Category Archives: The H files

Therapy – in, out, in, out, shake it all about

I blogged before on my therapy. Now I’ve left it, gone into (and out again) couples counselling a stock-take seemed appropriate. Also as May promised in her last post, I have some explaining to do…

Has 18 months of therapy done anything for me? Hard to tell really; if anything it’s certainly double-edged. I’ve woken up my emotional awareness circuits slightly, but not sure really how to deal with what I notice… I’m guessing my now individual ex-therapist would say they needed more time. It does seem to be the way with the Freudian school that slowly does it.

It’s hard to say why it wasn’t working – a number of factors no doubt. I do wonder if the therapist was missing some things I was mentioning, certainly it was rare for them to revisit issues I raised and seemed content to let me lead the subject and content of sessions. Some themes did re-occur naturally, but the lack of structure and resolution on some big ticket items seems rather disappointing looking back on it. May is more angry about this than I am, and inevitably I feel it’s partly my fault for not being more determined and knowing what I wanted out of it. Perhaps I should have taken May’s advice (natch) and learnt more about the therapeutic process, so I could keep better track of what was being covered and not resolved. But then again who was paying who to be the professional? There was a lot of exploring of my childhood, naturally, which was intellectually very interesting, but I’m not sure to what real purposeful end. For some time May has felt that it wasn’t helping me in the here and now (unlike her experience with her therapist, which made me slightly envious and more readily able to give up on mine). This pointless(?) flailing around in my parent’s relationship (which was always part speculation anyway) and the lack of dealing with my relationship was finally getting through to me. Then when my therapist stated they thought some of my issues may be pre-verbal (to do with my mother being very ill when I was born, with a bit of possible post-natal depression to boot), I must admit that I had a WTF moment – what on earth was I supposed to do about that?!?! - and threw a metaphorical towel in. Overall, going into couples counselling was a very convenient exit route without having to confront my therapist.

Has it really been for nought though? While I am by no means fixed, and very prone to frequent lapses into bad behaviour patterns, they say knowledge is power and there are definitely things I have learnt*:

  1. I still have a lot of grief wrapped up, undealt with and partly hidden from myself, within me. The fact this is nearer the surface may not be a totally bad thing. Yes, I am prone to tearing up more readily, especially in the last few weeks with the kids/Christmas thing. I am less likely to hide this from May, but not always good at talking about it if there are other issues in the air or I’m struggling with.
  2. Related to this there was (is) definitely a blockage around sex: – sex makes May pregnant, which ends in pain and misery (our IF issue not being a fertility problem as such, more a staying pregnant issue). May being in pain every month was also not helping, being a regular reminder of previous distresses (which I could then unfortunately use to re-enforce my inurement towards May’s suffering generally – ‘she suffers, she always suffers, it’s not my fault, there’s nothing I can do – I’ll be over here away from the pain’ denial cycle). Sex (and my lack of desire for it) was also one of the primary reasons for going to therapy stated right back at the very start. I brought up the subject of sex with my therapist quite a lot, I think, especially in the last few months when our sex life wasn’t improving, despite lack of pain and risk of pregnancy meaning these issues should no longer be factors. Constantly taking consideration of sex issues back to my childhood, however, did not really help me. I’m sure I have ‘mother issues’ (who doesn’t?) and my father also influenced some of my sexual attitudes in a ‘well I don’t want to be like that’ kind of way that possibly went too far (sorry to be vague, but privacy issues…).
  3. My parent’s relationship is not a good model for me to follow. Part of me thought ‘well they’re not divorced, so it must be OK’, but I can certainly see more issues that I wasn’t aware of previously. May would suggest and point out aspects of their behaviour before, but I’m not sure I was always convinced about the now obvious problems with the way my parents treat each other and those around them. However, that now makes me very sad and I feel powerless to intervene. Going down for just a couple of days before Christmas was really difficult, for the first time. In some ways it was like seeing how I have behaved played out before me, which was… awkward and definitely made me feel ashamed. I think I also blamed May a little, as the therapy was at ‘her bidding’ that has lead to this enlightenment. Once we’d returned home this lead inevitably to me being absorbed in self-pity and ignoring May and acting out some of those very behaviours as a consequence (a little knowledge a dangerous thing writ large – perfect illustration why therapy should equip the subject with tools to deal with it, which doesn’t seem to have happened).
  4. I have control issues. I’ve acknowledged that before, but I don’t think I had realised the extent to which I had wound my whole life, behaviours and attitudes around it. Expressed mainly as episodes of passive aggressive behaviour towards May. Being in control always seems like a good thing, I’ve been praised for my aptitude for being calm and in control. The darker side of this is when I don’t get my way or I’m upset by something completely unrelated and come home with a largely unconscious need to control what happens. This is obviously self-destructive, and has a nasty little sting in the tail too, as being aware of control issues leads to a self-loathing and then more passive-aggressiveness as I resent that feeling of awareness and the self-loathing it led to.
  5. Self deception, lies to myself and possibly even my therapist, won’t have helped. I have just read Allie Brosh’s book Hyperbole and a Half (from the blog of the same name). Some of her descriptions about self deception are scarily real to me (unfortunately I cannot find them on the blog). I have an image of myself being a nice guy, which I successfully perpetuate for most of my interactions. I seem to have taken May’s family and most of you in, but it’s an illusion I can only maintain for a limited time. May has committed (through marriage) to live with me, so gets to see me when I’m tired, stressed, fucked off, stressed, anxious, stressed and sad/depressed. Especially when I cannot handle these emotions or am not even aware of their existence (yes, I can be seriously stressed and not realise it – the power of my denial powers bewilders May), my energy is consumed by them and I turn into a rather selfish and uncaring person. This of course I don’t like, which makes me self-loath and angry and as May is there most of the time unfortunately she gets the brunt of it.
  6. Self punishment issues. Like May, I beat mentally beat myself up quite regularly. My mind has cunningly provided very inconsequential things from my childhood to do this about though, rather than the real issues around my current behaviour and attitudes. This seems to have sheltered me from having to face up to the not so savoury aspects of my character, such as selfishness, arrogance and my need to control. I now have more awareness of this, but again I don’t really know how to deal with it. This has a tendency to spiral me into self-pity/loathing, which makes me behave worse towards May.

I had my last individual session the day before we started with our couples counsellor. When we first met our couples counsellor I was relatively optimistic, for some reason, when he outlined his approach as psycho-analytical. I thought, well I’ve just been through this, so needn’t take too long going through it all again as I know what to highlight from my past and what to say. However, it was not to be (see May’s last post).

May’s counselling sessions have officially finished too, but there is the possibility of a couple of follow-ups and she (May’s therapist) even offered to see us as a couple and/or me individually too, which I find very interesting… other therapists have said it’s not a good idea to see us individually in case suspicions arise about conspiracy between the therapist and one of the individuals… perhaps that only applies if it’s a long-term thing or in the seemingly paranoid inducing psycho-analytical view of things. May certainly seem to get more out of her few sessions, although that may be because she took more to them?

Part of me feels I’ve had quite enough psycho-babble. However, as May said – we’re not happy at the moment. In some ways I have taken/handled the events of last summer badly, although I feel better than I would have had I not done a year of therapy. Nevertheless there is still a large chasm between us and where we each are in dealing with these things. My therapy has not given me an adequate toolkit to deal with/overcome my (lack of) communications issues and we need to find a way of handling 2014, which will have some really big decisions in it (the frozen embryo and probably moving house (buying?) just two of them). Can we find a way of dealing with these together?

*this is not to say that I didn’t have the opportunity to learn these from May in the previous years, but therapy did give me the space to think and talk through these issues with some psychological context and not in the midst of rows**.

** I still need to listen to May more, of course. Love you May :)


Very quick update (unlike hospital waiting times endured today)

As seems an unfortunate tradition I get to do the WTF o’clock updates having left May in hospital.

A brief factual timeline of our day since May’s post:

11:50 – I ordered taxi, thinking it would take about 20-30 minutes – it took 4 minutes catching us completely off-guard. Alas the last efficiently timed encounter we had.

12:10 – arrive at A&E

14:35 – seen by triage handed over referral letter, they took details ordered a blood test with some skepticism saying that it was probably just a baker’s cyst.

14:45 – blood taken and we were told we could go and get ourselves some lunch as blood result would take about an hour, so we did at the fairly pleasant M&S café on site.

15:45 – back for results and there was elevated fibrous material, so told to go and get a scan, meaning a painful walk back across to the other side of the hospital, feeling too British to ask for a wheelchair when there were people in various states of decrepitude being wheeled past in chairs and trolleys.

16:15 – scan showed there was a clot behind May’s left knee

16:30 – transferred to Clinical Decision Unit (CDU), which we had endless and repeated opportunity to observe as the A&E dumping ground for anyone threatening to take over the 4 hour ‘breach’ time before being admitted properly or patched up and sent on their way.

16:45 – on admission vitals were taken and some concern expressed about May’s high tapping rate, so an ECG plugged in that showed some strain on the heart… oxygen SATs were still good though, so no panic. By the time the Dr had reviewed the  DVT diagnoses and ECG and seen us May was getting quite breathless giving her potted version of recent shenanigans for about the fifth time that day. Dr suggested chest X-Ray and CT scan to check for clots elsewhere.

17:30ish – chest X-Ray, not told the result so returned to CDU

Then we waited – and waited  - and waited… CT had huge rush of emergencies apparently.

About 21:00 May finally got to go in the CT scanner – a very strange experience, which she will have to relay personally.

Then we waited – and waited – and waited…

I think we finally got confirmation that CT scan showed a (couple of?) small clot(s?) on the lungs too at about 23:00 – we were told therefore despite the acute lack of beds – endless shuffling, hassling and shifting of beds we witnessed being discussed – that May would be kept in overnight.

At 00:30 a CDU bed slot became available so that was made up for a temporary spot for May to get some sleep… yes, we had been in a ‘chair’ slot up until that point.

I made my way home to grab a bite to eat, email work, and post this… and now to bed for me too, perchance to sleep.


Not much to see (outlook negative)

Scan: gestational sac and yolk sac but nothing else, no sign of foetal pole, let alone heartbeat.

Scanning nurse thought she could see where bleed came from, very close, but below implantation. Re-emphasised not necessarily a bad thing… Then May started bleeding…

We were ushered to a small, airless room while a report was collated and doctor found to have chat with us. A few minutes later a new to us doctor was confirming to us, what we were beginning to suspect, that chances were slim and we should have another scan next week.

On the way out May needed the loo and there she passed a massive clot. I ran off to find the doctor again and she said that doesn’t change anything, still worth having scan next week to “check everything has gone”.

A mercifully quick bus ride home. Punctuated, of course, by toddlers wailing. We held each other tight.

Now we are home again. Anger, numbness, sadness and incomprehension.


Entering our mix zone

It started at the arse-crack of dawn… Getting May vertical without the lure of tea wasn’t quite as difficult as I feared, but I guess there were other motivations to get things over and done with.

We’re fortunate that there is a bus route that is door to door between chez May and Riverside clinic. In the pre-rush-hour traffic it took just 25 minutes, alas a rather sweltering 55 minutes on the way home.

The hospital was rather like a hotel in many ways. We reported to reception, where our names were on the list, and no sooner than our bums had touched the waiting room seats a porter had appeared to escort us to our room – a private room all to ourselves. There were brochures and numbers for room service by the phone and a lunch menu worthy of a hotel with order form.

We shuffled around nervously in our room for about 45 mins before a nurse came in and checked we were who we were supposed to be and for there for the right reason before taking blood pressure and leaving gown and slipper socks for May. The anaesthetist also popped in to introduce herself and ask similar questions. A few minutes later Dr George came in to see how we were, check our notes and treatment, echo praise for May (as a proxy for satsuma) for responding so well to the drugs and check if we had any questions. He let us know that May was about half way down the list, which approximated to 11-11:30 kickoff.

So we had a couple of hours to kill. We checked our messages of support on various blogs and twitters (thanks all), May read, I played games on my iPad. May picked omelette (eggs out, eggs in – I love her style) and ice cream for lunch. Then suddenly at 9:45 the phone input room rang… I was being summoned by the embryology lab for my ‘contribution’. Over which I draw a discrete veil, suffice to say that it was probably less traumatic and more ‘fun’ than May’s experiences, the free wifi was useful and it was certainly quicker, as I was back up in our room by 10:20. May meanwhile was told they were running very quickly and smoothly today (little did they know) and probably would get down to business at 10:30. So we only had a few minutes to share anecdotes/notes before she donned the bright yellow slipper socks and was shuffled away.

Scheduled to take half an hour and then another half an hour in recovery. I settled in with my computer games for a while. After an hour and twenty minutes I suddenly realised what the time was and started to get slightly concerned. As if by magic the nurse popped in with an update to say May was still very drowsy and needed another 15 minutes in recovery, but reassured me it went OK and she was fine, after 20 minutes another update visit from the nurse saying anoth 10 minutes recovery required… So, if your ready for wibbly-wobbly FX I’ll take you back to what happens with May and the cause for these delays ~~~

May’s dehydration (nil by mouth since midnight) meant her already recalcitrant back of the hand veins were determined to play hide and seek with the anaesthetist and her assistant. After a few minutes of painful digging they declare a rather bruised (pride for nurses, physical for May – ouchy) truce, the cannula had to go to the crook of the arm instead. Once under May doesn’t remember much (probably just as well), but apparently Dr George reported that it was the most challenging egg collection he had done. Satsuma had taken her high ground sulking stance and stuck with it. So, as foreboded, a nurse had to push down hard while an extra long probe was used. Dr George admitted he feared he might not be able to see anything, but once in position with the right forces applied he had no problems and was able to retrieve the majority of the large follicles – 13 eggs in total, the extra fussing meant not only was May’s procedure longer, but subsequently the recovery was longer too. When May started to come round they asked her about pain levels immediately, when her lower lip wobbled and she croaked she was very sore, there was no hesitation in feeding tramadol into the iv line, which started acting mercifully quickly.

While May was under room service had delivered a jug of water, so the May rehydration project began immediately. The nurse bringing her back in also made sure room service had a cup of tea on the way. A saline flush was put through the iv line and then 500ml of mayonnaise (aka intralipids), which meant May had a very leisurely recovery time of over four hours. After about an hour May was feeling up to considering her lunch, so that was duly summoned from the kitchen – a very grand mushroom omlette, which included oyster and enochi mushrooms in the mix along with a real portion of nice mixed leaf salad (not the usualy limp iceburg and cucumber chunk garnish) served under a proper cloche (albeit stainless steel, rather than silverware). The icecream was tub of proper devon vanilla with the flecks of vanilla pod in. Dr George popped in again to check on May and again see if we had questions. Having observed other’s IVF treatments via the interwebs I can certainly say that our clinic does seem to make an effort to ensure we’re fully informed (excusing the small blip before we started). After making sure May had eaten enough and was settled I ventured up the road to a deli that May recommended. It was very pleasant to escape the hospital for a little while and I had lunch with John Cleese, well OK he was a few tables away in the attached restaurant next door – I had lunch in the presence of John Cleese.

Back in our room we continued to toy with the wifi on our iDevices and I had a little snooze at one point I think. May put on the TV to watch some soothing David Attenborough, which was followed by a delightfully old edition of Antiques Roadshow – all the presenters so much younger. The mayonnaise took a long old while, but nothing further exciting to report, it was very hot and sticky – the nurse flushed and removed the canula and said we were free to go. EC day achieved and now we wait for the mixing results…


IVF by the riverside

Not starting LIT until June wasn’t how we had thought how this year would progress on seeing Dr 4th Opinion in January. We had, perhaps naïvely, thought if we start treatment in March then we would try ‘naturally’ for three months before embarking on the IVF journey. In light of the June curveball this has had to be reassessed. Plan B is going straight to IVF, so my mission was to sort out which clinic and how it needs to fit in timing-wise. Back to phoning and emailing ditsy secretary…

I finally got to speak to Dr 4th opinion the week before last (he had been on holiday the previous week) about IVF clinic recommendations, i.e which ones he’s worked with previously and could cope with LIT parallel running. Armed with his recommendation I braced myself for a new cohort of administrators to play telephone tag with. To my surprise initial enquiries were dealt with promptly and pretty efficiently. Their open evenings for April were fully booked, however I was offered an informal tour by a patient liaison representative last week.

May, unfortunately, was what we are now delightfully describing as NSFW, so I had to go it alone and take notes. The clinic is in a hospital picturesquely set alongside the river. Much to May’s amusement I was referred to as Mr May (as it were) rather than my own surname. The tour was fairly brief with lots of facts and figures about how many thousands of transfers they do a year, how many waiting rooms, scanners, treatment rooms and facilities they had, and how all their consultants are considered equal (50:50 male/female ratio too) – but we must feel free to ask for any of them specifically for whatever (ungiven) reason if we desire. It was clean and clinical, but not unfriendly. I encountered a nurse and a consultant on my tour, as I was shown different types of room, who both smiled and seemed genuinely friendly.

I was told that as soon as we’ve had our initial consultation there is a free counselling service that we can use as much as we need (only mandatory if we’re donating or receiving donated gametes). If (their emphasis) IVF is the right treatment for us then we will be given everything we need including sharps box alcohol wipes and a free session with a nurse to go through the whole pack to explain the whole treatment cycle schedule.

The only thing which is not done in the clinic itself is egg collection, because of the sedation and recovery facilities required. This is done in theatre downstairs and with wards upstairs for recovery.

The best piece if information was that there isn’t a waiting list. As soon as one their consultants gives the go ahead, treatment can start. There are a number of blood tests that will be required though. May asked me to check whether they would accept previous test results. I was reassured that they are, in principal, against unnecessary testing, but reading the paperwork it seems quite a few tests need to be within the last 3 months – so it looks like there will be a battery of needles, probes and deposits.

On departure I was given a price list (yikes – but we have savings and offers of help) and a full contact sheet with names, phone numbers and email addresses of all the staff in the clinic – another sign that they are genuinely wanting to be approachable.

Onwards and onwards…


Not forgotten

Very sorry, it’s been a terribly busy week and I have a very early start tomorrow morning.

So, this is just an IOU post.

Bear with, bear with… (which will only make sense to middle-class UK folks who watch a certain comedy show, sorry).


Busy week

That’s my excuse…

Completely not thought about what I would write this week. When sitting down to do so this evening I did have one idea and started on my merry way  writing about inspiration and motivation and then had a vague sensation that I’d written something about this topic before… That’s fine, I thought, I can link to it… Found the post in the archives and realised that covered all I was going to say and more… not a bad post actually, don’t think I’d have written it as well this evening.

So, I resorted to hunting around for a meme I hadn’t done and found this one:

1. Where is your cell phone? Plugged in getting charged for the week ahead (well the 2 days it usually lasts)
2. Where is your significant other? In the other room NaNoWriMo-ing
3. Your hair color? Blonde – always has been.
4. Your mother? Artistic, but has never really let herself explore her talents.
5. Your father? Musical. Busy.
6. Your favorite thing? Tough one – love my iPhone & iPad, but the thing I hate to leave the house without and would dash back in to save (assuming May is already safe) from the hypothetical inferno is the ring May gave me for our 6th anniversary.
7. Your dream last night? I rarely remember my dreams, if I do they are usually rather strange
8. Your dream/goal? Largish house somewhere close enough to civilisation for good broadband, but far enough away from the hubbub for peace and quite.
9.The room you’re in? Study/spare room, rather cluttered with domestic appliance boxes and work shirts that need ironing.
10. Your hobby? A year ago I would have said photography in a flash (hahaha, sorry), but I’ve lost my imaging inspiration; so for now I’ll stick with singing, as I seem to be involved in three choirs at the moment.
11. Your fear? Losing control; no idea what of – and as others have pointed out it’s all an illusion anyway. It’s under active discussion with my therapist anyway.
12. Where do you want to be in six years? That house would be nice…
13. Where were you last night? Out singing in a concert, sorry I cannot be more specific.
14. What you’re not? Out of work (which I could easily be at the moment)
15. One of your wish list items? Benda Bilili DVD
16. Where you grew up? Dorset.
17. The last thing you did? Wrote the word ‘Dorset’… caught up with the first episode of season two of the BBC drama ‘The Hour’
18. What are you wearing? Wedding ring, hair elastic, purple t-shirt, dark grey sweatshirt, light-blue briefs, black tracksuit bottoms and purple slippers.
19. Your T.V.? 32″ Samsung LED, a great investment – has lasted well and is just the right size for our place.
20. Your pets? A de Broglie–Bohm kitten
22. Your mood? Somewhere between Meh and OK
23. Missing someone? Grandfather who died earlier this year.
24. Your car? Hired when we need it… if we move out of town and had to get one, then I would very, very seriously consider electric.
25. Something you’re not wearing? A watch. Haven’t owned one for years.
26. Favorite store? Apple
27. Your Summer? Too brief
28. Love someone? Very much.
29. Your favorite color? Blue or purple.
30. Last time you laughed? Listened to The Bugle earlier
31. Last time you cried? Children in Need – yes, they extracted money from my wallet


The roller coaster of IVF

To date I have not been overly keen on, if not in reality actually more against, IVF (for me personally, I hasten to add – this is not a moral or technically principled qualm).

As the weeks and months of TTC have merged into years, however, I think this needs reevaluating. Firstly, we now know a lot more about what we are dealing with/are up against. Secondly, we are seriously starting to run out of time (why yes, it is my birthday in a couple of weeks – how could you tell).

So, you may well ask: what were my problems with IVF in the first place?

One of my biggest fears has been the perceived risk/danger. As May only has one ovary remaining, if something goes wrong with that (ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome, for example) then it really could be game over. I had/have the impression, possibly unfairly, that especially within the NHS IVF is not a well-invested-in process and therefore may lack the individual care, attention and precision to reassure me. I think I’m justified in stating that their attitude, when we did get to the first step of consideration for treatment, seemed to be a very rule-based, “same for everyone because we must be fair to everyone on very limited resources” approach. I had/have also witnessed that, while the NHS is a fantastic service for dealing with the majority of everything, it didn’t/doesn’t handle edge-cases, such as May, very well. These factors combined all played into my fears.

I think we are in a very different place now. We’ve run the NHS gamut as much as we can; therefore if we go private now it would not compromise how we may be treated on the NHS, which I’ve heard can not be overly helpful to patients who are also doing parallel private treatment (for I think perfectly understandable/reasonable overall cost effectiveness reasons). We have been saving over the last few years and combined with offers from May’s mum to help with costs plus age and other complicating factors I think private is our only realistic option now anyway. I have the impression, possibly unfounded, that a private clinic will do things absolutely on an individual basis and take care (for fear of harm to reputation – and therefore profits – if nothing else).

So that’s the rational reason; the more psychological block is about the process itself and what that means about my role in fatherhood. This is more difficult to articulate, partly because I have problems identifying and dealing with the emotions surrounding issues (see previous post), but also because it goes against my self-image of me not being a chest-beating, self-important, prowess-obsessed bloke… it’s not me making the baby. I do know enough biology to know it never would be me really anyway, but the micro-details of what happens in utero can be easily brushed over when people think about these things. There is still an overall conception (haha, sorry) of those brave ‘boys’ swimming the tough swim, healthy competition, fittest wins, etc. that provides the ‘natural way’ of these things in the minds of the world. Yes, this is a perception thing as much as anything else. To take that process out of that environment and have an artificial laboratory induced, ‘test-tube’ event – under the harsh lights of scientific judgement and evaluation – doesn’t have that same narrative or acceptable ‘normality’.

Finally, there is another psychological trope that plays into this. Over the last few years, and particularly in psychotherapy recently, I have had to get used to the idea that, as much as I try to deny it, I am a very controlling person. Those that know me may (or may not) be surprised that the gentle, unassuming, introverted soul that I am has this trait. But I can assure you that apparently (I’m still coming to terms with this) I have a strong and wilful mind that has an unfortunate (possibly sometimes unconscious) habit of using passive-aggressive techniques to influence and control. The thing is, the thing about IVF is, that it takes everything out of my control. The same is largely true for May, of course, but this post is about me, all me. Before knowing and understanding this and therefore being able to cede controls and make the choice there was a ‘thing’ at the back of my mind nagging away at this isn’t what I really want to, if not more strongly saying no!

Now we understand that and we are where we are, it’s time to make a positive choice and work for a positive outcome and say… YES!


Talking

I’ve been doing a lot of talking recently, mainly at my counselling sessions. What have I learnt?

Philip Larkin was (almost) right… A lot of the conversation has been about my parents (plus their siblings/family and my grandparents). In particular what their behaviours and interactions were when I was growing up and therefore what role modelling I have been subjected to. The layers of generations and layers of psychological fucktitude that I have inherited.

I have found it particularly enlightening, because I was rather under the impression that I had rather an uneventful, benign childhood – I wasn’t abused or deprived. Yes, there were certain members of the family that were difficult from time to time, but I never felt directly unwanted or unwelcome. And yet…

It seems that there are a lot of subtle things happening all around in the interplay of family members that one doesn’t really understand as a child but some of these seem to get taken on board and shape attitudes and behaviours in unexpected ways. So, for example, my mother could be slightly uncomfortably clingy and overly affectionate when I was a teenager – which I found embarrassing and awkward and therefore pushed back. If I thought about it at all I had just thought it might be her not wanting to accept eldest child growing up growing away and reacting to that. However, I can now see another possible reason for her clinginess was perhaps something lacking in her relationship with my father, which was being subverted. My father being, like me, not particularly emotionally literate or aware his actions were distancing, leaving my mother rather looking for affection elsewhere. So I had not only the poor role model of my dad’s distancing emotional behaviour, but also developed a resistance to being emotionally pushed.

There are two main things that I’m working on at the moment in relation to all this. Firstly, is that I don’t give myself space to think about these things. At work I’m busy on work stuff, at home I distract myself with web and TV, and on my commutes I like listening to podcasts. So, one thing we’re trying chez nous at the moment is an evening per week free of TV and internet. It’s only been a couple of weeks, so far – so possibly too early to assess any beneficial effect.

Secondly, the realisation that I’ve never really had to work hard at things or been forced to practise stuff. Nobody made me do my musical instrument practising as a child, I found exams at 16 a bit of a breeze (to get relatively good grades), A-levels similarly not difficult study-wise. University was a huge step up and I struggled a bit there, but manage to scrape through without too much effort.

I’ve been relatively fortunate career-wise with a few lucky breaks and only one sticky patch without work (which May would attest left me rather bereft). I’ve also usually been able to do the things I enjoy at work and not so much of the things I didn’t like/have an aptitude for (again there was a time when I really hated my boss/job for a while and again May will tell you how I was completely incapable of dealing with it – however, luckily again, I was able to find a sidestep out of it so I didn’t have to really ever deal with it properly). Likewise my family and relations didn’t seem to put much effort in to practising anything really. So, when May says to me ‘yes, emotions are difficult – you need to practise expressing/acknowledging/dealing with them’ I have no frame of reference as to what that means or what to do.

This of course spills over uncomfortably into working at relationships and of course working at trying to have a child… it hasn’t been easy and I’ve certainly not been prepared for the hard work and persistence, which has, of course, upset May on occasions when I’ve been lagging.

I realise that it’s only ‘half the battle’ to identify some causes – finding how and fixing is not going to be any easier, especially if I have to work at it…


I KNEW I had a blog somewhere round here…

I think I was using the Olympics as an opiate. H and I watched as much of it as our respective work-schedules allowed, on television, on the BBC’s iPlayer when the particular events we liked were not being shown or had happened during the working day or the other of us didn’t care for it (archery, synchronised swimming (don’t laugh!), horse dancing (I like horses (H doesn’t)), diving heats (I like strapping young men in tight speedos (H doesn’t (but he did care who won the finals)), beach volleyball (don’t ask)). We leapt to our feet and screamed right there in our living room when Mo Farah won the 10’000 and the 5’000. We would’ve leapt to our feet and screamed when Bolt Did His Thing, but we didn’t have time to. We cheered Wiggins and Ennis and Grainger and Watkins and Pendleton and the Brownlees. We cheered Felix and Rudisha and Lysenko and Gelana. I wept with every athlete who wept on the podium. I bawled over the triumph-over-tragedy stories of Daley and Gibbons. And when someone fell, or false-started, or pulled a muscle and couldn’t run/jump/swim/dive, or got up anyway and tried to carry on, or just had the crappest luck, I also cried. I cried over Asafa Powell, FFS. When H and I went to see the marathon live on Sunday (which was just! So! Exciting! that I literally (as in really, yes I did, and I’m not exaggerating) skipped most of the way home)), I welled up at the sight of the last runner in the field limping bloody-mindedly along just in front of the sweeper van. And then when we watched it again on telly, I welled up for Stephen Kiprotich and his unique Ugandan gold medal.

And then it was all over, and we all feel completely deflated, also all alone with our anxieties and problems and their horrible little teeth. Oh dear.

H, for example, has been having kittens about our baby-making options. All these tests we’ve had – whatever the verdict is, it seems so very, well, huge, and possibly final, and descending with a clang, like a portcullis, also expensive and complicated (expensive portcullis!). And he wants a child. Which would all be quite enough to be getting on with thank you, but his job is not being any more easy to deal with, and nor is his wife. He comes home every night and tears his hair out, and then I complain that I have a pain in my sawdust, that’s what’s the matter with me, and he tears his hair out, and we talk about money and how many cycles we’re prepared to do with what medications and he tears his hair out, and then he goes back to work and finds Another Fine Mess to sweep up and tears his hair out and when he is finally spear-bald, to whom do we present the bill, oh Universe?

In which fine state of mind H – oh, and I – went back to Dr Expensive on Thursday to Hear The Verdict. And The Verdict made our heads ache. The short-and-curly version (I promise you a long-and-straightened version in the near future. You may nag me about it. You’re welcome) is, Dr Expensive wants me on Metformin, steroids, progesterone support, Clexane and intralipids; he wants H on multi-vitamins and anti-oxidants; he wants both of us on a ten-day course of Augmentin; he wants to do a uterine biopsy, this cycle if possible (EEK! And again I say, EEK!) ; and he wants us to do LIT. On the other hand, he doesn’t see why we need IVF. At all. Timed bonking will be fine.

Do pass that dustpan, there’s a lamb. Just writing it down made my head explode again.

But fear not! We have tickets for the Paralympics! In less than two weeks, it all starts up again, with even more added and extra poignancy and heroism, and I fully expect to jump up and down and skip and weep and scream encouragement and just generally let myself be completely blown away by it all all over again while pretending that my uterus doesn’t even exist for as long as she’ll let me get away with it. We don’t do Olympian cynicism chez May. Which is unexpected, but welcome.


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