Sunday, 23 December 2012

The only album you'll need this Christmas

This year Womb For Improvement Incorporated is, like a beardless Richard Branson, expanding our dominance of the home entertainment arena. Moving on from the timeless classics Barren BingoConception DeceptionConceive or Concede and last year’s Quizmas we are now launching our first musical number.

This year we are delighted to announce the release of our new Christmas album – festive enough for your friends and family to enjoy the tunes but also perfect for anyone who is undergoing Frozen Embryo Transfer this winter and wants a few tunes to encourage their embryos to dig in and stay the course.

A mix of classic festive tunes and popular classics to sooth your baby from conception through to defrosting and on to delivery:

  • Oh Come All Ye Faithful Into A Little Sample Pot
  • Ice Ice Baby 
  • Baby It’s Cold Outside (So Snuggle Down Into The Womb) 
  • Cold As Ice 
  • Frosty The Snowmanbaby 
  • The Holly And The Ivy(F) 
  • Happy Christmas (War Is Over Ward is Open)
  • Stay Now 
  • I Should Be So Lucky 
  • Driving (The Speculum) Home For Christmas 
  • All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth Embryos
  • Fairytale of New York Baby
  • When A Child Is Born

Songs performed by our in-house band Petra Dish and her Snowflakes.

Pre-order your copy now. Like IVF I can’t guarantee delivery, but I’ll be happy to take you money ...

Happy Christmas everyone! Try to over indulge.

Friday, 21 December 2012

It's not the end of the world

Call me optimistic but, as the world hasn't ended yet I'm going to call bullshit on the Mayan end of the world prediction for the 21st of December.

To be fair I never really thought it would. But that isn’t to say I wasn’t worried about today for other reasons.

Today is my due date from the pregnancy I lost in May.

All year it has haunted me as I imagined a parallel universe where I go on maternity leave, decorate a nurseries and rub my baby bump with pride.

The first thing I did when I came back to work after the miscarriage was surreptitiously blank out my diary for today I decided that I wouldn't go to work. It wasn't much but it felt like the least I could do.

But when I mentioned my plan to the husband he was quite vehement in his opposition to it.

His reasoning was pretty sound. He didn't want today to become a 'thing', an annual event where we mourn the loss of a baby, or twins, or what should have been, and what would I do instead? Sit around the house not allowing myself to be distracted from thoughts of a lost baby? To be fair today is still pretty arbitrary, despite being the doctor-sanctioned due date. I can't think of a single woman I know who actually gave birth on their due date so it is no more than a rough estimate of when I would have given birth.

So I'm off to work, for the last time this year, and I going to do the stiff upper lip thing. Carry on, not mope and see how it goes.

Wish me luck.

***Updated: It has just occurred to me that this could be read as me telling folk this is the "right" thing to do. It isn't necessarily, just how I have decided to behave today, everyone responds to loss in a different ways and whatever feels the best course of action for you is the right way to deal with anniversaries like this. I am just sorry so many of you readers have also been in this position.***

Monday, 17 December 2012

Me, me, me, me

I loved doing the agony aunt column whilst I was on a procreation break but let’s face it, I blog for one reason and one reason only - to talk about myself. So now that things are happening again let’s get back to the unfurling tale of my womb.

After three months of intensive provera action (a progesterone) with the expressed intention of reducing my womb-lining to wafer-thin proportions it was time to see if the drugs, contrary to Radiohead’s The Verve* assertion, do indeed work. To check that anything nasty has been got rid of and ensure that it can be re-grown to be a healthy embryo incubator.

At 7am the other morning I was at the hospital playing a game of spot the ailment with all the other patients looking trepidacious prior to their various operations. Some bought their partners, mothers, daughters for moral support. I bought my book and a stiff upper lip. The husband had offered to come with me but I’ve done this too many times to put him through the unnecessary hell of an early alarm - his only condition was that he come and collect me from the ward when all was done (with lemonade and salt and vinegar crisps of course).

This plan went slightly array as I assumed that he’d know to collect me from the hospital and he took it for granted that my op would be in the clinic 20minutes walk away. Cue some hilarious misunderstandings as he turned up at the wrong place asking to see his wife whilst I lay fuming wondering why the hell he wasn’t at my side.

The operation on the other hand, went without a hitch. In fact the three months of provera had done such a good job that my womb lining was thinner than a Jennifer Anniston plot line. To the extent that the doctor told me afterwards that he wasn't sure he'd managed to scrape enough out to get a proper biopsy. This is fantastic as without a thick womb lining there is nowhere for the nasties to lurk.

The results were backed up by my Doctor who I saw last week and who has given me the all clear to start the next round of IVF.

I am ready to boost up the drugs and give my womb-lining a collagen implant of oestrogen by way of Progynova pills (three a day orally and two stuffed up the other place), oestrogen patches plastered over my upper thighs and and supported by daily clexane injections in my stomach and the progynova gets a crinone chaser up the vag twice daily.

If you thought that Frozen Embryo transfer was the drugs-light IVF option my clinic would profoundly disagree. I’m getting drugged up to the max which will put a bit of a downer on festive boozing but frankly missing out on the odd drink is a sacrifice that I am more than willing to make if it will result in a 2013 kid.

So this Christmas I’ll mostly be stuffing and swallowing drugs whilst stuffing and swallowing my turkey.

All going well embryo transfer will happen mid to late January.

* Thanks for pointing out I got the wrong band Twangy. Never let it be said this blog is thrown together and poorly researched ...

Monday, 3 December 2012

Thinking Agony

Dear womb4improvement,

I have to start by saying I enjoy reading your blog!

I am new to the whole 'infertility' game. I'm MD, so I have access to lots of scientific articles on my condition (PCOS) and I freak about the statistics. I'm also a major control freak, I try to chill but mostly I stress ;-)!

My question to you is not an easy one I guess... I am currently on injections (and all the other lovely pills that come with it, and not to forget the delightful moodswings...) and I would like to know how I can block my mind so I don't think about it all the time!? When ever I tell my boyfriend it occupies my thoughts, he says I just have to forget we are trying... But injections every evening and, following ovulation, shoving 3 pills a day up there, I find it very hard not to be consumed by it. Knowing exactly when the verdict is due, it kills me to wait and get disappointed again! Then you dust yourself off and try again, but the mind games start all over again... How do you deal with it?

Kind regards,

Control freak

Dear Control Freak

As it happens a few months ago I wouldn't have been able to help you at all, but recently I have found the perfect way to stop obsessing about infertility.

All you have to do is try to sell your flat and buy a house at the same time. Throw in buyers who are really keen to move but ask the most in-depth questions that you don't have a hope in hell of answering and add to that sellers of the house who really don't seem to want to sell and find yourself stuck in the middle in the run up to Christmas.

Suddenly your insomnia won't be based around base-line scans or drugs courses but boundary-lines and damp courses.

Although I appreciate this might be a tad extreme for most infertiles.

If I was being sanctimonious I'd give you sage advice about not googling symptoms and suggest that you try not to obsess about how you are feeling. But that would be hypocritical - I estimate that during my last IVF I was personally responsible for over half of the worldwide searches for "2 days after IVF" googles, and the following day; "3 days after IVF" and the day after "4 ... well you get the point.

I also become a complete calendar whore - by the time I go in for an embryo transfer I can tell you:

  • What day should test for a positive
  • When my six, eight and 12 week scan will be
  • My due date
  • The age difference between my potential child and their cousins and all of my friend's children
  • What day of the week their 18th birthday is likely to fall on ...

It maybe isn't entirely healthy.

On the other hand there is no way, particularly in the midst of IVF that you can forget about doing IVF. In fact you shouldn't forget because that'll really screw up your medication.

In your boyfriend's defence I must concede that by talking about it all the time you are both highlighting and feeding your obsession - it is self-perpetuating and doesn't give you the chance to think about anything else. 

I have in the past been a bit frustrated by how disengaged the husband can be through the IVF process. How could he not remember the ratio of ICSI to IVF embryos that we had? And when he asks me if it is egg collection or embryo transfer that requires a full bladder I could throw my bottle of filtered water at him (blame the hormones) it seems like such basic knowledge it could almost be interpreted as him not caring. 

This does frustrate me, but the alternative is worse. Living in relationship where we are both as obsessive as one another about the whole baby making thing would be unbearable. That doesn't mean that he has to forget about the infertility but it can be a bonus if your partner can think about something else and help distract you. 

So my advice isn't to try and block thoughts of infertility, but whenever you are tempted to wail to your boyfriend "Why can't I get pregnant?" stop yourself, quickly change to "Why can't I get ... a parking space", "... an iPhone 5" "... into these trousers." (The trouser thing, by the way, that'll be the drugs.)  

I'm not saying stop all mention of infertility to the guy going through it with you, but don't turn it into the only thing you talk about, change the subject and who knows, whilst you are bickering about who should go through to the finals of masterchef you might - just for a moment - forget about your current cycle.

Good luck.


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Six Years

Despite being together for 11 years before getting married the husband and I do not have a special song.

We didn’t share our first kiss to the strains of Celine Dion (it was in a pub car park to the gentle sounds of passing drunks).

We didn’t have one of those moments where we both realised our first album was the same (mine - First of a Million Kisses by Fairground Attraction, his - The Riddle by Nik Kershaw).

We don’t even share a karaoke playlist. (He won’t sing, I can’t – but give it a bloody good shot at which point most people in the vicinity make their excuses and disappear to the loo, bar or nearest bridge whilst donning concrete boots).

So choosing a song for our first dance when we got married was hard work.

It consisted of listening to short blasts of songs and either dismissing them or putting them on a maybe list. We used up The Carpenters “Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear...” for me to walk up the aisle to. And, obviously, played Stevie's “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” when we signed the register.

Eventually for the first dance we settled on Minnie Riperton's “Inside My Love”. It's a classic soul song, we both loved it, it was romantic. A five second snippet confirmed our choice, job done and we got on to more important wedding planning stuff – like food and drink.

Now, I have a personal abhorrence of quoting song lyrics on my blog. I’ll be honest with you – if any of you have quoted a song on yours I’ve skipped it. But I am going to break that rule because you really needs to read the lyrics of the chorus of the song we chose for our first dance:

You can see inside me
 Will you come inside me?
 Do you wanna ride inside my love?
 You can see inside me
 Will you come inside me?
 Do you wanna ride inside my love?

Essentially the husband and I spent 4mins 43seconds of our wedding lurching around the dance floor in front of all our friends and family whilst Minnie Riperton encouraged the husband to ejaculate inside me.


And over.

And over again.

Which was nice.

Don't get me wrong, it was apt, because prior to our wedding he all but double-bagged his old chap such was his paranoia about contraception. Once the ring was on my finger the prophylactics were in the bin. And, without wanting to be too graphic he was positively encouraged to come inside me.

Last Saturday was our six year wedding anniversary, last Sunday marked six year since we first had sex without contraception.

The irony is, of course, that six years on because of the Provera progesteroning-up my system he categorically can't come inside me, because you know we are trying to get pregnant the scientific way.


Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Results Show!

When I asked how many embryos I should put back last post, I genuinely couldn't decide what the right course of action would be. I didn't know which way you'd vote and if I had to guess, I expected a 50/50 split between putting one back or putting two and I'd be no closer to making a decision - I'd chalk it up to an interesting experiment in blogging, but pay no more attention to the results than those people who ask you to arbitrate on an argument between them and their partner when all they really want to hear is "you were right."

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Of the 31 comments (plus two emails) I got, the split was (and don't go back and check because lots of you added caveats to your answers but I went with the response I felt you were leaning towards):
One back = 23
Two back = 4
"Up to you" / pros and cons of both / sitting elegantly on the fence = 6

However it wasn't just the overwhelming numbers of ones verses twos that had me convinced. It was the fact that you had rational reasons behind your choices.

Some highlights:
Brave IVF Girl: "There are immune-related cases where one bad embryo can ruin the environment for a good embryo."

Guinevere: "Sometimes miscarrying one causes the other to be lost too."

Nic: "I always wished that I had only thawed one and put that one in. That way, if the one didn't survive the thaw they would be able to thaw another one."

Rainy City Girl: "I would do one at a time ... as the ladies pointed out, the uterine environment changes every cycle and who knows when it is ideal."

Jessica Milln: "The natural order is to have one baby at a time - unless you are a sheep."

(In case you are wondering, I can categorically confirm that I am not a sheep.



Pundelina: "I'd suggest you only do one at a time, maximise your chances and the health of baby-to-come. Single Embryo Transfer as it's safer for both mother and babies ... and costs the healthcare system far less."

A few of you asked about embryo quality. Oddly enough I don't really know what the quality is. All three got to blastocyst so that is good. Also, I am getting rather blase about embryo quality. I've read of so many people having a straggling, poorly-graded bunch of cells put back in and nine months later a beautiful baby (or two) - see T's response:

"The only reason I put back two last year was because they were not brilliant quality, so I figured their chances were better fresh than frozen, and anyway I was convinced in would not work. The power of negative thinking ..."

I could have quoted any of you. You all made valid points - even those of you that went against the grain and plumped for two.

Thank you.

But of course my top comment was from Anonymous: "You're my IVF hero so I've no doubt you'll make the right decision for you."

What?! It isn't all about good advice, this blog's other purpose is to serve as a conduit for an ego massage for me.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Embryo Agony

No agony aunt post from me this week - turns out I've solved all your problems, which is smashing. So instead I am giving you the chance to answer MY problem

Dear Readers 

With four fresh rounds of IVF under my belt (that is a literal, locating, term - you'll probably find your Doctors use it too) I'm not keen on enlarging my aging ovaries to ostritch-egg proportions again to go through another round of IVF. 

 But I'm lucky, I don't have to. 

I have three embryos in the freezer, that is three potential babies right there. When I next do IVF it is going to be courtesy of the little frozen robot babies rather than battery-farming myself up for another crop of eggs. 

If the next three embryos fare no better than the 8 previous ones I've put back then there has to be a time when I admit defeat. Plus, depending on how long it takes to get through the remaining refrigerated batch, the eggs hanging out in my ovaries will be one or two year’s older than the previous ones and, having tipped over that magic mid-thirties mark, their quality is deteriorating faster than a student party with half-price shots and a foam machine. 

 Add to all that haemorrhaging savings and a desire to have a life beyond fertility treatments it feels like we are coming to the end of our attempts to breed. 

 So you've got the background - what is the question? (That was rhetorical - I'm getting there). 

Every IVF so far I've had two embryos put back in. Round one, two and three did nothing. I suspect that, as my womb lining is an inhospitable little bugger, you could have put eight back at once and rather than becoming a Octomom with my own TV series and I'd still be as childless as ... well, as I am now. 

The last round (four) was different. My womb was nurtured and plumped up. It was expertly scarred for added embryo-grabbability (another technical term for you there). 

And what happened? (Easy tiger, that was another rhetorical question - you'll know when I get to your question). 

Both embryos stuck around for a wee while but, I was scanned at 8 weeks and it became apparent that there was no heart beat that was the end of that. And the Doctor talked. A lot. I just wanted to get out of there whilst he went into verbal diarrhoea mode. I can't remember all he said. But I do recall him being quite insistent that the miscarriage was nothing to do with me. There was nothing I should have done in terms of my lifestyle, eating habits or exercise routine that could have increased my chances of a successful pregnancy. He was convinced that there were chromosomal issues with both embryos that prevented the pregnancy being sustained. 

I think about that all the time.

If these little ones had been chromosomally tip-top I'd be seven months pregnant with twins, or if only one could tick-off its full complement of chromosomes I'd have at least one bun in the oven - almost cooked. 

It is also a bit worrying. If two out of the five weren't Ok, how are the other three? Are they doomed before they even have a chance of life?

There is no way of telling. (Or at least there is, but the testing is beyond my budget or needs.)

 All I can do is carry on and assume that they are going to be OK. I don't have a choice.

So the question is:

*drum roll please*

How many embryo's should I put back in next time?

I'm not going to go for all three - I don't think I'd be allowed even if I wanted to. But my Doctor has given me the choice of one or two. And I can't make up my mind.

We have to assume that my womb lining will be a healthy as ever - it better be after my three pill a day ritual of the last few months. So there is a good chance that if one takes both will. Chromosomes allowing of course.  

But I have seen through T just how hard work twins can be - hell I've seen this weekend with the wombmate how hard one can be - I'm thinking one at a time would be best. 

But what if the one chosen is screwed? It'll be over before if begins and I'll be cursing the day I didn't have a back up in utero. 

But then if I put two in and neither takes I will just have one more embryo, and one more chance, left before we call it a day. 

If I put one back and it doesn't take I will still have two more bites at the birthing cherry. 

Oh I just can't work out what would be best. There clearly isn't a right answer. 

What would you do?


Monday, 22 October 2012

Eyebrow Agony

Dear Auntie Lizzy,

I moved to Dubai from New York.  All the Arabic ladies here (and many of the European/American ones as well) are constantly getting their eyebrows "threaded".  My eyebrow regimen in the states was plucking and trimming with the occasional wax.  I have fairly light hair (white blonde when I was little - those were the days!) so most of the errant hairs are blonde and hard to notice. 

My problem is that I can't find a salon (they call them saloons here.  Much to my amusement) that does waxing, and all the ladies I see having the threading are actually crying!  Yikes!  I don't want to go though individual hair pulling agony, but I also don't want to be that girl with the unkept eyebrows that everyone is secretly talking about.  Do I have to submit to a threading


Hopefully not too hairy

Dear Hopefully not too hairy

For those of you who don't know what threading is it is basically the threader will rub a couple of strands of cotton thread against your brow bone as they tangle together they catch up stray hairs along the way. Kind of like when you were a kid and put two elastic bands on your wrist and then rubbed them up and down ripping out your poor arm hairs. Don't tell me you never did that.

Many people extoll the virtues of threading verses waxing. Because the thread is guided against your brow bone it is suppose to give a brow shape that naturally flatters your face shape rather than a curve dictated by however free the beautician is with the wax strips. 

I have never had my eyebrows waxed - unlike almost every other part of my body - mostly because I was put off by my sister who got hers waxed the day before her wedding. Fortunately the bit where the waxer pulled off part of her forehead in an over enthusiastic tug isn't so visible in the photographs. 

Threading however I have done a number of times. I'm not going to lie - it stings - and yes I have also seen tears. But it isn't so much women openly weeping in pain, more that it makes your eyes water. 

With a bit of forethought there are a few things you can do to lessen the pain. Pop a couple of pain-killers thirty minutes before. I'm not convinced this has any more than a placebo effect but if the placebo works go for it. A friend swears by smearing her brows with Bonjela (teething-gel) to numb it prior to plucking, just make sure there isn't too much gunk to catch on the thread. Maybe try and numb them with ice before hand.

The good thing is that the fashion nowadays is for a more substantial brow so there will be less to pluck. Compare and contrast the picture below:

But whatever you do, don't go for the sperm brow, and no it isn't what you might think:

Oh dear.

But the short answer is do it. Embrace this new hair removal technique. It might change your life, or at least highlight your cheekbones.

Yours with a few stray hairs of her own,


Monday, 15 October 2012

Swearing Agony

Dear Auntie Lizzie

I have a friend (yes, really, it is a friend's problem).. she has a 6mth old baby and her husband (stress head) keeps arguing (full shouting and swearing) in front of her baby and she's really upset by it...he says he's trying to stop but what else can she do/say...their relationship is struggling...and at the very least she could do with a laugh from your witty reply!


A Friend

Dear Friend

It doesn't sound great, and I am not sure this is something that I can really make light of with a witty retort.

Swearing in front of a baby I have no real problem with. At a very young age they don't have a clue what you are saying so any word is fair game. Once they get more sentient, and start to parrot their parents it is even better. You have to admit that there is little cuter than a cherubic-looking toddler trying out the word "Bugger" for the first time.

Which reminds me I have been remarkably lax about teaching my nephews swear words, I must rectify that soon.

The shouting though, that sounds grim. Babies might not understand words but I guess they are much more sensitive to emotions. Any stress and upset is going to leak through to that baby like a shit-filled nappy.

A friend of a friend once said that the only reason a couple don't divorce within the first year of parenthood is they are both too tired to do anything about it.  As our fertile friends are keen to tell us, living with a young baby is tough a lot more often than it is cute. So I doubt that your friend is alone in her predicament, but that is no reason to put up with it.

So what is your friend to do? If he is shouting and swearing there is no magic word that will make him shut up and see sense (unless they are indulging in S&M and she uses the safe word), and the chances are, if she tries to make herself heard she will end up screaming and escalate the problem.

Not a helpful place to be in.

I would suggest if things start to get nasty she just picks up the baby and leaves the room. Then, when things are calmer, she tries to talk things through and explain how this is damaging her and their relationship.

The worse thing she can do is let it fester and only discuss it when they are both getting angry; she has to make sure they keep talking or nothing will get resolved.

And if the baby's first word is "Fuck" that'll be a great anecdote for birthdays, weddings, bar mitzvahs and funerals.

Yours with ear plugs at the ready,


I'm out of problems again. So what you've got to ask yourself is not 'should you share your most intimate problem with the world' but rather 'can you afford NOT to ask my advice'? Can you? Huh?

Monday, 8 October 2012

Salad Agony

Dear Aunty Lizzie

The hubby & I have been 'actively' trying for about 6 years now - I'm always careful to state the word 'actively' as I once failed to use the magic word when seeking medical help & had to put the whole thing on hold for a year as the GP was not convinced that we were 'trying hard enough' and sent us packing... (young, female, probably newly qualified & stupidly fertile - no I'm not at all bitter).

I have PCOS & a womb that just keeps on producing oodles & oodles of lovely lining (just the kind of lining you'd like to plant a baby in - ironic) but sadly I don't seem to ovulate! Been through various hormone blowing, emotion accelerating, mad-woman-on-the-edge inducing drugs and treatments but so far nothing has worked. Everything seems to boil down to the fact I'm overweight (hang in there, I'm getting to the point...).

I have been very open with all my friends & family about our little fertility predicament as I find they 'try harder' not to put their foot in it & say the wrong thing - they are all wonderfully supportive & well meaning! BUT... each time I've had a failed treatment they give me a pat on the back, tell me 'my time will come' & start discussing what foods I should consider cutting out!

Now, whilst I appreciate their encouragement, how do I politely find a way to tell them to FUCK OFF?

I spend my life at the gym (ok, slight exaggeration but it's 4 evenings & a Saturday morning out of my hectic schedule while they eat crisps & watch eastenders), I have read all the books on PCOS diets there are, I have joined slimming clubs & cut carbs to the point that the mere sight of a salad reduces me to tears & yet here I am, still a size 20 & childless, being given advice by skinny folk who eat what they like, & who fell pregnant as easily as tripping over & landing on an erect penis!

I know they all mean well, but I may well bitch-slap the next person who offers me 'kind words of support' - HELP!


An infertile salad-dodging blog-stalking fan.

Dear Salad-Dodger

The good news is I am not about to give you any weight loss tips. I have no idea how to lose weight, and lets face it having never met you I have no idea whether you really are as over-weight as you feel or if it is all in the mind. (And if you are basing your size on clothes size then I beg you not to buy your clothes at Topshop whose sizing seem to be based on guesses working from a rake.)

For a start from what you've said, and considering the length of time you've been trying, it sounds likely that dropping to a size ten is not the magic answer. Your weight might not be helping but I'd be amazed if that is the only problem.

I base this amazement not on any sound medical knowledge bit more on the kind of folk - who are way bigger than a size 20 - that I often see waddling on the school run with a couple of kids an tow and a toddler in a puchchair, more often than not scoffing a packet of crisps. (The little'un, not the mum. Actually scrap that - often both).

So don't be too hung up on your weight, the problem is how to stop other people focussing on it.

You say in your email:
"Now, whilst I appreciate their encouragement, how do I politely find a way to tell them to FUCK OFF?"

You know I am going to suggest that a not so polite FUCK OFF might actually work.

I mean, imagine your friend opening her mouth and as she is saying "Have you tried stir frys", you stand two inches from her face, shouting FUCK OFF. I mean it isn't going to enhance your friendship but it will stop them in their tracks.

Possibly this is a little extreme.

Maybe, if they start on the exercise tips, invite them to the gym with you. You might be bigger than them but going to the gym that regularly you are bound to be fitter. Get on adjoining treadmills and ask them to expound on their theories - I give it two minute before they are too out of breath to talk.

Or pre-empt them with a "You wouldn't believe how insensitive people are that they think they can start giving me diet tips, I mean you know how I've tried X, Y and Z. I am so glad you aren't like that." Should make them swallow their words.

Alternatively, a bitch-slap isn't a bad idea either.

See, you already have the answers, it is just a case of putting them into practice without getting arrested.

Although I expect prison food would act as a pretty shit-hot diet. Damn, sorry forgot I said I wouldn't give any diet tips.

Best of luck


Thursday, 4 October 2012

Metformin Agony

I know I said I was only going to do agony columns on a Monday, but they are so much fun and I have a few backed up - so here is a cheeky end-of-week treat for you guys.


I have a question for the agony aunt... I'm about to start my first IVF and have been told I'll have to take Metformin for my PCOS. 

Our consultant made a point to tell us that the main side effects of Metformin are diarrhoea and flatulence. Lovely. So my question is, do you have any suggestions for how I can get out of the inevitable embarrassing situations of the next few weeks? 

Thanks Tracy xx

Dear Tracy

Despite everything that I have done in my quest to get pregnant, Metformin isn't one of them.  I secretly think this might be because one of the side effects many women on Metformin discover is they lose weight, so why would my doctor consider giving me a drug that has a positive side-effect?


Nuts in May recently wrote about taking the drug and I would direct you to her post, not just for what she says but also her reader's advice in the comments.

But you didn't ask me about Metformin directly, you want to know how to avoid the embarrassing situations that may result, and in that I am an expert.

1) Get a dog
In the four and a half years since we first got our dog the husband and I have never farted in the house. If one of us does smell a little air-biscuit that has been artfully dropped we blame the dog. Even in some cases when the dog is in kennels or the rippling parp noise seemed to come unequivocably from the direction of one of the human's bums.  IT WAS THE DOG - GOT IT?

2) Sabotage your Nike Air max
Anyone who has had the misfortune to puncture this popular nineties fashion item will know that as soon as you get a puncture in one every walk will be accompanied by a contented farting sound as you stroll along; providing you time your metformin-induced trouser coughs with the squelch of the shoe no one will ever know your embarrassing little problem.

3) Go to Morocco 
If your experience of Morocco is anything like mine when I went, it won't mask any bottom burps or diarrhoea but it will make any side effects from the Metformin a mere side show to the main, very unpleasant, event.

4) Pretend to develop a coke habit
Chances are you'll be frequenting the toilet a lot more frequently than normal during this ... um ... disruptive period. Your work colleagues may start to notice, and there is little more embarrassing than sneaking back to your desk after a particularly strenuous session on the crapper thinking that all your work colleagues have a mental image of you pooing yourself inside-out. So instead, when you return to your desk be ebullient, sniff a bit, rub your nose enthusiasticly, start every sentence with "Yeah, 'cause, like, when I was five, right ..."

5) Oust your way through it
Always ensure that you carry a spray can of Oust (or other odour-neutraliser) around with you. Then if you must let one off spray your trail so that the strench doesn't travel with you.

I tell you what, this agony aunt thing is great. It just feels so wonderful to know I can help people.

Yours feeling smugly self-satisfied


Monday, 1 October 2012

Sister Agony


Just wondering if you can help me with my problem?

My sister is one of those people that gets everything handed to her. The good high paying job, new car, new house, two pregnancies (both conceived the first month they were trying), raises when she hardly get the picture.

I on the other hand, am the one that works hard and still gets laid off, that had to go through 7 years of infertility and 3 rounds of IVF before getting pregnant, that has to scrimp and save to pay the mortgage. How do I politely tell her I don't want to hear any more about her money problems, (they bring in well over six figures between the two of them!) and how tough her life is! Give me a break already!!


Lurker J

Dear Long-suffering Sister

I would say I can relate, but luckily my sisters are hopeless under-achievers who will never make anything of their lives. (They also read this blog are could be in danger of getting big heads, so let's stick with my version.)

The thing is, you can't tell your sister that you don't want to hear her woes - it won't make any difference. It sounds like she doesn't care if you are listening or not. She just wants to unload. Chances are she also whines to her mates about how you "don't understand what it is like to have to provide for two children and, have no idea how tough motherhood is, and actually infertility is a bit of a blessing..."

But never fear. It doesn't mean you have to put up with this shit.

Whatever you do don't try and 'out moan her'. It'll become like one of those late night scar-sharing sessions when it starts with someone pointing out a fairly innocuous burn and ends when that strange bloke from chemistry takes down his trousers to show everyone where he was gored by an escaped elephant.

That was some night.

The best thing you can do is offer practical advice. When people complain about their circumstances they don't want to hear advice. They want sympathy, maybe a wide-eyed "I don't know how you cope, I really don't", and probably a chocolate biscuit.

So fuck that shit, she starts talking about money woes you whip out a pen and paper and say,

"Right let's sort this out.

"What is your monthly income? And his? And you out goings - any loans, childcare costs, how much do you spend a month on socialising?"

Start jotting down some numbers as though you are about to do a monthly budget plan then and there

I guarantee she will pretty swiftly want to change the subject and will clam up about her problems. Maybe if you want to have a little internal laugh, really push her. Start emailing her links to financial products and going round her house plucking items at random and saying how much you would reckon it would go for on eBay followed with a swift, patronising, "Every little helps. Count your pennies and your pounds will look after themselves." (Or cents and dollars.)

You will quickly become the person that she brightly says, "I'm fine" to when you ask how she is.

Yours in anticipation of significantly more chilled family gatherings,


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Moving On

I've said it before, but being infertile and trying for a kid puts you in a sort of suspended animation.

I won't change jobs in case I get pregnant. I can't plan a holiday more than 7 months in advance in case I get pregnant. Even if I am on an IVF hiatus there is usually an appointment or operation that is bound to clash with my best laid plans.

We couldn't move house because we didn't know if we were looking for a family home or a young professional's sophisticated pad. Should we check out the local schools or bars? Worry about pram storage or a bike shed?

However lately I've got tired of my flat (apartment - keep up Yanks). I love it but it is flawed; the kitchen is too small for a pair of keen chefs, there's no garden and I can't fit any more eBay purchases in.

The husband and I both had fairly nomadic childhoods and being here for eight years (a record for both of us) we are restless.

So it seemed like the only sensible thing to do, whilst I am on an IVF hiatus, to put our flat on the market and set our sights on a cute little house a little further out of town.

You'll be delighted to know the local pub is immense, the garden has a shed for bikes and the kitchen will easily fulfill our culinary needs.

And, sigh, OK I read the local school's Ofsted reports, and I even worked out what the local maternity hospital is.

Nothing but relentlessly optimistic, me.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Telling Agony

It is only fair to warn you lovely ladies that this is a pregnancy-related question. Read on if you want but if you cannot understand how anyone who is pregnant can have a reason for not farting rainbows and skipping with Bambi for nine solid months then maybe skip this one.

Dear Aunty Lizzie, 

I am pregnant. At 8 weeks one twin's heart stopped beating. Last scan at 14 weeks other was still surviving. Now 18 weeks, my partner has started telling people, also at work. He works in a different department, but same company and is now pressuring me to tell my team before they hear through the grapevine. 

 Is it rude not to tell my team? 

My boss knows (basically since the IVF) but is keeping it confidential, as I asked him. I'm already training someone to replace me, so my leave shouldn't affect the team. 

I feel it is private and don't want other people's ill-educated opinions in my workplace. (Especially not the 'keep thinking positive'. It implies the other twin didn't make it because I was scared he wouldn't).

Scared but still pregnant

Dear Scared Pregnant,

First of all, I am sorry to hear about the twin, but it is a very encouraging sign that the other one is going strong. You are doing brilliantly.

The thing about pregnancy is, whether you like it or not, at 19 weeks if people haven't heard on the grapevine yet they are going to find out pretty damn soon on account of your stomach entering any room about 30 seconds before the rest of you.

A girl at work who is pregnant decided against an all-staff email approach and told a select few people in the office at 12 weeks knowing full well that the news would get around. When she was about five months pregnant I overheard the following conversation between her and the bloke who sits next to me.

Him, "So ... how are you?"
Her, "Good thanks"
Him, with studied nonchalence, "Got ... um .. got any plans for the summer?"
Her, "Not really, just trying to sort things out before the baby arrives."
Him, visibly relaxing, "Oh, yeah, I thought you might be pregnant because you were looking bigger, I just didn't know how to ask."

I suppose we should just be thankful she wasn't adopting and had just been told about her weight gain.

So when I got the above question I was a bit confused. How to tell, I could understand, possible when to tell, but whether to tell? Surely that is a redundant question - it is going to be pretty obvious pretty quickly.

So I asked for clarification ,was her chap telling people at work about the lost twin and was that what she was wondering whether she should tell her colleagues, was this what she said:

My partner doesn't tell people about the lost twin, he is a good news only person. I'm not sure about telling about either. And I hadn't even considered sharing the good news without the sad news. As if I would be lying or something....

And that, I think, is the answer. No one needs to know how you got pregnant or what has happened on the way. And frankly I would be amazed if anyone considers even for a moment that the baby you now carry was one of a twins originally.

If you don't tell people at work they are unlikely to consider that you didn't tell people because you were scared but will interpret it as you being aloof, or uncaring.

Tell a few people you work with and just say that you are a bit superstitious so if they start with the intrusive questions or telling you that they just "knew that you were trying" divert conversation. Usually telling the persistent questioner that you really like their hair cut and is that necklace new, will take the heat off you.

Very best of luck for the remainder of your pregnancy,



Now, it is with a heavy heart that I bring you an update from a person I tried to help a few weeks ago. Remember 'Desk Grump'?  She sent me an email, with photographic evidence, to say that she had been on holiday for a fortnight and returned to find the biggest hole punch in the world has joined the biggest stapler.

Naturally I was appalled to discover that the minutes I had spent on trying to resolve her problems had been for nought.  Did you tell your office mates not to leave stuff on your desk? Have you binned the offending items? I wailed (through email).


Remember kids, admitting your problem is just half the solution.  You have to do what I say if you want a proper resolution.

Honestly, I don't know why I bother sometimes, I really don't.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

In which I hone my parenting skills

On Saturday night my older sister genorously gave the husband and I an opportunity for some bonding-time with my nephews whilst her and my brother-in-law dragged themselves off to a wedding.

Being the wonderful sister that I am I requested no more payment than two hearty steaks and access to their wine collection, and on that the deal was struck.

Things have moved on considerably since the last time I blogged about babysitting. I didn't have to contend with tears and tantrums. Bedtime seemed pretty straightforward.

I read the younger chap a couple of stories and taught him how to read the word "pop" - or at least shout the word POP enthusiatically everytime I pointed at a word and said "Now you know what this says don't you?".  I also seem to have inadvertently taught him that spheres are called Sofias. Oh well, you can't win everything.

The older fellow declared himself too grown-up for bedtime stories (he is six after all) and took himself off to read a chapter of his book. How well I remembered the feeling as he begged me, come lights out time, to let him finish his chapter.

I did.

He put the book down. I forced an Aunty Lizzie kiss on both nephews and left closing the door behind me

Rather than go downstairs immediately I espied my sister's computer and allowed myself a little time with the internets. The computer is in full view of their bedroom door, (this become relevent in a moment).

No sooner had I start to type than I noticed that, v e r y  q u i e t l y, the boy's bedroom door was being opened. The older boy popped his head out of the door and froze for a second when he saw me looking right back at him.

"Um ... Mummy lets us leave the door open a bit" he lied quickly, if unconvincingly.

The other day I was trying to explain to my Italian work colleague the meaning of the phrase "teaching your Grandmother to suck eggs." A more apt phrase nowadays would be "teaching Aunty Lizzie to read after lights out." From an early age I learnt all the tricks:
  • Read by the hall light coming through the bedroom door
  • Read by the moonlight
  • Turn the bedroom light on but shove a towel under the door so my parents didn't see that my light was on
  • Buy a torch, read under the bedclothes
  • Go to the loo and sit on it, reading, until my arse was indelibly marked with a ring.
I decided to let it go for another ten minute or so. Until the younger boy came out of the bedroom to tell me that his brother was reading. So much for an easy life.

"Right you two, in bed. If either of you get up again I am  confiscating the book."

They meekly agreed.

And promptly forgot about my vantage point at the computer when, 30 seconds later, the older one eeeked open the door again.

Once confronted he begged me to let him finish his chapter.  My heart isn't made of ice - I get that - so I magnanimously agreed that he could read sitting on the top of the stairs.  I left him, after checking what page his chapter finished on - I hadn't forgotten the "sneak-onto-the-next-chapter-and-claim-I-was-on-that-one-all-along" trick.

He finished and went to bed.

Two minutes later the door opened again. He might be able to read but I sometimes wonder if he really is the brightest torch in the bedroom.

"Right that is it, I am confiscating the book until tomorrow"

"But, but, but Mummy let's me start reading again at 6:31 in the morning" the 6 year old wailed knowing full well I wouldn't be around at that ungodly hour to hand over the contraband goods.

 "I will leave it outside your door when I go to bed, so you can get it in the morning."

 I left. Shut the door in my best firm-but-loving Mary Poppins manner and tried to continue my important internetage.

You guessed it.  Not 30 second had elapsed before their bedroom door opened again.  The younger one yelling, like the snake in the grass he is, "Aunty Lizzie he's got up again" the older one shiftily peeking out of the door.

"I'm just going to the loo" he said with exasperation, and added with not a little bit of desperation, "but you said you'd leave the book outside my door."

"I said I'd do that when I go to bed not now because you might sneak out and grab it again." I said pointedly.

There were no more disturbances and I spent the remainder of my babysitting reading "Beast Quest: Mortaxe The Skeleton Warrior" suitable for children aged 7+.

It is no Enid Blyton, I'll tell you that for nothing.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Undies Agony - NSFW due to the obscene pictures

Dear Aunty Lizzie,

Animal print undies? Sexy or a hideous combo of Del Boy and Jeremy Kyle guest?
Would appreciate your insights.

Love, KitKat x

ps for context: I used to be firmly of the latter opinion, but on a recent trip to the UK - where I originally hail from, despite being a born-again Aussie these days - I ventured into La Senza and was seduced by a leopard print bra and knickers. The husband likes them too, although appears to prefer them on the floor to on me :-)

Dear KitKat or should I call you Tiger?

How delightful that some has, at long-last, recognised me for the style icon I have always aspired to be.

I'll be honest, the first thing I thought of was Peter Stringfellow in his leopard skin thong. Which wasn't pleasant. And because I polluted my brain with that thought I am going to inflict it on you:

For those of you of a foreign persuasion the above runs a lap-dancing club and has a penchant for being photographed on holiday with his current teenage girlfriend wearing matching thongs. (And in case your naturalised Australian-tendencies has made you forget, KitKat, I'm not talking about the type you wear on your feet.)

Aussie leopard print thong:

All kinds of wrong:

On reflection, however, I realised before I judge I should look to my own wardrobe. And it isn't an animal print free zone. I had, until I wore them out (but which I mean wore to death not simple wore outside),  a lovely pair of zebra-print shoes and my leopard print-scarf adds a touch of glamour to a winter coat. I also love my crocodile skin bag (I am pretty sure this is real, picked-up for me by my mother-in-law at a charity shop).

But underwear? I worry is is a bit more Bette Lynch tacky than Bette Davies glamour.

Kitkat mentioned a specific brand so I went on an internet hunt and found this:

If wearing this underwear made me as happy as they seem to be with nothing but their pals and a wind machine for company then sign me up for the set.

But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and if your husband feels the urge to rip them off and throw them to the floor the question is - once the offending articles are removed, does he a) walk away in disgust with a withering "never wear those in my presence again" or b) ravish you?

If the latter, I say Go Girl.

Yours in anticipation of more action (and credit card in hand),


All pictures flagrantly stolen from t'internet - soz.


I'm all out of letters, so if any of you feel you could benefit from my wisdom next Monday do please send them in.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Just believe

As mentioned previously I am back at the gym trying to get down to my twin sister’s eight month pregnant weight.

It is always good to have a realistic aim.

However, because I have the motivation of Marie Antoinette on her way to the guillotine, I need a helping hand to kick-start my fitness regimen - a personal trainer, or executioner, if you will. Thanks to the joy of Living Social deals I have just had my third session, purchased at a rock-bottom price, as I aim to cultivate my own rock bottom.

The dude in question, whilst not being a patch on the Adonis I encountered last time I hurled myself into the murky world of sweaty weights and ab-crunches, is a nice enough guy. As ever, he started off with an in-depth survey of my goals, and because I have no boundaries (see hairdresser, boss, and let's face it, blog) I ended up telling him that I wanted to get in shape prior to IVF and that I blamed a lot of my rounder-than-desired shape on the fact that I have done, and failed (to varying degrees), four rounds of IVF in the last year and a half.

At the end of last night’s session (and the end of the deal) he was asking if I wanted to continue with the training and, apropos of nothing, decided to give me the benefit of his cod-psychology in advance of my next round of IVF:

“I have noticed with my clients that the main thing they need is belief, with belief you can do anything” he said.

This might be the case when it comes to lifting your own body weight in dumb bells but frankly I am over the idea that belief is going to give me that long-coveted babe-in-arms.

Consider the evidence:

When I did my first IUI I was a true believer. This was it.  Medical science and biology and probably a touch of physics was going to succeed where old-skool shagging had failed. It didn't, and my trust was shaken. Read this positive little post from 2009 and weep.

Then there was the first round of IVF. Baby-making science at its best. I was positively excited. I can't find a blog post to reflect this; I guess I was worried about being too vocal about my optimism but I really did believe this would work.  Of course, it didn't.

By the time I was testing after my fourth round I just knew it hadn't worked. As I say in the first line of this post this was the first time ever I was totally convinced I'd get a negative test. Then, two lines. Despite my lack of belief.

As we sat in the clinic before my eight week scan the husband asked if I was nervous. I wasn't. I'd seen a heart beat two weeks before and had been suffering, consistently, with morning sickness. So yes I felt confident. I truly believed.

And we know what happened next.

So when well-meaning but ultimately clueless folk tell me that I "must believe", I want to scream.

Not only is it utter, utter bollocks, it is like an accusation. Whether they realise it or not, what I am hearing is "the reason you haven't had a child is that you aren't trying hard enough, aren't believing fully enough, don't have the strength of character required." Something that every single one of you reading this knows is bullshit (mostly, unfortunately through your own experiences).

All this kind of crap does is makes us feel guilty.

But I didn't say any of this to my trainer.

I left the gym and walked home, crying.

So fuck believing. Judging by my track record I am far more likely to get pregnant if am pessimistic than optimistic. Maybe next time I should show the universe how little I believe it will work by drinking heavily throughout the treatment and scheduling in some bungy-jumping for my two week wait.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Desk Agony

Dear Auntie Lizzy,

I work part-time so only in the office two or three days a week. When I’m not around my colleagues use my desk as a dumping ground. Most weeks I arrive to random papers, dirty tea cups, the hugest stapler I’ve ever seen and this week my chair was missing. 

I’m usually a rational, calm lady but this is making my blood boil and I’m getting a reputation as a desk grump. Should I confront my team or keep my OCD feelings to myself? Please help.


Desk Grump

Dear Grumpy

Working in a big office is all about give and take, and it sounds like you colleagues are excelling on both fronts.

Let me deal with the "take" first, as this is the easiest.  A girl I work with bought her own set of stationary about a year ago.  She bought a hot pink stapler, a hot pink calculator, a hot pink tape dispenser, a hot pink pen set (dispensing black ink I am happy to say otherwise I would have to sack her) and a desk tidy in, yup, hot pink. The crowning glory is her hot pink post-its, which to add insult to eye-watering injury are also heart-shaped.

I was having a little chat with her the other day and noted her love of pink. "I don't love pink" she said. Huh? And then she revealed her masterplan. She was fed up with her kit getting nicked so chose the most eye-catching colour she could and bought herself a bunch of stationary. Nothing has been pilfered since she started this approach.

Now to tackle the dumping.

Are man-traps frowned upon in your office? Because Jim from accounts only needs to get one clamped round his ankle and I guarentee your desk will become and exclusion zone for everyone.


You could go for the notes.

Leave one on your desk.

"I do my best to stick to a clear desk policy, so I would appreciate your help, please remember this is a desk not a dump!!!"

(All good, passive-aggressive, notes have at least three exclamation marks.)

However, by going down this route you might will get a reputation for being a bit of a knob.

Here is what you should really do.

Next time you come in to work wait until the rest of the office staff are all at their desks around you and throw a little strop. Not getting angry as such but picking up each foreign object in turn and asking who left it there and then walking calmly up to their desks and popping the offending item back, with a sweet smile and maybe once you put it down just give it a little tap for effect.

And if no one claims the item then, in full view of everyone, drop it in the bin. (If it is a cup, stapler of epic proportions, or something that you know is important you can retrieve it discreetly a bit later.)

It won't stop it immediately but people will start to think twice before dumping things as it might not even have occurred to them that it bothers you and it will get better.

Wishing you a pristine desk and unboiled blood,


Thursday, 30 August 2012

So how are things with me and my sister?

I saw the womb-mate yesterday.

My pregnant twin sister. Who is now entering her eighth month of pregnancy.

Doesn't time fly?

For the first hour or so we chatted, mostly about me, 'cause that is how I roll. Not about infertility.

Just me generally.  What can I say? I am fascinating.

Every so often I'd remember that conversations are two-way so I'd throw in a question about her midwife appointment or work.

But I was absolutely fine.  Not even a twinge of jealousy or tears. Not a despondent moment.

Until, that is, she asked what she could do to make things easier for me when talking about her pregnancy (I hadn't even been aware she had been talking about it, it was still all about me). She also confessed that last time we'd met up her husband had kicked her under the table at one point.  She couldn't remember what she'd said but something that an infertile doesn't need to hear. I can't remember what she said so it can't have been too insensitive. Although now I am worried I'll have to have the whole spousal abuse chat with her.

Then I had a little watery eye moment.

If I'm honest though, the most upsetting point was when she talked about her weight gain over this pregnancy. Shame-faced she whispered what her scales were currently tipping at. Which just so happens to be that same as my target weight for which I am back at the gym trying and achieve.

Did I mention that she is eight months pregnant?

And we are the same height?

Now that is enough to make me cry myself to sleep.


Thanks for the problem letters.  I've got a couple lined up - but rather than spam your timelines I am trying to just answer one a week, on a Monday, but do keep them coming. They are so much fun to do!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Baseball Agony

Dear Aunty Lizzie

My DH’s best friend talks about his kid’s baseball team ALL THE TIME!  The kid is young (under 12); it’s not like he’s on his way to the Pro’s for f’in sake!!! How do I make him realize that the way Johnny holds a bat is not INTERESTING!!!

Thank you for your help,


Up to my ass in baseball lingo and I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!

P.S. Drinking doesn’t help because the guy will drink too and it makes the baseball talk WORSE!!!

Dear Ass Full of Baseball

There are a few different approaches you can try, and from the sounds of it you'll have plenty of opportunity to try each one as I doubt you'll find success quickly. This sounds like a deeply ingrained problem.

1) The passive aggressive approach

Every time he boast about his son's achievements say something along the lines of:

"You are so right to encourage him in sport - academic achievement isn't everything."

"How many home runs? Well, at least that must help with his counting."

"Hitting a ball must really help him with the aggression that he clearly can't articulate."

Of course the worry with this approach is it might stop Dad talking about baseball but he'll replace it with his other achievements to prove his son isn't a one-dimensional fool.

2) Blank the topic

When dad says:

"So Johnny is trying the Babe Ruth* grip this week"

(*see, I can do topical)

You say:

"Can you believe Todd Akin's** comments?"

(**This is practically satire it is so up to date)

He says:

"Of course, Johnny could be in the over 14's squad but the coach wants to keep him because he inspires his team mates."

You say:

"Have you seen the Bourne Legacy? I hear Matt Damon isn't even in it, how do they do that?"

He says:

"I think they are going to win the little league this season."

You say:

"What about them Lakers?"

He might get the hint.

3) Bribe the coach

Get him kicked off the team. You might find that the Dad isn't so keen to talk about his son's achievement's then. Although he might start talking about the court case he is preparing for to sue the ass off the coach.

4) Turn it into a game

You and your DH need to have a set of ten phrases each and the first one who can get him to say all ten wins. This won't stop him chatting all his baseball shite. But it will mean that you won't care so much and actually, as you try to draw him into saying the winning phrases, you will go balls-deep into the subject.

5) The direct approach

When he starts talking about the baseball team say, "I'm really sorry but I'm just not into baseball", but don't leave it there. It is likely that he will resent your comment, because he hasn't realised quite how bad his verbal diarrhoea is, so you go in with the zinger:

"I mean I know that  Johnny hit XX last season, and that his nemises is XXX, and that when X he always Y." (I can't even begin to make these stats up but you'll know).

Throw in seven or eight examples of what he has told you recently and he will only be able to conceed that he might talk about the team a little too much.

6) Move house and change phone numbers

If I am honest from what you've written about his obsession then this might be your best, and only, option.

Good Luck!


Monday, 20 August 2012

Blog Agony

Dear Aunty Womb-y 

I have been blogging for a while and built up what I thought was a good following from other IF-ers. But since I have gotten pregnant I feel like I have been ignored by everyone I hardly get any comments any more and it is like people think I was faking IF and I’m not one of then any more. It really hurts that they don’t care any more and makes me think the comments were all fake before.


Dear ...

... oh dear ...

... oh dear ...

You have projected an awful lot onto the natural decline in your comments. 

Most of us read blogs for support, to learn about impending treatments and not feel so alone as they struggle to come to terms with their infertility in what feels like a very fertile world.

When you get pregnant your readers are naturally going to melt away.

Some because they finding reading about pregnancy upsetting.

Some they just can't relate to your posts.

Others who could give marvellous advice when it comes to injections or dealing with in-laws suddenly can give no input, or sympathy, when it comes to morning sickness.

And yes, obviously, there will be people jealous at the "comparative" ease with which you got pregnant. (You don't give the name of your blog so I have no idea how long or easy it was, but whatever your story there is always someone who has tried for longer, thrown more money at it and / or suffered more as a result of their infertility).

This doesn't mean they think you are 'faking', simply that the nature of support they can give you has run its course. Don't take it personally.

My modus operandi is to comment less but still check-in during a pregnancy then slip quietly away once the baby is safely born and all is right with the world.  I could give you a very altruistic explanation for this. I could say it upsets me to read people apologising for being pregnant because they are conscious of their infertile readers, this is true to an extent but much of it comes from no longer having that common cause to relate to. I wish them well but it is time for both of us to move on: them to "Mummy blogger" territory me to the latest influx of new, barren recruits.

Best wishes,

Womb for Improvement

Hmmmm. This was a rather gag free post, feel free to send in a light-hearted problem.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

How to bring on a period

What is the most effective thing one can do to bring on a period?

Fair enough, ten points if you said "wee on a pregnancy test".

The second most effective thing you can do is ring your Doctor on a Friday and tell her that you stopped the course of provera six days ago, are supposed to start the next round after a week and period, but you haven't had a period and are worried about whether to start the orgy of drugs or wait.

Then she tells you to arrange a scan for the following week to see what is happening. Which you do.

Then on a Saturday, when the clinic is closed, that will be when you start you period.

Anyone want to guess what is going on with me at the moment?

I'm going to cancel the scan on Monday and start taking three provera pills a day for many, many months.

Which is nice.

In the meantime I am 'enjoying' my first period since February. (I'm not counting the bleeds after womb scrape one and two).

Monday, 13 August 2012


The first problem I was offered was way too much for a first-timer Agony Aunt such as myself; however if any of you fancy your hand at advising on how to deal with the mother-in-law from hell then give SLESE1014 a hand here.

For my first column I’ve opted for two yes or no questions, but I’ve not opted for the easy answers (which would be yes and yes).

Dear Auntie Lizzie

Perving on lithe male Olympic athletes - yay or nay? (assuming they and you are 18+...)


Dear Lusty Lady

You’re thinking about little Tom Diddly-Daley aren’t you? Body of a man, face of a petulant toddler.

I really think it depends on how you define perving. Appreciating the work that has gone in to sculpting those abs/ thighs/ pecs/ budgies that they are smuggling (Delete as applicable depending on your personal taste) is surely just good manners. If you find yourself rubbing against the telly and leaving it all smeary then, I respectfully suggest, you’ve maybe gone a tad too far.

However, it must be said the first thing I said when the Borwnlee brothers got Gold and Bronze in the Triathlon wasn’t a gasp of desire but a wail of “their mother must be so proud.” Which makes me think my libdo and I need to have a good, long, hard, um… chat.

But they’re legal, you’re legal. I’d rather you flicked the bean to a real example of physical excellence than 50 Shades.

Yours perving right alongside you


Dear Auntie Lizzie

My question would have to be drinking before 2pm, yes or no?


Dearest Booze Jockey

I’m going to assume you are talking about alcoholic drinks?

A resounding yes for this. If you can’t drink before 2pm then how can you have a drink at lunch time?

However, pre-12noon requires a lot more caveats - it is allowable in the following circumstances:

1) special celebration days (Christmas Day, weddings, birthdays, hen nights, Sundays) when you have a buck fizz (mimosa) with your breakfast

2) pre-flight if you are of a nervous disposition and you are taking off before the sun is over the yard arm.

3) when there is a major sporting event that is in another time zone. I have fond memories of going to the pub at 7:30 in the morning to watch England play in the world cup in 2002 in Japan.

4) at 11am when you kid has been screaming all night and a little tot of gin – or mother’s ruin – is calling. Just to calm the nerves. This is the daytime drinking I am particularly looking forward to.

I love you, you’re my best friend, *hic*


Yup, still loving this.

Next problems please, in comments or by email, names will be withheld on request. (

Wednesday, 8 August 2012


Thank you for all your suggestions about what to write.

April asked if I got tickets to the Olympics. Nope. I tried but failed, although I did pop down to see some of the marathon on Sunday as it was a mere hop, skip and jump away from my house. (Shit wrong event).

Are You Kidding Me urges me to write a discourse on "why do you suppose that people of the British Isles find the word c*nt acceptable (ish) as a curse word, whereas Americans, especially women, find it the most horrible insult imaginable? " Personally I have never used the word "cant" as a swear word, mostly because an old teacher kept telling me there was no such word as "can't".

He was a right cunt though.

And with no obvious link Kelley at Magneto Bold too came up with the obvious solution. I should write about her. Though my humble blog could never capture her awesomeness / brain washing ability as to the nature of her awesomeness so you'll just have to pop over and see her for yourself.

Anonymous asked me to survey the postcode lottery in the UK that can make or break our funded IVF dreams.  Unfortunately as austerity measures take hold it seems to change almost monthly and I would hate to broadcast incorrect information.

Another Elizabeth from Bebe Suisse (add your own accents) just wants some brass nuts, which shows some brass neck. (No, I've no idea what I mean either.)

Newly pregnant (!) Emily suggestes a monthly challenge, but I'm crap at following rules so I can't do that.

Amanda wrote an incisive and incredibly funny comment (so she assures me) that suggested I take some photos but she is a far better photographer than me so I can't match that.

The (once) bunless oven suggests a 'Best Of WFI' post. So I gave her the cash I promised, but have to direct anyone who wants to read back to here.


My absolute favourite suggestion came via email from a mate. And I know you will read this and assume I just made it up, but I promise you it is genuine (and if it was a plant I would have made up a name and posted it as a comment on my own blog).

She reckons I should become an agony aunt.

I love this idea.


(Enough for capitals if not double exclamation marks.)

There is little I like more than imposing my own views on other peoples dilemmas.

So either email me at or post a comment with you dilemma and Auntie Lizzie will respond.

A few ground rules:

1) If you think my response is going to be: go to hospital, go to the police, or get out. Then do that don't wait around to be told.

2) The more trivial your dilemma the better. A point of etiquette?  A conversation about body odour? An addiction to the Olympics? I'm your girl.

3) On that note, don't think it needs to be infertility related. No one has a more rigid or fully formed idea about child/ baby care than someone who has never had one of their own.

So ... um ... go, go, go or I'll be forced to make up* my own problems.


Sunday, 5 August 2012

Vintage Womb For Improvement

Over the last year and a half so this blog's follower count has rocketed as I've gained supporters and well-wishers through my four rounds of IVF. For you I am all grateful.

But let us not forget the early adopters. Those people who forced themselves to read my blatherings as I went through long periods of non-periods whilst I was on Provera for six months here and six months there.

Well never fear new guys because you are in for a long boring, uneventful treat. Stage one of Provera has just been completed (ten days of one pill a day).  I now wait for a week, should have a period then I'm back on it with three pills a day for months.

I'm glad it is only pills not injections or suppositories.

Soooo ... anyone got any ideas what I should chat about?

Thursday, 2 August 2012

One Track

I am fucking loving the Olympics.

Forget my natural cynicism and the British tendency to be a bit too modest. “What this old thing? Oh we just dusted off a bit of east London we found at the back of our wardrobe and popped in a couple of running tracks. Do you like it? It was nothing really.”

However because I have a one track mind (fertility not sex – no, the two are in no way related in my experience) I can’t help but think about the competitors from a baby making perspective.

I wonder how many athletes have put their baby making plans on hold until after the games. Just a week and a half all the nubile, healthy, athletes will be getting down to it as soon as the closing ceremony begins. Although on a side note, rumours of Grindr crashing through-over use when the athletes descended on Olympic village did amuse me – they clearly have a lot of excess energy to burn off. (For those of you who don’t know what Grindr is don’t google it at work.)

Thirty–one year old cyclist Victoria Pendleton, is engaged to be married, and has already announced that she plans to retire after the games. I anticipate a pedalling of tiny feet in the not too distant future.

Although whilst I'm thinking about cyclists I am relieved to hear that Bradley Wiggins already has two children. Because after his Tour De France tour de force followed by yesterday's win my concern was less for his gold medals and more for his brass nuts. I can’t help but wonder what state his swimmers must be in after being sweatilly pressed into a cycling saddle for the best part of two months.

Talking of swimmers. Those blokes really do have some impressive ... muscle tone.


What’s that? Irrelevant to my infertility ramblings? Come on, I’m only human.

Maybe I do have a two track mind after all.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Hanging Out With The Pregnants

With my friends popping out babies left, right and centre (mainly centre, that is just the way biology rolls) I figure I have three choices:

1. Spare myself the pain of hanging out with pregnants and kiddies by building new friendships with non-parents, whilst being aware that there is a high turnover rate within this new demographic as they quickly slip into parenthood.

2. Spend my days with the husband like a two-person penal colony with no interaction with anyone else.

3. Deal with it and ensure that I don’t sink into child avoidance by keeping my tolerance up with frequent exposure to bumps and babes.

I have gone for option three, with a vengeance.

The last three weekends have seen me spending significant time with newborns and pregnant ladies.

I think I am getting better.

Weekend one: I burst into tears the minute my pregnant friend (big up to Caroline No) and mother friend (Granine of the snarky comments) greeted me.

Weekend two: I waited until half way through our afternoon birthday tea whilst discussing my next IVF strategy with the IVF-enhanced and bulgingly pregnant wombmate and T, with her two tiny people, before I turned on the waterworks.

Weekend three: when we finally met our five-week-old niece (on the husband’s side) up in Dundee I got through the whole weekend without shedding a tear.

The last feat was made even more impressive by the fact my mother-in-law (and I say this with the caveat of being incredibly lucky with the in-laws because I think they are brilliant and adore them) kept saying “take note” or “remember that” to me every time my not-quite-sister-in-law extolled the virtues of epidurals or nipple covers. At one point though she clearly realised I wasn't convinced I would ever need to take note as she gave me a little squeeze and assured me that “it would happen”.

I wish I shared her confidence.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Don't Know Much About Histology

Look at the title of this post. What I've very cleverly done, you see, is taken the lyrics of a well-known popular music song and slightly twisted them to make them more relevant to my situation.

I know, it is this kind of comedy gold that keeps you coming back again, and again.

Except it isn't quite right as I DO now know something about my latest histology.

The verdict is that my womb is clean and disease-free.

Once I'd finished my victory lap around the Doctor's office she explained that she would still like to take the over-cautious approach we'd discussed; several months of overdosing on progesterone to suppress the my womb lining before I transfer any more frozen robot babies.

Her reasoning being that this atypical hyperplasia that likes to fester in my womb has been coming back time and time again so she just wants to make sure it isn't going to pop up again at an inopportune moment.

It is ironic that she described this approach as a 'belts and braces' one, whilst I was naked from the waist down and belts and braces were the last thing I was using.

I start progesterone in a few days for ten days, get a period and then start the long haul of a high dose progesterone-fest until about Christmas.

So ... er ... Happy New Year?

In other news Jane was interviewed by the Irish Times recently about living without children. You can read the article here.