The evils of Christmas (shopping)

Earlier on this year, I played with the idea of taking our immediate family on a mini-break  to do some Christmas shopping together in Bath. Bath is one of those quintessential British towns with beautiful period buildings and plenty of quirky, middle-class shops and attractions. It’s the type of place you go to and think, Why do I live in the grey, murky Midlands when places like this exist in the country?? I had visions of a quaint cottage with a roaring fire, and us soaking up a bit of culture during the day, and then putting our feet up and soaking up some good food and wine in the evenings. 

It was the first holiday of its kind in our family – it had the potential for us to return having gouged each others eyeballs out, but we have all returned, bodily organs intact, and with even the most skeptical of us up for a 2014 encore. It was just great to be away from blighty and the monotony of everyday life. 

What I didn’t bank on, was the letter that dropped onto my doorstep a few days prior to this, informing us that our appointment with our consultant had been put back a month. We would have had less than a month to go (not that I was counting or anything) to have some understanding of what is going wrong. When you’ve been trying to conceive for over a year, it finally feels like a light at the end of a very long, undignified tunnel.

Needless to say, the subsequent few days were spent ruminating and draining myself of energy with my false efforts to smile and laugh and joke, when all I wanted to do was curl up in bed and cry.

Shopping has got to be one of my favourite pastimes and is usually a guaranteed way of cheering me up (providing it’s in the right place, and that I have the right number of zeros at the end of my account balance). The trip met those criteria (as well as having the added benefits of stalls selling mulled wine, hot apple cider, and roasted nuts) so why did I feel like I was on the brink of an emotional outburst? 

The kids’ stuff. Everywhere.

There are times when I absolutely hate being a woman. I hate being at the mercy of hormones – a few chemicals being chucked out into your bloodstream that can make you assertive and confident one moment, and then turn you into a hysterical wreck the next. Life must be so much simpler being a bloke.

Everywhere I turned, there were cute little booties, Christmas jumpers and teddies.. just all that stuff that you’re wired to respond to as a woman. And my “mothers” (the in-law and my surrogate mum) cooing over the merchandise saying, “Ohhhh, isn’t that so gorgeous. Oh that would be perfect for a little boy. We just don’t have anybody we can buy things like this for” HINT HINT. 

By the end of the day, I was plaiting my legs, trying desperately to ignore the messages being sent from my bladder to my brain telling me I had a further 100ml capacity before I would spontaneously void, just because going to the toilet would involve walking through the childrens’ department in BOTH of the main department stores.

I always count myself lucky that my day job is too hectic and busy for me to really fixate on the fertility problems – there are barely enough hours in the day to do the mandatory “sleep, eat, shower, work”. But times like these, when I am caught off my guard, it’s easy to feel how devastating it is to other couples, and how it can really consume every part of your life.

For now, I’m holding onto the hope that I’ll be buying a pair of these at Bath Christmas Market 2014…


The Beginning

Ok, so I’m on the road to thirty, not long married, and working in a madly busy, though very fulfilling career as a doctor. At a glance, I have it all – a degree, a beautiful home, a wonderful, successful husband and a menagerie of furry animals, but there is one  gaping hole in this Desperate Housewives-esque dream, and that is a baby.

One thing that academia does to you is to instil in you that, if you work hard enough at something, you can achieve anything. This is a mindset that is so difficult to shake off, having been ingrained in you since childhood. And it sets you up for misery later on in life, when things are beyond your control. I liken it a little to taking a driving test – it doesn’t matter how many books you read, or even how much you practice your reverse-around-a-corner, it’s all about your luck on the day. If that white van decides to cut you up when you’re so diligently driving along, that’s your lot. And your £70 or however much it costs to take a test these days. I failed my test. Twice. And it wasn’t books that helped me the third time.

Approximately 14 months ago, we decided the time was right for us to embark on the next rite of passage. As with most couples who find themselves in our predicament, you don’t imagine for one second that it will be difficult to conceive when you choose to do so. I mean, aren’t you told, “You’ve missed a pill?! Use condoms for 7 days”, “There’s a small risk you can still get pregnant on a period”, “Best thing to do is to use the Pill AND condoms”. It makes you think you only nearly to be looked at by a man to catch. You only nearly to do go down to the local shops (especially where we live) to run into a pregnant woman. So how hard can it be, right?! Is it not what our entire purpose is on earth?

Well, 14 months on, doing the textbook (here goes the books, again!) “no smoking, no drinking, healthy eating, exercise, healthy BMI, regular Folic Acid, man-Vitamins for the other half”, here I am.

What is the purpose of this blog? Well, over the last year or so, one of my biggest struggles has been the inability to discuss this with the significant others in our lives. Infertility is one of those taboos – not unlike miscarriage – where there are countless people who have experienced it. But nobody ever seems to talk about – not unless it was a problem years ago, and now resolved. 1 in 4 pregnancies miscarry. 1 in 6 couples will have problems conceiving. Lift up both of your hands and name 10 people you know. Statistically, two of these will have difficulty conceiving. That’s one hell of a lot! And yet, it’s just not talked about openly. And it’s because you feel like a failure,  don’t want people’s sympathy, don’t want people to know you’re trying in case there’s no chance you’ll have one of your own… and that’s just to name a few.

And so, this is my way, of not only being able to vent my anger and shed my tears, but hopefully share some positive experiences about the process, too.

This is my journey.