Tag Archives: IVF

If at first you don’t succeed

Try, and try again.

Then give up and don’t look back.

I have been meaning to revisit the IVF story for some time, since that was this blog’s main theme, back in the day. But as you know, I am a bit slack on the old blog posts these days.

It’s been just over 12 months since my last attempt at IVF. More than 12 months since I last stuck a needle in myself. 12 months since I lay, legs splayed, with a doctor inserting fertilised embryos – that were half made of me and half of a stranger – into my uterus. Squirted hormone cream up my lady bits, wondered what every twinge in my belly and boobs was, and agonisingly waited in the limbo that is the two-week wait.

So how does it feel to get to the other side of three rounds of IVF without the prize at the end?

It feels ok. I feel ok. Most of the time (oh, except for now, when I start to write a blog post about it). Sometimes I’m grateful it didn’t succeed. Sometimes not.

Does it seem ungrateful to feel grateful I didn’t succeed? Something I put so much emotion, time, heart ache, longing into? So much wishing and hoping and thinking and praying. Planning and dreaming (thanks Dusty). Not to mention money.

But sometimes I do feel grateful, and perhaps that’s some kind of survival instinct, or self-preservation instinct, or that it just gets exhausting after a while to feel sad. I’m generally a glass-half-full kinda gal.

It helps to think of all the hardships success would have brought. Doing it all by myself. Being really, really poor for quite a while. Being housebound. Being exhausted, all the time. Being lonely. It might have been really hard on my body, given my age (have I mentioned I hate that word?). And it would have wrecked my boobs, which I’m quite fond of, despite the major cyst/minor cancer scare incident.

But then, I missed out on so much as well. Of course. Being pregnant, which would have been amazing. Birth, which would have been, probably really fucking awful actually, but incredible for it. Being a mother.

I went to a friend’s annual Christmas gathering in December. The place was over-run with small children. There were, as far as I could tell, four childless women there – me, two lesbians and another friend.

I have to admit that sometimes I shuddered at all those children, and thought – phew. Lucky escape. And there was that part of me who couldn’t be bothered moving out of the circle of childless lesbians to talk to the others gathered there, because what did I have in common with them?

I couldn’t be bothered with the expectation from strangers that my child would be somewhere in that garden, playing with the others. Then me having to say, oh no, no child. And them looking quizzically at me, wondering.

Sometimes it’s difficult, and sometimes I’m sad.

But generally I’m ok with it.

The pic is of some butterflies that fluttered around my head for ages a while back, on the pathway just down the road from my house. Such a magical thing to happen. We’ve got to be  grateful for what we’re given, don’t we?

Image

Oh, isn’t this lovely:

Messenger

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

– Mary Oliver

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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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Perfect moment Thursday…

I stumbled upon this idea in a blog called http://writemindopenheart.com, and really liked it so thought on a day like today it would be good to focus on the positive. I love that it’s about “engaging in mindfulness” and so, in the spirit of this, my perfect moment today was catching up for lunch today with a guy I used to work with. He’s such a nice guy, though he was pretty much just “a guy I used to work with”. Anyway, he saw from my facebook page that “something” was going on, so I told him about the whole IVF / sperm donor saga.

And he wasn’t phased. In fact he said, Good for you. You know, I thought about donating myself because I’d heard there was a shortage and women shouldn’t miss out on having kids just because they haven’t found a man.

I thought that was just a great thing to hear, that someone would think about other people – total strangers – and think about helping them out. Because it’s not an easy thing, to donate and know that you could have little mini-mes running around all over town some day.

In the end he didn’t donate, but still, it was nice to hear a story of someone who had put some thought into doing it and their reasons. And he bought me lunch. Thanks Stevo!

Apart from that, I just found out the frozen cycle will cost me nearly $3,000. Kind of had in my head that it would cost barely anything. So that wasn’t a perfect moment.

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Sovary, so good

Bad pun, I know. But, so far, so good.

I feel so remarkably different now to how I felt at the same stage last time. I feel perfectly normal. I have no inkling as to whether I am or I’m not, and thinking too hard just sends you mental. For instance, the acupuncturist I went to see last week, as I mentioned before, said that actually constipation is a good thing, because it means your body is trying to hold on to everything. Except that now I am not constipated, I’m thinking, nooo, my body’s not holding on! And considering how sick I was last time…

See, it does your head in.

Of course, The Fear grips me every now and then, mainly The Fear of it actually succeeding. Why did I want to do this again? It’s so abstract, so not-in-my-experience, so is-my-life-so-bad-as-it-is that sometimes I think – wait, what am I doing?

This feeling is combined with the please work, please stick, what if it hasn’t and I’m already not pregnant (instead of just being not pregnant in 10 days time if it’s negative, because if it hasn’t stuck by now, it’s never going to). And the anticipation of the next phase of my life, which I really, really want to include a child.

And again that feeling of limbo – what IS the next phase of my life? I’m trying to make plans here baby! Make your presence felt!

And how do I keep this blog going?! Anything my millions of readers want to hear about?? My specialty subjects are yoga, meditation, the dearth of good, available men in Sydney (that’s probably not really a specialty is it), wellbeing, IVF, health. I’m hoping I’ll be writing about pregnancy and motherhood, but in the meantime, it’s pick-a-topic-out-of-the-hat time.

While I’m here – does anyone know anything about dying your hair while pregnant? I did a bit of research and it seems it’s a bit of an old wives’ tale. You see, I’ve been going grey bit by bit since I was 19, so now it’s getting really ugly and I simply can’t not dye my hair for 9 months! I bought some dye the other day from the health food shop – all natural ingredients. Disaster. I now have bright red roots, orange at the temples, and with bits I missed, because I’ve got a lot of hair. I was considering wearing a hat to work today, which would have been fine if it was the 1950s, but it’s not.

And having said that, I’m off to wash my hair. Vigorously.

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My top 10 tips for surviving IVF

I thought I would share with you how I’ve got through this (in the absence of wine! ha ha). Hope they are helpful and tell you something you don’t already know.

1. Acupuncture – weekly then twice weekly. Find a clinic that specialises in IVF. My experience was that the acupuncture almost completely eliminated any side effects. Read here for more info.

2. Yoga – if you’re a fitness junkie who likes to flog your body doing cardio, I reckon it’s time to be kind to yourself (see point 5). Yoga allows you to flex and strengthen not just your body but your mind. You mind being your greatest asset or worst enemy, sometimes simultaneously. The stillness and focus that comes from a yoga practice can help you recognise this. And ooh it’s good to stretch and work those joints if you are still feeling some side effects despite having acupuncture.

3. Meditation – by continually bringing your mind back to the “now”, you access calm and quiet, free from anticipation of the future and memories of the past. I also use it for goal-setting – visualising exactly what I want (while calm and relaxed) and then sending that intention to god/the universe/the field of all possibility (whatever appeals to you) to sort it out. Then let go of the attachment to the outcome.

4. Rest – lots

5. Be kind to yourself, even treat yourself to a pampering. Recognise that yes, you do have  a lot going on right now, so it’s not the time to be running marathons/ moving/putting in long hours at the office/helping out friends who won’t help themselves/keeping the house in perfect order… or whatever else takes you away from yourself. Have a massage, go to a yoga class (see point 2), go for a walk in nature.

6. Someone to offload to – your partner, or if you’re doing this solo like me, a sympathetic friend. Support is crucial.

7.  Lots of healthy food – I read a book called The Fertility Diet by Sarah Dobbyn which I found very useful. Not that I followed every one of her rules but it’s still good to keep in the back of your mind.

8. Remember your life outside of IVF.

9. Stay positive. No point otherwise.

10. I’m going to go all yoga on you again and say, “Tapas, swadhyaya, isvara pranidhana” which roughly translates (or the way I have learnt it anyway) as do all you can, gain as much self knowledge as you can, but know that sometimes, you have to surrender to a higher power. And I know that’s a hard one.

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Agonising…

… pain. Not the agonising two-week wait.

Since my last post at the beginning of the week, I took a turn for the worst, and in all honesty, couldn’t have cared less if I was pregnant or not. When I had that thought I tried to turn it around, but really, ugh. All I could think was, “I want to feel normal again”. And I guess one of the implications of that was that “normal” was not “pregnant”.

So if anyone out there in the great big interweb googles “extreme crippling pain following ivf egg collection”, here is my week in a nutshell:

  • Intense, stabbing pain in my right ovary – this may be because I had more eggs taken from the right ovary, but when I called the clinic, they could not confirm as my records were “elsewhere”.
  • Intense, stabbing crampy pain in my uterus.
  • Intense pain in my bowel every time it contracted (releasing nothing mind you), which radiated throughout my lower abdominal area. I’ve spent a lot of time in the foetal position, or with my cheek against the cool tiles of the bathroom floor. There’s something very comforting about those cool bathroom tiles.
  • Really sore boobs.
  • General miserableness and feeling-sorry-for-myselfness.

I called the clinic almost every day, explaining my symptoms and asking if anyone else had experienced this. They said it was ok for me to take paracetamol (which I hadn’t been taking), so that kind of dealt with the cramps, and said sometimes girls had complained of constipation, and kept on telling me to take Metamucil and it would be fine.

I was in so much pain on Wednesday night I knew I wasn’t going to make it into work the next day. By Friday, the cramping in my uterus had all but stopped but I was still as bunged up as  – can’t think of an appropriate simile – what’s something really, really bunged up? More Metamucil and other fibre supplements. More doubling over in pain every time my bowel contracted (always with no perceivable result). I could only think – is this what child birth is like? Getting in some super-early practice if it is.

It got even more gross, but I will spare you the details, that’s just between me and the bathroom floor. By Saturday I thought surely those fibre supplements will have got to work. But no. They hadn’t. I was really thinking I was going to have to go to hospital and get it sucked out of me. Really, all that waste matter cannot be good for anyone, let alone someone with a tiny baby bud growing in the next compartment.

So I went to the closest GP – on the corner of my street and Bondi Road, the one that I didn’t have to walk too far to (I had tried to go to my GP yesterday in the city but she wasn’t in and all the other doctors at that surgery were fully booked. Wouldn’t want to be dying).  He was very lovely and serious in a Russian way (lots of Russians in Bondi), pressed my belly and pronounced that he didn’t think it was serious and I wasn’t going to die (my interpretation). He just prescribed a more heavy duty treatment, and so here I sit, waiting for it to work its magic.

I can’t tell you how much better I felt after seeing him. I felt so miserable, and really thought there was something dreadfully wrong. And as he was talking, he said, “and because you might be pregnant” but then he corrected himself and said “well you probably are pregnant”, which I thought was a really nice thing. He obviously understands the longing and hope and effort and money (he did mention the money) involved that he didn’t want to just say, “oh you might be” . That’s how it seemed to me anyway.

Weakened state eats away at willpower

In my physically and emotionally weakened state, I have had all types of cravings for bad things. Donuts. Icecream (gave in to that one). Pies. Pizza, chocolate (gave in to that too). And bags.

Yesterday on my slow and agonising walk from the office to the train station, I seriously had the urge to buy a shit-hot new bag – even though I was sick as a dog. What’s that about? I looked in Mimco – sales. Managed to walk out empty handed. I sidled past Burberry. Thought better of it – phew. I just knew the pleasure would be very short lived. So I’ve bought myself Vogue and Grazia as consolation. They’re not though. They are designed to make you lust for crazily beautiful, insanely overpriced stuff.

And have me thinking I’d really like a pair of pink skinny leg pants this summer. And some in electric blue too. But I’ll probably be wearing mu-mus instead. I’ll just have to channel my thwarted fashion cravings into shoes. Or baby stuff.

Now that I’m feeling better, or will be any time now…  I can go back to positive baby thoughts. I have had more than a few moments this week when I’ve thought, oh my God, I don’t really want this. What have I done? But I’m sure it’s the misery talking and the fear that comes around any sort of life change. Change is a good thing.

Hmm, I think this post needs to be filed under the “too much information” category, for which I apologise, but really, you’re reading because you want to know right?

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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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