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Infertility is a nightmare:  A soul-destroying shadow of resolve crushing and pulverising.  Honestly, as the cliché goes, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I had more moments of despair and torrid embarrassment than I feel comfortable admitting and as many times as I saw some woman posting upon a particular PCOS facebook group for the rest of us not to give up hope I admit that my emotional strength was not there most times. I didn’t believe them.

I should have.

How far back should I go to get a stranger to fully understand how I am feeling at the moment? Two years, ten, twenty? I grew up with a daycare/nursery business ran from my living room and therefore was always around babies. I love kids. Always have and always was able to chat to them easily and get them to do what I want (not letting that power get to my head hasn’t been as easy muhahahahaha). I genuinely wanted to be a mum from the time I was 19. Nature, on the other hand decided to give me a slap in the face and refuse it for me.

I was born with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. It’s not a life-threatening condition and for the most part I can live a “normal” life with loads of additional annoyances and uncomforts. I have had hell with menstruation *should probably not read further if you don’t wanna hear about gynecological stuff* never knowing when it was coming or for how long. As a teen I kept being told that one day it would sort itself out. Well after finding the love of my life and reaching the ripe old age of 29 I still hadn’t a period that could be predictable. We knew that starting a family was going to be difficult. If you only have three periods a year and they aren’t predictable how on earth can you know when to get down and busy with the babymaking?

After being married for nearly a year and not using any type of birth control, I felt a strong prompting to go to our doctor and ask to be referred for fertility treatment. We were told the waiting list to be seen would be nearly 9 months after our initial GP appointment!

I am not a patient person.

Four months into our wait (and nearly eight months since my last period) I woke up one morning in excruciating pain. My stomach, although looking its normal pudgy self, felt as if it were stretched out nearly two feet.  After three days of agony our GP made an emergency appointment with the gynaecologist and off we went where I was told that my uterine lining had built up to such an extent that It was causing this pain. This is very dangerous, for one being pain and two: the risk of uterine cancer rises dramatically. I was sent home with some pills and thus started a pill-taking regime that shall forever more (with me) be executed with military precision. I have become an adept expert at timing cycles. Although this seemed terrible, with hindsight, I consider it a blessing in disguise. We received a letter from the fertility clinic inviting us to an appointment the following week.

Infertility treatment can be very degrading. You lose all sense of privacy. Previously my cultures (American and English) are very reserved about your own body and so therefore I was conditioned to be embarrassed. This was something that I had to get over quickly. Tests are invasive and painful. My veins are nearly invisible and one day I ended up getting poked eight times just to draw blood! I walked out of the phlebotomist’s office looking like an emo with so many bandages on my arms and hands. I actually frightened a little boy who followed after me.

For our treatment I was given two sets of pills: one to induce periods (therolut) and one to induce ovulation (clomiphene aka clomid). CLOMID SUCKS! Please promise me that if you know someone who is forced to take it that you will treat them with kid gloves. It makes all sorts of random pregnancy symptoms even though you aren’t pregnant and it toys with your emotions. I hardly felt like myself and was apt to cry at any teensy sadness or sentimentality no matter how ridiculous. I made the mistake one of watching Toy Story 3 whilst in the grips of clomid induced hysteria.

I was perfect with my pill taking for the first three cycles and did all of the checks and….uh….other stuff that you need to do and three times it failed.

After three failed cycles I was told that I needed to call the doctor and discuss where we went from there. Bizarrely there wasn’t one available on the day that I called (Friday) and the nurse told me not to start my next round of clomid even though that I was the day I needed to take them. I listened. It wasn’t until the following Tuesday that the doctor finally called me and told me that yeah sure…I could take the pills for another three rounds no problems. GRRRRRRRRRRRRR. She advised me to take the period forcing pills and then two weeks after that start the ovulation pills. In the back of my head that felt wrong and even though these drugs are ridiculously expensive I couldn’t resist taking the ovulation pills three days later than I should have. Sure it was a preposterously slim chance that it would work but could I live with myself if I didn’t even try?

The first week after taking the clomid was the worst for me emotionally and it was in that frame when my close friend was left with the unenviable task of having to tell me that she was pregnant. Prior to that my strength at not being ridiculously jealous at the pregnant bellies that seems to surround me at every corner or at being able to not fall into a depression due to my failure as a woman was waining. I could barely attend church every week and talk to my friends about their children as if I still had hope. I desperately didn’t want to be one of those infertile women whom people can’t mention babies around and can’t be happy for others success. So when my close friend told me (in a kind and delicate way) I turned to mush; complete and utter mush. For most of the time I was able to balance the self-pity and depression of to one side but this hit me like a ton of bricks and I couldn’t help but be devistated at the injustice that she had the opportunity to have two babies when I couldn’t get one. I became a recluse for a few days. I couldn’t watch episodes of a favourite telly show because the main characters were trying to get pregnant. Life almost became too much for me. My poor husband was wonderful and always tried to keep my spirits up. The guilt of knowing that he wanted a family and I was the reason we couldn’t have one was horrible. Logically I know that this guilt is misplaced but logic and clomid do not friends make.

Hindsight is annoyingly great isn’t it? If only then I knew that my wait wouldn’t have to be much longer I would have been able to control myself.  I knew that I had to attend a girl’s summer camp in Estonia two weeks after this emotional setback, by then I was just barely, barely back to working condition.

The church I belong to has some amazing women and when you spend four whole days together you have ample opportunities to divulge your life stories to each other. There I met a woman named Anna who had gone through the same struggles and in a twisted way it’s nice to know you aren’t alone. Sure I don’t want others to suffer but I don’t want to suffer alone either.

I returned home from those rainy four days with a killer lower back ache. My lower back had never hurt before and I dismissed the pains as the bad sleeping conditions I found myself in. The weekend after that was Juhannus (a big celebration in Finland to celebrate John’s saint day and the midsummer day) on that Friday I knew I could first take a pregnancy test but both the hubster and I dismissed success as impossible due to the late pill taking and thought that we wouldn’t ruin the holiday weekend with bad news and would sort it out on the Monday. We had an ok weekend. Everyone was lovely to me but I wasn’t feeling like myself and didn’t want to be around a bunch a people. Plus my back wouldn’t let me have a moment of comfort.

Monday morning came and I was due to start the period inducing pills. I took the pregnancy test out of it’s package and with a sigh decided to get it the dreaded task done and over with. I steeled myself for yet again a negative response. Five-minutes later I returned to the bathroom and saw this:

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Completely disbelieving what I saw I shouted at my husband to arise from his early morning stuper and come see this. It was so hard to get to this point that part of me worried that somehow I had unconsciously faked a positive and therefore I made the hubby pee on another test just to make sure that my tests weren’t faulty….he's not pregnant btw.

Over the next few days the lines got darker and darker and after a confirmed blood test one day before my 30th birthday  I finally started to let myself believe it! BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT EVER!!!

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It’s true when other fellow PCOS suffers tell each other not to give up hope, that it is possible. For doubting you I apologise.

We have been lucky enough to have two ultrasounds (odd benefit of fertility treatment I guess) and today we were able to see a blob that had recognisable body parts and a furiously beating heart.

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The smile on my husband’s face is one happy memory that I shall never forget.

So here’s to sending our sincerest thanks for your prayers, temple roll entries, magic spells and good vibes. It worked.

Now onto the next adventure….watch this space.

Toodles peeps – Ariane aka Jess

Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men...

Cowgirl Head
I thought I was nearly done with school. I only have one little year left of my degree course and since it was an mostly at-home course my initial plans were to complete the degree here and then fly back to England for exams….stupid university changed all of that. The summer I was married the UK government decided to allow universities to charge a wallop more per course than they have ever done previously. This took my course from £600 to £2500…and I needed two courses plus flights and books! ARGH! Well that was tremendous shock. It still annoys me that my degree is unfinished especially since nearly everyone here has gained a master’s degree by the age of 25. I feel so intimidated and so far behind.

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So thus began a new plan:

Finland’s universities are usually free! Yay! *record scratch* What!? What do you mean no one has my degree taught in English? A bazillion courses over here are taught in English….oh no wait here’s one….only one…in Tampere...a two hour drive north. There’s also no guarantee you will get in. Plus commuting is going to be a nightmare. This option doesn’t feel right. Dangit.

I do love that Finland has a great reputation for high-quality education….and it deserves it. What I hate is that they apparently value the sciences over the arts. This sucks. I appreciate the sciences. I understand that they are important. I also appreciate that I have absolutely no aptitude for them and therefore would be useless in study of them. If I wanted to be an engineer, chemist or business magnate here there would have been a plethora of university courses here all taught in English. Darn stupid plans blowing up in my face yet again. So now what?

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Guess I finally have to learn this monster of a language. Dun dunnn duuunnnnnnn!

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(I'm one of the "lucky" few who answers those two questions differently)

I am most anxious to get a grasp of this language but have always been blasted frightened of tucking into it. My father is a genius who can speak most of the Nordic languages and has never met a foreigner that he couldn’t say something to in their native tongue. He absolutely loves languages. He learns them quickly and is able to pick them up easily. So what does he do when he approaches Finnish: HE GIVES UP! *slacked jaw* add that to one friend Amelia who mentioned that learning a new language as an adult (what idiot would put themselves through that?) is tough enough but simply for the fact that this language is Finnish you can add a +18 strength (clever girl).  I am sure you can understand my apprehension at approaching this one full time.

It was nearly impossible to learn any of this properly by myself and I knew that I learned best in a classroom setting so I started to look for classes and none of them sat right with me. One of the best friends I have here (and one who gives me great opportunity to hear a familiar English accent often) mentioned that the government has a programme where they pay you to attend a full-time Finnish course. SWWWWHHHHAAAAT? Where I come from (both America and England) education is never ever free. In fact it’s usually blasted expensive and not only here is there somewhere where it’s free but also provides you with a basic financial allowance as they count this as your job!

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Sounds too good to be true yes? Well….yes….and….uh….no.Clicky Here to Read MoreCollapse )

Phew, Ewww and Ooohhhh

Cowgirl Head
Urgh…writers block. I have it. Indeed have had it for nearly half a year! Sheesh I need to get myself back into documenting my life, especially after a talk at church reminded us of the importance of keeping  a journal. The speaker even shared moments from his grandparents' first date thus cementing his point firmly in my mind so with that I shall try not to bore you and try to keep myself up to date. Hyvin tehty Sakke.

The past few months have been a complete blur. Funds were tight this Christmas and since I finally found a source of cheap fabric (recycling centre to the rescue) I was determined to make everyone’s gifts…all….uh….how many? I have honestly lost count. I believe it was over 20 people and some I made at least 2 gifts for.  Once I start a sewing project a sense of madness comes over me and I end up making thing after thing after thing…..ad infinitum… honestly I need to get a hold of myself when this happens. I’ve missed blogging on here the week I had when Shannon visited, we blerched, got our craft on and we ran off once again to Estonia:

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8 Days of Summer....I Mean Sheila

Cowgirl Head
Over a thousand photos and copious hours of editing and torturous selection I present to thee only (only….sheesh) 30-ish photos of the best week of the year so far.

For indeed our household was blessed with a visit from our wonderful Sheila…one of the bestest friends a human could ever have….oh alright Onyx requests that I include her in that too.

I tried to limit myself to only a few photos per day and for my facebook minions there be the lot on there.

We started our first day jumping on a small ferry boat with the pupster and running off to the old fortress of Suomenlinna (direct translation: Finland’s castle)

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We moseyed around the little 18th century villages and got hit on by amorous drunks until our feet were about ready to fall off.

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However….that said I did have ingrown toenail surgery only four days before so we kinda moseyed at a snail’s pace.

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That is until we found the battlements and like pathetic little children we devised many a play-date with kiddos…

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 involving pirates and smugglers

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… and ransomed Swedish aristocrats.

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After four seemingly short hours we boarded the ferry back to the mainland while Onyx collapsed in a heap of exhaustion.

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Clicky here for the rest of the weekCollapse )



 

Swedish Filler and Birthday Wishes

Cowgirl Head
Once again I have to fight the ennui and come up with something interesting to blog about. Not much has happened recently….well other than Ville being called as first counsellor in the bishopric

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…..oh c’mon we know it wasn’t a surprise! My hubster is a great man and I had an inkling something like this was coming. Now I have the unenviable task of actually having to act like a wife of someone in the bishopric…eeeeekkkkkk.

It won’t be until next month that I get to shove some more positive and some photo goodness on here for I get to be spoiled by getting visits from not one but two uber great friends.

You remember my Sheila right? Of course you do. One of the best blessings in my life. I have a feeling that she is somehow involved in over a quarter of the posts on here. Well come soon she’ll be gracing our teensy household with her presence. So so so so so so excited! No hyperbole….honestly.

Then a few weeks after that I get to spend a week with the craftster extraordinaire Shannon.

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Today is my friend since middle-school's birthday so she’s been a bit fore in my thoughts at the moment and  thinking that it has been so long since I last saw her and realising that I actually never got around to blogging about our last trip I shall make amends and finally (only five months late) blog our invasion of Sweden

We were greeted at the airport and quickly absconded down towards Stockholm’s hobbit-esque rail network.

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(sorry babe stole your photo: it was too hilarious not to use)

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The whole week was awesome and we spent it touring castles & churches:

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IMG_5041Clicky here to read more...Collapse )
Cowgirl Head
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I’ve been silent on here for quite a bit as I seem to have felt that there really isn’t much for me to blog about….or rather what there is to blog about isn’t really the best of news (though not devastating) and I usually wish to blog about happy things. Sadly all I have to share about my current life is marginally above the mundane.

This past week I’ve kinda scorned facebook. I’m not sure how or why it happens but there are moments where I don’t want to be surrounded by people….though oddly enough whenever I am thrust into a group during one of these preposterous moods I find that I have really really enjoyed myself….so with a bit more motivation today to check on what my facebook peeps are up to I logged on and….found yet another birth announcement.

This frustrates me.

Especially as I have had two friends recently announce to me that they’re pregnant. This mixed-emotion balancing act is getting harder and harder as time goes on. I am honestly happy for those who are being blessed with babies. Seriously happy for them and I do want to hear updates and be kept in the loop, especially if there is something they need that I can help with. However while those feelings are surging throughout me so is a ferocious jealousy powered by fear that these blessings will not be available to me. So here my own personal internal Jekyll and Hyde have a hash out quite often because…..damnit I cannot get babies off of my brain. Trust me: I am trying.

This frustration is further compounded with a lost-in-translation instruction that set our fertility journey a step back. Currently I have only one more (invasive and painful) test left to do before treatment can begin. Knowing the nature of such test I wanted to get it over and done with. Finland thankfully has a rather good health plan which is currently all we can afford. The government in order to save money and force us to become healthier (damn their good intentions) have insisted that all fertility treatments must be halted for women who have a BMI over 35 – mine is 37. I called last week to schedule this last test and was told that until I lost the weight I could not get any treatment. Now logically I agree with the government decision and think it’s a good plan but because it pertains to me I irrationally want to cry and smack a bill-maker up the side of the head for further pushing us back.  I have always been a big girl since puberty and I have never successfully lost weight before…..on the other hand I have never been so motivated before but bah to that! Of course I have upped the exercise and changed my eating habits and I really really hope that this doesn’t take too long to lose. If you have any motivational tips or tricks please throw them my way.

So without the comforts of pastries and chocolates and in an attempt to distract myself we have been having a bit of fun this summer:

Wether it be visiting summer cottages

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On a beautimous lake

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Cowgirl Head
One year ago today this American gained independence from Britain…oh the irony.

There wasn’t a huge celebration as Lord Finlandia and I had the opportunity today to help with the Helsinki Stake Young Womens camp. The whole intent of the activity was to teach the girls that they are princesses and therefore a King and Queen were needed…..cue moi and him.

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All went well. Onyx was the hit of the day and would have gladly enjoyed attention like this for the rest of the camp (till this Saturday).

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Before we went we were asked to prepare some stuff, one thing was a story of “our kingdom”. Well….it ended up not getting used so therefore I’m going to shove it on here:

Once upon a time a Prince who hailed from the frozen north lands, the son of the Duke and Duchess of Tampere was in want of a wife. He had spent many years diligently serving his country in the military and even furthering the message of god in a wet and dreary overcrowded land where he had spent two long years as a missionary. It was during those two rainy years that he met many people although the memory of one woman would haunt him for a long time afterwards.

One night which accessing the mystical all-seeing glowing box presented to him by his court wizard he latched into the digital realm of the facebook. There he saw a change of status to “single” from the woman who had been in the back of his thoughts for five long winters.

Seizing his chance at eternal happiness he jumped without a moment’s notice and reacquainted himself with this woman.

The woman: a bold and clumsy specimen had ended a relationship in not too pleasant of terms within the wet and dreary land of England and was expecting to spend many more winters alone and freezing in a small and tiny abode when, one night a message from her glowing box reacquainted her with a friend, a dashing blonde Norseman who she had last seen five years earlier.

Seizing courage from some unknown force the two chatted long into the night, and the night after, and the night thereafter… flirting happened, the magic all-seeing programme skype happened and it was not long thereafter that the procurement of tickets upon the flying dragon express were purchased to see each other again in person.

The flying dragon assisted in many visits and after a particularly long one the Nordic Prince proposed to his woman from the wetlands. Knowing very little of the Nordic lands customs and even less of its intimidating and excruciatingly hard-to-learn language the woman did not hesitate to become his princess.

Thus it was with great fanfare in a castle, the temple of the Lord, that these two were wed with many international dignitaries and local noblemen in attendance and great rejoicing was proclaimed throughout the land. They and their minister of inter-species relations and utter cuteness have set their palace in the greater Helsinki region.

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All of this had come about not due to fate, or circumstances conveniently in their favour, rather because both of them had to courage to declare to one another early on that they were interested. May you all find your Prince or Princess one day and may you have the courage to overcome the great scourge that is known as nervousness. Be bold, be strong but mostly…..be wise for without the common love of the Lord and a gospel that leads and guides them this marriage would never have been and this author shutters at the thought…

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Toodles Sweets – Ariane

PS – Happy 4th of July my Americanos out there!
Cowgirl Head
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I love Europe. I love living in Europe….well most of the time and I freakin’ love taking advantage of all the relatively short travel lengths we have between countries.

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After the past few weeks this little break that the hubster bought me for my birthday was most definitely needed.

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The man knows me well. Actually he is extremely talented at gift giving. He can spend a few pennies and come up with something incredibly thoughtful and this year’s birthday gift was no exception:

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A day cruise to Tallinn, Estonia!

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Trust me it was needed.

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State of the Union Address

Cowgirl Head
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My dear minions how goeth it? The hubster , pupster and I managed to have one of those cheesy Lifetime original moviesque walks near a gorgeous little church near Tikkurila.

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This may seem like a small little trip and in most ways it was but it so happens to be the first day in over a month that I wasn’t in pain from a flareup that is mentioned below.

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So without further explanation I’m just going to throw in random photos of our walk in between my next sentences.

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I’m pretty sure they’re not going to have anything to do with the sentences around them but they’re pretty so I shall use them as a pathetic attempt to grab your attention.

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Things here for the most part are going well. The hubster is honestly the love of my life and I have become one of those cheesy stupid pathetic ooey gooey people and you know what? It’s fantastic!!!

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I admit I was a bit dubious of this sense of romantic attachment being actually plausible at one point but for those despairing I assure you it is possible. Now go get ‘em!

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Cowgirl Head
…see what I did there ;)

During our most recent trip to Hurdy-Gurdy land, which I had assumed I had actually blogged but completely blanked (I’ll atone I promise) my beloved Shannon decided to have a clear-out of her fabric stash whilst I sat on her bed awash with splendour whenever she would ask if I wanted some.
One of those piles happened to be a lot of pieces of the most gorgeous teal-coloured satin. Freakin high-quality 20-euro a metre stuff and I got it….for FREE!

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Her timing could not have been more perfect for just a few weeks earlier Ville’s (and my new) cousin had asked if I would help her make a formal dress for a prom-esque event at EFY this summer. My worry was the price of fabric here in Finland. For example what I know I can buy in America for around $7 a metre costs here around $30 a metre.

So with the purchase on our end of only a zipper and matching thread we started our pattern-puzzle. We managed to get most of the pattern sections cut out in one go but there two large panels that we had to piece together. My intention was to do it unusually so that it looked intentional. I figured a diagonal line would be better than a straight one.

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All cut out and I started sewing while Jenny masterfully made amazingly beautimous matching flowers.

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Onyx helped too….by falling asleep among the madness and not insisting for attention.

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All was not perfect in the land though. For one: I should have realised that the pattern she picked out was for a flowy fabric and we cut it out of stiff fabric. Now I know and also nowhere on the pattern does is say that it is only intended for one specific body type which coincidentally happened to be the exact opposite of what Jenny was so yeah….that created a bit of pattern re-mongering and lots of adjustments.

At one point the bodice wasn’t coming together and so I had Jenny put it on as I was racking my brain thinking of how I was going to fix this. After a minute or so I noticed that she was getting really uncomfortable and it took me a few moments to realise that I had spent the whole time staring at her boobs!  *inner chuckle* oops….poor girl.

Another harrowing moment: during my exhaustion and one-tracked mindedness I hadn’t noticed that the iron was on too hot and I managed to burn a HUGE dent into just below the bodice completely ruining the dress. I just about cried. Thankfully Jenny optimistically piped up with “Well there I can prove to my friends wasn’t store bought and we have the flowers”.  So with a bit of floral camouflage and one and a half days of constant sewing we ended up achieving this:

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Hopefully you can’t tell that it's been pieced together.

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I hear that the Madame doth like the garment indeed.

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And all for the cost of a smidge of over 5 euros.

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S-U-C-C-E-S-S!

Toodles Sweets - Ariane

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britishcowgirl
Ariane (or Jessica to a few of you)

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