January 30, 2006

Coming Clean Is Hard, Even With Irish Spring

Aidan's kids were here this weekend, his nearly 14 year-old daughter and son, who turns 9 in a few weeks. They're good kids-they can drive you a little crazy when they're cranky and tired, but then again adults can drive you crazy when they're cranky and tired, and they're very good at bopping along for the ride and entertaining themselves.

I asked Aidan this weekend if we should have a pre-talk with the kids, to sound out how they might feel about another family member. He thought about it then decided that it's better to wait. We didn't know how long it might be until we are expecting, he said-maybe three months, maybe three years (I absolutely loved him for being positive about the situation, about when-not if-we would be expecting, and that it would happen eventually.)

Aidan says he doesn't actually think they'll respond badly to the idea. They both had a hard time with their parents' divorce, and there are still lingering issues there that require lots of tiptoeing and careful treading. Aidan is so careful to always let them know how much he loves them and how important they are to him that I agree with him-I don't think they have any doubt about how cemented in their father's heart they are.

I think that talking to them will be difficult, not because they're hard to talk to but because it's so fraught a subject. What's extremely important to me is that at no time do they ever feel like the leftovers, the unwanted children, or second best. While having a long hot bath I think of ways-perhaps optimistic thinking, but then I am never optimistic so I'll take it when it comes-of how to talk to them about it if we are lucky enough to have a baby, and what arrangements to make.

When my mother found out she was expecting my sister, she presented me with a fluffy beige gorilla with a sign around his neck that read "Tubby Loves You". Tubby became my companion, my compadre, my little guy when I was feeling insecure (which was often). Tubby lingers in storage in Stockholm, but we hope to bring our possessions over in the next few months, so Tubby will take a place on a shelf, a reminder that security is only a beige gorilla away.

I imagine something similar. That we give them something physical to hold on to, as well as constant and iterative love and support. I imagine planning family holidays that focus on every member of the family at any time, I imagine lots of talks and assurances and cuddles. Maybe I'm going overboard, but the idea that anyone could feel unhappy, insecure, or unloved makes me go wild with worry.

I guess I know how it feels to be cast aside.

I would never, ever do that to a child and I (we) will fight for any child that ever feels that way. I think and hope his kids won't feel that way, but I know that he and I will do everything we can to make them happy, to show them just how important they are to us both.

Posted by Vanessa at 09:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 27, 2006

I Gotta' Get Me One of These

My bouncy 9 year-old stepson made his presence known last night as, approximately 0.8 seconds after racing through the doorway and removing his shoes, the intro music to The Sims2 blasted through the house at deafening levels.

He has been incredibly concerned about them. The last time he was here, his Sim family was about to receive a pizza delivery, and thus everytime he has called us he has asked, worriedly, if they did receive the pizza. They are hungry, and they need it, and they are a bit stupid so my God, what are they going to do if they don't get the pizza?

Aidan tried to explain that the Sims, they are frozen in time without their game being played, but this did not compute.

The cute boy insisted on creating a Sim family based on Aidan, myself, himself and his sister (who is currently parked on the couch watching Desperate Housewives and doting on one of the cats, who thinks she's some kind of god). It amuses me-he has created this family 3 times but, as he was learning the game, he would get rid of them when it was revealed that they weren't going well. One version of the Sim of him was taken away by social services even, which has now prompted "the blue car is coming!" jokes in the house.

He has stuck his head into the kitchen a few times. "Hi!" he chirps. "It's me, the Evil Twin!" Then he proceeds to plug codes into the game to help him cheat like a maniac. I do not approve of this, and have told him so. One of his codes helps him get a load of money at the expense of not being able to work (and if only life worked that way....) I went upstairs while he was kitting out every single room in the house with the highest of Sim hifi technology, including plasma screen TVs for the kids' rooms. He thought the lawn was boring and so bought carpet and carpeted the entire yard, only he had to remove it when he decided to make the entire lawn one gigantic swimming pool. Clearly someone is dreaming of making the Sims life his life.

I point to the swollen bank account and then indicate that he bought the cheapest possible showers.

"Dude," I say. "Why don't you buy the posh showers?"

He looks at me. "Van-ESSA..." he says, in pure exasperation. "I don't want to go overboard or anything."


I always knew being a step-parent would be hard.

I guess I never knew how much fun it would be, also.

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January 26, 2006

If I Ever Write This Letter

I sat on my therapistís couch earlier this week, trying to get it all out of me. Iím not big on keeping secrets from him-I can keep secrets from the whole fucking world about myself, but I am honest with Aidan and my therapist. I have nothing to gain by lying to either one of them, and everything to lose. So honesty? The best (and only) policy.

I had to come clean to him this week. I finally told him about IVF, that we were about to go through with it, that I had gone through with it in the past. I donít really know why I hadnít told him about it before, itís not as though I am hiding it, itís just not something that I felt I wanted to talk about with people in ďreal lifeĒ. I can blog about it, but at the end of the day to all but a handful of people, Iím anonymous. To those who do know me, they live far away and I cannot see, in their eyes, the absolute pity that comes along with IVF.

Itís the pity that I canít stand.

And itís their inability to relate that makes me keep things to myself.

In our ďreal lifeĒ the only people that know weíre thinking about going through IVF are two of my colleagues that supported me two weeks ago, and my father. I had to tell my father as the other half of my family knew about the IVF (hence the move to this private site). But of all the people in my ďreal lifeĒ, only the lovely friends I stayed with last weekend and Aidan know the dates that we are kicking off the treatment. D-Day. Te day it all starts.

So I decided to tell him the truth. After all, if heís the one whoíll be sitting across from me while Iím hopped up on hormones, perhaps he should know why the behavior is about to be erratic.

Sitting there on the couch in front of him, the sunlight flooding the room and me in floods of tears, I told him everything. About my sisterís pregnancy, about my loss of my two babies a few years back, about the fact that the last week of March we start IVF. He was amazed.

And then I told him about the type of IVF that we will be doing. To help another person out and-I have to be honest-to bring the cost of IVF down, we are donating half of my eggs to another woman. After my system is suppressed into fucking menopause and then slingshot into egg production, half of whatever I produce will go to a woman who, for whatever reasons, canít produce her own eggs.

Iím actually pretty excited about that part of it, and I really hope good things happen for the other woman. I havenít gotten far enough to figure out what to do when pregnancy does or doesnít happen-if I get pregnant the other woman will be allowed to know if I am. However I have the right to find out if she gets pregnant or not, and if I donít get pregnant, Iím not too sure I want to ask that question, in case it leads to feelings of absolute sadness and happiness all in one strawberry-flavored mix.

But thereís still something I havenít done in preparation for this egg share. I have been provided with a long, carbon-copy sheet the color of institution green. Itís a page of information that I am supposed to write down, a sheet that will be provided to the other mother should she get pregnant. Itís the one sheet of paper that she will have to give to her baby, the only info that they will have until the child turns 18 and can rightfully look me up and search me out.

I am not at all bothered by the idea of being looked up 18 years from now.

What I am stressed about is, what do you write about that can hold and sustain someone for 18 years?

Iím not allowed to write my name or any identifying characteristics that they can use to find me, but I can write about anything else. Iíve thought about it so much-do I tell them my medical history? The average height of my family members? My favorite ice cream flavor? That when I was a little girl I wanted to be a doctor?

What do you write on a piece of paper that may be the single most important thing I ever write in my life?

I have been stressing about it a great deal, and I have yet to put pen to paper. Sitting there in my therapistís office, I told him about it, my hands twisting in knots.

He looked at me. ďThatís the most amazing thing I have ever heard about.Ē He looked out the window, the sunlight bathing his face, and then back at me. ďThatís absolutely, truly amazing.Ē

And looking at him, I realized Iíd been looking at the whole thing all wrong. He was right. It is amazing. It is absolutely amazing.

My stress disappeared, and even though I still havenít decided what to say, itís no longer something scary I have yet to do. Itís now something I look forward to doing, something I want to do.

Posted by Vanessa at 11:24 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 25, 2006

This Time, I'm Keeping It

Many years ago, on a chilly Swedish afternoon, I was out shopping with a friendís wife. Her name was Anna, and I was a co-worker of her husbandís, a tall Englishman who was more career-driven than most people I know. Anna was also English, and she and my friend had a young child, their only child, a sweet and beautiful little girl that I adored.

I remember the event like it was yesterday. I spent time with Anna because it helped my friend out, but Anna and I really didnít have anything in common. I found her often a bit of a trial to deal with, but I was determined to slog it out to help my friend out, who was desperate for his English wife, who had not settled in at all to Swedish life, to have a friend there.

It was during my first frozen transfer for IVF. I had just lost my two babies about four months prior to that. My marriage to my then-husband was quietly snaking down the tubes, unlike my eggs, which couldnít go anywhere. We had 5 babies sitting in a freezer in south Stockholm, and Swedish law prohibits the first de-thawed baby transfer to be any more than one embryo, so the one embryo went in. I was hopeful, but not optimistic. I was in the dreaded two week wait, that time when you just donít know if you are pregnant or not, but canít think about anything else.

Anna and I had a huge lunch, where I snacked on artichokes (my favorite food and, as Anna pointed out to me, artichokes are full of folic acid). I drank iced water and tried to think healthy thoughts. Anna spent the time talking about their daughter.

Then we went shopping-there was a baby and childrenís clothing boutique around the corner. Not your typical shop full of newborn onesies, this shop had beautiful clothes that looked like they were planned and thought of and made with care. Anna wanted a cute new sweater for their daughter, so she was walking around the store.

I walked around as well, my stomach full of food and my uterus full of hormones, hope, and possibly a baby. I know that being in a shop like that is a bad idea for someone like me, especially someone like me in a time like that, but there I was. And as I walked around, I saw the most beautiful baby jumper that I had ever seen. It was soft yellow, and made of a material that should have been illegal it was so soft. It had a delicate neckline on it, and in my mind I saw myself wiping baby drool off the bottom of a smiling baby chin before it got on that neckline. I saw little hands reaching out the soft, gently flared sleeves.

I held it to my chest and decided I had to buy it. It was the most beautiful baby outfit Iíd ever seen, and just knowing that I could see my baby in it meant, to me, that it was hope.

Anna came up to me, her arms full of goods.

ďWhat are you doing?Ē she asked.

ďIím buying this,Ē I replied softly. ďItís perfect, itís so beautiful.Ē

ďOh honey,Ē she said, turning her back and hanging up a dress on a rack. ďYou know you shouldnít. Itís going to give you false hope, and Iíd hate to see you get hurt as you know this round is going to fail.Ē

I was stunned.

Itís like a cheeky chap told me recently-sometimes you are so shocked by something someone says that you donít have a response. Even when a bitch-slapping and a throw down is whatís needed, you are physically unable to respond.

I looked at the sweater, and it was no longer so beautiful, it was now a symbol of ruined dreams. I hung it back on the rack, rapidly wiping away tears and trying to keep her from seeing how upset I was, and croaked, ďYeah. Yeah, youíre right.Ē

Anna paid and we left.

My frozen IVF round did end in failure.

And I have never forgiven her for that moment in that shop. We donít speak anymore, and thatís ok with me.

A few weeks ago an incredible chick sent me a link to a baby shop. I cooed with her over the amazing clothes on IM. I went through page after page of amazing baby clothes, cute, fun, happy things. And while I was on that page, I saw something that struck me in much the same way as the yellow sweater had. When I saw it, I saw our baby in it, their little hand coming out the sleeve, their cheerful drooly smile out the top. I saw bright eyes and a gummy smile.

And I ordered it.

It should arrive any day now.

And Iím not sorry, I donít feel itís a bad omen. If it turns out that I never have a baby at least I wasnít afraid to take a moment back that was rightfully mine. If I have a baby this kid is wearing this item until theyíre 21. If I donít, then at least I have this moment where I saw our child in a piece of clothing, a beautiful piece of clothing, and Iíll always have that to hold when my arms are tired and lonely.

Posted by Vanessa at 09:52 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

January 24, 2006

Go Ahead and Take Your Shoes Off. Can I Get You a Drink?

Now that the web design has largely taken shape, it's about time that I kicked it all off. We're not all done here-I need to get an email account set up, the links aren't done, and there's a lot more work ahead of me here.

If you are here, you've probably been sent the link via email. You might know me under a different pen name. It's possible you even know me under my real name, which I never blog about. My dear partner Aidan (whom you probably also know under a different name) has kindly set up this blog site for me while I was away.

I am keeping my identity of my other blog seperate from this blog as I want to be able to write freely on this site, without being found by friends and family. By all means, link away if you want, but if you can keep my identity secret, I'd be mighty grateful. And don't be put off by me using another fake name-I'm not schizophrenic, honest. Just rabidly paranoid, but with good reason.

We start IVF around about the 26th of March, give or take a few days due to the instability of my next two periods.

This blog will be about the IVF we will be going through and the hard times that we have ahead. This blog will be the one place I can vent, cry, scream, and wish without being found out by my family or caged in by dick monkeys who give shit advice.

So hi. My name is Vanessa. It's nice to meet you.

Welcome to the new site.

Posted by Vanessa at 11:26 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

January 23, 2006

Around 6,000 babies a year are born in the UK to otherwise infertile couples as a result of in vitro fertilisation.

But the techniques used often arouse huge controversy and some say the process can falsely raise would-be parents' hopes since it only has a success rate of around 15%.

There have also been cases of fertilised eggs being mixed up in the laboratory and the wrong embryo being implanted in the woman, leading to fears about how the process is carried out.

What is IVF?

IVF was developed in the 1970s. The first British test tube baby was Louise Brown, who was born in 1977.

Some 30,000 test tube babies have been born in the UK since then.

There are several different techniques, but the main process involves the women taking fertility drugs to help her produce more eggs.

The eggs are then harvested and fertilised in the laboratory.

The woman is given hormone drugs to prepare her womb to receive the fertilised eggs.

The fertilised eggs are placed inside the womb and a normal pregnancy follows.

Posted by Vanessa at 12:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The National Institute of Clinical Excellence publish their guidelines on fertility. They are expected to recommend that all women under 40 should be offered 3 cycles of IVF free on the NHS. If these guidelines are adopted, it will in effect end the 'postcode lottery' on IVF provision.

A report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Infertility earlier this week claimed that this would cost some £;36.8million. So is childlessness really a medical condition that should be treated free on the NHS? Or should vital NHS funds be directed towards truly life-threatening diseases such as cancer?
Jenni asks Professor Alison Murdoch, Chair of the British Fertility Society and Director of the Newcastle Fertility Centre, and Melanie Mcdonagh who writes for the Evening Standard, whether the desire for a child is a right or a lifestyle choice.

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January 22, 2006


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Another day

It's now Sunday and about time we got this blog on air

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January 16, 2006


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