Sunday, 31 August 2008

Lady Luck

I don't buy lottery tickets very often. But occasionally when I've had a rubbish day I convince myself my luck is due to change, or if a couple of fortuitous events have happened I figure I'm on a roll and buy a ticket.

And every time, without fail. I just get a sneaking suspicion that I'm gonna win the jackpot. That gut feeling that I'll tell friends years later "I just knew".

I make elaborate plans based on that weeks jackpot, where will I buy a house, how much will I keep and how much to give away. Can I live off the interest of 2 million for the rest of my life? Will I get a dog and a baby seat in the Citroen DS I plan on buying? Difficult, absorbing, questions.

I have never once won anything, not even a tenner. But despite the odds being massively stacked against me, by buying a ticket I have a chance.

At the moment I test for pregnancy on a weekly basis. I haven't had a period for 71 days so am pretty certain my womb has given up and there is no way I'll be pregnant. But what if an egg has slipped out and we fertilized it without even noticing? Maybe that's why my period hasn't, arrived.

And those three minutes are loooooong. I work out when the baby will be born. I think about what I'll say to the husband when I emerge from the bathroom - will I be nonchalent or will I scream?

But if clutching a lottery ticket and checking the numbers is the equivalent of the two week wait. The random testing, just in case when I don't seem to have ovulated since March, is the equivalent of finding a screwed up ticket on the street after the draw and checking those numbers. It is not going to happen, it is a waste of time. It is...


And if I had you going, thinking maybe this is an elaborate way of telling you that I got a positive. Then, I'm afraid I did it on purpose. Because in a very low key way it is this feeling of anticipation followed by disappointment that assaults me every weekend when I check just in case.

The random pictures are from the beautiful wedding we went to yesterday. It had a VE day village fete feel. Keeping with the theme they had a raffle. Once again I just knew I'd win something. And once again nothing!*

*Mental note, blind optimism isn't working. Must try a different tack.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Acupuncture and hangovers don't mix

The title says it all really.

I don't know if you noticed but I was a bit pissed when I wrote yesterday's post. And by pissed, my North American friends, I mean drunk rather than angry.

Yes, I know it was a Wednesday and I've been sworn off mid-week drinking. But having not had a period for 68 days now the chances of me being pregnant are slim to nil and sometimes I need a night off (the wagon).

So today's acupuncture (moved from Monday because of a public holiday here) was bad. Painy, ouchy, hurty bad. Today the pins felt like pins, jabbing me and scratching my nerves. It felt like the Doc was doing voodoo but had dispensed with the doll and was shoving the pins directly in me, which was essentially exactly what he was doing.

I couldn't relax, I was by turn bored or in pain, I wanted out of there.

I snapped a bit when he asked when my next period was due "I don't know, sometimes it can be after thirty days, sometimes 90."

He stuck a tiny wee pin in my ear. This will stay there for a week or so and I'm supposed to tweak it two to three times a day until it falls out. Apparently this has a direct line to my womb, and I'm gonna be prank calling until it gets its act together.

And I'm good at direct dialing. After two weeks of ringing and leaving messages with the RMU nurses, the appointment answer phone and the doctors secretaries I now have a date of next Tuesday for my 3D scan.

OK. I think the grumpiness is abated now so I can be bright and chirpy for back-to-back weddings tomorrow and Saturday.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

How Do You Tell Someone You Are Pregnant?

Before you have time to wonder, I'm not.

I write this post not for my regular readers but for those who, within 7 minutes of seeing the double lines on the pee sick are on the internet wondering what the best way to share the news is.

"I'm thinking maybe a room full of blue and pink balloons. Or maybe ginger-bread men but this time its ginger-bread babies, I'll give them out to the people at work and see how long it takes them to work out why I am grinning like a moron and rubbing my tummy. Fuck it, a fly past by the red arrows spelling out 'I'm having a bbbaaaaabbbbyyyy'".

This is a friendly caution.

You do not know who is trying to conceive.

You know that girl who always goes "Urghh babies! Clearing up shit and puke all the time and not being able to drink for nine months "? She might be trying.

The old bloke at work; him and his lady friend who jet off to the Algarve every three months, they are well past baby making age and don't have kids, they won't give a toss, right? Actually, they may have tried for years and never made it. Never assume they are 'safe'.

My answer? By email. A short, happy one, not too full of details.

Preferably to an email address that you know that they won't check at work but will see at home when they can absorb the news, maybe have a little cry, compose themselves and prepare an appropriate response.

Now I'm not saying tell your partner like this, or your parents.

But, I'm asking you to consider others. Even those who don't seem to want and have never had children. It might well be that even if they have chosen not to have kids there will be a little twinge, and if they are trying/ have tried unsuccessfully it will really sting.

I've told you what to do, here is what not to do:

Don't tell someone at the beginning of the evening when, if they are upset, they have no escape route to breath/ cry/ bang their womb against the wall.

Don't phone them, it might seem impersonal to you to email but consider how long someone whose heart is breaking can keep up the squeaky banter that is required when someone tells them they are having a baby. "Brilliant! Great! Umm! Brilliant?.."

Don't tell anyone how easy it was 'one shot'; you were both pissed; it was a wedding you forgot the condoms. We don't need to know.

If you are a bloke, don't tell everyone how you have super-sperm and stand leg akimbo glancing towards your crotch all evening.

Don't assume that this is the biggest thing that has happened to anyone, anywhere, and will be the natural basis of all conversation for the next 9 months.

Now, I need to point out that this email is a pre-emptive strike, because I don't know who will announce their pregnancy next. I just want to get in there now before the next announcement and when I can give advice without offending the last person to announce their pregnancy.

This is what I reckon.

I might be wrong.

What do you think? How do you want to be told about the next pregnancy?

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Rivulets of tears and the torrent of snot

I had this week's post all worked out. It was going to be called something along the lines of 'Do I really want a baby?' and it was going to catalogue, in a humorous, tongue-in-cheek way, the trials of having to look after a two and a half year old.

My big sister, the scissor sister (no not in that way or that way, but because of this), is pregnant for the second time, due in October. Being the frankly wonderful sister I am I offered to look after her two and a half year old son for the weekend whilst her and her man had one last weekend away before the onslaught of another new-born in the house.

The scissor sister lives ten minutes walk away from me so I often pop round and baby sit. But I've never done an over-nighter before. So I was a bit worried about how it would go.

The first hour was a nightmare as the nephew shuddered out through tears, "Whhh-why did mum-mum-mum-mummy l-l-l-leave MEEE?.... *gasp* ... b-b-b-but I lllllooovvveee her."
And as the rivulets of tears melted into the torrent of snot I considered ringing her mobile and saying it had all been a mistake, come back and the husband and I would take her hotel booking.

But then he cheered up. We played trains (I built an awesome track with three junctions, a tunnel, bridge and zoo alongside), we walked the dog, went down the helter-skelter together, and he insisted on accompanying me to the toilet (not so happy about that one - I have a shy bladder if I think there is someone in the next door cubical, let alone if there is a little boy watching me with a curious expression on his face that looked suspiciously like he was doing a sympathy wee in his nappy at the same time). The husband let him stir his chicken on the hob and had him riveted by Green Eggs and Ham (who would guess Sam-I-am was right?). I sang him to sleep - this is the only guy in Christendom who has ever asked me to sing more - and got a soggy kiss goodnight in return.

Of course the dog was upset by staying at my sisters over-night kept us awake half the night, but the boy was brilliant.

So, the conclusion? We've passed and will be kick-ass parents. Just need to get over that first hurdle...

Friday, 22 August 2008

National Health Service

Ah! The NHS, the good old National Health Service. Its like your Granny. (I say 'your', I've not met your Granny, I mean 'ones generic' Granny).

So where was I? Good old Gran NHS. She always been there for me. When I was two and managed to pour chip fat all over me she took me in, nursed and nurtured me and enabled me to recover without a scar. As I grew up she was always there to cure my ills, when I had a cough, measles, mumps, my first bout of thrush ... - happy, happy carefree days. She never asks for anything back, no money exchanges hands, she does it because she cares.

But she's getting old. (Ok I know at 60 she's more my Dad's age than a Granny's, but bear with me on this one). She is a bit more shabby 'round the edges, sagging a bit, can't move so fast, not really up to speed with new technologies and, to be frank, smells a bit of wee.

I know she has my best interests at heart and really would like to help. But she is also getting forgetful. She says that she'll call me back and I have to keep calling her and then she's forgotten why I've called in the first place. (I'm still chasing the scan that would "happen in a couple of weeks").

And she thinks she knows best and omits telling me things. So I got a letter today from the hospital, it was the write up from my appointment on the 31 of July. Three weeks ago.

Essentially, it was a letter to my doctor but they cc-d me in, which was nice! I mean normally she wouldn't write to me, obviously, but because as I specifically asked to see all correspondence she sent me copy a letter. Second class.

So the first bit was as discussed: "Looked at hysterosalpingogram report ... yada yada yada.. irregular uterine cavity .... discuss with my colleague Mr. S... whether we need to do a hysteroscopy".

But then this last sentence:

"We will then make final plans, for what probably will be intrauterine insemination with controlled super-ovulation".


The last appointment we discussed me going to the clinical nurses to "try and sort out my cycles." Brilliant, well up for that. But there was absolutely no mention of insemination.

I'm totally thrown. I don't know what to think.

I'm delighted that they are taking me seriously and are planning on helping but I am just shocked that I found out this was what they were planning through a letter.

To someone else.

Now far be it for me to teach my Grandmother to suck eggs, but I've had a chat with Dr. Google and it all seems a bit premature. I mean if the ovulation drugs don't work, by all means inject some spunk into my uterus but you'd have thought they would give the drugs a chance first.

I'm a bit all over the place now (as is my metaphor). I really don't want to seem ungrateful and I'm sure plenty of folk would give their left testicle for this kind of help (mostly 'cause their left testicle is entirely expendable as it isn't doing its job anyway) but it just seems a bit odd to get the next stage diagnosis this way. Doesn't it?

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Bits and Bobs

I haven't had a re-occurrence of pregnant emails this week (maybes they read this blog and have stopped, who knows?) but I did get this yesterday that made me laugh.

It was a tutor with a description for a new course, first line:

Collaboration between the college and XXXXXX has enabled us to offer this fertile and dynamic course.

Brilliant! A fertile course, who knew drawing dancers (for that is the premise of the course) could do that? At least I now know what I've been doing wrong, I always figured sex was the key.


After the miserable news story I posted a couple of weeks ago a mate sent through official endorsement for us to eat ice-cream. Its old news but I haven't seen a retraction.

Don't thank me ladies, I am here to serve.

(Just a thought, Murdoch hasn't bought Hagen Daas has he?)


Oh, and remember the scan that never happened? I rang on Monday to see when the appointment was scheduled for and was told the Doc wasn't in till Wednesday so call them. Four calls and answer phone messages later, nothing, guess it'll be another week before I get a date. just hope I get more than a days warning this time.


Finally as I mentioned in one of my comment sections I can't get my blog to appear in google reader (any tips gratefully received) but in researching what might be wrong I discovered that I can see what folk have searched for and found this blog.

My favourites:
"crutch for pregnant people photo 4 babies at a time photo"


"why do people have sheets with holes in them when trying to get pregnant?"

Just something for you all to think about...


Monday, 18 August 2008

Little Pricks*

Firstly to apologise for the vitriolic rant on Friday, I'd had a shitty day and needed to let off steam. Post-acupuncture session two I am feeling much more Zen and at ease.

When I arrived the TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) Doc asked how I'd felt after last week’s session, he'd warned I might feel very tired. I hadn't. Any other symptoms? He looked at me hopefully. I racked my brain, had I felt any different? I still haven't had another period (day 59 and counting). No, not really.

So he clearly felt this time he had to up the ante.

He jabbed in the normal couple in each leg, three in the stomach and the forehead 2, (only my second session and I already have a regular places). He added two more to my hairline. And, two in my right ear. I said last week they didn't hurt like you'd expect pins being stuck in you to hurt but actually the ear ones did. Ouchy. And for good measure I got a pin above each elbow.

He left the pins in for an hour. I don't know if I fell asleep. I didn't drool which is good but I had that experience of having having a really interesting thought but then, with a bit of a start opened my eyes and couldn't remember what on earth I'd been thinking about and concluded it was probably a dream and I'd slept.

He leant over me and did the tweaking of the pins again. This time the electric shock in my foot was so intense that my whole leg jerked up and I very narrowly missed chinning the doc.

Afterwards, now, I do feel exhausted. I will wait to see how things develop. So a couple of you have told me about your experiences of acupuncture, I'd be really interested to hear how any of the rest of you have got on.

* Of course I'm referring to acupuncture, what else could it be?

Friday, 15 August 2008

Friday Rant

Not content with being everywhere I go, I am now being stalked by the pregnant at work - by email.


My job involves setting up courses which are then run by far more talented people than me. Sometimes the courses have to be cancelled because we don’t have enough people enrolled.
Yesterday I had to email someone to say the course wasn’t going ahead. In response I got (and I quote, or rather cut and paste): 

"Actually it’s perfect, I’ve recently found out that I’m pregnant and I’ve been exhausted, the thought of traveling to attend a course was wearing me out."
Then not less that two minutes later I get this email, out of the blue (again any spelling and grammatical errors are their's, other than the course details that have been extracted for anonymity purposes):

"I am contacting you as I have been trying to book the course XXXXXXX on XXXXXX. I highly wish to attend but there seems to be some difficulties reserving. I would highly appreciate if it would be possible to attend the course on that particular day as I am pregnant and it will become difficult for me to attend the course at a later stage."

And I would ‘highly appreciate’ it if people who I have never and will never meet, in the course of a normal work email, would avoid including irrelevant facts about their fecundity.

I need to know if they are pregnant if they are concerned about handling chemicals during the courses (both of the these emails are related to lecture-based courses) or if they have to cancel the course and have to cite a medical reason (other than being a bit tired) to receive a refund.

Maybe I am being over sensitive (surely not!) but it feels like these people are casually mentioning their pregnancy for no other reason than to boast. The sort of people who will shoehorn it into conversation:

“How much is this pint of milk, only I’m pregnant, so would really like to know”
“I love your shoes, but being pregnant I couldn’t possibly wear them”
“As a pregnant woman I’ve noticed that the weather is clement for the time of year”

A word to the pregnants; we don’t need to know unless you want a seat on the bus or need a valid excuse for speeding. To the hospital. Because you are in labour.


Rant over, bile expunged.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Acupuncture (Oh yes, getting imaginative with my titles)

So if you saw my resolutions you’ll know I planned to try acupuncture to burst this bubble of infertility. (Do you see what I did there?!)

I chose the clinic for no other reason than it is near where I live. I didn’t know anyone else who had been and couldn’t find any reviews of it on the internet but just strolled in one day.

There was no one in reception, so I shouted “Hello” a few times and the acupuncturist popped out of the back room. I asked if there was anyone I could speak to about acupuncture.

Still standing in the doorway between the two rooms he asked briskly:
“What do you need to know?”
“Well, if it will help me, how much it costs, when I can have an appointment…”
“What’s wrong?”
“Yes. We can help. £55 for first session, £40 pounds after. Take this leaflet, call us to book an appointment”.

And he went back to the anteroom.

Not a great start. But the fee was about what I had expected (one of the reasons why it had taken me so long to book in the first place) and as I walked away I decided I would rather have a brusque acupuncturist who knew his stuff than a smarmy salesman who played the right Chinese whale music (no, I’ve no idea how it differs from other whales either).

So I had my first session on Monday and I realised it is just him who works there and, when he nipped out, he had a client in the back room hence the anxiety to get me away quick.

He didn’t speak very good English. But that added an air of authority. I had only had acupuncture once before, years ago before I started this ttc malarkey, and that was with a English bloke. I got it cheap cause he was a trainee – I know, of all the trainees you probably don’t want acupuncturists are way up there, but what can I say, I’m tight - anyway this time it felt like I was paying for the real thing.

He started off the consult by asking me a few questions. Here we go, time to repeat everything as I had done to so many other doctors. But no, his questions were quite different:

What colour is your blood when you have a period?
Oof, I try not too look, quite dark I think.

Are they painful?
Oh yes!

If I had two cups, one hot and one cold which would you drink?
Is this to test my yin and yang? Is he offering me a drink? I said cold, he didn't give me a drink.

Stick out your tongue.
I obliged.

He drew a picture of it and wrote a few things down, in Chinese, so my upside down reading didn’t help.

He explains a few things about Chinese medicine but with his heavy accent I didn’t get all of it. Something about 5 main organs and a happy womb and amount of energy that goes in compared to what goes out, I thought I heard him mention the word copulate but then he was banging on about my spleen so who knows.

He got me to hop onto the couch. Pinched my hands in a few places until I winced and yelped. “That hurts, ok, that will tell me where to place the pins” Duh! That hurts because you pinched me.

He rolled my trousers up.

I got a pin in each calf, and one lower down each leg. He stuck one in my forehead, one at the top of my head, and four in my stomach.

For those considering acupuncture and wondering if it hurts, it does and it doesn’t. He put them in really fast and they are very small so some pins stung a bit, but not like you’d imagine a pin sticking in you would feel. A few sent a twinge down a nerve, which at least makes you think he’s hit a sweet spot and knows what he is doing. Apparently if it hurts it shows there was a blockage, or something and that will subside as the acupuncture starts to fix you. I know! Look at my technical terms.

As he was putting them in I did panic a bit and the flight impulse kicked in, all I could think was “I’ve changed my mind I want to get out”. But as I always get this half way through a bikini wax, or extreme haircut, I knew how to get over the sensation and took some deep breaths until it subsided.

I then had to lie there for bloody ages, at least half an hour without doing anything. He was sitting at his desk at the end of the bed, I couldn’t see him but was very aware that he was just there which made it difficult to relax, occasionally he’d ask me a question. Whatever I answered would prompt a “hmmm” or a “hm”, what’s good, what’s bad?

Then he strolled over and started flicking and pushing the pins on my leg. The sensations were bizarre at one point the movement of the pin in my calf manifested itself as an electric shock in the sole of my foot. When he was fiddling with the pins he’d ask me questions if I flinched, “Did I feel a stabbing sensation or a throbbing?” I felt like I do at the optician when they ask if the black spot is clearer on the red or the green, like through my varying my answers they can tell I'm not really sure and just making up an answer. "Ha! There is no way that could throb twice and and then stab, don't lie to me bitch".

He got a bit chattier towards the end I had the nerve to ask him what he saw in my tongue, did it look healthy? It wasn’t bad but, he said, that it gives him an indication of what he should be concentrating on. Darn I thought I had a nice plump, red tongue and let’s face it, I was fishing for a compliment.

He told me that this year he had helped 5 couples conceive. Including one couple with the man having "poor" sperm and the woman had been told she had to undergo an operation, the doc had said she didn’t have a chance without the op. They came to him and she is now two months pregnant. But of course didn’t tell me how many had come to him is that 5 out of 5, or 5 out of 100?

He asked me to come back on a weekly basis and that I’ll know when it is working because my periods will become regular and I won’t get any pains.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, 10 August 2008


I've been tagged! Deborah at Waiting On Life has written 6 random things about herself and nominated me as one of the people to do the same and pass on to six others.

I am genuinely flattered to be tagged (look at me I'm a real blogger!) and chuffed that out of all those bloggettes she picked me. But I did um and ahh about doing it. Mainly because I want this blog to stick to the topic (except in exceptional circumstances) but also in nominating 6 other people I don't want to make them feel like they have to respond.

So I know I am probably breaking one of the ten cardinal rules of blogging but I'm going to just write one random thing about myself (which relates to fertility - though not mine so probably wouldn't come up anywhere else in my blog) and I will tag others but they are not to feel any obligation to respond if they don't want to.

So the random fact about myself:

My parents didn't know they were going to have me until 6 minutes before I was born.

Back in 1976 in Scotland scanning pregnants wasn't normal, it was only done in exceptional circumstances if they thought there was likely to be something wrong. (Actually scanning in non-pregnants in London in 2008 doesn't seem that common).

My mother was pregnant. She was big but not abnormally so. 'Big' as in one big baby, rather than 'red alert this isn't normal' big.

At 6.16am on the 14th of July out pops a beautiful, perfectly formed, and very tiny little girl, my twin, my womb-mate. But the heart beat they were monitoring was still inside. There was only one conclusion to be had, there's was one in there.

6 minutes later, at 6.22am, I made my appearance.

My Dad, who wasn't at the birth (real men waited in the pub), turned up to see his new child and got very confused when he was told there were two little girls. And my older sister (who was two at the time) was very put out when she met us, mainly because she had misheard and was convinced she was getting a pair of scissors.

So, the tag, should you wish to partake (I've tried to choose people who haven't done this one - although I haven't checked all your archives!):
Love Comes First
Lacking Expectations
Nuts In May
Reproductively Challenged

What You're Not Expecting When You're Trying to Expect
Secret Diary Of An Infertile (closed blog but you know who you are!)

So the rules should you wish to follow them (or bastardise them like I have):

1. Link to the person who tagged you - did that at the start

2. Post the rules on your blog - here they are

3. Write 6 random things about yourself - or not, or just the one

4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them - hey, this one I did

5. Let each person you have tagged know by leaving a comment on their blog - I'll do that just now

6. Let the tagger know when your entry is posted. - then this.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Hold The Front Page!

Just a quickie today, (well the last two have been very long!).

Thought you might be interested to see clomid and IUI (intrauterine insemination) was in the news today.

Link to article in The Guardian.

Now, it is slow news month here in the UK when traditionally journalists trawl the British Medical Journal and New Scientist back issues and find a story that they run as 'breaking news' so this might be old news to you lot, but thought I'd highlight it just in case.

A bit depressing that, in the UK, it might make doctors even more reluctant to try and treat us.

Still its Friday!*

*pathetic attempt to be up-beat.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008


After the appointment with the French Doc she arranged for me to have a scan the following week, that's today.

So I arrive.

And wait.

I'm called into the room by the scan Doc, someone completely new. And, she seemed completely clueless.

She asks why I need the scan I try to explain about the rough tubes that had shown up on the HSG.

She looks through my notes find the suspected subseptate uterus noticed in January (the cleft womb I mention here).

I explain that I have already had a scan in March to check this and got the all clear

She looks confused.

She asks me what day of my cycle I am at:
"Day 47"

She practically rolls her eyes at me, "No I mean when was your last period? Are you mid-cycle?"
"I know what you mean, it has been 47 days since my last period."
"And you're not pregnant?"

She IS confused.

She asks me to wait whilst she find the French Doc who referred to me to work out what she is supposed to be looking for, clearly she figures I am an unreliable witness.

She leave the room. I look at the referral sheet.

It says I am on day 47 and to investigate a HSG anomaly.

Shit, my Doctor can't read!!

She can’t find the French doctor.

She asks me to wait in the corridor.

She goes away.

The French doctor walks past:
“Ah! You have had your scan!”
“No, but...”
“Zis is fine, someone will come and get you soon”
“She did, but she couldn’t...”
“Don’t worry”
She walks off.

The scan doctor comes out.
“The French doctor went that way”
I wait.
The French doctor reappears.
She seems to have spoken to someone.
“Don’t worry iz fine”

She goes away.
The scan doctor comes out.
"Have you seen the French doctor?"
"Yes she went that-a-way, I thought you'd seen her."

Its like a French farce as one door closes another opens they can’t find each other.

Eventually the scan doctor says she has to do a scan on the next person waiting – fair enough.

The French doctor comes out again
"Have you seen ze scan doctor?"
"Yes, she is in there. BUT! sheisdoingascanonsomeoneelse."
I managed to get out before she barges in.

She brings me into another room.
"This", she declares, "is serendipity."

She goes on to say, you aren’t going to get you scanned by any old doctor meet Mr S... Mr S is the premier scanner, this is no ordinary scan you are going to get a state of the art top of the range 3d scan. She then helpfully explains that 3d means three dimensional. This is the woman who has been hurling complex medical terms at me and she thinks I don’t get 3D?!

But, of course, the 3d scan is in the other hospital across the road and I’ll need another appointment.

Mr S starts to write me a referral and then decides that he is popping over later so he’ll book my appointment and let me know when it is. I say it is fine I’ll go over myself book it. But no thinking he’s doing me a favour he insists.

I want to say:
"Look this has been a bit of a fuck up this morning I don’t trust you to a) book me an appointment or b) tell me when it is."

But I don't. I leave.

Now, I await a three dimensional scan. Apparently the waiting list isn’t that long. Only a couple of weeks. Clearly the doctor does not know what all we ttc-ers know, a two week wait is actually quite a long time.

So once again, I'm not feeling very upbeat. But things still continue to move forward, albeit slowly.

Sunday, 3 August 2008


I've always loved dogs.

A story that was apocryphal in our household was that aged three I announced I wanted to be a dog when I grew up. [Insert own joke about being a bitch here].

I had a dog as a kid and I wanted to have one as an adult but knew it wouldn't be fair on said mutt to leave it alone all day whilst the husband and I were at work. So my cunning plan? Get one whilst I'm on maternity leave, go back to work part time. Have a kid and a dog, all good.

Only it didn't work like that.

When, after a year of trying to conceive, my office moved to 9.5 minutes walk away from my house (I know, I properly lucked out on that one), I decided I didn't want to put my life on hold any longer. I didn't want everything to rest on me getting pregnant.

We knew we couldn't get a puppy because we weren't around enough during the day for the whole puppy training thing. And we wanted to make sure we were doing the right thing not just being naive about wanting a cute doggy without properly thinking through the responsibilities.

So we went to the famous Battersea Dogs Home. First we had to fill out a questionnaire with questions varying from how much does it cost a month to feed a dog to would we get pet insurance.

Next we had the interview. I knew I'd be Ok but warned the husband (who had never had animals before) to let me do the talking. He only put his foot in it once. We had agreed that we wanted, you know, a proper dog, one that looks like a dog not a tiny ball of fluff on the end of a lead/ in a handbag. How did the husband articulate this?

"We don't want a gay dog".

Now, let me make this clear we have no problem with the sexual orientation of our dog, or for that matter our friends (most of whom would also not want Paris Hilton's excuse for a dog any more than we would). I cringed and shuffled a bit so my copy of the Guardian was more obvious. 'No really we are nice liberal folk, we'll love our dog no matter how it turns out'.

We explained our situation; we'd walk the dog morning and evening and I'd come home every lunch time to take it out for a wee. She suggested an older dog, fine. And asked us if we had considered a greyhound.

I was amazed. I'd always thought that they'd need masses of exercise (more than London had to offer anyway) and were way too big for our modest space.

We knew we weren't leaving with a dog that day but were still allowed a tour of the dogs home. Which was pretty depressing. I'd say 90% were pitbull / staffies. Clearly bought by people who hadn't considered how much energy they have and wanted them so they would look tough so had done nothing to curb their breed aggression. But there weren't any greyhounds and pretty much all of the profiles said "Would not be suitable in a household with small children". Ever optimistic we knew our dog would have to be able to adapt to a baby in the house, one day.

That night we went home and were immediately on t'internet checking out greyhounds. Turns out an ex-racer would suit us really well. Use to being in kennels our flat would seem like a mansion, they also have a rigid routine of when they are let out and when they are shut in, so leaving it whilst I was at work (and nipping home at lunch time) wasn't going to be a problem. And the exercise thing? They are sprinters, so no stamina whatsoever. The books and sites agree two 20min walks a day. Easy!

It was the breed temperament that finally sold them to us. Good natured, loyal and mostly great with kids. More inclined to move away if being poked than snap.

We went to retired racing greyhound shelter. They did a home visit to check that we would be responsible owners. We passed. It wasn't lost on us that, had we been able to conceive, we would have been able to get on and have a kid with no questionnaires, interviews, home visits or checks.

I call my Dad and told him of my plans. His response:

"Having a dog is an awful responsibility. What about when you go on holiday? Why don't you have a baby."

What the fuck?! You don't think I am responsible enough to own a dog but in the same breath suggest I have a child. That's screwed up.

Or, as I actually said.

"We've decided this is what we are going to do".

When we chose the dog we were careful to ensure that we got one who would be good with children. So I took my 18month old nephew along to the kennels, my sister seemed fine to have him used as a guinea pig. The dog we chose is incredibly placid, he took the fingers in the eyes without complaint and didn't seem nervous by a child running around him.


And he is great. It is a responsibility but has actually made my work life balance better. I HAVE to take a lunch break, and it has to be a whole hour. I have to leave on time(ish), well certainly can't work too late unless the husband - who works further away leaves work on the dot, which he rarely does.

And the affection I get when I walk in the door is immense.

But we do have rules. He is a dog. Sounds obvious but when we talk to the dog we refuse to refer to each other as 'Mummy' or 'Daddy', he doesn't get to sleep on our bed*, he doesn't get chocolate.

Although I didn't expect to get a dog before a kid. It has been a useful halfway house. I can't begin to pretend that getting up at 7.30am on a Saturday and Sunday is anything like the night feeds I'd have to contend with as a mum, but I never used to get up much before 11 at the weekend before. And now, whilst I can still go out I have had to curb my nights out a bit, I can't go out straight from work and don't like to leave the dog two nights in a row, so we're building up to the grinding halt a child will have on our social life.

I've passed the half way test. Now can I try it for real with a baby?

* Forgot to add favourite joke. He doesn't sleep on our bed 'cause we're just not into dogging. Worth the re-edit?!

Update: Our dog is a retired greyhound from Walthamstow dog track which closed yesterday. Which will mean that there will be many many more ex-racing dogs needing homes over the forth coming months. Just on the off-chance that this blog comes up when people are searching for information on re-homing retired greyhounds and want to know more feel free to email me any questions regarding the ups and downs of owning a greyhound. And I highly recommend reading Cynthia Branigan's Adopting the Racing Greyhound BEFORE you commit to owning one.