Tuesday 30 June 2009

Give us a wave

She has a wee belly you know.

Not much, and no one other than us would ever notice. We know that all it really is is a little swelling or bloating, but that doesn't seem to matter. It's so much more than that.

It really is one of the nicest sites you could ever see.

Speaking of which, in a couple of days we hope to see an even better one. On Friday we have our first scan, 7 weeks and 5 days into the pregnancy.

The as of yet unnamed bugger has now turned from an embryo into a foetus, (or a fetus, if you like to spare vowels,) its nervous system is developing rapidly, including its brain, and wee eyes are starting to show under its skin.

Last week's bud-limbs are growing still and looking more like real arms and legs. It might wave.

All this is happening, we are certain of it, ET is tired on and off, she has turned from some foods, and there's breast activity going on that can only be described as a very fitting tribute to the late Farrah Fawcett.

We have nothing but positive signs, no reason to think anything is other than perfectly fine, and we are very content with the idea of the wee thing being tucked up nice and safe in its bedwomb.

Still, in the corner of my mind somewhere there is a pinhole sized fear, so atomic, so magnetic, so concentrated, and potentially full of horrors that I can't bring myself to think of.

I don't know why it's there, there is no reason for it. None whatsoever.

Then why is it there?

Roll on Friday.

Friday 26 June 2009

Hey, you, whatsit...

A decision must be made.

We need a name with which we can refer to this mutating being that has my wife growing out of it's arse.

Calling it 'my baby' is only going to cause confusion when that name is already bestowed upon my iPod, PC, photo printer, telly, and Smartphone.

Add the fact that ET and I can't ever agree on anything, to the delightful news that mood altering hormones have started to kick in, and we are having some trouble pinning a 'name' down between us.

You really haven't played a game of chicken until you've allowed a hormonal pregnant woman bring her face to within an inch of yours, all the while clueless as to whether you are about to get a kiss on the forehead, or a head butt to the bridge of your nose.

It does tend to encourage your agreement with her wishes.

On nicknames themselves, ET doesn't want to call the kid 'Bertie'.

I would be more willing to accept this rebuff of my suggestion had she not already scoffed at 'Bono' and dismissed 'Bruno'.

I don't know why they are all male names, she is convinced it's a girl. I also don't know why they all start with B, although I'm tempted to suggest 'Bugger'.

Either way, we have to call it something while it's busy denying me my conjugal rights in there. 'Squirt' is too obvious, even if it is a shamefully accurate description of how it came to exist.

'Spooge' makes me laugh, but I don't know how appropriate it will be to announce to folk that ET has a belly full of Spooge.

We are open to suggestions, but today in the spirit of ethnic harmony and procreation, I'm toying with the idea of calling it 'Miguel'.

Take that, Nixon.

Wednesday 24 June 2009

Berries and buds

The apple seed baby has grown.

Well, I'm assuming it has grown because it's now being compared to a grain of rice, or a blueberry, depending on what you read.

Firstly, I'm not so sure a grain of rice is any bigger than an apple seed, and secondly, telling your average thirty-something year old Irishman that something is similar to a blueberry is about as useful as tits on a bull.

I'm not comfortable with all this measuring up against healthy foods and fruit business. I'd much prefer if they compared its size to things I'm familiar with.

'This week your baby is the size of a malteser, or a McNugget, or one of those sugar lumps you carry around in your pocket you disgusting man', would be much more indicative for me.

At its current age of 6 and half weeks old, this leader among embryos is growing a set of kidneys, which should come in handy. It also has buds for arms and legs, and I wonder if it's already trying to shove it's bud-fist into the empty space in its face where its mouth will be.

Where exactly you would fit these four limb buds, set of kidneys, and last week's beating heart on a blueberry, I'm not so sure.

Small as it may be, the bugger is demanding. Mouth or no mouth, it manages to communicate through it's host interpreter who in turn informs me what 'the baby wants'.

The baby wants the lasagne without the spinach so go back and get it, the baby wants the red throw over and not the blue one, and the baby wants to watch another episode of 'Ashes to ashes' and most definitely not that boring '24'.

In 9 days time we get to have a look at this wife squatter, and I'm bringing fruit.

Monday 22 June 2009

Something in my eye

Father's day was never something that registered with me, it never really came into my radar.

I woke yesterday morning in a self inflicted haze, to find ET standing over me.

My fear that she was about to beat me about the head and face with a bedside lamp or some such weapon was luckily found to be uncalled for.

She presented me with a gift and card, the card read as follows:

I'm somewhat concerned as to where ET may have developed paper cuts in retrieving the card, but for a six week old embryo with a couple of buds for hands, that is some nifty penmanship.

Another day of moronic grinning followed.

Thursday 18 June 2009

The nuts & seeds of the matter

My child is the size of an apple seed. One whole seventeenth of an inch long.

Within a couple of weeks it will be up to one third of an inch. At that rate of growth, in two months it will be taller than I was in college.

What is more interesting is that in the last week or so, it's heart started beating. ET would say that the fact it possesses one means it's already more evolved than it's father.

I'm not sure how something the size of an apple seed can even have a beating heart, so either it is something they make up to stop us getting bored of it all, or it's the most fascinating feat in all of biological history.

We are now past the 5 week mark and into the sixth. The predominant symptom is face ache from grinning like an idiot and an inability to focus on anything for more than twenty seconds.

That's me anyway.

ET is exhausted. Utterly. Totally. Her body has decided to take to this pregnancy like a squirrel, and is insisting she hibernates through the entire thing. I have to wait at her bus stop to knock on the window to wake her. Otherwise she'll end up in Paris some evening.

I have also set her alarm for February next year, should the contractions not wake her.

Unfortunately, unlike squirrels who hibernate in the wild, my nuts may not last the Winter.

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Rear view mirrors

On Sunday afternoon we took a long walk through Amsterdam.

This is something I've hated and avoided doing for a year or more. Everywhere we looked we were always face to face with another family out for the afternoon.

Another mother, another father, another bump, another child, another reminder.

That meant pretending we didn't see them just to get through it, and eventually, I stopped going there at those times completely.

For over a year I have skirted past the pregnancy section in bookshops, making sure to look anywhere but at the books, for fear anyone would notice me and instantly recognise I was a little broken. Like being labelled a deviant if you were caught anywhere near the porn section in a video shop.

Those things are embarrassing, and not entirely healthy.

Sunday, for the first time in so long, we were able to watch those families pass by, and talk about them. The size of the bumps, the ugly strollers, the cute kids, and how we certainly wouldn't dress them in those rags. It was like being released from prison.

Sunday, we stood at that section, thumbing through book after book, passing them back and forth between ourselves, comparing their merits, choosing what we wanted to take home.

Handing those two pregnancy books to the assistant to pay for and bag, was as liberating a moment as I've ever had.

'Yes, I'm perverted and here's my porn'.

I know that some people read this stuff here purely because they identified with it. What we were facing was what they were facing. A trouble shared is a trouble halved.

Now, it must seem like we have become an enemy of sorts. I described it myself once as finding out that someone else had discovered the secret, but wouldn't share it.

There's no secret. There's just persistence and luck.

I find it hard to articulate why I feel an amount of guilt about having that luck. No dictionary holds words strong enough that could explain how grateful I am that we have had it, nor how much the misery of the last couple of years has shaped how we are now, and how we'll go forward.

I know people will stop reading here now, I know it's too hard for some. I understand.

I hope they will see whatever gets written here not as gloating, but as an example of what really can be if you stay persistent and get that little bit of luck.

We are going to enjoy what lies ahead of us now, we are not going to dwell on what's gone before and let it spoil this for the three of us, but keep it as a reminder of how lucky we are.

I hope it's catching, and long lasting.

Friday 12 June 2009


By Saturday it had become just too much to handle.

Sitting, standing, scratching, pacing, waiting for Monday.

The red menace hadn't sailed into port, and the temperatures were still high. By the end of the afternoon, we finally caved in and picked up what I can only call an extortionately priced pack of pregnancy tests.

Clearblue are a shower of opportunist bastards.

Maybe the act of buying the tests served to sooth the anxiety a little, and they were put away, unused.

Come Sunday morning, my wake-her-up-so-she-can-take-her-temperature alarm woke me up at 7am. Following a gentle and loving poke to the temple, she reached over, grabbed the thermometer, and shoved it in her gob.

I'm sure she was still asleep when it beeped to indicate it was ready.
High. Still high on day 28 had never happened before.


She trotted out of the room and up the stairs to the bathroom. Still lying where I woke, I listened to the familiar house sounds. Floorboards, door handles, a flush, silence.


It could have been 5 seconds, it could have been a day and a half, I don't know, but at some point the familiar sounds changed to the unfamiliar sound of her thundering down the stairs. How she didn't fall and break her face is beyond me.

I don't know what was said, but the test was shoved in my face. Being blind as a bat and not long awake, there was no way I could read the tiny word in the test window. You would think these people know that the tests are most likely to be peered at with sleep filled eyeballs.

Clearblue are a shower of cruel bastards.

A dozen blinks later, there I was, flat on my back, which I must admit is not the optimal position for reacting to life-altering news, staring at the word 'zwanger'.


Another test later that evening said the same.

Clearblue are the best company on the planet.

We floated into Monday, floated over the tiny matter of a heart stopping negative test result using a cheap internet bought stick, and went into orbit once the hospital rang with the results of the blood test.

A very healthy 13dpo hCG score of 129.

Today they tested again and it came back at 400. Perfect. This is really going to happen.

It's been almost 6 days of grinning like a demented loon, being caught smiling to myself, and generally living in a Disney-like fuzziness where all the light bulbs have a higher wattage and nothing is unfixable.

What a difference a week can make.

Tuesday 9 June 2009

Saving you from tales of fireflies

Well, yikes.

I’ve written an awful lot of rubbish here.

Don’t get me wrong, it has its merits, it tells the story, keeps my brain ticking over, and is often fun to craft, and full of release, but essentially it’s the same handful of entries repeated.

Twenty eight times I’ve told the same thing over and over, with a few self-abuse tales or outings to the clinic thrown in for some variation.

The same thing happens every month, and I write the same thing every month.

With every cycle that passed, I wrote another kind of entry. Entries that never made it on-line, most of which never made to black and white at all. These were my imagined posts describing how that cycle would be a success, how we’d finally done it.

There were good ones among them too, some funny, some poignant. Some that rushed one way before suddenly hurtling back in the opposite direction, a roller coaster of reveal, breathtaking and stomach dropping, and leaving us all panting and drenched in the eventual wonderful news.

Some borrowed great words from others, bloggers, musicians, poets. Quotations that took sledge hammers to the glass cases housing the emotions I could only imagine I would feel but couldn’t come within a country mile of expressing accurately.

Each time I came up with one, it seemed perfect. Each time it was irrelevant.

My last one was my favourite, pretentious and failingly poetic, filled with daydream imagery and mention of fireflies and lots of other things I really should stay clear of, but it genuinely felt right and I was convinced I would use it.

Until now.

Now it doesn’t seem right. None of the twenty odd variations do. None of them come even close to pushing my stomach up into my chest, stealing half breaths from me, and making me stand taller, but shake just a little in disbelief and excitement like the following half dozen words do.

I’m going to be a dad.

Monday 8 June 2009

Tread softly

I have more than a couple of pet peeves about this whole infertility circus.

If I started writing about them all, I'd be here so long I'd lose the energy to make a fist. So I won't.

Two of them, however, won't be escaping so lightly.

One can't be helped, it's unavoidable. I hate not being able to be there for every appointment. I've managed so far for every scan and talk with the doctors, but there are other things that I can't be at.

There's often no reason for me to be there, when ET takes a blood test for example, it just irks me. Often, appointments with the specialist are carried out over the phone directly with ET, which I'm also not there for.

The other, is very much avoidable. Why can't these doctors or nurses just be nice? We have had some friendly ones, but more often than not, they don't crack a smile.

They are surely clever enough to equate working in a fertility clinic with having patients who could do with seeing the occasional friendly face. We don't go to make their day worse or just to irritate them.

People who need to be there, need help and reassurance, yet too many of those providing the help seem to do so almost grudgingly.

I wonder do they need reminding of what it is they do, changing the lives of people every single day.

These two pet peeve cross paths this morning, ET is going to the clinic by herself for a blood test.

A pregnancy test.

I'll be at work, hoping that whoever she deals with today will just give her a smile.

She deserves it.

Thursday 4 June 2009


Take a balloon.

Blow it up to almost full, leave it just a little soft.

Hold it as close as you possibly can to your face.

Using just the fleshy part of your fingers, squeeze it.

Always increasing the pressure.

It's fun in the beginning. Squeezing it is exciting, the anticipation making you almost giddy, but each push of your fingers makes you flinch a little more.

You must increase the pressure, firmer and harder with the balloon directly before your face.

You are not allowed to relax and start again. No easing up, no stopping.

It starts to make those stretching noises, you know it's about to burst. You clench your teeth and flinch faster. It's not fun anymore, the bad part is coming.

Regardless of how much you are expecting it, when it does explode, you know it will be loud and startling. Just for a second or two, leaving you gasping for a breath.

That's what waiting for this feels like.

Tuesday 2 June 2009

Feline literature from Guantanamo

It's been roughly eleven years and four months since the IUI.

My calendar says it's been a week, but it's defective, it must be.

My brain has seized up, and ground to a halt. The neighbour's cat is capable of more productive output than I am at the moment. In fact, the cat is writing this on my behalf.

Under optimistically normal circumstances, which let's face it -if I'm imagining a cat using a spellchecker, these are not, right now somewhere deep inside a short woman in an office building in South Holland there's a whole lot of implanting going on.

As she is sitting there, pretending to work while reading about Susan Boyle's breakdown, there could be a fertilised egg burrowing it's way into some cosy looking corner of a uterine wall. Like those kittens you find in the cupboard under the stairs, rats under the kitchen sink, or asylum seekers in the attic.

The quandary is, who's to tell? how do we know? without waiting for another thirteen years before we get to actually find out. Do early stage pregnant women act as a beacon for small woodland creatures? Does an implanted egg make a noise if you poke it from the outside? What does hCG smell like?

What our neighbour's talented cat is nervous about typing is that today we have had a significant dip in temperature. From steady rises up into the 36.80s, right down to 36.23 C.

Exactly a week after the IUI.

Go on, say it. I dare you.

We'll be over here, in the two week wait cell, that part of Guantanamo bay they were afraid to tell you about.