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,