Things not to say to a person with Crohns or colitis

I’ve recently been diagnosed with Crohns.   It’s a new landscape and I’ve a lot to learn.  Like there are side-effects. To Crohns.  Not only do I have a condition – it has sucky side effects too!  Like mouth ulcers.  (A daily mouthwash with Corsodyl seems to help).  And anaemia because Crohns doesn’t make you feel tired enough.  One good thing though –  I’ve had anaemia for most of my life and like lots of people, just get on with it.  But it wasn’t until a doctor was standing over me in hospital and said: ‘You have pernicious anaemia,’ in a tone that suggested it was my fault, that I decided to get serious about it.  I now take four Floradix iron tablets a day and feel so much better for it.

Quick side note here: Ladies – don’t put up with anaemia.  Go see your doctor and get treated.  I’m furious with myself for semi-ignoring it and functioning at 60% for several years.

So I had a Crohns attack yesterday, caused, I think, by the very medication I’ve been given to rid myself of two gastric ulcers – another side effect!  Omeprazole is prescribed to reduce stomach acid and yet one of the main side effects mirrors an attack of Crohns or colitis ie stomach pains, nausea, bleeding and diarrhoea.  I was prescribed four a day, and after a few days, began waking up at night with horrible wind and stomach pain –  Which sounds fairly mild until you’re in the grip of this nauseous knot of pain, lodged under the ribs that just won’t shift.  I spent most of yesterday rolling round on the bed clutching pillows and hot water bottles chewing on deflatine (total waste of time). Eventually I crawled into a hot bath and it gradually melted the pain away.  Here’s a thing.  As I sit here typing this, I get a small twinge and freeze.   It could just be a wee bit of wind.  Or the precursor to a full-blown attack.  Which sets my mind scuttling over everything I ate today.  Was it that ginger biscuit? Two bites of doughnut?  Apple?

No it was just wind.  Phew.

Crohns is so not sexy.

So side issue.  I have to get those gastric ulcers cured, but I can’t take any more omeprazole.  And I’m tackling the anaemia.

But one downside of a new diagnosis is the comments.   Because what with these ‘nutritionists’ everywhere (hey who needs actual qualifications when you have thousands of Instagram followers) plus friends and family trying to be helpful, you’re never short of an opinion.

You look ok.

Thanks.  Next time I have an attack I’ll take photos of me crying in pain and rolling round on the bed.

You’re so skinny.  Lucky you!

Hmm –  not absorbing nutrients due to my stroppy colon lucky? The agonising stomach cramps lucky? I love food.  I hate to think I may become paranoid about it.  And being too thin over 45 is not a good look.

You can’t be that tired

Yes I can.  Even with the iron tablets, after an attack I’m fit for nothing.

My friend followed a <insert batshit diet> and she’s completely cured!

It’s entirely possible that the person you mention felt much better on her batshit diet and that’s great.  But Crohns is tricky and what works for one person may not for another.  I am still finding out what works for me – via a food diary.  These kinds of dietary pronouncements are often delivered in a hectoring tone, carrying the implicit message – serves you right you have Crohns you filthy meat eater.

I know just how you feel.  I had terrible wind/stomach cramps/indigestion/verbal diarrhoea once.

Unless you’ve had a bowel disease you don’t know what I feel.

All useful tips welcome!


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Remember! Don’t go to bed until you’ve finished going to the toilet


Said my leaflet on Colonoscopy preparation.  Those useful nuggets of information just kept on coming.  I was very grumpy anyway because it was 4pm, the colonoscopy and endoscopy appointment was next day, I was starving and the only thing going into my stomach was two litres of a laxative called Moviprep.

I’d bought some concentrated squash in the hope of making the Moviprep taste slightly less grim.  It turned out to be an excellent idea.  I mixed up the first litre batch about 5pm.  Some suggest that it tastes better if its really cold (what – so you pretend it’s some kind of vile cocktail?) but I have sensitive teeth so I squirted in some squash and gulped it back.   Again some recommend you use a straw and suck it up as far back in your mouth as you can, the theory being that you avoid your tastebuds.  I preferred to just chug it back and then have a drink of something nice to reward myself.  Punishment and reward.  Those old Catholic habits run deep.

It was horrible.  Salty and faintly viscous.  With the added squash, it also had a top note of sickeningly sweet fake fruit.  But it filled me up.  Result.  I went off and read my book listening out for my stomach gurgling.  Twenty minutes later I walked to the bathroom.  If it’s going to be like this all the way, it’ll be a breeze I thought.  Oh foolish me.

My boyfriend was connecting my outdoor freezer to a covered socket and asked me to admire his handiwork.  This was ten minutes after my first lavatory visit.  Taking a step forward I felt my stomach contract, I belted to the bathroom and didn’t have time to shut the door.

Bloody hell said my boyfriend from the living room.  Oh the romance of it.  We’d had a conversation recently about how I would never cut my toenails in front of him.  ‘You have to keep some mystery,’ I said.  Trying to preserve the remaining shreds of my dignity I hovered in the bathroom for a bit and then sidled back into the living room.  Another half hour went by.  Time for the second litre.

So I made up another jug of the foul stuff, poured a glass, added a squeeze of lemon and chugged it down.  This time it tasted salty and viscous with a sour topnote.  You are advised to drink an extra 500ml of clear fluid as well, so I had a dreary lemon and ginger tea to follow.  All herb teas are dull but this one was particularly feeble.  Still it wasn’t Moviprep and that was good enough for me.

After you drink the first litre your body expels any remaining solid food.  Once the second litre is chugged, frankly you might as well sit on the lavatory for the next couple of hours because you get ZERO warning.  Put a cushion against your back, get in a supply of baby wipes and read a book.  That way you can listen to the gurglings and fire hose gushings of your body with mild detachment rather than the horror of being caught with your pants up.

I drank the second litre at 8pm and got off the lavatory at 10.30 feeling very tired and thirsty.  Chronic diarrhoea is very dehydrating.  So I went to bed and fell instantly asleep.

What the leaflet didn’t tell me was if there is even the slightest amount of liquid left to come out, it sometimes doesn’t emerge for a few hours.  Why? How? Where does it hide in my poxy colon? At 3am, I don’t think Mo Farrah could have moved any faster to the bathroom and lucky for me the seat had been left up.  So I would suggest –  however grim it sounds – to keep a bucket by the bed (sexy).

Next morning my boyfriend drove me to Ealing Hospital where I was looked after me so well when I was admitted with suspected Ulcerative Colitis.  I found the endoscopy and colonoscopy department, suitably located in the bowels of the hospital.  I settled in for at least half an hour with Take a Break (My amazing sex with a wall! My Ninja Kitten left me for dead! Psychic jellies! Farting parrots!) when I was grabbed by a nice Irish girl and hustled into the ward (‘Let’s go . . . we’ve had some cancellations . . ‘) and before I knew what was up, I was changing into my hospital gown and sexy colonoscopy pants, complete with velcro flap at the back.

A friendly nurse whisked over and did my cannula with great efficiency.  The Gastroenterologist came over to talk to me.  He was lovely and talked me through the whole procedure, including risks (1 in 14000 chance of them perforating my bowel).  Did I have any questions? I mentioned that there seems to be a lot of research into the gut.  ‘Are you a doctor?’ he asked.  It’s funny how a basic interest in medicine brings forth this question.  I mentioned that I’d just read of some research linking change in the gut bacteria to M.E.  A writer friend of mine has this and it’s decimated her life – she is only in the last few years properly moving forward and what makes it worse is that some people think it’s all in the head.

I was wheeled into theatre to meet the rest of the team – all five of them.   Harvey the technician, Melanie the nurse, Dr Gordon the gastroenterologist, Andrew the student and the guy sitting, ignoring everyone and texting on his phone was the Professor.  ‘We’ll all be looking after you,’ said Melanie cheerfully.  I thought of how much this would cost in a US hospital and my heart swelled.

First the endoscopy.  I had five squirts of a throat antiseptic.  It tasted faintly of banana wrapped in a chemical plant.  When the endascope was gently put into my mouth I didn’t choke or feel ‘choky’.  It was slightly uncomfortable and lasted about five minutes.  Discomfort on a scale from 1 – 10 it was a 2.

Next came the colonoscopy.  The colon is roughly five foot long.  Mine is also particularly twisty which meant I had to keep turning over on my back, my side, and back again while the Professor pressed down on my stomach, causing pockets of severe wind pain.  They were very thorough and when it began to hurt they upped my sedative but it all took about half an hour and was uncomfortable.  But thanks to their thoroughness they found two gastric ulcers.  And what about the colitis – did I still have it?

‘No,’ said the Professor.  ‘We think you have Crohn’s disease.’

‘Oh,’ I said.  ‘Thank you.’  Befuddled I was wheeled back to the recovery room and a nurse brought me a cup of tea and a chicken sandwich (both ambrosial) but I couldn’t get a signal so was unable to look up the symptoms of Crohn’s.  The Gastroenterologist came to talk to me.  He told me that Crohn’s is a tricky beast and can be very mild in some patients.  Into the silence fell the obvious opposite – the terrible debilitating kind.   I follow Sue Marsh’s blog, Diary of a Benefit Scrounger and she has very debilitating Crohn’s.  I still remember the post where she had to drag herself across town for an Atos interview, bringing all her medication – which she then spilled across the desk.  She hasn’t updated her blog for a while but wrote movingly and without a shred of self-pity about the crippling pain, the opiate haze, the diarrhoea.

I picked up medication to get rid of the ulcers and my boyfriend took me home.  I was tired from the sedative, but otherwise felt fine.  Today I went to a yoga class.  I still feel fine.  After my hospital stint, I stopped eating spicy food and because I was a little paranoid about processed food, stopped snacking.  I had one attack and that was after a bowl of homemade tomato soup with fennel – maybe it was too acidic.

I’ve been newly diagnosed with something that frightens me but I feel fine.  Now what?

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Ulcerative Colitis: Crippling pain, bleeding and crap jokes


3am back in July and I woke, with crippling stomach cramp.  I remember a doctor friend saying that 90% of stomach pain was wind and struggled to lay flat on my stomach, waiting for the agonising bunched fist to go.   The pain suddenly morphed into nausea and my mouth soured as I vomited copiously.  Odd what goes through you head – I suddenly realised why I dislike those poncy ‘foams’ that are perched onto your food in post restaurants – they reminded me of when you have nothing left in your stomach but are still being sick.

Two minutes later diarrhoea decides to join the party.   It was like my own body was turning on me.  What was it?  Food poisoning?  Trembling with something – cold? I climbed into a hot bath which soothed my stomach.  An hour later, birds twittering,  I staggered back to bed, waking in a sweaty tangle of sheets to see both cats curled up next to me.  I like to think they were anxious for me, but it’s rubbish – the furry little gits were just hungry. It was comforting though.

The next day I felt mildly better, but was unable to eat anything apart from half a rice cake and some herb tea.  ‘Go to the doctor,’ said my boyfriend, (we don’t live together) so I made an appointment for a few days hence.  ‘Go and ask for an emergency appointment,’ snapped my boyfriend.  ‘I’m feeling much better,’ I said nibbling at my dinner, a cup of tea.  I realised I am my mother who if her leg was sheared off, would hop to the hospital so as ‘not to bother anyone’.  The day after that, I felt much better and ate half a baked potato, only to throw it up two hours later.  Still diarrhoea and now bleeding too.  I entered my symptoms into google and wait for the word ‘CANCER’ to appear.  Crohn’s? Bowel Cancer? Diverticulitis?

Half way up the road for an emergency doctor’s appointment, an iron fist gripped my stomach so ferociously, I doubled up crying in pain.  Staggering home, I called an ambulance and spent a good five minutes apologising for doing so.  I crawled around the flat, gathering money, keys and shutting windows.  I texted my lovely neighbour asking her to feed my cats.  Then after ten minutes, three of the handsomest paramedics I’ve ever seen marched purposefully into my flat.  One of them carried a sideboard which opened into a Tardis of medical equipment. I started apologising all over again.  ‘Oh don’t worry love,’ said Mr Handsome No 1.  ‘We’ve got a lady who phones us about once a month saying her parrot doesn’t look well.’  Mr Handsome No 2 adds, ‘People are divided into two groups. Those who think of us as some sort of taxi service and people like you who wait till they’re practically dying before calling us for help.’  I asked why there were three paramedics.  ‘It’s a code red,’ said Mr Handsome No 3.  ‘Because you’re bleeding.’  He tapped the side of his nose.

I was admitted to Ealing Hospital for five days, in a blistering heatwave, attached to a drip, poked, prodded and pumped with an antibiotic which stopped the bleeding.  The worst bit apart from the appalling food (Steamplicity ‘can change the whole patient meal experience’ they trilled in hideous management speak.  Yes by putting them off food forever) was when they had to change my cannula. When you have a needle in your arm longer than three days, an infection can set in so they have to pull it out and insert the needle somewhere else on your arm.  Unfortunately the new vein chosen by my nurse had a bone in the way.  As the needle went in, the shock of pain was so blinding, I immediately dry heaved into a cardboard bowl.  The nurses both looked at me in surprise as though a bedpan had burst into song.  Being around people in pain must innur you in some way.  And yet these same nurses were incredibly patient with the elderly lady in the next room who kept trying to climb out of bed ‘to go to a wedding.’

I’ve been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and am booked in for a colonoscopy in a couple of weeks.  ‘Oh and a gastroscopy,’ said the Consultant cheerfully.  ‘We call them a top n’ tail.’  I had a picture in my head of some wide angled lens up my bottom and something vaguely Deep Throat going on at the other end.  ‘But not at the same time,’ he added.  ‘Any questions?’ The million questions I had five seconds ago, are obliterated from my head. There’s something about lying half naked in bed,surrounded by doctors that does this to you.  ‘So what can I eat?’ I managed to blurt out.   ‘Oh just a normal diet,’ said Mr Consultant sweeping out, followed by a trail of doctors.

What is a normal diet?  It seems I have joined a new club, filled with conflicting advice.  Some say I should avoid the wholemeal bread and brown rice I’ve been eating for years.  No peas, beans or raw fruit and veg?  The most sensible so far seems to be to keep a food diary and just ‘enjoy your food.’ There are numerous books out on what to eat, but UC is an unpredictable beast and no two cases are the same.  I’ve hardly touched alcohol since July, and I’ve avoided eat spicy food anymore which makes me sad because I love Indian and Thai food.  But I still had an attack last week after a bowl of homemade tomato and fennel soup.  Also part of that unpredictability are the side effects of UC, namely severe anaemia, mouth ulcers and exhaustion.

So I have a chronic long term condition.  Bummer.  People don’t make jokes about breast pain.  Breasts are beautiful and nobody has an problem with wearing a pink tee or displaying breasticle related information.  But I can’t see people proudly wearing poo brooches or celebs showing us how to check our bottoms.  (Mind you I could see someone pointing at a lifesize cutout of Jeremy Hunt and saying: ‘Here is a massive arse.  Let’s check him to see if he’s full of shit.’)  The problem is that bowel problems are just not sexy.

I do, however, have a colonoscopy to look forward to next week.  The prep apparently involves Not Eating for 48 hours and drinking large quantities of a sinister liquid laxative. Fun times.

If anyone out there has had a colonoscopy or gastroscopy, any tips or tricks please?



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Donald Trump: Are there any shocks left?

Donald Trump flies into Scotland today, his red hatted man of the people posturing at the ready.  He is on a whistlestop tour to open a golf course in Turnberry, henceforth to be known as Trump Turnberry.

In 2010, Mr Trump promised the people of Scotland he would ‘build the biggest golf course in the world’ and create ‘six thousand jobs’ with the luxury hotel he was also planning to build, and 1500 luxury homes.  Go to his golf website with its un-ironic royal stamp of Trumpness and he says, when I first saw the coastline, I was overwhelmed by the imposing dunes and rugged Aberdeenshire coastline.  So I decided to bulldoze it and build a massive golf course. – golf courses being one of the most environmentally unsound things you could do.  Alex Salmond gave the go ahead, seemingly believing Mr Trump’s promises about saving the Scottish economy and respecting local concerns.

This is what actually happened.  He bullied local residents who did not want to move, with compulsory purchase orders.  The way he treated local, Michael Forbes, simply for refusing to sell his home, which was and still is inconveniently situated in the middle of Trump’s estate is a perfect example of Trump meeting someone who will not be bought.  When they first met, Mr Forbes said, ‘he was being all nicey nicey saying how successful he was and how much money he had.’  (THAT was Trump being all nicey nicey??) ‘That was it for me. I took an instant dislike to him.’  Don’t blame you mate.  When Mr Forbes refused to sell, Trump threw a massive tantrum, calling Mr Forbes ‘a disgusting pig’.

When residents such as Susan Monroe and David Milne refused to move from their home, his bulldozers dumped huge walls of mud and dirt outside their house.  Power and water were randomly cut off by his bulldozers and when Anthony Baxter, the documentary maker of You’ve Been Trumped asked why, he was arrested.

And what of Mr Trump’s promises to revitalise the Scottish economy?  He did not build the hotel or the luxury homes he promised, and of the 6000 jobs he boasted, he has created under 100 low paying ones.  He showed nothing but contempt for the environment or the people of Scotland, which is why so many of them today are hoisting Mexican flags in a show of solidarity.  US voters would do well to look at Donald Trump’s behaviour in Turnberry Scotland as it’s a microcosm of the yawning gap between his bombastic promises and complete failure to deliver.

What a shame you don’t get giant alligators in Scotland.Giant Alligator

But the truly frightening thing is that people who are going to vote for Trump in the US, have seen and heard all he has to offer and accept it totally. Because that’s why con artists are called artists.  They don’t take anything from us – we willingly give to them.  He has been around so long, that his racist, mysoginistic, bumper-car-sticker sayings are just the way he rolls.

He has no cohesive policies at all.

He gets his information off the internet.

He wants to build a wall to prevent Mexican ‘rapists’ from coming to the US.

He thinks the best place for women is ‘on their knees’.

He has shown from his handling of the Aberdeen Golfing Fiasco of 2010 that he is a man who brags, bullies and then screams abuse at anyone who doesn’t fall in with his plans.

He is a liar.

And yet here he is.  What would he have to do to get booted off the ticket?

a) Be filmed mocking a disabled reporter

b) Refer to a lawyer as ‘disgusting’ because she took out a breastfeeding pump.

c) Be filmed punching a dog

Yep – A and B have happened.  Yet here he is.










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That awful moment when you realise you can’t protect your child from pain and failure

The girl comes home from school her lip trembling.  I ask her if she’s ok and she says she’s fine.  We talk about school for a minute, then I repeat my question.  She repeats her answer a little louder and shrugs to her room.

The girl is just twelve but has become very private recently.  She goes into her room and shuts the door – a reaction I think to spending all day with other people.  I knock before I go in.

Ten minutes later she comes out of her room.

‘I’m upset because I did badly in on a science paper and I’m annoyed with myself.’

I tell my beautiful clever daughter the things I wish I’d been told at that age; that sometimes you do fail, you don’t get it right.  Sometimes you just fuck up.  And the key is not to obsess over the stuff that goes wrong when you can’t do anything about it.  If you didn’t work hard enough then try to remedy that next time.  If you can’t fix it then feel shite for a bit and move on.  Don’t do what I did which was to ruminate on all the stuff that went wrong and dismiss the many other things that went right.  And also to remember that grit and persistence wins out over being gifted and talented.

She sits and listens and occasionally nods her head.  I’m beginning to feel  like this could be one of those parenting moments I might be able to look back on with a degree of smuggery.  ‘Is there anything you need to say?’ I ask.

‘Yes’ she says thoughtfully.  ‘Stop swearing.’

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Once a Waitress

I was a waitress once, in an Islington Brasserie called Uppers.  This was in the early eighties and the only half decent restaurant review plastered all over the front door was a very pretty bistro. That was it. The rest of the sentence was probably  . . . but the food is shit.  The restaurant was run by two Turkish guys and a very strange painter called Bel who spoke in a falsetto voice and called herself ‘an artiste’.  I waitressed along with a group of similarly unemployed writers, actors and painters.

Unlike being a waiter in Europe, it’s considered a low grade profession in the USA and UK, and in the latter, it confers servant status.  Many of our customers were lovely, but a significant minority would use the opportunity of casually telling another human being what they wanted to eat, to let them know of their subordinate status.  Perhaps by not looking them in the eye. Or waving them away like some 14th century Pope.  Or when I arrived at a table cheerfully asking, ‘Who ordered the spaghetti?’ to be greeted with irritated glances as though I were interrupting Middle Eastern peace negotiations. Then after an awkward silence I would turn to go only to hear, ‘Oh yeah I did order it.’

Most annoying were the customers who needed background checks on every single item in their chosen dish.  ‘Could I have the Spanish omelette without the green peppers and with olives and not capers and can I have it made with egg whites?’  And that lovely moment when a party of twelve all want to pay individually.  Especially with the random calls of: ‘Don’t forget I only had a salad and diet coke!’ ‘I didn’t have pudding!’ (Yes you did you fat bastard)

Worst of all were the customers who wanted me to listen to their boring stories and tedious opinions, usually when I was loaded down with freakishly hot plates.  So however desperate you are to tell that hilarious story to the waitress, take a hint from her rigid smile and let her get on with her job.  And get your hand off her arse you balding, entitled creep.

This was over twenty years ago and I’ve never forgotten it.  I overtip like mad and have been known to kick my boyfriend under the table when he starts conversations with waiters who happen to be holding plates.  It doesn’t make me a complete wimp; I will complain if I get bad service but a smile and acknowledgement that the waiters don’t actually cook the bloody food goes a long way.  But when I was doing it, at least we had tips and the lovely chef would cook us anything from the menu we wanted.  Not any more.  The sheer meanness of companies cutting food and making up crummy wages with hard earned tips has made the job even harder.

Anyone who wants to lead should first learn to serve.  Which is (one of the multiple reasons) why the current Conservative cabinet are so dreadful.  Incidentally have you noticed that like the Thatcher Years nobody admits to voting for them?  None of them have worked their way up.  It’s all been private schools to university to something daddy found for them in the city or some management consultancy, to being a professional empathy free arsehole.  Maybe it’s not even lack of empathy but lack of the faintest idea.  Remember when Cameron contacted his own constituency Oxfordshire council to say how disappointed he was by cutbacks to frontline services?  And the astonished council leader explaining in return that Cameron himself had ordered these cuts?  So if the Prime Minister is blissfully unaware of the effects of these, why should we suppose that the rest of the cabinet are any better informed?  Can you imagine any of them worrying about paying a bill?  Ever? Or worrying about a tax bill?  Unless they were trying to decide which dodgy offshore company to slip their dosh into.  Although the idea of lump of human tofu, Jeremy Hunt, on his feet all day, working for a horrible boss, balancing plates on his head is quite pleasant (especially if he fell down the stairs at the same time) – not one of the cabinet would have any idea what it’s like to serve.

Once you’ve been a waiter you never forget it.  And with a bit of luck it makes you a better human being.  The entire cabinet should go and work for a pizza chain immediately.


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99% of workplace stress down to worrying about childcare


SAYS WHO?  you might say.  Well says me.  Only three weeks ago I saw one of my work colleagues being ranted at by an ex-student because he wanted a meeting ‘NOW’ and she politely explained that she couldn’t as she had to leave and pick up her child because if she was late she would be charged £10 per MINUTE.

The other 1% by the way is irritation at how the Daily Mail, despite all the data which clearly shows that women go out to work because so few families can get by on just one income – still insist on referring to women who work as Career Women.

I don’t envy women thinking about when to have a child.  But like the tsunami of advice we face after we have a baby there is no shortage of bossy opinion beforehand.  Our optimum age is between 20 and 35 says the Voice of Doom – actually Professor Sally Davies in One of Those Conferences Where Career Women are Warned about Their Shrivelling Ovaries but the reality (reality being what most of us have to live in) is we graduate if we’re going to college, at 21 with a truckload of debt and spend the next ten years trying to get and sustain a job, in order to chip away at said debt.  At the same time, we are meant to be sniffing out a husband.  Or you can do as Kirsty Allsop suggested and skip university, stay at home to ‘save up a deposit’ (really?  What kind of job will pay a 20 something enough to save up at least £20 000?) and then ‘find a nice boyfriend and have a baby by 27.’

I suspect that young men in their twenties and early thirties are less keen to become fathers.

I’ve had two babies – one at 30 and one at 39 and this is what I know about it.  I had no trouble getting pregnant at 30 because my cycle was regular and I knew I was ovulating. At 38 I had two miscarriages.  Sitting in the Early Pregnancy Clinic, I got used to seeing a large poster, which explained with cold clinical precision how a woman’s fertility plummeted after 35.  It was also the place where my miscarriage was described as: ‘The products of conception have left your womb,’ as though they had just popped out for a pint of milk.  I don’t blame the nurses – it was just such a terrible phrase.  So there I was at 38, on the downward plummet of barrenness, and knew I didn’t have time to wait for everything to get back to normal so I was prescribed Clomid, a fertility drug which fixes an outboard motor to your ovaries and pumps out eggs like one of those tennis improvement machines, firing out balls.  I’m constantly surprised by the use of IVF because it has a very low success rate – between 17% and 20%.  But if you want a baby, you research all this stuff and make a choice.  You spend time on websites, wishing ‘baby dust’ on your fellow hopefuls and sharing tips.  It’s not thought and planning or it wasn’t for me – it was hunger and aching instinct.  But once the baby is born and you realise that you have to go back to work because in Daily Mail land you’re a ‘career woman’ and in Real Life, you have to bring some money in to pay the bills as your partner’s wage hasn’t risen in three years or he/she is on a zero-hours contract or you have what’s elegantly described as ‘a boutique career’, doing several jobs, you have the Childcare Situation.

Childcare is INSANE.  My daughter is now twelve years old and travels to and fro to school and friends’ houses by herself.  Of course I miss the daily chats and small intimacies of that time, but I also realise that all the stress I’ve endured during my working life has been mainly down to worrying about childcare – fitting work in so I could run home to collect her – begging employers to allow me to come in a little later because the Breakfast Club didn’t open till 7.45am.  And dashing back to pick her up because the After School Club closes at 6pm.

The cost of childcare has risen by 77% in the last 10 years and with inflation is rising by 6% per year.  Full time nursery places cost twice as much as they did a decade ago.  Only Switzerland has higher childcare costs than the UK.  I’m so glad I had my two babies but I’m so glad to be finally through the tunnel of childcare and I don’t envy my colleague, just getting into it.

Being held hostage by our biology is something that women know.  We don’t need to be reminded in Death Knell Tones by the Daily Mail who keep referring to us as Witches Career Women.


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