Number 6 to the bistro please, Number 6?

There’s a pub we like to go to in wine country, two hours north of Sydney. It’s called the Wollombi tavern. They make a drink there called Dr Jurd’s Jungle Juice. For many visitors, that’s the last thing they remember about Wollombi, the bottom of their Dr Jurd’s glass.  It’s a gorgeous little blink-and-you’ll-miss-it heritage town, and it was here we were headed when we got engaged in 2009, and it was here we got married in March 2010.

The bistro makes great burgers, and it’s a bit of a feature that people stick their orders in, then have a quiet schooner on the verandah waiting for their order, staring out over the Wollombi brook. On Anzac day you can watch people playing and betting on two up, sometimes there’s a band, and one weekend a year, the one we got engaged in fact, there’s a woodchop competition. There’s nothing better than watching other people go and get their orders, checking out what they ordered, and hear your number get closer for your giant burger to arrive.

Well yesterday was a bit like waiting for  your number to be called at the pub. But there was no nice outlook, and no beer, and no funny i-just-came-down-from-the-hills folk to people watch. Yesterday was IVF egg collection.

Now let me tell you, at the pub, when you put in your order, they know how good the burgers are. They know how hungry you are, and how much you’re looking forward to it, and they share your burger excitement. And they always laugh at hub-in-boots and his happy food dance when the number is finally called. Even people making burgers appreciate the emotional content of the experience. They appreciate that someone may get upset when they’ve been sipping their beer and their number doesn’t get called. They appreciate the way people feel if they don’t get what they ordered. They appreciate the moment you’re after when you bite into that giant burger goodness.

But the people in the business of egg collection, they do not appreciate much. They do not appreciate that this particular experience is costing you $8000, or $3000 once the government kicks in their benefit. They do not appreciate that to put in this particular order, a part of you has to be removed, and taken away, out of your control, that a life may start when you’re not even in the room. They are standing at the bistro counter saying we’d like to cut out a part of you, give me your money, but I can’t tell you what you’re ordering. I can’t even tell you what’s on the menu. No one would consent to that in a bistro.

So yesterday, I could not articulate why I was balling my eyes out from the moment we got to reception of the day surgery. I could not point to exactly what was upsetting me. I did not want what turned out to be 5 people in a room, looking at my private girly bits when I was off with the pixies. I find it humiliating. I did not want parts of me leaving that room. I did not want to be under a general. I did not want to consent to an operation that was not, strictly, necessary for my health. It made as much sense as cosmetic surgery at the time.  And I could not outline why, when I woke up, I was unbelievably furious. I woke up in a rage. I woke up ANGRY.

Perhaps it had something to do with the piece of tape stuck to my hand. I could feel it pulling on my skin as I came out of consciousness. I could not make my eyes move, I could not make my fingers wiggle, but I could feel that piece of tape. And in and out, I could hear voices all around me. I could hear them all talking at once, and giving instructions to each other, and I could hear them saying “6. no it was 6. Yep 6.”. And I thought to myself, if it’s 6, I don’t ever want to wake up. I don’t want to be in a world where I went through that two weeks of shit, the 21 or so self injections and the 5 blood tests and 2 ultrasounds for 6 bloody eggs. I don’t want to come back from this.

We arrived together, and I started crying in reception. I could not stop. Then they called hub-in-boots for his porn lounge chair and bar fridge experience, and without warning, he was gone. And I sat, and I can’t tell you how close i was to just walking out of there. So bloody close. I wasn’t sure what my insides would do, but I didn’t much care. I really was going to walk out, when hub-in-boots reappeared, clearly pleased with himself, a sparkling eye, and his fly undone. At least that got me a laugh.

The nurse came to collect me, and seeing what a bloody mess I was,  she offered to let hub-in-boots come down with me to the surgery floor. She was very nice and very considerate. She could not have been nicer, said there must be something in the air today as they’d had a few upset egg collectees that morning. Then the procession began, a string of people asking the same questions over and over, the anaethesist, the doctor (oh he exists! We hadn’t seen him since before the cycle started), another nurse or two. Allergies, name, birthdate, what are you having done. Between each one I’d cry a bit more. They were quite nice to me, but I don’t think they realised how close I was to bailing out of there.

One of the hardest moments of my life was walking in and seeing an operating theatre, all set up, bench like a crucifix, giant spot light, machines that go ping. “Just get up here”, they said, like you were putting in an order at the bistro. They were all talking at once, it was confusing, all asking the same inane questions. Apart from the crucial one: “are you ok?”.

So i heard the talking later, I think before I was moved to recovery. And I heard them say “yep it was 6. Six. yep” and I just reclosed my eyes. I woke to the sense of being in a parking lot, of immense space and whiteness and the sense of other semi comatosed bodies around me. No curtains drawn, mind you, nothing that personal. I could feel the edges of the mask, I could see the mask, and I could feel the tape on my hand. I could hear, but I could not keep my eyes open, or respond if anyone spoke. There was just the big white space.

I made a decision then and there not to look at the tape on my hand. It seemed too big an effort, and it seemed I did not want to know. Eventually, they sat me up, and had me walk to recovery stage 2. I could not lift my head properly, I could not pick up the tea they brought. And I was getting angrier.

Hub-in-boots was brought in to join me, all happy like a puppy it was over. I could still barely speak. I still didn’t want to look at the tape. Eventually I did. Hub in boots goes “Six is still good! Six is ok!” and I just lost it. I practially, in my little post anaestheic voice, shouted at him. Six is NOT ok. Six is not cool. this is your fucking fault, you have not gone through this, I have and six is not ok. Not proud of attacking him like that, but I was furious. Still no one came to speak to us.

Eventually, they plonked a laptop down in front of hub-in-boots. Could he do a survey on our experience. Just after no one spoke to us. He started to ask the questions. I was so angry I could not respond. Eventually I did it, with a lot of “disappointed” clicks and “very disappointed”. The feedback is more personal at the bloody bistro.

At home later on, I was wailing. I could not describe the sense of loss, the sense of a part of me, being somewhere else in a dish, and no one even acknowledging what had just happened, no one talking to me about it apart from plonking a laptop down for “feedback”. “Feedback” says profit margin. “feedback” does not say patient care, or ethics, or dignity.  Poor hub in boots just waited as I wailed. And wailed.  And shouted at him for his positive attitude or as I called it “sunshine and lollipops version of ivf”. I tried to explain my experience was not as positive as he felt, and that in emphasising the positive he denied me my genuine pain by trying to erase it, or gloss over it. It wasn’t so much the physical pain, as the emotional. That was agony, and the panadeine did nothing for it.

Then the call came through, as I ran in and out of drunken drugged sleep. Six eggs…but only three are mature. I couldn’t get any more upset. I was just numb by then. I slept, and ate shit, and watched dvds, and made demands on poor hub in boots, who tried to hang on to the positive.

The cramping continued into Saturday, (and Sunday, and Monday), and it seemed I’d never slake my thirst. The crinone progesterone gel (gross) started to give me stomach upsets (unreal), sore boobs, and different cramping. I believe the aim is to make you feel so unsexy you will never have a sex life ever again, so that you’re locked into IVF because you’re so disgusting and miserable and bloated you’d never even consider making love or conceiving naturally. It’s working.

Saturday’s call was a little better, and it felt for the first time like I was lifting my head off the executioner’s block .I could see the blade. But all three eggs fertilised, so I felt, for a short time, like we had some kind of reprieve. I celebrated by watching 10 hours straight of Dexter series 1 on dvd, something I have never done in my life. I have never sat and watched tele for that long, not ever. I did NOTHING. But the series was compelling, and the twists and turns let my mind rest for a short while. Hub-in-boots sat beside me, ministering to the sick with drugs and cups of tea and heat bags.

Today I set out for a walk, as I don’t have to be at work til later on today. I then decided to turn it into a slow shuffly run, and I have to say it felt good. like my body was actually mine, and the decisions of what to do with it were mine to make. I didn’t overheat, and at week 9 day 1 of my C25K (a 9 week couch to 5 k running iphone app), it felt good to make progress on something. At 25 minutes the clinic rang, so I paused, fumbling with the headset, to find out of the 3 embryos, only one had made it to the appropriate stage of 6 cells. The other two were stuck at 4 cells, and while they’d continue to watch them, it wasn’t sounding good. I think even at 6 cells, our little battler is not quite where it should be. I was numb today. Ended the phone call and ran my last 5 minutes and did my cool down, then I rang hub-in-boots. He sounded a bit shocked. I don’t like being the one to always deliver the bad news. It seems like half our phone calls are me breaking really bad news these days. I’m not shocked, and in fact I’m relieved that one is looking ok. It will not surprise me if none make it to transfer, but my greatest hope is that our battler keeps going and one of the others joins the party. Hub-in-boots thinks the embryos are like me  -really bad in the morning and slow to wake up. I hope he’s right.

I had a big sit at our cafe, then walked home, via Villa Maria church, where I had a long sit and a lot of hail marys and a big cry. I’m not much of a church person, but having grown up going to Catholic schools there’s something old in the core of me that still wants to turn there at the most important moments in life. If one embryo makes it, we’ll have a transfer this wednesday, and probably have none to spare and freeze. No back up plan, no safety net. But hey, what are you going to do?

Number 6 to the bistro please? Number 3? Actually, make that number 1. We are completely powerless over what’s cooking in this particular kitchen. So we sit quietly on the verandah, and we wait. And just hope we get treated with a little bit more dignity in the steps that are yet to come. We’re going to head up to Wollombi next weekend. It’s the woodchop, it’s the weekend we got engaged. And i’ll put in an order at the bistro, (although I won’t be sipping on a beer while we wait). I just hope our order doesn’t end up being number 6.

Nil by mouth

Fasting starts in two hours and getting jittery. Don’t want a general anaesthetic, don’t like the idea of people hanging around my girlie bits when I’m not there, don’t want to be bloated and bleeding for two days. Crap. This is all getting a bit heavy…..

A trigger happy chook with a bunch of lead balloons. Game on.

All aboard the express train to the hen house. They’ve got my nesting box ready, I’m scratchin round in the straw, there’s gonna be a layin. Bock eeeek!

Despite facing the “maybe we’ll cancel”  call Saturday, despite planning the entire existence of project supergrover around surgery next Monday, we had a visit from the stern nurse and her magic wand this morning (“this will be cold…”) and we’re good to go this Friday. THIS Friday!

Hub in boots has been flapping his wings and making chicken sounds all day. He’s pretty impressed I can lay an egg. We were hoping for a dozen of the finest hormone induced artificially fed stressful existence cage eggs, but with me we’ve got a relatively happy hen and fingers crossed for a few short of the dozen. Or a half dozen. Whatever.  I was a bit disappointed but you can’t exactly squeeze another one out. It’s IVF, not Steggles.

I am trying to think of the appropriate metaphor for what I am currently carrying around. A bunch of lead balloons on either side? Saddle bags full of shot puts? Bunch of lead grapes? Dunno but there’s something in there. Not so much painful as awkward. It is painful, but is it worse than regular period pain? Just different I guess. It’s slowly getting more intense as time goes on, but it isn’t impossible. Have to say so far, IVF has been quite fine. Touch wood. Nowhere near as bad as I was expecting.

I was quite miffed originally I didn’t get clearer guidance on when to exercise during IVF. I ran Friday night (day 6) , I ran Sunday night (day 8).  No probs. Boxercise on day 4, no sweat. Today with my giant saddle bags? I am supposed to box tonight. No bloody chance. I feel like my internal organs might fall out if I moved faster than a shuffle, and a sit up would be out of the question. There will be no running. I think walking is a bit of a stretch, frankly.

Re my last post, nurse Tina was right – the pain, she arrived yesterday. No sooner were the words uttered “Yeah but I’m not in pain!” to someone in my office, than she arrived. Quietly at first (hello, you’ve been expecting me), but by the time my 3pm class hit she was a little louder (HELLO! I’m HERE. NOTICED ME?). To tell you the truth I was happy and pretty relaxed about the pain. I knew it meant we were moving in the right direction. I just have to remember not to reach for the naprogesic – they’re banned right now because they can affect implantation.

Hub in boots is psyching himself up for what he refers to as “humina humina day”. I am not sure that it will differ greatly from the good old bachelor days of a six pack of beer and some internet porn in a darkened room. Oh the inequality. He gets a bar fridge and a selection of vids, I get knocked out and attacked with needles in my most sacred bits in a room full of strangers, only to suffer bloating and bleeding for several days afterwards. Raw deal, I’m thinking.

In a similar vein, it is astounding the contrast of the marketing materials on IVF to the reality.

  • The marketing brochures: photos of mothers with beautiful babies and doting husbands in a labour ward. The reality: he’s in a room on his own watching porn. I have a random doctor with his head between my legs with several assistants.
  • The marketing brochures: graphs and flowcharts and a systematically planned medical intervention. The reality: a variable speed merry go round, or an express train without a driver. “the human body? Fuck knows what’s happening, just get on board!”. Yee ha!
  • The marketing brochures: clear outlines of days. The reality: absolute unpredictability of your whole existence with about 4 possible date scenarios running simultaneously, and it can turn on a dime.
  • the marketing brochures: all of the qualifications of your personal specialists. The reality: the voice on the end of the phone and the nurse holding the magic wand is your only link to the higher up medical professionals until they’re looking up your twilight zone as you drift off into the ether
  • the marketing brochures: hopeful looking couples sitting in a chic office with a doctor. The reality: a hapless pair sitting together at the dining room table surrounded by syringes and sharps containers, belly out, wrestling with a single bloody air bubble, having driven home at 90km an hour with the fuel light on to make “injection time”

Tonight was it for injection land.

just a normal night in

The drug wars are over. Almost. The gonal f (get you a layin, girl) has been left out in the cold. Done and dusted. The cetrotide and its crazy powder got one last look in before we got trigger happy. They rang me with the instructions today and I had to run out of a meeting. I wrote four pages of notes on the call. Cetrotide at 8pm for the last time, then baby, at 10:20, it’s trigger happy time.

I was doped out on the couch, hadn’t had tea, hanging on to a heat pack for all I was worth and drifting in and out of sleep when 8pm rolled around. I’ve been a bit wiped since the pain kicked in. No moodiness so far, I have actually been completely cool. Serene almost. No Gonal f felt weird, and I drew up the mixed powder and then jabbed the cetrotide. I immediately broke out in a bit of a rash around the injection site, but it did not swell like previous nights. Almost rang the after hours number about the rash, but figured I’d do a “wait n see”. Hope nothing becomes of it.

At 10:20pm, exactly, precisely 36 hours before the egg collection surgery, I gave myself the HcG trigger. There’s something about chinese hamsters on the leaflet. WTF? This is the final number in the IVF show, the curtain closer. I used to have a “game n watch” game in the 80’s when I was a kid, and mickey mouse had to run from hen house to hen house with a basket, catching eggs. That’s what the Ovidrel trigger does. Gets the basket out, and removes all the barriers. Starts those eggs a rolling. Lets hope someone’s there to catch them.

And on Friday, when I’m out to it, my doctor that I haven’t seen since we signed the forms, will drain each of the dark circles they can see on the ultrasound by sticking a needle (yes a freakin needle!) through the wall of my you know what, drain the fluid, and hopefully find in there, a happy little egg. The more eggs, the more needles go in. Nasty. All they can see on the scan is the fluid in the follicle, and they measure it using the ultrasound software, then work on the theory that over a certain size they’ll contain a mature egg. At first one  follicle is larger and there’s lots of smaller ones. As the days go on, some give up the ghost and disappear. In a natural cycle, when one becomes dominant the others die off. In an IVF cycle, the drug wars to “egg you on” and “hold you back”  at the same time, having the effect of growing all the follicles in a game of catch up to the dominant one so they all become a viable size, holding off ovulation, then finally releasing it with the trigger. Hence the bunch of lead grapes I’m currently carrying around.

Project Supergrover is moving into phase 2. Goodness knows how it got that name. We were having a drunk conversation one night a long time ago.  Way before IVF, back when we thought we could do this the easy way. There’s a newsreader we love on SBS who does sports reports. And he has this mad name: Tui Palore Evan Charlton. And we decided we liked the name Evan. But we also decided it needed a whimsical middle name. So we thought snuffleufugus was a bit long, and settled on Grover. I am not sure whether we really WOULD give a kid the middle name Grover, but after a bottle of red it seemed like a damn good idea and it stuck. So when faced with IVF,  Project supergrover was a logical extension.

Anyway, hub in boots bought us matching supergrover t shirts for operation supergrover. I think we’ll wear them on Friday and freak the staff out. He had his on especially for the trigger shot tonight.

Bock bock bock….bock eeeeeeek!

Suck it up, princess

Currently waiting for the nurses phone call. Again.

I feel like I’m at the weigh in on the Biggest Loser, but my
numbers haven’t appeared yet. My team have been working really hard, doing
exactly what the coaches say to do. Injections by the clock, healthy meals, no
alcohol, ran 21km last week plus a boxing class, drinking water. Refused the
“temptation” challenge, got our eyes on the prize. I’ve done the breaking down
and balling my eyes out on camera, I’ve done the “how the hell did I get in
this state amateur psychoanalysis with the personal trainer on national TV”.
And I’ve got back up again. I’ve stepped on the scales, and they’ve just thrown
to an ad break. Again.

Or maybe I’m at a rose ceremony in “the Bachelorette”, and  there’s ten girls, one bloke, and one rose…and me and the doc have not had  any “alone time” of late, so my chances are looking bad compared to the other  younger perkier contestants. They flash past footage of my earlier partners  when I refused to settle down, summarising my life til now in a simple linear  plotline. By now, I should be seeing the error of my ways.

For once, sitting in my office and marking today was  excellent. Marking requires about 90% of my brain at any given moment, and it  really helps those hours fly. Never thought I’d say I was glad to have marking.
But I’ve finished it, in record time, with laser like concentration. So now I’m
sitting at my desk bloody waiting.  I’ve  already tried the anticipatory phone call…they wouldn’t have a bar of it. I’m  back waiting.

I have found I’m a little more spacey than normal. Mid  phrase in a lecture, my mind wanders off to injections or blood tests ,or more  often than that, just stops.  My mind has
a lot more semicolons than in its normal sentences. I have a lot more moments  where my mind just steps off a cliff, road runner style, and just hangs in mid  air for quite a long time. I should check the roof of my office for a large  metal object with ACME written on the side.

Is there any evidence  IVF makes you lose IQ points?

The weekend went a bit pear shaped on Saturday. It was a “up  the dose your bloods are not doing what we want” call at midday Saturday. The  nurses through this information out like bird seed, and I’m the proverbial  pigeon. They think nothing of it, but for you, the pigeon, it’s bloody  everything at that moment. You peck at every bit you can get, you try and eat  the inedible, just in case. You stock up information from their calls like
you’ll never get another chance, cause hell, it’s better than Google. I was
really upset after their call. I am just not sure yet whether I had good reason
to be. Sometimes on this not so merry go round you don’t even realise when
you’re on a hair trigger response til someone gets shot, metaphorically.

After a bit of probing I got the phrase “if it does not  improve we may just have to try again another month”. This I heard as “we may  have to cancel this cycle”. My estrogen levels are not going up as much as they  would like.  I will be well pissed if I’ve  gone through these injections and trying to set up my work schedule for this  whole thing for nada, diddly squat, big fat nuthin. It’s one thing to get to  the end of the cycle and fail, it’s another not to even make it that far.

I feel like I’ve failed at natural conception. We’ve already  had one big fat failure. To not even MAKE it to egg collection at IVF, to not  even get a CHANCE at conception would be too much.

I am uncomfortable in the hands of experts. I’m an  intelligent woman, I like to make informed choices. I like to understand what  is happening, to have the information so I can anticipate the possible  outcomes. But with this process so far, it’s like being on a conveyor belt. You  just get on when they say, get off have bloods done. Get back on til they say,
get off have a scan. Then wait til they tell you to get back on. IF they tell  you to get back on. There is little acknowledgement of the emotional content of  the journey. It is all procedure, all process.  I want to be engaged, educated, informed…after  all we are trying to create our child here. I am, instead, shuffled.

Phew got the call. Estrogen levels looking “fine”. Head OFF  the executioner’s block for the time being, same level of injections, scan on  Wednesday.

Today I had a scan…come here, let me wave my magic wand up you!  Hello? You could at LEAST buy me drink first! I had 6 follicles on each  side. This was fewer than I expected, as when I had the Hy-Co-Sy they saw 13 on  one side and 14 on the other. The Hy cosy was
a) PCOS in action and b) not all of them make it through that early part  of your cycle. So I guess this means the maximum we can get is 12 (hey it’s a  carton of eggs…though I’d say under these conditions they’re cage eggs, high  on hormones, not my normal free range organic numbers from happy hens!) and  realistically we’re probably looking at 7 or 8. Not quite the bumper crop I was  hoping for, but better than a cancellation. I still look like a bunch of grapes  down there.

A bit more seed for the bird..peck peck peck..the nurse says  “make sure you’re drinking HEAPS of water. And keep up the fibre – don’t get  constipated. And take panadol or Padadeine for the pain”. Hang on a tick,  birdseed lady, pain? What pain? I am not in any! So I asked:

“so is it gonna get ugly then, in the next few days?” and  she just laughed / snorted.

Hmmm. Thanks for that nurse Tina. Well if the pain is for a  reason, I can cop it, and I’d rather pain than a cancelled cycle.

Suck it up,  princess.

Paranoia Paranoia, only stupid people are breeding…an exercise in mindfulness (contains tourettes level swearing)

What is it in the universe that causes pregnant women and
babies to magically appear around you, in hordes, the minute you are either a)
trying to conceive, or b) having fertility issues? Seriously. The world is
trying to poke me in the eye. I have never even NOTICED the baby aisle at the
supermarket before…now I can’t buy any beauty products or deodorant in Coles
because it’s in that bloody aisle.

Every student that has come to me with special consideration
is either 25 and having their fourth child, or married to someone that is.
Every stinky stupid ignorant unable to pass a single subject student is
breeding. And breeding. They’ve all got odd “SOCKS”, as hub-in-boots calls them
(Acronym for Some Other C@#$’s Kids, odd socks =  from several men).

There’s some good parenting choices, right there.

And the accidental pregnancies are extraordinary.

“Oops! I’m having twins”.

“Oops! My boyfriend of six months and I thought hey why not
throw out the contraception, and look, here we are, two months down the track
and up the duff! Can’t believe it’s that easy!”

“Well we didn’t really want another one, but what are you
going to do, hey?”

“I just have to look at my husband and I’m pregnant”.

Yes, thank you. I’ll take your comments under advisement. You’ve been most helpful. YOU IDIOT.

I would like to suggest international punch a smug pregnant woman day / smug parent, but it may not be politically correct. I might suggest it anyway.

I’ve had an ongoing spot the monkey baby competition in cafes all over Sydney. There’s a lot of ugly kids out there. And if it makes me feel better, so be it. There’s a few families where i’ve gone “really? You got that first, and you didn’t think to stop at ONE?”. Some would say my monkey baby spotting is the direct karmic cause of our current predicament.

We can have a punching day for them, too.

And international punching day for each person that says:

“well maybe you aren’t meant to be a parent” or

“well life has other things in store for you” Yes, like a miserable lonely old age and an empty bank account from IVF . Ta. I can’t wait.

Or possibly the most helpful observation of all:

“well at least you don’t have cancer”. Actually uttered out loud. To me. By a family member.

I get the giggles everytime I think about a relaxation exercise we did in the “managing anxiety in IVF” workshop the other week.  You had to imagine yourself, walking up a
field to this tree, an enormous, old tree. And the tree was your thoughts, giant branches, reaching up to the sky of your thoughts. You sat beside the tree, and next to the tree is a stream, a beautiful stream, you can hear the water, running away, gently down the hill.

Some people lost the image at this point. I suspect they were the ones who already had a child and had weak pelvic floors. The running stream made them want to go to the toilet.

Anyway, those of us with reasonable pelvic floors were able to continue.

So as you sat there, the leaves from the tree fell, and on the leaf was written one thought. You visualised your thought, summarised, written on the leaf, then you let it go. Watched your thought float away down the stream. Another leaf, another thought, floating away. You don’t judge the thought, you don’t get caught up in the emotion, you just observe it, and then you let it go.

A lovely exercise in mindfulness, to take you out of the “heat” of getting caught up in the infertility experience.

Except I got the giggles.

Bear in mind, at this point, we are only five weeks post diagnosis. Just.  We haven’t started IVF yet, we just know we’re completely fucked.

So on my leaves, I’ve beautifully rendered in my mind this tranquil scene. I can see the leaves. I can see the grassy slope, and I am walking up to this magnificent tree, like a moreton bay fig, stretching its branches up and dropping giant leaves.

Written on every leaf of mine, is swearing.




Drifting down the stream





down the stream


down the stream.

Ah the serenity. Floating down, down down the stream.

Floating, down down down the stream.

like a junkies house, only with more electrical goods

Tonight was fun. Big mother of a needle #1, little needle #4. Rock on IVF. It’s a bit of a worry when the drug boxes in your fridge outnumber the yoghurts.

Cetrotide (stop that premature ovulation now) is bloody complicated. Step 1: vial of powder. Step 2: syringe with fluid Step 3: mix using GIANT needle in vial. Step 4: cha cha cha. Swirl it around til it doesn’t look like badly made cupcake icing. Step 5: Take another dirty great big needle, upend it, draw some fluid out of the vial without making it look like an aero bar with lots of freakin bubbles. Geez I managed to stuff that up. Big time. It took us 15 minutes to get it sorted. Kept getting the tip of the needle above the fluid level and sucking up giant gulps of air. Step 6: get rid of all the freakin bubbles. step 7: stick dirty great big needle in your fat roll Step 8: try not to freak out when your skin pulls out like mount kosiousko when trying to extract said needle. Or when your skin starts swelling up around the injection site. Youch. It never ends up quite as simple as the DVD, and I find people smile a lot less than on the drug company footage. It was a bit distracting that the big reveal on “beauty and the geek” makeovers was occurring at the same time was my little air bubble war.

Interestingly, the large needle made no difference, pain wise. It’s the original going in that hurts, so the length makes little difference. What does make the difference is the awkwardness of manoeuvering it in and out without changing the angle. If you change the angle in or out you end up with a worse puncture wound.

I feel like there’s going to be some kind of drug war going on  in me now. The luteinizing hormone gang with Gonal F as their home boy are going all out on the turf, stirring up business in the ovaries. Eggs baby, that’s their turf. But the new kid in town, Cetrotide, is swaggering around and making threats to anyone who tries to lay too early.  Who’s going to win? and the main question is am I going to be the loser in this street fight?

The Cetrotide is like a light switch, turning off your own hormones, so the rest of the chemical roller coaster can take you on a lovely scary ride. My little Gonal F buddy was a minor glitch afterwards, the main show tonight was the freaky Cetrotide experience. Seriously, you would think in this day and age they could come up with a simpler method for this, like a double chambered self mixing syringe or something. So much bloody kerfuffle.

I looked around me at the end of the carnage, and there were needle caps and swabs everywhere.  Hub in boots coached throughout and was very helpful, and cleaned up the carnage afterwards. He said he was proud of me, in the kind of voice that said “thank CHRIST you didn’t ask me to do that FOR you.” He would have come to the party if I’d needed him to step in, but I think it’s hard enough to do without having someone else controlling the pain and timing. I only had a little moment of flipping-stomach- I’m-going- to- pass-out, and that was pulling the needle OUT, funnily enough.

The fridge still looks a little junkie’s, but there’s food in there too. And although IVF is poisonously expensive, we haven’t hocked the furniture and the electricals yet. YET.

watching the leaves float down the stream

I went to the counsellor at the clinic today. She’s good, nice, thorough. She has that trick of spotting the flaws in your logic, the points where you need to step outside yourself and evaluate your ways of thinking and feeling. Sometimes I wonder whether all that stuff is like dust, better left undisturbed, lest it make you sneeze. It’s tiring, evaluating yourself and your feelings. I’m not up for much afterwards, and have concentrated on the more mindless tasks this afternoon.

Her aim seems to be to fill up your toolbox, to find those strategies that help you to cope, to group them together, and to remind you and help you to remind yourself, that you have them. It is good because it as active, it reminds you of the things you can control, in this ridiculously controlled/ uncontrolled environment.

She got me to start thinking ahead today, about where I would like to be when we get THE phone call. The “yes you’re pregnant” / “sorry you’re not pregnant” phone call. Originally I visualised at work, in my office, big box of tissues, door shut. I’m starting to rethink that one. Now I’m thinking sitting with hub in boots, down on the wharf, by the water together, speaker phone on. The counsellor asked me how long I thought would be reasonable to grieve? How would I feel if it was positive news? I had clear ideas on how long you grieve if it is a person that dies. It is not so clear where it is an idea of a person that dies. She calls these intangible losses. Not usually marked, not usually even acknowledged by those around us, but possibly still profound.

The tension in experiencing IVF is something that is ahead of me. I think part of the problem is the terrible tearing between hope (we want a baby, we know we’ll be great parents) and realism (the stats at my age are terrible…25% pregnancy per cycle, 15% take home bubba, multiple cycles are expensive and wearing and may damage our relationship and ourselves). There’s a pull between the incredible control over you and your own complete lack of control. The control: being at home at 9:40pm every night for two weeks of injections, 1-2 drinks a day- 1-2 coffees or teas a day, several blood tests a week, phone calls every second day, counselling once a week. The lack of control: we can’t buy tickets to Paul Keating in conversation because it’s probably prior to egg collection, we can’t buy tickets to The ship song project because I don’t know where we’ll be in cycle, I can’t plan my interviews for work because I don’t know how I’ll be feeling, we are subject to a chemical regimen so have limited control over our emotions, in the coming weeks we must wait for phone calls, often daily, that in some way determine our fate, we don’t know if the medical professionals know what they’re doing or are good enough, we don’t know what caused hub- in- boots problems or whether my body and eggs are up to the job ahead.

But I’m listening to the counsellor’s views, trying to take it one little step at a time, not to think too far ahead, not to catastrophise. For now, it is us, 9:40 every night. Tomorrow, a blood test before work, and a second, scarier kind of injection, still at 9:40pm. For now, that is enough. We take slow, measured, steps, towards our future.