A new blogging adventure

The Great Pudding Club Hunt is over…for now.  But my infertility hasn’t been resolved.  Infertility doesn’t define me, but it is part of my life now.  I love this blog, I love the amazing people I have met through this blog, I love how it has helped me cope with infertility and how it taught me to keep fighting when things got really dark.

But this blog is not about being a parent, in fact it has always been about me not being a parent and dreaming of becoming a parent.  I am now a parent and I don’t want to write about being a parent here, I want to save this place as where I can speak freely about infertility and pregnancy loss.  I wanted a similar place where I can speak freely about being a parent, and that is not here but elsewhere.  So I have set up a new blog…

The Inconceivable Adventures of Parenthood

(https://inconceivableadventuresofparenthood.com)

I’m a little scared stepping out into the parenting world, I’m hoping this new blog will help me explore my thoughts and ideas.  There is so much parent bashing on the internet I am a little terrified!  But like I have used the great pudding club hunt to explore my thoughts, cope with the low times and share the good times with others in similar situations, I hope to use the inconceivable adventures of parenthood likewise.

I hope to see some of you there!!!

I will be posting here still, I am not going away, but it probably won’t be as regular (until our next pudding club hunt anyway ;-p)

Creating a family friendly culture in the workplace

How important are family friendly policies and benefits in organisational culture?

Is there a correlation between a high performing organisation and a family friendly workplace?

It seems obvious that the answer is yes…and yet, there are many organisations who put family friendly policies and benefits at the bottom of the pile.  Family friendly policies and benefits are known to increase retention, recruitment, morale and productivity.  Arguably, these policies and benefits come at a cost to the organisation, so do the benefits outweigh the costs?  It can be difficult to put a figure on this type of benefit and return on investment.

There is also the unseen or lesser known part of family friendly policies and benefits that organisations can adopt; these are related to family building options such as infertility treatment insurance coverage, adoption grants, sick leave (for miscarriage or medical treatments), flexible working and egg freezing.

Simply having these policies and benefits will certainly contribute to a family friendly culture…but there is something deeper than these – a family friendly organizational culture that builds on the policies nd benefits.

You may have heard the saying – “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. This simply means that no matter how good the policies are they need to be supported by the organisation’s culture.

Going beyond the policies and benefits, leaders and staff need to develop the values and behaviours that make up the family-friendly culture:

Open Communication – on both work/life needs and institutional priorities.  Staff need to be able to freely communicate to their leaders and vice versa without incrimination or judgement. The ability to give 360 degree feedback freely about what works and what doesn’t contributes to this open communication environment.

Flexibility – at all levels of the organisation.  Creating an environment that makes it OK to ask for flexible working or time off by creating space to.  Believing that employees are less loyal or productive for asking for these creates will creates negative culture.

Commitment – recognition that a good work/life culture benefits everyone.

Fairness – fair doesn’t mean equal; leaders need to understand that one size doesn’t fit all, applying family friendly policies consistently is important.

These values can’t be written down in policy or given away as a benefit…they have to be enacted out by the people we work with every day and inspired by our leaders in our day to day lives.

What other values and behaviours do you think make up a family friendly culture that we can live by in our workplaces, including family building?

Do your leaders say they are family friendly but don’t live by the values they preach?

A week of celebrating my loves

This week has been chaotic, stressful, exhausting and emotional both in my personal and work life.  It was like being on the triple loop-de-loop part of the roller coaster of infertility with a crowd of people squirting water into my face as I go round and round. Ughh I feel sick!!  My roller coaster journey hasn’t stopped just yet, but it’s feeling a little gentler this weekend!

But amongst all that chaos there are three people in my life who are always there for me that I am celebrating this week – My husband, my mummy and my granny!

My husband.

Four years ago I married my best friend, my confidant and my very handsome lover, Chris.  It was an amazing day!  We celebrated our love and our commitment to each other with all our friends and family around us.  The sun came out and we danced the night away to an epic Ceilidh band.  I remember every minute of it, I hope I never forget second of it.  Little did we know on that day what the next four years had in store for us!  We had no clue we would be moving our lives to the USA and starting from scratch.  We had no clue we would lose touch with some of our friends, and make some friendships even stronger despite the distance.  We had no clue we would be making new friends.  We had no clue we would struggle to grow our family.  We had no clue we would miss these friends and family that surrounded us that special day.  And through all of this, our love continues to grow stronger day by day in ways I never thought possible.

Thank you Chris for being so loving to me!

Dani and Chris-352

The cat who got the cream!

My mummy.

I have known and loved my mum longer than anybody else in the world.  We have had our fair share of disagreements….OK….some of them might actually be arguments!  But I can say that probably 95% of the time they were of my doing as a teenager I caused despair with my mother!  We are also chalk and cheese in some other things in life and times, I have wondered sometimes how we are related, but I guess that is normal in every parent-child relationship!  The important thing is, my mum always supported me in my differences and encouraged me to seek out the best and different opportunities in life – even when she didn’t really approve (I could tell those disapproving looks!).    I don’t think I would be so happy and successful now without her support.

My mother has been through some very tough times in her life and has battled breast cancer – twice.  She has also been through many ups and downs in her relationships with my fathers.  Simply put, my mum is a fighter.  The most important thing my mother has taught me as I grew up, probably unknowingly to her and maybe today she will only realise that I credit this to her, is problem solving skills – and not giving up on wicked problems.  I learnt this skill from observation and understanding the effects of successfully solving a problem ….it was a nurtured skill, not given, not genetic.  Often I’ve wondered how I ended up becoming an analyst, but it makes a lot of sense given what I have learned from my mum.  And there is one other thing that I admire about my mother – and that is her care and dedication to many of her friends and her children at her job.

Thank you mummy for being you!!! Happy Mothers Day!!

My granny.

My gran is the second person in my life I have known the longest after my mum (my mum wins because I hung around inside her for 9 months before meeting the rest of the world :-p).  My gran is one of the most humble and selfless ladies I have ever known in my life.  My gran has taught me the values and standards I try to live by in life and how to be considerate for other people.  I think this is why today I find it so hard to fathom why other people can be so mean and horrible to other human beings (i.e. trolls).  But there is something else that I think my gran might not realise she has taught me to be in life… that is fearless.  My gran IS fearless.  My gran is not afraid to try new things or think of things in a different light.  I am pretty sure every time I speak to my gran she has been doing something different, something new – it probably seems like nothing to her – but to me that is amazing.  Gran is coming to visit us in a few months time and I am soooo excited that we can share our USA experiences with her!  My granny and papa looked after me and my brothers regularly as we grew up and their unconditional love has always been my safe place that I think about when I use calming techniques.

Although my gran isn’t my mother, she is my mummy’s mother and so on this Mother’s day I want to thank you granny for everything you do!!!!

The gift of giving

This year as part of setting our new family Christmas traditions, amongst other things, we talked about volunteering becoming part of our holidays.  So I set out to start this tradition by taking a day off work and helping out with a local charity that our organisation donates money to – The Joy Fund.  This charity collects money throughout the year to purchase new toys for children who might ordinarily not receive toys at Christmas.  Every single penny donated goes to purchasing toys, the administrative costs are covered by the local newspaper The Virginia Pilot.  This huge programme is run in co-ordination with the Salvation Army, Marine’s Toys for Tots and Operation Hope.  Last year almost 10 000 local children received toys at Christmas.  In addition to toys, many of the families will also receive brand new clothes for the children and a bag of groceries with a frozen chicken.

I volunteered to help out on the first day that the parents come to pick up the toys, clothes and groceries.  The parents get to pick the toys from an incredible selection, some lucky children even get brand new bikes!  There were some 800 bikes ready to be distributed.  Volunteers help the parents with their ‘shopping’ and go around with the parents helping them pick out the toys; my job for the day was to help load up groceries into their shopping trolley.

groceries

every family received a bag of groceries – this was the pile of already packed bags (by local school children), ready to be distributed

I got to meet the parents after they had loaded up their trolleys with the toys and clothes.  You would not believe how emotional some of these parents were.  They were simply overwhelmed with the generosity they were receiving.  Honestly, some of the trolleys had way more toys than I would probably buy my own children.  But these toys might be the only toys the children will get for the year.  The whole operation was simply incredible.

toy-aisle-2.jpg

parents get to choose the toys, volunteers help them with the shopping and make sure the toys are distributed out fairly

joy fund2

toys!

joy fund.jpg

more toys!

There were times throughout the day that I welled up with tears with just the thought of those children opening the presents on Christmas day!  The vastness of this operation also made me a little bit sad that in our own local area there are so many families living below the poverty line.  We just don’t see them.

It wasn’t until towards the end of my shift that I thought about the toys I was helping the parents load up with, seeing the vast amount of baby clothes and toys; it hit me hard seeing the number of children some of these families had, many had four or five.  For a brief moment I was insanely jealous.  How ridiculous is that?

Anyway, over lunch we sat with an 84 year old lady who had been volunteering at this programme for over 15 years.  She told me that sadly a few of these parents will sell some of the more expensive toys on for cash to buy drugs.  She also told me of a story one year she helped a seemingly ungrateful and snotty lady with her shopping trolley full of toys to her car – it was a brand new Mercedes Benz, the lady then barked at the old lady to be careful of the paint on the car.  So the old lady pushed the trolley at her and said “Well do it yourself then!” and walked off!  You can’t screen out all the bad eggs, the Salvation Army works hard with the schools to prevent fraudulent applications to the programme or stop the parents from selling on items donated to them.  I’d say that 99.9% of the programme is all goodness and there will be many happy children with a happy smile on Christmas morning 🙂

If we are here next year I will definitely volunteer again with Chris.  What a wonderfully warming family Christmas tradition 🙂

giving.jpg

It was an emotional day, hard work lugging around groceries, but rewarding in the festive spirit

‘Tis the season…Pt 2

‘Tis the season to be jolly.  True.  But my feelings can’t help but be a bit up-and-down like a see-saw.  So I decided to split my post into two.  Depending on how you are feeling this season, you may only want to read one or the other.  Maybe you feel a little bit like me, so read both!

Pt 1: ‘Tis the season to be jolly

Pt 2: ‘Tis the season to be not so jolly


‘Tis the season to be not so jolly

I already blogged about the difficulties of the holiday season for those of us struggling with infertility (my post is here), so I won’t cover old ground.  But this isn’t always the season to be jolly.  And as much as I have equally had lot’s of jolly things going on, I have recognised that life isn’t always quite so jolly at this time of year.

1. Gift Shopping.  I hate shopping at the best of times, and shopping with the Christmas crowds – my worst nightmare – I’ve written about this before.  Shopping for baby gifts – EUGHHHH.  I am an emotional roller coaster with this one!  I love buying cute baby stuff, but when I see cute baby Christmas stuff – especially adorable onesies with “My 1st Christmas” I’m a wreck.  I don’t think I need to say anymore about this one.

2. Distance.  I am a few thousand miles from some of my greatest friends and of course my family.  So when my mum told me she had received my Christmas Parcel and cried, I cried.  Damn it.   It’s not easy being far from loved ones at this time of year.  We have had lovely offers from friends inviting us over to theirs for Christmas Day, but in fact this is something we just can’t do this year.  We are going to start our own family traditions – I wrote about that already – we are excited to do this, but it’s not easy to do.  Some people may say that we are lucky we don’t have to deal with ‘forced family reunions’ with nosey inquisitive family members; but even if we were back in the UK we are lucky that we have the most supportive family that this wouldn’t happen for us.

3.  Trying to Conceive.  Officially we are allowed to try to conceive again, but I have mixed emotions about it.  I wrote a separate post about it so I won’t repeat it, but this has been playing my mind this week.

4. Facebook.  A friend posted on facebook what seemed to be a pregnancy announcement, until you get to the bottom of the long carefully written post and realise they are just talking about santa clause.  It was poor taste for someone like me struggling to get pregnant…but even more so because I felt sad that this couple may just find them selves to be one of the “1 in 8 facing infertility” one day.  I wanted to tell them it was in poor taste, but then realised that I would just come across as a scrooge bag as so many people had already commented how funny it was.

5. Money worries.  As my credit card bares the scars of many swipes this holiday season and our bill from the infertility clinic shows up with a surprise payment from September, I have the constant feeling of every penny counts.  Actually, we are very fortunate to be in a comfortable financial position, but I want to keep our options open for the future and don’t want to close a door because I didn’t keep control of our outgoings.  But Christmas is a time for giving, so in general I don’t feel guilty for the gifts I purchase or the charities we give to – it’s just the gifts that Chris and I give each other and the seemingly endless nights of eating out that make me feel guilty!!!

6. Coping with loss.  This applies to anyone who has lost a loved one, not just those who have had to deal with losing a child, as well as anyone who has experienced loss of something of their physical self.  Ultimately the Christmas holidays plays heavy on the heart of someone who has lost their hopes and dreams.  As I sip my cup of tea in my new mug “When it rains look for rainbows” this reminds me to remember the positive things and love that I have been lucky to have experienced and made me a richer person, and “When it’s dark look for stars”, this reminds me to look up and remember our dreams are still out there and we are being watched over.  It’s still difficult, and gets harder getting closer to the big day itself.

be nice

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you nothing about.  Be kind. Always.


We have far more jollynesss to keep us going for the festive season  but it’s these kinds of things that remind me it isn’t easy for everyone, and even more so for many more people who don’t have the jolly things I described in my earlier post.

On the subject of coping with the festive season.  Resolve has an excellent fact sheet about coping with the holidays (here) – it provides a collection of great articles I recommend for reading over a cup of tea.  You may need some tissues to go with that too.

Who is Dib Dab?

On my last day in the office before our road trip a friend and colleague gave me a small gift and note.  The gift was a small stuffed toy cat with two different coloured eyes.  I am not an expert in kids toys and I have seen these cats around and but I still have no clue behind their story!  But anyway, this gesture was incredibly sweet and I welled up with tears at that very moment.

This isn’t the first gift we have received since receiving the sad news of our non-viable pregnancy….

One friend sent me a guardian angel – Angela, to put in my purse…she has been with me ever since and holds a special place with me.

We received an anonymous ‘donation’ of twelve big Cadbury’s chocolate bars (finally discovered it was from my parents!).  We have scoffed a total of three bars between us so far.  I have hidden all but one of them from Chris when I left for Germany to make sure there was some when I got back!

We also received a wonderful box of chocolate biscuits (cookies) from two friends shipped fresh all the way from the UK that spelled out ‘We love you’…they were incredibly crumbly and delicious, they didn’t last long!

A friend and colleague of Chris’s scoured the internet to surprise me with 6 Cadbury’s (UK) Crunchie bars after I had posted on facebook my cravings for one and my inability to find them in our local vicinity!

A lovely blogging friend sent me some haribo (my favourite sweets in the world!), digestive biscuits and a figurine of hope.  Hope is something I need reminding of a lot and was just what I needed particularly at that very moment in time.

We also received countless cards, letters, messages and hugs from friends and family across the world.

We were not alone in our sadness, friends and family went out of their way to show us they were with us.  It has been incredible.

So what has this all got to do with a stuffed toy cat?  Well I took that stuffed toy cat with us on our road trip, and we named him Dib Dab.  Dib Dab came with us everywhere we went…up a mountain, through the desert, amongst the hoo doos, in the camper van, in the museums & restaurants – everywhere.

Dib Dab was just a small representation of our friends and family at this time of healing.

Thank you for your kindness, love and thank you for just being there.

Dib Dab ended up having quite a bit of fun 🙂

...at Mesa Verde

…at Mesa Verde

...at the puebloan ruins

…at the puebloan ruins

...at antelope canyon

…at antelope canyon

...at Bryce canyon

…at Bryce canyon

...at Zion National Park

…at Zion National Park

IMG_3997

…In Santa Fe

...at the petroglyph national park

…at the petroglyph national park

...on a petrified log

…on a petrified log

...in the Petrified Forest

…in the Petrified Forest

...in my back pack

…in my back pack

...on the Grand Canyon Train

…on the Grand Canyon Train

It can be all a little bit confusing

Infertility treatment IS pretty darn confusing.  And I’ve spent 100s of hours researching it.  It’s confusing because there is no one single way to treat infertility.  If they had figured out a magic pill to get you pregnant we would all be taking it.  Unfortunately, there isn’t that one pill.  There are many causes of infertility and so treatment is specific to the couple being treated.  The journey each one of us take to the great pudding club will be unique.  And it can be confusing with all that medical jargon, drugs (brands and generic versions), procedures, timings…and to make things worse, it will probably be different each time we have another try to make a little one.

We have been asked many questions by friends and family about our infertility, and I am so glad they do ask – firstly, it shows that they care, and secondly, it helps spread awareness of infertility (did you know that 1 in 10 couples are infertile?).  So to this end, I have put together a page on my site that introduces some of the important terms we talk about a lot, all in one place.

(My new page: What does it all mean?)

I have also updated the ‘about me’ page to include a timeline of what we have tried so far.  We will be using these pages as a place to direct family and friends for a bit of background as we start our first IVF cycle and tell a few more people what we are going through.

My dear friends, I just wanted you to know how grateful I am that you are here with us and support us along the way.  Thank you for understanding and thank you for providing us with words of strength and comfort X