A mum’s story — warts and all

Jodie Nicholson

Chase reporter MICHAEL UPTON meets mum Jodie Nicholson who has put her IVF experiences into print in a bid to help others

A MUM who has written a “warts and all” book about her experience of undergoing IVF hopes it will become a guide for other would-be parents.

Jodie Nicholson, of Aston in Rotherham, told of her struggle to become a mum through a diary charting the early days of tests and injections through to the challenges and joys of pregnancy and the ordeal of giving birth in the midst of a pandemic.

And she said she was touched by the positive feedback she had received since IVF Only was published.

“The whole point of writing the book was I wanted it to be warts and all and what IVF was really like for me and to tell my story honestly,” said 30-year-old Jodie, now the proud mum to eight-month-old Nell.

“I have had mums thanking me for speaking up and saying: ‘Everything you are going through and feeling is normal.’

“Often you feel you are alone. I’ve had a lot of people who’ve been through IVF saying they cannot believe how relatable it is.

“I also had some quite interesting feedback from people who’ve not gone through IVF, too – they have said it’s inspiring and eye-opening of what it takes for some people to start a family and have a child.”

At times, Jodie’s emotions were raw, and Jodie’s anger and bitterness is graphically conveyed in the book, but there are also laugh-out-loud moments and moving touches, especially when she acknowledges the calmness and kindness of husband Steve.
IVF Only is highly technical at times, such as when detailing the process of regular pre-implantation injections, but also packs plenty of punch — and Jodie’s account of the pain she endured during childbirth may well resonate with many mums.

Jodie openly admitted she had considered throwing in the towel with her diary but had been determined to press on.

“I think the benefit for me was people do expect you to just get on with things but they don’t realise that at this time this was my whole life and between work and relationships I did struggle with it,” she said.

“At the time, nothing else really mattered.

“I did battle with whether I should continue with it.

“In the beginning, it was such a relief for me and there were times where I just couldn’t be bothered.

“But I felt I had to stick it out and carry on and I’m so proud of the final result.”

Jodie said she was looking forward to the day her baby daughter Nell would be able to read about how she was created.

“It is really important for me and Steve that she does know she was made – she was made of love of course but without science she would not be here,” said Jodie.

Jodie said she hoped IVF Only could be a help to all readers, adding: “I wanted it to be a manual for anyone going through IVF and they can use it how they like.

“I put in a trigger warning saying there would be references to childbirth and labour but I hope people will be able to read the book at least up to that point and that even read in parts the book would be useful to people.

“Four or five years ago, I could never have dreamed I would be a mum so I would like to think whatever you are in your journey my book can provide some sort of help.

“There is always hope, whether it be through adoption or surrogacy, there is always something else to try.”

Jodie said she was delighted with how the book had been received, adding: “We are doing really well and I’ve sold copies in Spain, Germany, Canada, Australia and USA, which is unbelievable, so I can say I’m international. I’m really proud of that.”

IVF Only may be out but the Nicholsons’ story may yet have another chapter, as Jodie and Steve are considering having more IVF to make a little brother or sister for Nell.

“We still have embryos left, so we don’t want them going to waste,” said Jodie. “I’ve done it once so I can do it again.”

The Untouchable artist

Manish Harijan (picture by Ryan Braidley

by SHARON GILL – Rotherham Open Arts Renaissance (ROAR) chief executive

CHOOSING a life in the arts can be a big decision for many people, and challenging for their families to understand. It is not a career choice that offers security nor surety.

For some people, though, it is not a choice, it is a necessity, and this need to create provides the strength and motivation that drives them on in the face of all hardships and barriers.

Manish Harijan is one such individual.

Born in 1985 in a village in the western Himalayas in Nepal to a family in the untouchable caste, the Dalit (Sarki), Manish would help his father in his work as a shoemaker. This was the early introduction to materials, to making, to shape and form. He recalls his childhood working with bamboo, clay and other rural crafts and refers to his father as an artist and this period of time as being where he developed the basis for his artistic capacity.

Schooling was a challenge, coming from poverty, and education cost money. Lower caste workers were not paid a living wage leaving nothing for investing in their future. A tangible form of financial discrimination.

Manish was orphaned in his mid-teens and was brought to the attention of Krishna Karki, the founder of SWAN, a Nepalese charity. It is this relationship that has enabled Manish’s incredible journey, and his connection to Rotherham.

Shaman

Rotherham-based businessman Nick Cragg and his wife Marie are founding members of PHASE Worldwide (Practical Help Achieving Self Empowerment), a charity based in Vienna. PHASE Nepal, a dedicated NGO working exclusively with remote Himalayan villages, was established in 2006 and now employs approximately 200 people. It was through this charitable work that Nick and Marie met Krishna from SWAN, and consequently Manish.

Krishna had witnessed the creative talent from this orphan who would draw in the dirt with a stick, demonstrating “a precocious talent” in his village. Nick and Marie agreed to sponsor Manish’s education, and further education.

Manish is the first to admit he was not a natural at formal education. He failed his School Living Certificate several times.

I wonder at this point in our interview about the drive and motivation to persist. Here is a rural Nepalese young man, orphaned, having experienced huge social injustice through a nation’s historic cultural system, being supported by strangers at that point. Yet he kept on trying. Manish explains: “I had the intention to study fine art, I needed that certificate. It didn’t feel like failure, I was curious.”

Should you meet Manish, this response provides a great indication of the man. He is thoughtful, grounded, and calm, approaching all of life’s challenges as an observer, gathering experiences and inspirations, while examining the human condition and the ways we react and respond to social injustice.

With such focus on his end goal, Manish of course makes it to Kathmandu to study for an art degree, with financial support.

In my ignorance, I wonder at the situation that enables Manish to consider a career, a life in the arts, when it is so unpredictable.

He recalls that his school teachers saw his talent and suggested he become an artist. He also explains that his early experiences taught him that artistic skills are also survival skills, thinking back to his father’s life. That arrogance of youth is also evident in his decision making, the need to make your mark and challenge the oppressor.

Kali-Odalisque

Coming from the lower caste he was considered to be incapable of any capacity for intellect, and that was a challenge worth fighting, in a positive way. The fight for equality in Nepal was already underway.

We discussed the caste system for a little while. I had recently watched a film, The Last Man by Shatterproof Productions, exposing the inhuman activities suffered by the lowest caste and the sewer cleaning employment practices in India, where the identification of different castes is often through your name. So why not change your name ? This ofcourse is not always possible legally but also people will have prior knowledge of you or your family, and then there is the Why Should I?

I first met Manish in Rotherham, maybe seven years ago now. He was introduced as ‘an artist in political exile’. In 2012, Manish was offered an eight-month artist in residency at Patan Museum, through Celia Washington (co-founder of the Kathmandu Contemporary Arts Centre). A year after Manish completed his degree in Kathmandu, Sangeeta Thapa (director of Siddhartha Art Gallery) offered and supported Manish with his first solo art exhibition at the Siddhartha Art Gallery in Kathmandu.

Shockingly, and with global attention, Hindu fundamentalists vandalised the gallery and Manish received death threats significant enough for UNESCO to issue a press release in support of freedom of expression. The work that caused the situation blended iconography from both the East and the West, depicting Hindu gods in superhero costumes that “questions both the portrayal and the portrayed”.

Nick and Marie enabled Manish to come to Rotherham, as he had been forced into hiding, so he came for a six months stay in 2013. During this time Manish met a great many people, and did some charity work in schools. He smiles, saying he saw the good life, living in another world. Then he asked himself: “Am I forgetting what I am trying to do with this lifestyle?”.

On returning to Kathmandu to progress his artistic career, Manish felt unsupported and depressed. He was not an easy artist to represent anymore and his work was considered anti-religion and anti-establishment.

He came back to the UK to visit galleries and museums and while he was visiting Sheffield Hallam University he met with a course tutor, Penny McCarthy. The conversation led to viewing Manish’s portfolio of work, when he was offered a place to study for an MA. The only barrier at that point was his command of the English language. Unsurprisingly Manish went back to Nepal and secured the qualification he needed and has now completed his MA, and was awarded the Diane Willcocks Lifelong Learning Award.

Talking to Manish about his art, what inspires him is like trying to hold water in your hands. He uses everything, “every moment in the world inspires me a lot”. He recognises the complexities within society, and how works of art through history have revealed socialist structures. He is currently working in a supermarket filling shelves and sees capitalism up close, and the power of money. All these things end up expressed in his art.

Hungry gods and the dust (picture by Ryan Braidley)

Currently in his studio at Yorkshire Artspace in Sheffield, Manish is embarking on an ambitious quest to develop within two years a new technique he calls Thang-Su-Flat. This builds on the Super Flat in painting popularised by Takashi Murakami, and also brings in inspiration from the traditional Nepalese traditions of Thangka and Paubha.

At the same time his international reputation is growing, and he has been shortlisted for the UK Government Art Collection.

His exhibition history is impressive, and includes Welt Museum in Vienna, The Hague, Tate Modern, Denmark, New Dehli , etc.

It is quite a remarkable journey, and the fact that Manish has turned adversity into positive artistic expressions is inspirational. To paraphrase Marcel Duchamp, Manish contributes: “I don’t believe in art but I believe in the artist. An artist should challenge the system and ease for the uncomforted.”

FACTFILE:
Website: http://www.manisharijan.com
Email: horizon.millinum@gmail.com/horizon_1985@live.com
Website: https://phaseworldwide.org/about-us/our-story/

Quick Quiz #7

Welcome to the latest Chase magazine website Quick Quiz.

As usual, there are ten questions with multiple choice answers to test your memory and knowledge.

It’s all for fun. You can have a go during your coffee break or at home with the family.

The answers will be revealed on this website on March 10 at 9am.

1 During emergencies, the Government has COBRA meetings. But what does COBRA stand for?
A) Co-ordinated Official British Response Assessment
B) Civilian Organised Bureau for Rapid Activity
C) Cabinet Office Briefing Room A

2 In which Puccini opera do the characters Ping, Pang and Pong appear?
A) Madama Butterfly
B) Tosca
C) Turandot

3 TIM, Orac and BOSS featured in different sci-fi TV series. But what were they?
A) Spaceships
B) Computers
C) Alien commanders

4 Who was the first female newsreader on British television?
A) Barbara Mandell
B) Angela Rippon
C) Nan Winton

5 Who was the first Archbishop of Canterbury?
A) Thomas Cranmer
B) Augustine
C) William Laud

6 What is the name of the company famous for making teddy bears?
A) Wedgewood
B) Faberge
C) Steiff

7 Which of these was NOT part of a trilogy of films by highly esteemed director Krystof Kieslowski?
A) Three Colours Red
B) Three Colours Black
C) Three Colours Blue

8 What is the link between American Erika LaBrie and the Eiffel Tower?
A) She climbed it
B) She painted it
C) She married it

9 How is Queen Elizabeth II related to Queen Victoria?
A) She is her grand-daughter
B) She is her great great grand-daughter
C) She is her distant cousin

10 On what date was South Yorkshire created?
A) April 1, 1974
B) January 1, 1982
C) March 5, 1965

Quick Quiz #6 – the answers

We hope you enjoyed the sixth of our popular Quick Quizzes.

There will be another Quick Quiz appearing on the Chase website in the not-too-distant future.

Here are the Quick Quiz #6 answers:

1 What was Russian writer Anton Chekhov’s only full-length novel?
A) The Seagull
B) The Shooting Party
C) The Cherry Orchard
ANSWER: B) The Shooting Party

2 Which comedy team invented characters known as Gumbys?
A) The Goons
B) The Fast Show
C) Monty Python’s Flying Circus
ANSWER: C) Monty Python’s Flying Circus

3 Who was the first assistant to appear alongside Jon Pertwee’s incarnation of Doctor Who?
A) Jo Grant
B) Liz Shaw
C) Sarah-Jane Smith
ANSWER: B) Liz Shaw

4 Which novel featured the characters Renton, Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie?
A) Trainspotting
B) Once Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
C) Catch 22
ANSWER: A) Trainspotting, by Irvine Welsh

5 What is the best-selling album of all time?
A) Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd
B) Back in Black by AC/DC
C) Thriller by Michael Jackson
ANSWER: C) Thriller

6 Which of these is a type of cloud?
A) Astro-stratus
B) Cumulo-nimbus
C) Cirro-monsoon
ANSWER: B) Cumulo-nimbus

7 Who was the longest-serving British Prime Minister?
A) William Gladstone
B) Robert Walpole
C) Henry Pelham
ANSWER: B) Robert Walpole who served for 20 years and 314 days. Henry Pelham served for 10 years and 191 days and Gladstone 12 years and 126 days but over four terms.

8 Which of these would represent the rotations per minute speeds on a record player?
A) 27, 45, 78
B) 33, 49, 78
C) 33, 45, 78
ANSWER: C) 33, 45, 78

9 Which of these were old Russian measurements?
A) Cubit and span
B) Shtof and verst
C) Rel
ANSWER: B) Shtof and verst

10 Who was the UK’s first female Prime Minister?
A) Theresa May
B) Caroline Lucas
C) Margaret Thatcher
ANSWER: C) Margaret Thatcher

Quick Quiz #6

It’s time to give yourself a mental challenge with our latest Chase website quiz.

It’s just for fun, to test yourself and your family and friends.

The answers will be on the website on February 28, 2021 at 10am

1 What was Russian writer Anton Chekhov’s only full-length novel?
A) The Seagull
B) The Shooting Party
C) The Cherry Orchard

2 Which comedy team invented characters known as Gumbys?
A) The Goons
B) The Fast Show
C) Monty Python’s Flying Circus

3 Who was the first assistant to appear alongside Jon Pertwee’s incarnation of Doctor Who?
A) Jo Grant
B) Liz Shaw
C) Sarah-Jane Smith

4 Which novel featured the characters Renton, Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie?
A) Trainspotting
B) Once Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
C) Catch 22

5 What is the best-selling album of all time?
A) Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd
B) Back in Black by AC/DC
C) Thriller by Michael Jackson

6 Which of these is a type of cloud?
A) Astro-stratus
B) Cumulo-nimbus
C) Cirro-monsoon

7 Who was the longest-serving British Prime Minister?
A) William Gladstone
B) Robert Walpole
C) Henry Pelham

8 Which of these would represent the rotations per minute speeds on a record player?
A) 27, 45, 78
B) 33, 49, 78
C) 33, 45, 78

9 Which of these were old Russian measurements?
A) Cubit and span
B) Shtof and verst
C) Rel

10 Who was the UK’s first female Prime Minister?
A) Theresa May
B) Caroline Lucas
C) Margaret Thatcher

Quick Quiz #5 – the answers

How did you do with our latest Quick Quiz?

Was it a real challenge or did you find it a cinch?

The next Quick Quiz will be appearing on the Chase website in the near future so we hope you will have a go at that one too.

Anyway, back to Quick Quiz #5. Here are the answers:

  1. In cricket, what does MCC stand for?
    A) Middlesex Cricket Club
    B) Merseyside Cricket Club
    C) Marylebone Cricket Club
    ANSWER: C) Marylebone Cricket Club

2. Peter Wyngarde played the foppish author Jason King in which ‘60s TV adventure series?
A) The Champions
B) Department S
C) The Man from UNCLE
ANSWER: B) Department S

3. Which US president served for the shortest period?
A) Zachary Taylor
B) James Abram Garfield
C) William Henry Harrison
ANSWER: C) William Henry Harrison – the ninth president died of typhoid, pneumonia or paratyphoid fever after just 31 days in the role. Zachary Taylor served for 14 months before dying of a stomach illness. James Abram Garfield was assassinated after six months.

4. What does the S stand for in T S Eliot’s name?
A) Stearns
B) Sebastian
C) Sisyphus
ANSWER: A) Stearns

5. What is the scientific name for the swift?
A) Delichon urbicum
B) Apus apus
C) Hirundo rustica
ANSWER: B) Apus apus. Delichon urbicum is the house martin and Hirundo rustica is the swallow, both similar to the swift but unrelated.

6. What is Clyde Tombaugh famous for discovering?
A) The melting point of lead
B) A new species of spider
C) The planet Pluto
ANSWER: C) The planet Pluto

7. What is the nickname of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club?
A) The Lilywhites
B) The Valiants
C) The Iron
ANSWER: A) The Lilywhites. The Valiants are Port Vale and The Iron are Scunthorpe United.

8. Who is the only British Prime Minister to have been assassinated?
A) William Cavendish-Bentinck
B) William Lamb
C) Spencer Perceval
ANSWER: C) Spencer Perceval

9. Which British city appeared in the name of a 1970 live album by The Who?
A) Leeds
B) Birmingham
C) Manchester
ANSWER: A) Leeds – the album was Live in Leeds.

10. In the TV series Killing Eve, what is the name of the female assassin?
A) Eve Polastri
B) Carolyn Martens
C) Villanelle
ANSWER: C) Villanelle – Eve Polastri is the MI6 agent who develops a fascination with her and Carolyn Martens is Eve’s boss.