All systems are go!

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Womb lining extra thick and squishy- check. Small, wet-soap-like bullets to shove into my woohoo twice a day- check. More pills to add to the 50 million I am already forcing down my throat 4 times a day- check. We are a go on transfer this month on my side, just waiting to see how the little ‘uns develop.

We have 7 frozen straws containing 27 eggs which have just started to divide. We decided to defrost 8 (2 straws) and start the dividing process this try. How early we transfer depends on how well they grow. If we have lots of kamikaze eggs then we’ll transfer on Saturday. If we have some sturdy, shatter-proof little eggs then we wait until Monday.

I’ve said it on behalf of a few other bloggers, now it’s my turn- divide and conquer, little embryos!!!

PS. As you can see I’m staying calm and in control about the whole thing. Positively nonchalant.

A wee update and a few ‘teacher speak’ decoders.

We are going to be fighting our way through the rush hour traffic shortly. Time for another round of teasing and hopefully the verdict that my uterus is nice and snuggly and ready for one or two passengers for the next 9 months.

Trying not to think about it too much because the fear/excitement cocktail is already bubbling up from my stomach and filling my chest, making me feel like taking panicky, short breaths. And we’re not even at the transfer stage yet.

Symptom wise I haven’t noticed any effects from the meds I have been on. I am struggling with my second cold in two months though. I hope the Doc says it’s OK to go ahead anyway. Really don’t want to have to wait another month.

This month is already quite chaotic. I have meeting with parents on Saturday (from 8.30am, WTF?!) which is always slightly stressful. No parent wants to hear their little angel can’t sit still or behave themselves. It’s easier in the UK, I can use all sorts of professional phrases and sugar coat the hard to swallow stuff. Working abroad I’m mostly talking to ESL parents and I usually have to be a bit more blunt. Here are a few teacher euphemisms for when you next read a report card:

Teacher wrote ‘ quite high spirited’ but actually meant ‘I frequently have to peel the little bugger off the ceiling. May well have some kind of hyperactivity disorder.’

Teacher wrote ‘is strong willed’ but wanted to say ‘is a stubborn little sh”£t who never does as they’re told.’

Teacher wrote ‘talkative’ but meant ‘never shuts up’.

Teacher wrote ‘lively’ but means ‘uncontrollable’.

Teacher wrote ‘has a good sense of humour’ but actually meant ‘is a cheeky little bast&^d’.

Teacher wrote ‘can be disruptive’ but meant ‘frequently interrupts me when I am talking by howling like a baboon and launching erasers at his peers.’

Teacher wrote ‘uses some inappropriate language’ but meant ‘sounds like a drunk on the late bus in Glasgow on a Saturday night’.

Teacher wrote ‘has enjoyed learning about ________’ but wanted to add ‘however hasn’t retained one iota of information from the whole subject.

Teacher wrote ‘struggles with’ but actually means ‘doesn’t have the foggiest clue about…’.

Teacher wrote ‘needs to work on social skills’ but wanted to write ‘needs to learn that picking her nose and wiping it on her classmates wont make her any friends.’

Bring back any memories from yours or your kids’ report cards?

Sometimes the parent I have been giving these kind of reports to is a teacher themselves and I see a flicker of amusement cross their features, quickly surpassed by a frown as they translate my teacher talk and realise what I’m getting at.

Anyway, the parent-teacher meeting are followed by Project week (where my school goes off curriculum to learn about different things in Tha.iland including elephant farms, snake farms, traditional dancing, story telling etc. Loads of fun for the kids, loads of stress and extra work for the teachers), Loy Kratong (a very nice traditional Thai celebration) and a climbing club trip and competition that I am organising. Fun, tiring and stressful few weeks ahead.

OK, WW has announced it’s time to brave the traffic. Wish me luck!

TTFN

Emz

First day back to school

I breezed in this morning to school this morning at 7 o’clock, which is quite late for me (normally 6.30ish), said ‘sawadee ka’ to the grounds staff and ‘good morning’ to all the teachers. I was almost bowled over as a small figure tackled me around the knees screaming ‘Miss Emz! Miss Emz!’. Bless the kindergarten kids and thanks for the wake-up call!  ‘Oh, what a beautiful morning’ was my soundtrack for the start of my day.

My jolly mood lasted most of my working day. I had a free period at 7.30am (first period) and was very productive preparing a plan for the day as I did absolutely diddly squat during the holidays. Then I had back to back lessons with the 1st graders who told me delightful and exciting stories of visiting the Great Wall, helping soldiers provide relief for the flood victims, taking care of elephants, fighting through Japanese rush hours and travelling to Germany to visit relatives. A busy week was had by all.

So I was in high spirits until I rolled up to third grade, my last lesson of the day (I finish teaching at 12pm everyday- don’t be a hater ;-D). Forty-five minutes later I walked out with new wrinkles, a few grey hairs and a headache. It is amazing how the addition of one student can turn a pleasant, fun class into a living, breathing nightmare.

Sometimes I think being a teacher is helping to prepare me a little for motherhood. Not the scream filled, sleepless nights or exploding poopy diapers but I get lots of practice dealing with different children and different behavior issues and learning styles.

Other times teaching makes me wonder if having kids is such a great idea. Will I be able to deal with smug disrespect from a 7 year old? Non-stop, repetitive nagging from a 5 year old? Bad language and bouts of physical violence from a 9 year old? Or selective hearing and an inability to follow directions from a 4 year old?

I teach over 70 children and would be happy to raise most of them as my own. As a teacher I enjoy their quirks, their sense of humor and their personalities. Often the naughty ones are my secret favorites. But occasionally I meet a child with whom it is difficult to find a connection. I work extra hard to create a bond and a positive relationship but I can’t always manage it and it worries me. What if I don’t have any connection with my own kids? What if I see spending time with them as a chore rather than fun?

I have never heard or read about this happening (with the exception of ‘We need to talk about Kevin’ but that’s fiction and a whole new kettle of fish). I do not find myself reassured by this though. Would parents share this if they were experiencing it? Unlikely, I’d say.

Also when I leave work, frazzled and furious or happy and loving life, I get to go home to my quiet, child-free house. Am I ready to be going home to more kids? I love my job (most of the time) but it’s quite reassuring to hand them back to their parents at the end of the day.

Did you have doubts like these before starting baby searching?

Dumb…stuff people say about same sex families.

My real title is ‘Dumb shit people say about same sex families’ but I don’t want to offend anyone with my coarse language. This rant list is made up of things that have been said directly to me, conveyed to me or things which have been said in the mass media. Hold on to your hats, I’m climbing onto that soapbox.

Same sex families are going to hell. My answer to this, the war cry of many a homophobe, could go on for many thousands of words as I rehash many well known arguments. I could question the perfection of a book created by men, not God directly. I could query why this aspect of the Bible still gets people all worked up, whereas the other old fashioned directions have fallen by the wayside? I could comment that if God created everything in his image didn’t He deliberately add a little fabulous, gay sparkle to liven things up a bit?  I could suggest that perhaps the judging should be left to the Big Man Upstairs. I could wonder if any supreme being would damn my innocent kids for who their mothers love. I could suggest that Jesus might be more down with a couple of loved-up lesbos than hate-spreading bible bashers. I will endeavor to rise about this statement of stupidity and refrain from antagonistic comments such as ‘Awesome, I enjoy warm weather.

 Does that mean your kids will be gay?

   jennifer lawrence                                                         

     Yeah, uh huh, sure. Because a straight couple never raised any gay kids. We only breed our own. And if they do (heaven forbid) turn out to be straight we will beat it out of them and send them to groups that will brainwash the straight out of them. Or threaten them with an afterlife eternity of pain and torture. It seems to work well going in the other direction.

Kids need to have a mother and a father. Why? Please describe the qualities or a mother. And now a father. Are these qualities gender exclusive? I think we have moved away from 50s stereotypes about parents so why do we have to have both a vagin.a and a peni.s in the mix? What has that got to do with anything? Not to mention the scientific studies which show kids in same sex families are just as well balanced as those with a mother and a father (click here, here, and here).

It’s not natural (a comment from a gay woman to me). No, you see many, many years ago we moved on from the man with the hairy, leopard print undies dragging his knuckles out to bash a woman in a tiger print bikini over the head, carry her back to his cave and impregnate her. Since then we’ve had great inventions like the wheel and medicine and amazon.com. By your reasoning sickness is natural and medicine is not. Perhaps God is suggesting you are wanted in cloud city by sending millions of germs your way, are you going to refuse the doctor’s antibiotics? What about if your heart stopped beating, will you accept treatment? So why is it not OK for me and millions of other people who have fertility problems to seek treatment??

Will the non-biological mum be able to bond with the child? natalie portman( a question from a gay man to me) I’m yet to hear of a baby shouting ‘Get away from me! You’re not my real mum!’ to a non-biological parent. Nor am I aware of infants sensing ‘ah, yes- you are the one who sent the swimmers into my milk provider and created me. I don’t think little babies’ bonding has anything to do with whose vajayjay they forced themselves out of or whose tadpoles were involved.

But how did she get pregnant? tumblr_lxvjmtu4E21qhekreImmaculate conception. It’s happened before, there was this bestseller book about it.

I won’t have kids because I don’t think it’s fair when they will get bullied so much. (gay man’s comment to me) Should red-headed parents worry about reproducing lest their kids are teased for their hair color? Or people who don’t have the same color skin as others around them? Or people who are too fat, thin, tall or short? Or people with funny surnames? Newsflash- kids are mean. Of course I worry about teasing for my future kids but I think most parents do. Unfortunately teasing is something most kids will have to endure. Hopefully we can teach them to find good coping mechanisms and not to tease others themselves.

….and breathe. To be continued…

Please add your own examples of dumb shit people have said to you in the comments, lets share the stupidity 🙂

The Monster: Adorable or A**hole?

I was reading a fellow blogger’s ‘About’ section recently and I chuckled as she described her cat as adorable/asshole. What an apt description for the Monster, thought I. So I nicked her phrase and used it as the concept for this post. If you don’t enjoy reading about badly behaved/wonderful dogs you might want to check back with me tomorrow.

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Baby Monster…sooooo cute!

The Monster, like many pets switches between asshole and adorable hats from moment to moment. And I, blinded by love and a cute face, predominantly remember the adorable moments. I am going to take this opportunity to document her behaviors and decide is she more adorable or asshole?

  • Cute, cutie, cute, cute. Even her under-bite begging face is cute.                                                             1 point adorable.
  • Skin problems. Plural. She had to take a cocktail of pills everyday, (which she takes by us prying open her jaws and shoving down her throat- very slobbery) we have to rub stinky things into her skin and she costs us a small fortune at the vet every month.                                                                                                                                     1 point asshole.
  • When she wants something she sighs and groans. She only barks and growls when she’s playing . Her ‘I want’ noises are much more human.This is cute in the afternoon, much less so at 3 am.                         1 point adorable/ 1 point asshole.
  • She likes to curl up between us in bed and snore.                                                                                         1 point adorable

 

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  • She often needs to pee or poop in the middle of the night.                                                                           1 point asshole

  • She often rings the bell on the door to go out to pee but does nothing, especially with WW. She is not allowed to be unsupervised in the garden because she is restricted from walking on dirt due to her skin problems. 1st world dog problems. Sometimes she will ring the bell 5 times in an hour and do nothing. If we don’t take her out she shits in the downstairs bathroom.                                                                                                                                         1 point asshole

 

  • When she has pooped she runs backs into the house, finds WW, wherever she might be and attacks her. Not in a ‘scarred for life’ way but enough for WW to shout and complain.                                                                    1 point asshole
  • When she’s sick or we’ve had to put her head in the cone (again) she sulks and sleeps a lot, often on my lap.                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 point adorable
  • When someone sneezes, coughs or cries she comes to check they are OK.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 point adorable
  • She always brings a toy to play with and then mucks about and growls just out of reach so you can’t actually play with her,                                                                                                                                                                        1 point asshole.

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Gone are the days when she was little enough to fit easily under the sofa.

  • She randomly stuffs herself under the sofa, wearing a cone and then groans because she can’t get out. There is nothing under the sofa and she never does this when she isn’t wearing a cone and could get herself out.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       1 point asshole
  • When I have my period, back pain, egg retrieval or any other time when I am broken in some way, she sleeps on me and keeps me company, sometimes for hours.                                                                                                    1 point adorable

 

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  • She wakes up at around 6.30am at the weekend. During the week she wakes at 5am, half an hour before my alarm.                                                                                                                                                                                     1 point asshole
  • The minute we have made food and sat down to eat she rings the bell to go outside and pee. Every.Single.Meal.                                                                                                                                                                                             1 point asshole
  • She wakes me up in the morning by sneaking onto my pillow and licking my face.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             1 point adorable
  • I get out of bed and get semi dressed to take her to pee. She pees and runs back into the house. The second I go back to my bed and my head touches the pillow she rings the bell again to go poop.                                          1 point asshole
  • She is on a restricted diet because of her skin and is only allowed to eat dry salmon/rice food and fruits and vegetables. She is obsessional about mangoes and can recognize them from 500 yards away. She will then sit staring, with her bottom teeth sticking out, groaning until we get her some.                                                                     1 point asshole

 

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Milk mustache before milk became one of many forbidden items.

  • When visitors come she shows her excitement by peeing on them.                                                              1 point asshole
  • The whole time visitors stay with us she insists on licking their toes.                                                           1 point asshole
  • She is friendly to everyone and every animal she meets and she particularly loves kids.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     1 point adorable
  • She occasionally eats the corners of furniture and wallpaper.                                                                       1 point asshole
  • She took 6 months to house train and still has occasional moments of forgetfulness.                                 1 point asshole
  • She is very responsive to training to training when food is involved. I got a little stuck, having never trained a dog but she can sit, shake, stay, lie down, go, come and jump up. She taught herself to beg. And to manipulate.                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 point adorable
  • She pretty much listens to me and does as she is told. Especially when I break out my angry voice.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 point adorable
  • She pretty much never listens to WW. If WW uses her angry voice the Monster replies with her own angry voice.                                                                                                                                                                                            1 point asshole

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Favorite TV show- the Dog Whisperer. We love you Cesar but we break all your rules every day!

  • The Monster’s favorite game is ‘Where’s Mummy?’ in which I run and hide and WW says ‘where’s mummy?’ in an excited voice. The Monster will immediately start running around the house searching. She pretty much sucks at this game and can often be tricked by people hiding higher than her eye line (about 1 foot off the floor). WW also recanted a funny story where she hid behind the bathroom door and the Monster could only see her reflection in the mirror and spent the next 10 minutes trying to leap into the sink, to get WW out of the mirror. If she turned around she would have seen WW behind the door. Not the sharpest tool in the shed.                                                                                1 point adorable
  • Her farts are super nasty and often get blamed on me.                                                                                  1 point asshole
  • Instead of walking around the humans she uses them as trampolines.                                                        1 point asshole
  • When the neighbourhood dogs walk past unleashed she runs over to our garden gate to say hi and allows them to mark their territory on her head.                                                                                                                                 1 point asshole
  • Smelly, gunky eye snot collects in her eyes several times a day. When we try to remove it she thinks that we are offering her a yummy tissue treat and won’t sit still.                                                                                                        1 point asshole
  • She thinks her reflection is another dog and often goes to investigate. She is scared of her reflection when she is wearing a cone.                                                                                                                                                   1 point adorable
  • She sometimes falls asleep with her favorite toy of the moment still in her mouth because the humans were too tired to wrestle it off her.                                                                                                                                                1 point adorable
  • She often sleeps with her legs splayed open in a most unladylike fashion.                                                  1 point adorable
  • Her eyelashes are longer than the width of her eyes.                                                                                    1 point adorable

That gives me a total of 15 points adorable and 20 points asshole which is probably about right. It doesn’t matter too much to me though as the minute she crawls onto my lap and passes out I forget all the asshole moments we had that day. She is our fluffy teddy bear and we love her despite her assholey-ness. I mean, come on- look at the photos! How an that cutie be an asshole? Of course, she is almost always sleeping in the shots and that when she’s at her best :-D.

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Are your pets more adorable or asshole? Please share examples below x

Paradise…

In the middle of the night on Monday I jerked awake, panicking that we had slept in, having only managed to fall asleep three hours before. It was 10 minutes to 3 am, 10 minutes before the alarms started going off.

A quick shower and a 45 minute taxi ride saw us at the airport. Crazily early to most people, just early enough for me to avoid my travel anxiety kicking in to high gear. For some reason two ATMs were unable to read our bank card, which was odd and scary seeing as paradise island does not yet have a functioning ATM. Hmm.

Our flight was an hour and a half. We rushed through the airport, managed to find an ATM that cooperated with our card and then we got into a mini van for 2 and a half hours. We were still pretty excited and awake at this point but began to get sleepy waiting at the pier for our boat.

Normally the boats I have taken for island crossing are big, slow, lumbering ferries and I was a little nervous when I realized we were taking a speed boat, especially since my back was still messing me around.

I was right to be nervous. Just a few minutes in to the journey we started bouncing around on the white caps. Four local men who had situated themselves in the bow of the boat quickly retreated to the inside. The speedboat didn’t slow down as we climbed up the big waves and hit down hard on the other side. People were being lifted out of their seats by the force and everyone was screaming, crying or vomiting. I had a brief moment of tired hysterics when I looked at WW and saw she was catching the worst of every wave that splashed over the side, while I remained almost dry. I wasn’t able to maintain the laughter/crying though as this continued for an hour and a half and the sea sickness started to get to me. I remember someone telling me to keep an eye on the horizon but we were lurching around so much it was impossible to keep my head stable, let alone focus on anything.

A few times the boat listed scarily to one side as it climbed a wave and I worried we would capsize. I had no faith in the driver, who looked about seventeen but could have been thirty-five. I  tried to reassure myself that these crossings must be pretty safe as I had never read about any deaths in the news. But would they bother reporting an instance of so few deaths? Would I see it? I don’t really keep up with the news…

I was also very glad that we hadn’t gone ahead with the embryo transfer a few weeks earlier as originally scheduled as if I had started that trip pregnant I think the baby would have been shoogled out of me.

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Thankfully we made it to the island in one, slightly jarred and green piece. I had forgotten how Thai islands make me feel but by the time we had settled in to our little beach hut, had a walk, some lunch and a nap, I felt myself sink into the relaxed and easy going vibe. We sat sipping a beer, stomachs growling with the smell of BBQ kebabs and I asked myself why we didn’t do it more often. I didn’t realize how wound up I had gotten until I physically began to feel  myself unwind.

We met friends and hung out for the next three days, splitting our time between snorkeling and swimming in the crystal clear blue water, eating, snoozing and reading books in the shade and listening to good music in bars. WW had time to get close again and I went almost the whole time without obsessing about babies and pregnancy. The beaches were beautiful. For 1 GBP you could rent a snorkel, wade into the sea 200 yards from our beach hut and bob around above the coral. We saw a variety of fish, of which we were particularly excited by our sightings of ‘Nemo’ fish and angel fish. I got brave after the first hour and was able to control my fear enough to swim over the coral and the squillions of evil, black, spiky sea anemones. Wow, I spelled that word right the first time :-D.  Definite highlight was snorkeling side-by-side with WW, holding hands and squeezing each others’ fingers to point out things we had seen.

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All too soon our time was up and the dreaded return journey was upon us. We set off on the speedboat at a much more reasonable 9am and to our delight the crossing was perfect. Similar bumpiness to riding in a bus on the motorway. We skimmed smoothly over a sea as still as glass and the teenage driver even stopped for a while so we could ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over a pod of wild dolphins who swam over to our boat and jumped around in our wake when we eventually left. A very lovely end to a very lovely holiday!

Holidays!

I still have 10 days to wait until next check up to see how my womb lining is getting on. Tomorrow I have to up the little green pills to 3 a day and I’m continuing to smear the stinky gel on my stomach every day. This morning I took 6 pills: vit c, vit e, follic acid, prognynova, mydocalm and arcoxia.  I feel a bit teary and stressed but I think that might be more related to my period and still being immobile with my back and less to do with all the meds.

WW had to shout at me to go and lie down this morning. I have a habit from my mother that I have to deep clean the house the day before I go on holiday. I started but was struggling and then got really stressed out because I noticed new mold growing in the cupboards where we store our dishes and glasses. Needless to say I am not really fit to start rearranging cupboards but I feel horribly guilty lying down in the living room while poor WW cleans, tidies, packs, washes the dog etc. We really need to get out of this house and find somewhere dry. It’s frustrating though as we’ve put a lot of elbow grease into making this place livable and there isn’t a lot near us within our price range. I’m sure we’ll figure it out, I’m just feeling a little doom and gloom right now.

pic from here

Anyway *deep breath* tomorrow we will wake up at 3am and head to the airport. My toes will be sinking into the white sand by 1pm. Hopefully by then I will be walking, not hobbling but I fear 1 hour of having my knees pressed up against my chest on the crappy airplane followed by a bumpy boat trip over to the island might exacerbate things. After that I’m going to lie on flat deck chairs and read and bob around in the ocean looking at all the pretty little fishes. The weather even seems to have cheered up for us so it should be all good. I’m going to blow the dust off my camera and take some shots of paradise to share with you all. I apologize to anyone living in the UK if the jealousy drives you to expletives. Just remember I am a size 12 who is not confident in her body and has not been able to wear jeans, long sleeved t-shirts, boots, jackets or jumpers in three years. I am jealous of warm, fuzzy socks and hot chocolate.  Of frost and scarves. Of Guy Fawkes and Halloween. Of Christmas songs in shopping malls. Of snow. And skiing!!! God I miss skiing. It’s been years.

pic from here

So yes, I will be lying on paradise island, supping cocktails (probably virgin), paddling in the clear blue water and watching fire dancers after sunset but I would trade it for a little British winter. Or, rather a country which has proper winters, not just colder-than-usual rain. Perhaps Canada?

Oooh, that’s cheered me up a little. I found out yesterday that paradise doesn’t have any ATMs so I’m a little skeptical about the WIFI coverage. You might all have a break from my daily whining but I’ll be back soon with photos and tales unrelated to IVF as I continue to distract myself from ALL THE MIND NUMBING WAITING, When I come back from the beach I will only have one more week of waiting to go and hopefully less that two weeks until the frozen transfer.

There seemed to be a lot of bad news and good news this week, out there in the IVF blogging world. Congratulations to those of you ecstatically clutching positive test results! My thoughts and digital hugs are with those of you with bad and disappointing news. Stay connected and keep sharing. I’m following and here to offer support in any way I can if you need it. Take care all!

There are piranhas with poker hot teeth munching on my lumbar region

Sometime after I turned 12 I started to stretch. I was had basically no confidence, had left one school because of issues with bullying, was fairly unpopular and now I was a giant among hobbits.

I’ve just read an article that said the average height for Scottish men is 5’9 (175cms). Scottish people are statistically the shortest in Europe due to improving health and living conditions elsewhere.The link with poverty would lead me to believe that at my high school ( a Catholic school in a deprived, ex-mining area) the average male student was shorter still and the female students were positively tiny. I was shuffling down the hallways at a ceiling-scraping 6 feet (183cms) and hating every second of it. I spend my teenage years rounding my shoulders, stooping my posture and sliding low in chairs, trying to hide. I dated one person who was taller than me in my whole life (an English boy). I never wore heels, even then, as I was too busy enjoying being smaller than someone else.

I’m a grown-up now and generally my height doesn’t bother me. I have moved to a nation of short-arses and generally I enjoy the benefits. I don’t feel too claustrophobic during rush hour as my face isn’t pressed into anyone’s armpit, but rather sailing high above, taking in their bald spots and receding hair lines. I can always see over the crowd to figure out what has captured everyone’s attention. I do have to watch out for very low things that the tiny workmen don’t worry about and all the locals sail under. I have walked into signs, tree branches, bridges, electrical wires and low hanging pieces of construction.

Thankfully WW is 5’5 (164…I checked this with her and she said, “sometimes 165, depends on their measure” 😀 ) which is pretty damn tall for a female Asian lady and she fits pretty snugly under my arm as we’re cruising along. I think my height sometimes stresses out the local men though. Some have asked me if I am a ladyboy…a query not particularly well received.

But…yes, I do have a point and I am getting to it…slowly, what I really don’t like is that my height, or rather my lack of teenage acceptance of it has left me with a rather painful back condition.

The first time I remember struggling was at Uni but perhaps every 6 months since then I have had some kind of ‘episode’. The NHS (don’t be so jealous people in other countries, generally they suck!) dealt with this by making me wait an age for an appointment, prodded and poked me a bit:

‘There, does that hurt?’

‘Didn’t my yelp give me away?’

and prescribed ineffective drugs. This is after about 5 years of the same complaint.

Then I came to Ban.gkok. Land of smiles and some of the world’s fanciest hospitals. The first time I had problems I went to the hospital (straight away, with no appointment!!) and was asked to describe my symptoms.

‘Ah, chronic pain.’ They clucked sympathetically. ‘You go physiotherapy.’

What, now? No 18 month wait list? No guzzling of beefed up ibuprofen for 3 months first?

Nope, straight in. Hello proper muscle relaxants and pain killers. And when that failed I was quickly booked in for an MRI (same day as my consultation). Which led to a diagnosis– you know NHS, a phrase to describe an illness that means you actually have to sort out some kind of treatment process?

It’s almost the opposite of the NHS here; rather than fighting tooth and nail to get them to do anything you have to keep hauling them back to make sure they’re not doing too much. But I don’t really care as long as they come under the budget for my company health insurance. Which they usually do (with only a few baht to spare).

So…drum roll please, I have two herniated discs in my lower back. For the lucky ones out there who haven’t had to deal with anything like this, in between the sections of your spine are these cushions which keep everything rubbing along gently together. A couple of my cushions (the ones I used to rest on when my chin was level with my desk as I slouched at school) have begun to erode. This means that the sections of my spine are rubbing and pinching my nerves which equals pain and a stooping, shuffling walk which makes people wonder if I’m a well preserved 80 year old who has just soiled herself.

I was previously taking an almost daily cocktail of muscle relaxants and painkillers but I stopped when we started getting serious about baby making. I have had a lot of physical therapy which hasn’t helped. I tried yoga which sometimes seems to aggravate it. I also had two rounds of 4 steroid injections into my spine which hurt like hell, took me a week to recover from and only offered pain relief for a month.

Generally I have a small level of pain and discomfort every day. This gets worse if I participate in any activities such as rock climbing, shopping, standing still for more than ten minutes, lifting anything over 5 kilos or sitting for more than half an hour. It has meant that I’ve had to stop doing a lot of things I enjoy such as going to concerts, climbing, lifting and playing with my friends’ children, going to busy bars or sitting anywhere without good chairs with good back support. I usually can’t get through a visit to the mall with WW (who enjoys being overwhelmed by choice and celebrates it by reading, analyzing and carefully weighing and comparing each purchase decision, even what toilet paper to buy) without being reduced to necking fistfuls of pills. It’s crappy and it makes me feel old.

I am writing this less than upbeat post from flat on my back on our very expensive mattress as I am struggling with another flare up. If this is not my best writing please forgive me, I am a few inches under a prescription medication fug.

And why am I sharing my little tale of woe with you all? I’m scared. I have just consulted Dr Google and found lots of scary things like ‘rupturing herniated discs when having a natural child birth’, ‘6 months of bed rest when pregnant with h.d.’, ‘giving birth 2 months early due to stress from back pain’, ‘unable to lift my new born’.

WW is alternating between berating me for not exercising enough and panicking that I’m going to wind up in a wheelchair. Last time we did this I had a little case of histrionics because she suggested I shouldn’t get pregnant right now.

I know I am inviting more pain that I will not be able to alleviate with my usual pills. I know that I might make my condition worse. If I thought I could take a year and cure myself I would. But everything I have read and all the doctors I have spoken to have told me there is no one defining cure. Some people found the steroid injections offered long term relief, others recovered spontaneously after a certain period of time. Some had surgery and were cured. But lots didn’t. For lots of people these treatments cost a lot and didn’t help. For some it even made things worse.

No one’s getting any younger and I am not willing to let this hold me back from making a family with the woman I love. We’re going for it, even if all the worst case scenarios come true. If anyone out there has any pregnancy safe back pain treatments ideas, please share. I’ll give anything a go.

All the best with your journeys!

What is in a name?

When WW and I first tied the civil partnership knot I only considered briefly changing my name but dismissed it due to potential complications with the already overly complicated process of applying for visas and work permits. Know we are (hopefully) staring down the barrel of motherhood I am revisiting the matter.

We have decided that our future spawn will have a farang (foreigner) first name and a Thai middle name, but what to do about the surname? Any same sex couples or heteros with different surnames out there please share your solutions below!

I feel very strongly that WW needs to be represented and I also want to have the same surname as our children so I don’t have awkward conversations for the rest of my life. WW pushed for a while for double barrelling the poor little blighters. We both have 3 syllable surnames that no one is able to spell. I think that plus a long traditional English name and a long traditional Thai name is just cruel. They will wind up sounding like a character from Downton Abbey. Their teachers will need to clear their throats and take a deep breath before attempting it. No, my kids will have enough issues to be getting on with.

pic from here

WW seems quite attached to her surname and I’m not sure if Thai bureaucracy can cope with something like this that doesn’t have a simple explanation so it’s down to me. I’ve never been overly fond of my name and probably would have swapped it immediately following our union had my beloved been willing to share something the Western world is able to pronounce and spell with confidence, like Smith…or Chin. But c’est la vie, I’m staying at the same level of complication really so I’m happy to do it. I love the idea of being one unit working under the same name. I’ll be able to say things like, ‘You’re bringing down the family name, son’ in a deep, macho accent :-).

I hope you out there never have to scroll through pages and pages of unhelpful, overly complicated and outdated government websites trying to figure out stuff like this. Everything is clear as mud and its nigh on impossible to find a real human being to respond to your queries.

Anyways this is what I have to do…I think:

  • I apply for a new passport from Ho.ng Kon.g (cos they don’t do them here, no idea why, but ours is not to question) which would mean sending a completed passport renewal form which listed my new name, two photos, a photocopy of my current passport (Th.ai police insist that you have the original on you at all times as a I.D.) and my original civil partnership certificate.
  • I am worried that this won’t be enough/accepted due to the fact I am applying overseas and it has been over a year since our ceremony so I’m also going to change my name by deed poll and send that along with the passport renewal form. Hopefully overkill but I have found in the past it is better to clobber these numpties  staff with enough paperwork that makes it almost impossible to deny your request. Either that or they get bored reading through all my evidence and just sign it to get rid of me. This tactic worked well when acquiring WW a visa to go to the UK.
  • Then with my new passport I can set about changing my drivers license and bank accounts. Not sure yet how I will go about transferring my visa and work permit. I’m not sure if they will do it automatically as mine has not expired. I think worst case scenario is getting all my paperwork redone in my name and having to leave the country to visit another embassy, get a new entry permit and re-enter to start again. Thankfully my school deal with this stuff for me. I wouldn’t have the first clue how to go about it. I have worked at 3 different schools here and each has required different pieces of paper from me in order to complete the process.
  • Then we can make lots of babies with our family surname and both their mothers listed on the birth certificates and live happily ever after.

That’s the plan anyway. Just got to run it past WW’s side and see if they’ll let me in. Hopefully they wont think I’m lowering the tone.

PS. I glanced at the ‘referrers’ section of the wordpress stats page and saw a website address I didn’t recognize. I’m still getting to grips with the ins and outs of wordpress but ‘referrers’ are when someone clicks on a link to your blog from another site, right? Like if I read someone’s blog, saw they were following another infertility blog so I clicked on it. That would then show up on the new blogs stats? Is that right? In that case I’m not sure how someone clicked on a link to my page- ON A PORN SITE? When I clicked on the link I was greeted with a pair of open legs belonging to a girl who is not me advertising ‘sex.y datings in Ban.gkok’. Ew. I know that someone might find themselves disappointingly sent to my blog when googling a few key words I have used but how would a link to my page appear? And how can I avoid this in the future?

The last search engine quote which directed some confused soul to me was: ‘Who’s the baby daddy after a gang bang?’. I was immensely curious what would drive someone to enter this query. Is some poor girl out there staring at a long list of mug shots wondering which was the culprit? Is some guy panicking that his go at ‘sloppy seconds’ might be costing him every month for the next 18 years? And what, pray tell, did the search engine produce for them that suggested I might be able to offer words of wisdom on the matter?

The best things in life are free….

But not for us. Poor WW almost choked at the clinic yesterday. We thought we were past the mega cash input parts of our first IVF cycle. When Doc W phoned a few weeks ago he mentioned that we would have to pay extra for embryo storage as the package we had only covered 16 (and we have 27). I mentioned this to WW, the banker of our little family but it didn’t occur to me to check how much that was.

I thought it should have been a cheaper visit to the clinic this time as we had just had a blood test, quick chat, some pills and a tube of gel. Whispery Nurse handed WW the bill and I watched her double take. There was a quick chat in Thai, WW asked me to confirm that Doc W had quoted 160 GBP for storage. I denied this. Not sure when or why I gave her this number- I think I’ve been quite foggy with the injections. It wasn’t until we were in the elevator that she told me that sessions bill was actually 440 GBP. Woah! And now we’re broke half way through the month.

I’ve lived in Thailand for long enough now that I don’t try to convert everything from baht into GBP, I know roughly what is expensive such as 40 baht for street food is good, 300 baht for Thai food anywhere is a lot. 80 baht for a large beer is good, 200 baht for a small beer better come with a damn nice view. But not converting everything into ‘real money’ makes it seem insignificant, like playing monopoly. This prevents me from grabbing WW and leaving cartoon style holes in the wall as we sprint away from these bills.

Here is a rough run down of our expenses so far:

  • initial doctors consultation including blood test and ultrasound: 100 GBP
  • blood test and ultra sound on month we started treatment: 100 GBP
  • 1 straw of donor sperm inc shipping to Thailand: 423 GBP
  • import fees and freezing and storage of donor sperm at our clinic : 220 GBP
  • IVF package at our clinic, inc stimulation and trigger drugs, egg retrieval and egg collection: 3200 GBP
  • blood test to check if ready for transfer, fee for freezing additional embryos, fee for refreezing left over sperm, hormones to get ready for a frozen transfer: 440 GBP

Which gives us a grand total of 4,483 GBP. Then at least an additional 800 GBP for any additional embryo transfers (as long as we don’t run out of embryos, then its another 3200). OMG.

When I was growing up my parents talked often of the debt they got into after they finished university (and had a couple of babies before they got decent jobs). I’ve worked since I was 14 and with the exceptions of a few minor hiccups I haven’t really had any debt since then. I was super lucky that my very generous parents were able to pay off my 6,000 GBP student loan (for all you Americans out there you did read that right- in England we don’t like didn’t used to like to send our young graduates out into the world crawling below the weight of a mountain of debt..and in Scotland university is free!!). I’ve never had credit cards or more than a minor overdraft and I like to keep it that way. We don’t have any money coming in apart from my part-time teaching salary and so we’ve been saving for almost a year to be able to afford this treatment.

Bang.kok can be your best friend or your worse enemy when it comes to saving. Most things here can be done for much cheaper than home except for buying cars and alcohol. However there are a lot of hi-society bars and restaurants just itching to sneak their grubby little hands into your pockets. Thankfully WW and I are happy with the simple (but still nice) life. We eat meals for 1 GBP or less often (I …touch wood… have never gotten sick from this, if the vendor looks clean go for it, if they are squeezing spots and wiping their hands on their t-shirt and you’re not sure what color that t-shirt used to be, move on). We treat ourselves to more expensive Western food once or twice a week. We generally drink in affordable places (and find all the deals!) and so we are able to save.

Most of the Westerners I know go home at least once a year, more often for some. Thankfully  I am less keen to head back to the UK, although it would have been nice to catch up with some friends and family. Which good because there is no way we’d swing the flights with the clinic bleeding us for every penny we have. So we’ll be having a penny pinching Christmas here this year. The first ever Christmas I’ve had without my family.

I.love.Christmas,

I goes back to my ‘peter pan’ syndrome and my love of children. Last year WW had her first full on Christmas with me (the year before we went to the beach with my family who were visiting. It was disappointing for me. The beach is for summer, not Christmas). Last year our big tree went up at the end of November (I know, don’t judge me) and from the 1st of December we watched a different Christmas movie every night. LOVED IT! Think WW was a bit underwhelmed but that’s probably a good thing, I was excited enough for both of us!

Only 10 weeks to go until Christmas. I’ve already started arguing with WW about the tree. We bought one my first year here which was cheap and looks cheap. And bald. And despite the fact is is festooned with about A MILLION ornaments it’s still ugly. And badly lit. I am buying an expensive, pretty, fake one from the department store. No more cheap supermarket trees for me!

Oops, I digress.

What would be really, really nice is if I could be happy away from my family for the first time knowing that I was growing my own little family. I’ve already given up on the hope of sending sonogram pics instead of Christmas cards as it was safely after my first trimester.

Dear Santa,

All I want for Christmas is a growing belly and morning sickness which is a symptom of pregnancy and not the usual over indulgence. I’m not sure if your sleigh and reindeer will cope with our humidity, and watch out for those damn midges but if you can grant me this wish I’ll leave you a huge plate of Tom Yum soup to warm your belly and a two fingers of Sangsom to make the flight a little more enjoyable.

Love Emz