In the immortal words of Abba, take a chance on me

Scientists called.

There will be no elimination ceremony today.

All 12 embryos are at day 3 and right on track. 9 are morulas (day 4 level embryo) and 3 a bit slower. Doc just rang and based on the usual progression they won’t all make it, with many dropping off between morula and blastocyst, but he’s thinking Wednesday we’ll at least have one or two…

And IVF is a numbers game, after all.

All I’m asking is that one or two or three of these speedy little embies take a chance on me and hub in boots (and the deep freeze).

How do you like your eggs?

So out of 17 collected, 14 were mature. The others were just not up to it.

And out of the 14 grown ups, 12 chose to hang around for fertilisation. We’ve specially saved the mandarin for future ranga representation. Another nail biting wait and phone call tomorrow about how many make it to 6-8 cells. Cross your fingers.

Recovery has been ok post surgery, but feeling flat and tired today. Possibly too many episodes of Dexter series 4. I’m ok when I’m sitting still, but a walk this morning and a rough night’s sleep thanks to noisy neighbours last night and I’m wiped out. Not too sore though. They were worried about OHSS (Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome) given the size of the egg collection, but no signs of it and doing ok so far. Better than last time in fact. We’re both stoked with our numbers and hub in boots opened champagne when we got the call about 14 mature. I watched him drink – I was still post general anaesthetic. There was a bit of lounge room dancing for the 12 fertilised.

Back on the dreaded Crinone…the worst part of the whole deal. At least I know the drill. I really need a twelve step programme for my twistie  / smartie addiction, but I seriously blame the Crinone.

And now we wait.

Project supergrover orders eggs over easy

Supergrover is impressed

Egg collection today. 17 eggs, 14 mature. Score. Somewhere in a petri dish, we have one big happy family. Recovered much better, enough to draw on eggs, anyway. We only had 16 eggs in the house, so one personification of today’s experience has been replaced with a small mandarin. (This represents the ranga / ginger / fanta pants children we run the risk of bringing into the world….).

Meet the family!

Which ones are gonna make it? My money is on the bunny, the smiley one, and the vague one looking off elsewhere.  (If it arrives with a beard or glasses I’m sending it back).

Meet the family!

A pictorial update will follow tomorrow when we get the call from the scientists……

Roy Rogers and My Pal trigger. Yee hah!

Their pathway to care:

My pathway to care:

My halo slipped and it was choking me, so I gave up and cracked the Zinfandel that the lovely folks at Kangarilla Road sent me for my birthday. I went to boxing tonight. I went well, apart from running weird, a little like Roy Rogers. So I’d earned a glass of  post -boxing- pre- trigger injection red to calm my 11:20pm trigger injection nerves. Hub-in-boots was shocked at my wanton abandon.

“Wine?” he says aghast, “How long since we’ve had wine?”.

I had my scan today, 7 follicles on left, 16 on right, no wonder I’m walking like a cowboy. I’ve only had minimal discomfort this round. Later on the clinic stuffed me around again (majorly) and did not call until 6pm with trigger time and operation time, and only AFTER I’d made two panicky “are you gonna call aren’t you about to close?” phone calls. Dills. And they are also stuffing us around about the availability of onsite collection rooms Friday, versus a b.y.o. hub-in-boots sample. (As monty python would say “where’s the foetus gonna gestate? You gonna keep it in a box?”). Geez. We’re paying you $3000. The least you could do is a decent porn a bar fridge and a lounge chair for the poor bloke. I put my foot down. The last thing I want is trying to get ready to head out for the operation and have him with performance anxiety in the lounge room when it’s time to leave. Not. Going. To. Happen.

Woo hoo! Trigger done. No spillages, no stuff ups. Have to say the glass of wine helped. For me, I was remarkably coordinated. All 10 steps were smoooooooooth.

Well it’s almost time for me to saddle up and head out for the show down at the OK Corral (aka day surgery). I’ve pulled the trigger on my trusty pistol and the bullet’s hit home. A couple more shots on Friday and it’s lights out for me, followed by a mosey on down to the couch and a dvd marathon. And gunslinger hub-in-boots is all ready to rumble. We’re just working on him coming out with his fly done up this time. Giddee up. 

Psycho chicken, qu’est-ce que c’est. Bock bock bock bock, Bock bock bock.

Psyching up for a laying.

Scan today, and the 70’s TV screen snowstorm that they call ” ultrasound technology” was not, in fact, revealing a tasty bit of honeycomb, but my ovaries. You beauty. I am glad the ultrasound machine does not have bunny ear antennaes, because that would be disconcerting. But it would be better if it was a machine that goes “ping”. I’m paying good money. I want a ping.

As hub-in-boots says, it’s the only magic trick where the wand disappears. Oh baby. You could have bought me breakfast. Hub-in-boots has learnt to make approving “hmmmms!” complete with upward inflection when they show him the screen. As in “hmmm, yes it is interesting that your endometrium is 9.8mm thick. Yes indeedy.”. I think he’s been hanging around our Mr Mackey like fertility specialist too long (mmmkay?). He really needed coffee.

Anyway, hub-in-boots and the good looking nurse were pretty happy with the honeycomb on the tele today. (I had no pants on, so I wasn’t that interested in tele. I find tele is better with pants). On the 70’s tele, you can’t see the eggs, just dark spots where the fluid in the follicle is. Which one contains an egg? Yeah the magic wand doesn’t help with that little trick.

There were about 14 follicles, and a bit more even sized than last time. I suspect last time they nearly lost the cycle, started off the drugs too low, didn’t get going, then boosted the drugs and everyone grew all at once but too quickly (i.e. they stuffed up). This time, it’s been slow and steady, with follicles “recruited” early, and all similar sizes. The nurse reckoned 10-14 follicles gives you the best chance, that the large studies show it’s the best balance between the collection, egg quality, and the side effects. We’ll see. I’m not counting my chickens this time.

The blood tests came back and it’s all “perfect”. So we’re waiting to hear on Wednesday, but it looks like they layin’ in on for friday. Feel free to send the giant arrangements of flowers, twisties and dvds to my place Friday arvo. And good quality chocolates. I’ll be the one on the couch with the heatpack. Let’s just hope this time I don’ t go the full blown pre surgery panic attack. I’ll wear my Supergrover Tshirt for good luck.

Then we played show and tell with “the new trigger’. No, IVF has not made me suicidal. Not yet. We’re not talking russian roulette. This is the trigger injection, no pressure, that must be given exactly 36 hours before surgery to release the little eggies. No pressure.  We’ve got a new one this time. Stay tuned for the photies. We have:

  1. four glass vials:2 water 2 powder
  2. two needles
  3. one syringe

So here’s how the Pregnyl game goes:

1. snap the top off the glass vials without crushing the glass into the drugs or your fingers

2. put the dirty great big mixing needle onto the syringe

3. suck up one lot of water into the syringe

4. shoot the water into vial of powder #1

5. Suck up the new solution into the syringe

6. shoot the new solution into vial of powder #2

7. Suck up solution #2 into syringe

8. Change needles (but don’t spill anything or drop the syringe)

9. Jab smaller needle into stomach

10. Stinging pain

See? Simple! IVF is EASY! We played show and tell with steps 1-8 this morning,  rehearsing the whole thing thanks to a patient nurse. Drug companies and their user friendliness hey? When does it end?

I hope that my two needle stick injuries tonight (first ones, both in my own thumb) will be the end of the week’s klutziness. Because you only get one of the Wednesday trigger. Stuff it, and surgery’s cancelled!

Well this little chicken needs to get to bed. I have to fluff my wings and brood and get ready for the layin. Which is hopefully Friday, and hopefully has more mature eggs than last layin. And in case you’re wondering, I lied. I haven’t been that much of a psycho chicken. (That’s later with the progesterone…). I’ve been a very focused busy chicken, getting my work organised so I can bunk off for a few days if need be, sorting my nest out, and oh, yes, clearing my credit card so it has room for another $8000. Joy.

Who you callin’ chicken?

The secret squirrels

I love watching squirrels. I have been known to shriek like a lunatic and run after them in parks all over London, and even when I lived there for two years, it didn’t get old. I love the way they bounce, like Pepé le Pew. My particularly favourite part is when they grab an acorn or a nut or some other little morsel of squirrel goodness, and run, bouncing, back over the autumn leaves to do the most pathetic attempt at burying the thing you’ve ever seen. They then spend a long time patting it down, and running away a bit, only to come back and pat down their “buried” nut again. And mate, the other squirrels are watching. They know the drill. They know it’s only under three leaves and they can collect at will. We don’t have squirrels in Australia, so I still find them amazing. Squirrels bring out my inner three year old.  I remember once in Kew passing a tiny park I had visited a hundred times before, but stopping this one day to feed the ducks. There was a woman there with her two year old on the playground. And they kind of stared at me as I started freaking the hell out because some squirrels appeared. “Oh my God!!!! Squirrels!!!! there’s squirrels! Did you know there were squirrels here?”

“Yes”

“Oh my god! Look at them!”. Even the two year old was relatively nonplussed. My status as a Londoner was being threatened by an above normal level of squirrel excitement. But I continued to go mental and ignored the ducks, unable to capture the squirrel madness on video in the pre camera phone days of the nineties.

But there’s a different kind of squirrel, and I witnessed it first hand the other morning on my way to the clinic for blood test #2. I was doing ok time wise, parked the car, grabbed my esky and freezer bricks out of the boot, and headed around the corner to the clinic. And once I lifted my head out of my own ass, I looked around. I saw four other women converging, as I was, all carrying freezer bags, as I was. All with a slightly distracted “geez I hope they’re on time I have to get to work” face, all inwardly focused on their “keep going” energy, unaware of the other secret squirrels descending on the same clinic.

And I began to wonder, how many women are converging, right at this moment, on fertility clinics all over Sydney, or all over Australia, or indeed in the world. And how many of them come in, and collect their little freezer bag full of drugs, and go, and stash them in the work fridge. Or go home, and pop them in above the yoghurts and juice. And how many of them have told very few people, and wander around, on their secret squirrel business, carrying this burden alone? Whose workmates don’t know, whose friends don’t know, who hide what they are doing in case of stigma or judgement, or simply not wanting such a personal area of life to be writ large and commented on by the water cooler.

Last night was the first night I was out at injection time. And it worried me all day how I would manage it. Would I inject sitting in the car park, or in the toilets? I didn’t like the idea of public toilets and sticking things into me, just not my bag baby. It also had a special poignancy, because the evening was not a normal evening out…otherwise I would probably not have gone, or delayed it to a later time. It was a fundraiser for a hospital newborn care unit, in honour of a perfect little three day old boy, who did not live to see his fourth, or fifth, or other days. And he was an IVF baby, long fought for, hard won, and cherished. And back when we were maybe four months into “trying” and starting to get worried about it, we went to his funeral. So in some ways his little life reminded me of our fertility “journey” too (god I hate that term. It’s so Masterchef. I think it’s not so much a journey as a series of random terrorist attacks…).

I was not the only secret squirrel nicking out to load up on IVF drugs at the function last night. There were four of us that I know of..and hell, given the age group, you could probably double that number in reality.

I ended up nicking out to the car in round 4 of trivia, and I couldn’t bear to come back in carrying my little esky, so I did it in the car. The light was bad, and there was no bloody car park, so it was just in the street, thankfully a quiet one. But it was awkward. And I was rushing to get back in, and embarrassed to have to do it at all. It is such a reminder of how we have failed. And the stupid cetrotide with all its mixing saline with powder then drawing down out of the little vial, it’s really not made for front seats of cars. And of course, feeling like a complete elephant with my rockmelon/cantaloupe sized hurting ovaries (which started on day 3 this time. HELLO?), I made the stupid decision of wearing the “suck in your stomach” undies, under my dress, which made it even harder to manage injections. What a dill. But manage I did.

Now there’s two things that have come out of my observations this week of the secret squirrels, descending on clinics all over Sydney. One is the ridiculousness of IVF, the insane juxtaposition of the “doing” of it, the pragmatic steps of showing up, laying out the cash, getting the tests, doing the injections, taking the phone calls. And somehow you have to fit this in around “normal” life, which often puts you in ridiculous situations like “shooting up” in your car a quiet suburban street. The other complete opposite aspect of it is the import of what you are doing, and the weight of it never leaves you. It certainly never leaves you when you see the extreme outcomes that can happen, like the funeral of a three day old little boy. Now that can happen in any pregnancy, it is a risk any time we decide to expose ourselves to the unpredictability of nature and all its variations and impossibilities. But in IVF you have chosen deliberately to start the journey, indeed you have paid to make it happen.  So an extra element of responsibility seems to sit, sometimes not too easily on your shoulders. There is always that “what if”, what if this is nature’s way of telling me I am not meant to be a parent, and I am not listening to her. What will be the payback?

For my friends whose little boy did not live, this is not an isolated tragedy in their IVF unmerry-go-round, and I don’t know how two skins of two human beings can contain that amount of pain and keep breathing in and out. But they do. They have one perfect little man, who is the coolest little bloke I’ve ever met. So Nature’s not always a bitch, but geez she’s fickle. Their story so far makes ours look like a Sunday picnic, and it’s also made me fully assess the possible consequences of what we are doing.

The second thing to come out of my observations of the secret squirrels, and a little bit of unjustified googling, is that IVF still has a stigma attached. I wear it, I carry it, and sometimes the burden is not light. I never realised, in my ignorance, that there’s still large sections of community out there, who believe people treat IVF like getting a new pair of shoes on Ebay. They think that this is the domain of women who “commodify” having a family, who are too stupid to have kids “at the time in life when they are supposed to”, and who should just “understand when nature is trying to give them a message”. Despite scientific research to the contrary, they bemoan what will be the effect on “the health of the children” and criticise older parents, and argue that public health systems should never fund something so self indulgent. I even read one woman (sadomasochistic, I know) who said these people on IVF just want a”copy of themselves” in the world, and it’s selfish because of overpopulation. Ok love. But your science is a bit lacking. It’s reproduction, not cloning, you freak. “yeah could I get one of those, with a penis, in a blonde, medium build? thanks. How much for the one with the higher IQ and cooking abilities?”.

I was also surprised (stupid, I know) to know how against IVF the Catholic church are. There are whole blogs out there on this, and I would not recommend reading them. Apparently, after years in the wilderness not welcome in the church as a crazy person DATING and OMG using CONTRACEPTION, and having finally got married in the church and muscling my way back in, I’m out in the wilderness again because even though I’m married and we are very much doing this out of love, we’re not respecting the sanctity of the soul of each embryo (this is where I start singing the Monty Python song “Every Sperm is Sacred”) by undergoing IVF. Thanks Catholics, way to kick a girl when she’s down. Idiots. Apparently, we’re supposed to accept infertility as a “gift from God”, and try to pray our way to higher insights and give our rather impossible fate over to him.

So now, in the way of all good academics, I’m going to rip these arguments down, one by one by one. But don’t be fooled into thinking that just because I can intellectually counter stupid thinking that it still doesn’t emotionally sting. Sometimes knowledge you are going through IVF is like walking around in a hair shirt. So here goes.

Women who go through IVF do not commodify having a family. The clinics might. The women rail against this, and paying to have a child will never feel anything but wrong. Going through drugs and operations will never feel anything but wrong. And it does not come out of a place of inappropriate desire for something you cannot have. It comes out of pain and loss and medical conditions. We’re not broken, we have medical problems. Really poorly understood ones that often don’t have names. And it’s not always the woman’s “fault”, and it’s not just the woman wanting kids. And I don’t long inappropriately for kids. I hope we can have them and I’ll be really disappointed if we can’t. So I am willing to go through this shit for it, but i understand there will be an end point where if it doesn’t work we’ll have a different kind of life with more travel and bands and plays and less school fees and nappies. But we’ll still have each other. I know we’d make it out the other side, but I’m not saying it would be easy to suck that up.

On the next matter, yes we are too stupid to have kids when we are at our most fertile. But given that our paths to jobs are much longer, via uni, that we have to both work to afford even basic housing, I’d say it’s our society that is out of whack here, not us as individual women. And because women’s rights have come a long way in recent decades, we didn’t realise there was a personal cost to not accepting a life sentence with men in their “asshole phase”. I think the asshole phase applies to most men before they are 28, 26 at a minimum. They should not be allowed to breed during this phase. They only become reasonable human beings after this point and you want them to breed as assholes?

I was too busy with post graduate qualifications to “settle down” , not even being fully qualified until 25. Your employer then thinks this is the time to reap what they have sown, with long hours and lots of responsibility in the post qualification period. Not exactly out on the dating scene then. Not choosing career over family, but simply, and practically, putting in the hard yards at work and not meeting suitable men. Period.

For me also, I lost about 5 years to serious depression at my most fertile, and any decision I made at that time was going to be a dodgy one. So I didn’t make any.

Now the next argument, one that even hub-in-boots raised at the start, is “nature is trying to give you a message you’re not meant to be a parent”. Ok. Got to put this one in the faulty logic basket. Lets look at other medical conditions with this logic. Cancer is natures way of telling you you should be dead, so don’t agree to surgery or chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Epilepsy is natures way of telling you you need a good lie down, so you shouldn’t take drugs for it. Diabetes is nature’s way of telling you you should have kidney problems and damaged eyesight and lose some limbs. So don’t seek medical assistance for it. Uh huh. And having trouble conceiving is nature’s way of telling you you should not be a parent. Ok. You’ve really worked the grey matter on this one. What a ridiculous way of looking at the world.  Just because one set of medical conditions is about life, and one is about reproduction (ummm, which is life?), it does not mean the conclusions should be different. Just because some are medically well understood (some cancer), and others are total mysteries (reproduction), doesn’t mean we should all stand in the corner and throw up our hands.

We can extend this logic out to whether IVF should be publicly funded. When a man has trouble producing sperm, his likelihood of testicular cancer increases 10 fold. When a woman has not had children, she has a higher risk of ovarian cancer, and when there is uterine scarring or tube damage there’s all sorts of higher risks to her health. Not to mention the flow on effects in  mental health or subtstance abuse issues or when a couple is faced with infertility. My level of  cheese twisties abuse has quadrupled since the infertility “journey” began. And you should SEE what I do with water. Gallons of the stuff. But seriously, why is an infertility issue seen as separate from medical issues and a matter of want? And what are all the other unknown links between the causes of illness and causes of infertility?

As to the older parents issue, my mother was 42 when she had me, and dad was about 46. Shocking. And great parents. And a lot more measured, less prone to panic, more able to provide for me, in a stable relationship. There’s something to be said for being raised by grown ups. You’ll get no older parents criticism from me.  And I’ve lived it, so I reckon I’m qualified to judge.

Now the last one, the Catholic Church. I know I should not be surprised at their judgement of me and what I’m doing. I know that there are millions of women who take a contraceptive pill AND go to mass on a Sunday morning. But I just thought, I’m married, I got married in the church, we even went to the pre marital course. We tried to have kids, and we couldn’t, so now we’re trying something else that isn’t anywhere near as much fun, and appears, at first glance, to be more expensive. And you’re rolling out the lines on me.

Every sperm is sacred

Every sperm is good

Every sperm is needed

In your neighbourhood.

Way to alienate people, Roman Catholics. Well bugger you. I have examined what we are doing in my moral conscience. And I know that nothing that is this difficult, this requiring of everything I’ve got as an individual and everything we’ve got as a couple, could be so morally wrong. Because in nature, not many eggs get fertilised. And in nature, not many fertilised eggs make it to the womb. And in nature, not many fertilised eggs in the womb actually implant. And whilst in once case, all those “decisions” are made in the body “by God”, as you say, and in IVF’s case, there are two levels of decision being made by a human in a lab with a microscope, (1.is this egg mature enough to fertilise?, 2.is this fertlised egg of sufficient quality to try and implant?), if god is around he made the scientists and their ability to advance technology. IVF is no less disrespectful to an embryo than nature is, nature who is quite happy to make fertilising eggs a total crap shoot for some of us, nature who is bloody uncooperative and fickle and probably lets any number of fertilised eggs slide through to the keeper in the average woman’s life. I doubt that there are many couples out there who go through IVF unaware of the import of what they are doing. They have thought long and hard about the unused embryos, about the fertilised eggs that do not progress, about the “rightness” of this. They have balanced up the odds, have looked at their relationship, have thought about their abilities as a parent, and have said “give me this suffering. Give me this suffering because our love should make a child, and I will take this on willingly to have a chance at expressing our love in this profound way”. On the other hand, there’s a 19 year hold at a pub in Newtown who’s had 16 vodka lime and sodas who slept with someone last night, and in a few weeks will realise her period’s late. She’s meant to be a parent. Uh huh.

Ok so my happy little squirrels and their nuts has descended into a bit of a rant today. But just remember all around you are invisible women and their partners. And even if you know they are going through IVF, you don’t know what they go through. You don’t see their secret squirrel journeys, trying to find room in the fridge for another box of hormones that they stack alongside the organic eggs and free range chicken (now there’s irony for you). Don’t know how many times a day they think about where they’re at, when the phone call is due from the clinic, and have no idea what their futures look like anymore. They’re hiding little nuts of hope in medical procedures, they’re storing embryos, they’re hoping, in their non drinking regularly exercising balanced diet everything monitored world, they can make a life. And I am not saying feel sorry for them. We’ve chosen a rough old path because it is an option in this modern day and age. I am saying they deserve to be parents just as much as the 19 year old in Newtown, and they deserve treatment just as much as the smoker in hospital with emphysema or the coke drinking diabetic whose about to lose a limb.

And tomorrow morning, when you’re sitting over your cereal and your coffee, surrounded by your naturally conceived kids, they’ll be being little secret squirrels, with a freezer bag and bricks, wandering up suburban streets to clinics, and, like me and my hub-in-boots at 7:20am tomorrow, having a scan, and collecting medications, and ‘shooting up’ in cars, and watching friends get pregnant, and going about their day with equal measures of hope and dread. Lucky squirrels are so cute.

Ouch that hurt. Do it again?

Geez that was a surprise and complete shock. A negative pregnancy test yesterday. Not exactly ground breaking news. Had a trip to the counsellor and was a total negative nancy, ranting and raving about poor old hub-in-boots lack of reaction to Friday’s shitty shitty news and subsequent absenting of himself on Saturday. The counsellor was rather patient with me. She’s got a good sense of when it’s time to step in and correct misconceptions, and when it’s important to just let you run off at the mouth. I ran off at the mouth like someone with tourettes. I believe there is a special flavour of tourettes which is a well known side effect of IVF.

Shortly afterwards hub-in-boots arrived for the doc  we’d managed to shoulder into for a 15 minute slot. And I was happy to see him. Still he started cracking bad dad jokes throughout the TV show that was on in the waiting room. See, he’s supposed to be a dad. He has a lifetime supply of dad jokes, and I should not be the only one that has to suffer. This should be the inheritance of an embarrassed offspring with teenage friends, wishing the earth would open up and swallow them. Dad jokes are just wasted on me. Plus there’s only so many times I can punch him in public.

Despite my exile in a little icy chasm of cold quiet fury all weekend and monday morning, I was glad to see him. Started to realise how utterly ridiculous my words had been. It was good to get them out, but seriously. The self pity can only roll so far. Hub in boots strapped on his crampons and hiked into my little ice crevasse by asking all the questions in our specialist appointment, which was surprisingly positive. Instead of telling his usual long stories, he got to the point, followed up with more questions, while I sat there in my numb little tunnel trying to discuss how we manage to go again over xmas with doctor holidays and public holidays. Bloody complicated as it turns out.

Just like at the start when we didn’t know where to go or what to do or where to do it, at some point in the appointment my little self appointed ice cave began to crack, and things clunked into place. The doc just mentioned the possibility of going again, straight away, and it clicked. I was out. I felt a huge weight just lift off me, and I sat up, and started asking questions. 24 hours earlier I swore I could not go again, not right away. But I’m back. I must be mad, but I’m back.

The doc went and hunted out the blood sample I’d given for the pregnancy test at 7am, (where like a child I was deliberately 40 minutes late just to show my utter contempt for the place and to show they didn’t control everything about me. Yeah good one ice queen. IVF is reducing me to a child having a lay down tanty in a supermarket). Anyway, he said we’d hear the next morning.

We were both weirdly relieved. The doc had said good things. That at my age, to get to an a grade blastocyst out of only 3 mature eggs was a very good outcome, that I’d responded well, that we had room to move with the doses of drugs to get more eggs next time around. He was positive about our chances. He talked about the possibility of a longer cycle (agonist) at Xmas, but why he did not think this was the best cycle for me (it suppresses your pituitary gland more, and he was worried it was harder on me, depression risk wise). He also talked about the possibility of a couple of week’s delay via the pill, then a normal antagonist cycle, but largely with a different doctor due to his holidays. Agh. More unknowns. And then he talked about going again straight away. We discussed the horrors I went through after embryo transfer and how crook I was. But with progesterone levels in many IVF cycles FIVE TIMES what you normally experience in a natural cycle, I kind of get it now. No wonder I wanted smarties for dinner every night.

We left and headed straight for the pub. It just seemed like the right thing to do! I’m not sure what we were celebrating, but we were celebrating. Two light beers and I was done, but on the way we’d seen our friends at the cafe and scored an invite to a barbie at their place. Score! No cooking! It was a STINKING hot night (37 degrees celsius), so we were pretty keen. Kicking back in their backyard, eating loads of unreal aussie italian food, it was a pretty good night. Even better when the doc rang at 6:30pm to say the bloods were back early, and if we wanted, even though I was on day 4, my hormone levels were still nice and low and we were good to go. We opened the champagne and kicked back. It was almost like being a human being again. I started to feel like a person and not an egg carton. I started to look at hub in boots instead of fume at him, and I enjoyed watching him break out and have a few beers and relax, and have a laugh, and be a person too, not a feeding cleaning drug and heat pack administering machine, but a real life man with a personality. All of a sudden, after a few horrible isolating days in a cold war, we were back on the same team.

So 7am today I headed out and we strapped on our superhero capes and Project Supergrover Mark II kicked off. Still can’t believe we’re doing it, but to have the whole of Xmas with just family and relaxing and no needles or tests or timing worries, it is worth it.

“There’s no way I could go again straight away.”

“Yeah me either”

“My body is shot”

“and we’re both so exhausted”

“Yeah exactly”

“we really need a break”

“absolutely”

“want to go again straight away?”

“yeah sure. Good idea”

“We must be insane”

“yep”.

all over red rover

Very little to say except we are sitting here uncomfortably numb. Today I was really busy at work. Too busy to pay much attention to how I was feeling, I was buried in paperwork and emails and students. I was in pain, but at the moment, that’s not exactly news. I’ve been in pain for 8 days straight.

I had planned that on Monday we would have the day off together, and go for the blood test, and be together, maybe by the river at home, when the all important phone call came through. And we’d listen to it on speaker phone, in our own space, and then we’d deal with it together. My body had other plans.

Instead, I went to the loo at work, alone (naturally), with my mind full of work and emails and to do’s. You’re not pregnant. Surprise! I’m surprised at how upset I was. Went back in, grabbed my phone, sat outside, rang hub-in-boots. He knew straight away, I didn’t even have to speak. After a while I rang the nurses at the clinic, ” is it just spotting maybe?”. umm, love, I’m bleeding like stuck pig. This aint spotting. They knew I was stuffed too. They tried to be helpful, organised a very short appt with our specialist on monday arvo for a what next meeting. Got the counsellor to ring me later in the arvo.

So I bawled my eyes out for a while, then sat outside with some colleagues and a cup of tea in the sun, and finally (after about an hour and a half) was ok to drive home. Went to my mate’s coffee shop and had a double macchiato and a pie, then went with her husband to the pub across the road. Why the hell look after myself when it makes no bloody difference? We had a few beers until hub in boots arrived, and I was at the pub when the quite nice big gay counsellor called. He was lovely actually. Haven’t met him, but he could not have been nicer.

There’s not much else to say. Had fish n chips for tea by the river, followed by a bloody long soak in the tub tonight. I’d like to just drink for 24 hours straight, but it probably isn’t the best idea ever. Mind you 3 drinks after six weeks non drinking was a shock to the system…. just don’t want to feel anything for a while…

Hub in boots is quiet, and kind and attentive, and nervous of what I might do next I think. He’s having little DH moments (Deer in Headlights). Luckily he has a big drive tomorrow to his family farm. And a big drive is the best cure for a deer in headlights hub in boots. He has lit candles around my bath, and not commented on my beer drinking, and made me cups of tea. He’s walking on egg shells around me, mainly because I’d given up on being upset by the time he got back from work.

Next step is a return to boxercise perhaps, so I can punch the crap out of something for an hour tomorrow morning. Then I think I am going to return to my couch to 5k  running programme, and alternate this channelling my anger into something healthy, with extensive twistie eating, family blocks of chocolate, shitloads of caffeine, and a good bottle of wine….

Can you please stop the universe…I’d like to get off.

Oh shit I’ve resorted to ‘poetry’

I’d like to get pregnant by rooting

Preferably after several drinks

Jumping up and down at a band

Having sex on demand

When husbands don’t have time to think

 

I’d like to get pregnant with my husband

I’d prefer we were both in the room

Without calendar thermometer

Needles or pedometer

Without a feeling of impending doom

 

I’d like to get pregnant soon please

With no drugs or doctors or tests

And certainly no stirrups

At least before we are in it

I’d like us to feel like we’re blessed

 

Look I’d really like to be pregnant

And I really don’t want a bill

I am finding it tough

And I think that it’s rough

That all you people are involved, yet still

 

I’d really like to be pregnant

And not sick before the event

And I don’t want anaesthetising

Or age stats proselytising

Or a letter on how it all went.

 

But I’m trying not to be a princess

And I’m taking the jabs like a man

And I’m drinking my water

And doing what I oughta

Al though I’m no IVF fan

 

 I’d really like us to be pregnant

We’d be a great mum and dad

So pardon my ‘tude

If it seems I am rude

But mate, IVF makes you mad.

 

So CAN YOU JUST GET ME PREGNANT NOW PLEASE?

Make a life start while we’re not around

Then stick it inside

And then run and hide

While the hormones they run me aground.

 

I’m not sure you heard me the first time

But this ISN’T MY IDEA OF FUN.

Its a day job to you

So we’re struggling through

But make us a daughter, or son?

 

We’d really like to be pregnant

Or it’s three thousand bucks down the drain

There’s 5 more days of waiting

And IVF hating

Then we may have to do it again.

 

It must be a powerful urge then

To help this species go on

If we put up with this shit

And then pay for it

To give us a daughter or son.

 

I’d like to give a happy ending

But now it’s just wait quietly

It’s breathe through Sunday

and just wait until Monday

And then, at midday, we’ll see.

 

finding the space between…and the nice ninja.

When I used to do a lot of yoga, there was this exercise involving yogic breathing at the start of the meditation section of the class. I remember there was always this effort to explore the space in between breathing in and breathing out, that pause, that silence, where there was quiet and stillness and a lack of movement, perhaps it was here that enlightenment lurked, like a nice ninja, ready to thump you over the forehead with a vision of the truth of existence.

I’ve been looking for my nice ninja this week, but feeling like I am constantly getting thumped over the forehead. I’ve been alternating between looking for the happy ninja of enlightenment, which in my fairly unambitious case consists of trying to not feel like complete crap and not be counting the days / minutes / hours til our pregnancy test, and just getting on with getting on with it by trying to distract myself with day to day tasks.

About a third of my job is writing really complex ideas into powerpoint format, so I’m going to resort to dot points here

Barriers to finding my nice ninja of happiness and the space in between

  1. I feel like shit. No really. I have a combination of pmt and a feeling like a herd of elephants has passed through the night and trampelled through the bedroom and over my abdomen. Occasionally, this transmogrifies into feeling like every muscle in my body has just given up, or I have a major flu coming on, or crawling sensations under my skin (they’re my favourite). And my boobs hurt. The elephants may have been there too. And no, this is not pregnancy, this is the stupid-clinic-pumping-you-full-of-artificial-progesterone-itis.
  2. The bits of paper and phone calls. Just when you thought it was safe to forget all about IVF, another bill or letter or appointment reminder appears in the mail or someone rings up from the clinic to confirm something. Like even in the moment when you are locked out of your apartment because the lock has seized, and a gardener is climbing up their ladder to jump in the window, even then, the clinic will call.
  3. Merck. Dear Merck, this is all your fault. You need to employ more female researchers. Because no FEMALE researcher would think that a good patient outcome involved two weeks of walking around with an oozing feeling from your nether regions. No FEMALE researcher would come up with a hormone supplement and say “ok, so we’ve got this cream, right. And you stick it up your you know what, right. Twice a day. And look, you will feel like you have PMT 24/7, and there will be headaches, diarrhea, sore boobs and feeling sad and teary, you may feel like you’re getting the flu ok, and then there’s the nervous ‘worlds going to end’ feeling it sometimes sends your way, and after a week it starts to turn into these amazing  cottage cheese like clumps, and you’re still expected to go about your day like nothing is happening but seriously this product is a winner.” I hate you Merck. And your crinone. And all your ignorant male researchers.
  4. It is hard to be mindful as your to do list expands in inverse proportion to your bank account emptying.
  5. I am sure I am not pregnant. I don’t feel pregnant, I just feel shite. So it’s annoying to have to keep going through the motions of supplementing hormones and not drinking and being careful about what I do and so on when I know it’s probably for nothing. And I don’t know how the hell we’re going to have the recommended break between cycles and manage around xmas, because everything would hit right on xmas day if we did a December cycle. I want someone to talk to me about this, but I’m terrified to ask because I’m superstitious this conversation will somehow “make” me not pregnant. Or some other such nonsense. But I want to know.

moments this week in the space between, with the nice ninja of mindfulness just around the corner

1. The best thing about this week was Leo. We met Leo in a park. Leo had ridiculous ears, and decided he wanted to eat the stale sourdough we had brought on our walk to feed to the ducks.

Leo’s mother was a rather scary Germanic butch dyke with several dogs, piercings, and a bad attitude, particularly when she found we’d been feeding Leo. Leo is pretty tall, and pretty enthusiastic in a “give me that or I’ll jump up and eat your arm” kind of way, so he was hard to refuse. Whilst floobling Leo’s ears, I forgot all about IVF. It was nice. (Flooble: verb, made up by us, meaning to ruffle up and scratch the ears of a dog with floppy ears).

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. sitting outside on Sunday watching all the boats go by. Only slightly disrupted by me wanting to get the kayak out and knowing I shouldn’t.

3. Marking. Marking student assignment takes a lot of concentration. And I’m always so furious if they haven’t listened to my suggestions before submitting it, that it is completely distracting. I would not say it’s entirely little ninja of happiness, because most of the time I hate marking, but I do get to a 110% concentration when I mark and forget about all this other shit.

4. Interviewing people for a research project. 150% concentration, which I approached in the “feel the fear and do it anyway” methodology. ie I feel like i’m about to die, and I’m pretty sure I have forgotten my next question, but if I go through the motions for long enough I may either a) start to feel better or b) fool you into reflecting on your experience  and making some worthwhile contributions . But even though it’s a gender project if you could refrain from talking about women’s challenges and starting a family I’d appreciate it.

5. sitting in the same church, with the same two people in the same two seats as the week before, and realising all that passed in that small 7 day period (3 embryos, 2 embryos, 1 maybe two embryos, one embryo transfer, maybe baby, no more embryos…), and staring up at the stained glass windows and trying really hard to find the space between my breaths as I sat there. It’s probably sacrilegious doing yoga breathing in a church, but at least I didn’t downward dog in the aisle. And it almost worked.

6. days of waiting then the day of the test. Including today. I already know the result, so I’m not sure why I’m so worried…I might hold my breath for a while and observe the stillness, and maybe the little ninja of enlightenment will thump me on my already aching head….