Thursday, 15 October 2009

As sure as eggs is eggs...

Phew. I'm finally sitting down after one of the busiest weeks of my life.

As I said in my previous posts, I resigned last Monday after my Little Chef meltdown en route back from Peterborough, but my governors overturned it when they realised it was because I thought I'd be too stressed.
They've been fab in terms of supporting me but at the same time letting me develop my career and I now have a new found love of that bunch of supportive mums, dads, members of the local community and the local council for getting fully behind me and helping me and Tom through this. It's been fabulous to think that I have the support of everyone now, my friends, family, colleagues and the wider school community. Shame the hospital don't feel the same way.

Yes, you've guessed it. It was bad news today, on more than one front.

I met Tom at the multi storey car park today in the tipping rain and my heart nearly melted. Although he's off work until he starts his new job a week on Monday, he was all dressed up super smart and was there with a big umbrella as he knew I wouldn't have got one as it had been dry when I left for work this morning. We walked down to the hospital and had to wait for what seemed like an eternity for our appointment. We had our passports copied at hospital reception for our HFEA identification (thank god I'd made it back from Peterborough with my new one) and settled ourselves in the waiting room.

This was a lovely lilac room all decorated to be calm and peaceful for all the fraught mums and dads to be; however, I was more preoccupied with the fact that the curtains were made of plastic. I had got a bit bored and so started feeling up the soft furnishings and had discovered during my habadashery fondlings that the window dressings were in fact plastic. I dread to think what they're used to scraping off things in a fertility unit to necessitate the use of plastic coated fabric but I can tell you I let go pretty quickly.

After what seemed like about a year, we were ushered into a room with a fertility nurse to go over all our paperwork and have our ID checks done. Just for the record, if you ever managed to hack into my ID account you will see that i look like a startled and rather disgusted village idiot as I was trying to get out of my coat and clocked the hideous gynae scanner in the corner of the room as well as realising i still had egg yolk all down my sleeve (more about that later) and hadn't noticed that the nurse was wafting a camera in my face. Tom looks all lovely and serene on his but I look like I should be wheeled off to be psychiatrically sectioned.

We had to sign a million consent forms for every possible agency and eventuality which basically equate to giving anyone with a GCSE in biology the right to come into my house and furtle around in my knickers whilst they ransack my filing cabinet, read my diary and then freeze some of our embryos alongside the birds eye burgers in my fridge. It was then that we began planning our treatment and you may have heard the air raid sirens sound for the two bombshells that were then dropped.

Apparently we can't start our treatment until we've been in a relationship for 2 years. This is despite the consultant telling us we would get our first round of IVf in before Christmas when she knows we've not been together two years and us having all sorts of tests, scans, bloods and hormone checks done already. Apparently there was no one senior there for the nurse to ask today as to why we've got this far without it being an issue but she did say that they'd continue with all the prelimiaries and see what the consultant said on our next appointment.
So, we're no further forward with that one.

Apparently they have to take into account the "welfare of the child" and that seemingly means that after a period of two years, someone comes and magically waves an enchanted wand and makes it so that you will all live happily ever after but if it is before two years, you will all be miserable, unhappy and the child will never be loved. It's bloody ridiculous, especially as I was with ST for over 2 years before he up and left! Someone tell the girls outside the maternity ward too with their cans of special brew, their fags and their unknown babyfathers about the two year rule. According to this ruling, two educated, high achieving, professional, loving adults with stable families and a wide circle of supportive friends are seemingly unsuitable to become parents until a few more pages of the calendar are flipped over. utter sh*t.

However, that's the least of our worries.

It turns out that Tom has problems too. When they did the second set of tests on him there were antibodies in his sample which mean that basically his little swimmers are fighting amongst themselves. This means that the IVf method of "chuck everything in a pot in the lab and let nature take its course" is no longer an option for us. We now have to have a process called ICIS where they have to isolate one of Tom's swimmers and inject it directly into one of my eggs in a test tube. This doesn't mean any changes to our treatment but it does mean more work for the embryologists in the lab and is another barrier to us having a tiny bif of natural selection in any future babies. Seems weird that a third person will select the exact one sperm to inject into the exact one egg to make one exact baby from the millions that are produced in any one sample. All very odd. Let's hope they pick a good one.

Speaking of eggs, I had a rather unpleasant incident with one the other day in Peterborough. we had the worst day ever in what i shall now refer to as the "arse of england" (apologies to anyone who lives in a nice part of Peterborough but the bits we saw were just plain wrong). We managed to get there in just under 3 hours and were actually a bit early so we went for a quick bit of breakfast at a cafe. However, we weren't early enough to find anywhere nice so ended up in an Ian Beale style market cafe (opposite the, "maybe gammon" butchers) eating greasy food off a greasy table with the proverbial greasy spoon. I was transfixed by the amount of fried food people could shovel down in one sitting and I swear that the table top napkin dispensers were so greasy that one trucker tried to cover one in ketchup and swallow it down on a fried slice.

I played it safe and just had a fried egg sandwich whilst the waitress masking taped two plates together to fit on Tom's three man breakfast which contained more pork than all of the three little pigs put together. Meanwhile the counter staff just huffed and puffed at me when i asked for the key to the ladies' toilets and I gave up trying to put on some lippy as I couldn't see properly due to the anti drug blue lights in there. I hurried back to my table, deftly carrying out a torville and dean style triple salko on the greasy lino flooring and got stuck back into my sandwich. Unfortunately, I had not done the, "yolk position check" which anyone who is a connoiseur of the old "sandwich d'oeuf" is familiar with and so i ended up back at the counter with the huffing waitress asking her for a cloth as I had bitten into my sandwich and sent a river of scalding egg yolk and grease right down the inside sleeve of my barbour. Not a pleasant experience.

After scooping out the ostrich sized yolk from down my sleeve (does peterborough breed giant hens?) we dashed over to the passport office. I left £130 pounds lighter (£200 if you add in the cost of the deed poll) and with the prospect of 3 hours to kill in Peterborough on a Tuesday. Joy.

Tom treated me to a walk round Wilko's to look at tins of primer (who says romance is dead), followed by a tour of Peterborough's finest second hand Wii games market stalls. I was enthralled.

I eventually managed to drag him away from attempting to speak Polish to a man selling turnips on the market and found the relative sanctuary of John Lewis. After a few moments clinging onto their gleaming rails and breathing in the heady scent of new shoes, we stopped for tea in their cafe. We discussed Tom's favourite topics at the moment which are, in order of importance.... paint, undercoat, roller trays, the cats, car finance packages and leicester city football club.

It was therefore a relief to return to the passport office after 3 hours to find that YAY! my passport was ready and i am now officially Miss T again.... altogether now WOOOOHOOOOOO!!!!!
It may have cost me a small fortune but I am now free of that weasel legally in every possible way. (well, apart from the sodding IVf dates fiasco).

We drove back to Tom's and began planning my move over there. We've set the date for Easter as this will give me time to get my house ready for letting and get rid of any excess furniture etc. So, it'll be easter eggs at chez tom next year! With any luck, i'll have my own little hot cross bun in the oven by then too so it'll all be hunkydory.

Anyway, have got to dash off again now as we're off to buy some waterproofs for our foray into the lake district at the weekend. we're also off to see Franz Ferdinand on Friday (a pressie for Tom from me) so I've got to get all packed tonight. So, I'll say cheerio for now as i still have some egg yolk to pick out of my sleeve and tom's "anniversary" present to wrap.

Lots of love in the meatime.


Sunday, 11 October 2009

It's all kicking off...

Well, this is just a short one to update with the maddest week of my life so far.

I resigned from my job on Monday but by Saturday morning was headteacher!

I am now the co-head of our primary school and am sharing the role with the other deputy. She can't do it on her own as she doesn't have the NPQH headship qualification (but I do) and I can't do it on my own due to the IVF thing.

So, the governors of the school have decided to make us co-heads until a new one is appointed permanently at Easter. I have a guarantee that if i'm in the midst of IVF and OfSTED come knocking then I can immediately go off on the sick to avoid the stress of it and I get to keep teaching my class as well as having some headship experience.

Tom's thrilled as he knew I didn't really want to give up work as I love it so much and he's happy that I'll be sharing the stress and the role as he knew I couldn't have coped on my own. Mum and dad are really proud that I'm head so early on in my career. (Although 12 years and an additional 5 in training does not seem very early to me, I'm shattered!!!)

The governors were appalled that I felt my only option was to leave and have said they'll support me every step of the way with the IVF and OK any leave or sickness I need to take. The other deputy is one of my best mates so it's the two of us against the world!

Needless to say, I'm absolutely shattered by all the goings on but am so pleased I have something positive to look forward to.

We're off to the passport office on Tuesday to finally rid myself of the weasel's surname and then our IVF appointment is on Thursday so it's all go this week too. Keep your fingers crossed ladies as I feel that that this little road is about to get a bit bumpy and have a few hairpin bends coming up!

Will update again really soon with all the details but it really has been manic over the last few days. I've also scalded my right hand really badly in a fight with an ancient tea urn but that's another story...

Lots of love in the meantime.


P.S It's our "anniversary" on the 21st october and Tom's surprised me with a week away. The link to it's down here. Obviously we couldn't go abroad due to the passport crisis but this looks utterly divine. Pass me my wellies and my barbour, I'm off!! We're going a week on Saturday so I promise I'll update before then. Check out the bath!!!!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

when it all gets too much, you need a little chef...

First of all, I wanted to say thank you to all the people who have posted and sent such lovely messages since my anonymous postings started again. The comment about not being fit to look after an animal really got to me and it was so nice of so many of you to recognise how much that would have hurt and to get in touch to show your support.
I’m sorry I haven’t posted much this week but to say it has been a little hectic doesn’t really cover it. I’m therefore sorry if this post turns into a complete ramble but there’s so much for me to think about at the moment that I genuinely don’t know if I’m coming or going, let alone be able to string a coherent post together!
As most of you know, I revealed to my boss before I took my year group to PGL that I was going to be starting IVF. His response was very positive but he also said (I thought as a joke), “Well if you’re off, it’s definitely time for me to start applying for jobs”. To cut a long story short... He did, he got it and now he’s leaving. At Christmas!!!! This leaves me in sole charge of the school with an OfSTED inspection imminent, Year 6 to teach full time and prepare them for SATs, two new members of staff to induct and the new role of “acting headteacher”. Oh, and all this whilst trying to remain calm for the IVF. At risk of sounding like the victim that “anonymous” paints me as, this really is bum timing for me again.
There’s no one else in the school with Yr6 experience who could release me whilst I did the acting headship and so I’d be doing my own deputy’s job, the head’s job and the Yr6 teaching all at the same time whilst trying to juggle IVF appointments and hoping to God that OfSTED don’t come calling. Add into this the fact that my head revealed to me on Friday (whilst I was dressed as a Victorian in a stately home courtyard having done the 100 yard dash for an emergency medical epipen but that’s another story) that he hasn’t exactly been doing things by the book for the last two years and deliberately kept it from me. So, OfSTED would have a field day if they found out about some of the holes in what he’s been up to. It’s nothing illegal at all and the things he did have had nothing but amazingly positive impacts on the school and the quality of teaching and learning but they’re a little avant garde and so I’d end up having to explain them.
This has all been happening alongside Tom resigning from his job. He’s been unhappy for a while so resigned last week with no job to go to. However, this didn’t last long as he resigned at 9am and had three other offers by lunchtime the same day! The upshot is that he’s returning to a company he used to work for in about 3 weeks time and although his salary is less, the overall package is better and the hours are more conducive to a proper relationship as he won’t be on call 24 hours a day to down tools and jet off up to Edinburgh or down to London at the drop of a hat.
So, we’ve both had major career upheavals in the last week. Add into the mix that my mum’s been having an emotional meltdown as she’s convinced my brother will get pressed into action in a ladyboy’s brothel in Bangkok or have a half tonne of crack cocaine wedged in his rucksack and so will live out his days dodging firing squads in a Thai prison and you have a fairly stressful week.
It was capped off yesterday with our visit to the Passport Office to get my new passport. I spent over half an hour on the phone on Wednesday to a very nice chap from the IPS who helped me to put my application together and arranged an appointment at the Peterborough office for yesterday (Saturday). I had gathered enough evidence to satisfy the Spanish Inquisition and so we set off on the 5 hour round trip to get the passport. I had with me.... My old maiden name cancelled passport, my current married name passport, my birth certificate, my maiden name driving licence, 3 utility bills in my married name, 3 in my maiden name, my payslips in both names, my divorce papers and the letter from IPS inviting me to interview.
This apparently wasn’t enough evidence.
Apparently because my local county court do not put your maiden name on your divorce papers and keep the marriage certificate in your file, there was no actual document showing my change from Mrs ST to Miss T. I am ashamed to say that I did something I very rarely do and poor Tom just didn’t know how to cope with. I burst into tears at the passport office counter and poured out the whole story to the woman behind the counter. The two little men who searched us on the way in and who had ushered us through the metal detectors (I never realised that IPS offices had become as tightly monitored as Gatwick) were all sympathetic looks and helpful smiles but the hard faced cow behind the counter was obviously one of the “computer says no” generation and would not even phone anyone up to ask if it was possible to issue the passport after all.

I was getting quite upset as I had two passports, both issued by them, both with my photo on, clearly showing I was who I said I was and had the damn divorce papers there and they wouldn’t issue the sodding passport. Since when were divorce papers, utility bills, birth certificates and passports not enough evidence? I kept saying that I’d spoken for over half an hour with one of their reps to prepare for this interview as I had to get it just right to get it ready for our IVF appointment in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, the world and his wife (none of whom could apparently speak a word of English and who were having to have stuff translated for them), were wandering off clutching brand new shiny passports like they’d gone to the pick and mix counter at the cinema. I sobbed. I sobbed a lot. I sobbed with the frustration of not potentially not being able to start the IVF because of the timing of the ill fated marriage to ST, the fact that try as I might I couldn’t seem to legally get rid of the weasel’s name; and I sobbed because I was knackered, stressed and utterly terrified about having to take over the school when I’m meant to be de-stressing.

We eventually established that, in addition to the car boot full of paperwork I already had, I needed to download a deed poll application to change my name aswell. We now have to repeat the 5 hour round trip at some point next week when the deed poll paperwork comes through. I also now have to pay for the 1 day express service which is well over £120 in addition to the deed poll fees. I really am paying a fortune to rid myself of that hideous weasel. He, of course, will have had to make no changes or pay to change any paperwork as his title and surname didn’t change. The irony of it all is that we never even went on our honeymoon so it was pointless changing my passport over in readiness for that when we married; I never used the damn thing once with ST!
After I had made the floor of the IPS office soaking wet with my frustrated outpourings, Tom led me outside to get some fresh air and begin the journey home. Now, I’m not sure what buildings I expected to be surrounding the nation’s passport office, but i can tell you it was not a lap dancing club, a butchers and kebab shop. Whilst composing myself on the steps of the IPS, I was witness to a group of lads staggering into the lap dancing club, a lap dancer with boobs the size of space hoppers that were struggling to stay in the tiny piece of neon lycra she had wedged them in and a very confusing sign in the butcher’s window which simply read “Maybe gammon”. After almost walking up to the lap dancer and congratulating her on her fine frontage (truly, even I was impressed – Tom was virtually drooling) I began to wonder what the “Maybe gammon” sign was all about....I settled on it being the worst butchers in the world where he couldn’t tell his topside from his back bacon and so was unsure of his wares.

We then did what everyone should do in a crisis... We had the obligatory row about the best way round the one way system and then stopped for an Olympic breakfast at Little Chef. Well, Tom had an Olympic breakfast as he’s doing a 55mile cycle race today; I just had a jacket potato with minor emotional meltdown. I don’t know what it is about formica, kindly waitresses and comforting “too strong” tea in an anonymous service station but it brought on a lot of honesty and soul searching with me and Tom. He said he was so angry that I was so stressed and that all he wanted was for me to be happy. He said that in his new job, he’ll need someone at home to support him and so he was more than happy for me to give up work and concentrate on the IVF. He said it would be pointless starting IVF at the moment as it would be doomed to failure as I was too wound up. He said that living in two houses was completely nuts and putting too much pressure on both of us. He said we could sell his house and move closer to my parents if that was what I wanted but that I couldn’t carry on as I am. Apparently he just wants me to let my house and move in with him ideally. He put his foot down about me taking on the acting headship and said that he’d be really angry about it as if we’re serious about making the IVF work then we needed to ensure it was as stressless and calm as possible; running about like the proverbial blue arsed fly would not be helpful.
He also said that he would look after me but not keep me. He said that I wouldn’t have to worry about any bills or mortgages and that he’d pay for us to go out and do nice things but that I’d need to do something to earn money for myself too. We agreed that one option would be for me to enrol at University to do a Masters (which I’ve wanted to do for ages) and then get a part time job doing something completely unrelated to teaching but that I’d enjoy and would bring in some money. He suggested working in a shop like a florists, a bridal shop or a gift shop as he knows I’d enjoy that.
I’m definitely contracted to work until Christmas but I could technically leave after that. It’d mean selling my beloved brand new Audi TT, letting my house, moving to Tom’s and a complete and utter life change but at least I wouldn’t be working minimum 15 hour days every day as I do at the moment. I just don’t know how I feel about walking out on my career though. I’ve been teaching for 11 years after training for a further 5 and I’ve worked so hard to get everything I’ve achieved. I have a great reputation in the local authority and adore the children and community I serve. It would leave a huge hole in my life if I walked out on it all but if the IVF works, I guess that would be filled by being a mum and family unit.

It just seems such a gamble. Tom’s new job means that I do not need to work at all but it’s all I know. I’ve had a real work ethic drummed into me by my parents and I’ve always worked really really hard; the thought of not having to, actually makes me question who I am. I’ve been the high flyer, the one who achieves and the one who has success at work for so long, what happens and who am I if that part of me goes?

My friends all think it’s a great idea as long as I do do the masters to keep my brain ticking over. They know i’d go mad if I wasn’t intellectually challenging myself in some way as it’s all I know. They are worried about me being so wound up and tired though. All the illness, the surgery, the saga with ST has left me drained recently and so they can see I need a break of some sort. My parents aren’t as keen though as they think I’ll go round the bend if I don’t have my work as they know how much it means to me.

I therefore just don’t know what to do for the best, especially as we won’t know if we can proceed with the IVF until we’ve talked through the timings of our relationship with our consultant again. This is also all dependent upon whether we can get the deed poll and the passport documentation changed in time so I can prove who I am. If the passport authority won’t accept my current documentation then I’m pretty sure the HFEA won’t accept it either.

It’s all a bit up in the air again and I feel as if my head’s going to explode with it all.
So, I’ll try and update again soon but I hope you don’t think I’m being tardy if it’s not for a while. This poor little brain of my is exhausted!
Thanks again for all the positive messages and support. It really does make a difference.