Gruffalo questions

Sometimes, conversation with the pixies really does test my mettle. Even playing I Spy can be challenging. In the car today, Medium declared it her turn. I didn’t even know what we were playing. The last thing anyone had said was, “Is it lunchtime yet?”

Anyway, up pipes Medium with, “I pie wiv my likkle eoi, somefing beginning wiv B.” I looked around the country lane… Erm, “Do you mean B or V?” “B,” came the resolute reply. “Badger?” I guessed. “No, Mummy, B.” Silly me, I thought badger began with a B. But then, I couldn’t actually SEE a badger either. “Blue sky?” I asked optimistically. “No, Mummy. B!” Eventually, I gave up. Then Big piped up with, “Block!” Medium had a piece of Lego clutched in her little fist. How was I meant to guess that?

Big moved the conversation swiftly on to how babies grow in mummies’ tummies. The change of topic can be very rapid with Big and Medium. I wasn’t entirely sure where this conversation was going, and steeled myself for awkward questions. They definitely came thick and fast, but they weren’t quite what I expected.

“Dinosaurs have mummies,” Medium said.
“Dinosaurs have eggs that will crack and then a baby dinosaur comes out,” said Big. Clever girl. Ish.

“Kittens have mummies,” Medium said.
“Do they grow in eggs, Mummy?” Big asked.
“No, they grow in their mummy’s tummy like you, Medium and Little did in mine,” I replied.
“Why?” Big asked.
“Well, basically, anything furry grows inside its mummy’s tummy and anything with feathers, like a chicken, or scales, like a fish, grows in an egg.” I was quite pleased with my simplification of this biology.

“Do snakes grow in their mummy’s tummy?” Big asked.
“No,” I said, wracking my brain. “I think they grow in eggs that mummies lay, like dinosaurs and chickens.” (I later had to check that was actually true with a friend. Oh come on, with only a few hours’ sleep and having got three children in and out of the car nine times in six hours, you’d second guess yourself too.)

“Gruffalo’s grow in mummies’ tummies,” contributed Medium.
“Do they, Mummy?” Big asked.
I’m not sure if I’m qualified to advise on the reproductive status of a fictional being, but the Gruffalo is incredibly important to Medium, so I thought I’d best give some sort of answer.

“Well, Gruffalos are furry and land dwelling, so I think they probably do grow in their mummies’ tummies rather than in an egg,” I offered.

This seemed to satisfy Big and Medium and they went back to trying to kill each other over the block of Lego that Medium was still clutching. I, bracing myself for the next onslaught of questions, got ready to answer. Then it occurred to me that, while the Gruffalo’s Child is very much female and referred to as ‘she’, the gender of the Gruffalo has never been specified. I’ve always assumed it’s a he, which opens up a whole can of worms about whether the Daddy Gruffalo or the Mummy Gruffalo grows the Gruffalo’s Child in their tummy. I’m leaning towards the latter, but then I digressed to how to explain seahorse reproduction and got myself into a bit of a pickle.

Thankfully, the pixies didn’t follow my train of thought. I wish I hadn’t. My head hurts now. But, just like the Gruffalo him/herself, through it all the Little one just snored and snored.

Gruffalo questions

Happy Mother’s Day to non-mothers

Happy Mothers’ Day. Three small words that mean the world to me. Three small words that for a long time I didn’t know if I’d ever hear.

Mothers’ Day is a special day. This morning began with Medium coming in with her usual non stop jumping, brandishing a card and shouting, “Happy birthday, Mummy!” (it’s not my birthday). Big struggled in under the weight of a huge canvas with all three of their smiling faces on it. There were kisses and cuddles.

Every Mothers’ Day I celebrate not just my own unbelievably amazing mum, but them. Those three little pixies who changed my life. Three little pixies that, were it not for the genius of medical science, wouldn’t be here.

Lovely Husband and I are very open about the struggle we endured to have our lovely girls, and I wish more people were as transparent. Maybe then those that go through the struggle of fertility treatment and the agony of never knowing if they will be parents would be more supported by society as a whole. There still seems to be this outdated stigma. Fertility treatment is hard; it messes with your mind, your body, your relationship and just about everything else. It ruins marriages, turns rational women into psychopaths and crushes as many dreams as it makes come true.

I know that for many women today is a really bloody hard day. I remember it well. During the wilderness years of our endless ‘trying’ and the time that lapsed between the invasive tests and our finally undergoing fertility treatment, Mothers’Days came and went and I mourned every one. My failure in producing a small person physically hurt. I’d have this ball of pain in my ribcage and there was nothing I could do about it. I would fill my days with horses, cats, wonderful trips with Lovely Husband but nothing really took the edge off. I wanted to be a mother. I wanted to feel a baby kick inside me. Everyone else seemed to manage it, why couldn’t I? In the build up to Mothers’ Day and on the day itself, I was surrounded by reminders of my failure to conceive.

There were tears. Lots of them. There were a lot of well meaning friends, who tried to make me feel better. Most made me feel worse. “Just relax, it’ll happen.” Well, no – actually, it won’t. We’d been told by a leading fertility consultant that we have more change of winning the lottery than we do of conceiving naturally. “Maybe you’re doing it wrong.” Really, did you actually just say that? “You can always adopt.” Because that’s as easy as going to Tesco, isn’t it? You just go and pick a baby from the shelf, right? “Maybe it’s just not meant to be.” Well, with those words of wisdom, I’ll just roll over and forget the whole idea of having a family, then. Seriously, the fact that I managed to keep my temper is amazing.

Our recent history shows how goddamn lucky we were. Our first IVF proved to be heartbreaking and diagnostic. 17 lovely fluffy eggs harvested and not one fertilised. It seems either Lovely Husband or I lacked receptor cells – the beacons that helped his boys and my girls find each other. We don’t know who’s ‘fault’ it is; our consultant wisely counselled us that it was irrelevant. We wanted to make a baby together. Our first ICSI cycle resulted in Big. It was a textbook cycle. Nine months later, our joy at welcoming her was immeasurable. All those hormone jabs, the ups and downs of going into a medically induced menopause then being swiftly brought out of it, living from scan to scan to check my progress as we moved towards harvest, the harvest day itself and then the agonising 24 hour wait for the call from the embryologist to see if ICSI had been successful. This time, we were lucky. We had two popped back inside me and two put in the freezer. And then the infamous two week wait. Oh boy, that sucked. Symptom spotting constantly, fear of the unknown and obsessive testing. Thankfully I got two lines that got stronger each day. When Big arrived, she made me. She made me the person I wanted to be.

Medium is our BOGOF baby. She spent a year in the deep freeze, which is incomprehensible when you meet the lively and compelling little person that she’s become. I struggled with the drugs for her and had a rare reaction to the tablets I needed to take. Nevertheless they did their job and despite a lot of bleeding early on, she arrived after my easiest labour yet. I still find it hard to believe that she was actually made at the same time as Big. They’re technically twins, I suppose, but two years apart.

Little was a surprise; Lovely Husband had said he didn’t want another and our freezer stock was depleted. For my 39th birthday, I unwrapped a sheath of paper. It was the documentation for an appointment with our lovely consultant and off we went for ICSI cycle #2 and then there were three. There are three more in the freezer still. I told you we’d been lucky.

But today my heart goes out to those that are still wandering through their wilderness years; those that are yet to receive a diagnosis and treatment, those that are on their umpteenth cycle, those that are still hoping. I pray your dreams will come true and that those around you support you. I admire those of you that can bite your tongue through the ultimately well meaning but hopelessly misguided comments that hurt. I hope you will feel your precious bundle in your arms very soon, come what may. Come what may.

Happy Mothers’ Day to all the future mums. To those that have fought to win that title. You’ve earned it. My heart is with you. X


Happy Mother’s Day to non-mothers