September 2020 recap

And just like that September is over! I feel like it’s flown by, even though I didn’t actually do anything. Seriously, I have no idea what I’m even going to write in this post! Obviously I did not manage to find the time or energy to blog… sorry about that. I didn’t mean to promise holiday photos and then disappear for a month. I will try to get something up soon. But today it’s the first Thursday of the month so I’m going to give you a recap, even though the What’s New With You link up doesn’t seem to be up yet. I hope everything is okay with Kristen!

So what is new with me? Honestly, nothing much. In September I read a lot – a total of 18 books, or I read 17 and listened to 1 if you want to be precise. I cross stitched a lot. My godson turned 8, which is scary. Surely he’s still a toddler? I made Halloween cards to send to Post Pals children (I still have another 10 left to do!).

I watched Richard Osman’s House of Games almost every week night – except when they moved it because of stupid athletics. On Tuesday I went to the office in Germany for the first time since March because a colleague was leaving and I wanted to see her one more time and say goodbye. It was fine. The trains weren’t too full – the one on the way back was more full than on the way there, but not to the extent of people standing in the corridors, crammed in like sardines (I specifically took an earlier train home because my usual train one is of the sardine variety).

I had to have more blood tests to rule out certain things after every attempt at IVF so far has either failed entirely or ended in miscarriage. When I first had it done back in July one value came back high so the tests had to be repeated. This time all was normal though, which means I don’t have to inject myself with blood thinners every day if I ever do get pregnant again (yay!) but also means we’re back to having no real explanation for why things aren’t working (boo!). I guess most people would give up at this point and say the universe doesn’t want them to be a mother, but we have two embryos left and I have every intention of using them!

I am continuing to going for walks once a week, even if it’s raining. Most of September’s weren’t too exciting though – I just went into town and stopped by the free public bookcase to drop off some books. One Sunday Jan came with me and we went for a walk in the woods, stopping to say hi to the horses.

Switzerland added the UK to its quarantine list, but it doesn’t matter because Switzerland was already on the UK’s quarantine list so I couldn’t have gone there anyway. It’s lucky we spent last Christmas in England since who knows when I will be able to see my family again? Germany added some parts of Switzerland to its list of risk countries, but Basel is currently okay. Cantons Geneva, Vaud and Fribourg are currently on the list.

And on a non-September related note, my brother turns 30 tomorrow (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!), which makes me feel ancient! So annoying that stupid covid means I don’t get to celebrate with him.

That’s it from me. What’s new with you?

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.

Infertility means…*

*Disclaimer: this is entirely about me and my situation. Other people may not think the same way. Other people may have entirely different experiences. Whatever your journey has been like so far, I wish you all the best and sincerely hope you get your miracle soon.

Misty trees

… asking yourself if you’re sure you really want a second cup of black tea today. (I won’t even discuss coffee. The last time I had one was the end of August. At the time we were on an enforced break from IVF because I had to have a hysteroscopy before continuing).

… trying very hard to drink enough water because now staying hydrated is even more important than it is anyway, but hating having to pee in case you see blood.

… being willing to try all kinds  of random things that may or may not help. Eat an avocado every day? Why not, I like avocados. Brazil nuts after transfer? My new favourite snack! Wear socks to bed? Okay! Give up chocolate? Hmm, maybe not that one ;-).

… sitting in the waiting room at your clinic and being greeted by name every time another member of staff walks past.

… always hesitating/checking the before booking a flight somewhere or buying tickets for an event in another location because what if you need to be near the clinic that day for another ultrasound/blood draw/transfer

… constantly scouring the Internet for reassurance that you’re doing the right thing by paying out for another transfer.

… giving up any food that sounds even vaguely yummy every few weeks because this time it might have actually worked and you don’t want to end up feeling guilty because you ate sushi/soft cheese/pâté or took some medicine after a transfer.

… spending the last two weeks of every cycle feeling utterly, completely exhausted because of the progesterone you’re on (all the fun symptoms of early pregnancy but most likely without the actual pregnancy!)

… constantly being afraid that you’ve started spotting, then when you discover you actually have momentarily feeling relief that at least it’s over now and you can move on, before the devastation of what it actually means kicks in. (I am aware that spotting in IVF cycles doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but when it starts the day you would usually get your period Every. Single. Time. and doesn’t stop until you get the negative pregnancy and can stop progesterone it’s really pretty obvious what’s going on).

… not giving up hope. Not now, not any time soon. Putting up with all the early appointments, blood tests, needles and hormones because I still believe that someday, somehow, I will get to be a mother.

March 2019 highs and lows

Good morning. Before getting into the link-up, can I just be really British for a second and talk about the weather? On Tuesday we had bright sunshine and highs of 22°C. Yesterday the high was down to 9°C and it was raining. And right now, at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, it is snowing. It’s not really settling (except on car roofs) – probably because of all the rain – but after we barely had snow all winter now it appears?! The Germans have a saying “Der April macht was er will” (April does what it wants – referring to the weather) and this year they’re certainly not wrong!

Anyway…  I’m trying a new format for What’s New With You? today. I don’t want to go back to “currently…” style posts (what I call “recent doings”) but I also felt like my structure-free ramblings aren’t all that interesting, so here’s something else. I’m not sure yet whether I’m going to stick with it. We’ll see how this one goes. Obviously I am linking up with Kristen, as always.

whats new with you

The highlights

  • The month started with Jan’s birthday, on 1st March. He probably wouldn’t count that as a highlight since if he had his way it would be just a normal day and he could just ignore his birthday. He doesn’t get his way though, so there were gifts and I cooked something nicer than usual… chicken breasts stuffed with goat’s cheese and wrapped in bacon. A vegan’s worst nightmare! Afterwards, there was cake. Bought, not baked – I had no time for baking.
  • Fasnacht (the Bael carnival) was at the beginning of May. We didn’t bother with the parades this year, but we did go to see the lanterns on display outside the cathedral. There was a surpirsing lack of Brexit – I guess we’re too ridiculous to even make fun of any more! Lots had environmental damage topics – some with pictures of the Rhine full of plastic.
  • We saw How to Train Your Dragon 3 at the cinema. You’re probably wondering why I’m including that as a highlight… it’s only the second time we’ve been to the cinema since moving to Switzerland, so it felt like something special. I cried at the film, because I’m a big softy.
  • In the middle of the month, we went to Zurich to see Sarah Millican – a British comedian. As expected, she was absolutely hilarious. Her humour is more along the lines of sex and farts than clever observances, but that’s fine. Still funny. In April we have Eddie Izzard to look forward to.
  • Jan and I went to Meiringen with the intention of visiting the Aare Gorge, but it turns out the gorge was still closed for winter (the Reichenbach Falls of Sherlock Holmes fame are also near there, but I already knew the train wasn’t going). Instead we quickly made a plan B and took the cable car up the Hasliberg. That day was also photo an hour, so you can read about it here.
  • Jan’s dad came to stay and we took him to the pub quiz. We did horribly and came second last (better than last, right?). The next day (Monday) was overcast so we thought about going to a museum but it turns out all of them are closed on Mondays! So we walked around the St Albans area of Basel, had lunch then climbed the tower of the town hall. After that we took a tram to the German border, walked across to Germany and then crossed the Three Countries Bridge (which I posted about here) and walked back to Basel via France. The footpath along the river is currently closed at the Basel end so we had to walk along the road, through all the industry. We reached the tram stop just as the rain started. Timing!

The lows

  • At the beginning of the month we found out our third IUI had failed. There will be no 2019 baby for us. We didn’t tell anybody when we were trying, but I can now reveal that we did one round in December, with a negative blood test on 4th January  (yeah – happy New Year to us!) and another in February/March, with one cycle trying naturally in between. Next step is IVF,  which we have to pay for entirely ourselves. I’m mostly excited to be moving forward, but it’s a big step so I have mixed feelings on it. How far is too far when it comes to trying to make a baby through science? Maybe I should just admit that nature never intended for me to be a mother? Who knows.
  • My due date for the twins was on the 16th. I was so hoping to be pregnant again by that time, but alas my life doesn’t work like that. It ended up being okay. Jan stayed in bed until nearly 12 – despite the fact that scaffolding was being put up from 8am onwards with lots of banging and what sounded like drilling. It made me wonder how life would be if we actually had two young  babies right now. Would he sleep through their crying? Of course , chances are they’d have been born early and, depending on how premature,  they may not even have made it home from hospital yet. Anyway… once Jan eventually got up and showered, we went to the cemetery. The boys have a concrete strip now with their names carved on it, which looks really nice. After paying them a visit we walked into town and had coffee and a snack at a café, then in the evening I lit a candle. It was nice to mark the occasion even in a small way.
  • Two days after my due date would have been my grandma’s 90th birthday. It’s still weird thinking of her house empty, waiting to be sold. The family will definitely never be the same without her.

    grandma
    My grandma and little me
  • Then it was Mother’s Day in the UK on 31st March. My mum and her sibling’s first one without their mother and, of course, my first as a mother who isn’t a mother and may never actually be a mother. Seeing everyone’s posts about their children hurt, but I got through it. Now I just have to get through German/Swiss Mother’s Day 😉

Other stuff

  • Since I pointed out to Jan that we have Film 4 he seems to put it on all the time. In March we watched The Seeker, Hugo, Ghostbusters (the new one) and Mrs Doubtfire (which Jan claims he had never seen. Scandalous!). That probably doesn’t sound like much, but I never watch four films in one month – and with the cinema trip it was actually five.
  • We had our radiators and windows replaced last week. At one point on Friday, there were eight builders in our flat, all doing various things to windows or blinds! The windows part got a bit noisy but I managed to mostly work through it, only taking a short break when they were actually drilling in my office. I’m just glad it wasn’t happening today. No windows plus snow? No thanks! The real inconvenience is yet to come – when they replace both bathrooms and the kitchen all at the same time. Obviously I will not be working from home during that time!
  • I did some cross stitch – including a birthday card for my friend’s son and a Loch Ness Monster for a Post Pals child. I’ve also been making Easter cards to send to Post Pals children.
  • Saturday, 30th March was my deep clean day, so I’ve managed to stick to my goal every month so far. I will probably skip April since we will literally be living on a building site and there will be no bathrooms or oven to clean! I did it the day after the windows were replaced and I was actually quite happy to hoover and dust – the builders did clean up after themselves but I felt like everything was still dusty. I also cleaned the oven even though Jan said there was no point if it’s going to be gone in a couple of weeks. But at least this way I won’t smell burning every time I turn it on for those two weeks. Also, if I skip it once I’ll never get back to it.
  • Speaking of goals… I have been doing absolutely terribly at eating fruit and veg. In fact, there have been days that I only managed a measly one or two portions. I’ve also put on wait… only a kilogram, but added to the 3kg I somehow managed to put on in one week in England it’s bad.
  • I read a lot of books again. 17 to be precise. After a slow start to the month I didn’t think I would read very many but I surprised myself. Six of them were books I already owned (two were actually re-reads), so that’s good. If you want to know what I actually read come back on Tuesday for Show Us Your Books day.

That’s about it for March. I’m not sure what format my April post will take – you’ll just have to watch this space! In the meantime, check out the link up and also let me know what’s new with you.