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.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

A load of old cobblers?

I watched a really interesting programme last night about alternative therapies - specifically, reflexology and massage - which covered how they can play a part in helping women get up the duff.

Now, normally I'm quite cynical (had you noticed?!) and I tend to file all such notions under the generic heading of "a load of shite".

And even though the programme included a lengthy segment featuring smug mummies surrounded by children who were allegedly conceived with the help of an alternative therapy, the presenter was quick to point out that in the absence of any convincing clinical trials, there's just no way of knowing which of the women would have got pregnant anyway.

(Speaking of which, hubby and I will in a week's time creep into that sad, forgotten percentile of couples who don't conceive within two years. Whenever you read a book about fertility - and I've read LOTS - they always quote the statistics in the first chapter: take 100 couples; by the end of the first month 20 will be pregnant, and so on until you get to the 24th month, by which time 95 couples are pregnant.

As of 6 April - the night I took my last Pill, which I remember both because it was also the night of my dad's retirement party, and because I'm an obsessive-compulsive freak - we are in that sorry 5%. Depressing, no?)

Anyway, back to the New Age bollocks. While the programme didn't convince me that reflexology would help me to conceive - after all, as I've said before, thinking positively isn't going to make my ovary magically not polycystic, and neither is a foot rub - it did help me make two decisions.

1) When my period comes (which it hasn't yet, of which more later) and I know the HSG is nigh, I'm going to treat myself to a full-body massage at the beauty clinic. I've had this once before, as a birthday present, and it was fa-a-bulous. So as a gift for myself, and in an effort to relax me pre-pokery, I'm going to indulge.

2) I want my mum to come in with me for the HSG. I realise many of you will be appalled at the prospect of inviting your mother to sit in on a procedure where your genitalia are splayed to the four winds, but there's method in my madness. First of all, my mum and I are really close. She knows all about what I'm going through, and she's coming with me to the appointment anway - she's more of a comforting presence than hubby, who I'd just end up shouting at.

My other reason comes from a section of last night's programme in which they hooked a woman up to electrodes that would administer a small - not excruciating, but sore - shock every so often. Thing was, she was alerted to when a shock might happen by a big red X on a screen in front of her, so she got to anticipate the pain rather than be surprised by it. They monitored her brain's activity throughout this Mel Gibson-inspired vignette.

The first time, she had no-one to comfort her, and of course her brain went bananas. The second time, they had a complete stranger go and hold her hand. The effect was amazing - her brain dealt with the experience much more calmly. Thirdly, they had her husband hold her hand, and this time she barely registered on the angry-brainwave-measuring-thingummy at all.

This, they concluded, proved that touch - ANY human touch, even from a stranger - helps people deal with painful and/or traumatic experiences. The touch of a loved one REALLY helps. Hence my mum theory.

Who knows when it'll actually happen, though. No period. Cracked and did a test on Sunday - which was the day it was due, so not a very impressive length-of-time-before-cracking.

I might as well have weed on an Easter egg.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Return to sender

I thought long and hard about the title I'd give the post announcing the news that I'd finally received the HSG summons from the hospital.

"Oh no, wait a minute, Mr Postman" sprang to mind, as did "Signed, sealed, delivered - up yours". However, I've decided to go with the Elvis classic since returning to sender and pretending it doesn't have to happen is what I'd really like to do.

Things I like about the letter:

1) It's really long and detailed. There's loads of information about what will happen to me on the day, moment by moment, and it's written in quite a friendly, colloquial way that recognises I am a human being not a lab rat.

2) It's honest. It says it'll hurt, it says I'll probably be distressed enough afterwards to need someone to accompany me home, and it says I might have to wait for ages on the day if they have an emergency to deal with.

3) I really wanted to like three things, but I can't think of a third. Oh well.

Things I don't like about the letter:

1) It's a TAD patronising. (I know I said above that I quite liked its colloquial wording, but you should know by now that I'm a contrary bitch.) For instance, it opens with the following sentence:

"Your doctor has requested that you have an X-ray test of your uterus (womb) known as a HYSTEROSALPINGOGRAM (HSG) examination. This rather long word describes a fairly simple procedure..."

This reminded me of the Billy Connolly routine in which he rants about the childlike way TV meteorologists read us the weather. "This is the country where you live," he exclaims in a baby voice, "and this is a wee cloud!"

I mean to say, if I'd got this far without knowing what a uterus is, I'd be in trouble. Also, the jovial "rather long word" thing rubbed me up the wrong way (as the catheter will no doubt also do). I'll decide when we do the jokes, thank you Mr Radiologist.

2) Even though it says, several times, that the procedure hurts, it doesn't mention taking painkillers beforehand. Now, the consultant at the clinic was very clear that I should do this, so it's not as if no-one has given me this instruction, but I really do think it's important enough to be reiterated in the appointment letter. In many of the hellish accounts I've read online, one of the issues common to those women who'd had a bad experience was that they hadn't taken any painkillers beforehand. Bit of an oversight, that.

3) At one point it lists the benefits of the procedure, and these are shaky at best. For instance, it includes the fact the test is done without local or general anaesthetic as a benefit, whereas I'd categorically class that as an officially shitty aspect of the affair.

The pros list also says that "the results of the test are needed to determine the next stage of your fertility treatment". Really. You don't say. And there was me thinking I was undergoing this for my unbridled passion for speculum-loving.

They didn't need to slip the word "fertility" in there. I fucking KNOW that's why we're doing this. They might as well have included a triptych (now THERE'S a word) photo of a big scary catheter, me on a bed with my legs akimbo, then a grinning baby, with the caption "THIS plus THIS equals THIS!"

To be fair to the letter, it also lists the risks - my eye was immediately drawn to this paragraph due to the close proximity of the words "cervix" and "perforate", which I feel should never share a sentence. I shan't dwell on this.

It concludes by saying I will be given a "large pad to soak up the excess dye" until I "can get to a toilet", and that the hospital will provide me with a panty liner for going home. I don't think so. I've seen NHS-issue "panty liners" before and I've slept on thinner pillows.

There's some dodgy wording that I could make light of elsewhere in the letter. One bullet point explains that I "will be covered with a sterile cover". Do they mean all of me, like some kind of shroud for the unclean barren bint? Or just the business end? Surely they can't mean that whole "dignity blanket" fiasco you get with smears. I mean, to be honest, my dignity is the least of my concerns. My dignity went out the window months ago. I'm much more worried about searing agony.

I've kept my favourite bit of the letter for last - this actually made me giggle. In the bulleted list of what will happen to me on the day, it states:

"The nurse will ask you to sign a consent form or, occasionally, the doctor, which is a legal requirement."

My question is: Where do I sign him? Is it some sort of pervy notches-on-bedpost, cervixes-on-table tally he's keeping, evidenced by scrawled signatures on his white coat? Why only "occasionally"? Does he only let the pretty girls sign their names across his heart?

Ah, it helps to be silly. I actually feel a lot more OK about getting the letter than I thought I would. Perhaps this is because I'm still in relaxed mode after a week off work and some good times recently.

Or perhaps it's because the bizarre hope I mentioned earlier in the week hasn't yet left me. I fear I'm approaching the HSG with a sort of misguided "yeah but it's fine because I won't ACTUALLY have to have it" nonchalance.

Who knows. Period due tomorrow. We can but wait and see.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things...

After a fantastic reunion weekend in my university town, and two days into a restorative week off work, I find myself in the unfamiliar position of feeling quite good.

The weekend comprised lots of reminiscing, lots of good food, a decent amount of gin (but not so much that the days were blighted by hangovers), and a healthy dose of proper laughing. The fact I've returned home to a week's holiday rather than to the usual routine means I've held on to the happy hormones, too, instead of going back to my ranty, miserable self immediately.

As a result, things have been calm between hubby and me, and I find myself in this weirdly positive frame of mind. I can't really put it into words other than that I feel we've turned a corner of some sort.

Which is daft, as we haven't - still no HSG summons or other correspondence from the hospital, so we're no further forward. It's looking like we'll have to cancel our April follow-up at the clinic, since they told me not to darken their door again till I'd had the HSG.

So why the optimism? I'm stupidly trying to over-analyse what's probably just a serotonin hangover from a fun weekend. But the Thing - the Thing I'm thinking all the time but have avoided saying for four paragraphs of drivel because I'm scared to voice it - is that I feel really, properly hopeful this month, for the first time in ages.

What I mean is that I feel genuine excitement that it might have worked. I obviously feel what you could broadly label as "hope" every month, but usually it's competing with my own deep-down knowledge that my period's on its way. This cycle feels different, and I want to believe so much that it feels different because I feel different, and that I feel different because, actually, I'm pregnant.

God, typing those words is so amazing... if only it were true.

OK, so the logistics. Right now I'm 23 days into my cycle. Were I following a 28-day pattern, my period would be due on Easter Sunday. (What IS it with my cycle and big calendar events, by the way? Luckily I'm not religious so Easter Sunday means little to me other than an excuse for a roast dinner at my mum's and some chocolate. But even so, that's Christmas Day, my birthday and Easter that have coincided with cycle day 28 so far this year. I daren't count forward to our June wedding anniversary...)

Have I ovulated? No idea. TMI alert: I did notice, about 10 days ago, some suspiciously egg-whitey stuff that COULD have been the "cervical mucus" they tell you is a sign. But I symptom spot so dementedly often that it's hard to recall with any degree of accuracy what was real, what was imagined and what was simply dreamt. I found an old ovulation test yesterday and peed on it out of interest - it came up with a faint line to show I had some luteinising hormone, but it wasn't darker than the control line.

Have we tried enough? Well, we've not been as rampant as last month - basically because we're both still knackered - but we've managed it every three/four days or so between my period drying up and now. However, last week, we did it on Thursday night and then, with me being away, not again till last night, so there's a good chance we missed ovulation altogether.

So what next? I have zero symptoms except for vaguely tingly boobs, but that's about normal for this point in the month. It's way too early for symptoms anyway. What I need to do is decide whether I should use either of the early-response pregnancy tests sitting in my bathroom any time soon.

I don't want to do them and lose this nice feeling. I haven't felt upbeat for so very long. But equally, it seems somehow horribly foolish and embarrassing to walk about the place feeling all jaunty and hopeful if there's no reason to.

Does that make sense anywhere other than in my own head?!

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

The ramblings of an insomniac

The weirdest things are making me think of the HSG (though still no hospital letter). At the gym I was on the machine that works your inner thighs by you spreading 'em wide and then using the weight to bring them together. To get started you have to sort of straddle it and open your legs as wide as you can - a position at which I am becoming increasingly adept.

Anyway, as I assumed the pose, I was immediately transported to a dramatic visualisation of the HSG. The soundtrack to this increasingly vivid scene is eels' 'Novocaine for the Soul' - "you'd better give me something to fill my hole" being my reimagined version of the lyrics, in response to the lack of anaesthetic on offer.

So then last night I couldn't sleep, and I started thinking about other reimagined song lyrics and titles. Once I started, I couldn't stop. It reminded me of that scene in Roxanne where Steve Martin reels off 20 different jokes about his nose to shut up a big, fat idiot in a bar who insulted him. (Read them here - very funny.)

So. While I can't pretend to be as funny as Steve Martin, and while some of them are just plain tragic, here we go with my list. Any additions would be most welcome!

1. Obvious: "Bye bye baby, baby goodbye" - Bay City Rollers
2. Literal: "I keep bleeding, I keep, keep bleeding" - Leona Lewis
3. Emo: "We'll carry on, we'll carry on, though we're broken and defeated" - 'Welcome to the Black Parade', My Chemical Romance
5. Determined: "Success is my only motherfucking option - failure's not" - 'Lose Yourself', Eminem
6. Crude: "And I don't wanna make love to you" - Etta James
7. Self-pitying: "Why does it always rain on me?" - Travis
8. Instructive: "Knock me up before you go-go" - Wham!
9. Gloomy: "I told you I was trouble, you know that I'm no good" - Amy Winehouse
10. Helpful: "You raise me up so I can reach the stirrups" - Westlife
11. Desolate: "I walk this empty street, on the boulevard of broken wombs" - Green Day
12. Demented: "2, 4, 6, 8, ovulate" - Tom Robinson Band
13. Nihilistic: "I want to be someone else or I'll explode" - 'Talk Show Host', Radiohead
14. Cryptic: "But I feel something is wrong, lately I feel this cake just isn't done" - 'Northern Lad', Tori Amos
15. Upbeat: "So no-one told you life was gonna be this way. Your womb's a joke, your ovary's broke, your sex life's DOA!" - 'I'll Be There For You', The Rembrandts
16. Wistful: "Wouldn't it be nice if I were pregnant, then we wouldn't have to have it off" - The Beach Boys
17. Frustrated: "Give me a minute, a girl's got a limit, I can't get knocked up if my egg's not in it" - Oasis (from 'The Importance of Being Fertile', no less!)
18. Dark: "Twisting and turning, the speculum's burning, it's breaking the girl" - Red Hot Chili Peppers
19. Pleading: "The drugs you gave me, nothing else can save me, IVF" - 'SOS', ABBA
20. Angry: "Oh, look at all the fucking babies" - 'Eleanor Rigby', The Beatles

Come on, fellow bloggers - together we can get to 100! And there's a Creme Egg in it - I mean it, I shall post one - for any that make me laugh out loud.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Try something new today

I've been trying something of a different approach this weekend. Since not-eating-and-crying-lots isn't getting me anywhere apart from a bit thinner, I thought I'd try the opposite. Well, not the polar opposite, as that'd involve bingeing-and-laughing-lots, neither of which are all that practical to achieve on a daily basis - but you get the idea.

My basic theory is that I need to be kinder to my body - to try to work with it rather than being at war with it. I reckon this should involve equal measures of being good to myself and treating myself - basically acknowledging that right now everything's pretty shit, and trying to compensate in other ways, but also trying to be healthier, both mentally and physically.

So. Out goes the "no food" diet and in comes the "extremely healthy superfood" diet. My fridge is currently groaning with broccoli, bean-crammed soups and blueberries, none of which are a million miles away from the type of fare I consume normally, but this time the idea is I'll put the effort into whipping them into nutritious lunches.

I'm also going for the burn at the gym. This is partly because even though I recognise the risks of the "no food" diet (the chief one being "death"), I DO still want to lose weight. I read in the paper that infertile women who lose 5% of their body weight can improve their chances of conceiving. At nine-and-a-half stone, 5% of my body weight is around six pounds. I've already dropped more than that over the past few weeks, so my goal is to maintain at the same time as toning up and boosting fitness.

The gym makes me feel better, anyway. Must be the endorphins. Today I did a very good cardio and weights workout, followed by the stretching exercises I used to do religiously when I was young and skinny whilst listening to chill-out tunes on my iPod. It was quite therapeutic, and I caught myself enjoying it - actually feeling like I was doing something positive with my body for once, as opposed to glugging wine in the bath and staring at it hatefully.

I also indulged in some retail therapy yesterday, investing in a new red coat and boots to go with the skinny jeans my newly svelte frame has made possible. I do like shopping, though hubby pissed me off by claiming I looked "very red" - a compliment, surely, only if one is a tomato - and then, later, "like Little Red Riding Hood".

All this attempted positivity hasn't completely removed thoughts of babies from my mind, though. This evening we went to see Derren Brown at the theatre. He was really cool - extremely entertaining and infuriatingly bamboozling in equal measure. Just before the interval, he explained he'd be re-enacting the old Oracle-style medium acts from the 1920s and 1930s during the second half. He invited audience members to ask a question - any question - on a piece of card, seal it in a black envelope and drop it into a bowl on the stage.

I couldn't resist. "Will I get pregnant this month, my 23rd of trying?" I wrote. However, 1,300 other people also had burning questions - many of which, IMHO, were fatuous and inane compared with mine - and he didn't get to it. At one point he started picking people at random and guessing stuff about them (with an astounding degree of accuracy), and he instructed us to think hard and thus direct our questions to him.

Well, I can tell you that I had a headache from thinking so hard, but it didn't work. But then, I suppose it'd spoil the show to end on a conversation with an infertile woman who desperately wants to be told it'll all get better, wouldn't it?

See. The old negative me hasn't gone far.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

I don't even like Coldplay...

...but their songs have a strange ability to make me cry just at the moment.

I was listening to the radio today and that track - I didn't even know its name - with the lyrics "Tears stream down your face when you lose something you cannot replace" had tears, well, streaming down my face like a loony in the car.

I've since looked up the song - it's called 'Fix You' - and the lyrics are rather pertinent:

"When you try your best, but you don't succeed
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired, but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse
And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone, but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?"

The lyrics didn't put me in mind of my lack of baby, as most songs-that-make-me-cry do. No, in fact this one got me thinking about what has happened to hubby and me.

Although we still love each other - fiercely, I think - our sex life is shot to shit. And it's mostly my fault. Sex has become such a frustrating reminder of the bits of me that don't work as they should that I wonder how I'll ever get back the passion I used to have. I can't imagine going back to having non-baby sex - of doing it just for the sheer fun of it.

I was musing on this last night as I lay simultaneously trying to fall asleep and retain sperm. I had a migraine yesterday evening. We decided, after some discussion of why this might be, that it would be worth doing the deed just in case the reason for the migraine was ovulation. Neither of us wanted to bother, so it was a valiant effort. The phrase I would use to describe the expression on both our faces as we battled on is "grim determination".

Afterwards, I lay there remembering the time we had it off on the kitchen table in hubby's (shared - how gross were we?!) student flat because we couldn't get upstairs fast enough. This 9 1/2 weeks-esque vignette is a far cry from the routine now. Hubby at least still tries, and all I - the ungrateful, embittered bitch that I am - can feel is irritation with him for bothering with foreplay when, really, what's the point?

The last time I recall us having good, relaxed sex was on holiday in Corfu in July 2006. We'd only been trying for three months, so it was early enough that neither of us were scared yet. We had that gorgeous, drowsy mentality of being on holiday, where the routine goes: wake up, have sex, have breakfast, sunbathe, read, swim, have lunch, have sex, snooze, have drinks, have dinner, have moonlit walk, have sex. And, crucially, we had no fucking idea what lay ahead of us.

The closest we get to "holiday sex" these days is that the night moisturiser I'm currently using smells a lot like aftersun. The other night, afterwards, hubby told me I smelled like summer.

I feel so bad sometimes - when he signed up for better or for worse, I don't think he ever imagined this.

Monday, 3 March 2008

The barren woman's hate list: item #7 - Baby on Board stickers

Let's face it, it was only a matter of time before I turned my attention to these things.

To be honest, they irritated me even before the fertility stuff. Are those of us unfortunate enough to be driving behind these muppets supposed to slap our foreheads sheepishly and say "Darn it! I WAS going to rear-end you and total both our cars, but now I know there's a kid involved I'll refrain." Nowadays, as you might imagine, the stickers positively incense me.

I mean, they're bragging. That's it, pure and simple. They scream "I'm fertile! I'm fertile! I'm fertile!" in a loud voice. People may as well tape photos of their vaginas, cocks and balls to their rear windscreen, accompanied by a sign that says: "The collection of hairy objects pictured above are all in fine working order!"

I was expressing these opinions publicly once, and was told rather sniffily that Baby on Board stickers actually are very sensible because they alert the emergency services to look for a baby when they attend the scene of a car crash.

Big hairy bollocks. No, they don't. You're not going to tell me paramedics will only consider the prospect that a child might be aboard if they see one of those stickers! I'd imagine that the first thing ambulance crews are trained to do is assess the vehicle to determine the number of occupants. It beggars belief that they'd only check for kids if instructed to do so by a Little Miss Naughty sign from Mothercare.

Mind you, road rage is not something I've experienced only as a result of recent trauma. I've always been a horribly angry driver. My worst habit - and I've been doing this for years - is to bray "Come on, let's be FAHKING 'AVIN YA!" in a deranged fake Cockney accent when traffic lights turn green and the person at the front of the queue isn't IMMEDIATELY poised to pull away.

I also hate over-engineered gadgets in cars, such as the thermometer in mine that DING-DING-DINGs alarmingly if the temperature drops below 3 degrees. It does this in the middle of driving, and scares the bejesus out of me every time. In fact, mark my words, if I'm ever in a one-car crash that seems to defy explanation as to how it happened, it will be because of that stupid thermometer dinging in my ear. I've been known to shout at it - hubby once climbed into the car just as I was roaring "Shut up! I don't care how cold it is! I COULD - NOT - GIVE - A - TOSS!" He got that look on his face, the one that says "What have I married?".

There's a good reason why the scene in Fawlty Towers where Basil batters seven shades of shit out of his car with a branch is one of my favourite comedy moments ever. I can actually see myself doing the same thing.

Yes, when all's said and done, it's not really a big surprise that fertility stuff has turned me into a boiling, raging monster. I was halfway there already.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Confessions of a control freak

I was really pleased to discover that I'd lost weight when I ventured onto the bathroom scales earlier today. I was so inspired, in fact, that I compounded my virtuousness with a trip to the gym, figuring that lunchtime on Mother's Day would be a good opportunity to visit the place while it was empty of its usual harem of smug yummy mummies.

Some people comfort eat and actually balloon in difficult times, but whenever I'm upset about something I don't eat; don't even feel hungry. Right now I'm very rarely eating lunch, and am subsisting most days on my morning routine of juice, cereal and folic acid, followed by nothing until dinner. I do always have a decent evening meal with hubby, but my current state of mind means I just don't have an appetite most days. Hence the half-stone drop which the doctor would argue I can ill afford (my BMI is 20) but which has left me curiously pleased with myself.

Part of me knows this is stupid. In order to conceive and sustain a pregnancy, I need to be fit and well myself, and not eating isn't exactly conducive to that. Plus my periods are irregular enough on their own without a drop in body weight making things worse.

So another part of me wonders if I'm subconsciously trying to punish my body in a stupid "you won't conceive so I won't bloody feed you" stand-off - in which the only loser is going to be me.

But the deepest part of me fears this is a return of the flirtation with eating disorder that I experienced once before, at 18. I'd just arrived at uni but hadn't yet met the friends who'd make my second-to-fifth years there the best of my life. I was homesick and unnerved, and in a stormy relationship with a not-nice bloke who told me I was fat. I responded by going through a six-month spell where I made myself sick after every meal. I eventually controlled this idiotic behaviour myself, without medical intervention, confessing all to my mum during a trip home in which she commented on my plummeting weight. I promised her I'd never do it again. To this day, I haven't.

Older and wiser, I now recognise this as a desperate attempt to gain the driving seat in a situation that I didn't feel I was in control of. I hadn't settled at uni, wasn't happy with the boyf, and didn't really know what to do about either of those issues, so I picked something that I could control, and went for broke.

The same could be said of the current situation. I'm not in the driving seat in any way - we are at the mercy of the NHS and of biology - and I completely feel like everything is spiralling out of control. When you add in the fact that I just feel so bloody sad most of the time - I know that sounds pathetic, but there it is - it's quite easy to see where the cracks are starting to form.

But like I say, I'm older now, and wiser. In point of fact, I've just had an oat and raisin cookie and given myself a good talking to. It's not much, but it's a start.