Nine Days Late

Wednesday

My period is now nine days late. I have no symptoms: no spots (I usually get 2 or 3); my mood has been steady enough (no excessive narkiness, just the habitual cantankerousness); no early spotting.

Our OBGYN consultant told us just six days ago that it is very unlikey that we will conceive naturally the way things stand but maybe… just maybe? He had crossed his fingers when I told him that I was on Day 30. You hear these things: couples told they won’t conceive and then suddenly, when they aren’t expecting anything, boom, by some lucky one in 100 million chance, she’s knocked up. This could be us. It could be. Nana is looking down on us, she’ll fix it, she’ll make it happen.

We are trying not to talk about it, not to think about it. It could be just stress and grief that’s delayed it.

But nine days late is surely a good thing.

Thursday

I’m bursting for a wee when I wake up. My knickers feel damp but that could be the night sweats or bladder at leakage point. I go to the toilet. It looks pink but they are pink knickers. But then, I see it on the toilet roll.

NO NO NO.

For fuck’s sake. Nine days late and nothing. It just fucking crept up on me like a sly prank. No forewarning.

I knew there was barely a chance but still, there’s always a chance.

We weren’t going to be one of those couples for whom the stars align and against all logic, conceive.

So now here we are. Back to feeling jealous at every pregnant woman; at every dad pushing a pram; back to hearing, “But you’re so lucky to have one each already!”

John is at work so I’m on my own, well I have the dogs, who are right now trying to get me to cuddle them. I don’t want anyone else except John.

I don’t know what we’ve done to piss off the gods and goddesses of fertility but nine days late and nothing to show for it seems like a pretty cruel trick to me Venus.

Back to Square fucking one.

Dotty 💋

The Road to Fertility

So, we had our latest appointment at the Rotunda Hospital on Friday. John was due to have his test results and I was to get an update on my surgery plan. We didn’t expect to be with the consultant for 40 minutes: the last couple of times have been with registrars who reported back to the boss. We definitely werent expecting John’s results to be problematic. But they were.

We know that I have to have surgery to investigate my fallopian tubes, the left of which, with the left ovary, showed signs of a haemorrhagic cyst and a hydrosalpinx. There’s also a cyst at the formation of my cervix and some fibroid activity. The surgery will determine whether this tube can be repaired or if it should be removed; a uteroscope (I think that’s the name of it) and will see how my right ovary and tubes are performing. Also, without Clomid, which I was on for 10 months, my Day 21 Progesterone has dropped to a dismal 8.1. But the consulatnt still advised to leave it alone. Everything seems stacked against us. Go focus on life for a few months. Nothing is going to change till February at least.

However, even if everything gets sorted with me the consultant reckons it’s highly unlikey that we can conceive naturally with John’s results as they are. We were referred over to the Rotunda IVF clinic for him to have more detailed tests in December. The next time I go in will be for surgery. We are embarking this week on a healthier lifestyle and we’re hoping that might help. But realistically, unless something wonderful happens, we have to decide if we want to pursue IVF. At this point, we haven’t discussed it but from what I’ve heard, it’s gruelling and I just don’t know if my mental health could withstand it. Also, we don’t want this journey to define our relationship. Big decisions ahead.

Havong lost Nana last month, our beloved dog Peggy three days later, having another dog, George, need life saving surgery and now this, I’ve been having days of tears and darkness. Last Monday, I had to take a day off as I couldn’t move from lack of energy, motivation or will power. Everytime I see someone else pregnant I am filled with a shameful envy and resentment and I hate it.

John and I already have a kid each and if one more person says to me that we should be happy with that then I might just punch them. Please don’t ask me why would I want to start again with my daughter reared. Of course we are happy with our two beautiful children – we are so fortunate to have them. But the urge to grow our family and share the joy of parenting together is very strong.

The irony is that we have so much love to give but we wouldn’t even be considered for adoption because of our age and circumstances.

I’ve done this parenting thing for nearly 20 years and I know I’m good at it. John has done it for 6 and he is a dedicated, organised and loving dad. I can’t help but be pissed off that we aren’t getting the chance to do this again, together.

That being said, I’m on Day 32 of a normally 26 day cycle with no sign of my period. Could it be??? However, with so much grief, a change in medication and stress I doubt I’m pregnant, just messed up hormonally.

We will both be 39 in Janaury and we have to face it that time is running out.

So, there we have it. Our infertility.

Do share your experiences.

Dotty 💋

Black Fog

External; circumstantial evidence aside, I’m not really sure why I’m so down.

I haven’t skipped my meds and I’ve been drinking less.

I haven’t been exercising though. And my Nana is in hospital. And my car broke down and needs a whole new engine which I can’t afford, and the mechanic can’t even find a repalacement engine so I’ll have to get a new car with my invisible money. I had a horrific migraine yesterday and today I am in an aftermath funk. And the house is a mess and I don’t have the energy to clean it. And the nightmares and night sweats are ridiculous so much so that I’m almost afraid to go to sleep but I’m so stressed that my body just shuts down and is overwhelmed by the need to sleep. I love hot weather but I’m sweating so much from my face and back that I’m uncomfortable all the time. I feel fat and gross. I have my gorgeous family but I can’t appreciate them because I’m stuck in a black fog of self pity and self doubt and self loathing. I’m usually super excited to get back to school and all I can think is how will I do it? I’m due my period and I know there’s next to no chance of being pregnant this month. I look at all the plans I’ve scribbled down or saved in notes on my phone and it feels like they belong to a different person. I am not the same person I was a month ago when I found joy in every little thing and I could squeeze the positives out of most shitty situations. I have a holiday booked with John and even that isn’t enough to lift my spirits.

I am plagued with guilt because I have so much good; wealth and love in my life compared to the world’s majority and still I can’t shake this impending sense of doom.

So there, that’s where I am. Where are you?

We Can’t Get Pregnant Successfully (but please don’t give me advice)

I never thought I’d end up in the Infertility Club, after all, I got pregant while on the Pill at 18. And I was drunk almost every day that summer because I was, well, 18. I’d just finished my first year of college and everything was a party. Back then I reckoned if I was on the Pill I was covered: I was indestructible when it came to protecting my eggs from infiltrating sperm, but now that I desperately want to be pregnant, my ovaries seem to do nothing but turn their stoic backs on the friendly sperm that just want to help bring them to their full reproductive potential.

I’ve learned a lot about my reproductive health and the minutae of cervical fluid; cervical position; the measurement of a follicle; the side effects of Clomid; the cost of ultrasound scans and MRIs… the information is mind boggling and to be honest, I think I’d need a medical degree in order to fully extrapolate what I actually need to know from the avalance of available material on the internet (fuck you, Dr. Google) and there is no way I intend to write a blog about how to conceive, there’s enough of that out there. I will try to recommend accounts on Facebook  or Instagram that I find useful and encouraging but mostly what I feel we need to talk about, or at least I do, is the emotional; psychological; relationship and mental rollercoaster that we embark upon when we try to conceive and then to our surprise, don’t manage to do so as natually and quickly as we thought we would.

We’ve recently just found out what the “problem” is: why we have failed to conceive for almost all of 2 years and 5 months but had 3 chemical pregnancies on the months we “got it right” (not that we did anything different). I don’t really feel like going through the whole medical situation here tonight and if you are curious as to where we are at please have a look at this video to get filled in.

But what has struck me is how fucking touchy I can get about the whole thing. And how I fucking envious I get. And annoyed. And frustrated. And obsessed. And desperate. And lonely.

And if one more person tells me to relax, I will punch them in the face.

Please, please, please DO NOT give me any more advice – the advice I have got is already enough and I’ve probably tried most of what you want to suggest so please don’t tell me I should be trying this new form of X or that previously long lost form of Y.

Also, don’t tell me that I should be happy because I already have a 19 year old daughter and a 5 1/2 year old stepson: it’s now that I’m ready for a baby that is planned (and yes, I’m very god damned grateful for my daughter who is the light of my life and the single greatest gift I was somehow deserving enough to raise and love and see blossom into the jewel she is. Also, I love my stepson and I will always love him and treat him as if he is my own) and even if I had 3 of my own and wanted another and couldn’t, this would still be really bloody hard.

A lot of women I know seem to have conceived unexpectedly or without much effort and that galls me. But then when I think about it, I wonder just how many have actually got pregnant with no intervention or stress and how many of us just aren’t talking about it?

The sad thing is, that I feel “less than” because I can’t “just get pregnant”. Such is the focus and pressure in society for a woman to be fertile that, when we’re not, we are other.

But yet everyone else tells us that we have so much else in our lives, yes, we do, but it doesn’t take away the ache when you see bumps everywhere; a newborn in a pram; an eight month old giggling; a toddler throwing a hissy fit; the first day at school photos; the family with 4 kids.

Maybe because I love our children so much it hurts even more because we desperately want to continue to share our love and grow our family.

“Why don you adopt?”, I’ve been asked. Because we don’t have tens of thousands in tha bank; we have a shit credit rating thanks to my first marriage; we are both on our second marriages; we have seven dogs; we both work full time and we don’t have the typical nuclear family to offer: the odds are stacked against us before we even apply, and believe me, we would if we were allowed.

Recently, I was told that it’s hard for a woman when she gets pregnant easily and there are people around who don’t – the woman feels guilty and like she has to hide it. I’m sure it is tricky but please don’t tell me that. I have my own battles to fight and there’s always that chance of the punch in the face if you do.

Look, I’m delighted if you are pregnant and your baby is just gorgeous but please, just listen when we tell you that we are not so lucky, don’t tell us what to do or how to feel.

But the most importantly, let’s keep speaking our truth; growing and learning and listening.

Dotty 👑

Follow the Insomniac

I can’t sleep, again.

Insomnia is getting the better of me.

And I’m sick again – flu in February; mumps in March; tonsillitis in April.

Every time I try to get fit; healthy; motivated; organised or deal with our fertility and my mental health, I fall ill again.

So if you have tips on building an immune system, do let me know.

Also, follow my videos Instagram ( Dotty Rocker ) and Facebook (Off My Dotty Rocker ).

Also, if the puppy poops in the house once more I might actually shout st her cute ass.

Goodnight, ha ha, not really. 🐘

Peace of Mind

I’m not one to revisit places I’ve been to on holidays: feeling like there is always something more out there; something else to see; somewhere better to see and experience. By nature, I’m constantly moving on to the next thing which could either be because A. I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge or B. because I have the attention capabilities of an Irish Setter (I’m looking at you George Weasley ). However, Ashley Park, just outside Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, has drawn Husband-to-Be and I back twice already (we also wanted to go last summer but it was so busy with weddings we couldn’t find a date that suited). John and I went last February, almost a exactly a year ago, and despite the season, the grounds are refined in their starkness; glorious in their early snowdrop bleakness.

The Main House is a gorgeous yet creakily authentic Victorian style villa: its green and white façade and wrap-around veranda look almost Colonial. With its white wrought iron love seat swing on the lawn overlooking the lake with its little island on which stands a play castle ruin, draws the eye and the heart. Taking the row boat out on the lake is always pure and wholesome family fun, or delightfully romantic.

Attached to the Main House is the most beautiful Marquee all set up for a wedding in modern luxury with a 1920s palm tree café feel, again overlooking the wide expanse of lake glittered with fairy lights on the ancient trees;  the moon illuminating the still water.

There are ten coach house cottages or suites which are completely different in character to the Main House and the original cottages, yet somehow they manage to feature Victorian references with gigantic pieces of stunning art – even Frieda Kahlo appears, hovering above a staircase in all her breath taking vibrancy.

But our favourite, the dotey little Gardener’s Cottage, in which we have now spent two idyllic weekends, trumps all of the rest for us.

It’s far from perfect- the walls are authentic in their unevenness; the beams exposed as long lost great oak trees, probably from the estate, and although there is electric heating, in order to be truly warm, you must build your fire in the stove. I have never felt such simple satisfaction as when I built a roaring open flame fire with NO firelighters and just a bit of old paper; twigs from the storm blown woodland and plentious amounts of estate logs and local turf. The cottage, a ground floor kitchen/dining area/living room/extra bed space soon grew so warm that we were opening doors, in January, at night time. Of course, given the aesthetically pleasing, symmetrical walled garden and the moonlit lake, nobody much minded. Especially two of our dogs – Elsie and CJ – who were most cordially invited by the gracious Margaret and PJ, our hosts. The spiral iron wrought staircase was only just mastered by Elsie, our sheepdog, an hour before check out (which was 2 1/2 hours later than specified as “there was no rush as there was nobody checking in to the cottage today”. CJ managed the stairs on night one, although I would urge caution after a few gins!

I have long struggled with anxiety and depression; as have many in my family. We do not have thousands to spend on family getaways or holidays. Nor do we have the time – both John and running successful businesses as well as John having a full time job; our daughter is in college and our five year old spends a week’s salary on Lego every month. We also have six dogs and three cats (all rescues) to support. We do try to get away every couple of months however: a weekend in London with the cousins; an annual few days in Europe for Eighteen Year Old’s birthday or just to explore Friend (which to be honest, I have been woefully unadventured in compared to my English betrothed – figures, doesn’t it? We never appreciate what we have). But this place, Ashley Park, brings to me a serenity; a glow of acceptance of all that I have in my life; the glory of natural Ireland; a Yeatsian kind of love for my homeland; a stillness in my mind that no amount of prescription anti-anxiety meds can induce.

If you are going to book an a getaway – no wifi; no network coverage; no TV; no distractions – just you – book Ashley Park.

Dotty 💋

Relax? Great Advice

So, I got my period. Not fucking pregnant again. I honestly feel like I’ve failed the womanhood test.

Such is my sense of failure that we nearly ended up with dog Number 7 today. The maternal void must be filled. Eighteen Year Old is self-sufficient with friends; college; teaching and romantic affairs. Five Year Old has his own lovely mum and only needs me to be a stepmom/fun auntie type figure.

I mean, I knew the likelihood of getting pregnant last month was slim: I took a break from Clomid so as not to be a misery guts over Christmas (and way hey, I was still stressed to the absolute max – see previous posts) but I’ve heard so many anecdotes about women becoming pregnant when they “were on a break”: “not thinking about it” or ‘just having fun” that I secretly hoped that maybe, just maybe, the month when I was drinking gin and not really exercising might just be the month that my ovaries were lulled into a false sense of fertility and found themselves and their mother uterus unexpectedly expecting.

But alas, no,

I’m pissed off. And sad. And angry. And embarrassed. And guilty.

And absolutely sick to the empty womb of seeing other women who are pregnant.

Does this make me a bad person; a terrible feminist? Or just human?

Answers on a postcard please.

Dotty 💋

The Little Thing Cliché

The christmas tree is gone to the attic for eleven months and the house, although untidy has some semblance of normality. I’ve been trying to take a mental note of all the women who haven mentioned to me over the last few days who have expressed their eagerness to get the festive season over and move on. I mean, nobody is excited about January – who can get excited about the two dreariest months of the year falling consecutively after a season of indulgence. My birthday is in January, the 25th, and Husband-to-Be’s is the 18th, the two weeks of the year when everybody is waiting to get paid and nobody feels like celebrating because when you’re broke and cold who wants to party? Not that I’d want to party anymore, even New Year’s Eve consisted of H-to-B; me; the dogs and cats and a bottle of Tanqueray. We banged saucepans with wooden spoons at the front front door at midnight which was a tradition of the older people on the block where I grew up (I’d love to know the origins of this if anyone’s heard of it?). Long gone are the days of glammed up nights out: it’s not that I’m too old, it’s just that I’m happy to be at home with my crew. I used to feel guilty about not wanting to go out – I should; I might be missing out; it’s good to socialise I’d beat myself up but these days, no thanks, once in a blue moon is good enough for me.

Maybe that’s because we have six dogs and they are the best snugglers on the planet. Currently i am trying to type with the smallest, the Spaniel, resting on my right arm while the Sheepdog snoozes on a cushion beside me. The Retriever is standing on the dining table waiting for H-to-B to get back from the grocery shop. The irish Setter has his head in the five year old’s lap and the Whippet is curled up being anti-social in an arm chair on his own. There are two kittens roaming around somewhere, liek;y to either pounce on your head or swirl themselves into a ball on your chest. the eighteen year old is drinking th elast of her white wine and Snapchatting. to Story 3 is playing in the background.

Thsi day next week, h-to-B will be in from work; I’ll be heading to yoga with the Eighteen year old and the five YEar old will be finishing his important junior Infant homework while his dad cooks dinner. I’ll have made it through the first two days back at work and it will seem like christmas never happened. We’ll all be concurrently wishing for snow and Spring so that we can eith er have a few more days at home in our PJs or able to get out and enjoy the stretch in the evenings.

We are all always “moving on” to the next phase. No matter how much we look aforward to a holiday or the weekend; we’re always thnking of getting through to the next Bank Holiday or Valentine’s Day; Easter or the summer break. We spent a month gearing up for Christmas adn then I was releived whne it was over. we’re heading to London this weekend and then back to wirk; we are going on a short family break on the weekend of my birthday and then I’ll have to plan something else to look forward to. but in between, it’s the monday nights when we watch Universoty Challenge together; yoga classes; morning walks on the beach; claases that I teach that give me the “good class buzz”; the laughs with the Eighteeen Year old and the silliness with the Five Year Old and the snuggles from  the dogs that keep us going. And getting my front door repainted and ticking things off the endless To Do List that give you a lift, as my nana would say.

Life is often classified by its big momentous occasions – the weddings; births; new houses; Christmases; holidays; promotions; successes and glitzy nights out, but in fact, it’s the tiny things that make it all bearable. I’d bet even JK Rowling loves that first crocus of the year; that first sip of a cold drink at the end of a long week; that first kiss when your man walks in the door; that text to say your daughter aced her assisgnment; the picture the Five Year Old draws of you with crazy red curly hair; the first lick of the day from your doggo.

As bad as life can get sometimes; as hard and traumatic and lonely and dark, i’m lucky enough to be able to appreciate the little things. Everything that has happened in my life: rape; marriage breakdown; absent fathers; chronic migraine; heartache; depression and complete breakdown; miscarriage and financial ruin – I am still blessed to have the people I love with me whenever that flake of snow falls this winter.

The F Word

Today, I did a terrible thing (another one!): I bailed on our annual school friends’ Christmas reunion lunch. We used to do dinners and big nights out but these days we are all too tired for raving clubbing and raging hangovers. Also, most of us have kids and many are expecting or have just given birth.

Which leads me on to a seldom discussed and still somewhat taboo subject, although we are getting better as a society in talking about our fertility issues.

Fertility. There I said it. Conceiving; pregnancy; abortion; miscarriages and loss; stillbirth and birth.

I’ve been quite open with those I know about our wish to have another child; I think sometimes my honesty can come as a surprise and sometimes people probably think I’m looking for sympathy; but that doesn’t bother me. I genuinely believe that we need to be completely transparent about our struggles with everything from depression to rape; toxic masculinity to fertility.

We are lucky enough to have one child each – both healthy and happy and loved but our desire to make our family bigger and open our hearts even further to another baby (or two) is, if not an obsession, something we would really love. The problem is we can’t seem to have a successful pregnancy “stick” – we’ve had a few near hits but alas, after eighteen months of no contraception and three months of Clomid (which is a bitch on my hormones and skin and mood – but more about that another day), we have nada to show for it, in terms of procreating together at least, although the trying has been lots of fun and in a way, I think it’s brought us closer and closer together.

I can’t say that I not being able to produce a kiddo has negatively affected our lives to an excessive point but it does get me down, frequently if not often. And today was one of those days when I felt “other’ and perhaps, “less” than my women friends who are currently pregnant or recently postpartum. More recently than my almost 19 years out of the maternity hospital. I got pregnant so unwittingly when I was 18; now, when I’m finally ready to be a mother, I can’t. I’m not fitting into the conventional mould and it pisses me off. I don’t for a second begrudge other women their successful pregnancies, but let’s be honest, there is that voice that asks “why the fuck can’t I get pregnant?!”

Now, that I’ve broached the subject, there could be a floodgate of fertility posts – be warned.

If you’d like to share your experiences, please do get in touch.

At least I’ve been able to drink copious amounts of gin over Christmas though, right?

Dot 💋

 

 

Supermom (Not)

I read this today and boy, did it resonate. I started thinking about the joy I feel when preparing our home for Christmas yet the inordinate amount of pressure under which I put myself to make it perfect. I’d bet the majority of you do too – the preparation on the house  cleaning and decorating; the grocery list; the gift list to find something thoughtful and meaningful to show just how much you really care; the hair and nail appointments; sparkly dresses and perfectly contoured smiling faces. Familiar?

Once, when the matriarch of our family, my Nana, was in her forties, she turned over the table on Christmas Day: dinner half eaten, and told them all to fuck off and that Christmas was over. She also pulled down the Christmas tree and threw it out in the back garden. The festivities were well and truly over. Although that story became something of a legend in my family – unreal; of a time that had long since passed and was only partially understood by the women in the family in possession of an equally short fuse, I can now totally see, as I approach my 40s, how you get to the point when you’re just fucking done with pleasing everyone, and what’s more, being in competition with yourself.

Here’s what it’s like to live with me over the holiday season, as told, firstly by my 18 year old daughter:

Christmas is a stressful time for everyone. Now, throw in one set of relatives that don’t want to be here, another who belittle you and your family, 6 dogs, 2 cats, an 18 year old daughter with anxiety and a fucking elf on the goddamn shelf. I think, taking all of this into account, Mother handled it quite nicely. Sure there was the outburst over Christmas Dinner (warranted in my opinion) and her constant companion; the sweeping brush. Mother, once being a social butterfly during my childhood has now become a crazy woman who lives in a cave like a bloody hermit. She would much prefer a quiet Christmas with nobody around to dirty her floors or crowd the counter top with dishes. Cleaning and tidying is a control thing for her: the state and presentation of our home is one thing she has control over and she exerts it to her fullest ability. I know Mother inside and out, her tiny quirks and movements that show the DepressionLevel of the day. I can tell before she even wakes up what type of day it’s going to be and this Christmas, I had to be on extra alert to make sure that the Christmas stress didn’t get to her. Then again, a lot of that was out of my control too.

 

And from my Husband-to-Be:

It’s a strange, wonderfully contradictory world to live with Dotty over the holiday season. As she said herself she put on a lot of pressure regarding the decorations, tree, atmosphere and environment. But then she’ll state honestly that she just wants to spend time with the family. Certainly I put pressure on myself regarding the food as I do the majority of the cooking so I understand the (wasted) energy we put into things that don’t really matter. Dotty works very hard throughout the year and deserves her time off. I think sometimes she doesn’t know what to do with her free time except sleep, clean and complain about the cleaning. This holiday season started off similar with adorning the house with 4 trees and an amount of LED lights that should be illegal with me moaning about the decoration budget. The big day ended with fewer guests than planned and more leftover meat than is reasonable. So I’m more than happy for a simpler Christmas, just with the same generous cheese budget. I wasn’t there for the row, but I’m sure it was justified. She’s currently napping on the couch on her daughter’s lap, foolishly leaving the cheese in the fridge unguarded. So if you’ll excuse me, Mr Jacobs and I have plans for any and all cheeses left.

Husband-to-Be old me that he had written his piece and of course, I wasn’t listening and came in a half hour later and asked if he had written it. He had done it while I was asleep. Says it all really.