Mental Health – The Demons Inside

Some days it’s hard to ignore them.

Those are the days I dread going into work as its all pilling on relentlessly.

Those are the days I dread going home as the kids have been acting up.

Those are the days I dread answering the phone to the wife as I know it will be a 15 minute rant about how difficult the kids have been coupled with background screaming.

Those are the days that the demons tell me wouldn’t it be “easier” to just stop completely.

Those are the days I need to take stock.

Those are the days I need to look around.

For every bad day at work there is 100 people who have been made redundant and would love a hard day at work.

For every day of misbehaving screaming children there is a couple who can’t have kids and are curled up in pain watching other people raise theirs.

For every day you stall going home there is someone curling up in a shop doorway wishing they had one to go to.

For every fraught phone call with the wife there is a partner who’s lost theirs desperately missing just one more conversation with them.

No matter how close to rock bottom you think you are, look around, look below, stop looking at other people’s perfect Facebook / Instagram lives.

There are people around you that would swap places with you in a heartbeat.

Parenthood – The Big V

The Pregame

It’s the main thing most men dread above all else. The conversation about the big V, the snip, the 2 house bricks to the crown jewels, the vasectomy.

Nothing will prepare you for this … from 2nd and 3rd hand horror stories to just your mind wandering away. Your wife will tell you all about the pain of child birth and that you owe her this.

You will genuinely contemplate just not having sex again until she goes through the menopause, its only 10 years, away right?

She could stay on the pill its only been 25 years it can’t mess up her hormones that much, oh yeah apart from that one time you were late home from the pub and had to hide the kitchen knives.

Fine, I’ll do it stop nagging me woman!


The Main Show

The first and main thing I can tell you is leave your shame at the door, within a few minutes you are going to have 1 or 2 fellas throwing your Johnson about and cupping your nuts while a 3rd tries to make small talk at the head end like you’re in an interview and a few women wandering about the place for good measure. I sure everyone had a very important tasks at hand, but it does suddenly seem like a lot of people …. I’m sure there was less at all my kids’ births put together!

The pain ranges from what the doctor calls “uncomfortable tugging” and what I call “why is he trying to pull my arsehole out through my belly button?” Right through to “good god man are you trying to save money on anaesthetic!”

The spray …. for some reason they spray what they claim is an antiseptic spray on you afterwards but i swear it was Ralgex!!!

All in all though, it’s not a long operation when you look at it afterwards but at the time it goes on forever. I was in and out back at home in the tighty whitey’s and a bag of peas by lunch time.

The Endgame

You’ll hear macho stories about how some men were back on the building site 10 minutes later carrying 300 bricks on 1 shoulder up 20 flights of stairs.





Well done, have a gold medal.


Balls to that and I mean balls to that, do what the doctors says, take at least 1-2 days sat on your arse doing nothing but swapping frozen peas and watching TV. Don’t even be tempted to lift the kids up, they will kick you in the junk and trust me that hurts like no pain imaginable.


The All clear

Your told to “release” yourself 20 times over the next 16 weeks and part of you wants to joke come on love I could have that knocked out by Tuesday afternoon. Unfortunately, very quickly despite my tight pants & frozen pea regime I am very quickly carrying 2 black cricket balls where my nuts used to be and the thought of urinating when my balls weight 10kg each is bad enough never mind sorting myself out.

The Aftermath

Now you’re getting this horror story 1st hand this time and it gets graphic so if you don’t want to know just close your browser now.


Still here?

Well you were warned.

Everything has almost gone back to it’s natural size and no longer carrying round 2 lead weights, the scaring is pretty minimal to be honest, you can barely tell where it was done.

But ….

I used to be able to need to urinate before bed decide not too, go to sleep for 8 hours then wake up and go to the loo. Now I’ve approximately 30 seconds between thinking it and having to go! I’ve turned into one of those 1 beer in 1 pint out people on a night out now. Devastating!

I must also keep the toilet attendant is business with the £1 no spray no lay patter ever time i wash my hands.


A few months down the line and every “perk up” moment is still painful, so it’s kind of worked as I do my best not to see the wife naked in case he perks up and causes me pain rather than pleasure!





Was it worth it? … 50/50

Part of me thinks not considering we needed IVF for the previous additions, but then that peace of mind that there shouldn’t be another 2 appearing anytime soon that makes it worth it.


(Father of 3 & no bloody more! with no hair & little sanity left)

Parenthood – The 1st 2 Years

Sleep Deprivation

Almost 2 years in now and the main thing I’ve learnt about twins is they tag team better than the Hardy Boys, seriously as one stops crying the other one starts it’s a constant 24 hour cycle where at this point that coupled with the occasional beatings from the toddlers I reckon I’d stand up pretty well on Channel 4’s SAS Who Dares Wins.

I’m sure they have come up with a game plan to see if they can break someone before they get to school, and to be fair they’ve come close!






We’ve come a long way in the last 2 years, from the emergency room at NICU through countless operations and appointments, the twins along with their older sibling have survived and adapted probably better than the parents.

2 years in and the eldest is about the leave Pre-school and head to primary and the twins about to go up a class at nursery as well. Adam is making massive strides (literally!) for someone with no balance nerves and developmental issues from being in NICU for so long he’s finally standing up and taking a couple of steps, much to his delight.

A lot of thanks for us surviving this journey can be laid directly at the grandparent’s door. Without them stepping in a helping with the twins we couldn’t have afforded to go back to work, but also mentally we couldn’t have afforded not to go back to work so they have helped more than we can ever appreciate.

So here we stand on the precipice of another life event the eldest about to head to primary school, although I’m sure I had a paper round / working down the pit by his age! An emotional wreck of a mother can be expected on his 1st day of school, especially as she cried when she just sold her car.

The eldest one going to school & the youngest to slowly heading towards the 30 hours free child places nirvana also means hopefully finances will improve until the inevitable, gymnastics / flute / football / horse riding / astronaut training camps etc. Whatever happened to a ball and a stick and the back street until dawn, psssh kids today 😊



(Father of 3 with no hair & little sanity left)

Mental Health – The long road back

Depression / PTSD whatever label you want to give it ……. Not everyone can pinpoint the 1st trigger that set them down this path, but I can vividly.

Christmas Day 2016, or rather very early hours of Boxing Day 2016, after watching my father in law die after myself, my mother in law and my own dad performed CPR on him, followed by holding the IV drip while 6 paramedics took in turns to keep working on him. I had to carry his body bag down the stairs with his brother as he was a large man and the 2 undertakers they sent weighed 2 stone wet & could barely move him.

While doing this the rest of the family and friends were deeply upset and as the “outsider” I had to be strong, be the rock for them and bury anything I felt at that moment I time, never really dealing with things, laughing it off when people asked if I was OK just saying I was concentrating on my wife & mother in law and I’ll deal with myself at a later date.

That later date never came, at that moment in time my wife was also 3 months pregnant and it was fraught pregnancy involving complications with one of the twins ending up in Manchester St Mary’s Neonatal Intensive Care while my wife had life threatening complications back in Lancaster from the birth.

Once again, I was in a high stress environment unable to do anything for either of them apart from watch in slow motion as the world span round me in black & white. People came down to see me in shifts for those 1st few days but you put a smile on your face and kick the autopilot on and they are none the wiser. He survived his life saving operation as did my wife, but he has been left registered disabled along with an ever-growing list of complications and is collecting new consultants faster than Pokémon!

Its these small stacks of things that keep building like balancing stones, you know you need to deal with it but are afraid to pull at the stones in case it all comes tumbling down around you.

Not many people realise how much hard work being everyone else’s support network is, always trying to support the fragile ones around you even though they haven’t asked, but always at the cost of your own sanity. Always with the fake smile occasionally slipping into a moody face … apparently, it’s been said on more than one occasion that I have resting bitch face, when really, it’s just my mask has slipped. It’s hard to be that rock / foundation if your own footings are now on shifting sands. As hard as it is its best just concentrate on yourself as your no use to anyone else if your broken.

The thing that made me finally talk to a couple of people about it was the suicide of Linkin Parks Chester Bennington for some reason that hit me out of nowhere a seemingly happy man on the outside with the world at his feet had felt compelled to exit. It rang a little too true as I had had a few dark moments when the stack was too high or too wobbly, where you get tunnel vision and it doesn’t matter that you have family & friends that love you and would help if you asked. You just get zoned in on the fact that if you weren’t here it would be easier. The problem with that is it only makes it easier for you, and your no longer around to see the lasting damage you have left behind you.

I’ve only very recently shared any of this with my wife and even now I still feel guilty for loading her with my burden when she has her own.

So the journey starts to find peace of mind / a happy place for me its Scuba diving, it really steadies everything and resets the mind, but with a busy job and family of 5 finding time isn’t easy, but I know it’s important to make this time for me.

Parenthood – Birth & NICU

The Last Year

The long gap between this and the last blog of just over a year is down to its taken this long to really process what happened to us as a family. It’s a long a twisty ride so strap in and grab a brew and a biscuit or 2!

The Birth

The delivery date was brought forward to perform an emergency caesarean due to increasing pre-eclampsia markers in my wife.

Hindsight is always 20/20 and we were not prepared at all for what happened in the next few hours….

1st sign was my wife was huge not just twin pregnant huge but huuuuuge.

2nd Sign was the water breaking and a tsunami being released.

3rd sign was Twin 2 didn’t cough up his fluid and had to be helped.

I’ll skip the more gory bits for the delicate of mind but if you’ve been at a birth you’ll know.

So back in the recovery room and Twin 1 fed straight away and well, but when we came to feed Twin 2, he very quickly turned blue and started choking.
This was diagnosed by the neonatal paediatrician as a TOF (Tracheo-Oesophageal Fistula) and Twin 2 was taken from us and rushed down the M6 to St Mary’s specialist Neonatal unit in Manchester.

I followed him down straight away in my car just stopping to grab a wash bag and a t shirt / underwear, but Mrs S was suffering various effects from the trauma and needed blood transfusions and close monitoring so wasn’t able to come down with twin 1 for 2 more days.


When in Manchester the team at further diagnosed his problem as a TOF/OA (Tracheo-Oesophageal Fistula, Oesophageal Atresia). To put this simply his stomach was attached to his windpipe & his throat was a dead end. This meant as he was feeding it would just fill the dead end and overflow into his windpipe & lungs.

NB: So going back to Signs 1 & 2 he wasn’t recycling his pre birth waste it was just topping up the bag because he couldn’t swallow. Sign 3 was he couldn’t cough up the liquid in his throat.

The surgical team in Manchester worked miracles and managed to reconnect them together (just). They had to paralyse him for a further 48 hours to prevent him moving and tearing the repair. However it had torn slightly and he was under further observations and interventions that kept him alive while his body tried to heal the tear. Meaning all his breathing and feeding was being done by machines / specialist nursing staff.
Once the leak had self-repaired they were able to start feeding him properly and build his strength up enough to come home 2 months after he went in.



(Father of 3 with no hair / sanity left)

IVF a Man’s Perspective – The Pregnancy

The Pregnancy thing

A normal pregnancy is difficult enough but with a twin one, everything gets twice as big twice as fast, and that’s not just the mum! 2 cots / 2 car seats / twice as many vests / nappies to buy in bulk to stock up. House extensions bedroom / nursery move round.

The IVF thing

Something they don’t tell you but I’ve now found is really common is the disconnect for the man in an IVF pregnancy.  I really struggled to come to terms with the fact I didn’t feel part of this at all, I was all over the 1st one, went to all the scans, had every scan picture blu-tacked to my PC screen at work, felt every kick.

With the IVF pregnancy, I didn’t feel the urge for any of that, was it just because it wasn’t the first-born? Is everyone like this on the second pregnancy or was something deeper happening? I struggled with this for several months. Combined with being in the middle of a massive project at work meant the first scan I attended was almost at the end of the 2nd trimester.

It was only after talking to a men’s IVF group I found it was almost “normal” some found that after the first scan they connected or for some it was even at the birth when it finally clicked into place.

It essentially comes down to the notion that you had nothing to do with the creation of this child / children, the mother still carries for 9 months as normal and has that symbiotic bonding time, where as a father, you almost had zero part to play in it all. The entire decision-making process taken away from you. You have done no more that sign a piece of paper and nip to the loo for a couple of minutes.

So here we go just days left and the world changes again!


(Father of 1 & Expectant Father of another 2 with very little hair / sanity left)

IVF a Man’s Perspective – A Journeys End


So, as we come to the end of the journey and the more astute of you will have noticed the title doesn’t say failed in it anymore! After 105 Injections (Another 198 to go still), 749 Tablets, 20+ Appointments, 10 Months & 3 rounds of IVF we did it!

It is very early days but the other half is carrying a couple (yes you read that right!) of new additions to the household.

As journeys go this has been an arduous one for us both, personally it has pushed me close to breaking point emotionally, mentally & financially and is something I hope none of my friends ever has to go through themselves. Without the support of 2 strong families around us I don’t know how we would have made it through these multiple rounds of IVF each one harder than the last.

I seriously don’t know how I would have coped with another failure, I had nothing left to give and was truly drained of all 3.

We did find solace & comfort in the online Facebook IVF groups, but even at times that was hard as more and more people posted their successes as we found only failure.

Even though we only started IVF earlier this year (approximately 10 months ago) it feels like years have passed, with our lives, careers, holidays all on hold. In fact we’ve been together 8 years this year and we’ve only ever been on 2 holidays and one of them was the year after we met & the other was the honeymoon 5 years ago.

Now our IVF journey ends and we begin a new one as a family of 5, now comes the search for bigger cars, house extensions, double buggies, twice as many nappies etc.

The other upside of twins will hopefully be less arguing when picking names & God parents as there is twice as many spaces to fill this time, although the name suggestions Mrs S keeps coming out with I’m sure she’s a closet hippy! She didn’t like the lets name one each suggestion though, mainly because she knows I would pick Thor Oakenshield or Loki Morningstar.

As these kids have already cost us the same as a mid-size family saloon I’m also very tempted to name one Ford & the other Mondeo, but I don’t think she’ll will let me do that either.

I’m very glad this journey has come to an end successfully and we can move on with the rest of our lives. If you have gone through this already I’m sure you can understand what we went through. If you are going through it, I feel for you and I’m here if you need to talk about it. If you’re not, thank whoever you believe in that you’re not.

If you’ve been with me all the way I hope you enjoyed reading the journey, it’s been a useful cathartic output for me and I enjoyed it even if you didn’t. 🙂

If this was your 1st one please go back and read the 1st 2 parts as well (Part 1 & Part 2) and I hope you find them enlightening and slightly humorous in parts.

Thanks to everyone who read / commented / supported us along the way, it’s surprising how much a how you doing text or thinking of you both message on Facebook goes.

Most people don’t know what to say and just avoid you altogether, but it’s the closest friends that know it’s just any distraction and the odd how you holding up mate that reminds you that there is people outside the IVF bubble you’re in and that they are concerned but sometimes just scared to ask in case its bad news. The recent scope advert for disability actually had some parallels. (Apart from the introduce yourself bit)

Hopefully other friends who’ve been getting a bit tetchy with me will now understand why I’ve be preoccupied / unavailable for lads nights out this past 12 months, at the end of the day getting Mrs S through this IVF have been priority 1 and any slight hiccup with it, it’s been my job to fix / smooth over / reassure that everything is going to be OK while under the surface panicking like hell myself & trying not to show it.

Right I’m off to stockpile on pallets of nappies & wipes and as I’ve twice as many to buy this time make sure you go out and buy a copy of my new book 50 Shades of Blonde! – 50 Shades of Blonde Book

As I said this is the end of our IVF journey but the beginning of a twin pregnancy, so I may well keep posting updates if anyone’s interested.


(Father of 1 & Expectant Father of another 2 with very little hair / sanity left)

Failed IVF a Man’s Perspective – The Home Stretch

So here we go, the last chance saloon, this time is our last shot hoping for 2 aces rather than a 7 /4 of clubs.

img_2045This time the drugs have doubled due to the nice anomaly that, well it didn’t work this time so it could be 1 of 3 things and as it would cost £3k to test for it and only £1k to treat for it so lets just treat them all anyway. Not only the extra cash but extra needles / tablets etc as well to do.

But if it works then worth every penny!

So we start the new regime and i’m getting better at the injections (I’m considering retraining as a nurse, that’s all they do right? No? ah right bugger i’ll stay as i am then).

This treatment includes steroids and man if you think the meat head from the gym gets angry on them, try leaving crumbs on the kitchen worktop with a woman on steroids and IVF hormone drugs!

Rickon Zig Zag

Duck & Weave!! Zig Zag Rickon for gods sake Zig & Zag!!!








whatAnother pearler of a face was when I came home from Platelet Donation at the local blood donors and commented ooh they haven’t half bruised my arm this time, then turning round to see your wife’s face who’s stomach currently looks like she went 3 rounds with Mike Tyson from all the injection marks.

4GEESo eggs out and similar crop to last time which is a bit disappointing as we were on double dose of the hormone & all the extra drugs but it only takes 1! I do my bit in the stationery cupboard again (The reading material hasn’t got any better … EE 4G mobile internet to the rescue). Results back and all well above as usual, well done ball bags you didn’t let me down.

So eggs in the cooker and we wait for the daily report … each day another 1 seems to have fallen off and panic begins to set in for us both, what if there isn’t enough left to put in at the end?

Day 5 comes and we’ve 2 healthy ones, so do we keep 1 and freeze or take the gamble and put both in, well as its last chance and we don’t want to go through another round of drugs then both go in and we’ll take the risk of 2 attaching.

Now the dreaded 2 week wait and trying to make sure my wife actually sits on her bum and does nothing!!! Easier said than done!


So that’s where we are now … coming towards the end of the 2 week wait, then we’ll test and know if anything took. I’ll keep you informed but not for a while as if it worked we’re not telling anyone for a few weeks just to make sure, and if it didn’t work things will be too raw to write down straight away and we’ll need time to process it.

So Part 3 the final chapter will be in a month or so either way.

Wish us luck!


Pete & Mrs S


Failed IVF a Mans Perspective – False Starts & Broken Dreams

This is my journal / journey through the IVF process & the thoughts that go with it.

Let me start by saying neither me or my partner ever expected to have to go through this, no person ever does really, it’s the old adage of you spend your early adult years trying you best not to get pregnant, then when you come to start a family you realise how hard and unfair life can sometimes be.

Multiple failed IVF cycles can cover a long period of time in a relationship, where it feels your entire life with each other is on hold, all under the control of a 3rd party, for the first year your try not to let things slip, try to still have date nights, try not to get too obsessed with timescales etc.

However each failure takes its toll and breaks-down the strongest of couples and you can see how it can easily lead to the destruction of a once solid partnership.

The hard part is watching your partner struggle for years with seeing friends / family all “seem” to get pregnant easily or worse still people fall pregnant who don’t want it / not sure whether to keep it. All this happens around you with nothing you can do apart from try to be a rock for her.

Once the decision is made as a couple to start IVF there is almost a relief as it’s now in a professionals hands and they know what they’re doing it will all get sorted now, right?

Off to the clinic for a sperm deposit and check-up, results come back way over the UK average sperm count / motility. Mini Hi 5, Gold medal & victory dance for me!! This elation is quickly replaced by a deep feeling of guilt that this could be something wrong with your partner or worse still the dreaded unexplained infertility.

For a man this is pretty much the end of his involvement in the IVF process, you then have to sit back and watch your partner go through many many invasive and much more uncomfortable checks & procedures, we do get off very lightly boys. The worst part of mine was it was the room next door to the receptionist and a busy corridor with some questionable 1980’s reader’s wives material (Thank god for 4G internet!!!!)

4612469868_238x228Once all the checks were completed and the results came back with the dreaded unexplained infertility this gives your stomach a huge drop as how can they fix it if they don’t know what’s wrong (the equivalent of the check engine light of the car, could be an engine coil could be the fuel filter, if only the wife had an ECU plug socket somewhere & I could attached the diagnostic machine).

Now the 1st round starts, not helped for us by my wife being needle phobic and the protocol we were on requiring 2 injections a day at the same time every day for weeks. So I step up and honestly a small enjoyment not because of giving my wife a little prick before you ask, but because I’m involved again and have some connection to the events.

Now these drugs are big hormone hitters and all credit to my wife, the nurse gave us some stories about how emotional & mood swingy she would get but she did really well, even after dropping her beloved iPhone down the toilet (Not the first time I may add) which would send most people today into a meltdown.

The day finally comes for them to remove the eggs and we got a bumper crop more than average (Hi 5 for the wife’s ovaries) of them my little fellas fertilise 80%, again over average results, they go in a cooker for a few weeks and we get over average amount through to the last stage. All looking good confidence is high!! We must have just needed that little bit of help from IVF’s Mary Berry.

ivfThe checks continue and soon it comes round to implantation day another time I’m needed (again in a slightly more private room but the same reading material, maybe I’m a porn snob?? But back on the 4G internet I was).

So that’s us back in the hands of the professionals and a 2 week wait for a pregnancy test, confidence still fairly high as we’ve been above average patients all the way. We have photos of the cells & even a video of it growing in the chamber, what felt like nice touches at the time but it’s strange how attached you get to that photo just like a 12 week baby scan, so when the test came back negative it was crushing for us both.

A brief week to regroup and pick ourselves back up from the floor and its back to the consultant to talk about starting round 2 as we had frozen the other eggs from round 1, the doctor is confident and even says the odds are approximately 50/50 at our age group at this clinic so this time maybe?

This round of drugs is tablet not injection but already the optimism that we both shared is starting to wain as we spend the weeks prepping, this time the hormones did hit like a train & also sickness, maybe it was the adrenaline of the 1st go that kept it all at bay or these drugs are harder on the system.

This round was a lot harder to stand back and watch my wife get sicker and have no involvement / nothing I could do or say, matters made worse at the check-up when they double the dosage for the final couple of weeks.

Back to implantation again and this time I can’t attend so a friend of hers has to go down, we’re given the test date and it falls slap bang on the last day of a planned holiday, not ideal, the whole holiday is spent on tenterhooks (& alcohol free on her part).

Its bad news again and this time it just feels harder for many reasons, it was supposed to be 50/50 and we’ve done it twice? The next go is our last go, the next go is back on injections, Why can’t we do what people seem to manage round the back of a night club at 3am by mistake? What’s wrong with us? We already have a naturally conceived child so it must be possible for us?

What feels like rock bottom and 2 false starts is hard … hard to cope with yourself never mind be the rock you need to be for your partner. Especially as men we are prewired to bottle everything up and push it deep down never to be talked about, its not the sort of conversation you can strike up down the pub, so John did you see Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goal at the weekend, by the way me and the missus are struggling I could do with a hug. So you bottle it up, drink it away, take it out on some poor unsuspecting sod on the 5 a side pitch and power through.

So for those of you that read this far. That’s where me & Mrs S stand on the cusp of the last round, we had already agreed this would be the last set as we’ve seen people spend thousands & thousands and relationships destroyed by the constant cycles & are determined for this not to be us as well.

To be continued in Part 2 ….. fingers crossed for the next few months.