Tag Archives: ART

My top tips for life after IVF

*Ok, it’s early days for me, and of course it’s not just the end of IVF, but the end of the road for me in terms of having my own child (miracles notwithstanding*).

So these are working for me, for now. Kind of. This week has been hard though, I’ve not been sleeping well, I’m getting up super early, and I went back to work. Ugh. Generally feeling very sorry for myself. I was fine in the week or so before, but the pain has returned, and it’s taken a new shape.

Of course everyone’s different so please feel free to comment on what works for you in similar shitty, unhappy and generally lonely circumstances – in fact, please do comment, I need all the ideas I can get!

  • Do stuff. Make an effort not to sit at home and wallow in your sadness. By getting out and about you remember that life’s pretty good actually. Your friends are there to entertain you and accompany you on excursions to see and do things – going to the art gallery, seeing music, going to the cinema, going to a market or a festival. I know it’s not going to erase your pain, but it will lessen it for a while.
  • When sadness hits though, don’t ignore it. Honour it, go into it, feel whatever feelings, think whatever thoughts come up. Sometimes they may not even be (seemingly) connected to your loss, but they are.
  • Think about volunteering. It could be with disadvantaged children, or a political or ecological cause you are passionate about. Helping other people is really satisfying. The Dalai Lama says “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions”, “the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes”. To put this into action, I have just applied for the Big Sister program through the YWCA, where you mentor a young girl . And you know, I know this will be good for whichever young girl is put in my charge, but it will also be just as satisfying – maybe more so – for me.
  • I’m looking into permanent fostering, with a view to adoption in the future. I thought  adoption in Australia was impossible for me, and it is if I wanted to adopt a baby or small child that was deliberately put up for adoption.  Because there aren’t any in this country, and intercountry adoption costs up to $40,000 and can take up to eight years, which is fricking ridiculous. But fostering a child seems to be a way that can work, and also saves a child from harm. There are issues, which I’ll cover in a later post, but they are not insurmountable.
  • Read. Whatever you like really, but uplifting, inspirational books or articles that give you ideas for living well. Think Deepak Chopra, or well-written fiction that connects you to amazing stories – “we read to know we are not alone” as C.S. Lewis (apparently) said. At least he did in that really sad movie I saw years ago (Shadowlands). I’m currently reading “A Visit From the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan and just finished Jeffery Eugenides’ “The Marriage Plot”, both engaging, beautifully written and thought provoking. Or read my friend Fanny Blake’s book “What Women Want” which is a really fun read (shameless plug!).
  • Meditate. Ok, I admit I am not even doing this one. It’s hard to establish the habit, then if you’re really tired (I am) you’re likely to nod off, and if you’re really sad (I am) you’re likely to just sit there and sob. Still, it’s key. Really. Listen to me trying to cajole myself into stepping away from the keyboard and sitting. The best thing to do is find a guided meditation CD, or log onto the Chopra Centre’s website – they have a 21 day meditation challenge they run often which is a good way to start/restart.
  • Do yoga. I know I bang on about it, but it’s about stilling your mind, connecting with your body – which you might think has betrayed you, but it hasn’t, finding a sense of connection with stillness.

Good luck, and let me know of any other ideas.

*I mean, I might actually meet a real, live MAN, have actual SEX, and fall pregnant naturally. Wow, what a concept. I’m not ruling it out, but on the empirical data I have accumulated so far in my life… but things can change in an instant, so I’m not ruling anything out.

*I *think* the photo is from Garance Dore, hope i’m crediting that correctly.

Cover of "A Visit from the Goon Squad"

Cover of A Visit from the Goon Squad

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(My edition looks nothing like this)
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And on the seventh day…

… she created life. Hopefully.

Today I got impregnated, again. Two ice babies successfully made the short journey from the freezer to my uterus, stopping only to thaw nicely in the lab. Clever little dividing cells.

Let this be the one (or ones). This is either the start of an excellent new (and very intense) adventure, or the end of the road. It’s been a strange cycle this one. Not nearly as intense. It’s easy to forget that I’m doing it (well, almost). I even had wine, since I figured I wasn’t growing any eggs that would be useful, and any effects of the small glasses of wine would be metabolised quickly.

I tell you, it was pretty damn easy to fall off that wagon. You would think that after being practically teetotal for the first time in my adult life, it would be a) hard to give up in the first place, and b) having more or less given it up, that taking it up again I’d be like the Cadbury’s kid – a glass and a half would be more than enough. But I still have to stop myself at one (or two). Of course, that’s all over for the foreseeable future. The foreseeable future being the next two weeks.

Two weeks of Christmas parties, end-of-year lunches, silly season dinners. With nary a champagne bubble in sight for me.  I think for the sake of avoiding having to lie, I’ll be at those parties, lunches and get togethers with a glass of wine spritzer, rapidly warming in my hand.

I’m feeling confident and convinced of failure in equal measure. Today anyway, perhaps because the weather has turned arctic, blustery, grey and cold, despite it being day 4 of summer. Please come back sun. And please let me be pregnant – I’ll even take twins – insta-famiglia.

Namaste little baby/s. You’re very welcome here. I promise to provide a healthy and safe home for the next nine months, and for the rest of our time together in this dream.

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Filed under ART, IVF, pregnant over 40, two week wait, Uncategorized

Little bubbles

That’s what the embryos (I think they’re technically called blastocytes) looked like on the screen before the doctor put them back in. A cluster of cells, but more like little bubbles. Amazing to think the potential they have to grown into – who knows – a nurse, a doctor, a lawyer, a pilot, a prime minister, a parent.

It was all over in a few minutes, just like having a pap smear.

I walked out of the clinic giggling hysterically to myself  – “I’m pregnant, I’m pregnant!” I kept saying to myself. And since then I have continued saying it, and sending  “attach and stick” vibes to my uterus.

The doc said “Just be yourself” when I asked if I should or shouldn’t do anything. But I’ve kept it low key this weekend, a bit of shopping, a yoga class, meditation and lying on the floor at home in supta baddha konasana and viparita karani, which help improve blood flow to the pelvic region. They are also lovely and relaxing. And lots of mantras and affirmations – “I’m pregnant!”, “Stick little babies!”.

As to why the clinic prefers to transfer more than one – I’ve just read this:

“There are some suggestions that embryos help each other to implant.  In other words, the more embryos that you transfer, the greater the chance that each one will stick.”

I’m hoping for just one but if they both stick? Che sera, sera. I’ll just have to go public, sell my story to New Idea or something, get a sponsorship deal from Huggies, and put the kids to work as baby models, because they’ll be gorgeous right!

Side effect update

After the egg collection I was feeling very tender and delicate, and still am a bit. It’s easing off somewhat but my whole abdominal region feels revolting – like I’m all blown up with gas. Which I think is actually what it is. The doctor said it was constipation but it feels more uncomfortable than that. A girl I met while waiting for the transfer – she was having her embies transferred too – said the same thing. Hope it goes away soon – not to mention the discomfort, it makes it hard to work out whether I’m feeling implantation cramps or not. Though I’m sure I am!!

Anyone out there with a similar experience? Anyone know how long it takes for the embryos to attach?

Just a little bit annoyed too

I spoke to my dad today for Father’s Day. It took him a while to get around to the “what’s happening with the IVF?” question, and even then it was in a roundabout way.  I got the feeling  when I got the courage to tell him a few weeks ago what was going on that he thought “you’re too old”. He didn’t say it – in fact he didn’t say much – but that’s the feeling I got.

Anyway, today, when he did get around to broaching the subject, he told me my aunt (his brother’s wife) was “beside herself” about it. What do you mean, I said. Well, she just thinks it’s dangerous, and you’re too old blah blah blah. She’s already said this to me before but I was so pissed off. Dangerous? To who?

Who’s freaking business is it of anyone else’s anyway? I have really tried to avoid anyone negative during this process but you can’t avoid your family can you? Lucky they are on the other side of the country.

She ain’t getting a hold of my beautiful baby, that’s for sure. Huh.

Anyway

The mythical two-week-wait begins. And we are waiting.

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Filed under ART, IVF, pregnant over 40, single mom by choice, single mum, sperm donor

This week I have mostly been eating…

I take it back, the injections are starting to hurt. My belly has tiny pin pricks on either side of my belly button and is starting to look a little bruised, similar to what I imagine a junkie’s would look like if they  ran out of veins and had to resort to their belly. Sorry, yucky analogy.

They started to hurt last week when my period started and I assumed it was just my pain threshold lowering as it does during my period. I learnt long ago that having a bikini wax at that time of the month is not a good idea. Ouchy! My belly is also really fat – don’t know of this is from the hormones or just because I have been eating lots (lots) of fertility-enhancing foods, such as:

Adzuki beans (ask anyone who practises TCM or acupressure, adzuki beans are a universal panacea)

Sweet potato (low GI, high fibre, yummy and according to the book I am reading, guaranteed to get you pregnant. Well, not by sweet potato alone, but you know what I mean)

Wakame (full of iodione)

Quinoa (strengthens the kidneys in TCM, key to fertility and libido – this last sadly unneeded)

Walnuts (full of B6 which balances hormones)

Beetroot (yummy + boost kidney function)

Asparagus (aphrodisiac – again, sadly unneeded right now 😦 but apparently revitalises reproductive organs. It also flushes the system so should deal with my very puffy ankles – from the Lucrin?? Makes the pee very smelly though)

Sprouts (the equation is:  living food + attempting to create a living thing = baby)

Bananas (Phallic…?! craved them this weekend but they’ll send me broke with the price in Oz right now – $12 a kilo!! Made of gold clearly)

Anything green.

No coffee. Minimal tea.

One glass of wine per week (siiiigh. This is my dosage – the doctor said “three while I’m trying but not together”. Did she mean three in total for the whole time, or three per week?). Hmmm…

All in all I think I’m doing pretty well with eating well. Luckily I’m not a junk food person and like nothing better than a plate full of green vegies. I usually like to wash it down with a a bottle of red, but hey, it’s a minor inconvenience. Anyway, part of this process is about change, so maybe that means changing my drinking habits.

There had to be side effects didn’t there?

So now that I find the injections starting to hurt, I have to do two a day. I started the Gonal-f yesterday and have had a doozy of a headache all day today. I called the clinic this afternoon and asked if I could take pain killers because it didn’t ease all day and I was getting annoyed with it, I never get headaches. The nurse said I could take Panadol only – not Nurofen. I’m glad I asked. I would have either martyred myself through it  or caved and taken a Nurofen, so now I know – Nurofen no-no.

Other side effects experienced so far apart from the splitting headache:

Night sweats – hello menopause! For the first week I just thought I was hot because of the hot water bottle, but it’s the hormones stupid!

A period lasting an entire 7 days and counting. Bored with this now! So on top of the cost of the treatment, I have to pay for extra tampons. phlaaghg.

Cankles. Attractive.

Twitching in the vicinity of my ovaries. I suppose this is a good sign – my diagnosis.

Aforementioned fat belly. Side effect of drugs, not overeating.

A total lack interest in work. Oh – that’s probably just me and my general aversion to work, and the fact that I have more interesting things to read than financial analysis (surely not I hear you cry!).

Belief

I’ve been doing a beautiful 21-day “meditation challenge” through the Chopra Centre and yesterday’s meditation focused on the creator, which obviously really spoke to me.

Belief is so important to achieving your goals. The meditation reminded me that I set my goals, and I am the creator of my world, my reality. The theme of the 21 days is to continually ask the question, “Who am I?” – the eternal question on the spiritual path. So they have been asking – or encouraging us to ask ourselves – “Who am I?”. I have just sat with this question, without bothering to intellectualise it or mentally or cognitively answer it. Yesterday though a few descriptions of myself passed through my mind – daughter, sister, friend, editor, colleague, blogger, lover (whose?). Mother.

Mother.

It’s just there, in me. I am a mother. I didn’t have to think about it, it wasn’t what I thought I should think, I didn’t force it out. It just came. I am a mother. In about 10 months time.

Ooh – and just  quick post script. I just did day 8 of the meditation and this beautiful passage from the Upanishads was quoted, which is so apt for my journey – and all our journeys.

“You are your deepest driving desire.
As is your desire, so is your will.
As is your will, so is your deed.
As is your deed, so is your destiny.”

So our desires can actually be our destiny, if we flow it through our will and our actions, our attention and personal commitment.

So I have the desire, and I have taken the action (the deed), and now my destiny awaits. mmm. Juicy stuff.

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Filed under ART, IVF, pregnant over 40

Plan B is under way…

So, I had my appointment at Fertility First on Tuesday. As I walked down to my car, I thought, If I have left the bloody lights on and the battery’s flat… but all was fine.

The clinic is a really beautiful Federation house with lovely gardens, art and objets, and a fish tank filled with amazing tropical fish in the room where they take blood – you feel tranquil and relaxed and that everything will be just fine. Just as well, because I just parted with $3,850 of my hard-earned. That’s just the deposit.

The nurse took blood to see if I had ovulated, as you need to have ovulated before the next step. She showed me how to inject myself with the Lucrin – yes, you do have to stick the whole length of that needle in – gave me a little showbag full of needles, a sharps container, alcohol wipes and the Lucrin itself, along with a freezer pack to keep it cold till I got it home and put it in the fridge.

The next afternoon, the nurse called – it’s all systems go – start the injections tonight!

I had a momentary wave of OH MY GOD, do I really want to do this?? But that passed quickly and was replaced by excitement. You’re supposed to give yourself the injection at exactly the same time every evening, so I have chosen 5pm, which I hope is not too early but since I get up at 4.30am every day for work, I figure it’s “evening” in Michelle hours.

5pm arrives and I prepare for the first injection of 10 units of Lucrin. God I hope I’m doing this right. I place the needle tip on my belly and in it goes. I barely felt a prick! In fact since then I keep thinking – am I doing this right? Because it’s so easy and I can’t feel a thing. So far so good

So, now the Lucrin is pulling all the strings. I am its puppet. As far as I understand, it is partially blocking naturally occurring hormones (Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH)) so that they don’t interfere with my egg development – they don’t want the eggs releasing any earlier than they are ready to collect them.

I have to say, I get quite excited every day at 5pm! I’ve set the alarm on my phone so I don’t forget, and I’ve just got to make sure I’m home. The nurse said (under sufferance) that they give you an hour’s leeway in doing the injection, but really, it has to be done at the same time every day.

The next (clinical) step is to go back next Friday for some “down regulation”, when I think I start FSH injections. I know I’m a bit fuzzy on the medical specifics, but the doctor has worked all that out so I don’t have to!

There were a few surprises/minor shocks at the appointment. Apparently if some part of the process isn’t working the way it should, other drugs need to be taken – at about $160 a pop! Literally, $160 PER INJECTION. Crap. And the half day in hospital on the day of egg collection costs about $2,000. My private health insurance won’t cover this as there’s a 12 month waiting period for any kind of ART or pregnancy related services, and Medicare will only rebate a small amount. BUT, as I said, i for a penny… in for (the amount keeps increasing) $10,000.

My mantra is … everything is working perfectly and I am pregnant on the first try. I just heard that the sister of a friend of mine is pregnant after her first attempt, which is heartening, especially as she was having lots of actual sex  before that with no luck. Having fun probably but no cigar. For me – no fun = no proof that I have trouble getting pregnant = up the duff first time!

And god knows, I can only afford one round!

My next step? CHOOSE THE BABY DADDY!! The clinic gives you a basic list, which gives you details of height, weight, build, race, eye colour, hair colour and a general idea of his occupation. There is only one Aussie donor on the list (where are they??), the rest are from a sperm bank in the US.  I can go onto the American website and get more details about each donor – family medical history, blood type, other information about his relatives, hobbies, skin tone. For a fee, I can access a baby photo and an adult photo of the donor.

And I’m going to pay that fee, because I want a pretty baby! I want to breed out this Celtic skin of mine, which is so not suited to the Australian climate, or any climate for that matter. And I want smart. And tall. And kind. All the attributes I would be looking in an actual man. Of course I will love whatever I am given, but really, who would go for a  huge nose, weak chin, crooked teeth and bad skin if they had a choice?

And off I go, to choose the donor! Whoa.

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