Saturday 20 August 2011

Ghostly patterings

About a month ago, Mel wrote a post which has haunted me ever since. She addressed the phenomenon of what she called 'ghost blogs':
I'm talking about those strange places on the Internet that haven't been closed; they remain up, abandoned, their owners disappearing into the ether. There is no final post at the top announcing the cessation of the project. On the contrary, the most recent post (which is sometimes years old) usually gives no sense that the blog is coming to an end. It's like walking into a house and finding the table fully set with a warm meal but devoid of people.
I have a number of such blogs in my reader: mostly people who, like me, have gone on to parent after infertility. In some cases, we were brought together solely through the coincidence of cycling at roughly the same time, but there were others with whom I felt I had some connection beyond our common experience of IF. I still wonder from time to time how they are, how they find the experience of motherhood.
And I'm acutely aware too that this blog has also become one of those 'ghost blogs'. I've come back to it a few times since my daughter was born, but it has lain more or less dormant for a little over two years. I'm loath to take it down: it represents a very a significant part of my life, but I've also thought very long and hard about whether I want to start posting in this particular place again. After much consideration, I've decided to move to new digs, to reflect the fact that I'm now in a very different place to the one I started this blog from.
I hope that, if there is anyone out there still following, you will come and see me over at, where I try to work out what led me to step away from blogging, and also what's brought me back.

Friday 24 December 2010

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Four years ago, I spent Christmas Eve curled up on the bedroom floor in floods of tears at the thought that I might never get to fill a stocking for my child, or eat the mince pie he or she had left out for Father Christmas, or watch his or her face as s/he opened her presents.

Three years ago today, I started my first cycle of IVF.

This afternoon, I helped my daughter place the fairy on top of the tree. I saw the tears in my father's eyes as he watched his granddaughter riding the tricycle he made for her. And I remain deeply, deeply aware of just how blessed I am in those moments.

Happy Christmas to all of you who may still be reading. May 2011 bring you your hearts' desires, whatever stage of the IF journey you may be on.

Thursday 17 June 2010


  • I went back to teaching part-time after Christmas. Shinejil is right. It is extraordinarily difficult to juggle motherhood and academia. Fitting in all the preparation and marking nearly did for me. But I also learnt that, much as I love being a mother, I also need to think, and write and teach.
  • Little Miss is now fourteen months old. She's just at that inbetween stage: not really a baby any more, but not yet a toddler either. She doesn't want to go in the buggy, but isn't yet steady enough on her feet to get out and walk. She doesn't want to be spoon fed, but hasn't quite mastered self-feeding. All this leads to much frustrated screaming.
  • But she is nevertheless the most enchanting little being. I don't think that I will ever take the miracle of her being here for granted. Things could have so easily worked out very differently for us.
  • We went away on holiday to Cornwall, where I discovered that I may be turning into a gardener. I made notes about planting combinations, and fretted about how my nasturtiums were doing in my absence.
  • Which leaves me with a dilemma about what to do about this blog. Increasingly, what I want to write about is my garden and the other things in life that give me pleasure. But there are also things that I'd only feel comfortable saying to others in the IF community. So I was wondering, if I started a new blog, would you all come and visit me in my new digs as well as continuing to read this one? Could I maybe try cross-posting from time to time? How might it feel to maintain two blogs?
  • If I am going to start a new blog, should I stick with blogger, or maybe try wordpress? Any thoughts?

Wednesday 31 March 2010

On Losing Your (Blogging) Mojo

Sooo. It goes a little something like this. You spend years and years longing for a baby, and then you finally have one. And despite the fact that you've had all that time to think about it, you discover that nothing can really prepare you for life with a newborn. The first few months whip by in a blur; you barely have time to clean your teeth, let alone shave your legs. And then it slowly begins to dawn on you that it's been a really, really long time since you were intimate with your husband. You make a bit of an effort to initiate things in that regard, but you're tense because you're worried that the baby's going to wake up at any minute, you're still healing after a c-section, and it just hurts. And so you think to yourself that you'll try again in a few weeks' time, but somehow the right moment never quite arises. And the longer you leave it, the more of a big deal it starts to seem. You make excuses - you're tired, you want to finish your book, you fancy a soak in the bath. You begin to notice yourself tensing up every time your husband touches you, in case that innocent cuddle turns into something more.

And it's really rather similar with blogging. The longer you leave it between posts, the more difficult it starts to seem to write anything, and so you're reduced to writing slightly odd posts in the second person. You feel similarly awkward about commenting; it's been so long since you did so that you now feel almost as if you're butting in on conversations to which you're no longer party.

Mr H took a lot of video footage during the first few months of Little Miss's life. I remember thinking at the time that he was like one of those foreign tourists in the Louvre, who are so preoccupied with videoing the Mona Lisa that they do not stop to look at the painting itself. I decided that I did not want to be like that - to be so busy trying to document my impressions of my daughter that I failed fully to live each moment with her. But now I find myself completely transfixed by that early video footage. As mothers, we spend so much time with our children that the changes in them are so gradual as to be nearly imperceptible. It is only when I look back over those videos of Little Miss that I can really grasp how much she has changed over this first year. How on earth did that tiny baby kicking about on a play mat turn into a little person who can empty an entire box of tissues out onto the floor in the time it takes me to pop upstairs to the loo, and who can devour a huge bowl of stew and mash for her tea?

In some ways, I do regret not having written more about the first year of her life. My memories of those first few heady months are already beginning to seem increasingly hazy. But I feel determined not to let any more time slip through my fingers, and so this is my first attempt to regain my blogging mojo.

Saturday 12 September 2009


Hello. Is there anybody still out there?

I'm a little shocked to discover that it's been over four months since I last posted - and this isn't because I have nothing further to say on the experience of either infertility or motherhood, but more because I simply haven't had time to transfer my thoughts from my head on to the page (I know that I've also been pretty lax with regard to commenting, but have tried my best to keep up with those whose stories I've been following for a while and have been thinking of you all).

Even though I'd spent years longing for a baby, I was somehow ill-prepared for the reality of life with a newborn. Throughout my pregnancy, I found it difficult to believe unconditionally in the idea that there would definitely be a baby at the end of it all. It really wasn't until they first handed Little Miss to me just after she was delivered and I looked down at this tiny little creature that I first realised that I was henceforth going to be a mother. And yes, it is more wonderful than I could possibly have imagined, but also more terrifying than I could possibly have imagined. Those first few weeks were truly hard. Mr H went back to work after his two weeks of statutory paternity leave, and was away throughout the working week. Little Miss H suffered from colic, and so we spent night after night pacing up and down, up and down - her screaming inconsolably, me crying with pain from the c-section.

But now the blurry intensity of those first few weeks, when day and night seemed to meld into one, has begun to fade. I won't go so far as to say that we are in a routine, but there is at least some rhythm to our days. Little Miss is now almost five months old, and it goes without saying that she is a source of extraordinary joy to both her parents. She smiles and laughs, coos and gurgles, and is intensely curious about the world around her. She is (for the time being at least) sleeping through the night, but the trade off for an unbroken night's sleep appears to be that she does not nap much during the day - she will only sleep when out and about in the buggy or car, and so I find myself doing endless circuits of the park while thinking about all the things I should/could be doing/writing if only I were at home.

But now I long to be writing again. I'm itching to get back to my work, and to finish the dissertation. I also have a series of posts in varying states of completion - my birth story, some thoughts on how it feels to be repeatedly asked when I will be having another baby and, since this is now inevitably going to turn into a 'parenting after infertility and loss' blog, one on my current obsession - weaning. What would you like to hear about first?

Monday 18 May 2009

A sharp reminder

I returned home from hospital with a new-born baby... and my very own sharps bin. Because I had a Caesarean section, I had to have daily injections of an anti-clotting agent for a week after giving birth. Before I could be discharged from hospital, the midwife looking after me insisted that I be shown how to administer these injections myself. Confidently, I hitched up my nightdress. 'I've been through two cycles of IVF,' I explained. 'I know what I'm doing in that respect.' But as I sat there, roll of thigh in one hand, syringe in the other, poised to inject myself, the full gamut of emotions associated with those two failed cycles came flooding back. I remembered the hope and the fear, the mounting sense of despair I felt as each attempt seemed to lead me further and further away from ever having a child of my own. And as I gave myself those daily shots, I thought of all the other women who were, at that very same moment, but for very different reasons, also psyching themselves up to inject themselves. I thought of the mixture of optimism and steely determination that had led them down this path. I thought of the boundless strength and courage of so many of my friends here in the blogosphere, who have been through more than I can imagine. And, once again, I thought of how lucky I am to have been given this chance at motherhood.

As I lay in bed this morning, nursing my daughter and watching the sky turn from darkest navy to palest blue, I wondered whether having a baby can be considered a 'cure' for infertility. It can, I think, go some way towards healing some of the emotional rawness. And yet it does not entirely negate all I went through to get to this point. Just as I carry the physical scars from both a laparoscopy and, now, a c-section so too do I carry with me the emotional scars associated with a six-year struggle to conceive and carry to term a child.

Wednesday 29 April 2009

Baby girl

Little Miss Heathen finally came into this world at 4.16 on Sunday morning, weighing in at 7lbs 10 and a half ounces. She was delivered via emergency Caesarean section a mere fifty three hours after my waters broke (my birth plan had by that stage pretty much gone out of the window!)
I will post more in due course, but at the moment am beyond tired, utterly besotted with this extraordinary little being I have produced and feeling unbelievably lucky to have been given this chance at motherhood.