I Wrote To The Zoo

I am taking a brief break from my hard-core cleaning marathon. I never knew there were so many spiders in the world, let alone that they had been so unremittingly spinny in my house.

Tuesday sucked, as few other days have sucked. John is of the opinion that being formally diagnosed with a painful condition has psychosomatically affected me – which may or may not be true, but I’ve never been obliged to put myself on the cusp of painkiller not-quite-overdose-but-lots-too-many-nevertheless before. My uteri honestly felt like they were on fire; I kept having to crouch on the floor and groan, which I haven’t had to do since Harry made an appearance from one of them. I must see about getting some industrial-strength painkillers for next time, because Tuesday Was Not Fun.

I have been working like a navvy all week. We live in a large house, and we are both housework-averse, consequently the piles of crap have grown impressively high; you could write a reasonably long letter in the dust in any room of your choosing. John was keen to bulldozer it all into a Grandaddy heap in one room, which I vetoed on the grounds of A) public safety, B) it would depress me and C) we haven’t an unused room to actually hide it in.

I have had an agitated week regarding Harry’s birthday present. This

bouncing pony

turned up from Amazon looking vaguely like Chucky, with a grand total of 3 legs.

He was too scary. So I sent him back.

I then spent a fevered 3 hours DOUBLE-CHECKING the internet on the faint, remote off-chance that SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE in the UK might stock a proper bouncing pony. Eventually, by the unorthodox and genius approach of actually Googling the bloody name of it… Glory Be! I found a SINGLE SOLITARY UK stockist. 

radio flyer springing horse

I sprained my wrist with my snake-like speed, reaching for my Visa card. It cost so much that I have been obliged to forgo A) the party helium balloons (my infertile baby-dreams of birthday parties always had lots of helium balloons in. Couldn’t afford a cylinder last year either. Sigh.) and B) replacing the coat that I left at the Royal Show. Yep, last year my handbag, this year my (only summer-weight one I own) coat.

I was nervous as hell that the website was wrong, that the horse was a mere electronic chimera. I watched my inbox like a particularly vigilant and conscientious hawk, emitting a tiny cheer when an order confirmation popped confidently up. I couldn’t contain my uneasiness, though, and rang the stockist to double check – he told me it would be with me tomorrow. And I still had a bad feeling about it all. 

Parcelforce – my much-feared weak link – appeared this morning, on cue. Another small cheer escaped me when I saw the picture on the box – it was the right one! I examined it anxiously for signs of previous opening, and drew a cautious breath of relief.  Harry, naturally, refused to nap until after lunch, when I fell upon the container eagerly.

I opened it up and pulled out the body section, chuckling in satisfaction at the padded saddle and the chirpy painted harness. I pulled out one…two… three… FOUR legs! We have a full complement of legs! Hurrah! I dived back in and pulled out more bits and bobs, and began to rummage around in the bottom. I did a double-take. I checked again. I recoiled in horror.

I thundered down the corridor into the kitchen like a bull elephant, trumpeting my rage in a not-The-Godfather type-way: ‘There’s no head! There’s NO FUCKING HEAD! THEY’VE SENT ME A HORSE WITH NO MOTHERFUCKING HEAD!’

I stood there, chest heaving, head spinning, gasping wild imprecations interspersed with frantic yammmerings about how this was probably THE ONLY ONE IN ENGLAND and WHAT THE FUCK DO WE DO whilst Hubby had a rummage around the contents. He picked up the main body of the horse. And, like a conjuror producing a size 10 rabbit from a size 2 hat, produced the head from where it had been inserted, head-first, into the animal’s own body.

I subsided into a shaking heap on the floor. I can’t hack this pony-purchasing business at all.

We proceeded to spend 30 busy minutes building Dobbin, as my obsession over missing parts would brook no delay, before he cantered backwards – a neat trick – up the hill to the Delightful Doctors

pony

to live hidden from small eyes until Saturday week, when 23 children, give or take, ranging from 4 weeks to nearly 7 years, will be descending on our local village hall. I am, believe it or not, really, really looking forward to it. 

There will be Dobbin – an early present for Harry, who does not turn 2 until 2 days afterwards – a small ball-pool, a little bouncy-castle, lots of straw bales, a play-house, all Harry’s ride-on cars and tractors, pass-the-parcel, a bran wheat tub with lots of chocolate yummies for little hands to find, a bubble machine, lots of balloons (the non-floaty type, dammit) a huge birthday cake which I have been plotting and fretting over (in a good way) for months, and a slap-up party tea so chock-full of sugar that every single child will go home wired to the max. Heh.

And with any sort of luck, all this toddler-festival will go some way towards convincing me that our wonderful, beautiful, heart-stoppingly precious little boy really does exist, really does give me those cuddles and kisses that wring my heart with love, really does make us laugh until it hurts with his blatant mischievousness, and really does make us nearly burst with pride at his cleverness.

Because I’m still, still, shaking my head in disbelief that, in spite of everything, he’s here. He’s healthy, he’s mine, he’s ours, he’s entirely himself alone, and he’s here.

I find this awesome.

Confirmation

Things Harry did yesterday I forgot to tell you about:

1) Dialled the emergency services. Dialled 999, and got straight through to despatch. Listened to the voice for a while before calmly replacing the receiver. It was Warwickshire constabulary who rang back (greeting John by name, which mystifies me slightly – I can only theorise that his shotgun licence flags up on their computer under this address and phone number. I am foggy on just how all-seeing big brother is, these days.) to enquire what the problem was. John grovelled appropriately for wasting police time, although I note he still hadn’t moved the phone!

2) Learnt to attach his brio train track together.

3) Figured out which (nearly-toddler-accessible) drawer of the freezer contains the ice-creams.

4) Ate Sunday lunch with us at the Delightful Doctors Next Door’s house, with Godmother Vet in attendance too. The considered opinion was that still-excessively-snot-ridden-but-otherwise-normal Harry has quite likely had Swine Flu after all – apparently, it really can be this mild. John has had it too, albeit he’s suffered a little bit more. I do so wish a lab test was possible; I’d be so delighted if Harry’d got it over and done with, with so little bother. I have been regularly coated in Harry’s snot, so am seemingly immune – I had full-blown flu 10 years back (and OH DEAR GOD I was SO BLOODY ILL) which theoretically should make no difference at all, but anyhoo: thus far, I have side-stepped the lurgy landmine.

Today, Harry had an assessment to ascertain whether he fits the Portage criteria. The Portage team (the US would term it Early Intervention) are child development advisers who provide weekly home-based support for children who have significant delay in two or more areas of their development. Their goal is to get to know the family, help you teach your child new skills through play, help make learning easier for them, and work with the other agencies – in Harry’s case, Speech & Lang and Physio – to pull together a concerted game plan.

Although I have been certain for the best part of a year now that he needs the help, I’ve also felt defensive and unsure because a variety of people around me have expressed the view that there’s absolutely nothing wrong, bar a few wobbles (normal!) and a speech delay (common!) and a few tantrums (typical toddler!). Like Mulder, you see, I really want to believe.

Well, the long and the short of it is: Harry qualifies. With a big, fat Q. Everyone who told us that Nothing Will Happen Before Age Two, Then Everything Happens – was absolutely right, it appears. Harry’s difficulties have finally become recognisable to trained eyes; the fact that he is switched-on, bright, extremely active and exceptionally visually and aurally observant has also been noted. While I am relieved – because by September he will be drawing down a significant amount of professional input – I am also deeply and profoundly sad, because my poor little boy is struggling, and it’s now officially not just my fevered imagination.

I am not so miserable that I have forgotten to look on the bright side, however. I feel that today’s outcome justifiably excuses me from being obliged to take my clothes off and run naked down Stratford-upon-Avon High Street. You can all put your cameras away!

Plastic Hayburners

I am not pregnant. Following several days of quite ludicrously acute PMT, the uteri have begun to wring themselves empty, leaving me drained of blood, hope and energy.

I can do without blood and hope, at a push, as I can pretend it isn’t happening temporarily fall back on my British stiff upper lip, but I could REALLY DO with some energy deigning to return. The house has reached that stage of major clean-up where it has become oh, so very much worse. Harry’s big IDS assessment is tomorrow morning. I have a friend coming to lunch on Tuesday. I am supposed to be having my perineum sliced about on Wednesday – which, given that I will struggle to keep the wound (such as it will be) clean during the current inundation, I will attempt to postpone. Thursday is my baby-group day, which I need to attend in order to give out party invites. Friday morning, the American in-laws arrive on the red-eye.

The washing machine is going full-pelt, I have birthday gubbins everywhere, I haven’t unpacked my stock from Saturday yet and all I see is a thick layer of crap. I can’t possibly get it all done in time, even if someone takes Harry away for the week and feeds me intravenous Red Bull.

Harry’s birthday is on the 3rd August (his card had to be with the BBC 4 WEEKS before the day!) and his birthday party is on Saturday 1st. I won’t go into the whole OMFG: TWO, lest I never stop. I have ordered him this bouncing pony

bouncing pony

because a classic carved wooden english rocking horse – which I always said I would get him – uses the exact same stomach/trunk/neck muscles that Harry has pronounced weakness of. He tends to fly off the back of them in spectacular John-Wayne-shooting-injuns-style. There is very little wrong with his thigh muscles, however, as anyone who has been on the receiving end of some of his latest kung-fu tantrum-kicks can testify, and bouncing dementedly up and down is his favourite. ever. game. I really, really wanted this one instead

radio flyer springing horse

and, although I am generally patriotically mildly disinclined to yield precedence to any other country, I have to admit that the US of A rules the world with their springing horses. (I am dismissing every other American individual and collective achievement as not germane to the issue at hand!) The UK hasn’t made springing horses since the early 1900’s, judging from the few pricey antiques I found. Why has only the USA figured out that horses actually go bumpity-bumpity, not rocky-rocky?! They actually go bumpity-bumpity-rear-buck-splat if I’m riding them, but never mind.

This little radio flyer chap looks awesome – the mane! the expression!  and I wasted half a morning desperately trying to find either a UK supplier, or a way to import one without breaking the budget. I did briefly consider getting the in-laws to lug one over and paying their excess baggage charges, but decided I was getting silly – Harry will like the inferior one just fine, and he can have the real thing next year if his balance is better. 

*off: Hubby screams in anguish*

I have to go. It’s all very well sitting here, but it’s not getting my housework done. Hubby is making going-to-bed type noises, and I need to head him off at the pass and make him get into the loft instead.

I am under the cosh. Send cleaning products.

Waiting for Time

I appear to have let more than a week go by without ringing someone and asking them to pleeeeeeease help me have another baby – for free! I saw my counsellor on Tuesday, a woman of profound understanding of the human condition and… and… sense. I am always lost in admiration for the way she combines exquisite sensitivity, genuine compassion – and excellent British Common Sense. We agreed a possible Plan, but when I got home and started to discuss the Plan with John, I discovered his ears were a bit bunged up from all the sand he’s buried them in.

John, it seems, does not really think we need more fertility treatment. Not, I hasten to add, because he does not want more children – he has always wanted lots – but because he has inexplicable faith in the battered and stuttering arrangement of weirdness I call my reproductive system. He is in favour of continuing the just-shag-and-see approach, on the basis that it worked one-and-a-half times in the past. 

I shall be riding roughshod over his considered opinion and trit-trotting off to the doctor anyway. Because A) I want to, and once I decide A Thing Has To Be Done, then yesterday is never quick enough and God help whoever gets underfoot, and B) John has no actual objection to pursuing more treatment, he is simply optimistic – there’s that word again – about our chances of another organic, made-at-home baby.

 Now, I think the man does have a reasonable point (particularly as I am bleating ‘no injectables!’ so regularly I sound like a drug awareness infomercial) but I am uneasily aware that time – and that bitch, probability – is not on my side. I don’t want to piss about with all that endless having sex business – that sound you hear is my husband sobbing, by the way.

Perhaps it might be useful – to myself, obviously – to recap. As this was BB – before blog – I’m already foggy about some of it, and I will have to polish my case history precis in any event soon.

We married in March 2004; I was just 29. I discontinued the pill the month beforehand. In May I went to my GP and explained that I was worried about conceiving as I had such irregular periods, and I had also googled cough, read that didelphys was often associated with an incompetent cervix or two. I was, for some reason, expecting a brisk dismissal of my fears, but although he told me to go away and try for two years he did screw his face up and concede I was at higher risk of miscarriage. Remembering events of 5 years ago is a challenge to my withering neurons, but I know the news upset me horribly because I embarrassed myself by publicly bursting into tears at restaurant that evening while celebrating a friend’s birthday. It was the first inkling of what was to come, and two days later I was back at the GPs telling him I wanted a private fertility referral; I wasn’t going to wait two years, thank you so very much. He shrugged and wrote me the letter.

So, over the course of 2004 we saw a gloriously eccentric Obstetrician who ran the usual tests.  John’s sperm test came back well within all the parameters, but I will treasure forever his expression when Gloriously Eccentric Obstetrician gave us a spirited and talented mime of a deformed sperm. I had a hysterosalpingogram at a private hospital which was woefully underequipped on light bulbs: the radiologist – the same chap I saw again recently – was obliged to site the canula-things through my cervi by the light of a desk lamp perched precariously on a wheelie stool – which his elbow kept knocking away. My uteri were both pronounced reasonable sized with – and I quote – ‘fabulous’ tubes. (I have the x-ray films here if anyone ever wants a butchers at my fabulous tubes. Of course, that was a while ago… perhaps they haven’t aged well.)

So, we commenced Clomid for 6 months, which was unsuccessful, although it did bring 4 of the 6 cycles down under 40 days duration. I had blood work ‘suggestive of ovulation’ and LH surges the day before my period a couple of times. All was Confusion, and by early 2005 I was on the waiting list to be seen at our regional Centre for Reproductive Medicine.

I am very bad indeed at brooking delays. My first IUI cycle there was private, because the NHS simply wasn’t quick enough for me.  The consultant, bless him, put the sperm sample into the juicy looking endometrium on my left, not having realised that the only follicle with anything promising about it at all was attached to the uterus on the right. I got home and had, for the first time in my life, proper hysterics. He did, to his credit, shoulder the responsibility in full the next day when I finally succeeded in speaking to him – although in fac I rather suspected the source of the trouble was a communication-fail from the nurses doing my scans, who had all been clearly confused by my didelphys to begin with. You would think the fact that they had detected I only had a follicle on one side of my highly unusual and noteworthy reproductive kit was worth… I dunno… perhaps flagging up to the boss? Still… bygones.

So, we got all our money back, and by then NHS list had caught us up anyway. For IUI number two, I again steadfastly refused to produce a follicle on my left side – and we had decided by now that my right hand uterus did not look a great bet for an embryo, despite the frustrating fact that its associated ovary was much spritelier: the cycle was abandoned. So, my reproductive system officially now looked like this:

didelphys uterus

– bearing in mind that my right and your right ARE NOT THE SAME. It’s alarming how many medical professionals I have seen mix up patient’s left and their left.

So – IVF! Ho! to IVF! IVF! IVF! We’re starting IVF! Bring it ON! So… where the buggery fuck is my period, and why am I cramping so much on my left side? I could… I could pee on a stick I suppose…?

A strong positive line, immediately. I was still sleepy and thoroughly confused by it: I decided to seek a second opinion and  nearly crippled myself thundering down the cluttered stairs and flinging the front door open just in time to intercept John backing off the drive. He wound the window down and looked at me enquiringly. ‘I’m pregnant!’ I blurted, waving the dripping stick in the air. He stopped the engine and scurried over to inspect the stick.

Much happiness, etc. A scan at 6.5 weeks showed a bright flashing heartbeat and a healthy-looking yolk-sac. We dashed away on a last-minute holiday to Ireland, on the basis that it would be the last one we took by ourselves. I began to feel horribly, wonderfully nauseous, and spent the days driving down pot-holed country roads in a tiny hire car, clinging greenly to the wheel, because John’s driving made me feel even iller.

I went for another scan at 8+ weeks, before they discharged me to my GP. We were so blithe going into that room. There was a junior and a senior nurse, the junior was operating the wand and the senior was standing next to her, directing her where to look.

They wouldn’t show me the screen. After a couple of minutes I asked if I could have a look too, and the senior nurse assured me kindly that as soon as they’d seen everything they needed to, she would turn the screen round – but they weren’t getting a very good picture with this machine – would I mind moving to the room next door where there was a more sensitive ultrasound?

God help me, I never suspected a thing. I upped-sticks into the next room quite cheerfully, and wondered why John came to stand next to me and stroked my leg, instead of perching himself on the chair behind the nurses again.

He knew, of course. He said afterwards that the heartbeat we had seen before had flashed so very brightly that its absence now was glaringly obvious. But even when the doctor – who had mysteriously replaced the junior nurse in the room transition – turned the screen towards me and told me sadly that she had looked very, very carefully and couldn’t find a heartbeat – I still didn’t fully grasp her meaning. As she scanned slowly right through the koala-shaped little fetus to show me that there was no sign of a flashing beat, I had a vague idea that heartbeats were so small and… well, embryonic… at that stage, that taking a little rest and re-starting again later was perfectly acceptable. It wasn’t until she had actually left the room that I began to understand our loss, and started to cry.

And I proceeded to cry a great deal. Life was suddenly unutterably shit. The medical management of miscarriage was distressing and painful, with a hefty shot of pethedine and the associated morphine floating the only redeeming feature of the experience.

I arrived at our first IVF with a good deal more mental baggage. It took a long time – and double doses of gonadotrophin – to wake my ovaries up, but they eventually produced a very average 10 eggs. Apparently, coming around from the sedation I burbled continuously, incoherently, and even more mundanely than usual about some tricky work problem. I have no memory of this, merely of trying to remove my oxygen mask – so I could make my drivel more clearly heard by everyone in the recovery suite, no doubt.

Some precis. I do go on. I’ve typed enough; I have to go to a nursing home fete now, and be nice to people. I am selling cards, as you may realise – my fame is not yet so widespread that they’ve asked me to open the thing.

Pigs Have Been Flying

Harry rapidly morphed from his usual flailing bundle of energy into a poorly boy yesterday evening, with a streaming nose, temperature, cough, diarrhoea (which he had, previously, finally, been free of for 4 days) and hoarse little squeak. Which is nothing out of the ordinary, except that we are in a major swine-flu hotspot – all the surrounding villages have cases in the schools.

We dutifully consulted the NHS Direct website and read that under 5s showing symptoms should be anti-viraled – it seemed a little extreme, but we nevertheless undertook the tedious rigmarole of contacting the out of hours services – the arranged callback came 2 hours later than promised. Honestly, you’d think there was a blasted pandemic, or something.

The doctor was spectacularly vague and contradictory, telling us firstly that it was impossible to say over the phone whether he had it or not (WTF?) and anti-virals were only being used as preventatives, not treatment (WTF?) and would only stave off an inevitable re-infection in any case because flu’s floating about invisibly everywhere in the atmosphere (WTF?) but we could totally have some anti-virals if we really wanted them (WTF?). Now, a combination of the fact that it was the wee small hours by this point and Harry was bawling like a lost and heartbroken calf must have meant that John and I misheard and/or misinterpreted some of this ludicrousness – but we both spoke to the chap, and we both came away feeling clear as mud on the subject.

Harry scored his usual sickness-upgrade to the parental bed, where John endured his share of the frantic cuddles, wet kisses, kicks and delighted gurgles for about 20 minutes before decamping grumpily to the spare room. I put up with about another hour of Harry rampaging, baby elephant-like, around the bed – and then the room – before returning him quietly to his cot, taking pity on the subsequent meltdown, bringing him back into bed, watching him deliberately take giggling aim and thump me, twice, and then taking him rather more briskly back to his cot where he gloomily subsided into sleep until his usual 5.30am wake-up.

And he’s been happy enough today: toastie-hot but paracetomoling back down sub-37, and toddling around the place as usual. After lunch, which he picked at, I carted his protesting yet exhausted little frame upstairs for a nap. After 10 minutes the row continued unabated, so I went in – steadfastly ignored his uplifted arms – sat down in the rocking chair next to his cot, and bent down to fish his teddy from underneath my feet where he had been forcefully hurled.

cot & chair

I straightened up, and immediately a vaulting child crash-landed into my arms.

Harry had (astonishingly, given his 79cm height) thrown one foot up over the top and heaved the rest of himself effortlessly over, clearing the top by an appreciable margin and flinging himself bodily at me. I was going to cuddle him, come hell or high water, apparently. I sat there stunned and squeaking, whilst he – accurately assessing my preventative incapability – instantaneously carpe diem-ed, and quickly beetled head-down out of the room and back downstairs.

This is a complete arse.

John is all for leaving the side up and waiting until Harry actually hurls himself out and to the floor – all that way below – before tackling the problem, on the dubious premise that he may not bother to do it again if I’m not there. I politely advance the opinion that this idea is crap on toast. Harry is more resigned to sleep than he used to be, but there is no way on God’s earth that he is going to stay put and go quietly to sleep when toys! floor! drawers! are beguiling him seductively from the far side of now-obsolete bars. They’ll have to come down this evening, and the long, weary process of encouraging Harry to put himself to bed (that sensible grown-up thing that Mummy can’t quite manage herself all the time) will have to begin.

I re-started his nap in the car this afternoon, before carrying him upstairs, fast asleep,

toy wall

and attempting to limit the injurious nature of the drop.

Of course, I then arrived downstairs to find that the tortoise was also having a try at plummeting Certain Badness

tortoise

so that’s something else to worry about – as well as the fact that my American in-laws arrive a week on Friday. Without wishing to actively invite puzzlingly derisory or kindly commiserative comments about my erratic housekeeping: my one guest bedroom, although furnished on a budget of about sixpence (and possessing curtains that I cut too small

curtains

and had to cunningly rescue) is kept vaguely respectable at all times

bournville room

bournville room2

but the others look like this

 garage room

 and this

 champagne room

respectively, and All Must Be Tidy & Clean before my feisty and cleanliness-worshipping SIL hits UK soil.

And lastly, because I must go and DO Stuff, Harry clearly indicated to us yesterday – rather earlier in life than most boys do – that he’d quite like a puppy, please.

puppies

puppy

Not a Fibroid

I dutifully trotted off to Warwick Hospital this morning in order to let the Radiologist play Hunt The Fibroid. I had complained to PhiloGynae of debilitatingly painful periods, occasional jabby-pain during sex, and tsunami-like menstrual flow – two uteri notwithstanding – and so we agreed it was worth another look-see around the old place(s). I’ve seen this Consultant Radiologist a few times before but not for a while, and we spent a little time catching up and agreeing that, what with close on 100 ultrasounds under my belt – kind of literally, too – I could probably have a fairly successful attempt at working the damn machine myself.

He hadn’t had the dildocam in place a minute before he candidly informed me that things weren’t looking right. His phraseology, in fact, was ‘There is some very clear abnormality here’. For a horrifying second or so I thought he meant I had grown some tumours, because I could see a collection of lumps on the screen.

As it turned out: I have pronounced adenomyosis in my right uterus, and a  reasonable helping of the stuff in my left, too. While not actually a major pisser on the fertility parade, it certainly won’t help. And – it seems to be found in increasing amounts in women over 35, probably because their progesterone level – ie, their fertility – is falling.

He told me frankly that the only cure for this condition is hysterectomy – was I planning any more children? I said Yes, but also that my periods have always been so dreadful that I have been happily looking forward to my eventual hysterectomy for the last 23 years. It doesn’t change my planned end game at all.

But it does change the here and the now. I am suddenly panicking and thinking that if we want another, we need to bloody get on with it before my uteri pack up completely. I’m struggling uphill here, people. I have two uteri, of which the left has a decent lining but has smugly finished off 3 foetuses and the right has crappy lining and tried its level best to exterminate Harry. I have a virtually dormant left ovary. My endocrine system appears continually up the spout. And now it appears that my uteri are trying to convolute themselves into solid lumps of rebellious bleeding muscle.

I have (possibly) ovulated 4 times this year – early February, end of March, mid May and early July – which is astonishing and unprecedented regularity for me and a comforting sign that early menopause may not actually be lurking as close as I fear. Despite the 8 silver hairs I have extracted from my head this week. 8! The other bit of bad news is that no pregnancy has resulted, and our original plan of Lets-See-What-Happens now looks a bit lame. I am 35 in February. 

But I am a lousy, lousy subject for fertility drugs. I respond quite comically contrarily, whether stimulation or downregulation be the aim, and I felt the resulting hormonal chaos played its part in extinguishing at least 2 of my 3 lost pregnancies. But (another but) I really don’t want another pregnancy in my right uterus. I want to give the left another go this time. Which does rather dictate IVF – which I swore I would never, ever do again. I don’t mind the needles or the procedures or the constant travelling, or the waiting room tedium, or any of the associated crap – I just don’t think it’s right for me and the unusual and idiosyncratic collection of organs I term my reproductive system.

So I’m sat here, head swirling, with thoughts of natural cycle IVF or IUI bobbing madly around in the current. I need to get my paws on a doctor that I can have a meaningful conversation with about what the bloody hell we do now. Consequently, I shall be asking my GP next week to refer me back to the Centre for Reproductive Medicine at Coventry; if the wait is months and not weeks I shall see one of the consultants privately to figure out a game plan, and be ready to go with actual treatment when the NHS catches us up – assuming that they’ll fund anything at all. I rather think I’ve already had my treatment allocation prior to Harry.

I’m not sure which consultant to ask for and I shall ask my Counsellor when I see her this coming Tuesday what she thinks – she still works at the unit and is more in touch with who does what these days. The chap I saw previously is a prominent and exceedingly senior Obs & Gynae – reassuring when you’re as weird as me – and is dry to the point of dessication. He did come downstairs specially to congratulate us both when we conceived Harry with no help from him whatsoever, which he absolutely didn’t have to do, so I know the chap does have a heart, though. And then there was the time he was walking past the nurses’ station and picked the incoming line up because it was ringing its tits off – another thing you don’t have to do when you’re the boss. It was obviously a wrong number – audibly an exceedingly voluble woman on the far end – and I treasure his eventual remark after the shrill squeaking subsided. “I’m afraid I am personally unable to assist you with your erroneous electricity supply final demand, as you are not, in fact, speaking to TheElectricityCompany. You are speaking to Coventry and Warwickshire University Hospital Centre for Reproductive Medicine. If you would like to get pregnant – I can help you. Otherwise, I suggest you re-dial.”

We’re back on the Merry-Go-Round, peeps.

The Arabs Say: They Have Plenty Of Sand Already, Thanks

I have been looking for a job. An actual proper, paying job. Fruitlessly.

My maternity pay – comparatively generous here in the UK – dried up well over a year ago, and since then, we have all been living on Hubby’s income – and eating into savings. Inevitably, there is beginning to be a certain anaemia of the Hairy Exchequer, and when my credit card bill plops heavily onto the doormat each month, John’s hands start to churn through his hair whilst I watch him anxiously from behind the cover of something solidly mad-axe-murderer-proof.

And joking aside, this sharing-of-one-income thing completely sucks a clown’s balls. John never actually criticises any of my purchases – merely frets over the zeros – but nevertheless, I acutely feel all the consequent mental indignity of this imagined host/parasite situation – and having absolutely no money of my own is a hairshirt total pisser.

Take our garden, for instance. Had I been earning, there would, by now, be a summer house, a patio/deck, some nice stone steps, a soft lawn, a fence and a gate across the drive. Because the only avenue open to me (sans income) is to plead with John – and we’ve been having this row a long time now – to get all the ground work done himself (strong muscles, carpentry & stone-building skills, JCB-owner, etc) all we have is half a lawn and some step-shapes in an earth bank. It’s a sore point, and all I can do is get angry and worked up about it and tell him I feel let down at his lack of motivation. But rather than spend 18 months working myself into a frustrated lather, it would have been awfully nice to have been able to cheerfully raise two fingers to the procrastinating old sod and pay builder-chaps to do it myself. But I can’t, and it makes me feel – well, probably about like Harry feels when I tell him he can’t have crisps for breakfast. Sort of…tantrummy. And small. Low down the pecking order. Not a mover and shaker! But… I didn’t want to go back to work, so I entirely accept this has been a situation of my own making.

The need to inject some more funding into the household budget peaked concomitantly with my personal poverty pissing me right off, so a while ago I began to scan the papers and websites. My background is field sales and account management, but juicy jobs with generous packages, local travel, no shitty aspects and a max of 3 days a week… well, like I say, I’ve been looking awhile. My old employers sound deep in the economic cacky stuff, and have nothing to offer me. The Sits Vac column has been merely a collection of ads requiring people to sell recruitment ad space. I seriously considered re-training for something different, but that in itself takes money, particularly when you have childcare to factor into the equation – plus I couldn’t think of much else to do apart from patisserie (bad back & early mornings) – so I’ve spent a fair while whizzing around in ever decreasing mental circles, with the occasional hopeful progress enquiry from John to depress me even further.

I had advance notice of the 2nd birthday party of one of Harry’s little friends one of the kids we know through babygroup. I sighed and mentally catalogued how many 2nd birthday parties we are likely to attend in the next 12 months: I calculated about 15. I like WH Smith as much as the next girl and more, but at around £2.25 for a card, I was wincing at the sums even before the whole wrapping-paper-and-gift moneypit forced itself upon my thoughts. I decided to be organised (a minor personal triumph) and went online and started searching for the greeting card company I know who bypass the shops completely and sell direct to the public: a girl I used to work with had a sister who was a trader and the cards I bought from her were absolutely lovely and a mere quid each when you buy 10. Bulk buying didn’t look like being a problem for me this year. 

I found them and was looking through the various designs and cooing happily – I like art AND stationery – when I encountered the section about becoming a trader… and slowed down to pay more attention. Your very own home-based business, operated as intensively or as occasionally as you please, in entirely your own time. And I asked myself if, really, there was any reason I couldn’t sell cards. And there wasn’t. I’ve certainly sold stranger things. I once sold a bloke a ladder I didn’t have (I worked for a filter company) simply because he dialled the wrong number and thought I was Screwfix. I sourced a very nice one, sent it to him, and made a clear 45%. I like days like that.

So, I sent off for some information, and scrutinised it closely. I had bought the products over a period of some years and knew they were very nice indeed, but some direct selling firms have – justifiably – had some dreadful press over the years and I was very wary. But I really couldn’t find much to pick holes in. The product designs are lovely, and beautiful quality. The company are industry leaders and have an unimpeachable reputation. 

So I showed it all to John – forced him away from the TV and made him read it all – and we talked. And I signed up. It cost me £150, which was £105 more than it had to, but I wanted to invest in some extra stock. That was 3 weeks ago; I have been selling for 10 days, and I’ve already turned over enough to replenish the depleted bank account – even if it has been about 25% due to my mother desperately trying to indirectly inject cash into her daughter’s coffers by stocking up on her entire year’s card purchases all in one go. Then, she tried to give me them all back again to hold as stock. Bless the woman.

Being an owner (temporary, MIL’s house, etc) of a nice view, which people are often telling me they would like to come have a look at, I thought I would make the most of the new situation and re-take the dining room back for my own purposes. It now looks like this:

Rack

and the boys are Not Allowed in my inner sanctum. I sit in there and drink coffee and lovingly pat my boxes of stock! The hall has been tidied. There are even pots of pretty flowers either side of the front door and all the trailer-park-trash has gone to the tip. I am now Open For Business on Saturday mornings; I am booked in for local fetes – a big earner, apparently, although I’m a little late in the year to jump on board with many. I am thinking whom I can persuade to do charity coffee mornings – I don’t mind giving up some profit to a good cause and building a customer base in the process. I have dropped brochures and samples off in my local villages and my doctor’s surgery. I have sent my best friend off to work this week with a nice wicker basket crammed full with cards, note cards and gift wrap – and a commission offer that she has kindly declined, because she loves me. I am tracking down WI meetings and ladies’ lunches and begging for a slot. I am planning card parties for the evenings, particularly as we move towards Christmas (Don’t groan! The season starts in September!). I have been to one of the bi-annual company roadshows which fortuitously fell last week, and met – and liked – the owners and directors. I have been working stupidly late in the evening, because I have a lot of initial set-up gubbins to busy myself with.

And I’ve really, really been enjoying it. I have a new interest in life apart from the family bowel problems, which are beginning to oppress me mightily. This is my very own business, it’s a job that I know, that I’m confident I can make work – not least because the things really do sell themselves most of the time; something to appreciate when your previous career has been slogging uphill selling either industrial products in an overcrowded market or expensive marketing services. Those jobs had chunkier salaries, it has to be said, and this project is not going to have a great deal of impact on our budget until I have established a decent client base, but I can do all this work without significantly deviating from the weekly routine Harry & I have. (I am donating 10% of all of my own profit to BLISS, the premature baby charity, which pleases me as I’ve been able to give them very little of late). My own sponsor – my upline trader and moral support – does the majority of her business stood waiting to collect her two sons from school, scouts, swimming, etc.

And now, of course, because I’m all bubbly and enthusiastic about it, I want to show you what I’m selling!

www.phoenix-trading.eu/web/ann

Now… I would hate for you to be recoiling in horror by this point, feeling all sticky and used, and thinking that I am about to start abusing my bloggy integrity boring you to death for the purposes of filthy lucre – so let me assure you that I will shortly stop banging on about this, and will return to my staple output of toddler-terror, and whatever other crap it is that I customarily waffle about.

I would, quite seriously, be mortified if you leave here with the impression that I expect anything other than your good wishes in my new endeavour – and I don’t actually even expect that, it’s just that I know a little about quite a few of you by now, and I appreciate your collective loveliness, moral support and kind comments.

However, I am not one to turn my back on opportunities, if opportunities there be – I drifted into sales in my 20s for a reason, after all, and there is just the tiniest element of CMOT Dibbler’s unrelenting greed about me, and I do need that garden fencing put up – so I will keep a tab up at the top there with some details on how to buy.  I do not exhort you, naturally! Some of you like spending more money than you absolutely must for quality products in this economic climate, I’m sure… Local customers are where this business is designed to centre, not the far-flung corners of the internet, but if any of you are extremely desirous of purchasing lovely (cheep! like the budgie) cards from Wifey – postage within the UK is not horrendous. Even with a couple of quid tacked on the total for Royal Mail’s cut, they are still significantly cheaper than the high street. I could include some genuine Stratford-upon-Avon air – the air that Shakespeare himself broke wind into! – in the envelope absolutely free, gratis and for nothing. If you live further afield, then the postage and payment element becomes significant, and I will likely be regretfully obliged to send you nothing more than my very best wishes and the news that if you live in the USA, France, Australia or New Zealand, you can buy from your own local traders. And I will make nothing! *lip quivers*

If any of you – UK, USA, or Antipodean – think that I might be onto a Particularly Good Thing here, and would like more information – then you must, of course, make up your own minds after careful scrutiny and consideration. I am very keen not to actually encourage you. All I can honestly assure you of is that the products are delightful and inexpensive, the organisation is well established, sensible and respectable, and that they do what they say on the tin. I can’t say that this would work for you: money generally has to be earned the hard way in this life, sales never achieve themselves and you always need a business head on you. It’s too soon for me to know how well I will succeed at this myself (although I am conceited enough about 1) my own willingness to slog hard at things I really want to happen and 2) the fact that I’ve succeeded in sales before, to feel confident) – but if you are the friendly type and have a wideish circle of female acquaintance/know lots of men who are prolific card-buyers – then you could consider having a go.

I mention all this purely because the way the company expands is fairly organic, with enthusiastic customers tending to be the ones who evolve into traders – and any new traders become the responsibility of the trader who originally introduced them the product. You would, therefore, inevitably belong body and soul to me, continually have me on your back, have to attend my monthly sales meetings where there will be cake, be a part of my team. I am not actively looking to establish my own team at all until I get my sea-legs underneath me – but anyone actually reading this who might genuinely be interested in selling the products, sends off for info –  and doesn’t quote my trader number – will oblige me to hunt them down with a large bowie knife and a exceedingly murderous look in my eye. I get my £25 registration fee halved next year if I sponsor anyone, and I’d really rather it didn’t have to be my mother!

And lastly: in case you’re sitting there feeling all awkward and uneasy and soiled, and thinking that buying cards from a random internet stranger is the last thing you want to do, ever, and you want to say something about something to break the tension but don’t quite know how to slide gracefully off-topic without, you know, actually saying no in any way, shape or form… here are cutesy photos of John and raspberry-stained Harry (the sweet, innocent, deserving family that I am attempting to ward poverty and incipient starvation away from) teaming up to build the new sandpit and discovering that raspberry canes are self-service yummies

sandpit

sandpit construction

raspberry canes

so perhaps you could say something nice about them instead, if you wanted to?!

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