The Punctuation of Life

by | 3 Aug 2014

Since I started trying to conceive, I have developed an uneasy relationship with alcohol. Anyone who has read my book will know. There’s a fine line for me between the nectar of the gods and the hangover from hell. And this week I drank with the devil…

A little while ago, a wise friend tried to help me reframe the guilt I feel when I drink too much. He told me hangovers are the ‘punctuation of life’. Well, I’ve been at the Edinburgh Festival – there’s no place like it for late night revelry and one more round – and on Friday there wasn’t a comma or even a dot dot dot just a full stop to end all full stops. The day after, I dragged myself to Edinburgh’s legendary vegetarian restaurant, Henderson’s. I thought lentil lasagne was the kind of nutrition I needed. But after just a mouthful, I had to abandon it for a headlong flight to the toilet to be sick.

Witness to my ignominy was a woman with her daughter who was taking rather a long time to do a pee and wash her hands as children sometimes can. When I emerged from the cubicle, I apologised and the woman kindly said: ‘It’s fine, I was exactly the same when I had this one.’ She pointed to her daughter and in a split second I realised she thought I was pregnant. And in another split second I decided not to correct her.

Because surely a girl can drink and dream…?


  1. waitingbetweenthelines

    Oh I feel your pain. I have always loved my wine but I am increasingly aware that I’m using it for all the wrong reasons. To fuel my guilt I then google the impact of alcohol on fertility and it’s not good… And then I feel awful because I want a baby so desperately and I say I would do anything for one but I can’t seem to stop drinking too much after each failure (obviously I don’t drink in the tww)…. Ugh… I hope your hangover passed and that you enjoyed the rest of the festival!

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Thanks so much for your solidarity – in my saner moments I know that the odd glass of wine (or even the odd hangover from hell) isn’t what’s stopping me from getting pregnant but I agree google (and my mind) does its best not to let me believe that! Jessica x

      • waitingbetweenthelines

        I know. At our last appointment I told my doctor that I had had a serious pity party recently and that I was terrified I had somehow damaged my eggs… He reassured me that it is not possible. The homeopath told me differently though (so I’ve stopped going to her…hahaha…. Jokes… I have stopped going to her but not because of that)!

  2. thepursuitofmotherhood

    Whatever the reason, I don’t blame you. That’s not a homeopath anybody needs! Jessica x

  3. seekoff

    Alcohol is a tormentor! I know exactly how you feel. I love that you went for vegetarian wholesomeness to help you through. The guilt of a hangover is terrible & I’m not proud to say it but I’ve been there lots this past month due to weddings, birthdays etc. I have zero willpower in social settings and then eat my body weight in carbs and watch Friends in complete regret the next day- winner all round.

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Carbs and Friends is definitely the way to go! Just read your great post – Public Enemy and ICSI. I love that you have changed your password to HappyHealthyFSH4. It made me laugh out loud. I think I’ll change mine to Imtoooldforhangovers Jessica x

  4. Pippa Kassam

    As well as my own personal feeling of guilt attached to every glass of vino, is ‘the look’ from others who know you have subfertility issues, and behind their eyes they appear to me to be sighing with disapproval. But then, as my Councillor has eluded to on other issues in the past, am I just projecting ‘my perception’ of what I expect their opinion to be, on to them?

    So this is the part where no one who doesn’t know what it is like to be infertile, can possibly begin to understand what is going on behind our eyes, not least the exhaustion of guilt from every move we do or don’t take, alcohol or no alcohol! So after our last failed cycle we recovered in beautiful Provence with enough Luberon Rose to sink a ship! We had the best holiday despite our pain, which is no mean feat.

    We all know we make great sacrifices on our individual journeys through infertility. My latest one is to go Gluten free to help manage Endometriosis, as with many things linked to infertility (including alcohol!) there is a major lack of solid research to say there is a link, but it is making me feel better, and enabling me to lose the 4 kilos I piled on pumping my body full of hormones from the last two failed cycles!

    So I say we should be kind to ourselves and not forget to enjoy living whilst longing!


    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Hi Pippa, such an inspiring comment! It actually made me well up reading the words ‘no one who doesn’t know what it is like to be infertile can possibly begin to understand what is going on behind our eyes’ because you are so so right. It’s heartbreaking reading it and knowing it. But the fact that your last failed cycle led to the most wonderful holiday has got to be one of the blessings of infertility, and I do really believe there are some. One of my best friends said to me yesterday: “It’s all about what you do with the pain”. She’s so right. We have to find a way of turning this sadness into something good, and if that’s being able to stay up late having too many glasses of something strong then mine’s a gin and tonic (because after last week I’m still off the lager for a little bit longer). Really lovely to hear from you, Jessica x