Friday, December 31, 2010

Go mbeirimid beo ar an am seo arís

Another Irish language title for a blog post, this one means may we be alive and well this time next year. My Dad says that at certain events during the year, like when he sits down to his Christmas dinner, when he rings in the New Year, or when he hears a cuckoo for the first time in the Spring. As I packed away the Christmas decorations last year, I said it to myself. My only wish for the coming year would be that John and I would have our health and our happiness. Anything else would be a bonus.

I know 2010 was a very tough year for many, particularly in this country, with job losses, house repossessions happening all sides. For us it was the best year we have had in a very long time. We both adopted the attitude of focusing on the positives and enjoying the life we do have, rather than grieving for the life we don't.

So the highlights of the past year were as follows:

Losing weight and getting healthy again. We both lost around two stone (28 lbs each), although I must admit I have gained back around seven of those pounds. I will get back on the wagon next week and get that weight back down.

Celebrating my mother's 80th birthday with my family in May. I'm very lucky to be able to say that my Mam is in great form for a lady her age and a great hoolie was enjoyed by all, young and old. A very special day and a great memory.

Surfing. 2010 was the summer of surf for us. We rented a flat up in Clare for four months, hit the water every weekend, and made some great new friends. Our social life took a dramatic jump start, and we had such fun. We intend doing the same thing again this Summer, as long as the flat is free for us to rent.

After fourteen months of unemployment for me, I got back into the workforce, on a better salary than I left my previous job on. Work is going well, and I have made some great new friends among my new colleagues. The coming months are going to be crazy busy, but that's not a bad complaint. It's a good distraction, and I'm enjoying the challenge of it.

FINALLY finding out the cause of my miscarriages. I posted on this back in August. One set of blood tests in an IVF clinic in Dublin threw up some positive answers. I have an off the scale level of anti thyroid antibodies, however the upside is that it's a treatable condition. Also, my AMH result came back at 11.9. Not stellar, but not at all bad for a woman of 41. So basically I have as much of a chance as any woman my age. So we are going to give it one last try in 2011.

The biggest downer of 2010 was that we lost one of our kitties, my beloved Tigger. That is a whole other post in itself, which I have been trying to bring myself to write for the past few weeks. Suffice to say, I was heartbroken. The upside was that we managed to adopt two new kittens six weeks ago, who are the biological baby brother and sister of our original two cats, the latest litter from John's mother's cat. Their names are Dougie and Speedy, and we have fallen in kitty love all over again. Again, they deserve a post all of their own, which I will do soon. Dougie is shaping up to be such a cuddle puss that I am literally fighting him to type this one handed as he demands snuggles on the sofa. Their big sister Lizzie was none too pleased in the beginning, but she's getting used to the new arrivals now and we can all sit in front of the front of the fire with minimal hissing and spitting. A contented family of five.

So again as we prepare to don the glad rags (I have a killer little black Ted Baker number lined up) and head out to Limerick for the annual black tie do, I will once more make my new year wish. May we be healthy and happy this time next year. I wish you all the same thing.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Aithníonn ciaróg ciaróg eile

Aithníonn ciaróg ciaróg eile is an Irish seanfhocail or old saying, which literally translated means "one beetle recognises another beetle", but it roughly translates as "like sees like". It's a phrase that has come to mind a lot to me lately, since I made a new friend this Summer.

Debbie, like me, is in her forties. We met through a common interest in surfing early last May. I bought a wetsuit in her shop, we started talking about a social group she was trying to get off the ground for ladies our age who were interested in a combination of yoga and surf lessons (although not at the same time, the tree pose might prove to be something more of a challenge when attempted on top of a six foot wave) and soon recognised some commonality in each other. She told me that now that her daughters are in their twenties and have left home, she and her husband are now empty nesters, albeit very young ones. I told her that I was over forty and childless, and was finding it hard to relate to a lot of women my age group, who are caught up in the whirlwind of life that is child rearing.

I never did get around to those yoga or surf lessons, but over the Summer, John and I began to hang out with Deb and her husband almost every weekend. Over a bottle of wine one night, she told me the story of how she got together with her husband. Like me, Deb is on her second marriage. She met her first husband at the age of 21. Coincidentally, I met my first husband when I was aged 21. Bizarrely, our ex husbands share the same first name. Hers was also a control freak, who had an extra marital affair (yep, sounds familiar). She met her second husband, a really lovely, kind guy, shortly after she left her first husband (same here). The only difference so far was that she had two children with her first husband, and was able to divorce him within a year of their marriage breaking up, whereas I had no children in my first marriage, and had to wait four years to be granted a divorce.

The similarities in life experiences don't end there though. Deb found great happiness with her new man, but unfortunately their lives were touched by one great sadness: infertility. They tried in vain for years to have children together, but sadly it wasn't to be. They went through years of medical investigations, fertility drugs and sheer and utter grief. Deb told me that once she had come to the realisation that it was never going to happen for them, she went through two years of deep grief. She said she literally could not look at anyone else's baby, such was her feeling of loss. This might seem melodramatic to someone whose life has never been touched by infertility, but as someone who has waded through the trenches, and is still plodding on, I found this totally understandable. The happy ending for this lovely couple didn't come in the form of another child, but in the form of acceptance.

Ten years ago, they stuck a pin in a map of Ireland, came over from the UK in their van for a recce, and decided to move their family to the west coast, to set up their own business. They're still in business, ten years on. They work seven day weeks, for not a huge return, but they are happy in life. They have their surfing, they play in a band, they live in their house in the country with four dogs and a geriatric cat. This summer, Deb dyed her hair bright pink. She reckons if she's going to be the lead singer in a punk/rock group she might as well look the part. A forty six year old punk rocker surf chick, living in the arse end of County Clare. She's my hero.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Back to life and back to work

Four days in, and I am a walking zombie. I have driven 84 miles per day for four days in a row. I'm not even doing a huge amount at work yet, just getting set up with various systems access and trying to make sense of training manuals explaining the company's accounting model which is totally complex compared to anywhere else I have worked. The people in the office are lovely. I'm sure already that I will make some very good friends there. Already I have been to a colleague's leaving dinner. They are a really nice inclusive crowd. One of the girls told me her boyfriend works in the same company as John in Limerick, and he is learning to surf. So we're going to set up a play date for the boys in our lives soon.

I get paid tomorrow - yay! Money is coming into my account after months of a hemorrhaging bank balance. Even if I hardy know my own name I'm so tired, it's still been a good week. My alter ego surf chick will ditch the work suit for the wetsuit on Saturday as I take to the waves once more. I haven't looked forward to a weekend this much in ages.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A great big chink of light

Remember this job that I didn't get, and how gutted I was when I found out two weeks ago? Well, guess what? I got an email from one of the directors of the company yesterday, looking to speak to me. Now last week I managed to track down one of the people who interviewed me, and he was kind enough to take the time for a chat on the phone and gave me some very helpful feedback. Basically he said my CV was impressive, and I had interviewed really well, but that I had been up against other candidates who had previously worked for their parent group, so they had the competitive advantage in terms of having experience of their accounting systems and general way of doing things. That made me feel a bit better. So I emailed him a quick thank you a couple of days after I spoke to him, in the hopes that if another vacancy came up in the near future, I might be kept in mind.

And feck me pink, if that's not what happened. I phoned back the lady who emailed me, to be told that one of the team who they had previously been recruiting for had decided to hand in her notice and move back to the UK, where she was originally from. So they now have another vacancy, which they want to offer to me. And it gets better. The salary is almost nine thousand euro more than my finishing salary in my last job. As you can imagine, when I hung up the phone I danced around my kitchen. My next door neighbour must have been wondering what the fuck was up with me, I was squealing so loudly!

So that's it. They want me to start whenever I can. I think I'm going take another week and a half just to get organised, get my house spick and span and go shopping for a new work wardrobe. AND.................I'm going to get a new car! I'm sooooo excited about this. I'm still driving the first car I ever bought, which I have had for six years now. I bought it off my sister in law when I moved down here, with the intention of learning to drive in it and hanging on to it for two or three years maximum. It's now fourteen years old, and has served me well. So I'm looking at doing a scrappage deal and getting myself a shiny new set of wheels.

In ten days time I'm going to be a Finance Analyst. Hi ho, hi ho, it's back to work I go.

A small chink of light?

Thanks to you all for your support and comments on my last post. It was one of the lowest points I had hit in quite a while. Sorry I didn't reply to your comments, but as you can imagine I wasn't my most communicative for a while there. But I'm back with some good news.

I got a call last week, from our RE in Dublin. My autoimmune bloods results were back, and they threw out what may be the answer to the last four years of shite we have been wading through. My level of antithyroid antobodies are off the scale. A normal range would be 0-4. Mine is over 300, which is more than likely the explanation for four of my pregnancy losses. I just wish we had gotten this information years ago, but we have it now and that's the main thing.

The better news is that it's an autoimmune disorder that's treatable with steroids and injectable anticlotting agents. So it might make me as hairy and burly as a German shotputter, but it just might be the treatment that helps me carry a pregnancy to term. I'm still waiting on my AMH results, which I should have in the next day or two. Once we get an idea of how many eggs are left in the basket, we should be able to start formulating our next plan of action.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Double Whammy

Well we went to the new fertility clinic in Dublin yesterday, and met with our RE. He's not a man for sugar coating his message. Basically, he said that IUI was totally inappropriate treatment for a patient my age with one blocked tube. So forget that. He said even if we went down the IVF road, our chances of success with using my eggs were between slim and nil. Should we beat the odds and attain success on that very slim chance, our risk of having a baby with chromosomal obnormalities is quite significant, as we knew. I think I was in denial of that fact until yesterday. The other option is donor eggs, but that is fraught with so many issues and questions for us. I would really welcome anyone who has used donor eggs to leave comment on their experiences. Anyway the next step for me is having blood tests for autoimmune issues, and an AMH test to check my ovarian reserve, which I am going back up to Dublin to do on Tuesday morning. So much to take in though. I feel as though if we do have to go down the donor egg road, I will first have to grieve the loss of the biological child which I will never have, before I can think about having any child as a result of egg donation. So the mini me I always imagined having might never be. This just fills me with so much sadness.

And as if I hadn't had a crappy enough day yesterday, when I got home there was an email waiting in my inbox from the financial services company I had interviewed with five weeks ago. I didn't get the job. And this was the job with the dream spec. I couldn't have written a more relevant job spec to match my qualifications and experience. Which makes me think if I couldn't get that job, how the hell will I get any job in the future? What did the successful candidate have that I didn't? I have asked for feedback, so I'm hoping I'll get some kind of answer which might help me learn from the process, but it came as some kick in the teeth after being brought down to infertile ground zero with a very stark bang a few hours earlier.

I have cried so much in the past 22 hours. I just wish I could get the sadness to just go away.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

If you go down to the woods today.....

At present, between John and me, our niece and nephew count stands at twenty three. Yes, you read correctly. Ten nephews, all on my side, and thirteen nieces, nine of mine and four of John's. We don't get to spend a lot of time with them unfortunately, as the nearest ones to us live about sixty miles away. The teenage and twenty somethings we are now getting to know as young adults, which is fun as we get to be the cool Auntie and Uncle. I fully intend getting some of them to visit us in Clare for weekends this Summer so that we can get them an introduction to surfing.

The younger ones are a bit more tricky to get to know. As their Mums and Dads lead busy lives, juggling work commitments with the full on demands of raising little ones, we don't get to see them as often as we should. I remember as a kid having more associations with Aunts and Uncles who were parents to cousins my age, and I can see this happening with my nieces and nephews. They get to spend time in their cousins houses, having sleepovers and what are now termed "staycations" (ie the annual holiday where you get farmed out to Auntie Mary up the country, who in turn sends a couple of her brood down to your house for a week). So when you're a childless Auntie and Uncle like us, little ones aren't particularly interested in extended stays in houses where there are no other kids to play with, hence they don't get to know you as well as their other Aunties and Uncles.

A couple of weeks ago, I was visiting my sister in law, who is Mammy to my youngest niece and nephew. Aoife, who at three going on four is the most adorable little munchkin girlie on the planet (and I'm not being biased, she really is!) and Darragh, her bouncing baby brother, five months old. She told me that she never remembered being in my house, which made me feel quite ashamed that it had been so long since they had visited us that she didn't remember being there. So I invited her and her Mammy and baby brother down to visit the following week, and promised her a teddy bears' picnic. I figured that if she was going to come for a visit, I was going to have to give her something to make the day memorable in her three-going-on-four year old mind.

So the following week I unearthed an ecosystem of teddy bears (don't ask why there are so many in this house, I am a sad individual and I will admit to the fact) from under the bed, and set about putting a welcoming committee in place for Aoife and Darragh. Aoife, as guest of honour, brought a few of her own critters, and soon they were all picnicing happily together on my sunroom floor (the weather has gone to poo here again, so outdoor picnics were out of the question). When lunch was over, we selected a few furry candidates to accompany us to a local lakeside spot which has a little playground. After Aoife and the furries had a few goes on the slide and swings, we hung out by the lake and fed the ducks.

Such a fun day for me and I hope for Aoife too. And now that she remembers visiting Auntie Jane's house, I'm hoping she'll want to return again before too long. Here's a photo of Aoife, Darragh and me surrounded by the other delegates to the conference.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Costa del Clare

Once again we took advantage of the good weather and headed to our little flat in Clare for the weekend. We were up bright and early on Saturday to catch those lovely atlantic waves at 9.30. After two hours or so in the water, we went home for lunch and then back for another surf in the afternoon. Then we went home and fired up a little foil barbeque and cooked some dinner. We asked our landlords, who live downstairs, if they fancied joining us for a drink. When Stuart rocked up to the flat with a six pack of guinness cans under his oxter, I knew we were in for a long night. And it was.

Feeling ropey the next morning, we set ourselves up with a good feed of rashers and sausages, and made for Lahinch hoping for a cold ocean cure. It didn't totally cure me, but I did feel better for it. Afterwards we headed back to base, collected food and barbeque and hit for South Clare. We settled for a lovely sandy beach just outside Quilty, where we bbqed and chilled out for the afternoon. We went back to Lahinch in the evening because John wanted one last surf. I walked on the beach and watched the sun go down, and as I strolled along, a guy on horseback came galloping along the beach. A real Discover Ireland tourism advert moment. After sunset, we packed up and headed back for home. Another blissful weekend. I like this new fun manifesto of ours.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The waiting game

Well I did the on site interview last Friday, a week ago, and I thought it went very well. That evening I had another phone interview, this time with the intercompany funding controller, which I also thought went very well. I came away from both thinking that this is the type of role with which I am very familiar, and I could easily imagine myself working with these people. I was told that the next stage would be an onsite HR interview, and after that there was a possibility that the Irish M.D.'s boss in the US might want to talk to the successful candidate.

So it's been a week, and I have heard nothing from them since. Diddly squat. I really don't know what to do now, and the waiting is just driving me insane. If I was going through an agency, I would be ringing the agency now to get them to chase it up. Would it be very forward of me to call them at this stage to try and get an update? If they had six candidates to interview, and even if I was the first one a week ago, shouldn't they have come to some decision by now? Patience really is not a virtue of mine.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fingers crossed....

I got an email from HR in the financial services company asking me to come in for an interview tomorrow or Thursday. I said I would prefer Thursday. That gives me a little more time to prepare, and also my car is in the garage getting serviced and there's a better chance I will get it back by Thursday. So I am delighted and crapping myself in equal measures. I really really really want this job. I want so badly to get back to work at this stage, and the job spec fits in perfectly with my experience from my last role. It couldn't be any more perfect.

We spent the weekend up at our little flat in Clare. The car was loaded to bursting point on Saturday morning with all our gear. Luckily our landlords run their own surf shop and hire out wetsuits and boards, so they have a wet room in their house to which they gave us a key. So we were able to offload our suits and boards in there. Saturday and Sunday were gorgeous, so we spent a good few hours in the water in Lahinch. The seafront was packed, but the atmosphere was great. John is getting very handy at the surfing at this point. I'm still keeping with the boogie boarding. My arms and upper abdominal muscles were aching by Sunday, but that's a good sign. If I keep this up I should have a flat belly and arms as toned as Mrs Obama by the end of the Summer!

So the next couple of days will be spent in interview preparation. As this job is all about capital markets and treasury management, I'm going to get my financial strategy textbooks down out of the attic tonight to swot up on financial instruments and the like, in the hopes that I will sound like I vaguely know what I am talking about on Thursday.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Good things happen in threes

1) We're getting the keys of our summer apartment tomorrow. Yay! The hallway of our house is packed with surf boards, boogie boards, wetsuits, surfing boots, camping gear and various household paraphenalia to load into the car and bring to Clare tomorrow. Then it's a weekend of meeting up with friends in Doolin and Fanore, for surf, food and most likely a few libations along the way. Weather is good and the surf forecast for tomorrow is looking good.

2) My phone interview happened on Wednesday, and went quite well I thought. Quite a few technical questions on cashpooling operations and associated issues, which I think I answered reasonably well. I expect to hear by the middle of next week, so we'll see.

3) We've got an appointment for July 16th for the fertility clinic in Dublin, rather a lot quicker than I expected to get one. So we'll see what happens with that. I'm more than a little apprehensive about the idea of heading into fertility treatment when I could be starting a quite demanding job, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. For now it's all good.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy birthday to me

41 today. And I am very hungover. John brought me out to dinner last night, since all the restaurants in our town seem to close on a Monday. So half a bottle of wine and two cocktails later, we came home, hit the baileys and brandy, and had a drunk dancing session in the sunroom. Oh my poor sore head. But it was fun. At least I didn't have to get up for work today.

Speaking of work, I applied for a job in a financial services company a couple of weeks back. The role appears to be extremely similar to my last job, and these kind of roles are as scarce as hen's teeth around here. I'm hoping that candidates with my type of work experience will be scarce on the ground too. Anyway, I got an email from one of their HR people today wanting to arrange a time for a phone conversation about the role. Yay! So please keep fingers, toes and anything else that is crossable crossed. I am sooo due a break.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

We have moved to more optimistic premises

Hello all, and welcome to my new blog. I felt like it was time for a change. The title "Lacking Expectations" had started sound too much like negativity, and I'm trying to adopt an attitude that's all about the positive.

Since the start of this year, I embarked on a weight loss programme. Over the course of twenty weeks, I have slowly but surely managed to shed 24 pounds. I'm going to keep going until I lose another six pounds or so, and then I will work on maintaining a BMI of 23. Getting back in shape has had a hugely positive effect on me both mentally and physically. I am wearing size 12 jeans for the first time in my adult life. That's not to say I can fit into every size 12 I try on, but the ones I am wearing right now are 12s and they are fitting me very comfortably.

Every few years we get a summer that really stands out in our memories. A lot of this has to do with the weather. The last three summers will go down as the summers that never really happened. In addition to absolutely woeful pissy wet weather, 2007, 2008 and 2009 for me were about recovery from consecutive miscarriages, large doses of clomid that nearly sent me off with the men in white coats, surgery and, last summer, losing my job and turning 40. So this summer, we have decided that hail, rain or shine, we will make it a summer to remember.

At the end of last month, we booked a weekend away in Co Clare for our anniversary. The package included a surf lesson for John. The following weekend he booked another one, and I went along for the trip. I've only tried surfing once, and that was years ago in Australia. Let's just say I quickly realised that surfing is a skillful pastime, and that bodyboarding is much easier and more my bag. So a few years back John bought me a little boogie board. I hadn't used it in about four years, mainly due to my self consciousness and horror at the thoughts of having to squeeze into a wetsuit. Well now that I'm 10 kg plus lighter, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and buy a new wetsuit.

So off I trotted to the nearest surf shop on the seafront where I purchased a particularly fetching little black and pink rubber number. I'll spare you a photo of me in it. I'm not *that* confident about my shape yet to be posting those photos. Anyway I grabbed my little boogie board and spent a fun filled hour or two in the water catching wave after wave. The sun was splitting the stones, and the waves were nothing like I have ever seen this side of Australia. Years ago my granny used to comment that anything new fangled or fancy was "like America at home". Well this was like Byron Bay at home.

Each time I caught a wave that brought me into the beach, I just screeched with excitement like a six year old. The only way I could describe the feeling of being propelled through the water is like when playing Mario Karts and you catch the rocket that sends you zooming around the race track. Just pure speed and fun.

When I was paying for my wetsuit, I noticed an ad posted at the counter for a studio apartment to let nine miles away from the town where we were surfing. John and I went back after our surf to get the phone number, and it turned out that the flat belonged to the people who run the surf shop. They live in the downstairs part of the house, which also has a recording studio. So basically these people are a couple of English hippies in their forties, whose kids are grown up and have left home, and they spend their time between surfing, teaching surfing, running a surf shop and a recording studio. They also own three dogs and a cat. My kind of people. So we decided to take a lease on the flat for the summer, so that we can be nearer to the sea and the outdoor life for the next three months. We figure for what it will cost us in rent for three months, we would easily spend in a week's off season sun holiday. So this way we will see far more benefit for our money.

So that's the plan for the Summer. Sea, surf and hopefully sunshine. And very little sitting around moping about our childless life. I hope. Ok, I'll probably have the odd wobbly day, but who doesn't. But for now, we are concentrating on getting back the fun in our lives. Getting back to life. So tune in next time to read about our first ever camping trip, to the campsite in Fanore, Co Clare made famous by that Fr Ted episode with Fr Noel Furlong (Graham Norton) and the St Luke's youth group doing Riverdance in a two berth caravan. And the tent we bought which could house a medium sized family. And the yummy yummy crab which our good friend Paul caught and we devoured on the campsite. And.........! We've taken up salsa dancing again, after a break of over five years. It's all go in the Jane and John house this year.