A decade in review

People have been recapping their decades on Instagram and Facebook, and some (like Hazel) in blog posts. So I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and share a photo from each year of the last decade along with a brief outline of the main events of that year.

wire bridge
Steall Wire Bridge. Glen Nevis

2010: We started the decade at a house party in Padua, Italy where Jan’s sister was living at the time. Jan turned 30. We watched Germany play Argentina in Munich (the stadium was freezing!). Jan and I moved in together. I wrote my Master’s dissertation. We travelled around Britain with a friend – see photo above. I got my  Master’s in translation and passed my probation period at work. We spent Christmas in England and then went to Edinburgh for Hogmanay.

Paris Louvre

2011: My grandma’s dog died – RIP Copper. We took a trip to Paris to celebrate my brother’s 21st birthday. For the first time, we didn’t visit one of our families for Christmas, but spent it in our own home instead. I really wanted to see Austria again, so our New Year’s trip was to Salzburg.

De Valk windmill
De Valk windmill in Leiden – now a windmill museum

 

2012: Our family dog, Barney had to be put down. We visited friends who were living in Delft in the Netherlands – the photo above is from that trip. I randomly met K at a beer festival, and she became one of my best friends. My sister visited us in Karlsruhe with her then boyfriend and we took them to see the Formula 1 at Hockenheim. We had a holiday in Stockholm, which I loved. My godson was born and we got to meet him when he was just 10 days old. For New Year, we headed to Luxembourg to visit a friend.

Kilkenny
The River Nore and Kilkenny Castle

2013: Jan went to Turkey with work and ended up having his appendix removed there. We saw Eddie Izzard in Berlin. We saw a wheelchair rugby Champion’s League match in Karlsruhe. Road trip round Ireland with friends from our quiz team. I went to England for my mum’s 50th birthday and my godson’s christening – but Jan ended up going to hospital with stomach pains instead of getting on the plane! I turned 30, got drunk and cried because I was neither married nor a mother and felt like my relationship was going nowhere. We saw the Rocky Horror Show in its 40th anniversary year. I had my wisdom teeth removed. We returned to Feldkirch, Austria for the first time since I was living there (it hadn’t changed much). We headed to Madeira for the New Year, which I think was our best New Year’s trip yet (potentially tied with Edinburgh).

Wen Wu Temple
Wen Wi Temple, Sun-Moon Lake, Taiwan

 

2014: My colleague went on maternity leave (and my other colleague was still on parental leave) so I spent the entire year as the only English translator at work. It was a very busy year! Jan and I celebrated 10 years of being in a relationship. My Grandpa went into hospital in February and I was luckily able to get time off work at short notice to visit him. He turned 80 in April and passed away at the beginning of May. We saw Pearl Jam in Vienna (I gave Jan the tickets for his birthday). My brother visited us in Karlsruhe and we took trips to Strasbourg, Basel (little knowing we would be living there a year later!), the Black Forest and Frankfurt. Jan had to go to Taiwan for work so I joined him there for a week after the conference. Jan, K and I went to Paris for a Welcome to Night Vale live show. We visited what is still my favourite Christmas market at Burg Hohenzollern with friends. Jan was offered a job in Switzerland and we decided to start trying for a baby after the move. We decided on Zurich for the New Year so we could get a taster of our new country.

Samoa-Scotland
Rugby World Cup 2015 – Samoa vs Scotland

2015: We moved to Switzerland and I started telecommuting. I went to my cousin’s wedding, which was attended by the most family members I’d seen in once place for about 20 years! My friend from Luxembourg came to Basel to watch the Lion King musical with us.  We took a trip to England where we saw three Rugby World Cup matches. In October, once Jan was sure he would be staying at his new company, we started trying for a baby. For the first time ever, we didn’t go away for New Year, but instead invited friends to come and spend it with us in Basel.

Hobbiton

 

 

2016: My sister turned 30. We attended our first Fasnacht in Basel. Three old friends from university days came to visit. We spent two weeks in New Zealand! My mam and brother came to visit. The EU referendum happened (ugh). We attended my friend’s wedding in Luxembourg. Jan’s dad came to visit. In November, Jan’s mum turned 60. We were referred to a fertility specialist after 13 months of unsuccessful trying to get pregnant. My mam and brother visited for the second time in one year, this time with two of my mam’s friends. My sister and her fiancé (now husband) visited for a weekend to see the Christmas markets. We spent Christmas in England with my family and New Year in Glasgow with K.

Chienbäse4
Fire parade in Liestal

2017: Attended the Liestal fire parade for the first time. Spent Easter in Berlin with K. Took a trip to Champagne, where we drank Champagne (an item from my 35 before 35 list). Took a trip round England (and a tiny bit of Scotland) and got to meet Kezzie. I tried eating insects. My sister got married and I was a bridesmaid. For New Year, we went to Geneva with a friend.

Geneva light festival
Lights in Geneva

2018: Decided to switch fertility doctors. I got pregnant with twins via IUI. After months of being unsettled at work and being unsure what to do, Jan was offered a new job and decided to take it. My mam, brother and a friend of my mam’s visited. Just as we thought things were finally going well, I lost the babies. A week later, my maternal Grandma died. My other grandma had to have a pacemaker fitted and then my dad diagnosed with cancer. We buried the boys in November, then Jan started his new job in Zurich and immediately had to go to California – so my mam and sister came to keep my company for a few days (although I was back at work by then). We spent a quiet Christmas and New Year in Basel.

Gibraltar5
Monkey Mountain, Gibraltar

2019: Found out our December IUI had failed and tried another one, which also failed. Celebrated 15 years together. Started IVF in the middle of a renovation (in retrospect, maybe not my best idea?). Went on holiday to Spain and Portugal. I celebrated a decade in the same job. Had four failed embryo transfers and one successful and one failed hysteroscopy. Spent Christmas in England with my family, then ended the decade in Basel with board games, cheese and friends – a much quieter night than the house party the decade had started with!

2020 fireworks

It has certainly been an eventful decade! We travelled a fair amount – not as much as some, but given the state of the environment, I think it was enough, and we saw some amazing places. There were plenty of good times, but also some very, very bad times. I have grown up a lot, and I feel like we’ve also grown as a couple, particularly since we moved to Switzerland in the middle of the decade. Before that we almost broke up on more than one occasion, but now I feel like we’re stronger than we’ve ever been. We’ve made it through the toughest of times and come out the other side, still together and still in love. No matter what happens next, I know I’ve survived everything life has thrown at me so far and there’s something to be said for that. I’m hoping this new decade will bring more growth, more adventures, and lots of happy memories.

2019: Hold on for One More Day

Last year I quoted a song in the title of my yearly recap post, so I thought I’d do it again, and having found myself singing the chorus of this Wilson Philips song more than once this year it seemed fitting.

Don’t you know things can change
Things’ll go your way
If you hold on for one more day

That meant one more day of no proper toilet, one more day of dust, one more day of avoiding a kitchen and bathroomless home as much as possible. But also one more day of injections, one more day of progesterone pessaries, one day closer to finding out whether, this time, things had worked out. Usually there was actually more than one day still to go, but I kept telling myself to just give myself this injection, just get today’s appointment out of the way, and somehow it actually helped. But let’s start at the beginning shall we?

We pretty much started the year with the news that our second IUI had failed. Well, that’s not strictly true. My blood test was on the 5th so we had four days of thinking there was at least a possibility I could be pregnant. Alas, it was not to be. Other than that January was a fairly uneventful month. We took a couple of day trips within Switzerland but mostly I worked a lot and tried not to think about the fact that I should have been going on maternity leave at the end of the month.

Einsiedeln Abbey
Einsiedeln Abbey

My paternal grandmother turned 80 at the end of January (the 27th to be precise), so the weekend after her birthday we flew out to celebrate with her. We flew over after work on Thursday, 31st January, and after one delayed plane and running to catch our connection, we made it to Newcastle but our suitcase did not. It finally turned up the next day, but not until after we’d been out for a meal with my grandma. Luckily I’d packed spare underwear in my hand luggage and the outfit I wore on the plane didn’t look too awful ;-). And being forced to stay in all day gave me a chance to go through some of the stuff I still had at my dad’s. I got rid of a lot, but there are still many books from my childhood that I want to keep and therefore need to pick up eventually. I brought 7 books back with me from that trip but there are still many more waiting for me! The Saturday was spent with my mum and partly with my brother before he had to go to work. And then on Sunday, 3rd February, we flew back to Switzerland… it was the briefest of trips.

Emily Wilding Davison
Emily Wilding Davison statue in Morpeth

5th February was Jan’s and my anniversary – 15 years since we got together! We couldn’t celebrate that night since Jan was working late but we went out for a lovely meal at the weekend. On the last weekend of the month, we spontaneously decided to take a trip to Lugano. It was so nice to get away and relax for a weekend, just the two of us. Especially since I did a lot of overtime that month and, in between everything else, I had spent two weeks of that month giving myself injections for another IUI cycle. As you already know, it failed, which we found at at the beginning of March. With that went our last chance for a 2019 baby. We then made the decision that we wouldn’t continue with IUI, but would move on to IVF. A big step. March was also the month of my due date for the twins, would have been my maternal grandmother’s 90th birthday (you may remember she passed away a week after I lost the boys) and it was Mother’s Day in the UK. Definitely a month of just surviving the best I could. It wasn’t all bad though. Jan had his birthday on the 1st, we saw How to Train Your Dragon at the cinema and Sarah Millican in Zurich. Jan’s dad came to stay for a couple of days, and Jan and I went to Meiringen where we failed to see the Aare Gorge since it was closed, but did get to go up the local mountain.

Hasliberg view
View from Hasliberg

April was slightly quieter at work, which was nice after being incredibly busy up until mid-March. We also had a new colleague start so after two years I was no longer the only full-time English translator! Obviously he needed some time to find his feet and couldn’t do every job right away, but it did take some of the pressure of me.

I started injections for IVF the week before Easter, which meant we couldn’t go away as we had originally planned since I had to be around for appointments. Instead, we spent an afternoon at the zoo in Zurich (after a morning appointment at the clinic). The nurse called after my blood test result came in to tell me I needed to start Orgalutran that day – the medication to stop my body from ovulating by itself, which you obviously don’t want in IVF – so I had to go and do that in the toilets. That one involves a proper syringe rather than just a pen so I preferred to do it in private. Later, when I sat on a bench to do my hormone injection (the one to make the eggs grow) it decided to bleed madly all over the place, which had never happened before in 3 rounds of IUI! Luckily Jan being a diabetic is used to needles so he was able to sort out the used needle, etc. while I stopped the flow of blood. And my response to the medication wasn’t affected – my retrieval was the Saturday after Easter and they managed to get 22 eggs (18 of which were mature). We celebrated that success with a trip to Gruyère. Most people would probably go and lie down after an egg retrieval but by that time the renovation was in full swing and we really didn’t want to go home to dustville. I took it pretty easy – no massive hikes – and it all ended up being fine.

Since they got so many eggs, I wasn’t allowed to do a fresh transfer because of the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, so May ended up being a month off. Given that we were living on a literal building site at the time that was probably a good thing!

construction21

Then, on the 18th, we flew out to Spain to join my sister and brother-in-law, sister’s best friend and her boyfriend, my brother, my mum and my mum’s friend. We had a lovely long weekend in Ronda, then after everyone else flew back to England Jan and and I continued to Cádiz (via Gibraltar) and then to Lisbon. It was definitely a much needed break… from everything. Construction and infertility treatments (the latter only for me. Other than providing his “sample” and shelling out the cash, Jan wasn’t involved much). By the time we returned, the flat was basically finished… although it would be September before the various workmen were really, truly out of our hair. We still couldn’t use the shower since the glass door for that didn’t arrive until August, but we were able to shower in the bath, had flushing toilets and a kitchen that worked, so good enough. I had another week off work, which I mainly spent cleaning dust from places that hadn’t even been part of the renovation and filling the cupboards in the new kitchen.

Ronda
Ronda, Spain

June meant a long weekend thanks to Whit Monday. Since I didn’t have any appointments for a change we decided to go away for a couple of days. Jan booked a hotel in Interlaken and on the first day we went to Jungfraujoch then the next day we returned to the Aare Gorge and this time had better luck!

The rest of the month was mainly spent unpacking all the kitchen and bathroom stuff that had been living in boxes since the renovation began. Although everything wasn’t completely finished we were at least able to get back to some kind of normality! We also visited the two zero waste supermarkets Basel has to offer in preparation for plastic-free July. I had my first IVF embryo transfer in June as well. It all went smoothly, but as you already know, implantation didn’t happen.

As I’ve just mentioned, in July I attempted to go plastic free. If you’re interested in how I did you can read my posts here, here and here. Jan participated in the Basel Tattoo again (as a member of the choir) and I had a ticket for one of the evenings. I didn’t enjoy it as much as in previous years but it was still really good.

Basel Tattoo lions

I don’t really remember what else I did. Worked a lot. Had my second failed embryo transfer. And on the 31st we went to see the fireworks at the Rhine Falls in advance of Swiss national day.

Rheinfall fireworks

August started with a trip to Eguisheim in France. The 1st is Switzerland’s national holiday and I had taken the day off for it (reminder: I work in Germany so I don’t get it as a public holiday) and we wanted to do something. Eguisheim is a gorgeous village and we had a lovely day out.

Eguisheim1

I then had to work for 2 days before it was the weekend. We had arranged to meet up with a friend and her boyfriend in Freiburg, then two weeks later we took a trip to Karlsruhe, first to meet up with friends there and then to meet up with more friends the next day to go hiking. Jan’s mum and her partner also came to Basel to spend a day with us in August. So much socialising! I’m not used to it. LOL.

Freiburg
Freiburg from above

We took a month off from IVF in August so I could have a hysteroscopy… basically a camera inserted in the uterus. In the process, the doctor found some scar tissue, which she cut open and she also drained a cyst. Despite the painkiller I took beforehand it hurt and I was glad when it was over!

August is my birthday month and in 2019 I turned 36. It wasn’t the birthday I had been expecting a year before (when I was still pregnant) but I finished work early to read and then Jan took me for a lovely meal in the evening so it ended up being okay.

September went by way too fast and I didn’t really do much to be honest. Jan and I took a trip to Brugg, which turned out to be disappointing, and we saw John Cleese live with a friend. I also celebrated 10 years in my job… although I didn’t actually “celebrate” at all, just acknowledged it and moved on.

Brugg2
The “Storchenturm” in Brugg

October brought the one year anniversary of losing the boys and another failed embryo transfer. I spent the actual day of the loss showing my great aunt and great uncle around Basel, which was a great distraction (Jan was away with one of his choirs that week). At the weekend Jan and I went up to the memorial where their ashes are buried and then walked into town and had a hot chocolate – which is exactly what we did the day their ashes were placed there. Having a ritual feels like a good thing.

In the middle of the month, we took a trip to the Verenaschlucht (Verena Gorge) in canton Solothurn, where we had a nice walk. I think that was our only trip in October… for most of the month I was incredibly busy at work and didn’t want to do much more than sleep and read on the weekends. Also Jan had a million projects going on and was busy with rehearsals, concerts and meetings practically all the time he wasn’t at work. I did go to watch two of the concerts and went out to eat with the performers after each one though.

Verenaschlucht
Verenaschlucht

I was off work for the last week of October but it rained heavily almost the entire time so it ended up being a washout. We also met with the head doctor of the fertility clinic after our fourth failed embryo transfer and decided I would have another hysteroscopy in December.

November was the first time since May that I didn’t have any infertility related things going on. No appointments. No medication. No procedures. It was kind of relaxing, but also surreal. I had the first week of the month off and was actually able to spend it not thinking about doctors at all! It was also the start of my most sociable period of the year…

We went to Karlsruhe again on the first weekend of the month to watch Jan’s former choir perform and then to see a performance that a friend from student residence days was part of. While we were there we of course met up with various friends, including being invited for breakfast with one friend, his wife and their baby. It continued to pour down for most of the rest of my time off work, but luckily cleared up in time for my cousin and her boyfriend’s arrival on the 9th. They stayed with us for 4 days (one of which I was working) and we fit in a tour of Basel including a visit to the autumn fair and a trip up a mountain followed by a boat ride to Lucerne. Then they went to Colmar by themselves for a day while I worked. I had the absolute best time with them. Having them to stay was definitely one of the highlights of my year!

Rigi Kulm view
The view from Rigi Kulm

The following weekend, a friend (and former colleague) came to stay with us for a night on her way home to Luxembourg from Zurich. I hadn’t seen her since her wedding in 2016 so it was nice to catch up in person!

I also had my best reading month quite possibly of my entire life in November thanks to a middle grade readathon called Believathon. I had a great time reading nothing but children’s books for an entire month – it was honestly exactly the escape I needed from a not particularly great year.

And finally we come to December… which I’ve literally just recapped in a post so I’ll try not to say too much in this section. I had my hysteroscopy appointment at the beginning of the month, but unfortunately the doctor couldn’t manage to insert the camera properly so she had to stop (I still ended up with cramps later in the day though!). We went to the Christmas market in Baden-Baden, where we met up with the same friends we saw in Freiburg in August, who then also came to stay with us for New Year. I also met up with a pen pal from New Zealand who happened to be in Basel for one night only. I showed her and her family around Basel, and of course we had a Glühwein at Basel’s Christmas market.

Baden-Baden Weihnachtsmarkt
Baden-Baden Christmas market

I saw Jan perform twice with different choirs/groups and went out to eat with the performers afterwards both times, then we went to a birthday party the day before we flew to England for Christmas with my family. We had five days there, which we used to spend time with as many people as possible, but still managed to find some time to chill in between. We also got some lovely gifts and ate a lot of food. And right before Christmas my dad was declared cancer free after spending 2019 being treated for prostate cancer. We returned to Basel on 28th December and I spent the last few days of the year reading It and preparing for visitors while Jan had to work. Then, for the first time since we got together, we actually ended a year in the same place we began it… right here in Basel with friends, games and copious amounts of cheese.

While, unlike 2018, I can’t point to any one particular event that made 2019 terrible I have to say I think last year was worse than the year before. Although the end of 2018 was obviously awful (to recap: we lost our boys, my maternal grandma died exactly a week later, my other grandma had a pacemaker fitted and my dad was diagnosed with cancer), for a time before that things were looking up I was the happiest I had ever been. In many ways, the constant, ongoing stress of 2019 has felt so much worse than happiness followed by complete devastation. I feel like I spent most of last year very much in my own bubble, licking my wounds (which is also why I’ve been a horrible friend for the most part and have utterly failed to stay in touch with anyone or keep up with my friends’ lives). But over the last few weeks I’ve finally felt like I’m starting to emerge from the fog and I am hopeful that 2020 can be a better year, even if I ultimately don’t get my wish to start a family of my own. Here’s hoping for brighter days ahead! (And no renovations, thank goodness – I’m still dealing with dust in unexpected places from the last one!)

This has been longer than I intended, so if you’ve actually made it this far then thank you! I hope this new year is everything you want it to be.

November 2019 recap

Well, that’s another month over. We’re only 20 days away from Christmas day now, which is quite honestly terrifying. I still have so much to get done! But today I’m here to link up with the lovely Kristen and talk about what I did in November.

whats new with you

Visitors and trips

I’m putting those two things in together for ease of… something.

On 1st November, I headed to Zurich to meet Jan after work. His sister had sent us a messaging saying someone she studied with had an art installation in a café in Zurich that was opening that day. So we went along, had a chat with the artist and admired the art (which was really interesting).

The next day, Jan’s former choir in Karlsruhe had a small performance in a jewellery shop. We discovered that, coincidentally, the youth choir of Baden-Württemberg was also performing an anniversary concert on the same day and a friend from back in student residence days was taking part, so we decided to go to Karlsruhe for the weekend and see both. That was a Saturday, so we arrived in time to see the former choir and have a quick chat with them, went for lunch with two other friends, then attended the anniversary concert in the evening before spending the night in a hotel. On the Sunday, we were invited to another friends’ place for breakfast then went for a walk with him, his wife and their baby before catching a train home.

I had planned to take some other trips during that week since I was off work, but it poured down most of the time so the furthest I made it was into town to do some shopping and grab a Cornish pasty from the autumn fair. Then on the 9th my cousin and her boyfriend came, and luckily the weather cleared up! The three of us spent their first afternoon here looking at an archaeological site and exploring the autumn fair, where we ate sausages and had a ride on the Ferris wheel (Jan was performing in a concert in Lucerne). The next day it was just the three of us again as Jan had a rehearsal with a different choir. We walked into town and then around Basel for hours before meeting Jan for a drink and, later, food. Then on the Monday we took a day trip – train up to Rigi Kulm, another train down the other side and then a boat to Lucerne. We’ve taken other guests on the same day trip but this was the first time I’d been up there and discovered snow. Unfortunately that was my last day off work, so they went to Colmar on their own on the Tuesday then when I finished work we met for a drink before coming home and ordering sushi from the delicious place nearby. They left on the Wednesday morning to head to Athens for a week and on the Thursday I went into the office so it was a very busy week!

The following Sunday (the 17th) we had another visitor. A friend and former colleague had been visiting someone in Zurich so she stopped by our place on the way back. Unfortunately the weather had returned to being icky (sleet when she first arrived, which quickly turned into extremely heavy rain), so after I gave her a tour of the new bathrooms and kitchen, we stayed home, chatted and drank tea. Jan had a choir rehearsal (of course…), so we headed into town at the time he said he would be done and met him for food at one of the few restaurants that’s actually open on Sundays. I had arranged to start work late on the Monday so my friend and I had a lovely breakfast together before she had to go and catch her train.

Reading

I was taking part in Believathon in November and I read a lot. After completing all the prompts and reading a few extra books, I decided to challenge myself to read an extra book for all 10 prompts. They were all children’s books so some of them were pretty short and most were fairly easy to read, but even so I read a lot. If you’ve seen part1 of my reading recap you’ll already have some idea of what I read… the rest will be coming soon. And if you want to know which book was my favourite of the month: The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.

Watching

Still Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We’ve finished Season 4 now. I don’t think there’s been anything else? Jan watched Back to the Future recently (I swear those films are never off the TV!) but I was busy doing housework and cooking so I didn’t pay attention.

Craft stuff/cross stitch

I’ve been very busy making Christmas cards for Post Pals, but the good news is more than half of them are done. I also stitched some designs for cards, including a birthday card for my cousin. I actually posted a Christmas card in November as well… as usual, my first Christmas card went to my uncle, father of the aforementioned cousin. Since I send their Christmas card in the same box as my cousin’s presents, her birthday is on 12th December and they live in New Zealand, I always have to get at least Christmas card sorted and sent very early. Here are some photos – both of these cards have already been posted, one to the US and one to New Zealand:

Miscellaneous/ general life stuff

– I booked flights for us to go to England for Christmas and for some reason they cost three times as much as usual this year! People keep telling me that’s why they always book early for Christmas, but 1) we’ve booked this late before, 2) we wanted to wait and see what happened on 31st October before booking anything and 3) I initially checked prices in August and they were just as bad then… I was actually hoping they might get cheaper, but alas no. Oh well, they’re booked now and my credit card is gently weeping. After booking them I put myself on a spending ban (apart from Christmas presents and things I *had* to spend money on like food, sending parcels to New Zealand and going to Germany for work).

– I don’t tend to talk too much about my family (or other people) on here because it seems unfair for me to be putting other people’s business out there on the Internet, but last year my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer (which he has now been successfully treated for). He ended up having to go to hospital in October then again in November (for a separate issue), resulting in an MRI, bone scan and him being on painkillers – including liquid morphine – for basically all of November. Thankfully the bone scan showed no trace of cancer, but as you can imagine, it has not been the best time. Seriously universe, you can stop kicking everyone associated with me while we’re down now!

– Yet another friend told me she was 20 weeks pregnant a couple of weeks ago. She got married last year and they bought a house this year – and apparently also conceived a baby. I’m happy for her but sometimes I honestly feel like I’m jogging in place in front of a glass door while everyone else zooms past me (the door opens for them, of course). She’s the third person I know to have met, married and conceived a child with someone in the time since we moved to Basel (the other two children have already been born). Meanwhile the metaphorical door opened just enough for me to start thinking I could maybe squeeze through only to slam shut in my face again. (That’s a terrible metaphor but I’m going with it.)

– I haven’t been doing great at drinking enough water or eating enough vegetables recently. All the trying to be healthy stuff seemed to go out the window after our last IVF transfer failed. I really need to get better about that again. Especially the drinking water part – way too often I forget about it for the entire day then realise I’m thirsty before bed and end up downing a whole pint of water!

– I need someone to recommend a brand of anti-wrinkle cream and also under-eye cream that actually works! The lighting in our bathroom is almost too good and lately every time I go in there I’m shocked by how old I look. I’ve been trying to keep up a routine of day cream, night cream, eye cream, but I just have shops on cheap ones and I’m not sure they’re doing anything. I’m reluctant to shell out for other ones without know they’re going to do anything – those tiny pots are expensive! But I have a weird (irrational) fear that if we ever do actually conceive a child the other parents at school will mistake me for his or her grandmother instead of the mother. Before you all laugh at me please bear in mind that I’m 37 next year and could very easily be 40 before any of this actually works out. That will make me nearly 50 by the time my child is in full-time school – definitely old enough to be a grandma! Especially bearing in mind one of my grandma’s was 44 when I was born. Also, I know somebody this actually happened to, so maybe not that irrational! (Child born when she was 41, parents of other children at the nursery assumed she was the child’s grandmother.)

– Work has been busy again, but it’s mostly lots of jobs from one customer. I find that slightly concerning because what if they don’t renew their contract? Oh, and speaking of work, the new person who started in April passed his probation period so we are now permanently two full-time English translators (plus my other colleague who is part time). That makes it slightly easier for me to take time off at times that suit me without always having to defer to the person with children (new guy doesn’t have any).

Wow, I’ve done nothing but complain in this section. If you’ve read this far then I apologise – I’m aware that I have so much to be grateful for. Also sorry for the long post with not many pictures to break it up.

Anyway, I can’t remember anything else of significance that happened in November so I guess that’s it. I’m off work today because I have an appointment later and I’m not sure how long it’s going to take, so not having to rush back and continue working afterwards makes things much less stressful – but that’s irrelevant to this post. Don’t forget to check out the link up and I shall hopefully chat to you all soon in the comments or wherever. Ciao!

February 2019 recap

Hello friends! Welcome to my second monthly recap of 2019. February has mostly been the month of boiling the kettle multiple times but never actually making a cup of tea, or making tea but not getting round to taking the teabag out, resulting in a ridiculously strong, lukewarm cuppa that I only managed to drink half of. I need to set a timer on my phone or something so I don’t end up getting so immersed in my work that I forget I actually put the kettle on.

Anyway, it is the first Thursday of the month, which means it’s time to link up with the wonderful Kristen for What’s New With You?

whats new with you

We started February in England. We flew over on 31st January and then spent most of the 1st February in my dad’s house waiting for our suitcase. Our flight to Amsterdam was delayed resulting in a short connection, so while we made it onto the second flight the suitcase didn’t. According to KLM, the courier was supposed to call to arrange a time, but he didn’t and so we waited. I took the opportunity to go through some of my stuff that was still at my dad’s, which he was pleased about. We ended up with about 30 books, a pile of CDs and a few DVDs that I didn’t want any more. Handily, a charity bag then came through the door specifically requesting books, DVDs, CDs and ornaments – usually they’re all for clothes – so that was cool. And I found a CD of photos that I spent ages looking for last year when my cousin wanted photos of our grandma… I knew it existed somewhere! It immediately went in my bag to come back to Switzerland with us. In the evening we had a table booked for a meal to celebrate my grandma’s 80th birthday (which was on 27th January). The suitcase hadn’t arrived by the time we had to leave but luckily I had put clean underwear in my hand luggage and the clothes I wore on the plane weren’t too terrible ;-). Plus my dad had a spare, unused toothbrush and my uncle picked one up for Jan while he was shopping, so we were at least clean and presentable. The suitcase finally showed up at about 8pm – we were at the pub so my dad’s partner signed for it.

The next day, finally wearing clean clothes, we met up with my mum and brother. We had lunch at a Wetherspoons (non-Brits: a cheap-and-cheerful pub chain that does alright food for a reasonable price) then went for a walk along the river – parts of which were frozen totally solid! When my brother had to go to work the rest of us went back to my mum’s, picked up my sister’s dog (who was staying there while my sister and brother-in-law were in Venice) and then had a walk up to the churchyard where my grandparents are buried. It’s also where Emily Wilding Davison is buried… claim to fame! (If you don’t know your history, that’s the suffragette who was killed by the king’s horse.) Tea was an Indian take away, before my mum drove us back to my dad’s house to finish packing. On Sunday morning we ate bacon sandwiches then my dad drove us to the airport. I brought a few books back with me, including my Narnia box set that I want to reread this year. There is still an entire bookcase full of books that I intend to bring to Switzerland at some point… I’m sure you can imagine how thrilled Jan is about that ;-). For some reason my dad also gave me two packets of mini malt loafs to take with me. I mean, I like malt loaf but it’s not something I particularly miss or crave. It did make a good breakfast for a few days though so I’m not complaining.

Emily Wilding Davison

On 5th February, it was 15 years since Jan and I got together. Unfortunately he had to work late so I celebrated by eating alone, finishing a book and almost finishing another. My perfect evening, tbh. He came home with chocolates for me and we ate the heart-shaped dessert I had bought (the perks of having an anniversary close to Valentine’s Day) the next evening. We then celebrated properly by going for a meal on the Saturday. We went to a restaurant called Rubino where the concept is set menus that are a surprise. You can choose meat or vegetarian and two, three, four or five courses. We went for four courses and I vowed to eat everything they gave me (unless it was hard boiled eggs, which make me sick). I did indeed eat everything – including the mushroom course. There were three types of mushrooms and I can’t say I enjoyed any of them. The pepper encrusted cheese and quince pieces that came with them were delicious though. For drinks, we went with the wine accompaniment, which meant a different wine with each course, selected by the restaurant.  I took zero photos because I just wanted to be in the moment and celebrate our anniversary so you’ll just have to believe me when I say everything looked and tasted delicious (except the mushrooms!). Sunday was rainy and windy so we had a lazy day. I stitched a design for my cousin’s wedding card (no photo because it had their names on it) and finished a book. We were planning to go to the quiz but the friend we were meeting didn’t want to venture into the storm so we stayed home and ordered take away instead. Jan watched TV and I started another book (Mary’s the Name by Ross Sayers, if you’re interested).

The following weekend “Show Us Your Books” hosts Jana and Steph organised a readathon. I had never taken part in a readathon before! It was very relaxed – basically start reading at any point on the Friday (in my case it had to wait until after work), finish at any point on the Sunday, post photos on Twitter or Instagram and tag the hosts. Jan had an all-day choir rehearsal on the Sunday so it was the perfect day to do nothing but read. That Saturday was also Photo and Hour day – you can see my hourly photos here.

And then it was the last weekend of the month. Craziness. After January seemed to drag on for a thousand years, February felt like it was over in a flash. I mean, I know it’s the shortest month, but there were still supposedly four whole weeks in there! I actually had the Thursday and Friday off since I needed to use up two days of holiday from last year before they expired, so it was a long weekend for me. Thursday was appointments all day, so I was only really home for lunch then dinner. Friday was my monthly deep-clean day – second month in a row that I’ve cleaned the oven. Go me! Then Jan came home from work on the Friday and suggested we go somewhere the next day. He suggested Lugano and since it’s a bit far to do justice to in a single day we spontaneously decided to book a hotel and have a weekend away. Saturday was cloudy, Sunday less so, and both days were warm. It was honestly just nice to get away and have a relaxing break, just the two of us.

In between weekends I worked. A lot. This is becoming a theme. At least I’m collecting plenty of overtime, which may be useful at some point. And actually this week has been a lot quieter so maybe March will be the month of normal working hours? I managed to drink more water in February, which is something, but I didn’t manage to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day – or even most days. Must try harder with that!

And that was my month. Going forward, I feel like I want to try out a new format for these catch-up posts because this recapping (mainly) weekends feels like a lot of uninteresting text to force you to read. We’ll see. For this month I’m afraid you’re stuck with my ramblings 😉

Why not visit the link up and see what the rest of blog land has been doing recently? And while you’re at it maybe write a post and link up yourself. Or just tell me what’s new with you in the comments.

2018 – Didn’t We Almost Have It All?

Usually at the end of the year, I write a month-by-month summary of the things we got up to, places visited, etc. Clearly I’m not going to do that this year… mainly because I wouldn’t have a single good thing to say about October. But I do still want to do a recap of the year, just for closure. Or something. Apologies in advance if this gets long.

Even after all that happened, I can’t just write off 2018 as a terrible year. Yes, it ended horribly, and yes I will be glad when it’s over and we can start a new chapter, but before everything went wrong, I had a few short weeks of genuine happiness. Basically, the entire year has been a roller coaster.

To start with, in January we switched fertility doctors, which meant going through most of the same tests again (I did get to skip one though). I am so, so glad we made that decision though… I mean, the clinic sent us a sympathy card when we lost the boys! I can’t even imagine the first doctor doing that! Plus they have done a much better job of explaining everything throughout… although my final diagnosis still ended up being “unexplained infertility”. *Sigh* The testing went faster this time around, and by May we had made the decision to pursue intrauterine insemination (IUI). Since we were going to the UK at the end of the month, I was put on progesterone for slightly longer and we ultimately ended up starting hormonal treatment in June, with the actual insemination taking place towards the end of the month. On 7th July 2018, I found out it had worked… then two weeks later I had my first ultrasound where we discovered it was twins.

wedding outfit
Me at my friend’s wedding in England

While all that was going on, things were also happening with Jan’s job. Towards the end of last year (I don’t remember exactly when), a colleague of his who also happened to be a friend of ours announced he was quitting his job. He was just one in a long time of people who had left, which was rather worrying… we were both slightly concerned that the company was going to fold, sooner rather than later. So at that point Jan decided that, while he didn’t want to start actively looking for something new, he would at least make a linked in profile and put out some feelers to figure out what was even out there. This led to him being contacted by a company based in Zurich. I don’t even remember exactly when that was, but I do know while we were in the England he was supposed to have a phone interview with somebody at the company, which then ended up falling through. He had definitely been in contact with the person doing the recruiting for at least a month at that stage, but it was the end of July when he finally actually signed the contract. So that in itself was a bit of a journey. As it happens, the old company managed to replace all the people that had left and currently seems to be doing okay, but so far the new job is also going well (still early days though) and there are definitely a lot more perks!

SIA-ANna Atkins
I was around 10 weeks pregnant here, but most people had no idea.

I spent most of my first trimester waiting for the other shoe to drop. After everything we had been through, I thought there was no way everything could be working out so well… not just one but two babies, a new job for Jan. Something had to go wrong, right? But with every ultrasound that still showed two babies and every week that passed I started to feel more confident. Once I reached 13 weeks, I told the team at work (bosses already knew), gave my mum permission to tell the extended family, and finally announced the pregnancy on my blog. I still had a lingering fear of something going wrong, but my fears all centred on the third trimester… premature babies, a stay in intensive care, possible complications from that. The second trimester was where I finally stopped feeling nauseous and started to actually enjoy being pregnant. My mum, her friend and my brother came to stay and we had a really nice few days. I started working on some cross stitch for the babies’ room and I even bought them their first book. For those few weeks I actually allowed myself to get excited about what was to come. This was going to be it for us… we were finally going to be an actual family.  Then I started spotting.

October ended up being probably the worst month of my entire life. We lost the babies, my grandma died (exactly a week later), my other grandma had to have a pacemaker fitted (which went well, by the way, but at the time it just felt like more bad news). And on top of all the bad news I felt physically terrible for a few weeks thanks to the blood loss, residual hormones and for the first ten days also the antibiotics. A few good things did come of it… I had so much support and learned just how amazing the people in my life are, and Jan and I had some really intense talks and I honestly think the whole experience brought us closer. But all in all it’s not a month I want to remember… although I of course never want to forget my boys. While I would  obviously prefer it if we had never lost them – by this stage I would have been able to feel them moving inside me and thinking about that still makes me sad – I am still so glad I got to experience being pregnant with them. Even with the sad outcome I cannot and will not say I wish they had never existed.

candles

In November we said our final goodbye to the boys, laying their ashes to rest at a memorial for babies born too soon. Jan’s last day at the old job was on 31st October, then we had a few days together before he started the new job with a three-week trip to the US (and I have to say I am very glad I didn’t lose the boys while he was over there… I absolutely could not have coped with it all without him by my side). Another family member also got a not-good diagnosis while Jan was in the US, because apparently the universe didn’t hear me asking it to please just stop! Once Jan returned, he started properly at the new company, commuting to Zurich every day and staying relatively late for the first few nights while he got settled in and set everything up. That combined with 5(!) choir performances and the associated rehearsals meant I barely got to see him for about the first third of December. I also worked a lot in December… right up until almost the very last day (when I luckily didn’t have too much left to do as our system failed completely and I was only able to complete the few translations I had left because one co-worker could access our team email inbox and forward me the corrections from my proofreaders). Christmas was relatively quiet, just the two of us, which was what we wanted and Jan went back to work on the 27th. And now the year is almost over. Just a few more days and then it will be January and the dawn of what I hope will be a better year. Although maybe I shouldn’t say that given I ended last year’s recap post with the words “Bring it on 2018. I’m ready!”. I’m not sure I actually was ready for what 2018 brought…

November 2018…

Wow, I seem to have stopped posting for a couple of weeks there. But don’t worry, I aten’t ded (If you don’t get that reference I’m not sure we can be friends.) (Just kidding.) (Or am I?). I am aware that I’m starting to sound like a stuck record, but how is it December already? I’m so not prepared for this! Although I do kind of want this year to be over, so there is that. Still have to actually get through December though and I have no idea how I’m going to get everything done. We’re not even going away for Christmas so I don’t know how things are so stressful. Work is crazy busy again, I have at least three more packages to take to the post office (and really need to do it soon before I miss the last chance for them to reach their destinations before Christmas), I still have almost all my Christmas cards to make/send – which admittedly is self-inflicted but it still needs doing. Then I always try to give the whole flat a thorough clean before Christmas so that a) I don’t have to do anything on Christmas apart from cook and b) we can start the year with the place looking decent for once (which admittedly lasts all of two weeks, but oh well). Other people spring clean, I Christmas clean. But I am supposed to be talking about November right now, so let’s do that. Usually I do a “currently” type post for these monthly recaps, but that doesn’t really seem appropriate this time so I’m just kind of going to ramble on. Feel free to stop reading at any point 😉

Of course, I am linking up with Kristen.

whats new with you

Jan finished his old job on 31st October and wasn’t starting his new one until 12th November (which involved flying to the US on the 11th for three weeks of “orientation”), so before I lost the babies I had applied for a few days off so we could spend some time together and go and look at some baby furniture. Needless to say, the latter didn’t happen, but I decided to still take the time off anyway. On 1st November (which was a holiday for me anyway – All Saints’ Day), we had an appointment with the fertility specialist. We were basically told the same as at the hospital: they advise waiting two cycles  to physically recover then we can try again as soon as we feel emotionally prepared. He also wanted me to come in for an ultrasound on day 12 of my next cycle to check that the curettage hadn’t damaged my uterus in any way (pregnancy makes everything more sensitive anyway, and then the infection on top of that increased the risk of damage, apparently), so I did that and luckily everything was fine. At least one bit of good news! He also said it would be 6+ weeks before my period came back, but luckily it was closer to 5. The doctor’s advice was basically to go ahead and use our remaining two IUI cycles… while the pregnancy may have reset my hormones he still thought that if I managed to fall pregnant naturally it wouldn’t happen for at least six months… and I haven’t exactly got any younger in the five months since I conceived! Also, based on when I actually ended up ovulating in the cycle after my period came back it doesn’t look like anything’s changed. We’re officially “unexplained” but the one theory any doctor did manage to come up with is that my body doesn’t respond properly to the hormones, meaning my follicles grow too slow and by the time I ovulate my eggs are old and low quality and thus fail to fertilise. I ovulated on day 17, which admittedly is quite early for me (almost normal, in fact) but seems to suggest that nothing has changed. So it looks like I still need the help. Not looking forward to giving myself daily injections again, but that’s just how it has to be.

Candles

Jan managed to speak to a funeral director and then get an appointment with the person at the local council who deals with bereavement for the first Monday in November, so we decided to go away for the weekend before that, just for a change of scenery and to not have to think about everything that had happened. We went to Yverdon les Bains, where I was very disappointed to discover that the Museum of science fiction, utopia and extraordinary voyages was closed that weekend! I will definitely be going back just for that. We also managed to leave the suitcase behind when we changed trains (we got it back a few days later though), so the first thing we did in Yverdon les Bains was buy toothbrushes, toothpaste and underwear. There wasn’t loads to do there, but we managed to fill our time with food, walking and a visit to the town museum, which is located in the castle. If anyone is keeping track of my 40 before 40, one item is to visit a place in Switzerland starting with each letter of my first name. Yverdon obviously starts with Y… I’m beginning at the end, apparently.

Yverdon
Yverdon Castle

We met with the bereavement person on the Monday at 9 a.m.. He had already spoken to the funeral directors/crematorium so it was basically just filling in forms. The cremation was taking place on the Tuesday, then we had the choice for them to be laid to rest at the memorial for babies born too soon on either the Wednesday or Thursday. Since I had to be back at work on the Thursday, we chose Wednesday. So on Wednesday 7th November 2018, we laid our beautiful first born babies to rest. I’m not going to get into that here, so if you’re interested read this post.

It was still early, so we went and picked up a car, drove part-way up a mountain and then took the Geissflue circular route. When we started off, it was very cloudy and we were right in amongst them, but then it started to clear so at times it was cloudy on one side of us and blue skies on the other. So random, but very cool looking (photo below does not do it justice). As it gradually brightened up  I even ended up having to take my coat off because it was too warm… in November! The view was gorgeous… autumn colours galore. It was nice to get out in the fresh air. The whole walk/hike took us about 2 hours (including photo breaks!), which I was pretty pleased with considering a month earlier we went for a walk up the hill near where we live and I had to sit down twice because I felt weak. Nice to see the iron supplements worked! Once we arrived back at the car we drove to Aargau and had delicious Flammkuchen for lunch.

As previously mentioned, Jan flew to the US on 11th November for three weeks, but I didn’t spend those entire three weeks alone. Someone from one of his choirs came to stay for a weekend so that she wouldn’t have to travel back to Geneva after practice every day, I finally worked in the office in Germany again for the first time on 21st November because that evening was our Christmas meal – I had goose with bread dumplings and red cabbage – and then my mum and sister came over for a few days last week (was it really only last week? It feels like ages ago!). I was working most of the time, but I did manage to get the Wednesday off and we went to Freiburg in Brisgau for a few hours. We looked at the Christmas markets and my sister managed to purchase a decoration for her Christmas tree then we found a café where we ate burgers and drank beer before taking the train home so they could relax and pack ready for their flight home the next day. It was nice to see them, even though the reason for them coming was a sad one (so that I wouldn’t have to be alone for ages after everything that had happened in October and November… there was also more bad news for a family member that I won’t talk about on the blog because it’s not my place).

Freiburg im Breisgau

In between all that I worked a lot – broken record again, but it really has been so busy. The 12 days I was off sick when I lost the boys and the few days off at the beginning of November seem like a long time ago. I am looking forward to Christmas purely because I have 13 entire days without work. I’ve also made and posted cards to most of the Post Pals (yeah, I managed those ones… it’s just my friends and family ones that I’ve barely started on!) and I’ve been trying to eat extra healthily in preparation for starting the process of trying to conceive again. That kind of went out the window when my family were visiting with all the beer and wine I consumed, but I managed to eat fish at least twice most weeks, upped my water intake (I definitely don’t drink enough usually) and did my best to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. I’m trying to continue with that this month, but I’m not going to promise that the odd Christmas treat (or 10) won’t creep in…

So, that was November. What’s new with you? Are you as unprepared for Christmas as I am? Come link up and see what everyone else has been up to.

And breathe

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This morning my family said goodbye to my grandma. I couldn’t be there, but I was in spirit and I had one of my cousins read something out for me at the celebration of life. We will miss grandma always but we all have so many memories that will live on forever.

Meanwhile, yesterday was our follow-up appointment at the hospital. Pretty much as expected they have no idea where the infection came from. All my swabs were negative, so I definitely didn’t have any vaginal infection. They found traces of infection in the placenta and the babies though (the boys were otherwise perfect – no physical abnormalities/defects that would have caused a miscarriage). The most likely explanation is that some bacteria that’s naturally present in the vagina made its way into my uterus and developed into an infection there – a random event that couldn’t have been predicted and was undetectable from the outside, other than via a blood test. Next time I will be in a different risk category and if I start spotting again they will happily do a blood test even if I have no other symptoms or anything that indicates an infection. If there is a next time…

I have alluded to this, if not in blog posts then certainly in replies comments, but now I’m just going to say it outright. Our babies were conceived using fertility treatments. Not IVF (I know that’s where everyone’s mind goes first!), but the hormones I had to inject myself with were the same. We were incredibly lucky that it worked first time and resulted in not just one but two babies. I have no idea whether it would work a second time. Right now, I don’t even know whether we automatically get to try a second time or if my health insurance will have to approve the procedure again. We were originally approved for three tries, but the remaining two may have been cancelled out when I actually became pregnant. All I do know is that it’s highly unlikely I will ever become pregnant on my own. And I’m 35 now… time is not exactly on my side. And, whatever happens I have to wait two cycles to allow my body to physically return to normal before we can start trying again.

For now, we at least have some kind of closure. Perhaps not as many answers as I would have liked, but reassurance that it was nobody’s fault. Not ours, Not the hospital’s. We were simply the victims of bad luck. Now it’s time to heal. Then we will pick ourselves up, take a deep breath, and join the infertility roller coaster again…