Monday, 28 April 2008

The times they are a-changin

Mr H and I both work from home. Every morning, he goes off to the dining room to do his mysterious job in IT, while I retreat to my study, where I pretend to write my PhD. We break for lunch at around 1pm, and occasionally knock off early to go to the gym.

Today, however, I am Home Alone. Mr H is in Rome (once again, I seem to have drawn the short straw). He has been head hunted, and so has been flown out to Italy to meet his new boss and to finalise the details of his contract of employment. This new job is a fantastic career opportunity for him; it is with a small and progressive company, and offers both more responsibility and more money.

The downside? He will be required to travel extensively throughout Europe and the Middle East. He will be away on business for an average of 17 days out of every month. Although we have agreed not to make any decisions in this respect until after I have submitted my PhD, in the longer term, it may well make sense for us to relocate down south - the company's HQ is situated on the outskirts of London, and the chances are that a fair proportion of their UK work will be in the capital. It would also make things easier if we were within commuting distance of an international airport. Proximity to Heathrow also, however, means proximity to his mother and to his endlessly and effortlessly reproducing friends.

Although it is undoubtedly a great opportunity for him, I am also worried about the effect that all of this will have on our relationship. We are in many ways quite a self-contained couple; even before infertility led us to retreat in on ourselves, we preferred time spent together to endless hours socialising with other people. I'm not sure how either of us will cope with spending a lot of time apart - on the one hand, it may encourage us to make the most of what time we do have together; on the other hand, we may end up leading increasingly separate lives.

My major concern, however, is how it will effect our plans to have a child. Having conceived 'spontaneously' before, I still hang on to the hope - however remote - that I may do so again. Our odds will be considerably reduced if Mr H is going to be away much on business much of the time. How will we manage even to fit in another cycle of IVF around his work schedule?

More to the point, what will happen if we do have a baby? I will effectively be a single parent for much of the time. When I'm struggling to cope with little sleep and a crying baby, will I wind up resenting him? Will he feel that he's missing out? Will I unconsciously shut him out?

We have talked and talked about this, and both of us feel that he should take this job - it really is too good an opportunity to turn down. Our relationship is - we hope - strong enough to survive. I am trying to look on the bright side - when he is away, I can have time for all my little projects around the house and garden. I may well sign up for an evening class - I quite fancy learning to sew. Plus, of course, there is the small matter of the PhD - perhaps it will encourage me to knuckle down and get the last chapter finished.

Infertility makes it extraordinarily difficult to make other plans. I feel like we've been living in limbo for the past five years. We've talked about moving house on several occasions, but have always decided that it wasn't the right time. There is, after all, not much point in buying a much bigger house if it's just going to be the two of us. Now, however, Mr H's new job is making some of these decisions for us. I can only hope that some other pieces of the jigsaw also begin to fall into place.


Jendeis said...

Just wanted to write and let you know that I'm here and that I can't come up with anything to write that would match your eloquence in describing what's going on in your life right now. If I was with you IRL, I'd give you a hug and be nodding and saying, "yes, yes" to everything you are saying.

luna said...

tough decisions you are facing. I only hope you are both comfortable with your decision.

will he know his schedule far in advance? if so, maybe planning your cycle will be manageable. and if you're trying naturally, maybe you could accompany him on some trips (e.g., wk-end holiday in paris or barcelona)? and if you have to move, I hope you can live far enough away from his mum and your childbearing friends in your own peaceful haven.

thanks as always for your wonderful support. I really appreciate it. ~luna

if you end up moving, I hope

shinejil said...

You know, I think things can be made to fall into place. It's always hard to see how we'll react in a new, unknown situation, but most of them can be endured or made the most of. Just think of the new opportunities down south: perhaps a better, more responsive clinic with better results?

I like Luna's suggestions: as your work is somewhat portable, you may be able to go along with him at important times in the cycle.

Anyway, I know how rough figuring these decisions out can be. I have utter confidence that the Heathens will find an excellent solution, though. It just may take a bit of time...

Thanks for your encouragement on the academic front! Keeping focused on your own work is indeed the best medicine for envy. :)

annacyclopedia said...

You are absolutely right that infertility makes it almost impossible to make other plans. It is so hard sometimes (although painfully obviouis to point out) that we don't know what's in the future. This sounds like one tough decision that will likely force a plethora of tough decisions in the future. When facing a leap of faith like this one, I sometimes like to spend time remembering that there may be benefits to the choice that I just can't see yet. I hope it is this way in your case, too, and that this becomes the point where things start falling into place.

kate said...

Ah, yes. I wrote about making the hard decision to move on from the "limbo" of waiting on a baby to come. For me, that means going back to school, but ultimately, I can relate to the feeling of holding off making the big decisions while waiting, waiting, waiting.

And, while I do not have a PhD, I began dating my now-husband just as he finished his research and began writing. And so I can also relate to the frustrations with trying to get that last chapter done. I wish you the best of luck with that. Sometimes I think that the only reason that H actually finished the diss is that he was hired as ABD with the understanding that he finish his PhD by the end of that school year. Otherwise, he may have lingered over it FOREVER!

Lisa said...

Lots of decisions, huh. Sounds like a good opportunity. I have a frequent traveler for a DH (who has moved me, a portable freelancer, 2,000 miles three times now), and while it can be very tough to work around that while making ttc a priority, it CAN be done. Even now, though, I wouldn't redo the career-based decisions we've made. I think that just comes down to both parties doing everything they can to ensure that they're on the same page about the decisions. Much luck to you! You'll know what's right for you!

Lisa at

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Keep us all informed and you know where to find us anyway: we're all rooting for you both in managing this and finding a way through the practicalities. It can sometimes be that decisions that have been (reasonably) postponed become far less daunting once circumstances change. But either way, only you two will know what is right for you individually and as a couple. And as said, the benefits you may not be able to see yet may allow you a way of dealing with all the complicating factors - not least the fertility treatment - that are part of your lives.

the Babychaser: said...

Well, as you know from my recent rants, I have no easy answers about coping with the "absent" husband. 17 days a month is a lot. I actually like it when J's gone sometimes, but, as you pointed out, it could be a very different story with a screaming baby to care for.

You're probably making the right decision to go for it, but I'm not surprised it's causing you anxiety. Then again, ANY kind of change right now might be just what you both need to perk your life up again. God knows I'd love to be reminded that there's something to life other than trying to create one.