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.