Your shiny new husband has just arrived home from overseas, and I knew you were keen to start a family soon. That's why I invited you to view our private blog. So you could remain informed and make your announcement to us at the most appropriate time possible. So my husband wouldn't find your announcement in his inbox an hour or so after learning our latest loss was an apparently normal son.

We've been together for fifteen years and I can still count on one hand the number of times I've seen him cry. I appreciate you did try to protect me, but it's not enough.

Why didn't you accept my invitation? Why didn't you read the blog first? Couldn't it have waited another week?

I gave you the opportunity - why did you turn it away?

Mr Bea has to take or forfeit some holidays by June this year. So, of course, he'll take them, and he asked me when they should be and what we should do. And I don't know. It depends what's going on with my cycle. When does one get one's period back after a D&C? How long is a piece of string?

After much anguishing over the uncertainty of infertility I realised it didn't matter. Book the holiday whenever. If my period's here, we'll go to Sydney to see their specialists in miscarriage*. If not, the world's our oyster, if a slightly gritty one which has been left out in the sun too long therefore destroying its taste and edibility, and which by the way doesn't seem to contain a pearl, the bastard thing.

So it was that I came to be browsing Intrepid's website, and planting a tree in Africa. I encourage you to do the same. Intrepid is a small group travel company which I highly recommend, and I'm not even getting paid to. They offer great value-for-money holidays, and in saying so I compare them first-hand with several different tour companies and independent travel. I love the respect they have for the cultures of their travel destinations, and their commitment to leaving the place even better than they found it. By, for example, planting trees. In Africa. Best of all, in case you're still wavering, I have successfully unsubscibed from their newsletter in the past, not that you have to subscribe now in order to plant a tree in Africa, but what I'm saying is they're quite trustworthy.


Mel made an interesting suggestion last week. She suggests everyone write a complimentary letter to a store or company about an employee. I know from time to time I get comments saying, "I should totally, like, start doing good deeds and shit, hey?" so it seems to me now's your chance. First, the tree. Then - and an email or phone call is acceptable if you don't want to undo your first piece of good work - tell someone's boss how much they rock. And then tell us about it. And email me, so I can link to you next week. And we can all, like, spread the love and stuff. Because we all have so much going unclaimed. We can even call it "The Great Deed Challenge" and we can hold one every... twenty-four... deeds. Who's with me?

*On which, more later.

That's what the report said, more or less. I felt it coming on as I was waiting to pay the bill - a great torrent of... no wait, that sounds silly. A huge vaccuum opening up, sucking all the... not quite right. It was an oppressive, though invisible force, pressing in on me from all sides and... no.

Words fail me. Except the ones which keep repeating themselves inside my head: perfectly normal boy. Perfectly normal boy.

I made it down in the lift, paused briefly to decide between a taxi and the tube. Relaxing my force of will for even a moment left me gulping for air. A crowd of school children streamed past on both sides as I deliberated. Perfectly normal boys. All perfectly normal boys. I took the MRT. Anonymous strangers rarely ask for explanations.

On the platform I was reaching for my book bag when a man stopped to stare at me. I half-looked at him, without meeting his eyes. Indian gentleman, turban, white collared shirt, thoughtful frown. After a pause he said softly, "You are very lucky."

"Really," I replied, looking steadily into his face and giving him a sad little half-smile.

"Yes," he answered emphatically, and tapped his forefinger between his eyes in a gesture I don't understand. "There is good luck coming to you soon - before the end of the year." I paused, baffled, and gave a stunned nod. Then I had to bite my lip and avert my eyes.

The train came. Two stations later the Indian man turned to catch my eyes again, and gave a barely perceptible nod. Then he alighted and was gone.

Gone, just like my perfectly normal boy.

Our perfectly normal boy.


(And in remembrance of our perfectly normal boys gone by...)


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Lest we forget

The Last Post
The Rouse

**I chose this post for the Creme de la Creme 2007 because it expressed something I wanted to say, but from the comments at the time I'm not sure I expressed it well. I wasn't trying to imply that infertility or its effect on our lives magically evaporates once a child is on the scene, but rather talk about my realisation that we have a greater capacity for emotional healing than I ever imagined, and the courage that can be gained from that thought.**

There are short bursts of tears now, at odd moments - on being asked to remember something about university, when discussing how to use the leave Mr Bea needs to take before June, as the TV is switched off after a Fred Astaire muscial. But they're gentle enough, and they go as well as come.

I remember our first appointment with FS. We crept into the waiting room, wide-eyed and naive; nervous, desperate to get knocked up within the next six to twelve months or so. As we sat, a woman signed in at the counter, and I watched the receptionist lean over and whisper, "You're pregnant, aren't you?" The woman hesitated, then nodded, and the receptionist gave a little squeal, but the woman didn't smile, she just sat with a stony face, pretending to read a magazine with unfocussed eyes.

Half an hour later we were waiting to have our bloods drawn, when the woman came out of the nurse counsellor's office, crying inconsolably.

Several staff herded her gently to the phlebotomist's room.

We sat there in silence, thinking, "Oh God."

It's funny how time changes. A few weeks ago, after scan number one, I dared to get hopeful, and what I felt wasn't what I'd expected to feel. I've often imagined thinking, "Finally - this could be it," but when it came time I thought, "Wow - this could be it already." If you'd told me at that first appointment I'd be sitting here, April 2007, waiting to speak with various doctors about recurrent miscarriage*, having moved on to IVF, suffered OHSS, clocked up five FETs, three chemical pregnancies and one D&C at nine weeks, I would have shrivelled up and died. I didn't know that when I felt it maybe, maybe, might just be our turn, our whole journey would melt away into insignificance.

In that moment, it seemed short.

Somehow, that makes it hard to be afraid of what's to come.

*On which, more later.

It seems every time I think of someone for my "Thinking Blogger" list I turn around and they've been nominated elsewhere. Which isn't to say they don't deserve to be nominated again, but I know there's more thoughtful folk out there than that, and I just want to, you know, share the love. Or the intellectualism, as it were.

I also notice I've been mentioned by a couple more people, to whom I say thankyou, but with a touch of sadness as it's clear you think way too much of me and therefore I can never, ever, ever meet you in real life.


Sunny Jenny had a post recently which made me think, although I wasn't quite feeling chipper enough to come up with any suitably punchy replies. Others have, though, and perhaps a few more can go around there and nut out a suggestion or two for The Comeback.

Beagle has been making me think lately as she transitions from ART to domestic adoption. Nica at Sandwich Life often does that, too.

Jenny always seems to be thinking of things, like partially password-protected blogs, and the sensitive subjects site, although to be fair, Rachel should get similar credit for Fertility Musings, Questions and Answers and its sister site, too.

And then I don't know whether to choose DI Dad, for all the DC info, thoughts, and news, or Jules for her songs-the-writers-never-knew-were-speaking-about-infertility. I guess I'll leave them both on the list. Y'all know it's nowhere near complete anyway, right?

The above-listed have the rare privilege of being allowed to add this plaque to their blog, and those who do memes can also think of five others to nominate.

I read a rather sweet post earlier today, by Bumble, in which she nominated me for something called the thinking blogger award. Here it is:

Now, I know it's not quite kosher to nominate the person who nominated you, but Bumble really did get me thinking, and what I thought was this: "Fuck, wait, is it Thursday again already?"

I don't know where the last week has gone. What have I done? I know I've cleaned. I've done more housework in the last week than the rest of the year combined. And I know I've slept. I've been so very, very tired. The last few nights I've lain on the couch dabbing my forehead with moisture, in a sort of aristocratic Victorian style, as my hormones crash with such force and din that it causes my head to pound and ache with the reverberation.

I know I've bled.

I know I've waited. For the tears I thought would flood me, which must be yet to come. I suppose all will happen in its own good time.

But what I haven't done is this week's good deed. Instead, I've spent the last hour wondering if I've done enough this week to call it even. I have, for instance, started back at the RDA after an absence of several weeks. I have been friendly to people, even those who made well-meaning but slightly-less-than-perfect comments in relation to the... you know... events. I continue to remember my reusable shopping bags, and I'm getting better at turning off appliances at the wall, or when not in use. I have gone back and clicked on this site! I did not shove a "Mother - World's Toughest Job" button up that guy's arse when he offered it to me quite innocently! Some of these things were hard, people!

I'm not sure it's enough. But opening my bills has presented an opportunity I can get to when I run all those post-office errands tomorrow. The utilities company has sent a begging letter from The Society For The Physically Disabled. I think I'll drop a little something in their tin.

And to prove my talent at thinking, I've calculated the odds of getting a releasable amount from google adsense (for donation to charity) by deed number fifty. Thanks to you, it's doable. But it's going to run pretty close. So to try and help things along, I'm going to make the Thursday Report Card a sponsored event. And today's sponsor (who will appear within forty-eight hours) is:

(Bugger, didn't work... hang on.)

**Added alert commenter question here.

The Barren Bitches Book Tour is in some ways like a high school English assignment, so I'm using the same time-honoured technique I used back then. That's right - up past bedtime on the night before it's due, looking at the questions for the first time ever. And so many thoughtful questions have been provoked by Niffenegger's compelling tale, I hardly know where to start. Nevertheless, I will.

**Spoiler Warning - parts one and two contain spoilers in the question or answer - if you want you can skip to part three**

Henry's ability to time travel is both a blessing and a curse. What do you think Niffenegger was trying to say about human anomalies in general and how can Henry's ability to time travel relate to medical conditions such as deafness or infertility?

As a bleeding-heart, citified liberal, I prefer to think of human anomalies in terms of compassion and the triumph of human civilisation over the nasty, short, brutishness of nature. But there's a more utilitarian argument for pulling together and helping those whose problems don't, from society's viewpoint, seem worth solving. The idea crops up in several places - Cube, that high school biology lesson where you discussed sickle cell anaemia, and most recently "Survival of the Sickest" by Dr Sharon Moalem - a pop science look at the hidden benefits of human imperfection, and something I purchased today, far too late to be of benefit in answering this question.

During the story, Henry's condition saves his life, earns him a living, and causes his disability, infertility and death. Having found the answer to his infertility, it seems the only thing he lacked to swing the benefits firmly in his favour was control, and his daughter managed to achieve that in much greater degree. The message seems clear - don't be too hasty to condemn that which deviates from the ideal. Persist, overcome obstacles, hang on to the silver lining.

Due to his ability to time travel and jumps into the future, Henry knows that he is going to die. Yet in the beginning, he works hard to try to create a baby with his wife. This situation obviously benefits Henry in that he gets to parent Alba for a bit before he dies. This situation also benefits Clare since she wants to be a mother. Yet Alba grows up without her father yet with his extraordinary abilities - abilities that were a difficult adjustment for Henry growing up. Do you think he acted in the best interests of his child when he helped create her knowing that he would not be around to help her understand her ability to time travel? Do you think it is truly possible to take the feelings of a child in mind prior to creation as well as fulfill your own need to parent? If you had been in Henry's shoes, would you have created this child knowing she would be able to time travel and you would not be there to help her understand this anomaly?

Firstly, I think the question misrepresents the situation somewhat (whoever wrote it can beat me up in the comments!). Henry knows he has never been visited by a version of himself older than forty-three, but he also spends a great deal of the book seeking a cure for his "chrono-impairment", so although he and Clare are worried, there is no proof of his impending death until after the conception of their daughter (and in a certain sense, her birth - his daughter is the one who breaks the news to him). Forty-three could have been the age at which his doctor eventually gave him the magic solution. Couple this with his unusual ability to parent Alba after he dies, as well as before, the other people in Alba's life who understand the condition (her mother and doctor), and Henry's own history of getting by without these advantages, and the action of creating a child in his situation doesn't seem too irresponsible at all.

The fact is, in some sense, I am in Henry's position. I have a family history of breast cancer, and there is a chance I may pass a predisposition on to my children, and then die without first helping them come to terms with it. There was a point at which I wondered if it was responsible to bring a child into this world under the circumstances. But it's impossible to predict what obstacles we'll face and how things will turn out. I could use my genes, and everything could end up just fine, or I could opt not to use my genes, and in doing so create or uncover a whole new set of problems, perhaps worse than before.

Life is not about avoiding whatever risks you can see. Life is about managing risks. It's walking that fine line between responsibility and acceptance of fate. It's hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. It's realising we need to work as a community to give and take and share the burdens. I feel Henry, and I, made reasonable choices.

I love the references to music in this book. They are a convenient way for the author to clearly define the era the narrative is taking place in, but for those of us who can't time-travel, music and the times in which we listened to it play a powerful role in constructing memory. Which is to say, that it is almost impossible for me to think about our experience of infertility without thinking of "The Waters of March" as performed by Susanne McCorkle. Mel's written about this in the past. I also think about going with Mel to see Bruce Springsteen concert right when we started TTC and just being so certain that there was a child in-utero at the concert with us. There wasn't. Or not one that became a viable embryo. For that reason, I hardly ever listen to The Rising, which is the album Bruce was touring behind (The Seeger Sessions however is awesome and on regular rotation). That said, what are the songs you associate with your experience -- even if they have nothing to do with IF?

Less than a week ago I was in a taxi coming home from the appointment in which SOB confirmed our latest pregnancy was over. As we pulled into the traffic, a song came on the radio: "One Fine Day" by The Chiffons. You know how it goes. I've got a feeling if I ever want to feel again like I did that moment, all I'll have to do is get that playing on the stereo.

Finally, a question for the alert commenter. The book is about a couple and the life they build together despite difficulties including infertility. It's told from the viewpoints of both Henry and Clare. Yet it's called "The Time Traveler's Wife". Do you feel that reflects on the way infertility is handled within society? What would the story of your relationship/infertility be called?


Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters. You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein.

When I was young - about primary school age, I think - I was prone to the same unsociable habits as any other child my age, and I came in for the same amount of scolding from the adults around me. "Bea!" they would say. "Stop whining/annoying your playmate/picking your nose!" But my mother always took a different tack. She would take me aside and, looking stern but patient, pose the following question: "Is there any reason you're doing that?" And I would usually pause uncertainly, caught off-guard by being made to analyse the basis of my actions, sometimes causing my mother to prompt ("Is your nose itchy? Runny? Sore?"), but inevitably I would come up with some excuse, whereupon my mother would explain why the solution I'd come up with wasn't an acceptable one, suggest a list of suitable alternatives, and close with a warning about what type of punishment I could expect were I to repeat my behaviour now I knew better.

On Tuesday I phoned my mother about the fact I hadn't heard from her since I wrote to her about our loss. "I sent you an email on Saturday," I began.

"Yes," she admitted reluctantly.

Then I heard my mother's voice from my own lips, stern but patient, saying, "Is there any reason you haven't contacted us since?"

The plain truth is my family is bad at these things. But I learnt that lesson a long time ago so there's no need to rehash it all again. Really, my mother's only following in the footsteps of the woman who raised her. It's funny how life reminds us we're our mother's daughter, after all.

Little Sister emailed Mr Bea to check on me. She said my mother is distressed to the point of threatening to buy a plane ticket and come over, apologised for having read the password-protected blog uninvitedly, but assured us it's for the best as it's allowing her to give wise counsel on the appropriate things to say and do. To think, I didn't tell her because I'm the Big Sister. The Little Mother. How hard it is to reshape the mould.

Shortly after I published this post, a bunch of flowers arrived at the door from my family.

I couldn't stop shaking. It started as soon as I entered the day surgery area, and continued for nearly an hour and a half, beyond the point the anaesthetist took my hand to look for a vein, and remarked, "Boy, you really are frightened."

"I think I'm just cold," I answered honestly. I certainly didn't feel frightened. I felt, kind of... numb. They brought me an extra blanket but the shivering continued. Then he gave me fentanyl, and it stopped.

As he made his preparations, he babbled on about the ring structures of various opioids, the logistics involved in anaesthetising patients for open-heart surgery, and the importance of not insisting you were allergy-free to the first four people who asked you and then, after getting a dose of intravenous kefzol, suddenly remarking that actually you are allergic to something, come to think of it, and it might have been an antibiotic, anyway all you can remember is you nearly died - which a patient had done to him on the previous day. Lastly, he told me it would be ok because this had happened to him and his wife and now they had an eighteen-year-old son and a seventeen-year-old daughter. I was about to make some sardonic remark about how few embryo transfers it must have taken for number two, but the next thing I remember is waking up, and it was all over, and I wasn't shaking any more.

I bled a little in recovery. It was like a heavy period at first, but lightened within a few hours. They gave me pain killers, which I considered taking, but the pain was never worse than menstrual pain and today I feel almost fine. Towards the end of my recovery I sent Mr Bea out for chocolates and a card. Since that first beta - gosh was it only in March? - the staff have been very kind. And it's good, once in a while, to encourage goodness in others.

Speaking of which, don't forget to encourage Mel as she Walks America in support of the March of Dimes.

You can stop now.

Beta is falling. I'm glad we held out for a definitive answer.

SOB thinks that, due to the size of the pregnancy and the falling hCG, there should be no problem with a natural miscarriage. He thinks tissue testing, in the light of previous test results (eg parental karyotyping), is unlikely to yield useful information, and we would be better off waiting and doing an endometrial biopsy "when everything settles down". And I had to admit the logic to his suggested approach. But I told him I was keen to pursue any and all avenues of investigation, despite the lack of compelling reasons to do so, and screw the cost/benefit analysis, and did he see any problem with that and he said no, so we are booked for a D&C tomorrow morning, with results in 2-3 weeks.

I still haven't heard from my family. I'm really grateful for all your comments.

That is all.

Parent situation resolved. Explain later.

**Wed Update**
Went smoothly.

A few weeks ago, when my family started enquiring as to the status of our cycle, I set up a private blog to provide them with updates and pictures. I thought I would wait until we had answered the "ectopic" question - no need to cause unecessary panic, although I remain fully in favour of the necessary variety - and then let them in on the news as it happened. But even after that scan I hesitated. It's hard to carry this burden without the help of our families, but it's harder to feel they've let us down. In the past, I've often regretted giving people the chance.

Last week I rung both my parents and grandparents, hoping they'd raise the topic, looking for an opportunity to explain what's been going on, baldly seeking a few words of comfort. I find it difficult to broach the subject in conversation, and after being fobbed off the first time, they've decided to stop asking. Several phone calls later, my mission had failed. So on Saturday, I sent my parents an invitation to the private blog.

They've visited several times over the last few days.

I've heard nothing.

I don't know what to do about it except post this entry, in the hope that someone, somewhere, will read it and think, gosh, well, mental note, there is a fine line between pestering a couple for information and ignoring the situation completely, and I'm one step closer to figuring out how to walk it. So here it is:

I know it's hard. I know it's awkward. I know the rules seem to change on a daily basis and you're always afraid of causing offense and getting your head snapped off. But please - don't give up. As long as your heart's in the right place, you'll be forgiven. Don't stop calling. Don't stop asking if we want to talk about it. Don't stop making the point that you're here, and you want to help.

Just please, whatever you do, don't leave us alone.

I was trained as a scientist, and all through university I heard this message: reach for the obvious; expect the expected. It doesn't mean we should shut out the possibility of strange and awesome things, but we should come to unorthodox conclusions only after rigorous investigation of the more likely alternatives. The lesson was always summarised using the same, well-worn aphorism: "When you hear hoofbeats..." the lecturer would begin, and we'd roll our eyes. "Yeah yeah, we get it. It's not the Serengeti."

A beta of 23.8 at 16dpo can go several ways - and the extreme ends of the spectrum do contain heartwarming urban legends and tragic horror stories - but almost all the area under the curve is taken up by chemical pregnancies and blighted ovums. Since I heard our hoofbeats, those are exactly the breeds of horse I've been expecting to see.

Today, looking at the screen, my first thought was, "Fuck me, there's the heartbeat." A few seconds later, it was followed by, "That's far too slow," and "Wait, wait - I'm watching my own pulse." SOB started by running through all our positives - the pregnancy has grown and the hCG has gone up but - and here he hesitated in that awkward manner people have when they're about to say something upsetting. And I heard my voice, and it was gentle and calm, "You'd expect to see a lot more at this stage."

"Yes," he agreed, and we paused. "I think we should keep you on all the medication and do another hCG reading on Tuesday."

"Even though we have no heartbeat at eight weeks four days, our hCG doubling time has deteriorated from 2.5 days to about a week, we are measuring even further behind in dates than we already were, and we have now fallen well off the bottom of your already overly-generous reference range?"

"It's still growing. The hormones are still going up."

Clearly, we have very different definitions of the word "over". But one more blood test will do no harm. It's not like you can call this "limbo" anymore - rather it's "waiting til Tuesday to discuss options for miscarriage".

And expected or not, you know it hurts to get mown down by a half-ton of steel-shod equine.

Hopeful Bea has already started rehearsing her script. She clears her throat theatrically, and takes one last look at her lines, mouthing them to herself rapidly before nodding as if ready to begin. A pause for the start of the scene, and then, "Oh!" she gushes, trying to make the water well up in her eyes. "Oh my- oh my g- Oh!" She fans her face and looks upward, gasping for air, and then collapses forwards, overflowing with tears of joy. The loosely assembled audience claps half-heartedly, and she breaks character to take a bow.

Logical Bea takes the opportunity to peel away from the crowd, looking soundly unmoved by the performance. Soon she spies Anxious Bea, at her desk in the corner, nervously chewing the end off her biro and oblivious to the ink stain spreading around her mouth. "Thought I'd find you working on an alternative," says Logical, giving Anxious a start. "What've you got so far?"

"Well," Anxious begins, looking embarrased, "the scene is this: ultrasound shows minimal growth of the gestational sac, and no heartbeat. We rush a blood test through the lab, which confirms the end is inevitable. Then I, sort of, well I can't work out whether to go for stony-faced stoicism or disruptively noisy grief."

Logical nods. "Want my advice? Focus less on the emotional aspect. That'll happen by itself, and you can't plan for it. What you need to be writing down are constructive questions, things like, What are our options? Can we do tissue testing on the embryo?"

"Should we schedule an endometrial biopsy, and when?" suggests Anxious, but Logical shakes her head.

"Too much at once. There'll be time for that talk when this pregnancy's over and a new cycle has begun."

"You mean "if", don't you?"

"Sure. If. That's only logical."

Anxious nods thoughtfully, and sets to work. Soon the script is ready for rehearsal. She stands, and delivers her lines woodenly. "Can we do tissue testing on the embryo? What will that involve, and when can we discuss the results? Can you explain the pros and cons of each of our options? What signs of complications should I look out for? How will it happen?" She faulters. "I mean, exactly how - where will I go, who will I speak to at each stage, what will I say? What..." She breaks off, sobbing quietly. "I'm sorry - this isn't in the script."

After an awkward pause, Logical walks over and puts an arm stiffly around Anxious's shoulder. "Try not to be upset," she says, feeling futile. "Hey - I still think it's going to be ok in the end."

"You do?" Anxious looks pleadingly into Logical's face.

"Sure," says Logical, and she is. "Whatever happens tomorrow, try to remember we're not out of options yet. Things still have a good chance of working out in the end. It's only elementary logic."

Don't forget to leave your thoughts over at IIFF. As of yesterday, there is a new post, discussing the next festival.

First of all, since I posted this deed, all the supermarkets I shop at have started offering re-usable bags for sale at the checkout. I'm not claiming responsibility for this, merely pausing to be heartened by the turn of events.

I have furthermore decided (in celebration of the above) to recycle one of my past good deeds*. The idea behind Kiva still takes my fancy, so I decided to give it another go. And as if the universe was in enthusiastic agreement with my theme, I almost immediately came upon this guy (except they seem to change it to a "general" thingy once the loan is raised):

He's a recycler. Well, a repairman, which is pretty close to the same thing.

Good luck, Jesus. This one's on behalf of Jester.

*Ok, you got me. It's because it's really hard to come up with something unique every seven days.

Please check out IIFF, where I have posted regarding the next festival. Opinions required!

**I just thought of another one (second-last paragraph)**

If there's a complaint I hear over and over again from those who have conceived easily against those who can't, it's this: "Why can't she just be happy for me?" Or perhaps, to spell it out a little more clearly, "Why can't she be demonstrably happy for me, to the exclusion of all other feelings? Why must I be constantly reminded of her sadness as I'm discussing my success?" And I have to admit, I'm guilty as charged of this offense. As someone who's just bad at faking, my traditional response is to concentrate on looking vaguely happy as the announcement is made, whilst leaving it up to my long-suffering husband to verbalise our congratulations. Ongoing babble about your pregnancy is more likely to be met with somewhat disinterested nods and grunts than the enthusiastic banter you desire. I'm sorry about this. It's a deficiency of mine, called "single-facedness". It's probably a sign of diminished EQ.

But I think we can all agree it's better this way than the most likely alternative, wherein I jump up and down with glee as if I'd never experienced infertility and then finish my performance with a few sincere and breathless words, such as these:

"Gosh. Well, all I can say is you're brave announcing it this early." (Smile of complete admiration.)

"Well, you've got good reason to feel confident now you're in the second trimester. After all, these days the rates of fetal death, premature labour and serious maternal complications are quite low." (Encouraging pat on the hand.)

"Hey, if you ever need someone to take your mind off thinking about all the things which could still go wrong, just give me a call. That's what friends are for!" (Big bear hug.)

"Let me give you some advice I wish someone had given me the first, second, third and forth times I fell pregnant: do not, whatever you do, google the following terms...." (Earnest expression, followed by casting about for paper and pen to write said terms down.)

"So, was it a natural conception? Oh, it was. Still! I imagine it you guys are probably thrilled even so!" (Bright smile.)

So, in conclusion, I'd like to apologise for any lack of excitement in my response to your announcement. However, as you have so wisely told me on countless occasions, you have to look on the bright side, because it could be worse.

After the scan that Friday, so as not to keep Mr Bea hanging, I sent him an email with a message so vague as to be indeciferable to those not already in the know - but it went missing. In any case, it didn't mention the picture.

"Do you want to see it?" I asked when I'd eventually caught him up, and he blanched slightly and said he wasn't sure. Mr Bea is a glosser. If a thing bothers him, he likes to try and make it less real. Me, I'm a confronter. I'm a "meat comes from killed animals not the supermarket, you nitwit, and if you can eat it when it's nicely filleted you can eat it when it's presented with its head attached and if you can't deal with it become a vegetarian" kind of girl. Now, when it comes to eating flesh, quite frankly I feel I have the moral high ground. But in coping with pregnancy loss there's no moral ground at all - just an inhospitable abyss, from which each person tries to climb by whatever means they can. Yet when Mr Bea said he wasn't sure about the picture, some ugly reflex in me threw him a look which said, "Have some bloody backbone, man," so he acquiesced and sat down to see.

"What am I looking at?" he asked after a pause during which he frantically searched the photo in the hopes of not having to admit ignorance.

"It's hard to see - it's the zoomed-out view, and blurry at that. The little round thing just there?"

"Huh." And I watched him as he tried not to shrug and say, "That? That's all it is?"


At several points I've thought about giving our embryo/s a name. It's something I haven't done before, but I now see the value in it. Adding a name adds reality; it adds the ability to ritualise and process a loss. It fits with my approach as a confronter. Of course, Mr Bea is against it, being a glosser, but that doesn't mean I can't have a secret name, just for me. Leading up to transfer I decided I was going to call this pair Shitter and Fuckface, based on the reasoning that an embryo with a cute name like "Jellybean" or "Bubblegum" is bound to get flushed down the toilet, whereas "Fuckface" will grow up to be a physically huge and devastatingly intelligent adult, who will exact cruel and excruciating revenge on those who inflicted this early psychological trauma, before turning to a life of heinous crime - and what could make a parent more proud? But at the last minute I chickened out, because really, Fuckface, what kind of mother would that make me? and so the pair went nameless.

Now we're down to one.

I think I'll call her Jester. Because regardless of outcome, this pregnancy feels like some sick bastard's idea of a practical joke.

P.S. Thanks for supporting the IIFF - special thanks to the contributors, of course, and those who spread the word on blogs and messageboards. It's great to see so many people touched by the work of our film makers.

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