Thursday, 19 December 2013

How To Support Your Friend Through Infertility

This is a longer post than I originally planned. I guess I have a lot to say on the subject, with it being so close to my heart - and something that is especially prominent at this time of year.

How to Support Your Friend Through Infertility

This time of year is particularly difficult for those struggling with infertility. It signifies another Christmas without much longed-for toys under the tree, and the turn of another year that has been completely unsuccessful in terms of creating a family.

Many couples who are struggling with infertility do so privately, so you may not necessarily know if your friends are dealing with it at all. Now that we are approaching the three year mark, there are a handful of people that know some of the truth about us – but this has only been the case for the last six months or so. For those who are suffering the torment that is infertility, it is a daily battle and a real mix of emotions and anguish.

Whether you know for certain or not that your friend is in the midst of the infertility struggle, there are some things you should definitely not say. Even the most well meaning of comments can be extremely hurtful, so please think carefully before you speak, and consider whether what you're saying could be construed as insensitive.

Don't give them an inquisition about when they're going to start a family. Chances are, if you do ask, you'll get a very vague answer if they're trying to keep it private – something along the lines of "we'll see what the future holds" or "maybe in time". One we've used a lot is "we're just enjoying being married for a while first". Please respect their right to privacy, and don't push with comments such as "you're not getting any younger you know" or (my personal favourite that mother-in-law rolls out with ALL the time!) "I need more grandchildren" – believe me, couples don't need any more pressure from others than they are already putting on themselves.

If a friend confides in you that they are having difficulty conceiving, don't be afraid to talk to them about it. Ask if it is OK to ask how things are going, how they're feeling etc, rather than ignoring the subject and making them feel even more alienated. Do offer to lend an ear any time they need to talk – and listen, rather than talk.

Don’t offer then your own children, and don’t complain about pregnancy and say how lucky they are not to be experiencing it. Anybody going through infertility will want to bite your head off at such comments. You may well think you are making a light joke, but take it from me - not funny. Infertility is like a never-ending cycle of grief and bereavement, only there is nothing tangible to focus the grief upon. With every cycle that passes, is the loss of another chance, another hope, another what might have been. These comments will not cheer them up, they will make them feel worse.

Don’t try to convince them you understand if you clearly don’t. While you may well sympathise, and feel terrible for them and the plight they are being forced to endure, if you haven’t been through it yourself you cannot possibly understand. Also, even if you have had infertility problems, remember that every woman faces a different battle with it. What you went through is not necessarily the same as your friend, and in that instance you will, again, not be able to fully understand her feelings. You can relate to aspects of them, but no two situations are exactly alike and no two couples are exactly alike.

Don't disregard or dismiss the fact that fertility issues are real. It is important to accept that there is a genuine medical reason why your friends are unable to conceive. Comments such as "it will happen when it is supposed to", or advice such as to relax (grrr, we really hate that one!), don't think about it, don't get stressed, make changes to lifestyle, and so on, are actually the opposite of helpful as it feels as though you are trivialising the issue and somehow making it our fault. If it was as simple as "relaxing", don't you think we'd have done it by now?! Leave the advice to the professionals.

Learn a few things about fertility treatment if your friend is headed in that direction. There is a common misconception that IVF is basically a done deal - it is not. Only approximately 30% of people that go through IVF become pregnant; and unfortunately not all of those result in live births. Also, don't underestimate what a big deal IVF actually is - a woman has to go through a hell of a lot both physically and mentally, and all of that is for a relatively low chance of achieving the end goal. There are, of course, other forms of treatment - I am using IVF as an example here because it is probably the most well recognised. Try to understand that the power of positive thinking does not apply to fertility treatment as it would to a job interview, and the couple may wish to take a more realistic approach, so they can be prepared for a negative outcome.

Be sensitive to your friend when pregnancies are announced. By this, I don't mean ignore your friend. If you have a pregnancy to announce, tell your friend privately and away from other friends and family. Just because she's struggling with her own journey doesn't mean she won't be happy for you - of course she will. She will just need a day or two to deal with the sorrow that it still isn't happening for her, and that others are able to move forward while she is stuck standing still. Don't try to hide it from her, and don't deliberately not tell her of others you know becoming pregnant. Tell her, and tell her if she wants to talk about it or ask that's fine but you will also understand if she doesn't feel able to.

Don't "forget" your friend when you have your own family. I've had this done to me, by the only person who I confided in for the first two years - and it hurts like hell. More so, considering she had struggled to conceive herself and should know how isolating it is.

Some other things you probably shouldn't say to your infertile friend:

- "Is it you? Is it him?" - Infertility affects a couple equally. Whatever the cause. Yes, someone actually asked me this.
- "Just adopt" - Adoption isn't for everyone, and it isn't a simple process. It's not like going to the supermarket and choosing a tin of soup. For some people, it is incredibly important to them to have their own biological child.
- "You will have a child when it is right in God's plan" - I hate this. As a non-religious person, I don't believe in God having a plan. I can appreciate the sentiment, but why would God not plan for a married, home-owning, stable, loving couple to have a child, but he will plan for teenagers with no qualifications, no prospects, no job, no money etc to have one. Doesn't add up to me, sorry.

    *This post originally appeared on my old blog and has been imported to Living for the Victories*

    Wednesday, 11 December 2013

    The Blogmopolitan Quiz

    So, I saw this post by Erin over at Two Thirds Hazel, and it just looked like so much fun and I wanted to join in! So join in I did!

    If you haven't already, and you'd like to join in the fun, head over to Erin's blog and download the quiz - and don't forget to link your post up!

    *This post originally appeared on my old blog and has been imported to Living for the Victories*

    Monday, 18 November 2013

    Things I Wish I Was Brave Enough To Do

    OK, I admit it: sometimes I'm a bit of a wimp. Would I like to be more of a daredevil? Sure. I can't see it happening though!
    Things I Wish I Was Brave Enough To Do::Flying on a Rainbow

    Here are 6 things I wish I was brave enough to do:
    Sky dive
    I'm just not an adrenaline junkie. The thought of throwing myself out of a plane literally terrifies me. I have so much admiration for people who do this kind of thing, especially those who do it to raise money for charity and are anxious about it rather than just doing it for fun. I couldn't.
    Bungee jump
    Pretty much as above!

    Ice skate
    I used to enjoy ice skating. I wasn't any good, and never ventured too far from the side, but I liked it. The last time I went was February 2005 - and I left in an ambulance after tripping over a lump of ice and landing with such force on my chest that I tore the muscles in my chest wall, badly bruised myself, had terrible ice burn on my hands and knees, and was told I was lucky not to have broken any ribs - let's just say my natural bodily padding around that area saved me that day! Had I been less endowed in the chest department it would have been worse. I haven't dared pull on a pair of skates since.

    Move to another country
    I really wish I'd travelled when I was young, like so many others so in their late teens and early 20s. Obviously if I had, I wouldn't be where I am now and I wouldn't have my fantastic husband, so I don't wish it THAT much. I do wish we had the option of emigrating together, but we both feel too responsible for our families which is the big reason we're not grabbing life and making it our own. We have a few friends who've made the leap and now live in Australia, Canada, and the USA and their quality of life seems so much better than ours.

    Quit my job
    I love the industry I work in, I really believe that it is important - but my current role just isn't one that I have a passion for. I would love to be able to quit and find something that I do love to do. Sadly, the role I felt that way about moved to the other end of the country and it's unlikely I'll ever get that back.

    Learn to drive
    I grew up in a household where nobody drove, so we didn't have a car. My dad worked for the bus company, so we could travel for free on their buses, and for long journeys we went by train. So, for me, driving wasn't something I felt I absolutely had to do. When I was 21, I decided I would start taking lessons - but quickly found that my instructor was useless, other drivers on the road terrified me, and the final straw was when someone was inches away from killing me because they didn't stop to look when approaching a T-junction. I'm sure I'd be a perfectly competent driver if I did ever take it up again, but the idiots out there on the roads are so unpredictable and being at their mercy scares me witless.

    What do you wish you were brave enough to do?

     photo Jenni_zpsee977ea2.png
    This post originally appeared on my old blog and has been imported to Living for the Victories

    Tuesday, 29 October 2013

    Our Kenyan Honeymoon Diary Part 9 - The Final Few Days

    Did you miss the earlier parts of my Honeymoon Diary series? Catch up here

    Monday 28th March 2011

    Today was another day of relaxing and catching some rays - for me anyway. Boy stayed in the shade. He polished off a 3 course breakfast and several cups of tea at breakfast today too! We booked a table at the Italian A La Carte restaurant for tomorrow night.

    The rest of the day passed without incident, I read Little Women on the DS and Ben played on the PSP. Tonight's dinner was a Continental theme, including the flattest Yorkshire puddings ever but they still tasted OK. We went to see Francis in the sports bar but he wasn't there, so we went to the Harbour Bar and watched the entertainment which was tonight performed by the Mombasa Roots Band.

    The "one dart challenge" that has occurred every single time we have passed the dart board finally resulted in triumph for me. Not only did I hit the board for the first time (big achievement!), but with a fantastic score of 3 I beat Boy, who scored 2. He is trying to make out that he was being a gentleman and let me win, but that is not true.

    Tuesday 29th March 2011

    Our penultimate day on honeymoon began, as usual, with breakfast. We then took a taxi to the supermarket in Nyali to buy some essentials (toothpaste, Pringles, tea, coffee and bags of sweets). The driver waited for us and brought us back to the hotel - the round trip cost 660 shillings.

    The rest of the day was mainly spent around the pool. Ben joined in a game of water polo, which was about as energetic as it got. Tonight we ate at the Italian A La Carte restaurant, which was nice but for some reason I had no appetite. It's a lovely setting alongside the sports pool though.

    Afterwards we went to the sports bar and watched the England vs Ghana game. Sadly we had to say goodbye to Francis, as he isn't working tomorrow.

    Wednesday 30th March 2011

    It has been unbelievably hot today, too hot even for me! Our air conditioning has had a lot of use today. When we did venture outside the room, we had to be in or next to the pool.

    We decided to upgrade to Premium Class for the flight home tomorrow, for US$100 each. The latter part of the afternoon was spent packing, which we finished off after dinner. We ended our honeymoon with a lap of honour round the hotel, stopping off at the Lookout bar and the sports bar.

    Our final one dart challenge was 6 darts - and I managed to fluke a treble 15 so won with a total of 67 to Boy's 28. Whoop!

    The alarm is set for 5.15am tomorrow, so off to sleep.

    Thursday 31st March 2011

    We were definitely glad we upgraded for the flight home, it was much more comfortable. On the way home we both watched The King's Speech and Megamind. Boy also watched Red and I watched Yogi Bear and Love & Other Drugs.

    At Mombasa airport we saw the couples we were on safari with, so we sat chatting with them for a while. It was nice to catch up with them again.

    We landed in Manchester at 18.10, and managed to get through baggage claim really quickly. We were in my friend's car within half an hour!

    We have had the most amazing time in Kenya, it has been everything we hoped for and more. Exhausting at times, but the entire experience was absolutely worth it. What a way to start married life!

    **This post originally appeared on my old blog and has been imported to Living for the Victories**

    Tuesday, 22 October 2013

    Today Was A BIG Day

    This is another one of those posts where I get very personal, pour a little bit of my heart out, and maybe cry a little bit.

    As you may know if you've been following my blog for a while, Boy and I have been trying to start a family since we got married. And, as we've been married for over two and a half years, that obviously isn't going too well. To quickly recap where we're up to, after a year of trying to conceive we saw our GP who sent us for preliminary tests and referred us to a fertility specialist. We then had 6 months of tests and procedures to detect any issues that might be causing us difficulty, and last November we were told they had found nothing of concern, and we were to go away and continue as we were for another year.

    At that point, we were both devastated. We'd gone in to that appointment hoping, and more or less expecting if I'm honest, to come away with some kind of plan. To be told "we can't find anything wrong, so even though you've waited 18 months already would you kindly naff off and wait another 12 months, thanks" really stung.

    So, over that 12 months, we've seen many friends and family have babies. People who, if the world were fair, wouldn't have babies. I know that sounds terribly judgemental, but it hurts when someone in a destructive relationship, with no home of their own, no job etc., gets to be able to reproduce while we can't, and we could provide everything for a child. We have our own home, a fantastic relationship, good jobs, stability and security. We are in a far better position to raise a family, and yet we can't.

    Today we were back at the fertility specialist's. We both had the same expectation - that we'd be told to repeat all our tests and have to wait another 6 months or so before she would refer us for treatment. We hadn't talked about it beforehand, but on the way out we discussed how we thought today would go. Again, we were both wrong.

    But today, we were wrong in the best way possible! Today, the fertility specialist didn't hesitate to refer us to a clinic for treatment. We're not sure how long we'll have to wait now, but the next step is an appointment to discuss IVF treatment. You cannot imagine how happy I am about this! I am fully aware that the road ahead is going to be difficult, IVF is no walk in the park - but thanks to having very close friends who have been through it I have a good awareness of what it involves, and I am ready to take that on!

    (Boy isn't as clued up as me, I've given him an overview but as his role mainly involves supporting me and doing his thing in a cup and that's all, I think he'll cope just fine!)

    **This post originally appeared on my old blog and has been imported to Living for the Victories**

    Tuesday, 15 October 2013

    Our Kenyan Honeymoon Diary Part 8 - Mombasa and Haller Park

    Did you miss the earlier parts of my Honeymoon Diary series? Catch up here

    Sunday 27th March 2011

    Today has definitely been busy! We were met at the hotel gate at 9am, after a good breakfast, by our guide for the day who was called Juma. The first place we went to was a handicraft centre, where the wooden carvings are made. We walked around the shelters, where the men showed us their works in progress. Juma told us that they actually live there.

    We saw a huge carved elephant, which weighed 700kg and was for sale for 1.5 million shillings (around £12,000). When we're rich, we'll come back for it!

    Afterwards he took us to the shop where the wares are sold at a fixed price - and a very reasonable price at that. We bought a couple of pieces for ourselves, and a number of gifts, all of 6000 shillings. We could easily have bought more if it wasn't for airline weight restrictions.

    Next we went to see the elephant tusks in Mombasa town and had our photos taken, and then we were met by Pius who was going to take us through the old town.

    We visited a market, the old port, and made our way to Fort Jesus. At one point we visited a fish market, but I couldn't stand the smell so had to wait outside.

    At Fort Jesus, Juma met us again and took us back to the hotel for lunch - after a quick stop for Boy to buy a Kenya football shirt.

    At 2pm we went to Haller Park. Here we were able to feed giraffes by hand, which was an odd but good experience.

    We also got to see hippos and crocodiles being fed.

    Haller Park is home to 12 giant tortoises, and Boy's day was made when we heard (and then saw) two of them mating. We also found one wandering around on it's own, and discovered it enjoyed being tickled under the chin!

    When we returned to the hotel we just relaxed for a couple of hours before dinner, which we washed down with a drink at the lookout bar.

    **This post originally appeared on my old blog and has been imported to Living for the Victories**

    Saturday, 12 October 2013

    A-Z Book Survey

    I saw this post on Jess's blog, Sitting Pretty, and thought it was a great idea so I've kind of pinched it.
    A to Z of books::Flying on a Rainbow

    Author you’ve read the most books from.
    Probably Danielle Steel, I've read a lot of hers. Although when I was young I read a heck of a lot of Enid Blyton as well.
    Best sequel ever.
    It's got to be Harry Potter, right? All six sequels!
    Currently reading.
    I'm actually in between books at the moment. My next one will probably be the beginning of the Oz series.

    Drink of choice while reading.
    E-reader or physical book?
    I love a physical book. However, for convenience, I generally read on my phone now while commuting. I don't own an e-reader and have no intention to, the Kindle app for Android suits me just fine.
    Fictional character you probably would have actually dated in high school.
    Honestly, probably none. In high school I was very shy and didn't date anyone! I would have fancied Emmett Cullen from the Twilight series though. And probably Ranger from the Stephanie Plum series.
    Glad you gave this book a chance.
    Life of Pi. I was tempted to give up on it early on, but I'm glad I stuck with it.
    Hidden gem book.
    Please Don't Stop the Music by Jane Lovering. I downloaded it for free from the Kindle store, and it was such a fantastic book.
    Important moment in your reading life.
    When Dobby died.
    Just finished.
    High Heels in New York by A. V. Scott
    Kinds of books you won’t read.
    Horror or really gory crime. I have a fairly vivid imagination and I don't need those images in my head!
    Longest book you’ve ever read.
    The longest book I have started is A Game of Thrones. I found it too hard going for reading on the way to work, I'm just not switched on enough at that time of morning!
    Major book hangover because of…
    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
    Number of bookcases you own.
    Four? Yes, four. Although they are shared with DVDs. We literally have books and DVDs all over the house!
    One book you have read multiple times.
    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
    Preferred place to read.
    Curled up on the sofa.
    Quote from a book you’ve read that inspires you.
    “It is our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” 
    Reading regret.
    That I haven't read more by the Brontes. I grew up in their back yard, so I really should. I do intend to fix this!
    Series you started and need to finish.
    There are a few series I've started but not finished, largely because books are still coming out! House of Night, Morganville Vampires, Sookie Stackhouse, Stephanie Plum to name a few.
    Three of your all-time favourite books.
    There is no way I can choose just three books, so I'm going to choose three authors instead. Is that cheating? I'll go with Lesley Pearse, Danielle Steel and Cecelia Ahern. Love those three!
    Unapologetic fangirl for…
    Harry Potter. As if you couldn't guess!
    Very excited for this release more than all the others.
    I have no idea about anything that is due to come out, so don't have an answer for this I'm afraid!
    Worst bookish habit.
    Hoarding books. I can't bear to part with a lot of them!
    X marks the spot: the 27th book on my shelf.
    I don't have one shelf so couldn't really answer that!
    Your latest book purchase.
    The last physical books I bought were The Time Traveller's Wife and I Heart Paris

    Zzz-snatcher book (latest book that kept you up way late).
    Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I read it in one sitting, I couldn't put it down just for a measly reason like needing to go to bed!

    Tuesday, 8 October 2013

    Our Kenyan Honeymoon Diary Part 7 - Glass Bottom Boat Trip

    Did you miss the earlier parts of my Honeymoon Diary series? Catch up here

    Friday 25th March 2011

    This morning we had a bit of a lie-in and didn't wake up until 9am. We went for breakfast and then came back to the room and chilled in our mozzy tent until it was time to go for our boat trip.

    We went on a glass bottom boat to the marine park, first to an area of coral reef that was home to sergeant major fish, among others. Boy was very brave and had a go at snorkelling; I was a complete wuss and chickened out.

    The next stop was a rocky reef area, where we all got out and walked along, to see what wildlife we could spot. We were the first to see a spiny starfish, and then we saw a crab and some other fish.

    As the tide was coming in quickly, we went back to the boat and headed to our final stop. This was described as a 'starfish garden' - home to hundreds of starfish in amazingly vibrant colours and, in some cases, enormous. Ben snorkelled some more, and then we were bound back to the hotel.

    As we crossed the beach, we were caught by the beach sellers. We ended up buying a giraffe carved from wood for 1000 Kenyan shillings and a pair of socks. We also bought a carving with our names on that we should be able to collect tomorrow.

    We went to the Kaskazi bar to order something to eat, as we'd missed lunch, and then had a swim in the sports pool. As we dried off, a wedding was taking place so we had a little nosy as we went back to our room. We had briefly spoken to the groom last night in the bar.

    We changed into dry clothes, and then went to deliver the socks to the beach seller and had a drink in the lookout bar before heading to the cyber cafe to send a couple of emails. Then we relaxed until it was time for dinner, which was in the garden tonight, and had a couple of drinks in the sports bar where Francis the bartender taught us some Swahili. We're both exhausted so no late night tonight!

    Saturday 26th March 2011

    Today we vowed would be a day of serious tan time. We delivered. I have some very white bits, and Boy is extremely red! This is why he usually hides from the sun.

    The theme for dinner tonight was Chinese, which I was really looking forward to but was ultimately disappointed. Boy enjoyed it though. Afterwards we went to the sports bar and Boy impressed Francis with his Swahili.

    Tomorrow we are going on a trip into Mombasa town and then to a wildlife park where we can feed giraffes, which should be good!

    **This post originally appeared on my old blog and has been imported to Living for the Victories**

    Tuesday, 1 October 2013

    Our Kenyan Honeymoon Diary Part 6 - Back in Mombasa

    Did you miss the earlier parts of my Honeymoon Diary series? Catch up here

    Wednesday 23rd March 2011

    The 5.30am starts seem to have kicked in as a pattern - I still woke up with absolutely no need to, but promptly went back to sleep! I woke again at 8am and sat on the balcony reading.

    We went for breakfast at around 9.30am, and then went into the cyber cafe to look at our wedding photographer's website. We were so excited to finally see our wedding photos!

    At 11am we were met at the main gate by a guide for JT Safaris, who drove us to the office in Nyali to meet Julius. We arranged a day trip for Sunday into Mombasa, and to Haller Park.

    When we arrived back at the hotel, we spent most of the day relaxing on sun loungers and having some quality tan time - we only moved for lunch, and to book a glass bottom boat trip for Friday and a massage for tomorrow morning.

    Today has basically been a chilled out day. I read an entire book, and played on the DS for a while. More surprisingly, Boy let go of the DS! Hopefully tomorrow will be a similar sort of day.

    Thursday 24th March 2011

    Today we had another chilled day on our loungers. After a good breakfast we went for our full body massages, which were done in a hut on the cliff with the sound of the sea lapping below. We both felt so relaxed afterwards. Then we just chilled on our loungers until around 5pm.

    At 6.30pm we headed to the 'fun pool' for the Captain's cocktail party. This is an event by invitation, and was so fun! We had a few cocktails and watched an employee award ceremony, and then afterwards we went for dinner.

    We decided it would be fun to do a 'pub crawl' around the resort - but we only managed two bars! The second bar (the sports bar) is where we got talking to a couple from Cornwall who were on their honeymoon, and are going on safari tomorrow. I was amazed to find that the girl and I go to the same holiday park in Devon for our family holidays every year - how weird is that?! What a small world!

    We finally called it a night at around midnight after a few rum and cokes/martini and lemonades. We're looking forward to our boat trip tomorrow. Also, one last note, today marks the 4th anniversary of our first date :)

    **This post originally appeared on my old blog and has been imported to What Jenni Loves**

    Tuesday, 24 September 2013

    Our Kenyan Honeymoon Diary Part 5 - The Safari Ends

    Did you miss the earlier parts of my Honeymoon Diary series? Catch up here

    Tuesday 22nd March 2011

    Today was our last day on what has been a fantastic adventure. We again had a 5.30am start, which was the cause of much confusion and disorientation to Boy when the wake up call came a-knocking. He somehow fought his way through the mosquito net, into a table, sharp about turn face first into a wall, then couldn't figure out how to open the door. It was very funny!

    After a cup of coffee, we went out for our game drive. Yes, before breakfast! We watched the sun rise, and on the whole we didn't see all that much.

    We did, however, get challenged to a duel by a herd of elephants. Titus had to rev the engine to scare the bull off. Have I mentioned how big wild elephants are? Let me tell you, the bull of a herd, especially up close, is frighteningly massive!

    On our way back to the lodge, we encountered a gazelle sitting in the middle of the road that evidently had absolutely no desire to move. It just sat there for ages, with us completely at its mercy - until it did eventually get up and saunter off.

    By the time we made it back to the lodge we were all ready for a hearty breakfast, before checking out and setting off on the 3 hour drive back to Mombasa. On the way back, we stopped at a curio shop we visited on Saturday. We had a good look round and agreed a price on a wooden elephant. The shopkeeper originally asked for 3500 Kenyan shillings, but we talked him down to 1100 KSh. That's around £9.

    Once we arrived back at the Voyager, we were given a new room, number 2123. This room overlooks the sea and is right above the Fun Pool.

    After a quick shower and change of clothes, we went for a light lunch and relaxed by the pool. Several hours and a dip in the adults-only Infinity Pool later, we headed back to our room. I had a nap, and Boy unpacked for the first time since we got to Kenya.

    Dinner had a Swahili theme tonight, and there was no chicken on offer so I ate beetroot, lettuce and chips. Boy tried a few different things but was disappointed there was no exotic meat on the menu. We had a quick drink in the Sports Bar, but all the early starts have caught up and we haven't made it past 10.30pm so far on our honeymoon! Hopefully a good sleep tonight will allow us to become party animals!

    **This post originally appeared on my old blog and has been imported to Living for the Victories**