Eurgh, Hammonds furniture advert

Who has seen the Hammonds furniture advert? The one where a woman shows her friend her ‘amazing’, newly fitted wardrobes whilst a queue of other women wait outside for the ‘privileged’ moment when they get their own private viewing. No? Click on the link below before continuing to read further.

Seen it now? What did you think? Impressed by the spacious wardrobes for all the clothes, shoes and handbags? Eager to join the queue to take a look for yourself? If so, go away. I loath this advert.

‘Are you a dress diva, handbag hoarder or shoe lover?’ the sultry voiceover asks. Nope, not I. Not one of my closest friends would be happy being given one of those labels. Why must women succumb to these depthless descriptions? One of the meanings of ‘diva’ is ‘a self-important person who is temperamental and difficult to please’. Why on earth would you want to be described in this way, let alone be proud of it?

A woman’s life should be so much more than just the pretty objects she can buy or organising her husband’s clothes (as this advert suggests). Companies like Hammonds and adverts like this do women a disservice; they make us look shallow and superficial.

Women, female athletes, competitors…

Hands up, who has watched some of the Winter Olympics?

Nice and high now.

Enjoyed it? Been in awe of the twists, turns, height, pace?

Me too.

I last went skiing two years ago on a school trip (see cover photo) and every year, around this time, I have withdrawal symptoms. Watching the Olympics has been a good antidote.

As the games are drawing to a close I have taken time to reflect. Here are two things that I think could be improved:

1. The squeeling and orgasmic coming from some of the commentators. Eurgh. Excitement yes, hearing your sex noises, no!

2. The way female competitors are referred to as ‘girls’.

Let’s focus on the latter.

This gets on my wick. My partner and I roll our eyes and grumble every time we have watched highlights of the games: it isn’t just at the Olympics we have noticed it. Watch any form of women’s sport and, more times than not, female athletes are referred to as ‘girls’.

Whilst some of those competing are technically still ‘girls’ – the amount of teenage success at the games has been astounding – most are not.

‘Girls’ makes them seem childlike, lesser somehow. Why not refer to them as women, female athletes or, here is a novel idea, remove the gender altogether: athletes; competitors; performers.

Male athletes are less likely to be referred to as boys; commentators opting for men or guys.

Women have a harder time getting the recognition they deserve; just look at how funding was cut from the GB women’s bobsleigh and given to the men’s teams: well that backfired didn’t it?!

Stop the use of ‘girls’ and use more appropriate terms; it could be a simple step to start to address the glaring gender imbalance in many sports.

Curse of the big bazoombas.  

‘You are so lucky to have bigger boobs; I wish mine were bigger.’

NO! No, you really don’t.

Breasts, boobs, boobies, tits, titties, bazookas, bazoombas… whatever you like to call them they are, more often than not, an annoyance.

People with smaller boobs want bigger ones, people with bigger boobs want smaller ones… who is actually happy with what they’ve been given?!

Not I, that’s for sure.

I was always a relatively average size, 34C, that is until Christmas of my first year at uni. Something very strange seemed to happen between the middle of December and the middle of January. I went back to halls in January 2007 to one of my housemates saying ‘crikey, where did they appear from?!’. The curse of the big bazoombas had struct.

Now if you are some who likes to lift and push your baps together for a ‘killer cleavage’ then mine would be perfect. If you are that type of woman I suggest you stop reading.

As a slightly masculine-of-centre female, who prefers jeans and a shirt to dresses and bows, my 34E fat sacks are nothing but hindrance.

Let me explain why…

1. They are only ever going to go south. They are, currently, pert and in the right place but I know the inevitable will happen. Droopy boobies here I come.

2. Bras are like scaffolding for the larger lady. I am not one for fancy, lacy bras so I have, primarily, taken to wearing sports bras to keep my bad boys in place and try to minimise their protrusion from my body.

3. Running can hurt with a sports bra on, let alone without! One time, at university, I played a whole 90 minute football match with just an ordinary bra on as I had forgotten my sports bra. Cue a few days of back ache and a supporter asking another player ‘was your captain wearing a sports bra?’. There was obviously a lot of bouncing happening.

4. Clothing with buttons can be a nightmare. I love a good shirt… checked, pinstriped, patterned… a shirt for every occasion. However, so often there is a tugging and stretching across my oversized mammary glands: cue the button gape. Now, for this, there is a solution. Hallelujah Marks & Sparks and their genius hidden buttons creating a perfect fit over the chest. More shops need to follow M&S’s lead.

5. Bigger boobs make you sweat more: fact! Whilst in Vietnam a couple of summers ago, sweating in the humidity was the norm. However, a line of sweat under your breasts is not a good look.

So thank you mother nature. I have no idea where these delights have come from (no history of gigantic jugs in my immediate family) and I wish I had been dealt a different handful, preferable less of one.

Getting my blogging mojo back

I started this blog just over a year ago. At that time I felt low and anxious after missing out on a promotion at work and needed a way of coping. The idea of a blog had been in the pipeline for a while but there was always a reason to not: work is really busy; I should be using my free time to exercise instead; what if students find out my identity… this list goes on.

Last January I needed an outlet, something only for me. It was the perfect time to start writing; I had lots of ideas, lots of things I wanted to say. I threw myself into the blog setting up twitter and instagram accounts and a facebook page. Soon I had started to connect with people across the globe and my writing diversified: politics, LGBT, gender and fertility treatment.

Fast forward 6 months or so and I was feeling better, my head was in a better place and I had made peace with events at work; the blogging slowed down. That coping mechanism was no longer needed. I thought about my blog often and started lots of posts but very few got to the stage where I was ready to publish.

As 2018 began I decided that I wanted to get my blog back up and running, whilst it was no longer needed as a coping mechanism it was something I wanted to do, something I enjoyed. The words didn’t flow, I found other things to do with my time.

This post is about drawing a line under the silence. I have things I want to write about and I have my blogging mojo back. Being ‘gutsy’ doesn’t just have to be about making statements it can be about celebrating the positive and 2018 is certainly set to be an exciting year.

The Boy in the Dress

A Summer dictated by a house move meant that writing took a backseat- I had been waiting for something to inspire me to ‘pick up the pen’ and get back to blogging. You know you have a hot topic when:

1. You get out of your car at work to your friend asking if you have listened to Radio 4 on the journey in (alas, it had been a morning that required music / singing to get me through the Monday blues).

2. You get an email from your wife asking if you had listened to Radio 4 (by this point I was regretting my decision to sing). 

With what I had gleaned from the aforementioned friend and my wife I decided to Google ‘Christian parents school dress’: I could not believe what I was reading. I had to listen to the interview myself. Whilst cooking dinner I caught up on the ‘Today Programme’ (Monday 11th September, 1hr 52mins in). 

In case you haven’t listened to the interview or read the range or articles available online, here is a brief synopsis of the situation:

A Christian couple, Sally and Nigel Rowe, have removed their six year old son from his primary school because another pupil (male at birth) sometimes wears a dress to school and, on other days, chooses to wear trousers. The couple said that their son came home confused and upset, just as their 8 year old son had done a year before when a similar situation arose. Mr and Mrs Rowe have taken the decision to home school both of their children and are mounting a legal challenge against the school which will state that their rights to raise their children with biblical values were not being respected.

If your reaction to this is anything other than shock I urge you to stop reading.

When a six year old child comes home and says that they are ‘confused’ by something it is the duty of parents to help them understand; Mr and Mrs Rowe have done quite the opposite. They had an opportunity to help their child comprehend the situation and begin to open their mind to the diverse world we live in. The path taken by the Rowes will not only narrow the life experiences of their child but misses a chance to teach about empathy for different groups of people. Supporters of the parents have argued that six is too young to explain potentially complex ideas of gender identity. Absurd. By hiding these topics from young people we do them a disservice; they deserve age appropriate explanations that allow them to make sense of the world around them.

The main argument presented by the parents was that the concept of gender being on a spectrum does not fit in with their Christian ideals. The Rowes are hypocritical: Christianity should be a religion of acceptance with people following key teachings such as ‘love thy neighbour’. Fortunately the Diocese of Portsmouth replied to the complaint, upholding such Christian values, by stating that its schools were safe places that celebrated diversity. Mr and Mrs Rowe have used their faith to mask their bigotry.  Religion should never be used to narrow lives, it should only ever enrich and enhance someone’s understanding of the world.

Mr Rowe has stated that primary schools are not the environment for gender disphoria and identity to be explored – he believes young children should be protected from such ideas. The couple believe that all parents should have been consulted before the child was allowed to wear a dress. Their own self importance shocks me. In every interview I have heard or article I have read, I have not seen the Rowes show any empathy for the child who is exploring their gender identify. Their son is confused; what about the child who is choosing to wear a dress? Presumably they are being allowed to explore who they are by supportive parents but many young people who are questioning their gender are unable to do so. Mr Rowe even seems to become an expert on rates of suicide amongst transgender people: when questioned about this he said that he did not believe it was linked to a lack of social inclusion. What naivity. 

The earlier that children encounter different people and different circumstances the more likely it is that they will celebrate diversity. I feel for the children of Mr and Mrs Rowe: they have parents who are narrowing their understanding of the world. Maybe the Rowes should have sat with their children on the sofa, picked up a copy of David Walliam’s book ‘The Boy in the Dress’ as a starting point. It’s not difficult to be honest with children. 

Why Pride?

I am going to admit something I am ashamed of: I have never properly attended a Pride parade. There, I’ve said it. I am a 29 year old lesbian and I have never properly been to a Pride. I have been in London for Pride twice; both times I have missed the parade, wandered past stages and had a few drinks in Soho. For my local Pride, in Norwich, I have been in the city on the day but haven’t watched the parade or heard any speeches. I actually DJed a local gay club on Pride a few years back: what a night. So I am not a Pride novice but everything so far has been on the periphery. 2017 Norwich Pride will be different.

I recently put a question out on Twitter about what Pride means to individuals within the LGBT+ community and the responses were enlightening. Many people discussed how Pride events were about remembering our collective history and the struggles of the past. Others talked about it being about standing together in support of those LGBT+ people around the world that are not given the rights who are in Britain. Some mentioned that Pride is about visibility and raising awareness of the diversity within our society. The overwhelming majority of responses talked about Pride being a celebration. 

This discussion on Twitter led to me question why I hadn’t properly attended a Pride. The answer is embarrassingly simple: I hadn’t felt the need to. In the past I have, at times, felt embarrassed by my sexuality, as though it was something to hide; I didn’t feel like it was anything I wanted or needed to celebrate. How wrong I was.

In exactly a month today, Norwich, the city in which I live, holds its 9th annual Pride event that continues to go from strength to strength. Last year thousands of people lined the streets to celebrate the diversity of our ‘fine city’ with many local businesses and services supporting the event.  Those involved have work tirelessly to ensure the event continues to grow and that the celebration attracts a wide audience. The 2017 event is set to be bigger and better than the last.

This year I plan to pop my Pride cherry: I will be using my Twitter and instagram to report live from Norwich Pride, bringing the action to you as it happens. I will be looking around the different stalls, listening to inspiring speeches, watching the parade and sampling the Norwich nightlife. 

If any of your reading this live close enough to join us then please do; Norwich is a wonderful city with amazing architecture, a thriving university and a refreshingly liberal outlook. I feel immensely proud to live in a place that is so vibrant and that encourages such an open celebration of diversity. 

On the 29th July I, and the rest of Norwich, will be honouring LGBT+ history, raising awareness of those less fortunate than us, celebrating our differences and having a great deal of fun doing it: come and join us! 

It’s the little things . . .

Pay attention to detail next time you are in conversation with someone or listening to a presentation. Really listen. Do you ever hear the subtle, underlying messages that I heard today?

No teacher looks forward to a staff meeting; if you are in the profession you know the ones. Sat in a stuffy hall after a tiring day teaching, listening to things that you either already know or could have been put in an email. After one of the hottest days of the year this is the situation I found myself in today.  First on the agenda was an outside speaker talking about how to support young carers. 

In a sense, the topic of his presentation does not matter, it was the underlying gender stereotypes which caused irritation. I decided to carry out my own little test. As our guest spoke I began to notice him referring to ‘mum’ when giving examples of people who needed care. At the top of my notes pages I wrote ‘mum’ and ‘dad’. I kept a tally. In the 20 minute presentation our speaker referred to the person being cared for as ‘mum’ six times; not once did he refer to them as ‘dad’.

‘So what?’ I hear you say. ‘It’s just a figure of speech’. ‘Don’t be so sensitive.’ ‘You’re such a feminist.’

Sensitive: no. Feminist: unapologetically yes. 

Why was it mum and not dad on every occasion? Is it that a woman’s role is to be the carer? Women are seen as the ones who do the cooking and cleaning, looking after their family. Maybe it’s because women have historically been submissive and need protecting. Could it be that it would be weak for a man to admit he needs help? Is a man less likely to need the support of others?

Whatever the reason, clearly no malice was intended. I am also fully aware that we all have some innate gender bias. However, if this is to change for future generations we need to challenge each other and think more carefully about the impact of, what we deem to be, insignificant comments. 

A global citizen 

Political events over the last year have brought into question the concept of being a global citizen; Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, the rise of Marine Le Pen in France.  Swaths of voters have chosen right wing, inward looking, isolationist policies at the very time that we should be looking outwards, reaching out and working together.

I, and many of my generation, have been left dismayed by political outcomes. As a teacher I have seen teenagers upset and angry that decisions about their future have been made by people that won’t be effected by the consequences. Whilst my passport says I am British, in many ways, I view myself as European: a global citizen. I don’t want to feel alienated from the rest of Europe due to my nationality and the decision by the 52% to leave the European Union. 

This will not become a rant about the referendum; yes I voted to remain but I fully respect the democratic process and the subsequent outcome. Would I prefer if we were remaining? Yes. Was I saddened and shocked by the outcome of the referendum: undoubtedly. However, one year on, we must accept and reflect on what has happened, finding the best possible solution for our country and our relationships with our neighbours.

When the news of the early General Election was announced I was shocked. The reasoning given was that, by electing a Tory government, we were giving Mrs May a clear mandate to negotiate a deal with Brussels. Suddenly the woman who had vowed not to call a snap election went against her word and did just that. From then on the election campaign was, for the Conservatives, about two things; Mrs May and Brexit. Their campaign was centred around a person not the party. In the eyes of the Tories this election was all about who is going to lead Britain through Brexit.

As voters we had a choice between a ‘bloody difficult woman’ and a sincere, honest politician. I want Brexit to result in a good deal for Britain but I don’t want a hard Brexit. I don’t want negotiations to break down and further alienate our European counterparts. I don’t want immigration quotas put in place to divide rather than unite. Quite clearly last year more people voted for a change to our relationship with Europe but at what cost? We are entering into the unknown, a period of uncertainty. No deal is not better than a bad deal. No deal leaves us even further isolated and powerless.

As the result of the General Election has become increasingly evident our questioning of the Tory campaign has become valid. Mrs May asked for a mandate to negotiate our exit deal from Europe and failed. Mrs May wanted to solidify her party’s control on British politics and has failed. Calling the election was a clear misjudgement and the decision has backfired. Rather than political stability and certainty we have the complete opposite.

When waking up this morning my faith in people to make politically astute decisions has been restored. There has been a lurch to the left with voters being won over by of Labour’s socialist policies whilst becoming disinterested with a tired Conservative rhetoric. As many of you wake you will hear Corbyn state that British politics has changed forever: I could not agree more.

Many voters will be rejoicing at the thought of Britain becoming a more equal and outward looking society. When speaking after the tragic London terrorist attack Mrs May made the mistake of suggesting changes to human rights whilst flippently stating that potential terrorists would be ‘deported back to their own countries’. This was the last in a series of catastrophic misjudgements. 

We are global citizens who want peace and unity, not division. We want equality whilst also celebrating our differences and diversity. My previous post discussed how Britain found itself at a political and social crossroad. Whilst that is still the case the events of election night have made the path just a little clearer.  

A country at a crossroads 

Today our country stands at a crossroads: by placing a small cross in a box we are making a monumental decision about which path our country takes. With  less than one hour until polling stations close I feel an immense feeling of fear and anticipation.

In recent years British politics has moved towards the middle ground. People have complained that there has been very little choice between the main political parties. This election has changed that. The campaigns of Labour and the Conservatives have been polar opposites: Labour have focused on public services ‘for the many’ whilst the Conservatives have been fixated on Brexit and May’s ‘strong and stable’ leadership. In many ways I welcome this variation; we finally have a clear choice with parties sticking to their core values rather than squabbling for the centre ground of politics. 

Six weeks ago nobody would have thought that Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign would have been such a success. As a Labour voter I have been pleasantly surprised by his professional and robust campaign that has sparked both curiosity and admiration. Slowly, but surely, Corbyn has proved his critics wrong with a Labour campaign that gathered pace as we headed towards polling day. Whilst the last six weeks have not been a completely smooth path for Labour it has been a far bumpier ride for Mrs May and her counterparts. People have started to become numb to her tired rhetoric and the broken record of Brexit: their campaign has felt miscalculated. 

Our vote today is about more than Brexit: it is about the direction of our country. Yes, the winner of this election will lead us through negotiations to leave the EU but they will also be responsible for our NHS, education system and care of our elderly. Whatever the outcome of this election we will have learnt a few things:

1. Mrs May underestimated Corbyn’s ability to create a campaign that would ignite a passion for a fairer Britain.

2. Our country is more than Brexit and any politician who has neglected important issues such as education has misjudged our country’s priorities.

3. Young people have been inspired to take an interest in politics and vote.

The path chosen by the British people, at this time, remains unclear but, over the coming hours we will learn the direction of the country for the next five years. 

 Rebel Girls – The book all young girls should read

I stumbled across the book ‘Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls’ when a good friend of mine sent me a link on Facebook. We had met for a coffee earlier that day and had discussed my blog and potential topics I could write about.  That evening I clicked on the link which took me to an engaging YouTube video: ‘If Cinderella were a guy’ (, which was promoting the book.  The video led me to research the book  further and, finally, write this post.

The concept of the book is genius: 100 true stories about extraordinary and inspiring women, both past and present, who have changed the world. The women range from Elizabeth I to  Venus and Serena Williams and from Malala Yousafzai to Amelia Earhart. The ‘If Cinderella were a guy’ promotional video changes Cinderella to Cinderfella, ending the story with the caption ‘You wouldn’t read this to our boys, so why read it to our girls?’. As I watched the video I found myself nodding with agreement and thought back to the fairytales I was read as a child; princesses being saved from towers or being controlled by wicked stepmothers: women were all too often submissive. I can think of very few examples of strong, independent, successful women who could be seen as true role models.

At first I questioned the title of the book; ‘Rebel Girls’ didn’t seem right. What was rebellious about becoming a tennis player or being an American rock singer? If the concept of the book was to promote these achievements as attainable and the norm for women then surely labelling them as rebellious defeated the object? And then I got it. They were rebellious as they defied their gender stereotype. These women stood out in patriachal societies and did things that no one expected them to be able to do. They proved, beyond doubt, that women should not be confined to the private sphere of the home and should be in the public sphere taking on roles, responsibilities and challenges once dominated by men. 

‘Goodnight stories for Rebel Girls’ promotes female independence, ingenuity and integrity. It shows young girls that their gender is not a barrier to success and, no matter their race, religion or sexual orientation, they are able to be whoever they want to be.  The authors of the book, Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo, say that this is the book they wish they read when they were younger: I couldn’t agree more. There have been numerous news stories recently about young girls having less confidence than boys. Boys are surrounded by stories of superheroes whilst girls are often read books about princesses. ‘Rebel Girls’ is a step in the right direction in its quest to boost confidence and self esteem whilst highlighting to young girls the outstanding achievements of strong women. 

If I am lucky enough the have a little girl she will definitely be reading this book at bedtime.

The elephant in the room

Still, in 2017, there is an elephant in the room when it comes to health. That elephant is mental health. Many still don’t understand it, most feel uncomfortable talking about it and mental health services are under more pressure than ever. Why?

Over the past two Thursday evenings I watched the BBC’s gripping two part documentary, Mind Over Marathon. For those of you who haven’t seen this, or are living outside of the UK, the programme followed 10 people suffering from a variety of mental health disorders in their quest to complete the 2017 London Marathon: it was emotional and compelling viewing. Over a five month period the runners were supported by professional running coaches, dietitians, psychologists and, most importantly, each other. The physical and emotional journey that they went on showed viewers how running can act as an aid to improve mental health. In fact the official charity of this year’s London Marathon was a mental health charity ‘Heads Together’.

On Sunday 30th April I attended the ‘March for Mental Health’ in Norwich. The aim of the march was the raise awareness of the impact that government cuts continue to have on people in Norfolk and Suffolk who suffer from mental health problems. I was inspired by the way that mental health nurses spoke about their frustrations at not being able to give patients the care and support they need due to funding cuts. I was humbled to hear the stories of families who have tragically lost loved ones who were failed by the system. Both the television programme and the march have inspired me to speak out about my brief encounter with anxiety.

This may sounds like a cliche but I have always seen myself as a strong person, able to cope with difficult situations. A cliche, but true. This is how I perceived myself and, to an extent, still do. About this time last year all that changed. I had an internal interview at work for a promoted position. I had been teaching at my school for six years and was well-qualified to take on this new challenge. One other member of staff, who I worked closely with and respected, was also going for the job. Now job interviews are nerve-wracking but when you are applying for an internal position you know the people interviewing you and your colleagues know you are going for the job: it seems like there is a lot to lose. I had the interview and, later that day, was told by my headteacher that I didn’t get the job. I would be be the second in the department rather than leading it. I crumbled, I sobbed in front of him. That night, at home, I cried so much that it took all my strength to go into work the next day. 

I limped my way to the Summer holidays; in my mind the break would heal the wounds and allow me to go back to work in September feeling positive. As the end of the break approached my mind turned to work. I was worried and anxious. I was concerned about how I would cope not being fully in control of my subject area, which I had been previously. I didn’t know how I would be able to talk to the members of staff who had made the decision to not give me the job. 

Up until Christmas my overwhelming feeling about work was that I did not want to be there. I had times when I woke up in the night crying. On more than one occasion I cried on my way to work. When I thought about certain situations at work my chest tightened. I felt anxious and I hated it. The way I was feeling was out of my control and this scared me. I had previously played football every Sunday for a local team; playing competitive sport had always been a way of me letting off steam. Not even this was helping me control the way I was feeling; actually, it was having the adverse effect. For a couple of weeks I hadn’t been selected to start which made me feel dejected and upset. Not getting the promotion at work made me fearful of rejection, not being selected at football was cementing that feeling.

Things had to change. I was caught in a spiral of feeling demoralised and anxious. In January of this year I made two decisions that have helped me cope with my feelings about work. Firstly, I stopped playing football and started going to the gym. Football was bringing me down and I did not need to do something at the weekend that wasn’t making me feel good. I have always been a sporadic gym user but keeping to a routine and going regularly has been a revelation. It makes me feel good about my body and the endorphins have done wonders for my mental health. The second thing I did was start writing this blog. Writing about topics I am passionate about has been cathartic. The gym and the blog are for me, nobody else. Having these two things to focus on has made it far easier to get up, get in the car and go to work.

Mental health should not be the elephant in the room; it should be something we talk about. I still have days where I find going into work difficult but I am in a much better place now that I was four months ago. If you are feeling low then seek help. Speak to your friends or family, work out what you can do to change your life for the better. Those people who ran the London Marathon were an inspiration, they had gone through so much but were tackling their issues head on. Mental health should not be in the shadows and we should not be ashamed if we are struggling to cope. If you have ever struggled speak out, your story could inspire others to do the same. 

Fertility clinic lacks clarity 

As you may know from the ‘Cost of Becoming a Parent’ post my wife and I are in the throes of fertility treatment to try and conceive our first child through IUI. Unfortunately our first two rounds of insemination have been unsuccessful but this is not the focus of the blog; we are still positive about the process and our chance of becoming parents. This post is about our fertility clinic and the inconsistencies we have faced along the way.

Anyone who has experienced the process of fertility treatment will understand the emotional journey that you enter into: it is therefore absolutely essential to have a fertility clinic that you can trust and rely on. The clinic we have been using has been nothing but professional throughout the process but, after our second failed pregnancy test, we have been left feeling very frustrated.

Very early on in the process we had asked our consultant about going back to back with treatments. She had said that we could go back to back but that they sometimes advise, due to emotional reasons, for people to miss a month. My wife and I discussed this and we were very clear that, to start with least, we would want to go back to back. We did not want to waste time. After the first negative test we contacted our clinic to plan an appointment to start the next round of treatment straight away. However, we were shocked to receive an email saying that proceeding with round two straight away was not possible. The reason given was that my wife’s hormones had to return to normal levels before another attempt. This was a blow. Every month is precious when you are trying for a baby and, in a process that is so out of your control, losing one of the only things you have control over was difficult to take.

We moved on, waited and when, the next opportunity arrived, started round two.  Again, we had a negative pregnancy test. We were obviously upset and then our minds turned to the wait we would have until the third go. We emailed the clinic to let that know that we nad a negative result. The response to the email caused confusion and anger: we were told we needed to make an appointment if we wanted to proceed this cycle.  My wife rang the clinic and explained that we had previously been told that it was not possible to go back to back: it was confirmed that we could. The overwhelming feeling was one of frustration.

We had wasted a month. A whole month when we could have gone through treatment and fallen pregnant. This is us trying for our first child. My wife is 33 and we have been told that clinics rarely do IUI treatment on women over 35. The clinic does not know our plans for further children; I remain undecided in whether or not I would like to carry and, if I choose not to, my wife would try to fall pregnant with our second. This could, potentially, mean IVF which is far more expensive and intrusive.

We are angry, we are annoyed and, most importantly, we feel let down. This is private healthcare, with one specialism: fertility. Their systems should be watertight with inconsistencies being rare. Unfortunately we have other examples of a lack of clarity and miscommunication regarding the storage of hormone injections and blood tests. Friends of ours have also started this process with the same clinic and have come across similar frustrations. Any couple that enters their clinic is doing so because there is a reason why they cannot conceive a child in the ‘normal’ fashion. Starting the journey of fertility treatment is potentially a long, emotional and expensive process. When you enter the clinic you are entering into the unknown: you must be able to trust the professionals.