What do you mean you’re not doing it ‘naturally’?

Oh my goodness – water birth, immobile and confined to the bed birth; whale-music, swearing at your partner; candles and calm, bright lights and chaos; aromatherapy, “What the hell’s that awful smell?”; no pain relief, ‘every single drug going’ relief. The list is endless, and you don’t realise exactly how many decisions you have to make until a midwife asks you the dreaded question – with a smiling face full of excitement that belies the reality of the inevitable onset of your extreme confusion, “Have you done your birth plan yet?”

What? What birth plan? What the heck is that? I’m pregnant – I go to the hospital when the time comes and I give birth by whatever method necessary. I had absolutely no idea how much ‘fluff’ was involved with instructions as to giving birth. As if any pregnant woman needs all that stress – it shouldn’t be this difficult!

Now, if you’re the kind of woman who reads every book, article and magazine going, and has already known ‘how’ you are going to give birth since you were 10, that’s fantastic. I’m seriously impressed. Just make sure that you get your head around the fact that you are NOT in control of anything and that there is a high likelihood that it may well not fall in line with your best laid plans.

Deciding how to give birth can sometimes take an awful lot more thought than you ever realised. Women today are bombarded with advice from all kinds of sources about how perfect the birth experience should be. How wonderful it is to welcome that new life into the world whilst floating in a lovely warm pool with some New Age pipe music or choir ensemble in the background, ‘taking the pain’ and looking radiant and lovely all at the same time. For sure, there never seems to be any recommendation for listening to Metallica whilst simultaneously eyeballing the shapes on the ceiling reflecting off the disco ball (you know, the one you’ve insisted on installing especially for the occasion) and getting all hyped up with adrenaline! What starts off as a ‘nice to have’ can end up becoming an all encompassing obsession, with a never-ending flow-chart of scenario ‘ifs’ that anybody other than a mathematician will be unable to follow once they’re past the initial veering off course of the original plan!

I know, we’re supposed to be calm and fearless. Counting to whatever and breathing weirdly in what seems like a completely unnatural fashion. I’m sure that works for a lot of women, but dream-on for the rest of us. Sometimes, the pressure of perfection and its resulting stress can turn the unexpected into a frightening event, where five minutes feel like five hours and nothing ever changes. It feels as though no-one is listening to you, and all the midwives are secretly thinking that you’re a right old pain in the a**e!

That’s definitely how it wwas for me. I had everything worked out, finally, having agonised over epidural/no epidural, move around/stay on the bed, music/nor music etc. etc. In the end I had no choice in the matter. Having multiples changes everything, even though they don’t really tell you that at the time. Emergency C-section anyone? And I definitely DID feel as though I was being ‘difficult’, although I had good reason to be. No-one should ever feel that way. Truth is, no two women have the same experience. Differing pain thresholds mean what one woman can endure another finds excruciating. And it really doesn’t help when no-one notices that your epidural line has fallen out – midwives and doctors take note! They must have all been absent for that particular class at uni!

What annoys me the most though, is the level of vitriol that other women can dish out about someone else’s wishes, or concerns, or choices. What it has to do with anyone else is precisely nothing. Being able to give birth ‘naturally’ in this day and age of medical wonderment is not some kind of honorary badge, although it is often worn as such. Of course, it would be great to have minimum intervention, although that’s what happened hundreds of years ago and many women died in childbirth back then! No, it just doesn’t make sense not to have all the help you can get if that’s what you want to do, or if that’s what becomes necessary. It doesn’t make you any less of a woman, any more than accepting treatment for any other condition makes you less of a person.

A woman should feel supported to choose her own way, make her own decision. Natural is not always best, and it certainly does not a superior woman make. The ‘right thing to do’ is always the right thing for that woman and that baby, at that time.

Inspired by http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/family/nothing-normal-giving-birth, Bryony Gordon, The Telegraph, Saturday 19th August 2017

IVF and Acupuncture

I came across an interesting article in the Mail Online the other day (04/07/16) about the use of acupuncture during IVF treatment. Having used acupuncture for two of my cycles, one of which didn’t work, one of which did, I think I may sit on the fence about this particular claim.

Apparently the use of acupuncture can double the chances of getting pregnant. The results of the research were certainly quite impressive. Whether such difference was as a result of the acupuncture itself or more to do with the psychological effects and body relaxation during the sessions, from a future patient’s perspective it will be utterly irrelevant.

I’ve mentioned many, many times before how IVF has the propensity to take over your life, and neither your mind nor body seem to be your own anymore. It is entirely possible for a patient to believe that any ‘old wive’s tale’ treatment will increase your chances, hence my dalliance with Western herbalism (which I found was a complete waste of both time and money). Acupuncture though, did seem more plausible to me, and there is some scientific evidence to suggest it can be useful for some health conditions (The Cochrane Collaboration). Despite it not making any difference during my first sessions, it didn’t put me off trying again for my last IVF attempt. What I will say is that I felt completely different on both occasions – the first treatments were done in the hospital; not an optimal environment and I wouldn’t recommend anyone doing it in that setting. The other was in a private acupuncture clinic (The London Acupuncture Clinic), which felt homely, relaxed, calm and professional. My practitioner, and Clinical Director, Daniel Elliott, was softly spoken and clearly knew his stuff. The entire staff couldn’t have been more helpful.

Whether acupuncture made a difference in my case or not will never be known, but anything that can help the mind to relax during this most difficult time can only be a good thing. Choose your practitioner wisely and acupuncture can be one weapon in your arsenal against the stomach-churning upheaval that is IVF.


Book review – A Henchman’s Honor, by Dennis M Young


12208677_858811600901862_7183188653730796681_nWow. Seriously. It’s rare that a book will make that much of an impression on me that it prompts me to write a review such as this. “A Henchman’s Honor” by Dennis M Young, based on his true story, is on a different level.

I have just finished the last chapter; my heart is pounding from the emotional stress, my eyes are puffy from the tears, and my head is reeling from trying to process the implications of what I’ve just learned. I am overwhelmed and just don’t know what to say. I am completely drained. I think I need to go and lie down in a dark room somewhere and really reflect on the many things I’d previously been told were a part of reality and that I’d been led to believe were true.

That may sound crazy, over the top even, and I know I’m prone to drama on occasion, but even I had no idea of the power that Dennis’ words would have, or their effect on my psyche. Given the subject matter it’s not something that I would naturally be interested in. Quite by accident  Dennis and I became friends on social media, and I discovered that he’d written a book, so immediately downloaded it on to my Kindle. Having never previously read anything with a military background I wasn’t too sure how I’d find it, but by the end of the first page it’d had such a profound effect on me that I had to put it down and take it in – the truly shocking beginning, and the fact that it was about someone I’d conversed with surprised me with the inability to come to terms with what ‘could’ have happened. From that point on I knew I was in for a revealing discovery, not only of Dennis’ mindset during the many years that his book covers, but of the often distressing situations he found himself in, and of the knowledge revealed towards the end.

From his early life on a farm in Canada to his time in Bosnia, and everything in between, the depth of Dennis’ book means you will be riveted from start to finish. His ability to write honestly and openly, and often with much humour, keeps the story flowing from one experience to the next. I cannot stress enough how passionate I am about it – his story needs to be told. There are two books I’ve read that have actually made a difference to me. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand is one of them. A Henchman’s Honor is the other. Dennis, it is MY honour to know something of you, in however limited a capacity. Thank you, sincerely, for your bravery and resolve, in the past and for the future.

Ludorati Café – Fun & Games in Nottingham

HomePagePhoto_1If you’re looking for something to do with the kids and you’re in the Nottinghamshire area check out this new boardgame café on Maid Marian Way, it’s fantastic! It’s really modern and fresh-looking, and there’s a whole floor to ceiling wall full of boardgames to choose from – over 700 apparently. You can play all sorts from the well-known, such as Game of Life or Monopoly (every version you can think of), to three-player chess and more complicated strategy games. The staff are on-hand to help out with the rules if you need them to, which is really handy for me as three pages into a rulebook and my eyes start to glaze over! And if you really like any of the games and want to take one, or two, home there’s also a retail section.

Busy4As well as the games there’s a great range of food too, from paninis and sandwiches to salads, carrot sticks, crisps, cookies and cakes. I tried the Lemon Poppy Seed muffin, full of runny lemon curd in the middle – yummy! Then there’s the coffee, hot chocolate, amazing milk-shakes and frappes, and, BONUS, they serve alcohol for the big people too – wine, beer, cider & prosecco.

Connect4The kids will love it and I highly recommend it, so switch off those ipads and TVs and go and test your grey matter – it’s a most enjoyable way to spend an afternoon!

Visit Ludorati Café’s website at www.ludoraticafe.com, or Facebook page.


Newark Book Festival

Confirmed today, I will be at Newark Book Festival this coming Saturday 8th August. It’s the town’s very first festival, and will take place in the stunning setting of the 12th century castle alongside the River Trent. There’ll be many authors present, as well as activities and talks – see you there!



home_wallpaper_standard_5My goodness – 8  years on and I’m sure there must still be some pregnancy hormones floating around as I was an embarrassing emotional wreck while watching this film! An animated children’s movie that gives you a lump in the throat and makes you all teary eyed – how on earth is that possible? Home, that’s how!

I took the twins to see this movie during the Easter break and enjoyed it so much that I never took my eyes off the screen, revelling in the child-like fantasy of it all. This feel-good movie is made by those clever people at Dreamworks Studio – they must have the best job in the world!

Anyway, the story is about a six-legged, colour changing little guy called Oh who arrives on earth with his fellow aliens, collectively called the Boov, in search of a new home, having run away from their enemy, the Gorg. These cute characters, who fly around inside bubble saucers, have rather a habit of running away from their fears instead of facing them and initially take much pride in that fact. As the Boov arrive on earth they go about ‘re-homing’ the humans – except for one, Tip, who they miss because she has a cat called Pig on her head when the transporter hovers by (never mind – you’ll get it when you see it!). Her mum isn’t so lucky and they end up being parted.  The story follows Tip’s search for her mum, aided and abetted along the way by Oh. I won’t give anything away about how they meet or what they get up to, but straightforward it certainly is not, and there’s one thing that Oh has done that could put the whole planet in peril. Their adventure also shows both Oh and Tip the true meaning of home.

This very funny movie is about courage, friendship, love, standing out from the crowd and being proud of who you are, celebrating uniqueness and being different. The soundtrack, which we had to buy a couple of days later, is also fantastic and features music by Rhianna and JLo.

A brilliant, colourful and lively movie. With a happy ending, of course! Don’t forget the hankies.


Daily Mail article

We’re in the Daily Mail today!

“Greatest gift of all from the bank of mum and dad: It’s a VERY modern trend – the parents who help fund the cost of their own IVF grandchildren

  • At 33, Tru Spencer wanted to start a family with her husband, James, 41 

  • Unfortunately they found out that James’ sperm count was too low

  • Tru’s parents, Pat and Alex, paid half of the £15,000 bill for Tru’s IVF”

Click on the photo below to read the article by Alice Smellie!



inviTRA Fertility Fair – Madrid, Spain

vectorial invitra logoIf you’re in the Madrid area and are thinking about or are embarking on fertility treatments, the inviTRA Fertility Fair might be for you. Open between 14 and 16 November at the Melia Hotel (avenida de América), you’ll find a wealth of information from many national and international providers. The perfect event for anyone considering treatment with all the objective information you need in one place, as well as access to stands and conferences in which specialists will illustrate the fertility treatments, and talk through all the options available for patients.

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Fertility Specialist Mr Paul Serhal on ITV’s This Morning

Here’s a link to an appearance by Mr Serhal of The Centre for Reproductive and Genetic Health (formerly the Assisted Conception Unit at University College Hospital) on ITV’s This Morning programme on Thursday 16th October 2014.


Mr Serhal and the team feature in my book – if it wasn’t for them it wouldn’t exist!