopt a child. She said the only way I'm not going to get there in the end is if I decide myself to stop trying.

I don't think she's entirely right - all our fertility treatments could fail, we could get turned down for adoption, and we genuinely could end up running out of options. But it's certainly a refreshing change from all those people who say, "I just know you're going to get pregnant soon" - to which my immediate mental response is, "No you don't - and why can't we just acknowledge that some people never are going to get pregnant and I could be one of them?"

But the basic idea about not giving up hope of us becoming parents one day is a good one. And in particular, I need to go into this IVF with the hope that it's going to succeed. If I'm protecting myself from negative emotions by convincing myself that it's going to fail before I even start, I'm not allowing it the best chance possible to succeed.

I think that's what I mean by acknowledging the negative. I'm not going to turn into a total Eeyore. I'm not going to lose my generally upbeat attitude to life. I just want to acknowledge to myself how much I want this to work and allow myself to feel hope without being crippled by the fear that raising my hopes will only make me fall harder when those hopes are dashed.

And by writing all this, I think I've just convinced myself that, this being CD1 (and I'm very bothered by the fact that I just had my second 24-day cycle in a row and that my cycle doesn't seem to have sorted itself out properly since IVF #3), I will feel the fear and call the clinic today, rather than giving up on this month before it even starts and putting it all off until next month - or the month after - or the month after that.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

The bright side

I don't think I'm a natural optimist - but since the days when I was a moody teenager, I've worked very hard at accentuating the positive. I've been pretty successful, and I still think of my petrol tank as 'only one sixteenth full' rather than 'nearly empty'. Fortunately, that's never actually led me to run out of fuel...

But does accentuating the positive sometimes mean denying the negative altogether, or denying my feelings about it, until it gets too much for me and I explode? Or does the suppression of the negative increase the stress in my life, because I secretly know it's there but am trying to pretend to myself that it's not?

My last two posts have basically been whinges about my DH's behaviour. (Incidentally, I really appreciated all your comments. I actually mentioned to him this morning that the three huge glasses of wine hadn't really sat very well with his assumption of responsibility, and he said, "But she only half-filled the glass each time, so it wasn't really three glasses." I pointed out that the glasses were the size of small buckets, and he seemed genuinely surprised and claimed not to have noticed that they were larger than your average wine glass!)

In my first coaching session, I filled in a thing called the Circle of Life, in which I scored various areas of my life out of 10 according to how they were going at the moment. The scores I gave were almost all between 7 and 9, and I gave my relationship with DH 9/10.

In the second session, the coach asked if I wanted to revisit any of the scores in the light of the week's events, and I didn't really - except that I increased the score for my career, because although it's at a bit of an impasse at the moment, I'm not too unhappy about it.

She suggested that I was kidding myself - basically indicating that my life was pretty close to perfect and especially giving our relationship such a high score when I was clearly very angry at DH at that particular time.

I keep coming back to this thought and wondering if I should be less contented with my life at the moment. I know that over the last few months I've begun to focus more on all the things in my life that I enjoy and that would be more difficult or at least very different if we had children. And that's me - I'd rather look at what I do have than what I don't. And I'd rather feel happy than dwell on the things that make me unhappy.

The trouble is that the things that make me unhappy are still there, lurking beneath the surface. And every so often something happens to make me realise how present they still are, and how much they do still bother me.

I know that in order to get what I really want, I need to examine all those things that I've shoved to the back of my mind and stop pretending to myself that the status quo is absolutely fine. And I know that this is the process I went through with the coach I saw before, who helped me to take the plunge and make some big changes in my life.

The difference is that this time, the end result of all this is not within my power. It's not as simple as "if I don't get that job, another one will come up soon and I just need to tweak my CV a bit and brush up on my interview technique" or "if I look long enough and hard enough, I'll eventually find the perfect house in the right area".

With IF, I can do everything 'right', remind myself exactly how much I want to be a mother, throw a harsh light on all the areas of my life that are not perfect right now, but nothing I can do will guarantee me a baby at the end of it. I might end up stirring up all the areas of discontent, bringing my unhappiness to the fore and then being left with nothing but discontent and unhappiness at the end of it all.

And that's why I'm terrified of admitting, even to myself, that any area of my life is much less than perfect at the moment. But I think it's also something I really need to allow myself to do. (Mind you, I'm still not ready to suggest that my relationship with DH is any less than 90% perfect - it's just that I've been bringing the 10% to the fore recently...)

In retrospect, I wonder if the title of this post should have been 'The dark side'...

Friday, 22 October 2010


At my coaching session yesterday, we talked about what happened on Tuesday. This morphed into a long discussion of DH's passivity, my frustration with it, and what I might be able to do to make things better.

Once again, I was surprised by something that really made me stop and think, and that I think I really needed to hear. My coach asked if DH had always been this way, and I said he had. She then suggested that if I had always known he was like this, and was now trying to change him, perhaps the problem was mine rather than his. He's been totally consistent, and perhaps it's unreasonable for me to expect him to change.

On the other hand, he does need to take responsibility, and we have fallen into a pattern where I make all the decisions and he just passively sits back and lets me. I have the feeling that if I don't do things, they just won't get done, and so I rush around doing everything and then get stressed because he's not helping.

She helped me to see that I need to step back a bit and actually allow him to take responsibility himself, rather than automatically doing everything myself. If I don't do things, they may end up being done differently, but the world probably won't fall apart around my shoulders.

And it's true - I find it as hard to let go of my independence and of doing everything myself in the way I like it done as he does to take control of anything. So the problem is not all on his side, and I need to work on my control freakery as much as he needs to work on his passivity.

I told him all about it when he got home from work yesterday evening. Then I told him another thing we had discussed - that he has the responsibility for making sure that his 50% of the DNA that's going to our future embryo is as healthy as possible. I can't do that for him, and so he needs to agree to take on that responsibility himself and make the right choices without me nagging reminding him the whole time. And he agreed that this is what he needs to do.

And then we went to our monthly book club meeting, and as I watched him accept his third glass of wine I gritted my teeth and wondered how long I can keep letting him take the responsibility if the decisions he makes are often so irresponsible.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010


DH and I had a Big Talk last night.

It all started with him working late and failing to turn up to Niece #2's birthday tea. We were all expecting him, and the nieces kept asking when he was going to arrive. He claims he had mentioned in the morning that he would be working late. If so, I certainly didn't hear him, and in any case, since he knew we had plans for the evening, I feel that he should have at least acknowledged that he was going to be changing the plans rather than just casually remark that he might be late. The birthday tea had been discussed several times over the last week, and he said nothing to suggest he wouldn't be there when I reminded him of it by e-mail during the day.

Anyway, eventually I got worried that he was so late, and texted him to ask where he was - and was pretty cross when he replied that he was still at work. He did join me at my sister's house eventually, but not until after the children were in bed.

Somehow, the discussion that we had on the way home returned to a familiar theme - one that you'd think had been done to death, except that nothing ever changes.

DH is easy-going to the point of laziness and complete passivity. He's always very good at agreeing with me that X or Y needs to be done, and he's usually good at emotional support once a decision has been made. Even then, though, I find that if the decision involves something I need to do, he'll support me. If the decision involves something he needs to do, it almost invariably ends up not getting done, regardless of my support/reminders/nagging.

But the day-to-day running of our life - decisions both big and small about everything from whether it's worth trying for another IVF treatment or whether we should try to adopt, right down to what we eat every day and even what clothes he should buy - all those decisions are left to me. If I ask his opinion about anything, he always says, "You decide." And on the rare occasions when he does make a decision of his own, they're often bad ones - like unerringly choosing the unhealthiest option on the menu when we go out for a meal.

And I'm tired of bearing the entire responsibility for everything that goes on in our life. I'm tired of the fact that he doesn't support me in the decision-making, and that if the decision involves him, he'll listen and nod along, not disagree, but then go away and do the complete opposite of what we've agreed. If he disagrees, he should say so, but I'm fed up with this form of passive aggression.

And guess what - most of the 'conversation' yesterday consisted of me talking, followed by long pauses as I waited for a response. Occasionally, he would say, "Yes, you're right" or "That's true", but he never engaged in trying to work out anything positive.

Anyone who thinks they would like a husband who never disagrees with them should take careful note - it's the most exhausting and frustrating thing in the world. I dream of the day that he gives me a reasoned response that shows he has actually thought about something we're discussing and has come to a different conclusion. I want to be his wife, not his bloody mother.

Monday, 18 October 2010

First coaching session

Wow, it's almost a week since I last posted. I've been busy since then, and we went away for the weekend, but apart from that I've been doing a lot of processing - which will probably make this an incredibly long and boring post. If you don't have time to read it, the short version is "I saw a fertility coach for the first time and I think that was a good idea and will be helpful, so I've booked a series of sessions with her".

On Thursday I had my first session with the fertility coach. I had been fondly imagining that I had formed some sort of protective shell around my feelings about infertility - and maybe even that I had come to terms with it to the extent that I'd really be OK if it turned out that this was it and we were never going to have children.

I did realise, though, that I felt very ambivalent about this next cycle, and that I had some very confused feelings that I needed to try to sort out, which was why I went to see her in the first place.

Anyway, the whole "I'm strong and together and really OK with all this" idea very quickly fell apart. I even cried after I spoke to her on the phone to set the appointment up, and for the hour that I was with her on Thursday I cried for most of the time. This is kind of a big deal for me - I hate all that messy emotion, find crying in front of people very uncomfortable and have never understood those people who say, "Have a good cry and you'll feel better". So I was surprised that I cried in front of a complete stranger for an hour and then actually felt sort of calm and relieved while I was wandering around the shops afterwards.

But it's not all about wallowing in my misery and having a good cry. I've seen a coach before in my life - a few years ago I was very unhappy at work, and my boss actually arranged for me to see a life coach. This coach helped me to see that there were positive things I could do to improve my situation, and helped me to find the courage to stop procrastinating and change the things in my life that I wasn't happy with. Within a few months, I had started a new and much more fulfilling job, moved from a grotty South London flat to a lovely house in a beautiful area outside London, and met my future husband. (The only thing I found a bit odd was that I saw her at my new place of work about four months after our last session and said hello - and she barely even acknowledged me. I felt that if that had been me, I would at least have been interested to see that my former client had obviously followed my advice to the extent that she now had a new job, and would have wanted to spend two minutes finding out how she was getting on, out of curiosity if nothing else, rather than giving the impression (even though I know this was the case in any event) that I had only ever shown an interest in her because I was being paid to do so.)

Anyway, there were three main things that came out of Thursday's session with this new coach (apart from the whole messy but cathartic blubbing business).

The first is that I was using a lot of negative language. For instance, I said that our next cycle is likely to fail because I'm a poor responder. She said that I should try to avoid putting negative labels on myself like that, as if it's somehow my fault that I haven't responded well to the drugs in the past and as if it's a foregone conclusion that this will always be the case. She wants me to work on expressing things in a less negative way.

The second thing is that we talked about all the other stuff that's going on in my life at the moment, and how IVF #3 was squeezed into a very busy period and I did my jabs in a different place every day while I rushed from one thing to the next. She looked at me as if I was mad and said that while keeping everything ticking over might be a good thing when you're going through your first ever treatment and have plenty more chances, this next IVF is my last shot. If I'm serious about wanting to make it work, I need to give it the best possible chance, and that means prioritising it above everything else and not trying to set up a new business, dropping everything to babysit for other people every five minutes, and arranging to have a ridiculously active social life while I'm cycling. And if that means saying no to people, then I just need to learn to say no.

I talked about this with DH afterwards, and fairly tentatively said that I felt I'd been given permission to take my foot off the accelerator for a while and stop trying to keep all my balls in the air. He instantly replied that he'd been trying to get this through to me for a few weeks - and he certainly has talked about the IVF being our number one priority for the coming months, above any need for me to start earning money. Somehow, I needed to hear that from someone completely impartial before I could actually accept it.

The third thing was something that took me totally by surprise. The coach asked me what I saw as my purpose or role in life. I said that I had met DH quite late in life, and that I had often thought it was useful that I was single and childless, because I had been able to be there to help various people who needed it. This had continued since our marriage, and I sometimes felt that I wasn't meant to have children, because I was the one who was meant to be always available to be there for other people. I didn't say this, but a couple of times I've thought that it's just as well our IVF #1 and #2 didn't work, as my sister needed a lot of help around the time that Niece #4 was born this year, and not being heavily pregnant or having a new baby myself meant that I was able to give that help.

And then I started to cry really hard and said I didn't want to be that person any more, and it was my turn to have it for myself rather than always have to be just the one that's there for other people.

So this idea that I'm not meant to be a mother is one of the things that I need to confront and get past, and it kind of surprised me, because although that feeling has been lurking there in the background for a long time, I've never really thought of it in terms of something that might be giving me a mental block which could be preventing me from getting what I want. And maybe if I can accept that I have as much right to be a mother as anyone else, then my body can start to do its stuff and make itself a bit more of a hospitable environment for a baby to snuggle in next time round.

Interestingly, this weekend we stayed with one of my very dear friends, and we stayed up and talked for ages after the children and husbands were in bed (one of the advantages of visiting a fellow insomniac!). I told her all about this session, and she said that the reason she turned to me when her first baby was born was that she knew I knew what I was doing and would be able to give practical support. Then she said, "And far from thinking you're not meant to be a mother, when I look at everything you've done for various people over the years, all of that is the reason why I think you absolutely MUST be a mother, because you'll be so fabulous at it."

I'm not so sure about fabulous, but it's certainly a different way of looking at this.

Hoping is still scary, because I'm afraid that if I allow myself to hope too much, I'll just have further to fall when the (inevitable?) disappointment comes along. But if I don't have any hope, there's no point in doing any of this. I've definitely proved to myself that I still want this as much as ever, and I still feel as rotten as ever about it not happening. So I'm slowly working on building up hope again, and trying to believe that it really is my turn now. And I just really really hope that this hope isn't going to be crushed again.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


When Mr Wonderful said that we must have two full cycles and then we could start again on the third cycle, I fixed in my head that we would be starting to try again (with those pesky FSH tests) in late November. Then, of course, I had a 21-day cycle and a 25-day cycle, and suddenly I'm staring into the barrel of the starting gun again.

Mr Wonderful said that for the best results, I should take DHEA and DH should take the high dose Vitamin C and E for three months. When AF shows up at the end of this month, it won't have been anything like three months yet.

So I'm not sure if I'm physically or mentally ready for another cycle to start in a couple of weeks' time. But then I wonder if it's just fear holding me back - the fear of failing again and of what will happen next, since this will be our final attempt. And I think of how my biological clock is winding itself down and is barely ticking any more, and I wonder if a delay of even one month might harm our (very slim) chances of success.

And then there's work. I'm hoping that the groundwork I'm putting in at the moment will lead to work starting to come in fairly soon, and it's possible that if I put this off until late November, I may once again have to juggle a treatment cycle around work commitments. That may even be true if we get to go ahead this month, but if it is, I'm still likely to have more work on next month.

Of course, the decision could well be taken out of my hands. I could go for my blood test this month and find that my FSH and E2 levels aren't good enough to start. But even if they are, I just don't know whether it would be better to wait a month longer (actually, only about 26 days longer) and get the extra benefit of taking DHEA for a bit longer.

The timing of the last cycle was not ideal for me - I was in my last couple of weeks of work, and I had teaching and other commitments which meant increased stress, lots of time spent on my feet, and lots of shooting up in various public toilets. I felt quite ambivalent about going ahead with it, but was concerned that with my dodgy hormone levels I might not get another chance.

With this next attempt being our last, I really don't want to have any sort of ambivalence about its timing - but I can't see the future, and I don't know when my hormones are going to behave themselves (if they ever do) or when work will start to come in (if it ever does).

For a control freak like me, it's so hard to have to make these decisions while only ever being in possession of a maximum of half of the relevant information.

Monday, 11 October 2010

I was right

Thank you for your advice and encouragement on my last post. I did e-mail my friend, and it turned out I was right - although obviously I'd rather have been wrong.

She responded very quickly and told me about the devastation she and her husband had suffered when they lost a very much-wanted child quite late in the pregnancy. She also told me that her son was conceived through IVF.

I'm so sorry for the pain she's had to go through, but really glad that I made that contact - it's so easy to do nothing in these circumstances, but with your help it took me less than a minute to compose an e-mail which has opened up a line of communication and hopefully made her feel that someone else cares about what happened to her.

Saturday, 9 October 2010


I have a friend who I don't see much of these days. We worked together about 15 years ago, and went on a few holidays together. We went to each other's weddings, and every so often we meet up in a big group with other former colleagues. She has one child, a boy born after she'd been married about five years, and I've always known that she absolutely doted on him. We actually speak to each other probably less than once a year, but we are friends on Facebook.

Her Facebook status today took me slightly by surprise - it announces that Baby Loss Awareness Week starts today.

I don't really know what to do with this. I'm not aware that she's ever lost a baby, but it would certainly explain why her son is quite so precious to her and why he's an only child. And as far as I know, she knows nothing about our IF struggles - unless another mutual friend has mentioned it to her.

I want to acknowledge her status in some way, but I'm not too sure how. Two people have 'liked' it, and it would be very easy just to press that button and forget about it. But I think I'm going to send her an e-mail, and I'm not sure yet what it's going to say. If you post a status update like that, you're bringing something out into the open and it deserves some sort of response.

But how do you find the right words to respond to someone when you're not entirely sure what it is you're responding to?

Friday, 8 October 2010

Dealing with it

I know it doesn't seem that way, because this blog has always been my emotional outlet, but I've been struggling to express my feelings, or even sometimes to know what my feelings are, over the last IVF failure and preparing for the next (and last) one. The huge emotional outburst when our first cycle was delayed by a month, and then when it failed, has never been repeated. Is that because I don't care as much? Or because that level of emotion just can't be sustained and I'm getting used to the pain that IF causes me? Am I denying my feelings to myself, or am I just not feeling them as much?

I had been thinking it was the latter - that with the passage of time, I've come to accept what's happening, accept that I may never be a mother, and get used to that idea so that it's not the huge disaster that I once thought it was.

But the way I've reacted to some things lately - like my friend announcing her pregnancy on Wednesday, and the way I felt when AF showed up on the plane last week, makes me think that the feelings are all still there, but I've buried them and not dealt with them. If you knew me in real life, you'd see that 99% of the time, I just get on with things, enjoy life and actually talk about other stuff. When I cry, I generally cry alone (and then tell all of you about it) - I don't like to show that sort of vulnerability to people, and I also don't like to upset people who are close to me by showing that I'm upset.

I need some help in understanding how I feel and in working out some of my negativity and feelings of hopelessness, so that I can approach this last cycle in a positive frame of mind. I do believe that your state of mind affects your body, and I want to give myself the best possible chance. So after about six weeks of toying with the idea of contacting a fertility coach, and after six weeks of looking at her website and putting off actually doing anything positive, I finally made the phone call yesterday.

I won't go into detail about what we said, but I felt that this was someone who could really help me to work out some of my negativity and move forward, so I've booked a session with her for next Thursday. I told DH about the conversation last night, and he was totally supportive of the idea, though I don't think he wants to join in.

I feel like I'm still in this big dip - I certainly haven't started to dig myself out yet - but perhaps I have just got myself a spade.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

"Pick me, pick me"

Do you remember PE lessons at school, when the sadistic games teacher would choose the two most popular people in the class and get them to pick teams for that day's game? And of course, they would pick the star athletes first, then their best friends, and eventually all that would be left would be the ones with two left feet that nobody wanted. And of course again, the ones with two left feet would never be chosen by the sadistic games teacher to pick the teams.

I used to be one of those two-left-footers, and the team picking always used to end up in one of two ways. Either one of the team captains would eventually sigh and realise that, with only me left, she would have to accept me on her team, or there would be too many people in the class for that particular game and so two or three of us would end up never being picked, and would spend the rest of the games lesson running round the perimeter of the hockey pitch, or being tasked to run up and down the sides of the netball court, ready to retrieve the ball if it ever went out of play.

The feelings of inadequacy and exclusion that I felt in those days, as I held my breath, waiting to find out whether I would be able to join in the game at all and desperately trying to pretend that I didn't care if I ended up on the sidelines yet again, are replicated and magnified in my current journey.

Yesterday I met a friend for coffee. I met her through an IF internet forum, and our shared experience has helped to ensure that we formed a strong and deep friendship from the beginning. She is the same age as me, has similarly crappy eggs, a husband with similarly crappy sperm, and is a similarly poor responder to the IVF drugs. Like me, she has had three failed IVF cycles.

With all this in common, I should have been nothing but delighted when she texted me just as I was about to leave home. She said she had some rather wonderful news to tell me, but would quite understand if I decided I couldn't face it and changed my mind about meeting her for coffee.

It took me half an hour to drive to the place we'd agreed to meet, and my feelings on the way over there surprised me. I didn't want to see her, I didn't want to hear her good news, and as I got closer, I felt more and more miserable and sorry for myself.

When she arrived, she asked how my job situation was, as the last time I saw her was just before I finished work. I shook my head, said, "No job, no baby, no future" and had the greatest difficulty in not bursting into tears on the spot. And that's odd, because when I'm not feeling daunted at the magnitude of the task in front of me, I'm actually quite excited about my new portfolio career.

It's hard to explain how you can be genuinely happy for a person's good news and yet at the same time feel as though that good news is breaking your heart. In the great PE lesson of life, she just got picked and is bouncing happily towards the game, while I'm left wondering whether there's going to be room for me in the team, or whether I'm going to be left running up and down the sidelines looking on for ever.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The bank manager can wait

One of my warmest memories is from when I was working in China. My mother came out to visit me, and my father wasn't able to join her. My first nephew had just been born, and I was desperate to meet him. So my mother and I cooked up a plan that I would come home to England for a couple of weeks that summer. We told my brother and SIL (parents of my nephew), but didn't tell anyone else in the family - including my father.

The evening I arrived, my brother and SIL picked me up from the airport and drove me to my parents' house. My father was told they were coming with an extra guest, and my mother asked him to lay the table for supper. He grumbled and complained, saying how ridiculous it was that they were coming mid-week in an evening when my brother had to work the next day and they had a small baby. When we arrived, I got out of the car, and his face was a picture.

Later in the week, we surprised my sisters at school. Their reaction was almost as good, but it's my father's that I really remember.

Today is my father's birthday. Of course, I'm not travelling halfway across the world to surprise him this time. But I am just about to set off to drive 200 miles. I've phoned and wished him a happy birthday and made sure he's at home today - his favourite film is on the telly at lunchtime, and he said he's planning to watch that. Fortunately, he also has it on DVD, so if I disturb his viewing, it won't be too much of a disappointment.

So the quest for work can wait another day - I spent yesterday ordering the books I need and then buying a new computer to use for work, so with all this expenditure the income had better start coming in soon. But for today, my bank manager will just have to contain himself - I'm off to wish my dad a happy birthday.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Out of sorts

I'm feeling a little bit overwhelmed at the moment. On the job front, I'm wondering if I've overestimated my abilities and might be better off just looking for the sort of ordinary, dull job that I've been so strongly resisting. I spent yesterday doing some research on the internet and convincing myself that I've been completely deluded about my level of ability and that there's no way anyone will give me money for what I do.

On the baby front, I'm simultaneously looking forward to the opportunity to try again at the IVF and dreading it, because once it's over, that's it and there are no more chances. At the moment, I just can't see it succeeding, and part of me is thinking that we should just accept that and not waste another huge chunk of money on it, especially at a time when I don't have a job. Another part of me panics and feels weepy even at the thought of not having another go.

I've been given the details of a fertility coach who lives nearby, and tomorrow I'm going to give her a call. I've reached a stage where I desperately need to talk this through with someone completely objective who can help me to make sense of the way I'm feeling.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Back home

Well, we had a marvellous holiday. It was wonderful to see my brother, to spend hours chatting over coffee with my SIL (thanks, Jeannie), to get to know my nephews again and have lots of playing and lots of snuggles with them, to see where they're living now and be able, now that we're home, to picture their daily life so much better.

They're living in a little settler town in the Eastern Cape which is packed with history, as you can see from the beautiful store fronts here.

There's a beautiful cathedral in the centre of town...

... the university, where my brother works...

... and nearby, there's a huge pineapple farm...

... and a game park with several different types of animals and birds, including loads of elephants.

We really didn't want to come back... and guess which witchy old aunt joined us on the flight home, as if to say, "Don't ever expect things to happen just because you're relaxed, buster."