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.