Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Well, that's a dampener

If it wasn't enough that my mother is staying (and demanding to be taken to the mall every day, after having said she "didn't really want to do much while she was here". When I said "it is cold here, you will need warm clothes" you'd think she was 10 and decided a short nightdress and one sweater and cotton socks were enough), I was told on Monday three times that I was not allowed to have any sex before having my HSG next Tuesday, which will be day 11. One of the nurses said "even with a condom" though the others said condoms were OK. And I have to go in and have one of their pregnancy tests on Monday, although I was sorely tempted to ask them why mine weren't good enough.

What do they think, that I'm going to magically ovulate on day 9 and Mr Spouse's swimmers are going to magically burst through protection?

To be fair, I know some people think they have had their period and in fact they are pregnant; and I also know some people have shorter cycles than me with much earlier ovulation. But are they thinking that the dye or X-rays would make the swimmers all funky and cause a miscarriage?? Bizarre.

In other news, this will be the first year during which I didn't know I was pregnant at some point, since 2003; as that was the last year in which (barring accidents) I couldn't really have been pregnant, this is a bit depressing. It is still possible (unless of course the clinic lock me in a chastity belt for the rest of the month, too) that I'll be technically pregnant for a few days of 2008.

Monday, December 29, 2008

"En la tierra paz entre los hombres"

A bizarre, but very good, Christmas. Highlights:

gorgeous weather, just hot enough to be lovely but not so hot we were uncomfortable. The locals were of course wearing winter coats and the children wooly hats to the:

Noche Buena mass, which was a great experience - the church in the little town we were staying in was rustic and whitewashed, rather than ornate and dark as some Catholic churches are. The music was actually pleasant and well-sung, at least by the 10% of the congregation who were singing (a slightly more typical Catholic feature in my experience), apart from the Spanish version of The Little Drummer Boy, which we could have done without.

Christmas dinner on a boat after a couple of cocktails watching the sunset.

My shiny new (red) iPod nano, fully loaded by the lovely Mr Spouse.

Riding a large and friendly horse along a beach by the Pacific.

Seeing two humpback whales

Lots and lots of Mexican food, including weird goat-flavoured caramels.

Lowlights of course also intervened including:

Being tossed off a different horse (fortunately onto some very soft sand and not into a cactus).

Eating far too much Mexican food (though we reckon probably less than a normal Christmas as there were not the usual piles of leftovers at home, but we still have loads of cookies etc.).

Unsurprising negative test on the 25th which actually did not upset me and neither did

My period starting only 2 days after stopping the progesterone suppositories instead of three like last time - why do I expect consistency? - so not having enough supplies with me. Not quite sure why Mexican sanitary products are made "with camomile", but they are.

A couple of somewhat painful, er, intimate experiences while I was still using said suppositories. Now I'm hoping this is something I can get some advice on from my lovely readers. What can I do about this? I have read it is better in the evening (so 12-14 hours after putting one in rather than just 8) but both for personal timetabling reasons (I go to bed earlier) and physiological reasons (well, you can work it out) evenings are not our best time. We get a couple of days, it seems, before my period starts, but perhaps this is nature's way of making us both desperate starting from around CD5.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

You do the math(s)

CD1 of this cycle was Thanksgiving (i.e. a Thursday). I'm under instructions to use my progesterone from day 17 for 12 days i.e. till day 12 and then do a test on day 29. Which is... yes, you've guessed it.

Just as well I am fairly sanguine about negative tests.

In other news, although my blood sugar was high when it was tested, as my insulin and thingy-1c (long term blood sugar wotsit) were slap bang in the middle of Fine, the doctor thought it was a blip. Mr Spouse's observation that it was awfully late to be eating cake, the night before, leads me to believe she was right.

The HSG is not too pricey so I'll be ringing them up when we get back from our hols (nice warm part of Mexico, thankyouverymuch, we are pretty cold here and actually beginning to feel like Christmas, so we are looking forward to a bit of warmth). They sound like they book it pretty precisely early enough in the cycle to mean we may not miss a cycle too. We'll see what they say but I doubt I'll be having surgery while I'm here as I have a nasty feeling that is very much not covered.

Monday, December 22, 2008

When the going gets tough...

The tough get cooking.

I had a followup appointment with the RE on Thursday. I'm still slightly puzzled as to why no-one has looked at my lining before - is it not standard in the UK, is it just good fortune that both my previous appointment and this one were about day 21, did my clinic in the UK see my pre-period but also post-miscarriage (and therefore post-pregnancy, albeit only a 5 week pregnancy) uterus and think "ah, juicy", or was it actually OK when I had my uterine biopsy/doppler study when I was being potentially entered for the NK cell trial?

It actually occurs to me that I can email and ask whether a thickness was noted at that time, since the nice specialist's nice secretary said I could ask any further questions...

Anyway, it improved a little this month but not enough (5.7 - I think it was 4.9 last month). Apparently estrogen is used with women doing IVF who have this problem but as it may prevent ovulation, we don't want that. I hadn't found anything on the little blue pills in suppository form to show the RE but now I have so will perhaps take that along to my next appointment. As well as seeming quite thin, there appears to be a gap in the lining. She described is as "a dimple" which sounds so cute. But apparently it could be a septum - though she didn't think it would be too big.

So I'm supposed to have an HSG early next cycle. Thing is, this isn't covered on our plan (or at least, not unless we stick to the expensive plan we're on now, which is going up $300, so we were going to switch to the next one down, which is $200 less than we are paying now). I keep telling myself I only have to do this ridiculous coverage dance for another 4 months, but if this is not too pricey, I'd rather get the HSG done now and then if I need surgery I can set the wheels in motion when I get home. So I'm calling tomorrow to find out the price.

I felt OK about this on Thursday but with a combination of things I felt very weepy today - recurrent miscarrier friend delivered her second baby (anti-coagulation having enabled her to stay pregnant, which makes me feel even worse if they can't make my problem better, why can't I have a fixable problem?); two other people at the party we were at last night were pregnant; so is a lady in knitting group who insisted on discussing C-sections with one of the other ladies (I got back at them made everyone depressed by telling them about my friend who died last year - she was a twin but this was pre-scans but her mother was fully aware "unless it's one baby with two heads"**); and we had the Annunciation as the Gospel today.

Anyway, I have just made pomegranate pie and roasted pumpkin for pumpkin risotto - and Mr Spouse took me on a walk along the beach and we discussed our fostering plans.

I have been thinking about it and I actually think that even if one of my previous pregnancies had worked, it seems so unlikely that we'd have managed a second (or that we would do so now) that I think I'd have been talking about this when our child reached the age of 5 or so, anyway. I have been feeling a bit stuck over adoption - why wait and do fostering when we could forge ahead with adoption - but as he has pointed out, we'll be approved as foster carers pretty quickly but adoption could take ages, and it will be good experience, and even if we just have a couple of placements and only do it for 6 months, it will look less like we can't make our minds up.

**This is one of the funnier pregnancy stories I know, or at least it was until last year. So I tend to reel it out when the conversation turns to labour. In this case, it was particularly appropriate since one of the other girls there was also a pre-scan-era twin and her mother didn't know she was having twins. My friend's mother's midwife thought it would be a nasty shock to find out there were two in there but my friend's mother was well aware of the two heads and told the midwife so.

However, I can't say "I have a friend who..." any more because this is the friend who died 18 months ago and as I still think of her as my friend, I keep forgetting this and launching into the story.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Names

Bernardeena just posted about being annoyed with her brother for choosing a name as an option for his baby, that she and her husband had named the baby they lost. I was reminded the other day that Mr. Spouse and I had discussed names for our first baby - we have not dared to do it since - but he says he has no recollection of the conversation.

I don't feel strongly enough that the names we discussed (and yes, we DID)
belong to that child to not use them for another child (if, of course, we have a child that we can name - though I think we'll be giving middle names to any child not too old to object). My brother's first name is an unusual, and I think, nice name and he is the 13th in line* and has two daughters. Our uncle has two young sons but neither of them have that name, and there are no other boys with our surname; one of the cousins has Cystic Fibrosis and so there is a faint possibility the other boy will have a son and use the family name, or a slightly more imminent possibility that I will have a son and use that name plus the family name as a middle name. I can't see Mr. Spouse having any say on that, frankly.

The other boy's name (probably the one we would have used day to day) is a nice, old-fashioned name that happens to be a common name for kings of England and we have a friend who is obsessed with one of those kings. Mr Spouse says I've been listening to her too much. But it also happens to be a family name for both our families.

I was relieved that my brother did not decide to name his second girl entirely after our mother - she has our mother's middle name as her first name - I wanted our mother's first name for a girl.

I can't believe I have this all planned out, but honestly, I was not the child who planned her wedding down to the shoes - I have always known roughly what I wanted to call my children.

I know some of you have later pregnancy losses but I'm just wondering if I am the only person who is willing to recycle names? I'm assuming I'm not alone in resisting discussing names following a previous loss, though.





*Yes, you read that right.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Repeat after me

Your Persona is not a fertility meter.

Some months my Persona gives me a nice cutesy egg symbol, and then about 3 more days of "if you want to be really careful, avoid sex today". I check the sticks as they are straightforward LH (and comparison with oestrogen I think) sticks and they show a darker LH line. Other months, I get two lines of equal darkitude but it doesn't give me the dinky symbol, and usually has days and days of "get off him, you slag".

When I was told by the RE last month to use my progesterone suppositories from day 17 I asked whether I should use OPKs and she said it wasn't really worth it - if I get the peak on day 15 almost every month in living history, I should be fine, and they work out pricey (she's obviously not looked on Ebay). And I got a pretty-dark line on day 15 and a lighter one on day 16.

But now I am panicking that either I wasn't about to ovulate this month (which would be the first time EVER) or that it was set to be a bit late and the progesterone is stopping it. Also, I got loads of cramps when I started them last month on day 23, I think, but nothing so far this month, and my F-cups aren't sore either. I know I never get pre-menstrual cramps before at least day 21, and some months the soreness is later too, but I am overthinking it as usual. And after I pounced on Mr Spouse all those times, too.

Please talk me down.

Monday, December 08, 2008

What, exactly, constitutes giving a present?

If I suggest a Christmas present for Mr. Spouse to my mother and she says "oh, can't you just get it and I'll pay you back?", does that constitute her giving him a present?

Somehow, I don't think so. Since I probably have more money than her, but less time, if I'm going to think of it, and organise ordering it I may as well just pay. I already have several things for him, and we are trying not to go all out this year (one big present each plus a few little things).

Incidentally we went to a craft fair on Saturday and I was buying something for a friend when I turned round and spotted him putting a bag in his pocket surreptitiously. It was very sweet. He was a bit annoyed, though, as I know which stall it was from so have an idea of what it was. But I don't mind. I didn't see it, and I get to be reminded of how sweet he is twice.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Coming a little early...

We have your regularly scheduled Christmas meltdown.

I suspect it was a combination of a slightly, er, frustrating and, er, incomplete "session" that morning, which is extremely unusual for Mr. Spouse - we suspect the blood pressure tablets the doctor thinks he needs despite having never measured even mildly hypertensive before - a very ambiguous email exchange and some ill-advised forum reading re. adoption, and the prospect of singing round the Christmas holiday* tree at our local festival, swarming with kids.

One hopes we have that out of the way for the year, but chances are slim, especially as there is a Christmas pageant scheduled for church next weekend. That would be the church that is doing full on Advent at the moment, not Christmas. Oh well.

Interestingly one of the ill-advised adoption message boards has a lot of parents with children who, either because of prior awful Christmases (presents taken away as punishment, or sold) or hopes dashed recently (birth parents whose lives are not together enough to contact them or buy presents, or who buy unsuitable ones), or because of special needs (too much unpredictability, too many bright lights, too many people), really don't do well in the "run-up to Christmas". Melt-downs, tantrums, and occasional tactical withdrawals from school, events, and parties seem common.

Although I love Christmas, I really appreciate the space that Advent gives me to prepare not just presents and cards, but myself. We don't put up decorations (we have an Advent wreath, and we put out any cards we get) and I tend not to listen to carols (at least not voluntarily). If I'm in a carol concert I try to be in one that is very close to Christmas, and then decorate after that, or bring in the tree and have it bare till Christmas Eve. Mr. Spouse also doesn't particularly go overboard at Christmas, though he is from a working-class and non-conformist background and apparently this means he can put up his tacky Christmas tree on the 1st of December.

I guess we'll be reasonably well-placed to handle children who also don't do well around Christmas, and fuss; we would love to have children around at Christmas but that doesn't mean we have to do loads of extra stuff "for the children".


*I have no objection to wishing people happy holidays, happy Hanukkah, happy New Year instead, or as well, as happy Christmas (note - Merry is what you get after a few glasses, not what Christmas is necessarily. Though it can be) - but it really isn't a tree of another kind. It really is a Christmas tree. And it shouldn't be decorated until Christmas Eve. Bah humbug.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Birthday

It was my older niece's birthday on Thursday. She is 5. She is finally going to school most of the time (they start obscenely young where she lives - the younger one, 2.5, is also going several days a week to a large classroom style place. I think it is like in Belgium where belgianwaffle reported she was told off for not sending hers full time at an equivalent age).

We chatted on line (and my determination not to use web-chat was fully justified - appalling sound AND video - couldn't even tell which niece I was talking to half the time). But my mum then sent some really cute pictures, in little kilts, and the big one is SO BIG and the little one is also growing madly. I miss them - I hardly ever see them, and my brother is so dogmatic about everything too, so it's hard to have a conversation with any of the family when he is there.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Venice


This is a cheat as I was obviously blogged-out yesterday and forgot my final post of the month. Let me off, will you? Anyway this is where we spent our post-wedding honeymoon (we had another holiday later that year, too, because we are a dual income infertile couple and can take lots of holidays) and yes, it is not that sunny, why do you ask? Do you think perhaps I should have known to take a suitcase full of warm sweaters and boots, in May?

I think it will be better perhaps if I get back to my regular intermittent posting as I definitely have fewer comments per post this month, and possibly even fewer comments overall. More posting does not mean more comments, clearly.

Well, it's doing something...

The progesterone suppositories definitely caused a few crampings/stretchings while I was using them, and as instructed I did a pregnancy test on day 28 and then stopped taking them. Following which my period was three, count them, three days late. Or possibly 2 if I ovulated late. Completely unheard of. And now, slightly less crampy but oddly heavier than normal. Heavier I don't mind if it's less crampy.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey





Ok, this is more than a slight cheat, it's a huge cheat, but I couldn't resist this one for today. I have not been to Turkey. My parents went there on their honeymoon, but I wasn't born till 2 years later. So I may have been "thought of" but I didn't exist yet in any physical sense.

My parents didn't just go to Turkey, they drove to Turkey. From England. In a VW beetle (I think - maybe a small Fiat. Something like that). And they didn't just stay in Turkey. They worked in Turkey. On the Catal Hoyuk excavation, which is very famous. They stayed in a tent. In Turkey. In the summer. I'm surprised they stayed married as long as they did.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I think that's what they call Irony

Just went for a blood glucose test this morning, really just as an "in case" which I thought would be fine, but the OB/GYN was humouring me since I was wondering if Metformin might be helpful even though I don't have PCOS, I have had mildly raised blood sugar in the past.

Although it's not in the "definitely elevated" range it's higher than it should be for fasting (117, which is 6.5 in UK units I think).

No pie for me, then.

Paris - the Marais

I stayed in the Marais on my first romantic trip to Paris, with an ex who seemed nice at the time but turned out to be obsessive and a bit of a druggie (in my defense, I had dumped him long before the latter came to light). But it was very much a penniless, walk around Paris because we can't afford to take the Metro or go in any museums, trip.

Mr. Spouse and I went back for New Year a couple of years ago, and it was nice to reclaim the concept of the Marais. I have to say, I didn't really recognise much of it, either because we didn't do as much walking, or because it's changed, or more probably because we went to a completely different part. I just hope I've actually chosen a Marais image!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bilbao



"Puppy" at the Guggenheim Museum. I have been promising for some time to make my brother a soft sculpture of Puppy.

Another meme

Bold is for done, italics is for “Would like to do.”

1. Started my own blog - Four? Five? Can't remember.
2. Slept under the stars - I'm sure I have but probably when I was about 14 on Guide camp.
3. Played in a band – Does a wind band count?
4. Visited Hawaii - Trying to persuade Mr Spouse to visit for my birthday in February. I have air miles!
5. Watched a meteor shower - In rural Suffolk - magical.
6. Given more than I can afford to charity - I have noticed that as income increases, the proportion of money that I give to income decreases.
7. Been to Disneyland/world - The original, being a California family. My mother thinks Florida and by extension Disneyworld is beyond tacky.
8. Climbed a mountain - By the British definition of mountain, yes.
9. Held a praying mantis - no desire to do this!
10. Sung a solo – Well, probably about 2 notes of 1-in-a-part a capella. I can carry a tune, blend, and both sight read and pick up harmonies by ear very quickly. I can't sing solo, this is not a solo voice.
11. Bungee jumped – why?
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea - I can't remember a specific occasion but when I lived in East Africa I could see the Indian ocean from my balcony and we got a lot of thunderstorms.
14. Taught myself an art from scratch - Does crochet count?
15. Adopted a child - Probably not in 2009 but hopefully we'll be closer.
16. Had food poisoning - One distinct childhood memory is of being given peppermints to suck when my brother and I were really sick.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty - What, you say getting the lift doesn't count?
18. Grown my own vegetables - Mainly fruits in the past, but also herbs and some small lettuce leaves at the moment.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France - A particular pet peeve of mine is museums where they don't stop people from using flash photography. It was so crowded I couldn't even shout (in French, so might not have helped at all) at all the Japanese and Italian tourists who were doing this.
20. Slept on an overnight train - Mombasa-Nairobi, and Paris-Rome most recently.
21. Had a pillow fight - Again, probably on Guide camp
22. Hitchhiked - I was going to say no, but yes! But only in rural Africa where you wait and see which comes first, the bus or another kind soul.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill - Ahem.
24. Built a snow fort - Probably when we lived in the Rockies when I was 8 as I've not lived anywhere else with enough snow.
25. Held a lamb - I don't think so, but a baby chimpanzee!
26. Gone skinny dipping - Too cold!
27. Run a marathon - I'll aim for a 10k although I am running again.
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice - Love Venice, no desire to go in a gondola.
29. Seen a total eclipse - Of the moon, but I don't think that's what they mean.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset - Yesterday - there were a lot of clouds and it was lovely.
31. Hit a home run - No specific desire to do this but would like to be better at ball games (ooh er missus).
32. Been on a cruise - Up the Nile. Or down. Or both.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person - Yes, but I was quite young. My grandmother's family is from Buffalo.
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors - Oh my, which ones? And how close do I have to get? I guess my mother was born in Buffalo (see 33) and my dad in London so that wasn't too hard. Have also been to England, Ireland, Norway, and Germany so that covers all my "ethnicities" and to the UK and US so that covers my parents' nationalities.
35. Seen an Amish community - In two minds on this. I don't really see sightseeing in someone's home as appropriate (I avoid "village tours" when on holiday in developing countries) but am fascinated by the Amish.
36. Taught myself a new language - I don't want to teach myself a language, really, I'd much rather learn it from a teacher and by immersion, though I had an Icelandic penfriend when I was a kid and tried to teach myself Icelandic. As you do.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied – I'm not truly satisfied but it's not for lack of money.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing - I think I want to want to, if you see what I mean! But it scares me.
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David - Wouldn't mind going to Florence.
41. Sung karaoke – To great acclaim at an Oxford ball once - well, we were a hired singing group, we couldn't let the side down! Blue Moon, as I recall - though I can't do it solo (see above!)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance - Broke my shoulder in a bike accident - the ambulance arrived with flashing lights but disappointingly drove quite slowly to A&E.
47. Had my portrait painted - One of those things your parents put you through - I could have told them it was going to look awful and not to bother - I think they must have had a no-purchase option because we never got it.
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person - Almost as bad as the Mona Lisa for photography but the monks are fiercer than the Louvre guards.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkelling
52. Kissed in the rain - Little option in England
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theatre - I don't know about elsewhere but there used to be quite a few in southern Africa. I think we saw Three Men and a Baby in Zimbabwe in about 1990.
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business - well, kind of - I have sold a couple of bags I've made.
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia - one of my ambitions is to ride the Trans-Siberian Railway.
60. Served at a soup kitchen - and had tea thrown in my face - not very hot!
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies – in 3rd grade, my only year of school in the US - I got very worked up about not selling enough and my mother had to talk me down.
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason - I think I have but I'd like to again!
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma - but usually I can't because I've been to too many malarial countries and/or been pregnant too frequently.
65. Gone sky diving - no desire!
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp - I know it would be overwhelming but massively important.
67. Bounced a check - No doubt when I was a student!
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy - I dreamed about my Winnie the Pooh, bought when I was 3 months old, the other day.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt - several...
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades - walked along the boardwalks, it's such a weird place with swamp right off the main road.
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone - shoulder, see above
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle - no, just a regular one!
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book - well, Mr Spouse thinks my book deal will give us enough to retire on. Had a couple of chapters out.
81. Visited the Vatican - you know you can't visit the Sistine Chapel otherwise, right?
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem - would like to see non-Holy-Land bits but suspect now is not the time.
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating - Nope, although they've been delivered live to my house we got the neighbour to to it!
88. Had chickenpox - and missed the first week of junior school! I was devastated!
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury - always get off it but wouldn't mind.
91. Met someone famous - well, semi - various high profile academics, a few MPs.
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake - eww, no thanks!
97. Been involved in a law suit – when I was fired.
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee - or it could have been a wasp.

So I'd like to tag Bernardeena, Country Chick, geepeemum, May, Thalia, and the Hairy Farmer Family. What these people have in common is they are my UK British IF/miscarriage/adoption posse. Apologies if I've missed anyone out or misclassified anyone - and I know a couple of those blogs are not only or even mainly or even at all, now, about IF/miscarriage/adoption, but are partly, or have been.

(I have just realised that I also tagged Almamay, whose blog I had not been following as it doesn't show up on Google Reader, which is why I didn't classify her in my previous post about US bloggers in the UK, and only after tagging her this time did I remember she's also from the US).


Monday, November 24, 2008

Joga

Or maybe that should be "lloga".

My yoga class today was taken by a stand-in teacher who had a fairly strong Spanish accent.

"And breed..."

(which seemed not so much an instruction to frighten the horses, as a general instruction for life. Either way, not happening).

Meme

Courtesy of Everyday Stranger.

I actually had to go to the 6th/6th/6th/6th to get this photo as they are somewhat oddly arranged on the Mac but this is our house in SoCal (of course it isn't our house in the rainy North of England!)



Sunday, November 23, 2008

Linkfest, Or, We Are Legion

There are, as we all know, huge numbers of infertility blogs. However, there aren't very many UK fertility-related blogs; there are scads of US-based blogs, but hardly any based in the UK. I have a few that I read regularly, and I have noticed something.

A large number of these lovely people are themselves from the US. Forgive me if I've got it wrong, but in the adoption crowd, we have Drawing Baskets from the Nile (who has another blog, but whose adoption journey is on this one), and we have 3rd Culture Mum. In the IVF crowd (tried or was successful with), we have Barren Mare, BarrenAlbion, and Everyday Stranger. And in the let's-have-another-miscarriage category we have Blogapotamus Rex. Of course, some of these categories overlap; and I may have missed someone who knows I read them but who I've forgotten is in one of these categories, or American. Sorry.

I count about 6 regular reads from UK infertility/miscarriage/adoption bloggers in the UK (and one German, hello perceval!). When I find a UK blog dealing with these issues I tend to bookmark it - though I've not counted a few that are dormant, that have moved lock, stock, and nappy pail to a parenting blog, and I've left out the Irish in my total (sorry!). So it seems to be approximately equal numbers, despite the small proportion of Americans in the UK.

I would just like to say to my compatriots - look at your babies. Then look at me. I have no American accent (except apparently I can "do" a bit of one on the phone, to get myself understood, and I can say my first name in a way that sometimes gets spelled correctly here. No, it's not spelled with a D, but I can gamely say it that way with the best of them). Neither, you would probably think, has my mother any more. Mind you, another American friend was accused of losing her accent entirely due to living with her British husband for about 5 years and really - not so much. She just sounds a bit more East Coast Posh than she did before.

I have, however, grown up with low-key Independence Day and Thanksgiving celebrations; with summers at the beach with my American grandparents; with only a US passport until I was 20 (and France, of all places, started demanding visas for US citizens); with standing in the long line at Heathrow; with being nagged to say You're Welcome; with quite a few things (lunchboxes, peanut butter, Cat in the Hat) that are now commonplace in the UK but then were, frankly, Weird.

I am your babies' future... I hope that doesn't scare you too much.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

So THAT'S what an RE is

I had my first ever visit to a real live RE on Thursday. Infertility is not covered under my plan but complications of pregnancy are, and the doctors helpfully seem to be lumping anything that will help me achieve a sustainable pregnancy under this heading. I was very disappointed, though that the office did not say "RE's OFFICE" but, just like the ones at home, said "OB/GYN - Infertility Clinic"*. Ah well.

I have, I am happy to say, been very thoroughly investigated already for absolutely everything that can be a cause of recurrent miscarriage. So no more tests apart from a couple of swabs, another progesterone level, and just to check up on an old health issue, I need to get a fasting glucose and insulin level at some point. I hate it when they insist on 8 hours fasting when I know my glucose levels are through the floor after 5, it's 1 pm and I ate breakfast at 8.

It was about day 23/24/25 yesterday (depending on how you count it and when I ended up ovulating this cycle) and my progesterone turned out to be 11. OK apparently for an unstimulated cycle but not as high as previously. My ovaries looked good, my FSH levels were pronounced "fine", apparently Righty was on this month, and Lefty looked a little small (going out of business, or just not awake this month?). However...

The lining of my uterus was very much not what it should be. Not very thick - only 5mm - and very dense - no 3 layer pattern. In some ways this is disappointing. In others it is kind of a vindication.

It's disappointing because, hello, has no-one thought to look at it before? When I've been in for testing, why has no-one said "come back on day 21 and we'll look at your lining"? But then, I remember I have had an internal scan on about day 26 before and was told it was all thick and nice and, and I quote, "juicy". Plus I had a doppler at day 21 which was pronounced "fine", though it was for an experimental study and I have no idea if that would tell you anything about lining thickness/quality or if it was just a random number.

So maybe it's an intermittent problem, or a new problem - if the latter, new since about 18 months ago. Anyway, it doesn't sound good, and I'm on my first ever course of progesterone suppositories. Lovely. Also daily baby aspirin ("but I was told not to take it as it prevents implantation" "Well, it's all just voodoo medicine". Reassuring!).

I asked a few more questions too: Clomid, no, not helpful if you are ovulating, and if you are old. Also discovered later it doesn't do good things for the endometrium. DHEA, makes you feel more upbeat and gives you higher sex drive. Otherwise, not much proven effect. Metformin, we'll see how the blood sugar and the insulin levels are.

I've been mulling over the whole thing: the RE suggested PGS ("but I've been told it doesn't work"; "oh, yes, that's true, recent studies suggest it isn't any use" - er, so why suggest it). And surrogacy (Great Pumpkins - is she actually suggesting my eggs might be fine? And worth using?). And donor egg ("your FSH is OK but you might have more success with younger eggs"). Personally, she'd go down our own preferred route of adoption, if we have to choose some other route. But she knows other couples will try other things first.

In some ways this diagnosis is very frustrating - it doesn't appear to be easy to treat, and if it is (as it may be, though it seems unlikely) due to adenomyosis (sp?), it's pretty much impossible. If I'd had the diagnosis earlier, perhaps something could have been done. My body may preventing my babies from growing, even though otherwise they would have been fine.

But in other ways it makes me feel a little better. It's not all just because I'm old, and because my eggs are coddled. I had my first miscarriage "quite young" at 37 (thank you, blush blush). I continually feel guilty that I didn't get married younger, that I didn't meet Mr. Spouse when we were younger, that it's all my fault for jaunting off round the world and not knuckling down to finding a spouse before I was 30 (while of course I was completely ignoring every single man I met in every country I lived in, and fighting off marriage proposals left right and centre, and never having failed relationships/crushes on gay/uninterested friends). But perhaps I would have had this problem if we'd got together when I was in my 20s too.


*To be strictly accurate, at home it would say "Gynaecology - Infertility Clinic".

Friday, November 21, 2008

I worry

This is slightly edited from a forum post and is, I guess, kind of a thought about nationalised vs. private (patient pays) healthcare. There are other systems, I know, and HMOs could well work in a different (and possibly worse) way.

Someone was complaining that they were jealous of people with private, non-UK doctors who gave their patients more advice than in the UK. I wasn't convinced the advice was better.

"I have to say that my impression of the advice people get when they are dealing with private clinics outside the UK is that advice and protocols are based a lot on personal experience of the doctor, with quite a lot of "let's do this and see if it works for you", which if you are a doctor working with a patient that is paying themselves doesn't lose the doctor anything.


My impression of treatment within the NHS is, apart from IVF, treatment decisions are more evidence-based i.e. only prescribing treatments that are known to work for a lot of women in the same diagnosis category. That's certainly been my experience - when we were in the UK we asked whether it would be helpful for us to pursue a few different options and rather than saying "let's try it and see" we have been actually pointed to the medical evidence.

"I do work in a field where I have the skills to read medical journals, though they sometimes are a bit opaque, but I think if I couldn't read that sort of thing they'd still explain why a certain treatment didn't work.


"IVF in the UK is a bit different because although some areas follow the NICE protocols (3 paid cycles), which are based on how likely it is to succeed after 3 cycles, not really on cost, others go purely on cost, which basically means one cycle for almost no patients.

"Private IVF seems to be similar to private medicine everywhere, though. We went to an information evening at a purely private clinic that has had very good results; they do a specific technique (PGS) which we thought originally might be helpful for us, but as I said the NHS clinic explained why it wouldn't and what the current evidence was. They were still standing up and saying in their presentations that they offer it and that it's helpful for people in our situation. It was only when I spoke to the doctor presenting privately, after the presentation, that she admitted that she too knew about this evidence that it wasn't helpful. I wondered if she'd have recommended it for us if we'd gone along as new patients without the information from our NHS clinic."

Sorry for the recycling - I started writing on the forum and then realised about 3 sentences in it was really a blog post so I had the blog in mind!

Oddly our experiences with our current health provider (an HMO) have been pretty good and they do seem to make sure they are seen to be practicing on evidence. I've been cogitating about what healthcare would work for the US as a whole and although I don't know that much about how much is spent per person under different systems, I know we spend vastly less per person in all of the European nationalised systems. The premiums we're paying just now are very high, but if our current HMO didn't turn a profit, had more advantages of scale, no billing and eligibility staff (how much do they cost, one wonders??!), the cost per year on average would be close to what the average US citizen pays (averaging out the uninsured/can't pay and the wealthy/private medicine people).

Interesting article here. If everyone in the US paid $5000 per annum, we could have a giant nationalised, evidence-based HMO
(or, if people prefer, state by state or county by county). If that's too impersonal, people who can afford it would be free (as in all other countries with nationalised health care) to pay for private treatment. If that's too much (and it's less than we are paying, I don't mind saying, but more than some people could afford), then the costs need to be shared round more and/or the price of medical care items and services needs to come down. Does the hospital really need a grand piano in the lobby??

East London


This is the church we got married in. It seats 1000 (we had "only" 180 guests).


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Palm Springs


Gorgeous, but pretty weird, and I'm very glad we went in October, not July!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cornwall


If you haven't been, go now. At once. Well, maybe wait for the summer.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tanzania - Small airplane


After losing my passport I had to get it replaced in Nairobi, which meant we had to leave our safari early and fly back instead of driving. This is the plane. Reassuring, no?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tanzania - Ngorongoro crater


One of the biggest concentrations of large mammals on the planet.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tanzania - Coffee growing area


It is truly gorgeous here. I had my passport stolen also but it does serve me right for leaving it lying around in the hotel lounge.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Back in the saddle

We interrupt your photostream to bring you other news.

At home, I cycle to and from work - about 4 and a bit miles, and quite hilly - a couple of times a week. I'm organised with clothing and cycle in bike clothes, change in the office, put on makeup etc. I got a bike back in September, probably, but then I didn't have a bike rack or a basket and then after that I had pleurisy (which is NOT AS BAD AS IT SOUNDS though still quite painful). I feel fully restored now, touch wood.

So I finally got to ride the bike home from work yesterday. I didn't ride all the way to work as it's 6 miles up a very very steep hill, I rode about a mile and a half and then put the bike on the bus - a very good invention, in the UK you can if you are lucky put your bike inside small trains but not usually trams and definitely not buses - to go up the hill.

I wasn't entirely sure if I was going to ride home though as I had a lot to carry home and it is very very steep (did I say it's steep?) and it's pretty dark on the less busy road, and pretty busy on the less dark road. But I braved it and I was mighty glad I did. , Once I'd ridden home down the hill which is the first couple of miles of the ride home, the downtown part of our little suburb - we live the other side of downtown - was completely solid with traffic as a water main had burst. Oh how smug I felt, asking the nice man in the high-visi vest if I could push my bike round the corner, and walking past the traffic.

Then of course my light failed halfway home as I hadn't charged it enough. Grr. And my legs hurt. But very steep downhill with brakes on all the way, plus more up and down than I thought in downtown, meant a 6.5 mile journey still only took 50 minutes. Not too shabby.

Next up: Dr Spouse starts running again. Watch out, neighbourhood.

Tanzania - Lake Manyara


There is a very small giraffe in the distance, honest.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tanzania - Coast Region


This is on the beach in the town where I lived for 2 years. You can basically see this view from my old house.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Zanzibar - Sunset from Beit-al-Ajab


Sorry - cannot resist another one. This is from the House of Wonders.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Zanzibar - Stone Town


I could fill an entire year with daily pictures of Zanzibar. I think I've been there 10 times, the first time being in 1990 when it was really non-touristy. It changes every year, sometimes for good (it is a lot safer than it used to be and there are a lot more places to eat where you won't get a stomach bug, and places to stay where the loo isn't a hole in the ground), sometimes not.



Saturday, November 08, 2008

Kenya


This is in a small town on the coast of Kenya, where I sometimes work - the monkeys hang around outside the office and play on the cars.

Mombasa


Same work trip as the previous picture.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Lake Victoria


From the Uganda side, I am very sorry it isn't from Kisumu (where Obama's father comes from). I have been to Mwanza, on the Tanzanian side, as well but it was a while ago, and to a couple of other places on the Ugandan side, but not to this part of Kenya. I was in Uganda visiting another student working here. It's very bizarre as it completely looks like the ocean, sandy beaches, blue water - but is fresh water.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Universal Studios


Cheesy, I know. I am sure I've been there at least 3 or 4 times.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Lombok, Indonesia


Visited about 18 months ago to supervise a student's fieldwork. I have prettier pictures but I love this one because it was just taken out of the window of the house I was staying in, but you probably can't see the kite very well.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Gol, also in Norway

Although this doesn't show the scenery - part of the same trip as the previous picture, but taken from the window of our rather cramped cabin where we had an ill-advised ski-ing holiday with my mad family.




(Have just noticed Blogger thinks it's tomorrow already - so that's why the times have been messed up.)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Nablopomo

So I've decided to jump on the bandwagon, but I need to do something really simple. I am on Facebook and I got into a kind of competition with my cousin into who had been to the most cities on the Cities I've Visited widget.

So I've decided I can easily post 29 (now) pictures of places I've been. Some may not be pictures I took myself but I'll try and post ones either Mr Spouse or a friend took. I'm not sure I'll write much in the way of comment on these, sorry!

Today: Oslo.




Saturday, November 01, 2008

I'm sure you've all been on tenterhooks...

We ended up both being angels. I had already decided to knit a pair of angel wings for myself and was bowled over when Mr. Spouse said "OK, I'll have wings too". In the event he loved his wig but refused to wear the wings for more than about 5 minutes. Fortunately his only took a couple of days to knit:



while mine were a bit more complex:




You can almost see the full effect of my costume here, but sadly you can't quite see the bright green leggings I scored in a store in Palm Springs which said "everything $16". Except the leggings which were $8!





Thursday, October 30, 2008

Losing it, part 0

I started to write a post a few weeks ago about my weight loss journey - and a very long one it has been too. But I am feeling a bit under the weather (I apparently had pleurisy, but not very badly - it sounds like something Victorian heroines die of, but it's really just one of those viruses, but in my chest). So I have done zero exercise as it hurts rather, or at least it did, then I felt OK and went up a mountain to somewhere with little oxygen and walked up a hill and my heart was about to burst, and then it started hurting again.

So I am not in a good place to talk about my newfound love of exercise. I actually feel bereft and cut off from exercise. Am I mad?

This is very dangerous

I had an "explain myself" office visit with a random OB/GYN just yesterday and she suggested she refer me over to an RE but also, as it happened to be CD3, that we do FSH/estradiol (and I have no clue if I've spelled that correctly, but in real time I will be able to tell you). I just got an email saying the results were ready and they are...

(Only FSH is back. So my spelling could still be completely wrong).

FSH 8.1

Well - that's about what one would expect up from 6 point something 2 years ago. Could be worse.

I was as I think I said unsure about having these done earlier in the year but I think I'm easily persuadable as I just said "OK, whatever" when she suggested this. Infertility treatment is not covered under my particular plan but apparently I should be OK with investigations linked to recurrent miscarriage, if they think there is any point in doing any of them. I cannot remember the name of every single clotting test done by my previous clinic, surprisingly enough, though I did find one of the consultants' email address and begged for some results or summaries to be sent! To be honest the chances of us getting pregnant while we are here are low, so I'm seeing this as a just-in-case set of contacts to have on hand.

However, this doctor did suggest they may consider Clomid, which all the doctors in the UK have said is completely pointless if you are already ovulating. If it is going to cause me to release more than about 2 eggs per cycle (I don't know, I have no idea what Clomid does really) then it could be worse than useless. It seems to be about $75 for 30 tablets so it wouldn't be TOO expensive an experiment if it did nothing.

She also mentioned - a theory I've never heard before - that it's possible to have a long, but insufficient, luteal phase - so insufficient maturation but taking a long time to do it. I guess another question is in order for the RE.

(Later - estradiol is 17.5. It says it should be less than 80.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Someone is missing a trick

My name is Dr Spouse and I am a forum-aholic.

There, I've said it. I am addicted to several fora, including a very nice community of women which is primarily a UK-based forum. It has a bit of a history, and has come into being via another well-liked but creaky forum and a rather political sideways move into a parenting forum. Lots of the women are mothers, but not all, many many of them have had miscarriages, including recurrent miscarriage, and I love them all. Apart from the ones I have healthy debates with about vaccination (I'd be happy for it to be compulsory in the UK except for medical exceptions) and letting your husband give you housekeeping money that he expects accounts of (why? it's your joint house/kids so your joint money, no? we are not in the 1950s). And I love them too, really.

I still drop in to that forum but there are some things I'd usually ask there but can't. Where do I get fair-trade undies in the US? What about Hershey's seasonal flavoured Kisses, which stores have people seen them in? What's a good cookbook for Southern California? Do you need to cook the lasagna you buy here before putting it in the oven or did I just pick out a duff recipe that doesn't know you can get no-pre-cook lasagna? What can we use to air out our cold and poorly ventilated bathroom? How do we find out if the gas heater in our old rented house is safe? What are good clothing brands for women of my more top-heavy shape? What about running shorts, where can I find the kind I'm looking for?

Someone (perhaps the publishers of the magazines I seem to be reading here - mainly Real Simple but also Redbook) needs to cater for addicts like me. Sunset has a forum but it is poorly laid out and hardly has any recent posts. I found one "women"s forum but it hurt my eyes - if the signatures can be five times as big as the message, why would you read it? (it looked a lot like Babycenter and no, I am not going there either). There do seem to be lots of mothers' fora. Shame you have to be a mother to be a woman, isn't it?

Woman's Hour - Egg Donation

Somewhat neutral programme but this is a little-talked-about issue in the UK so worth some publicity. Should be available here probably until Friday 31st (a week from its broadcast).

One particularly pertinent comment was about the rate of non-paternity - if all children with a risk of different genetic origins to their presumed parentage (a conservative estimate for the UK where paternity is not disputed is 1-2% i.e. vastly higher than the rate of donor conception) were to demand investigation into their genetic paternity, we'd be up for near-universal paternity testing.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Of course

Cream trousers (the ones I've only recently been able to fit into) plus the white undies I have to wear with them = my period, two days early. What's with that? I'm not 100% sure when I ovulated, but I think it was on time, and it's rarely early. Don't tell me I'm starting to have short luteal phases (11 days isn't short, though, is it?).

And I need to have a repeat smear because the last one was done on CD3 and the sample wasn't good enough - and I have an early morning gynae appointment, just to familiarise the new people with my complex history, in 2 days' time. So I was kind of hoping it would hold off so I could get the smear the same day. But no. Gah.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bizarre

Statcounter shows I have had no visits since late September. Clearly I have - not just IComLeavWe people and regulars but even someone who found a 2005 post where I reported a friend's doctor's recommendation for C.lomid, who clearly was on a mission to post her (what struck me as very mild and common) side effects Everywhere Possible On The Interweb That Even Mentioned C.lomid.

Anyone else found Statcounter is broken?

(It was the code - I realised I'd gone over to the new template and although it had brought over my links it hadn't imported the code).

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Kid (Spoilers - though what did you THINK happened??)

This book is nearly 10 years old now and it seems it was written when domestic open adoption was really new in the US. It's been an interesting and fun read and I've been wondering whether a fully accountable open adoption system (mother's choice of adoptive parents, full and frequent contact) would change the adoption culture in the UK, or whether it's too late for that.

Dan and his boyfriend are a very real couple and worry that they are too real. The birth mother who ends up choosing them is also very real. Having browsed a few "Dear Birthmother" letters, I can see that there must be a temptation (even if you are also a very real and down to earth couple) to paint yourself as cheesy and, at least socially, conservative. They worry that this will handicap them in being chosen by a birth mother; in fact, the mother that chooses them would almost certainly not have chosen a traditional couple, and certainly not a conservative couple.

Although this book is a personal story, I think what I got out of it most was information on how and why open adoption works, and in particular - and I suppose this slightly surprised me - how it can work well for mothers in really difficult situations, like the mother that chose this couple.

I suppose like Dan, I thought that birth mothers tended to be "nice girls" who wanted a "good Christian home"; the birth mother that chose them was actually afraid that her child would be taken away by Social Services and in some ways was quite desperate, and (it is clear, though I don't think she necessarily chose this couple because of this) needed a couple who would be accepting of her situation and make an effort to take care of her before the birth, and try and keep in touch although this might be very difficult, after the birth. Some of the couples I've either read blogs of* or read Dear Birthmother letters from, without being judgmental, would almost certainly not have the personal resources to understand an intentionally homeless girl and track her down thousands of miles away.

Dan Savage is, as many of you know, a sex columnist. Also (duh) gay. So if you are of a sensitive disposition then some of the asides and descriptions may be a bit much for you. I assume I'm not subconsiously being homophobic in saying this as I also find some of the descriptions in Belle du Jour a bit much for me. Aside from that (and it didn't really detract as you know who he is and what he does when you pick up the book) it's well written and an easy read. I've even recommended it to Mr Spouse who is not a very fast reader.

(Bother - realised just now after the post had gone up I forgot to say, one of my favourite parts was his assessment of the alternatives for them as a couple - I paraphrase - apart from adopting a kid, they could carry on partying until they were old and sad, travel loads and bore everyone with their travel pictures, or collect antiques. I often feel that the alternatives for a straight couple - especially one who like us was done with partying long ago - are somewhat similar).

*Note - not my regular blogs - just the odd one I come across that seems a bit clueless so tend not to read again...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Reader advice - Halloween

So, Halloween approaches, and my last Halloweens in the US were a) as a small child (monster head anyone?) or b) as a young single with trendy friends who threw trendy parties.

Mr Spouse is an old fart shy and retiring and doesn't want to do mega dressing up. In the UK dressing up for Halloween is rare but if you do it is usually something scary. I did suggest a pirate (he's a fan of Talk like a Pirate Day and they had some costumes in a local thrift store that was selling Target overstocks) but he vetoed that. He's a bit portly for most of the Doctors or I'd suggest one of them.

We are probably going to go on a haunted walking tour mid-evening and have had a Firm Notice round from the local residents' committee stating No Porch Lights On After 8. So we may be handing out candy early evening but are more likely to be out (the other going-out alternative is with a friend's stepkids, who are old enough to be trick-or-treading in the post-6pm slot).

I'm looking for something appropriate to a) my age (no Playboy bunnies please) b) the weather (it will be a bit chilly outside, but not freezing) c) Mr Spouse's conservatism* in these matters (so nothing completely over the top for me if he'll only wear a thrift store suit or something) d) lack of dressing up box or sewing machine e) not unlimited funds f) preference for some of the items to be recycled/semi-homemade - it is fun putting these things together, so I'd rather not just rent a costume!


*NB that's a small c and not politically. Just to clarify.

Happiness Sold Separately (Spoilers)



I just finished reading this book and at one level, felt it was so far, so predictable (couple can't have kids, couple do IVF, wife in deep depression, husband has affair). At some point in their assisted conception roundabout she had one pregnancy which ended in miscarriage very early, and which was kind of glossed over. By about a third of the way through the book, I was thinking "well, my life is rubbish, but at least it isn't that rubbish". Although I haven't done IVF, the author appears to at least have done her research well.

Later, following a brief reconciliation, in a fairly predictable "pregnancy as dramatic device" storyline, she gets pregnant and they have two successful ultrasounds and a very happy early pregnancy doctor. Those who have followed my own story will perhaps be able to see what is coming. At her 12 week scan they don't see a heartbeat; woe is everyone; a neighbour dares to say "some things aren't meant to be"; chromosomal analysis reveals a lethal trisomy.

So far so likely, but we then veer into Very Unlikely/Has Been Reading Julia's Blog. The main character is diagnosed with a balanced translocation ("It's as if you have a spoon in your fork drawer and a fork in your spoon drawer" - while a good analogy it didn't really explain the consequences of an unbalanced translocation, but no matter). Following this the husband was lured to meet his ex-girlfriend by the ex-girlfriend's pre-teen son, who was obsessed with the husband, and had probably deliberately told the ex-girlfriend's violent ex-boyfriend (hope you are keeping up) that they would all be in a certain place. So, they were, and violent ex-boyfriend stabbed husband.

Of course I am at this point (and it was the middle of the night, because I couldn't sleep) thinking even more "Gosh, I'm glad my life is only a minimum amount of rubbish!". But then I still couldn't sleep.

One line I especially liked, towards the end of the book, is when they see a counsellor who suggests they also discuss "living child-free" and the main character says she doesn't feel free. I'm not sure I will ever feel "free", not having children.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Remembering

Remembering:

NigelandDelia
No 2
No 3
Sproutetta

I'm a little late but here's a candle




Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Oh dear

Have just found out that a friend's son - age 14 I think, adopted at the age of 6 after some time in foster care and, before that, neglect/abuse from his birth parents - has been arrested and is likely to be convicted, and is currently on remand (pre-trial) in what used to be called Borstal.

I feel strangely personally affected by this - we know L and her sons fairly well, but don't see them that often, and Mr Spouse and I have often noticed that while this son (the older one) is Trouble with a capital T, he comes across as rather childish in some ways, while the younger one seems to ingratiate himself with adults, and be The Good One. I know No 1 can be difficult and he has been in (minor) trouble before but I suppose we both feel that no 2 is not as innocent as he makes out, and have perhaps underplayed the troubles of No 1. But I have also I think invested slightly in "oh, what nice boys, see, adopted children with awful early backgrounds can turn out very nice" (the second one was placed with her at a younger age, with a slightly different background).

Without putting too much on our friend, I know that both boys have shown some problems at earlier ages, and some of the "therapies" that have been recommended to her are, at best, unproven. There is very little help available to families in her situation, but this does mean a vacuum in which dodgy therapies have room to grow.

And of course I also know of birth children (see: people I went to school with, see also: children of my parents' friends) who have had a loving family since the year dot and who have still got mentally ill/addicted to drugs/in trouble with the police.

And likewise I know (although they are still mainly young) of lovely children adopted by friends from foster care, who (so far) have no non-age-appropriate behaviour or developmental problems.

But it worries me.

Niggle

Phew! I feel able to blog again after being worn out with IComLeavWe!

I blogged a few weeks ago about feeling quite refreshed and able to disconnect slightly from our horrible recent history while we are in a new place. I'm not sure it's quite that simple.

Most of the bloggers I read are from the US and I think I've been able to slightly distance myself from some of their stories and paths to parenthood, it now seems a lot more immediate, since I am here too. These people have done IVF with the fanciest, most famous doctors/been prescribed weird and wonderful miscarriage-prevention regimens/adopted perfect beautiful infant children. What if this could work for us, too?

Also, I'm catching up with some old friends from when I used to work here (I arrived here 10 years ago and stayed for 2 years, yet it seems like yesterday - how did that happen?). Of course they all have (more) kids, apart from one Very Dear Friend who has stepkids, and a nephew she actually sees frequently. And - very close to the bone for me - a sister who is pregnant, I was going to say for the second time, but actually for the fifth time after 3 miscarriages and one (I think) preemie (the nephew), at risk of early labour again but still Pregnant! and nearly having A Baby!* and with clotting problems, so of course I know people will compare us, and wonder why I can't do what she did, and how on earth can I feel jealous of someone who's had 3 miscarriages? Except, fortunately, Very Dear Friend will not do this as she is a) knowledgeable and b) very dear.

And on the stepkids and nephews/nieces front - I've been watching The Starter Wife which, by the way, Fun, it's The O.C. for adults - and it occurs to me that Mr Spouse very annoyingly didn't bother with a starter wife, and kids for me to be Not-Wicked Stepmother to - he went straight to Younger Model/Grownup Wife. And how dare my brother move to another country. I'd never do - er, oops.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Some important definitions and why I think they matter

Sorry if this is patronising but I have to explain this to my students so I'm going into Lecturer Mode.

Self-help books:
Most parenting guides, and most books on adoption, trauma and the like fall under this heading. To use a health analogy, these are like either a well-written book on cooking for diabetics, or the Atkins guide. Some individuals may like both - may swear by both - but medically, one can be pretty harmful. Just because something is in a book does not mean it's right, or harmless, or based on any evidence. I hope you all know the same is true for web pages. All the authors in the links given fall under this heading except one (see below).

Peer-review:
When researchers do independent studies (not funded by an organisation with an axe to grind) they need to publish them. They can publish in a book, which could be either a scientific book (mainly intended for scientists), or in a college textbook (though rarely without publishing elsewhere first), or in a self-help book. They can also publish on a web page - but see above about web pages.

They can write in a scientific manner and include a lot of references to other people's work. But you're I'm sure all acutely aware it's really easy to misquote or selectively quote other people's work.

So unless another researcher has reviewed the first researcher's work, without knowing who they were (to avoid personal bias), then anything even well-known scientists write could be a misquote, could be based on no evidence, or could be based on anecdotes - on just one person (see below). Peer reviewed work has found that children do not suffer from a change of caregiver at birth purely due to the change of caregiver. The nice links that antiadoption gave me were in fact none of them peer reviewed. In fact, one of the authors (Bruce Perry) she links to is also quite a well-respected author who's written a lot of peer-reviewed papers. He writes on trauma due to maltreatment and severe neglect, and its effects on behaviour and on the brain. He has done absolutely no work that I'm aware of on separation at birth and placement with a loving replacement caregiver.

I think we're all in agreement that mothers who are trying to decide whether to place their newborn for adoption have not maltreated their child, nor have they neglected them. If the adoptive parents maltreat their child, this is awful, if a birth parent maltreats their child, this is also awful, but not really relevant to the question of whether separation at birth and continuing care by loving replacement carers is traumatic. As I said in my previous post, I've seen no peer reviewed work with evidence that it is.


Scientific evidence:
When one person tells you that blood type eating, propping their legs up, having their bumps read, or regression therapy works for them, you might be a bit sceptical. How do they know they weren't going to get thin/pregnant/sane anyway? The gold standard is to randomly compare different conditions in different groups of people - half in each condition - and see what the outcome is - which group improves more. You can do this with therapies for mental health problems. There is no point in comparing a child on a therapy with themselves before the therapy as children grow, and people get better on their own.

But you can't randomly allocate children to being placed for adoption at birth and not being placed. You can only look at naturally occuring situations. You can look at children who are cared for by relatives and neighbours, not their birth mother. You can look at children whose mother died at birth. You can look at children adopted at birth. And when you have two groups, you can look at what else was different (were the grandparents ill and frail? was the father wrapped up in his new wife? were the adoptive or birth parents unrealistic in their expectations, or overindulgent? was the birth mother a sufferer from mental illness so didn't take care of her health/think she could care for her baby?) and only after you've allowed for that can you conclude that separation at birth hurts children. And there is no evidence that it does.

Remember, boys and girls, if you read it on the web it isn't necessarily true. Hope that didn't shock you too much. Here's a large pinch of salt for you to read both my posts and everything else on the web with.

(An an aside - yes, there is a lot of evidence that adoption is traumatic for the birth mother in particular, though I don't know if anyone's looked at outcomes for the birth father. There is a lot that can be done to help people in this situation - and good and bad practices no doubt exist in a variety of places. A new parent's feelings for a child are usually called
bonding rather than attachment, as they operate a bit differently - a lot faster, for a start. Even parents who must give up their child - in some cases, who are legally forced to because they have abused them - bond to their child).

I'm beginning to regret this

but I feel I should follow through. I'm not going to post any more at the moment on trauma due to separation at birth. I think however I should explain some terms I used in my previous post as I'm not sure commenters have really understood them.

First consider this scenario. You are in your first day at school. Before going to school you knew there would be a teacher and you were told the teacher would be nice and school would be fun. You arrive at school and are waiting in the classroom. Someone puts their head in the door and waves at the class. "Hi!" they say. They leave and then shortly after someone else comes in. "I'm going to be your teacher!" they say. They are very nice and you enjoy school. Later you find that the first person was supposed to be your teacher. But you never knew them - so you didn't have a chance to miss them. You like your new teacher - you end up having the original teacher a few years later and you like them too. Everyone is happy.

If you had been a little child beginning school and had got used to the first teacher, you'd be sad if they left. If the second teacher had been mean, you'd be upset when you found they weren't really supposed to be your teacher. If you were the teacher and you had learned all the information about your class and felt like you knew them, you'd be sad. If you saw the teacher around the school, or met them when you were older, and no-one had told you they were first supposed to be your teacher, you'd be confused. The first teacher at school is a really important person, and children become extremely attached to their teacher, eager to please, and if they are a bad teacher, this really does get children off to a bad start.

But the child who never knew the first teacher - saw them for less than a minute - but has the whole situation explained to them properly, and gets to know the other teacher - is going to do just fine.

Right - that is the anecdotal post. I'm now going to start a new posts explaining some important definitions.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

OW OW OW OW OW OW OW

That was me yesterday before going to the Urgent Care facility with my Bartholin cyst.


OOWWWWWOWWWWWWWWWOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWW
TTHHHSSSSFFFFFFFFFFFFF
(that was me yesterday while being "numbed" with lidocaine before having the abscess drained. How do you spell that sound you make while sucking through your teeth?).

They tried to put a catheter in but the gland was quite small (perhaps why it gets blocked) and it just came out. So I may need to have this done again at some point, or have it stitched open.

(Can I just have another OW?)

I now feel much better, you'll be happy to hear. No-one could make me a gynae appointment with New Plan next week as far as I tell, though I'm going to ring back on Monday, and if nothing comes up, go back to Urgent Care.

(Wiki link for the lazy. I have had several cysts in the past and some have become abscesses - this was definitely an abscess).

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Woke up early this morning and checked my email. Message from Best Woman who is losing the pregnancy (2nd FET after ICSI, lost the 1st FET, ICSI didn't work). They had seen the heartbeat and then she stopped feeling sick and started spotting at about 10 weeks. Scan on Friday showed no heartbeat. They've decided to "wait and see" but the hospital said come back in 2 weeks if it hasn't completed by then. I'm not sure they gave her enough information (I think I must be lucky in feeling I've had sufficient information at most points during my miscarriages - but then I'm nosy and ask questions like "what would happen in the old days before scans?" and "how come they say most pregnancies fail early when the first 12 weeks are all supposed to be dangerous?") and she said it was actually pretty helpful talking to me.

I'm not sure she realised how unlucky it is to have the pregnancy fail after seeing a heartbeat but I don't know if she would want to have any further investigations about causes of miscarriage - they can only have ICSI until next July, when she is 40, as they can't afford the fresh cycles themselves, so the clock is ticking on treatment and I happen to know the main miscarriage clinic in her area tells you to stop trying to get pregnant while undergoing investigations.

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I'm not being lazy, honest, but am a bit blogged/commented out, so will blog a bit more about the comments on my "comment on another comment" post, another time. And very sorry to those who have not had comments returned/those participating in ICLW - have been a bit slack - in my defence, I've been in pain!

Should I tell?

I have far too many blogs. I have this one, which doesn't have that much day-to-day stuff on it. I have my original one, a short-but-sweet blog with the odd photo, funny item and thought, some profound, but basically I do not mention this part of my life on there. It's not on blogger (it's on an independent system a friend set up) so it doesn't link in here.

I also have a blog under a different name that is a walk through the saints associated with each day of the church year (there are some gaps, to put it mildly, even though a few friends collaborate) and I have the blog of my 11-year-old diary, which also has a few gaps - though I left the diary itself in the UK so won't be finishing that this year.

My mum knows about the 11-year-old diary but doesn't really "get" blogs. No-one else in the family knows about my blogs except Mr Spouse, who knows this one exists but kindly doesn't read it, and reads the 11-year-old diary when it is updated, and also the independent chatty one, which is also rarely updated.

I would in some ways like to post more about the rest of my life here - it would be more interesting for my regular readers, and for any new readers I get. I have several friends whose blogs I read and for whom I log out as Dr Spouse to post a comment, so they can't see this one. Most would find it very much TMI. You can see this one, but not my other Blogger blogs, on my profile. I'm sure if you looked hard you could find me (though hopefully not under my full name as I removed the only comment with my name - when I became a media tart).

Do you have separate blogs? Who do you tell about your IF blog? Do they care??