Tread Softly

My mother-in-law said some very ominous words to me a couple of weeks ago.

‘You’ll have to move down here eventually, you know.’

She’s right; I will. John and I currently live on a hill a few minutes’ climb from the farmyard, in a huge, sun-filled house that we built largely ourselves, with a glorious view and fabulous neighbours. We made any amount of rookie mistakes building it, but it is nevertheless a place to which I am passionately attached, and I feel I will only be removed from here by someone who has just wielded heavy-duty bolt-cutters to good effect: severing me from whatever I have defiantly handcuffed myself to AND slugging me unconscious.

Which is a bit of a bugger, because A) we don’t own the house, B) John’s parents are fast approaching their seventies, and C) I always knew I’d married the job along with the chap. I currently do minimal stock handling and tractor cultivation work, as my in-laws are both still working and I’m not often required. In 10 years time: the dynamic will doubtless be different. I have no actual objection to taking on more agricultural work (although I always seem to be pregnant/trying to be pregnant during lambing time (sheep = toxoplasmosis = Eeep) and John will only install me in a tractor if he’s resigned to the anguish caused by my total lacksadaisicality in re: straight lines) but I’m trying to picture myself as a proper, fully-paid-up, working farmer’s wife, and the Venn diagram of the person and the role has only partial overlap.

John would be delighted if I were to return to work, I should add. Any work at all. I am a leetle choosier about what I undertake – which is a bit rich considering that I am sat spending his money while I survey a completely flattened and empty jobs market – and, again, I have been adopting a longer-term view concerning the type of role I might want to be fulfilling in ten year’s time. I have never done Long Term Thinking before, and I can’t help but think that I’m Doing It Rong.

There is a reason for all this looking and considering and cogitating and mulling, and it centers partly on Harry’s absence at school, but also on our current situation, which is a painful and difficult one.

John, you see, does not wish to continue assisted reproduction. And that is putting it gently. He would rather put his hand in a mincer. He has a son he is delighted with, a son he knows we were lucky to get, and now wants a family life that can go forward unshadowed by the caustic stress of repeated, harrowing and inexplicable pregnancy loss, misery, and financial pressure. He’s unhappy, and at the end of his personal road.

But. I want to continue. I, atavistically, want another child. If there is a way to peacefully roll over and surrender forever to this failure of mine – mine, mine – I simply don’t know what it is, or the path in me I must take to find it. I was not, it seems, made to go gently into that good night. For nearly 8 years, this, in differing forms and degrees, has been my struggle. I accept I am perhaps now, to some extent, characterised by it.

So, that, baldly, is where we both are. And our present, fortified, positions form something of an emotional scoured precipice, as you might imagine. Synthesis, real compromise: almost impossible. Either John, or I, must come to terms with their life taking shape quite differently to how they desperately want it to, and the potential for ugliness in word and deed has been strolling frighteningly close.

What can each of us bear? Both to suffer, and to forgo?

There is… dialogue. Counselling. Tomorrow: a short holiday, albeit with a cold-ridden, feverish, barking, just-been-calpol-ed-and-soothed-back-to-fitful-doze (AND generally-going-through-a-tough-developmental-temper-patch) child. And cake, of course. There is always cake.

The city’s manic, but my Love is sane.
He likes the hustle – doesn’t want to move.
My Love’s not only urban, but urbane.

I’d leave tomorrow – gladly pack it in,
but he prefers the lamplight to the stars.
We lie in bed marooned inside the din.

He has to stay in reach of Waterloo.
He has to travel in the outside lane.
I tell him that I’ve grown to like it too.
That’s love. You stack the loss against the gain.

Connie Bensley


44 Responses

  1. There is always cake. That seems the wisdom of the moment.

  2. And I get the ‘tread softly’ reference, by the way.

  3. Good luck – I know how difficult it is to readjust your life expectations for someone else’s, and that’s what one of you is going to have to do. And trying to do it without harboring resentment requires a lot of work. But, clear, honest, open communication is a good start. Guess what my husband seems to be allergic to? I hardly even blame him anymore – he inherited it from his mother. I call it equivocating and obfuscating. They seem to think they’re being tactful. But I’m not bitter or anything.

  4. Oh dear, it’s a difficult one. Mr Spouse was similar to J in that he does not want to see me suffer loss after loss – he was afraid, frankly, of what I might do. He said at one point that he would be happier to see us try pregnancy again after the arrival of Baby Spouse via adoption, because he knows I’d be positive for the baby, even if I felt like crawling under the duvet permanently for myself.

    • True. Of course, part of the difficulty inherent in miscarriage is all the bloody hospital admissions and bed rest when one is supposed to be parenting. My mother, who usually picks up our slack like a hero, was on holiday a good bit last miscarriage, and Harry got lumped with John, much to the detriment of John’s actual, you know, work.

  5. I think this post would echo with so many of us. Bhaji Nightshift was my I-can’t-not-keep-trying babe. I hope you get yours and the fireworks settle.



  6. In so many ways it was easier for me to be told by many wise physicians that I Must Not Carry Another Child. Otherwis we would be in exactly the same place. Hugs, my dear. And please ignore the missing e on otherwise that I am too lazy to fix while typing one-fingeredly on my iPad that doesn’t let me move the cursor in your comment form.

  7. Oh lovely, what a tough place to be. There are no perfect answers, only things one resigns oneself to. Hardest thing for me would be ceasing of hope, letting go of that future family. Did John wish for/dream of his future family? What did it look like? Was it different from what you’ve got? How did he let go of it if so?

    • John’s attitude is characteristically singular. He is not opposed to more children, quite the reverse. It is our Centre for Repro Medicine that he has conceived, no pun intended, a marked antipathy for. He feels that they have charged us very many thousands of pounds for a total of zero live children (H was, of course, organic), ergo: we have done nothing there except suffer emotional, physical and financial loss and fuck their stats up. Touchingly, he still has faith in my ageing ovaries and wants to pursue natural conception. If that doesn’t happen for us before my menopause, then he is content to chalk it up to Fate, and think that it Wasn’t Meant To Be.

      (Whereas: there is no limit to the extent that *I* am prepared to ram Fate right up its own arse. Not a natural Que-Sera-Sera-type, me.)

      He acknowledges the cognitive dissonance inherent in his viewpoint: it is the miscarriages that have caused me pain, rendered our money lost, landed me in hospital a long way from home, taken me off my feet for weeks on end, and caused immense family and business disruption – not the actual cycles themselves.

      I have, finally, come to understand his position, but I cannot align myself with it. I feel CRM have generated some perfectly viable pregnancies for us: the fact that I have miscarried them is our (and their) misfortune. And casting our future maybe-child into the hands of Fate is too close to predeterminism for me, and I can’t entertain it. Do, or do not. There is no try!

  8. Oh honey. It’s so hard, isn’t it? When you and your partner want different things, and neither is unreasonable. I imagine it’s pretty easy to empathise with each other – after all a life without reproductive loss and heartbreak is… tempting. On the other hand, that ache for children is something that cannot be denied.

    I think everyone has their particular longevity when it comes to fertility treatment, and it’s tough when you don’t agree. Who backs down? Who compromises? Because it cannot be both ways. Who risks holding a little bit of resentment against the other?

    I wonder if there is an element of not wanting to see you suffer, as well, like Katie says.

    I can’t advise on what you should do, obviously, but when you say counselling, is it just you, or the pair of you, together? Would that help, do you think, if you both went?

    And something that helped me, a little, was taking a break from this TTC-lark. It was only a few months, but it helped to remind me that there were other things in the world, and I felt a little bit more balanced inside my head. Plus it meant I didn’t have to have sex with the husband when we were arguing and wanted to strangle him. We could just do it for fun… something we’d forgotten about, mostly. Definitely aided marital harmony.

    Cake, my dear, we’ll do cake very soon, and I’m yours for as long as you want to talk for. Many many hugs from me and the hound.

  9. I so understand about stacking the loss against the pain. I have one child and it took me a long time to come to terms that she wouldn’t have any siblings. I wrote a post called An Only Child which is on my blog if you’re interested, but everyone’s circumstances are different. Maybe you and John could agree on one more try, letting you put things in God’s hands (the universe, grace, whatever you believe in) and accepting the outcome of that.
    If my final IVF hadn’t worked the next stage was thinking about adoption. I don’t know if I would have considered this or not as it didn’t come to that. I’m sure you’ve thought about it.

    • John’s issue with adoption – and to a limited extent, mine also – is the feelings of a non-biological child knowing that we also have a biological child. John is a twin, and understands more than I can (une fille unique, naturally!) about how competition for parental affection works. Or how it worked for him, anyway. He is not worried about his or Harry’s feelings towards the adopted child, but about the adopted child’s feelings towards Harry and, by extension, us; he thinks that the adopted child might feel in some way inferior.

      And… I have an abiding fear that I would simply not love the adopted child as much. There, I’ve said it. I would WANT to. I would MEAN to. I would TRY to. I’m just… not sure I would. If I could look in my crystal ball and see that our fears weren’t justified, we would be galloping towards an adoption agency Tout absolutely Suite.

  10. I meant to write – Good luck in whatever path you take. Sorry, I pressed ‘posr comment’ too soon by mistake.

  11. oh pooh. That is a tough one. I am lucky. He didn’t want more children. I said ok, after much soul searching and anguish. Then, just as the step was about to become irrevocable he changed his mind, after much soul searching and anguish. Sadly I doubt it happens that way very often. I wish for you that you both reach a place of peace and acceptance with whatever you choose. And cake. I have a lot at the moment. If you weren’t on holiday I would zoom over with it

  12. cake. cake is the only help i can think of.

    besides pie, obviously, and ice cream.


  13. Oh. Very hard. We are having a very similar “discussion” over here. The stakes are much lower because infertility is not at at issue, thus we are not considering issues of life, death, serious illness, or enormous quantities of money; and it still sucks and has been the most difficult issue we have confronted as a couple. In your case, really, you both want the same thing, you just (just!) have different ideas about the risks and costs you are willing to sink into it. Which I think is much more painful; that loss of control or choice.

    The job issue is not a small one either, even on its own. For me, too, it is tangled up with reproductive questions, and time, and money, and whether we can even afford another child. But aside from all that, I feel as if I’m at an age where I don’t get to mess around any more. If I want to do well and enjoy my work, I need to focus on one thing, and maybe take some risks and put in some more time to explore unexplored options. Not that I am rich in time, and that’s without any infants around. But career is not an easy decision to make either, even without all the surrounding pressures.

    I wish you both all the very best in arriving at place of peace, some kind of certainty, and no lingering hard feelings. I also wish you freedom from that feeling of personal failure someday. xoxo.

    • Oh, my lovey, you’ve definitely hit on all the keywords & phrases here. Risks, costs, loss of control, choice, hard feelings… feeling of personal failure.

      You could stand in Piccadilly Circus for hours and throw rocks without hitting anyone as stupidly competitive as either J or I. Failure sits badly on the pair of us, but, with this particular topic, spectacularly badly indeed on me alone.

      I am trying to separate out the emotional strands here, because this’d be helluva lot to go through simply because I’m mindlessly battling onwards and don’t know when to lie down and surrender.

  14. Re: MIL – they’re in their SEVENTIES and they want to move UP the hill? Umm… OK? And the two of them need four bedrooms for why? (Unhelpful internet pop-corn eater is unhelpful. Feel free to slap me and glare).

    As for the rest of it, oh, bugger. Bugger it to haemorrhoidal bits.

    The person saying ‘no shan’t won’t can’t’ in these situations alas alas has the veto AND the whip hand. Does he realise he has the veto and the whip hand (biology is one mean motherfucker like that)?

    Also, I am very interested in Thalia’s point – “Did John wish for/dream of his future family? What did it look like? Was it different from what you’ve got? How did he let go of it if so?” It’s very understandable that he’d not want any more pain/hospitals/sorrow/misery/grief/depression. Is it fear of that alone that’s motivating him to give up and move on, or was he always going to be content with one child?

    In our case, H is not prepared to give up yet. He HATES how much suffering it’s all causing, for both of us, but right now he hates being childless more. I can see, though, that if we had a kid he’d want to, well, pretty much sew me into my vest-and-knickers and never approach me again if that’s what it would take to guarantee NO MORE OF THIS SHIT. And he did want two or more kids to start with, many moons ago, back when we were naive and thought clomid was the answer.

    Which isn’t helpful either.

    As for being the Farmer’s Wife for the rest of your natural, regardless of whether you have another miracle wonder child or not, is that what you want? What YOU want? What do you want? (apart from the miracle wonder child – oh, Ann, how I hug you. I hug you muchly). Is there something you’d rather do? Then, my dear girl, for the love of God, DO IT. Being stuck in a boring job that does not fulfill you as a human being and all-around-cool-kick-ass, whether you’re stuck in it for the money or for the family obligations or both, is disgustingly like being infertile. Endless days of grim endurance with no sunshine in sight and no idea how or when you’ll ever be free of the dreariness of it all. Guilt at hating it all and wanting to stop, misery at being unable to stop, feeling isolated and freakish and left out, ugh. Important as an income is, not wanting to stab yourself in the eye with a spoon because a trip to A&E sounds more pleasant than your morning commute, is more important.

    And have I hugged you? I hug you. I wish I was any good at cake. Would chocolate mousse be OK? I can do that.

    • I dunno if they actively want to move UP the hill. Not a logical retirement destination, for sure! FIL is more crocked than usual currently, and I do hope, both for him & for me, that this isn’t a downward mobility trend for him.

      I have been trying to think about the last occasion that someone had the whip hand of me, and Buggered if I can remember. I have an awful tendency to simply mow people beneath my chariot wheels. My chariot has historically had to veer around John a little on the (thankfully few)topics where his interests and mine collide, because we otherwise sit like a pair of facing juggernauts on a single-track road.

      Do I like the position I am in? Oh, hell, no. Will John use his veto? Ummm. No. I am still being paid out rope with which to hang myself, so to speak. Does he hate doing it? Yes, he does. Is he despondent, and thinking we’re throwing good money after bad miscarriages? Ahh… yes.

      I am all about avoiding the spoon=eye presently, and am focussing on a few of the areas that I am cross with myself for neglecting. Languages, music, arts. And if a nice little part-time Something should come along that I didn’t mind too much… it’d be rather nice, you know?

      I can always be consoled with a well-timed Choco Leibniz. No baking required! :@)

  15. May has said all the sorts of things I want to say in a better way than I could. I can however make a mean baked cheesecake to offer into the pile of cakes of solace.

    For us this dilemma ended up with him taking the view that the desperateness of me was worse than the trials and tribulations of conception and loss and he was prepared to keep going to make me less miserable. I have used up all my credits now that we have a sufficiency of children even though secretly I harbour thoughts of keeping on indefinitely. Not that my story is much help. I’ll stick with the cake. x

  16. Oh, that’s such a hard dilemma. And, as you note, one where there’s not much room for compromise. It’s difficult to “sometimes” do fertilty treatments or to have half a child or any of the other forms that compromise can take.
    As May mentions above, the person saying no tends to have veto power. So if John continues to feel the way he does now, I wonder if finding something fulfilling in terms of job/career stuff might be a good use for the time and energy that you’d like to be lavishing on another child. You know kind of a lot about fertility treatments/IVF/etc. You’re awfully good at it (albeit not with the outcome you desperately want. which utterly and completely sucks). But I suspect there are many other things that you are also good at. If you are having to come to terms with a family that’s not the size/shape you had imagined, is it possible that some sort of job/career/Purpose In Life might help that be less painful? Not unpainful, since it would be so hard to be the one making a huge concession. But maybe a little less painful?

    • There will certainly be a void to fill, whenever I am finished. If I could stay at home and write, play music, paint, and craft myself into a glue-saturated crust, I’d be a happy girl, but I feel that may not be practicable. It’s a bugger, earning a living. All the things I am good at tend not to translate into money!

  17. Tough, very tough.

    Hope the counselling throws up positives that you never anticipated.

  18. I read this post a few days ago on the tram, and it’s been resounding in my head since. OH IT’S TOO HARD. To live daily with that difference of heart between you and your spouse, and not second-guess and not throw yourself on your sword, and keep it all together, and still make sandwiches and take out bins, and be a functioning adult, takes some powerful mental high-wire balancing.

    I am thinking of you, doing yours as I do mine, and wishing you so well.

  19. Dear Hairy One’s Wife,
    Resist those hormonal urges and settle to enjoy that dear son of yours. In the long run the nett happiness quotient will reach an acceptable level. The Hairy One is obviously looking to the future and picturing a whole pile of shit on his plate and I think he’s being pretty realistic. Biologically he’d love to have little chromosome-carriers running all over the show, but practically & emotionally I think he knows what he can stand.
    You haven’t got a fatal medical condition that dictates you must be pregnant or you are actually going to die. So go against your urges for the longterm good- unless you have another, very different male partner in the wings ready to take you on as a package – no son, no property, no abiding interests that must be satisfied, except the “mummying” one.
    This is just my opinion. I’ve got a really fancy set of Mullerian anomalies and almost heaved a sigh of relief when told I would need multiple surgical procedures before I could think of giving birth to my own children. I just thought “Adoption” if the right combination of partner, job and emotional readiness all happened at the same time. They didn’t and now I am enjoying my friends’ grand children. I have absolutely no regrets, although some women have offered their condolences for my “loss” of the experiences surrounding child-bearing. I’m still me, my partner is still himself and life goes on.
    Good luck with whatever you decide.

    • Hmm. Radio Hairy is detecting Censorious loud and clear. Which is entirely acceptable – although the phrase ‘little chromosome-carriers’ is a tiny wee tad pejorative, no? – because 1) I’m in no way sure I have the emotional high ground; more precisely, I don’t think it exists, 2) s’a free country, and 3) I have this entirely reprehensible tendency to characterise all my critics as arseholes anyway. So we’re good.

      But to specifics: I feel I may be guilty of painting an overly-dramatic picture. It’s a failing of mine. There were, early in January, scenes of a distinctly unhappy nature dealing with this one topic in isolation, which were, as all things eventually must be, resolved by dialogue. The nett HFF happiness quotient remained entirely acceptable overall: apple carts all still standing, etc.

      My urge to parent (I prefer the term ‘parent’ to ‘mummying’ for, oh, all sorts of reasons) is complex, and does not begin and end in hormones. I would simply seek medical suppression if it did. John would also dearly love to parent again: his despondency focuses primarily on the regimentation and medicalisation that surrounds a clinic-assisted pregnancy attempt; it pushes the prospect of my probable ensuing miscarriage (the ‘whole pile of shit’ I assume you refer to; I agree completely with your verdict even if I can’t quite endorse your tone) from Just About Bearable over the red line into Expensive Insult Added To Injury.

      You do not paint me in an awfully flattering light. Ah, alas and alack, you may be right. I considered experiencing chagrin, but decided to console myself by musing upon the possibility that John, too, might be grooming a different partner in the wings; one better aligned with his chosen reproductive direction. She would be a woman I shall be delighted to call friend! Happy to ‘mummy’ his live-at-home baggage (for I see I have lost custody of my son by this putative point), as well as being resigned to his (regrettably thoroughly) punitive divorce settlement (as you correctly divine: I will be in acute need of somewhere to live!). I leave trepidatiously quiet the little matter of His Mother.

      Actually, you know, I think we’ll end up muddling through it together. We usually do. That which does not kill us, etc.

      I would love, like you, to have no regrets. Whatever happens now: that cannot be true for John and I. Fear, hope and loss can profoundly alter a person, and so we are unlikely to be kindred souls on this topic. Nevertheless I thank you for your perspective.

      • Wow… You were more polite than I might have been!

      • I feel that you divined my somewhat tongue-in-cheek admonishments a little more seriously than intended at first! Sorry if I made you prickle! I was trying to contrast my [truly] laissez-faire attitude as an example of a possibility, in contrast to the very sympathetic & “on your side” other commenters! You obviously have a well-worked out strategy that keeps your marriage together & whatever happens, I think you’ll weather it together, no wuckins!

  20. Dear Hairy Farmer – I feel for you and John in your existential dilemma – and how awful to have to deal with the added spice of a passive aggressive MIL at the same time. I would so much rather deal with a woman bellowing the credit of her son to a church congregation while blatantly omitting your central contribution to the Hairy Hay Bales than having one whispering threats designed to undermine your sense of security in your right to your hearth. And would she propose that the HHFs live in HER house instead?

    I don’t claim to walk in your shoes, but I do vividly recall what it was like to yearn for another child after my second was born after a pregnancy fraught with complications for me but mercifully, not so many for our son. Maybe some bodies and beings were designed to crave pregnancy and mothering more than others. Even though my health and the health of the baby would likely be at an unacceptable risk during another pregnancy, sometimes I feel like I could write a meditation on “the Octomom was not wrong!” I loved the feel of being pregnant, and then there is the joy of having our precious children. I wonder if this feeling of wanting another will be with me always. I admit I fear what another round of IVF might do to you physically, and the world still needs you to be a mum and a wife. Would a gestational carrier ever be an option for your family, or is every form of procreation or child rearing off the table now? I apologize if my suggestion is offensive to you. I hope you and John walk a kind path together through this difficult terrain.

    • Apparently, my MIL was ‘flustered’ in the church! ;@) And, yes, we would have to move into their house. Not sure where they would live. Agriculture is full of housing issues of this type; the chaps don’t see the problem (What? It’s just a house!) usually because they were brought up in the building to begin with, and the women end up angst-ridden. Difficult waters to navigate.

      I have a fair amount of sympathy for Octo-lady types, particularly as I don’t know what I would do in the same situation. Resent my appearance on prime-time TV, I imagine!

      It’s not an offensive suggestion at all! I’m not sure I’ve ever written this here before, but I dislike pregnancy quite intensely. The prospect of enduring it again weighs heavy on me. I was enormously physically uncomfortable from an early stage, and didn’t enjoy the sensation of Harry’s movements at all, although they were reassuring. Were it not for the experience of birth (which involved a trapped nerve for a couple of minutes at the end, and thus, with my usual reproductive luck, was insanely, unbelievably painful) which was very profound, and being able to breastfeed as a result, I would cheerfully consign pregnancy to my personal room 101. If there was ever a good candidate for pregnancy via a gestational carrier: oh God, it’s me.

      But it doesn’t feel like the right thing to do. It is illegal in the UK to advertise for, or to be, a surrogate; like adoption, you should have finished your own conception attempts before moving onto surrogacy; there is usually a very long wait involved, with no guarantee of ever finding a match; the usual expenses, risks and downfalls of IVF; and although it is illegal for the surrogate mother to profit beyond payment of reasonable costs incurred, it is still extremely expensive – circa £15,000 for an IVF surrogacy to take place. I am a pronounced control freak, and I just couldn’t take the associated worry. If it was in order to acquire a first and only child: I think I might have come to seriously consider it as the next-best option, but to acquire a second child – no. The stakes are lower for us this time.

      Thank you for your kind wishes. :@)

      • Always keen to delay getting on with any proper, useful work, I have just had a look at Surrogacy UK’s website and refreshed my knowledge of UK surrogacy law. I discovered that parents-via-surrogacy are not legally entitled to State maternity/paternity/adoption leave. The HELL? WTalmightyblitheringFUCK? Total injustice.

      • The sense of that sucks more than normal. *recasts* It is illegal to advertise your services as a gestational surrogate, or your need for a surrogate.

        • I wish you well in your family planning. And I am with you about the lack of control a surrogacy situation would bring. In my household I feel that having a second child was a bit of a balm for child-focused OCD because I could no longer focus all of my energies on the first! That is good and bad, I guess — neither one of them may have birthday parties as fabulous as Harry’s! The surrogacy policy situation definitely sucks. I know there have been terrible baby-selling/human trafficking ventures all over Eastern Europe, particularly in Hungary, and no one wants that. There should be a better way for well-minded people to connect, though.

          • That’s one of the many reasons I would like another: I feel that the undiluted burden of my parental expectations may fall lonesomely on Harry’s shoulders in time to come. I will try, naturally, not to let my maternal eggs rest too heavily in his single basket, but the fact remains that GOD, KID, YOU NEED TO ACHIEVE, DAMNIT! Youu are my ONE SHOT at a vicarous Nobel prize!

  21. Dear HFF, I’ve been thinking about this post since you wrote it. It’s been open in my browser, waiting for me to know what to say. But maybe all I can say is that I’m thinking of you both. Because hands and mincers in one sentence, brrrr. My DP never wants me to use the Magimix 2000 because he is convinced the thing can chop our bones. (I only use it to annihilate carrots for cake)
    I’m so very grateful we managed to emerge from the more-ART-question together. Hoping that time and miracles will be on your side. OK, money and jobs as well (because indeed it makes disaster more bearable that way)
    Now off to baking a zucchini-cake. Walnuts are roasting already.

  22. I have been absent without leave here as well because I found this post so hard to read and even harder to respond to. I do understand the differences between the individuals in a relationship on the very vexed issue of Children, The Having Of, since Life Partner and I were on very different pages about the size of the family we wanted and that which we could afford. But I have absolutely zero experience of infertility and even though it was very late in day when we had that discussion at the end of pregnancy #3, I have very clear memories of my disappointment and longing. And, even now, still do.

    So with all those complications and caveats and miscarriages and costs you’ve endured, I can only admire you both for your courage in continuing as long as you have. And that you can talk about it, even though your positions are diametrically opposed.

    It might sound trite and you are perfectly welcome to smack me for it but it is the hard stuff, always the hard stuff that makes you grow. You recognise that it has changed you and defines you and that is its gift. It’s one you don’t need or want at the moment but I can promise that one day in the far distant future you WILL look back in astonishment and gratitude when you come to realise its value to your life. If I am still hanging about then I will personally come and make my Queen’s Cake for you, in celebration.

    Hugs and much love to you, J and the subversive H. xx

    PS. I’m a long, long way away and only running a tiny transistor battery but the earlier Judgement Signal came through loud and clear. You are superstar of Assertive but Brooks No Crap and I love you for it.

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