Monday, 15 December 2008

One step up and two steps back

It's been a long time. And I have a lot to tell you. I'm sorry I've been away so long - I have not been able to deal with writing about any of this, for many reasons that are too complicated and dull to go into here.

My health is really suffering from all this now. I've lost over a stone since this time last year, and I just feel really rundown and old a lot of the time. I suspect I'm now caught in a vicious circle where my low body mass index, and general drawn and pinched demeanour, are actually contributing to my fucked up menstrual cycle. How in the name of all that's holy does one break such a circle?

Anyway. The update. Firstly, the appointment at the clinic. It went better than I expected, in that it was much better to go with my mum than with hubby - on whom, more later - but it happened on a day when I was really poorly with a horrid gastric 'flu that had me chucking up in the ladies' outside the clinic reception before I ventured in. I thought I may have to excuse myself to be sick halfway through my consultation, but managed to last until we were on our way out.

We saw the same consultant I saw in January - the one who told me I had PCOS, which was then discounted by the professor we saw in May. And herein lies the first confusion: she reiterated my PCOS. I said I'd been told I didn't have PCOS. She looked perplexed and thumbed through my notes, then said my symptoms in fact WERE consistent with PCOS, and that the ovarian scan she'd conducted herself - an aside which gave me a pleasant reminder that she has stared at the inside of my reproductive system - showed an ovary that was, in layman's terms, screwed up. (She didn't say that. She said it looked polycystic.)

I asked why I didn't have any of the other symptoms of the condition. She said it varied. I asked why my periods had been normal for years and then gone daft at the age of 27. She said these things happen. I started to feel the angry worm crawling up my spine. My mum intervened.

After we'd agreed to disagree, I summarised my reason for requesting a new appointment ahead of the one-year sentence imposed on me by Professor Fuckwit - namely, that I had not had a period since July, and it was now November. Annoyingly, some of the wind was removed from my sails of self-righteous indignation by the fact that I was in fact menstruating as I sat there - and I had to admit as much, but I concluded by saying my period had "done this on purpose because it knew I had the appointment coming up". (She looked worried. Note to self: try to appear more sane in future.)

We went over the dates of the paltry few periods I have had in 2008, and I reiterated my concern that of the five or so there have been, only one - the one I had in Florida, weirdly - has been what I'd consider "normal" based on my previous, pre-Pill history. She made a lot of notes. She then weighed me and had a massive go at me for being underweight, which - quite rightly - she said wouldn't be doing my cycle any favours. I countered by observing that weight GAIN and difficulty losing weight were typical symptoms of PCOS. She looked somewhat abashed and moved on.

I then asked what we do next and said I was not prepared to hang about in limbo until next summer. I pointed out that my 30th - and with it, fertility that will dwindle at an alarming rate - was impending. And then she said the magic words: that I don't have enough periods to give me a decent chance of conceiving naturally, and that she was prepared to prescribe clomiphene.

In order to progress this, I now have to present myself back at the clinic on day two of my next period. They'll give me the drug, which I take for five days, and then I go back for regular blood tests and scans to determine my ovulation pattern, if any. If any because they start you on a low dose and up it depending on how you respond.

She then listed the side effects. Mother of God. In no particular order: depression, irritability (ha! got you beat on that one), spots, nausea, migraines, hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness (and let's face it, after nearly three years of TTC it's hardly Angel Falls in there already), dizziness. Slightly more serious side effects include a 25% chance of twins and a 10% chance of triplets per cycle on the drug. Oh and if you believe the papers, an increased risk of womb, ovarian, breast and stomach cancer. Let's be clear: this drug is no fucking walk in the park.

Because it's not a cakewalk, she then asked about my support network. She explained Professor Prat had last time noted that I "seemed unduly anxious" (let's pause for OUTRAGE at the use of that particular adverb) and was concerned at my ability to cope, although my "record showed I'd dealt well with the HSG".

My mum - sensing, I think, apoplexy on my part - stepped in and smoothly explained that I had a devoted support network in herself, my dad, my stepdad, my grandparents and friends, all of whom know about my plight. She glossed over hubby but that's because my mum is pissed off with him at present - again, of which more later.

Here's the thing. It's currently, as I type, day two of my next period. And I haven't been to the clinic to get my clomiphene.

Partly it's that I'm scared. I'm just a great, big wimp. The side effects are not to be sniffed at - and as much as I want a family, twins are in the "oh my god that would be amazing" camp but triplets are very firmly in the "now, hang on a second" one.

Partly it's timing. It's nearly Christmas; I'm really busy at work, which is good as it gives me a lot to focus on to distract me from babies, but also means I'd struggle with daily migraines and/or any one of the other side effects you care to mention. So part of me thinks, what's one or two more months in the grand scheme of the 30 we've been trying?

But mostly it's because I actually do doubt my support network - and not my family or friends, but hubby. As this has gone on, he has grown more and more distant from me. He refuses - point blank refuses - to discuss his feelings. He wants nothing to do with this blog, which in some respects is a good thing as it's personal and I'm not always complimentary towards him (though I'd argue that when I'm not, it's warranted). But he has equally pooh-poohed the concept of couples' infertility counselling, which I'm keen on, and even of just discussing it between the two of us.

And we're fighting a lot. They're nastier and nastier each time. We had a humdinger a couple of weekends ago which culminated in me throwing him out of the bedroom for saying to me that I would "die alone and childless". Yes, he really did say that.

And we're not having sex. An increasingly insistent voice in my head keeps saying that if we were dutifully doing the bad thing three times a week, I'd be pregnant by now. Once or twice a month does not constitute dedicated TTC, and I actually have started to feel that by implying we ARE having regular sex - or at the very least, by not admitting we're not - is tantamount to lying to the clinic.

And another thing. His sister's pregnant. With her second. This news was hurled rather spitefully at me during the aforementioned fucker of a fight. He's known for a while but apparently there was "never a right time" to tell me. (To which, I am ashamed to say, I responded: "Oh, grow a pair!")

We're meant to be going to see her for a pre-Christmas visit very shortly, and as much of an arse as I know this makes me, I really don't want to go. She's far enough along that she will be starting to show and I just don't want to deal with that, not a few days before my third Christmas of this.

So there you have it. My big update. I've got the prescription I wanted, but am too scared to take it. I don't know whether infertility has damaged my marriage beyond repair. I don't know if there genuinely is something wrong with me or whether our dwindling sex life is to blame.

In short, I'm the very definition of the Bruce Springsteen song 'One Step Up', which I quote here (slightly paraphased in order to assign myself the correct gender) to end this post:

"Woke up this morning, the house was cold,
Checked the furnace, she wasn't burning.
Went out and hopped in my old Ford,
Checked the engine but she ain't turning.
Given each other some hard lessons lately,
But we ain't learning.
Same sad story, that's a fact,
We're one step up and two steps back.

It's the same thing night on night,
Who's wrong, baby who's right?
Another fight and I slam the door on
Another battle in our dirty little war.
When I look at myself I don't see
The girl I wanted to be.
Somewhere along the line I stepped off track,
Going one step up and two steps back."

Monday, 20 October 2008

Another autumn waiting game

I managed to get an appointment on 13 November which, given previous lead times, is not that bad.

I intend to take my mum with me this time. Her support during the HSG was invaluable, and she's just better than hubby at times like this. Mum asks good questions and keeps me calm, whereas hubby sits there like a mute and then fucks off to get his watch fixed afterwards.

The main reason I want her moral support is that I don't want to leave this appointment having achieved nothing. Whether it's a Clomid prescription, a laparoscopy referral or even the number of a sympathetic counsellor, I want something tangible and real to come out of it. And if I get too upset to articulate as much - my throat usually starts aching with the urge to cry the minute I walk through the doors - I want my mum there to voice these thoughts for me.

My bizarre three-week cycle has not resolved itself. I bled for two days last week, then it tapered off again but - this is new - hasn't yet vanished altogether. I now spend my daily trips to the ladies' staring in dismay at what isn't actually period but can only be described as Unpleasantness.

I amused myself a few minutes ago. I was listening to my iTunes library, contemplating writing this blog post, and 'Glorybox' by Portishead came on. It's one of my favourite songs - I always used to think, in the days when I had such thoughts, that it'd be a good song to have sex to - and it contains a sentiment close to my heart at present with the refrain "I just want to be a woman".

Anyway, with this in mind, I suddenly thought: the song should be renamed in my honour. 'Gorybox'.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008


I'm going to ring the clinic in the morning. I got another period on Sunday, a scant three weeks since the last pathetic short bleed. This one stayed for yesterday but vanished overnight, meaning it's now three full months since I had a proper, five-day clear-out.

I don't know what's the matter with me. It's so horrible going through the days knowing there's something wrong with your body but that nobody in the medical profession a) knows what it is or b) cares, till I'm 30 at least.

My 30th. It's four months away and I'm dreading it. One shouldn't dread one's 30th birthday - or at least, not for any more sinister reason than bidding a nostalgic farewell to one's debauched twenties, and acknowledging a fleeting concern about the onslaught of cellulite and wrinkles.

I just feel like I don't have much to celebrate. I know that's selfish - after all, there are people much worse off than me - but I just feel things haven't worked out the way I'd planned. My life plan says I should have an 18-month-old on my hip as I toast this birthday. I should at least have a bump.

I know I do have things to be thankful for, and that I have achieved stuff in my life. I have my own home and assets ranging from a nice little VW to a decent coffee maker. I have a job I enjoy and find stimulating. I have good friends whose company I love.

But I also have a troubled marriage where a lot of the time I wonder if we have run out of things to talk about. Seven years together is a long time. Hubby actually said, during one of the alarmingly frank and honest conversations we've been having about The State of Us of late, that most "normal" couples have, by this point in proceedings, generally reproduced and thus have something important, engaging and time-consuming on which to focus their combined efforts. We have a dragon tree plant. That's slowly turning brown.

I should state for the record that he didn't say this to be nasty or to upset me. He just said it because he thinks it. And I fully agree with him.

It's odd, watching adverts on TV, how many of them depict what I guess is deemed to be a "standard" life cycle. Ads for banks, for insurance, for any type of product or service with connotations of security and robustness, often feature an archetypal "boy and girl meet, fall in love, get married, have babies, raise babies, collect pensions, die" series of vignettes. It's not even just ads for banks, come to think of it. There's an ad for a fucking chocolate bar that depicts a similar series of events. But what happens if it doesn't work out like that for you? Which products should us thirtynothings buy?

Enough maudlin musing. What else do I have on the eve of my fourth decade? Well, I have an errant body that feels, most of the time, like it's at war with itself. I look haunted. I'm dropping weight at an alarming rate. I weigh right now what I did at 18. I tried my wedding dress on the other day and it hung off me like a sack on a skeleton. At least, I suppose, I'm not going into 30 the wrong side of "plump". At a time like this, perhaps a girl should simply appreciate her pert breasts and flat stomach and shut up her moaning.

So. I shall ring the clinic tomorrow and relate the latest turn of events. I'm considering demanding a laparoscopy. That's about the only diagnostic thing left to do to me now, and I strongly feel we should leave no stone - or indeed, organ - unturned.

One thing's certain. Should I be able, in February, to muster sufficient puff to extinguish all 30 candles, I know what I'll be wishing for.

Monday, 29 September 2008

A long time coming

My viewing of The Sex Education Show is inducing apoplexy each week.

I knew this would happen. Hubby warned me it would, too. And they haven't even done the programme about fertility yet - that's tomorrow night. So far they've tackled how to spice up a knackered sex life (sadly, I fear it is too late for a doctor on that score for us); how to avoid catching a series of scary rot-inducing diseases (answer: condoms); and how pregnancy affects sex and the body.

The pregnancy episode in particular induced some serious yelling at the TV. It followed an equally annoying programme called Would Like To Meet Again, which follows up couples who were set up on blind dates by the programme makers two years ago. Cue Jack and Jill, or whatever their names are, who're - guess what? - married with two babies. Well, congratubloodylations Jack and frigging Jill, you smug, smug shits.

Then the sex show started, and it was all about pregnancy. Hubby ascertained this, made a small noise somewhere in the back of his throat, and retired upstairs with his book and some body armour.

"Labour can go on for up to four days," said the programme, which went out of its way to depict a near-religious level of awe for the appalling suffering women put themselves through in the name of giving birth. Well, diddums. So far my infertility's gone on for two-and-a-half years. So you'll pardon me if my heart doesn't bleed - another part of me's doing more than enough of that on a monthly basis.

Then there was a bit that explained the changes pregnant women's bodies go through, complete with two exceptionally smug ladies wielding different-sized bumps. The programme discussed the concept of the "mask of pregnancy", whereby a woman's forehead and cheeks can darken. This had in fact happened to one of the women, and I found myself absurdly pleased by the sight of her stupid brown patchy face.

(I realise I am sounding like more of a bitch here than possibly I ever have before, which is saying something, but I'm trying to be honest. I know it's not just me who feels this horrible, impotent rage.)

It got me wondering about what "the mask of infertility" looks like, if there is such a thing. I think there is. I was looking through old photos earlier, trying to locate one of a scary stately home I once visited which one of hubby's colleagues also has a horror story about. I couldn't find it, but I did find lots of snaps of myself as a teenager and student. Some were taken a decade ago, some 12 years ago, so it's reasonable that I should look older now - but what shocked me is how much sadder, and somehow less alive, I look. I really, really miss the girl I used to be before this. I see her only rarely now, and find there are fewer and fewer people who can bring her out.

Anyway, the programme concluded by filming a birth. Our intrepid narrator Anna was present throughout, which involved spending most of a day and night in a maternity ward getting bored or scared by the sound of screaming. At one point, she asks the camera: "Did you ever think waiting for a baby would be such a hoo-hah?"

No. I fucking DIDN'T.

I'd managed to get myself so riled up that I didn't think I'd cry at the moment of birth. But then they played that bloody song, the one that goes "Baby, you've been a long time coming/Such a long, long time/And I can't stop smiling". And that really fucked me up.

After all that, they called the kid Willow. I mean, I ask you.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

The perils of breaking my testing routine

By golly, I'm cross about loads of things just now.

In the main, as ever, my rage has to do with my own body. That period I mentioned last time left after just one day, and is yet to return. I feel bloated and "unclean", in that I feel like I've not had a good clear-out for a bit.

I got spectacularly drunk on Friday night, and ended up maudlin and weepy about various things. I also ended up very hungover on Saturday. More hungover - and certainly more sick to my stomach - than I deserved to be for the amount I'd drunk. When I was still hugging the porcelain at 7pm, hubby suggested - as he is wont to do when I display ANY symptom more dramatic than a mild headache - that perhaps I was pregnant.

I dismissed such tomfoolery as the musings of a madman, but it did get me thinking that it was weird to have bleeding at 26 days and then ZIP. So, like a foolish bitch, I bought a test. (Can you sense where this is going?)

Anyway, a horrid experience ensued this morning. I actually watched the progress of the dye across the windows of the test - as I've said before, I tend not to do this, preferring to pee on the test then quickly hide it under a piece of loo roll so I can enjoy what I like to call "the shower of hope". (That's before emerging, reviewing the blank windows, and collapsing onto "the toilet of despair", naturally.)

This morning I didn't. I sat on the loo and stared dolefully at the windows as the dye crept across them. And then nearly swallowed my tongue. Because - it was a ClearBlue test, the kind that forms a blue cross if it's positive - both axes of the cross started to show.

I was honestly nearly sick. Hubby had a day off today and he was still asleep at this point. I started preparing my speech, which I decided was going to begin with the words: "You need to wake up FUCKING FAST!"

For whatever reason - incredulity, I think - I decided to leave it and have the shower, which, going by past experiences, should have been "the shower of joy" but actually felt more like "the shower of bone-melting terror at what I might have done to this potential baby by having so much white wine on Friday night".

But then I got out and looked again. This time I was met with the familiar sight of a totally blank emptiness where the vertical cross should be. Holding it to the light and the weak dawn in the window revealed it to be utterly negative.

I didn't cry. I don't think I'd ever believed the line in the first place. I just disposed of the stick, got dressed and went to work without saying a word to my still sleeping hubby. I did look up false positives on t'interweb and learned that often the line "lights up" as the dye makes its initial progress across the windows. Indeed, it's something I'd probably have experienced before now had I not adopted this silly test-taking routine.

I shall be going back to said routine, though. I can't go through that again.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here

After just 26 days - the shortest cycle I've ever had - my period descended into my (new, Victoria's Secret) pants on Thursday morning without ANY warning and with the sort of force that would make Niagara Falls resemble a drippy tap.

Cue a horrible few minutes attempting to clear things up in the ladies' at work whilst muttering sentiments along the lines of "you little stupid nasty evil bitch" to my own vagina.

The mess was so bad that I even toyed with the idea of chucking the ruined pants altogether and going through the rest of my day commando. I will now ALWAYS keep a spare pair in my desk drawer. And my bag. And my car. I will become Knicker Lady.

Anyhow, that's another cycle, quite literally, down the toilet. Coming early and without warning is new, too. Usually I get crampy grumbles for at least a day. Mind you, it made up for the lack of early cramps by really wracking me with them later in the day. At one point in the early evening it was so bad that the only comfortable position was on all fours with my head touching the floor and my bum way up in the air, groaning gently. And I wonder why hubby doesn't fancy me anymore.

Earlier in the week, my friend had texted me suggesting I get humping on September 19, as she'd worked out that on that day I'd be exactly the same age as she was the day she conceived her son. I've just replied this morning to explain that my period has put paid to that idea.

I'm thinking of having a tattoo done just above my pubic hair: Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.

Next month marks our two-and-a-half-year TTC anniversary. It's nearly Christmas. I'm nearly 30. To borrow a line from Charlotte in Sex and the City: I'm exhausted. Where's my baby?

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Falling out of love with sex

I watched a new documentary tonight on Channel 4. It's all about sex and how little the Great Uneducated British Public know about it.

It's quite lighthearted, presented as it is by a genuinely amusing and likeable journalist named Anna Richardson, but at its core is a worthwhile programme that aims to educate people about sex, warts, hairy bits, odd noises and all.

Two things struck me. The first was how little I care about sex these days. I know I've ranted about this before, but it genuinely is odd how completely my sex drive has disappeared. I'm not repulsed by it, or anything - and of course, I still engage in it regularly in the interests, fruitless though they may be, of attempting to make a baby.

No, I'm just left utterly cold by sex now. It has almost become a procedure similar to those elements of personal grooming that veer towards the clinical - trimming your toenails, maybe, or cleaning out your ears. I do wonder if I'll ever get my mojo back.

OK, the ear-cleaning analogy reminds me that, actually, three things struck me about the show - this is something I've banged on about before so I'll keep it brief: how BLOODY wimpy are men?

One clip featured the intrepid Anna - who also endured a Hollywood bikini wax AND a cringeworthy Tantric sex session with what can only be described as two raddled hippies - going through a smear test in the interest of having a full sexual health check-up. She was bearing up with her customary wit and good grace. Then it showed some weedy bloke having a cotton bud wiped - WIPED, mind you, not RAMMED or INFLATED or EXTENDED or any of the things us girls have to deal with, especially us reproductively challenged girls - round the end of his willy, and wincing like it was some hitherto unimaginable method of torture.

Back to seriousness. The second thing that struck me about the programme was related to the trailer they showed for next week's episode, which featured a brief flash of a woman giving birth and then went on to imply that the programme would cover pregnancy and fertility.

I shall watch this with interest. It seems that in addition to having her inner sanctum probed for evidence of chlamydia or similar, Anna will also be undergoing a fertility MOT to assess her ability to reproduce.

I wonder how sensitively the programme makers - and Anna - will handle this. Thus far the show seems to be aiming predominantly to educate the teenage/youth audience, with some wry in-jokes for us seasoned twenty- and thirtysomethings. If it takes this approach to fertility issues, I'll probably end up severely fucked off - because it will be more focused on telling teens how easy it is to get knocked up than on addressing the heartache of infertility.

I hope I'm wrong, though, and it handles the subject with skill and tact. There'd be nothing wrong with a bit of humour, either, although I'd probably nominate anyone who was able to make me laugh on the subject of my barren womb for a Nobel prize.

People keep telling me I should watch Juno. (The look I usually give in response to this suggestion would curdle marble - and if I know the person well, it's not a Look, it's more a Torrent of Abuse.) Apparently, it's not, as I have previously stated, "about a smug, pregnant eight-year-old". Apparently, it features a remarkable performance by Jennifer Garner, who portrays the infertile woman in line to get Juno's unwanted baby. Apparently, it's funny.

Good luck to it. Well done on all the awards. Good job if it did feature an infertile woman played with sensitivity and dignity.

But there's no way I could watch that film. I know it's meant to be a comedy, but I think I'd rupture a lung crying.

Monday, 25 August 2008

All I want for Christmas...

Tricky couple of days. My period came yesterday - marking August 2008 out as the 28th month since we started trying for a baby.

In some ways, the dwindling summer and the length of time that has passed means I'm now resigned to another year ending without any "happy news". I anticipated the 2006 and 2007 festive seasons with first a certainty, then a forlorn hope, that I'd meet the expectations of my family and "be preggers by Christmas". I had secret visions of sitting at the dining table either rejecting lunch because of morning sickness or else tucking in with a sizeable bump nestled beneath my mum's "good" tablecloth. Smiles all round. It was a nice image.

I don't feel any such hope this year. Christmas is just going to be another tough kid-oriented nightmare to get through before we can present ourselves back at the clinic next spring, having served the ridiculous year-long sentence that has been imposed on us in punishment for my daring to be under 30 and infertile.

But even though I no longer really feel capable of hope, it's still upsetting when my period arrives. Which I suppose means I am still capable of hoping, just not of admitting to it.

Yesterday afternoon saw me sitting in the hospital visiting my grandfather (another story altogether), thumbing through a magazine someone had left lying around. It featured a full-page ad for one of those reborn dolls - a snip at just £80, as opposed to the usual "thousands of dollars" (so the ad claimed).

God, I wanted one. I fully appreciate in the still-sane part of my brain that getting a doll that resembles a newborn baby would be a Really Bad Idea. I mean, what the fuck would I do with it? Cuddle it when I got home from work? Get a pram and wander about the estate with it looking (as all women with prams do) vaguely smug? Actually start to believe it was real? No. It doesn't bear thinking about.

But I still want one.

Hubby saw the telltale flood threatening to spill over my lower lashes and grabbed the magazine to see what I was torturing myself with. "No," was his simple but firm advice. My mum's, when I mentioned it to her later, was more ferocious: "Absolutely not! Don't you DARE!"

And they're both quite right.

But I still want one.

Anyway. My last two periods have resembled the ones I used to suffer with when I was a teenager - really heavy, really painful (and this from a woman who's had an HSG); basically proper periods, the like of which I haven't seen for many years.

Perhaps this is my body finally getting back to normal. In the absence of anything obviously wrong, and of a better diagnosis, I do wonder whether my years on the Pill totally screwed up my system. Maybe things are only now getting back in sync. Or maybe it's related to the frigging harvest moon. Who the hell knows?

Last night I barely slept because of tearing, wrenching cramps. Hubby fetched me a hot water bottle when he got up and I lay with it clamped to me for an hour, trying to find the positive in the situation. Aside from a rather interesting mottled red patch on my tummy from the heat, I struggled.

But if all this pain and gore really is an indication that my body is back to its un-Pill-polluted teenage strength, I'll accept - even welcome it.

After all, with regular ovulation and a sustained effort from hubby and me, is there - just maybe - a chance I could be pregnant by Christmas? Or is allowing that thought simply setting myself up for a heartbreaking end to a difficult year?

I do not want to start another Christmas morning by failing a pregnancy test. And every year that bloody song upsets me because of the line "Baby, all I want for Christmas is you".

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Back from a "summer" break

Summer's in inverted commas because it has done nothing but relentlessly piss down since the back end of June. Don't you just love British weather?

I feel bad that I've been away from the blog for so long, but I really needed a rest from even thinking about TTC, never mind doing it. (Not, of course, that I ever properly stopped thinking about it - it's never more than a second from my thoughts, and I'm never more than a minute away from tears on the subject these days - but you know what I mean.)

Hubby and I have had a holiday - hooray, break open the Champers! We went to Florida to see my cousin. It was lovely, hot and relaxing, which is exactly what we both needed. And although we got on a lot better over there than we have been doing, we only had sex about three times during the fortnight. (Yes, alas, gone are the olden days of twice-daily whilst on holiday.) I think that shows how very bone-wearyingly sick we both were of the whole thing before we went.

Things have drifted backwards a smidgen since we got back - I'd suggested, in an effort to maintain that "holiday glow", that we have a date at least once a month where we go out for dinner and DON'T MENTION BABIES, but we're yet to arrange our first trip out. It's easy to slide back into the old routine.

But we can't slip back into the old routine. There were a few weeks, not so long ago, where I genuinely feared this marriage was knackered. I very much didn't want it to be, but equally I couldn't see a way out of the mess we'd spiralled into. Now I still think there's a mess to clear up, but at least I'm sure we both want to get our hands dirty in the clean-up op.

I've had one period since last I blogged - it came, inevitably, as I was sliding into my bikini bottoms for my first day on the beach in Florida. I swear my body is at war with itself. But on the plus side, it was the most normal period I've had in months - it came and stayed, for one thing, rather than pissing off for a week as soon as I'd been out to buy tampons.

After it ended we had a few tentative TTC sessions where I actually attempted to retain the dollop afterwards - for the past six weeks I've been making like a carefree twentysomething and going directly to the loo without passing go or collecting £200. And I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a dark part of my mind that fervently hoped we'd conceive in Florida. I even, in a weaker moment on the plane home, had names picked out: Peter for a boy, as we stayed in St Pete (and it was hubby's father's name) and Tallahassee for a girl. (I'm just kidding about Tallahassee.)

We then have continued our tentative foray back into the world of babymaking since our return. Hubby actually ravished me the other night - no ravishing has been done in this house since early 2006, let me tell you - and caught me unawares so that I hadn't had a chance to do my usual bedtime ablutions beforehand.

I ended up making him go to the bathroom to collect my contact lens kit, be-pasted toothbrush and a bowl for me to spit the foam into so that I didn't lose the sperm. That was almost funny, and it's the first time I've felt a twinge of anything like humour towards the concept of TTC for a long while.

I've not been back to the clinic, but am considering going this week. I sort of feel a bit ashamed that I haven't gone in for a blood test, but at the same time I was so deeply upset by what they said to me in May that I genuinely couldn't face the place.

My period, had it followed a 28-day cycle, would have been due yesterday. It didn't come, and I did my first pregnancy test since June. (Oh yeah, I'm ROLLING in cash now I'm not buying those bloody things every ten minutes. What credit crunch?)

It was negative. And I hurled it at the wall.

Some things never change...

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Getting by with a little help from my friends

Last night I had a perfect evening which has given me a big boost in the "surviving the break from babymaking" stakes.

It followed a not-so-perfect day, during which it had rained relentlessly, I had spent 90 minutes on the phone renegotiating our mortgage - which, in these credit-crunching times, is going to cost us around £100 more each month from August - and hubby and I had fought. (The argument was primarily about the fact that months ago, around the time I was stressing over the HSG, I assigned him the task of sorting out the mortgage situation, and he proceeded to do precisely nothing.)

But sometimes I think that good nights following bad days are all the better for the contrast. This one involved all the following aspects, which came together to make a perfect whole:

Good food. As possibly the world's fussiest eater, with a long list of dietary idiosyncrasies that renders me unable to stomach several whole food groups, including meat and dairy, I very rarely have a restaurant or dinner-party experience in which I love and gobble up everything put before me. Last night I did: a starter of fried soft-shell crab with chilli and cashews, followed by tempura barramundi served with homemade chips and mushy peas. Yum.

Good drinks. The evening included just enough alcohol to make me merry and relaxed, but not so much that I have a headache this morning - in short, the ideal amount. I also discovered the nicest cocktail I've ever had - a summery concoction involving raspberries, hazelnut liqueur, gomme syrup, vodka and Chambord. I had three.

Fun. We were with friends whose company I really enjoy, and there were several laughs big enough to hurt. Even hubby lightened up, although one of the best moments was sort of at his expense - after the restaurant we came back to our house and ended up playing somewhat drunkenly on the Wii. Hubby got so worked up flailing around during a boxing match that he actually broke wind - dramatically. It's juvenile, and you probably had to be there, but our collective wails of comic disbelief and revulsion afterwards brought tears to my eyes.

Ambience. The place where we ate had a live band and a very chilled atmosphere. Despite it being wet, it was warm, and there was a covered veranda out back where we drank our post-feast cocktails.

After our friends left, hubby retired immediately to bed and I sat up, finishing my wine and listening to the song that the evening had put me in mind of - an indie anthem from my university days entitled 'The Day We Caught The Train', which I always associate with good times as it includes the line:

"And when you find that things are getting wild, don't you need days like these?"

In short, evenings like that make living without what I really want bearable.

But then. I'm going to end by quoting another song I love - I seem to do this a lot, and hope readers don't find it cheesy; it's just that professional lyricists often put it so much better than I ever could. Anyway, this one's by Shawn Colvin, and is called 'New Thing Now':

"And it feels so good to doubt you, I could almost live without you, but not quite. Not quite."

Monday, 9 June 2008

A restorative break from babymaking

First of all, thanks for all the comments and messages, and I'm sorry I've been away for so long. I just reached the point where if I didn't take a break from it all, I think I'd have lost my mind.

As it is, my period came this morning after 37 days - so not a crazily long cycle, but not brilliant either, and certainly not indicative of ovulation, which casts a certain amount of doubt on the asinine confidence of my dear friend the professor at the clinic.

But I'm having a rest. This is the first month in two years that I haven't given the remotest fuck whether I'm pregnant or not. Although perhaps that isn't entirely true, as I did do two pregnancy tests when my period hadn't arrived after three, and then seven days. But I wasn't upset when they were negative.

I've decided that my body, and more than that my mind, need a rest from this. If we are going to have to wait a year - and we are, unless I can muster up the strength and/or finances to go private or seek a second opinion - then I need to get to an emotional place where that doesn't make my chest feel like it's going to explode. And the only way I can do that is to withdraw.

So my decision is as follows. To hell with weekly blood tests. To hell with sex. I want the summer off, to get my head together and remember who I am, and I want a holiday. To that end, I'm off to Florida to see my beloved cousin for a fortnight in July. Come August, we'll see where we are and I'll resume the blood tests with a view to either demanding ovulation drugs from the clinic in the autumn should they reveal that the dear professor is, as I suspect, an idiot, or seeking help elsewhere.

It feels weirdly liberating to have made such a decision. It's a decision that friends and family have been telling me I need to make for months. But it's all very well people SAYING you need to take a break - until you've reached that point yourself, you just want to stab people who say such things in the forehead with a large fork.

Aside from safeguarding my own sanity, another big reason why I'm putting fertility stuff on hold is that things are very bad between hubby and me. They have been shaky for months, but recently they've taken a sharp downward spiral and we need to sort it out. I can't conceive (no pun intended, but that wasn't bad!) of bringing a child into a failing relationship, having grown up in a broken home myself.

So there is work to be done. It sounds soooo corny but I think I need to spend some quality time with myself. I've sort of forgotten who I am, through all of this. I've come to view myself as either a clinical patient, mother-without-a-baby, or complete failure. "Doubting if there's a woman in there somewhere," as Tori Amos says. But recently, for one reason or another, I've caught a glimpse of the girl I used to be, and I want to coax her back. I miss her.

I'm going to keep up the blog, though, even though I'm physically taking a break. I've got so much out of doing this blog - from the pure therapy of writing and venting and getting it all out, and also from the support and genuine relief of discovering that there's a whole network out there of fellow bloggers experiencing exactly the same thing. It's so important that we write for, and to, and about each other. I can't put into words how much comfort I've gained from it.

So there you have it. I'll be around, and I'll write whenever I feel like it. And who knows - inevitably there's a small but insistent voice in my head murmuring about all those couples who stop trying and then...

But secret hope is not what this is about - I'm not trying to fool the fates into smiling on me. This is about trying to get my marriage back on track and my life back. Wish me luck...

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Twilight descends on my baby dream

I'm sorry I haven't posted for so long.

I feel that I've completely run out of inspiration, and of things to say. The doomy feeling of apathy that had - if I'm honest - sort of descended even before the showdown at the clinic last week has just deepened and I don't feel able to deal with fertility stuff on any level.

It's just impossible to get my head around another year of waiting. What I really should be doing is picking myself up and being proactive, the way I usually am: getting my bloodwork done, maybe seeking second and third opinions.

But I'm not, and haven't. I was supposed to go this week for another blood test but I haven't. After the butcher's job made of my arm last week, when I ended up with a huge purply bruise that made me resemble a heroin addict, I felt my vein needed a rest. I plan to go in the morning but it's a bugger having blood taken repeatedly in summer when one wants to wear short sleeves!

At the core of me, I just now feel that it is never, ever going to happen, and that if I am to have any semblance of a life, I need to start dealing with that.

I feel like the medical profession has turned its back on us. I feel like nobody will help us. And I feel like we are barely coping with this anymore, as a couple and as individuals.

I think Blackadder said it best: "I think the phrase rhymes with 'clucking bell'"!

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Second consultation at the fertility clinic

Well, that was a waste of time.

I was initially heartened when I realised we'd bagged a session with the head honcho consultant - the one who's a renowned authority on reproductive medicine in our area, and whose name is on all the plaques that adorn the clinic's reception. But we might as well have seen Tinky Winky the Teletubby for all the help she gave us.

She said there's nothing obviously wrong with us - his sperm's fine, my tubes are fine, and apparently all my bloodwork was fine. This, it would seem, indicates that I DO ovulate and DON'T have PCOS. The consultant last time who thought my right ovary looked polycystic was apparently wrong. (I suspected all along I didn't have PCOS.)

She then said IVF would be the next step as a solution for the dreaded "unexplained" infertility. However, she's reluctant to do something so invasive at the moment - because, get this, "time is still on our side".

So Professor Winky then told us to come back in a year.

Yes, you read right - a year. Another year of this - of hope and disappointment every month, of life being on hold, of limbo, of misery, of money wasted on pregnancy tests that are never positive.

I asked about the fertility drugs I'd been so sure I'd be given today, and she said I don't need them. She says Clomid comes with risks, there's a 10% chance every cycle of twins and more side effects than you can shake a stick at. I'm not stupid and completely understand why she doesn't want me to go down this route if I don't need to. But a YEAR?

We were offered counselling because the prof said she was "concerned at the level of anxiety" - probably as a result of my smacked-arse expression when she uttered the words "a year". And maybe it's something to look into because I fear for my sanity, I really do. A year.

They also took blood (more? why?) and said I now have to have a blood test every week until they can establish a detailed ovulation pattern. And here they threw me a bone: if it does turn out, after a couple of months of monitoring, that my ovulation is erratic, we can try Clomid later in the year.

I'm rambling a bit here but it's because I'm still trying to get my head around the fact that the experience I thought would bring an end to our limbo has actually intensified the sense of helplessness. Of course, I'm glad there's nothing deal-breakingly wrong with either of us. But equally, for it to be "unexplained" seems doubly frustrating.

And I have to say, the prof did come out with a surprising array of pointless comments and platitudes. The spine-curlingly annoying words "try and put it out of your mind" were used, as well as the truly infuriating "you can't expect to get a six every time you throw a dice". What does that even mean? I never asked to be Rainman, I just want a fucking baby after two years of trying!

Hubby, as usual, sat there like a mute throughout and refused to comment or react to anything. She even pulled him up on it - she said "You're very quiet - is there anything you want to say or ask?" and he just said no.

Afterwards, he was more concerned with heading off to get a replacement for his watch battery before the jeweller's shut than with seeing how I was doing. I actually think he's pissed off that there has turned out to be nothing wrong with me, because previously he was coasting along on a sea of relief at it all being my fault.

The big question is, where do we go from here? Can we make it through another year of this without killing/hating/leaving each other? Will our already clinical and somewhat dull sex life dwindle to nothing again against a backdrop of mounting pressure and frustration? Will I resort to mothering dolls and small ornaments?

Find out in the next exciting instalment of "How The Fuck Did This Become My Life?"

Monday, 19 May 2008

The fertility clinic looms (again)

So, tomorrow looms and I am not feeling like I expected to.

I assumed I'd feel similar to last time: hope, trepidation, anxiety, excitement, nervousness.

I don't. If I'm being completely honest, which I said I'd always be in this blog, I feel like I am past caring. I feel like I could not give the remotest shit about what happens tomorrow. Give the appointment to someone else, for all I care. I don't even want to go. I'm so SICK of all this that I seem to have reached some sort of impasse where I have accepted my infertility and it can go fuck itself.

Obviously, this is some sort of bollocks reaction to stress and frustration. Of course I care - after everything we've been through it'd be a nonsense to say I suddenly don't. But it's certainly true that I am bored, bored, bored of all this. It wasn't supposed to be like this.

Still, it is what it is and we are where we are. (Hark at me with the platitudes.) I think that perhaps I'm inexplicably angry with it being here after waiting so long for it since the HSG.

Or maybe it's not so inexplicable: maybe the fact it's finally here has reminded me that the past six weeks of my life have been a pointless blur in which nothing has mattered or even registered except for this one appointment. And now the time has come to deal with that appointment, to get through the minutes of it and learn whatever it is that we will learn, my brain has suddenly said, "You know what? I'm done coping with this."

It's weird how people behave in the waiting rooms for various fertility stuff. I may have made this point before - apologies if I have - but you know how in dentists' and doctors' waiting rooms, there are always magazines and people always thumb through them, however idly?

Well, in fertility clinic receptions there are also magazines but they just sit in the centre of a table in a stack so neat that you know it's never been dislodged. Nobody reads. Nobody talks - the couples who are there together just sit in silence, contemplating. Wondering how the hell they ended up on the road that got them there, I guess.

Time for bed. Tomorrow's a big day.

Monday, 12 May 2008

We all go a little crazy sometimes

I haven't been posting much lately, and it's kind of because we're in a state of utter limbo between now and the fertility clinic a week tomorrow. I just feel there's not an awful lot more to say that doesn't just echo what I've said already - that is, being unhappy that I'm not yet pregnant.

Hubby and I are going through another bad patch. Last night we had sex for the first time this cycle and I have to say it was tedious. Throughout, the only thought in my head - I mean, literally, the ONLY one - was "I wonder if that truffly-coloured paint is too dark for the bedroom". This is not the type of thought sequence a 29-year-old woman who used to enjoy a good seeing to should be having.

I also made the mistake of losing patience during foreplay. (By foreplay, of course, I mean the vague pawings hubby attempts - and bless him for trying, but it doesn't mean much when executed with the enthusiasm of a baked worm.) "Can't you just fuck me," I said, the unspoken conclusion to that sentence being "so I can get on with my book".

"I just want to touch you," he replied somewhat forlornly. To anyone other than a bitch whose heart has been hardened by two years of fertility misery, that'd be quite sweet. It just annoyed me. And I'm sad to say my patience evaporated at that point and I started the unforgivably nasty sentence, "But it'd be over much faster if..." before realising my crime and catching myself, ashamed.

The above is exhibit A of me at my worst, but hubby is not blameless in this either. On Saturday night, after quite a nice evening together drinking wine and watching a film, he totally lost his temper after we got into bed. He accused me of "stealing the covers".

Now, I imagine this is a common theme between long-term partners. It's an old chestnut for us, too, in that hubby prefers to fall asleep cool and unencumbered by duvet but then - and here's the rub - gets cold in the wee hours and wants the OPTION of covers to be available to him. I, on the other hand, furl myself up in blankets and curl into the foetal position - let's all pause for an ironic chuckle at THAT one - and stay that way all night. So, inevitably, there comes a point where hubby is grasping for covers that have been clamped to me in the vicelike grip of a corpse. It's just a basic sleep-incompatibility. It's not either of our faults - it just is what it is. Sounds familiar.

On Saturday, however, hubby flipped in a style much more reminiscent of me. He actually hauled the duvet off the bed and attempted to abscond down the stairs with it wrapped around him like a toga at one point. This should have been funny, and indeed I did let loose a rogue giggle at the sight of him, and that caused him to REALLY wig out. He hurled a glass of water over me (and his side of the bed, the daft twat) and was on the verge of frustrated tears.

It scares me, what this situation is driving us to. I know he's desperately sick of it too, and I know that we should be kinder to each other to help ourselves through this. But it's hard when it feels like you're the only two people in it - it's inevitable that you, surviving in your way, clash against the other person trying to cope in theirs.

I had my own hissy fit this evening. After sitting down to dinner I discovered hubby had accidentally (he claims; I suspect spite as his inherent Scottish frugality means he won't willingly dispose of anything that hasn't provided at least two decades of faithful service) thrown out my lime pickle. I am OBSESSED with lime pickle - it's unthinkable that I could consume curry or chilli without it.

Well, I went berserk. Just mad. I ranted and raved like one demented about how I couldn't believe he had done this heinous thing to me. All the while he sat there chewing his chilli in a deliberately irritating fashion, and occasionally wincing when my voice reached glass-shattering proportions. Eventually I stormed out, dressed like a clown in the first outerwear I pulled out of the cupboard, which happened to be unseasonably furry boots and an oversized fleece. I pulled up, tyres steaming, at the supermarket where I discovered that they were out of the one brand of lime pickle I really like. I very nearly cried.

I'm calmer now but wondering just how on earth hubby and I are going to fare if things get worse before they get better.

One thing's for sure. That truffly-coloured paint is definitely too dark for the bedroom. Glad I got that sorted.

Monday, 5 May 2008

A Bank Holiday visit from the witch

My period came today.

I know I mentioned symptoms last time, but I wasn't 100% expecting it. Sure, it was due on Saturday, if we're going by the crazy notion of my old pre-Pill 28-day cycle, but since it hasn't done that for two years I wasn't expecting it to this month. Plus with all the kitty-related stress I half thought it wouldn't show at all. The other half of me, as always and against my better judgment, held onto a sliver of hope.

Wrong. I was sitting having a sunny Bank Holiday tapas lunch when a familiar wrenching pain made itself known in my lower tummy. I crept to the toilet and sure enough, a horror movie make-up kit had exploded in my (new) pants.

I tried not to let it bother me. I continue to be trying that right now, as I sit here typing and nursing a glass of wine. After all, with all the stress and chaos, I expected this month to be a write-off. That and the fact hubby and I have barely seen each other, let alone screwed each other, was pretty indicative of an unlikely pregnancy month.

But then.

I so wanted to be one of the people who got pregnant right before my HSG. I then wanted to be one of the people who got pregnant right after my HSG. Now, a fortnight from the Clomid summit at the fertility clinic, it's getting ever more certain that it will be only with the help of drugs that we will conceive.

Oh well. What's another month, really, when we're into our twenty-fifth? And it's not like this month hasn't given me lots of other things to appreciate, from the big stuff of my baby kitty coming through his surgery, to little stuff like having a huge amount of fun staying up playing silly games till 5.30am on Saturday night with friends.

The frustration still makes me want to go and yell in a field, though. But not now - got to go and deal with these nasty cramps.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Mothering my furry friend

Sorry I haven't posted for a while. It's been a traumatic week, but the good news is my lovely little cat seems to have come through the operation OK.

He's really been through the mill - the vet kept him overnight because he didn't wake up too quickly from the general anaesthetic, and he also needed a drip to support his kidneys. He looks just terrible - shaved neck where they drew blood, shaved paw where the drip was, and a huge, scary, Cat-of-Frankenstein-esque scar on his back, surrounded by skin that's been dyed blue from the surgical antiseptic solution. My poor darling.

I was so relieved to get him back yesterday morning, and spent the day nursing him. I just watched him all day, and cuddled him lots, and hand-fed him his food and his medicines, and made sure he had plenty of warm, cosy places to rest. During my lunch he started crying for attention, so I left it and cuddled him till he fell asleep, and just ate the cold food later on.

I might sound like I'm being martyrish and holier-than-thou, but that's genuinely not my intention - I loved every second of taking care of him as I was so glad he'd come through OK. I don't know what I'd do without him.

Later, my mum said it was my first taste of motherhood. The endless watching - to make sure they're comfortable enough, and warm enough, and fed and watered, and not in danger. And goddamnit, I was good at it. Really good.

My period's on its way - all the signs are here, including ravenous hunger and aching boobs. For the first month in ages I don't have pre-period hope/anxiety that I might be pregnant. The trauma of the last couple of weeks - in fact, of the whole month, including HSG-buildup - has been such that I honestly haven't had time to dwell on where a fertilised egg would be right now, and ooh, was that a symptom?

In any event, hubby and I haven't had a shag since about 14 April, so if I were pregnant it'd be with the next Messiah...

No, the thing to do now is rest, relax, get my period out of the way and then focus on our follow-up appointment at the clinic on 20 May.

Bring it on. I'm ready for my Clomid, Mr deMille!

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Off-topic but bear with me - I'm hurting

This isn't going to be a post about fertility stuff, which I realise may irritate my readers since that's the point of my blog. However, it's also a blog about me and how I'm feeling, so I'm hoping you'll understand as this is what's upsetting me most just at the moment.

My cat has cancer. The vet recommended at least trying to operate to remove it, which is happening on Tuesday morning.

However, because he's 17, there's a chance he won't survive the operation. They will do a comprehensive bloodwork beforehand (he and I are similar creatures, it would seem) and if all is well, they'll go ahead, but there's still a chance his heart could stop during the surgery.

This means that when I drop him off at the vet's on Tuesday morning, I will have to say goodbye as I may never see his little ginger face again.

I've booked Tuesday and Wednesday off work. I figure I'll be around to nurse him round the clock if all goes well. I will stay up and near him all night Tuesday night. I can't bear the thought of losing him. I know he's 17 so I have to be realistic - but not now; please, not now.

He's such a good, sweet, affectionate little cat. My mum and I sat and sobbed over him for the best part of an hour this evening, and agreed that if it all goes wrong we will bring him home and plant a rosebush above him.

I told him he has to survive. I'm reluctant to put him through surgery at his age but we have to at least try to save him.

I said he has to be around to meet my baby one day. I hope they will be great friends.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

When did I get so old?

I had the unnerving experience today of frightening myself when I caught my reflection in the mirror.

It had been a long, rush-around, hassly day. Also, I was annoyed: the three-year manufacturer's warranty on my car expired yesterday. Today, whilst driving back from a business meeting - at the very moment I pulled up in a very long queue for a very busy tunnel - a small, insistent orange light began blinking on the dash. Consulting the manual informed me that said light means "serious engine fault, please consult qualified mechanic". Just dandy.

Anyway, I made it home in one piece and then called the vet's to see if there was any news on my cat's tests. The receptionist confirmed that the results were in but refused to tell me anything - apparently we have to speak to the vet in the morning. Not going to be good news, really, is it?

(At this point, a small note: What in the name of Jesus and all his apostles did I do in my last life that I have been cursed with spending THIS one on the phone to medical professionals chasing various test results?)

Having reported all of this in flat tones to hubby, I decided to jump in the shower - and that's when the scary old woman in the mirror accosted me. I need my roots done - my hair used to be a nice coppery auburn shade but since fertility stuff, or maybe just bad genes, the grey's crept in and I now have it professionally tinted every six weeks - and my hair was hanging in lanky, tousled hanks with a vivid white stripe along my parting.

My face, conversely, resembles that of a pus-tastic adolescent. I have about four volcanic spots and a load of other blotches that suggest general run-downness (and possibly some crazy hormonal activity on the side).

Worse than that was my eyes. They're just - it sounds pathetic, but it's true - so sad. Hubby said the other day that he feels there is a shadow hanging over me; over us both but visibly over me.

Our appointment on 20 May seems impossibly far away. And I increasingly feel like my own self is slipping away. There's nothing in my head anymore other than wondering about fertility stuff. No matter where I am, or what I'm doing, my yearning for a baby is always there, bubbling and scratching and clawing away under the surface of the reasonably normal being I manage to project to others.

There's a picture of me that hubby likes, that sits behind where I am right now, on a shelf in the study. It's of me about six years ago, on holiday in Canada, thinner, sunkissed and grinning. Where did she go? I miss her.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Ovulation-induced grump syndrome?

Two things have irritated me today.

The first was the undercooked excuse for a poached egg hubby served me this morning. Before you recoil in horror at me complaining about being made breakfast, let me just provide some context. Yesterday, in the supermarket, hubby announced he wanted a cooked breakfast today, and proceeded to canter about gathering up the wherewithal to make it.

I didn't pay much attention, as I was in my usual supermarket survival mode of keep-head-down-and-thus-keep-lid-on-irritation-with-disproportionately-high-volume-of-pregnant-women-who-shop-here-I-mean-wtf-is-there-something-in-the-water. But I do remember being glad at the prospect of waking up to strong coffee, hot food and Sunday papers.

However, hubby got up this morning having reassessed his priorities and decided that watching Dr Who in his pants was infinitely preferable to slaving over a hot stove. He was also in a black mood, probably because he knew the doomy sex bell was tolling and he'd have to perform today.

So he did the classic male thing of doing a chore when they don't want to do said chore, and thus doing it so badly that they'll never be asked to do it again. The egg I was given was not so much "poached" as "very recently laid". It was even less cooked than one of MY knackered eggs.

So that was the first thing. The second thing happened after hubby and I had finally done the deed - an experience which made me feel like a teenybop Playboy bunny who has married a geriatric billionaire, I might add, because of him hamming up the back pain.

Nevertheless, we got through it. And then, when I was lying there afterwards, silently willing his swimmers up through the gleaming tunnel of my newly sandblasted tubes, I was seized with the sort of sneezing fit that basically renders all your good work useless. Bah.

Still, on the offchance that I might have retained a couple of dogged specimens, I do think I might actually have ovulated. There are signs: sore boobs, the delightful egg-white (another reason for being repulsed by my oozing breakfast), and a weird stabbing pain low on the right-hand side. Sadly the right-hand ovary is the incompetent one but perhaps it has been shocked into action after watching the sea of dye whoosh past last week.

Before I go, I must share a link to a brilliant blog I've just found. For anyone currently going through first-time fertility treatment, it's massively inspiring because this woman has one IVF baby and is pregnant with her second.

It's also hugely funny - I read through her archive back to 2006, and her post about her HSG made me laugh out loud. I'm a tough crowd, so that's no mean feat, especially these days - in fact, hubby was so disturbed by the unfamiliar sound that he came trotting up the stairs with tissues and an expression of trepidation, assuming that, as usual, I was crying!

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Dealing with insensitive people

I had an awkward encounter at the gym today with the mother of a girl I was quite friendly with at school. We chatted about my job and hers, and the fact we're both married. Then the cringeworthiness started.

Friend's mum: "So, do you have any family yet?"
Me (chanting "argh, argh" in my head): "No, not yet."
Friend's mum: "You shouldn't wait too long. Are you planning on starting a family soon?"
Me (through gritted teeth): "Yes, hopefully soon."
Friend's mum: "I keep telling my daughter, now is the time, before you turn 30. You career girls these days, you wait so long-"
Me (teeth now having gouged chunks out of own jaw): "Actually, I've been trying for two years. We're starting fertility treatment for my polycystic ovary. I had an X-ray of my tubes last week. It's really very distressing."

Perhaps I shouldn't have bitten her head off. But perhaps people should think before they speak.

In other news, we took the cat to the vet's last night, where they drew some cells out of his lump to send off for analysis. We won't know anything till the middle of next week. I'm not going to dwell on this because I basically can't deal with the prospect of him being taken away from me as well right now.

Hubby's back is apparently "a little better" so I plan to lift his no-sex fatwa tomorrow. By force if I have to.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

The bitch is back

Not a good day.

First off, we found a lump on my cat's back. He's nearly 17, so I've had him more than half my life, and I'm not ashamed to say that I'm besotted with him and always have been. I love him like a baby, which is appropriate given he's the closest thing I'll probably ever have to one. A lump at age 17 can't be good news, so he's booked in at the vet's tomorrow for an examination. Another thing to worry about - and my worry barrel is pretty brimming just now.

Next - and this is more in the "infuriating" than "upsetting" category - hubby is complaining of having "done his back in". What this means in reality, given he's only 34, doesn't have a physical job where back injuries are commonplace, and has no genetic conditions that predispose him to back pain, is that he slept a bit funny and has had a twinge. However, him being a bloke, this is The End Of The World.

The word "agony" has been used. Much ibuprofen - a good deal more than I ingested last week - has been consumed. There is talk of time off work. Most importantly of all, sex is off the menu. No, siree. He refuses point blank - apparently, it'd be "impossibly painful".

I struggle to sympathise. Surviving the HSG has somewhat inflated my perception of my own pain threshold - perhaps arrogantly so - but bitchiness aside, I feel that he should just get the fuck on with it, the way I usually have to do.

We know - we know - that there is a higher incidence of pregnancy in the month or so immediately after the HSG. This week - tomorrow, in fact - sees day 14 of this cycle. Do I need to draw him pictures?!

It just seems a shame for me - and yes, me; it was me on the table - to have gone through all that for us to waste potentially the brightest opportunity to conceive since this whole sorry business began.

The logical part of me knows I must wait only another month until our follow-up at the clinic and hopefully our first course of ovulation-stimulating drugs. But I want to make the most of this chance! If our baby can possibly be conceived without pumping me full of hormones in a manner not dissimilar to a cow being readied for breeding, then surely that's a good thing!

Told you I'd be ranting again soon. Don't hate me too much.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Uncharacteristic sentimentality

I had the massage on Saturday afternoon, and it was lovely. I'm really glad I waited till after the HSG and had it as a treat/reward, as I think my body appreciated that more than it would a pre-emptive massage when I was still scared.

Before we got started, the therapist asked me if I was stressed about anything in particular. (Wild laughter ensued.) I explained what had happened on Friday, and her reaction was great.

"How did they get the dye into your tubes?" she asked. "Oh, through my cervix," I said, with the casual detachment of the war-wounded. "With a big, huge catheter."

"So were you unconscious?" she queried, goggle-eyed now with horror. "Oh no," said the valiant cowgirl, with a breezy sniff. "They don't anaesthetise you. I took ibuprofen."

"But that's HORRIFIC!"

"Oh, it wasn't so bad - but that's why I'm here..."

Joking aside, I've had some time now to reflect on the experience and my main reaction, aside from relief at the result and that it's over, is massive gratitude.

Regular readers will know (and very possibly love) me as a cynical, bitter cow who rants in an occasionally comical way about her experiences, and indeed this is a very apt description of me in everyday life. However, I do have a squidgy side, and all the lovely comments, messages and support I've had - both from complete strangers, and from my network of friends and family - has brought it to the fore.

My overwhelming gratitude naturally lies with my mum. To accompany me to such a nasty procedure, and to spend the rest of the day - which she'd booked off work as a holiday, as had I - nurturing me and looking after me as if I were a sick child was just so selfless and caring. And of course my previous post described my gratitude to the nursing staff, to whom I've already sent a thank-you card.

But I also want to extend a huge flood of thanks to all my friends and family. My mobile phone didn't stop beeping on Friday with "how r u?" texts, and I can't put into words how much they all meant.

I'm equally grateful - and this is REALLY rare for me, as I generally tend to view the fact of my infertility as evidence of my catastrophically bad luck - that my tubes were clear and I had a good experience. By and large, those women who had an awful time seem to be the ones whose tubes were blocked. I am quietly in awe of my huge good fortune at getting a clear result.

God, will you hark at me?! I started this blog partially because so much stuff I'd read in inevitably pink books about infertility was mawkish, sentimental dross. And yet here I am spouting it!

I do apologise - the moaning me will be back soon...

Friday, 11 April 2008

The tale of the HSG

First of all, thanks so much to everyone who's sent me comments and emails wishing me luck for what happened today. I've gained an enormous amount of support and comfort from your messages.

The next thing I want to say is intended for anyone reading this who hasn't yet had their HSG, and who, like I was last night, is terrified. It wasn't nearly as bad as I was expecting it to be. I got myself into a virtually hysterical state last night - I was so scared of what I believed, having read numerous scary accounts, was going to be pain on a level that I couldn't cope with. It wasn't. It hurt, I won't say it didn't, but it never went beyond tolerable.

The final part of my opening preamble has to do with the results: my tubes are clear! I'm so happy about this as it means that next we can hopefully try a drug to make me ovulate, as it looks as though everything but my polycystic ovary is in order.

After my hysterical outburst, I got drunk last night and watched a stupid thriller. The wine helped me sleep initially, but I woke at 5am sick with dread. After tossing and turning for 90 minutes or so, I got up, vomited, showered and then inanely decided to paint my toenails. All I can say is that when one's legs are destined for stirrups, one wants one's feet to look presentable.

I tried breakfast but it was a mistake as it didn't stay down for long. I dressed in the most comfortable outfit I could find - long, black, stretchy cotton skirt; T-shirt; snug cardi; flat, slouchy boots - and said goodbye to hubby as nicely as it's possible to say goodbye to someone at whom you've just yelled "Would you for the love of Christ stop fucking SNEEZING!"

My mum turned up early and I traipsed out to the car in the manner of a condemned woman walking to the scaffold. I was armed with water and painkillers - I didn't want to take them too early - and I had very little to say.

We arrived at the hospital and I downed my 800mg of ibuprofen in the car. After finding the X-ray suite quite quickly, I was surprised that we only had to wait five minutes before the nurse who'd be doing the test came to collect me. This was a very different experience to the pelvic scan where I nearly ruptured my own bladder due to my appointment being delayed.

The nurse took us to a seating area just outside the room where the test would take place. I told her I was terrified. She then spent 15 minutes explaining every minute detail of the procedure to me in a manner that was warm, kind and patient enough to make me well up now just remembering it. Her name was Joan and I didn't get her surname but she's the most wonderful nurse I ever met. She said that many women arrive terrified and leave thinking that the experience wasn't even a quarter as bad as they'd imagined it would be. She also said that she believes the internet features a disproportionately high volume of scary stories, for the simple reason that women who've had an awful time are more likely to be traumatised enough to write about it.

Joan went through the paperwork with me and I felt myself relaxing gradually as we talked. Partly this was down to the agreeably dreamy zen induced by taking way too many ibuprofen, but a lot of it was down to Joan's skill at relaxing me in the manner that a horse whisperer would calm a frantic pony.

Joan gave me a plastic bag and showed me into a changing cubicle. She told me to strip my bottom half naked, but that it was fine for me to leave my T-shirt, bra and socks on. (Waste of nail polish.) As I was changing I heard her asking the consultant radiologist if my mum could sit in. I distinctly heard him say "Absolutely not" and then I distinctly heard Joan insist. Again, I'm forever grateful.

I emerged wearing the gown I'd been given, which was open in the back, but this was made less embarrassing by the fact that they'd also given me a cotton robe to wear over the top until I got in position. However, the gown was blue and white, the robe was bright blue and really oversized, and my socks were red and stripy (donned that morning in an effort to be cheery; I was also bedecked in tiger's eye jewellery to bring me courage). The overall effect was lunatic asylum meets Ronald McDonald.

There was a flat bed in the middle of the room with steps up to it. I was asked to lie down and put my head on the pillow. They laid a blanket over my hips and thighs - similar to the blanket you get in a smear test. Joan explained that if I could establish a breathing pattern and maintain it, this would help me deal with the pain and keep my muscles relaxed. My mum stood behind my head and started stroking my hair. This really helped, and I started breathing deeply.

There were now three other people in the room in addition to me and my mum: Joan, another nurse, and a female radiologist (the guy had vanished, presumably in a fit of pique after my mum was allowed in). They got the cameras ready and moved them over my stomach. My mum was asked to put on a lead apron so she wasn't at risk from the radiation. The others all wore these too, so for a moment it looked like a scene from Delia Smith Goes Bad.

Joan then said they were ready. The other nurse lifted the blanket and bunched my gown up so that my naked bum was on the bed. Joan told me to bring my knees up, put my ankles together and let my legs fall apart - exactly as if I were having a smear. There were no stirrups, but they placed thick foam wedges under my thighs so that my legs didn't get wobbly from being held in that position.

First of all, Joan said she was going to clean my vagina with a warm antiseptic solution. (I resisted the temptation to tell her it was perfectly clean enough, thank you, after I virtually scrubbed it raw in the course of my morning ablutions.) She took a warm, sopping wet sponge and wiped it down, firmly, the full length of me. She then got a new sponge and repeated it.

Joan then inserted the speculum, all the while telling me what she was doing and what sensations I should expect. It went in fine and she cranked it open - always an uncomfortable moment, but nothing I wasn't familiar with. She then said she was going to insert the catheter, and that it might take a minute or two so I wasn't to panic if it didn't go in right away. I was staring at the ceiling during this and focusing on my breathing, but my mum told me afterwards that the catheter was blue and about the girth of a drinking straw.

This was the part I was most scared of, but I honestly didn't feel it pass through my cervix. I was amazed when Joan said, "That's gone through first time, sweetheart". After every stage - the speculum going in, the speculum being opened, the catheter going in - Joan, the other nurse and my mum told me how well I was doing. That really helped me too.

Joan explained that she was going to inflate the balloon on the end of the catheter, and that this part would cause a sharp period-type cramp to come on suddenly. This was absolutely accurate - it came really quickly and built to the level of a bad day one period pain. It hurt, but it was tolerable.

Joan then said she was going to start putting the dye through, and that this would cause the cramping to intensify a little. Again, this is exactly what happened - the cramp sort of wrenched slightly and got a bit worse. I wanted to gasp but I felt that if I interrupted the steady breathing pattern I'd established, I might lose it altogether and suddenly lose my handle on the pain, so I didn't. I just kept breathing. I'd been lying with my hands folded on my chest like a corpse, but at this point my mum took my left hand and the other nurse took hold of my right hand. (She'd previously told me to resist the urge to clutch my stomach when the cramping started, so maybe this was to make sure I didn't - it was nice of her, though, whatever the reason.)

After about 15 seconds - literally, it couldn't have been more than that - Joan said, "That's it - that's great - we're done". I couldn't believe it. I'd been on the bed for about 15 minutes, but most of this time was spent waiting for them to assemble the equipment. The nasty part - from speculum going in to Joan saying we were finished - lasted about four and a half minutes.

Everyone told me how well I'd done, and I just felt overwhelming, dizzying relief. Joan deflated the balloon and removed the catheter, and the cramping subsided immediately. She then removed the speculum and pushed a big, pillow-like pad up against me to stem the flow of dye.

I stayed lying down while I gathered myself and they moved the camera off me. It took about five minutes before I felt able to sit up, and when I did, my mum came round and they tilted the screen so we could see the pictures. Joan explained that they'd only had to use 3ml of dye, and that the test had gone so fast because it had immediately shot through both my tubes and spilled out the ends - i.e., my tubes are clear.

She then took us through around 12 moment-by-moment pictures which showed the catheter and balloon in place in my empty womb, then my womb full of dye, then both tubes filling up, and finally the dye spilling out the end. One of my tubes was really long and straight and the other was more bunched up, but Joan said this was simply because of the position of my insides on this given day, and that she was happy both tubes were perfect.

When I felt the headrush subside, I got up and was shown to a bathroom where they'd put my bag of clothes ready, along with some soapy solution, wet wipes and dry wipes, plus a sanitary pad. I cleaned up, stuck the pad in my pants and got dressed.

Since my mum was with me, I was allowed to leave straight away - but not before I thanked Joan profusely for being so nice and patient with me. I had to resist actually hurling myself at the woman and hugging her, I was so grateful.

For the rest of today I've felt sporadically crampy - some of them quite sharp - and sore, and I've leaked dye and gunge. I'd probably have had an easier day if I hadn't sucked up my day's entitlement of painkillers in one go, but I remain glad that I did, because perhaps the during-cramps would have been much tougher to take if I hadn't. However, the after-cramps have been easy to deal with as I've been chilling at my mum's, eating comfort food and watching Pretty Woman.

I'm so grateful to Joan and the other staff for making this as easy on me as possible. I'm also grateful to my mum for coming with me, putting up with my uber-bitch mode this morning, and watching what must have been the difficult sight of her daughter undergoing a distressing gynaecological procedure.

I'm also soooooo hugely relieved that my tubes and womb are clear. Hopefully this will mean that we can make some progress really soon!

I've booked my massage tomorrow to reward myself for being brave and going through with it. But take note - I'm the biggest wimp going, so if I can do it, anyone can.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Hitting rock bottom

So today was a good day.

After not even a millilitre more of blood overnight, I rang the hospital this morning and spoke to one of the nurses who will be doing the HSG on Friday. She asked what a normal period was for me and I said one day of very heavy bleeding, following by two days of medium and then another two days of light. Even though my cycles are all to hell, that actual pattern for my period itself has never changed and has been the same since I was 13.

The nurse said that it could well be a stress-induced blip, but that there were no issues with actually doing the test provided I'm not pregnant. That's the one thing they have absolutely to rule out, as she explained that if I were and they pushed a catheter through my cervix, that would cause me to abort the baby. The foetus, she said, but let's face it, the baby.

She then said that the fact I've bled very lightly once last Wednesday and then again on Sunday could - possibly - indicate that actually I am. Apparently such things are common early on. She even said they've had two women this week cancel their HSGs because they've fallen pregnant. (I loathe them both with a vitriol that surprises even me.)

She told me to go straight to the fertility clinic (luckily, it's just five minutes from work - this call took place by the side of a road at almost 9am this morning!) where they would do a blood pregnancy test - apparently, that's the only thing that's accurate enough early on. I told her I'd done a urine one on Saturday morning but she dismissed that as she said they're not reliable until six weeks into the pregnancy. (They should put that on the fucking BOX!)

I obediently presented myself at the fertility clinic this morning and only had to wait 15 minutes among other ashen-faced, desperate women to get in for my blood test.

The nurse said I could phone up for the results - can I just reiterate, this was to find out over the phone whether I am pregnant or not - this afternoon at 4pm.

Time never passed more slowly than it did today. I know she didn't mean to, but the nurse really got my hopes up - having a medical professional confirm that I MIGHT be pregnant in a month where I thought all hope was lost really got me excited.


At 4pm I phoned up. The number they'd given me didn't work. All it did was go, "BONG-BONG-BONG: This number is not valid" in a smug, probably pregnant woman's voice.

I checked my diary, where I've written the fertility clinic number for reference. It was the same number. "BONG-BONG-BONG" etc ensued.

I checked the website. Same PISSING number.

I called a few directory enquiry lines. Same number. By now I was nearly deaf from BONG-BONG-BONGs because for some insane reason I kept thinking that it would magically work if I just rang it one more time.

Eventually I started fretting that the clinic would close before I had defeated BONG-BONG-BONG lady. So I called the hospital - other side of the city, but surely these people share contact details - and eventually got through to their switchboard, having to give a garbled and increasingly hysterical precis of my story to every different person I spoke to.

Switchboard lady was nice. She detected the telltale wobble in my voice and said she wouldn't cut me off till she'd got a number for the fertility clinic. Six minutes later I was connected to the sister at the clinic.

She was so lovely to me, and that's when the tears finally came. She explained the test had come back negative. I didn't say anything. She said, "I'm so sorry, darling" and that was it - I wept like a kid.

I explained how scared I am about Friday, and how the conversation with the other nurse this morning had given me this unexpected jolt of hope that I'd hung everything on. And she listened. She just listened. She even asked if I wanted to walk over to the clinic and talk in person. She deserves a medal. People as good and kind as her would get my eyes wet at the best of times.

So I eventually got it together enough to get through the rest of the day, but on the way home on the train I just kept hearing "I'm so sorry, darling" again in my mind and I have to say I sat in that carriage with huge, fat tears just dripping down my face. I didn't even care. I then had a HUGE crying jag when I got in and saw hubby.

Two glasses of red later and I'm really calm, but so very sad and scared.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Now what?

Oh dear, this week is not going well. For a start, hubby crashed the car today. Not badly - he's fine, which is the main thing, and it's really no more than a shunt and a dented bumper - but it's not what either of us needed.

Back on topic, my period has dwindled to virtually nothing. I basically only bled properly for one day, Sunday. Yesterday I was surprised at how light it was - my usual pattern is at least three days of heavy flow - and today it's all but gone. This is unheard of for me after two days.

I can't work out whether it's just been really light as a result of me being so stressed out about all the tests. The fear has really kicked in about Friday now. I certainly don't want to have the HSG if this hasn't been a proper period, for three reasons:

1) My cervix won't be properly open if it wasn't so the catheter bit will be more painful.

2) I haven't had a proper period since 25 February so my womb is likely full of endometrium and other crap. Surely this would skew the results of the HSG, which needs an empty womb to determine if there are any lurking gremlins?

3) I suppose there's an outside chance that the pregnancy test I did on Saturday was too early and I might be pregnant. Dreams can come true and all that.

Mind you, don't think that I just want to cancel because I'm scared. This actually couldn't be further from the truth. I'm terrified but also sort of psyched up for it now, and it will be a crashing disappointment if I have to put it off for anything other than The Best reason.

It's just so hard to get advice - the relevant department of the hospital is only open between 9 and 5, and I work in an open plan office. I suppose the best thing to do is ring them tomorrow and explain the situation.

I briefly considered phoning NHS Direct for guidance this evening, but they're really more for people who are urgently ill right now. They'd dismiss me as a nut-job if I rang up asking whether my period had been heavy enough to justify having a catheter rammed up my hole at the end of the week.

I then checked for infertility helplines in the wild hope that someone manning one of them might have at least HAD an HSG and be able to offer an educated guess as to what I ought to do. Sadly there aren't many - the one I did find quoted an out-of-hours number that was clearly residential. Still, desperately, I rang it anyway and the phone was answered in an aggrieved tone by a man whose mouth was full of food. He denied all knowledge of there being an infertility counsellor in residence, and I felt like a prize tit.

Why oh why couldn't I just have had a normal period?!

It doesn't seem like a massive amount to ask.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

The period has landed

It's here!

Whether it was exercise that worked, or the fab suggestion from a fellow blogger, or maybe just going out for dinner with friends last night and forgetting about it for a few hours, my period finally descended in the early hours of this morning as unseasonable April snow fell outside.

I'd like to think it was the suggestion from s.e. that did it, because that enabled me to utter possibly the most romantic sentence I've ever said to hubby: "Why don't you shag me and see if we can smoke it out that way?" Thanks for the tip - and thanks to everyone else who's left comments too. I really appreciate them all.

With it starting overnight, I've now got five full days for it to finish before the HSG on Friday. The way timings have worked out means I might still be bleeding a little on the day, but by that stage I'm usually very light so I'm hoping it will still be able to go ahead. I shall call the hospital in the morning to check.

Am I scared? Do bears shit in the woods?! But at the same time I'm keen to get it over with, and to have some light shed on the state of my tubes.

It does scare me to think that this time next week I will know what it feels like to have a balloon inflated inside my cervix. I feel vaguely sick whenever I think about that.

I've only had one wobbly moment today. In the car, the song 'Common People' by Pulp came on the radio, and I had the experience again where one random lyric really got to me. It was the line "You'll never fail like common people, never watch your life slide out of view", and once again I suddenly had wet eyes, because it does rather feel like my life has disintegrated, or at least contracted around this one focal nightmare.

I picked myself out of my funk by substituting the word "common" for the word "barren" and drafting another little parody in my head. (Am I doing this too much?!) My favourite bit was "I said pretend you've got no hormones", but I didn't share when hubby asked what was up following my self-congratulatory snort. I wasn't convinced he'd get why it was funny - mainly because it isn't, really.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Update on my extremely stupid body

Well, still no bastard period.

I finally did a test this morning and, of course, it was negative. But where is my period? It's never done this before - it has started and then retreated for a day or two before returning with a vengeance, but it's never started then vanished for four days.

We're now in a position where one of three things can happen:

1) My period arrives today or tomorrow, behaves itself, and finishes on Thursday in time for me to have the HSG on Friday morning. As by far the best option, this is pretty well guaranteed NOT to happen.

2) My period stays away until later in the week, thus ruling out the HSG by being still in full flow when it's supposed to take place. I have to cancel the HSG, cancel my day's leave from work, and basically cancel my LIFE until my turn on this hellish merry-go-round next month.

3) My period stays away full stop. I have to cancel the HSG because I can't have it till I've had a period - aside from anything else, it's been six weeks now and my womb will be full of endometrium crap, so that'd skew the results anyway. I then have to exist in a state of semi-derangement wondering if I'm magically pregnant (though by now, if I were it'd be the next Messiah since hubby and I haven't had it off since mid-March) or if in fact my entire reproductive system has somehow crawled out of my vagina and disappeared on a Ferris Bueller-style jaunt without my knowing.

FUCK. I hate this. It's ridiculous because, as scared as I am, I actually want the HSG now. I want it over with, I want to know the state of my tubes, I want to have made some progress. And I suppose a small, dark part of me wants to punish my lazy, useless, incompetent collection of rude bits, in a sort of "you've messed me around so much, so let's see how you like THEM apples" motif.

The grumbling crampiness and sore boobs of this time last week have all but vanished and I don't feel the least bit periody. Could I somehow have just missed one? Of all the months for that to happen!

Now that I've tested and categorically know there's no baby, I'm going to head to the gym and pound the crap out of myself to see if I can kickstart it that way.

If that fails, I've officially run out of ideas.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Are you kidding me?

A pregnant bloke?


I'm sorry, but are you HAVING A LAUGH?!

It's really a sad state of affairs when it's easier for a man to conceive than it is for me.

I got my period in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Saying that, what I mean is I got a smear of blood on Wednesday which I assumed was my period, so after a) crying so much my eyes puffed out and b) having a massive fight with hubby about the fact that I'm scared of the HSG, I got up for work and, on the way, rang the hospital to book in for the hideoussalpingogram itself.

The lady I spoke to was lovely, and I'm in next Friday at 11am. However, my period never actually started. Aside from the nocturnal smear of blood and a little bit of brown sludge over the past few days, I've not started bleeding properly.

What the fuck's it playing at? I'm booked in now, and if it doesn't start flowing tomorrow, it won't have finished in time for the HSG to happen.

It's one thing to have polycystic ovaries. It's one thing not to be able to conceive even after two years of trying harder than I've ever tried for anything.

It's quite another when your own body seems hell-bent on making life as difficult as possible.

How do you wage war against yourself?

Monday, 31 March 2008

A sucky situation gets suckier

I phoned the fertility clinic this afternoon. They'd told me to reschedule my April follow-up appointment if I hadn't had the HSG, as there was no point discussing treatments and next steps until they've determined whether my tubes are OK.

The follow-up was booked for next Tuesday. This morning when I got up to no period again, I finally accepted that there isn't physically enough time between now and then for me to get my period, finish it and also have the HSG, so I called them to explain as much.

It turns out the next available appointment isn't until 20 May. I'm so upset we're going to have to wait another six weeks. I know six weeks doesn't seem like much in the context of two years, but it's just so frustrating. The receptionist implied that if I'd wanted an earlier appointment, I should have cancelled earlier. I pointed out that unfortunately, since I have no more been blessed with the powers of clairvoyance than I have with a fertile womb, I was unable to do this. Anyway, the stupid hospital didn't even send me the HSG summons till a week or so ago.

It's just - argh - May?! I fear at this rate I'll be menopausal before I actually get any treatment. After our January consultation I felt a stab of disappointment when we were told our next appointment would be April - it seemed like months away. (Nothing gets past me.)

Now there's just more waiting. My stupid, evil, twisted bitch of a period still hasn't turned up and until it does I have the spectre of the HSG hanging over me. When it eventually DOES turn up, I will not only have the usual despair to deal with but also the terror of the imminence of the HSG. And then another interminable wait to progress any further.

To top it all, hubby went berserk when I arrived home tonight and broke the news to him. He started ranting about how the system is unfair on us because of my useless cycles - we have no way of predicting when I'll menstruate, but the NHS seems to want us to plan procedures months in advance based on exact period maths.

He then started bellowing about letters of complaint - about what?! They haven't done anything wrong - it's just bureaucracy, and the fact that there's a very long queue. All in all he behaved like a little boy who'd been told he couldn't have the sweets he wanted. I can understand his frustration - Christ, 'Frustrated' is my middle name - but I could have done with some comfort rather than a big rant. After all, it's MY useless system that's screwing us over.

Of course, this degenerated quickly into a fight which featured lines such as "It's me lying there in stirrups while they erect scaffolding up my fud - I don't want to complain about them yet!" He kept moaning about how "unfair" it is. Ha! He's a fool if he hasn't yet got to grips with the fact that this entire situation is UNFAIR.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that this sucks more than I ever thought it was possible for a sucky situation to suck.

Bollocks to everything.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Some dark nights of the soul

So I'm not doing so well. My period still hasn't come and coping with the will it/won't it stress is becoming increasingly tough.

It's 35 days now. Tomorrow it'll be a week late. I'm really, really scared to do another test. After the last one, I sort of swore off the evils of pregnancy tests as it's just too depressing. I can feel my pee retreating back up my urethra every time I even consider the one remaining in my bathroom.

I'm still so desperately hopeful. This month really feels like a last chance saloon, for so many reasons. It's the last cycle before it's been two years. It's the last cycle before the dreaded HSG. And sometimes I think that it's the last cycle before I totally lose my mind.

Symptom-wise, it's really difficult to tell whether I have anything to hope for or whether it's just pre-menstrual stuff. I've got really sore boobs. They're spiky and sort of prickly when I lie on my tummy. If I lean over when I'm not wearing a bra, they reeeeally ache. And leaping about on Easter Monday doing my Elle McPherson video (yes, my life is THAT tragic) I had to hold them.

Two mornings this week, including this morning, I've woken up utterly convinced that my period has come. It generally comes overnight - I wake up with cramps and then when I go to the loo, there it is. This morning I woke at 6am with dull cramps coming in waves. They weren't as bad as usual but I also felt a sort of wetness, and I was just certain. I was like a dead woman walking heading to the bathroom. But there was nothing there.

It's got to the point that every time I go to the loo, I sit there praying and begging whatever powers exist for it not to have come. Then when I wipe and there's nothing, it's like I've received a stay of execution. I'm sure I sound ridiculously over-dramatic, but that's how I feel.

I've had some bleak nights this week. I've gone through five or six nights of having really vivid dreams. Some are nightmares - hubby and I have been watching the box set DVD of Twin Peaks, and it's pant-wettingly scary. In fact as I sit typing this, in broad daylight, I'm trying not to glance out the door and down the stairwell as I'm pretty sure the evil BOB will be climbing towards me if I do.

Other dreams are just weird. Last night I dreamt that my mum and I were on a weird journey where we had to clamber over all these round hillocks. Not hills or mountains - just these odd grassy knolls that kept appearing in our path. It was hard work but after each hillock we'd arrive at a nice house and be able to rest before having to climb over another one. If any aspiring dream interpreters can shed some light on what in the name of giddy fuck this might mean, I'd be interested to hear it!

My period must be on its way. I mean, it just must be. Right now I've still got the grumbly feeling low in my tummy. I bet it'll come tomorrow.

Why can't I get pregnant? Why? I'm so very, very sick of all this.