Monday, 6 November 2017

A quiet one.

Today I was at work. As I was about to leave, a nurse tells me that a patient's daughter wants to speak to me. As I go to leave the office, my phone rings. It's the IVF doctor, with my PGS results. She recaps my figures. 12 eggs collected, 6 fertilised, 3 blastocyts. Of these 3, one is good for transfer, the other two are aneuploid. I discuss the timing of transfer, thank her and ring off. I take a breath and square my shoulders. I go directly to see the patient and his daughter. I assess the patient, come up with a diagnosis, reassure the patient and his daughter, ask them if they have any further questions. I wash my hands, leave the building and go down to my car. I was on autopilot but felt a strange sense of unease as I drove away. I had a think. Oh yes. That.

I had a big old cry in my car going down the road. I wiped my tears and snot on my sleeve.

One.

After all of the extra hormones and their side effects, the pain, the fatigue, one little embryo.

I have some papers to write, and had been planning on going and doing that, but that would involve going to see and be around people. Instead I went home. I had jam and butter on white bread toast for lunch, it seemed appropriate and comforting. I have learned to cut myself some slack when I need to and when it's possible.

I have spent the afternoon in my tracky daks and furry slippers, variably on my bed and the couch, alternately reading, researching fake tans, looking at clothes and surfing the socials. And thinking. Lots of thinking. I am nothing if not a thinker.

I never thought I would be a person who would consider surrogacy or egg donation. I am still not, but I am now beginning to understand where that drive comes from.

I think I am adult enough to appreciate that, for few people, life turns out the way they pictured it. Nevertheless, there are things I always saw myself doing. Having a baby, but all the other things that go with it. Taking maternity leave. Picking a school. Choosing my tribe of school mums. Dealing with midnight fevers and nightmares.

I am getting my head around the distinct possibility that motherhood may not happen for me. People may shout "oh no, don't worry, it will happen", but I am a realist (and also a medic). My very experienced initial fertility specialist said that 90% of my eggs are aneuploid. He is about bang on the money, so far. Another FS has told me that each cycle is a statistically independent event (ie that a failed cycle does not make it more likely to have a successful cycle the next time) and that euploidy (ie a set of 46 chromosomes in an embryo) is necessary but not sufficient to create a live birth.

Intellectually, I always understood these concepts, and set limits around the time and number of cycles of IVF I would do.

Emotionally, it's about the potential loss of what you thought your future might resemble. The maternity leave and the breastfeeding and the picking of the school. The normal things.

There is not a single point at which you have all the hope in the world and put the energy into IVF and have the good thoughts and good vibes, and then suddenly draw a line under it when you decide to discontinue IVF.

It's a parallel process of maintaining some hope, but also grieving and letting go. A process of getting knocked down but getting up and moving forward as best I can. This is emotionally tumultuous, even without the large doses of mind-addling hormones. It's strange and it's tiring.

Still, there are things to do and things to look forward to. I have been productive with my writing this last week. I wrote and presented three talks last week. I have crossfit WODs to smash. I have just started Yin Yoga; a great combination of mindfulness and stretching, my sole concession to anything "alternative". I have made appointments for waxing and fake tan ahead of my trip to Bali (if you can't reduce the chub, paint it brown, amirite?). The wild hormonal and emotional eating (I can't even tell you) has been reined in. I have been seeing my friends and (gasp) family.

As much as I hate the cliches, it's one step at a time, tomorrow is a new day, one foot in front of the other, fall down seven times and get up eight times. I could really do with less of the falling down at the moment, but that is par for this course, I've accepted that.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Good days.

Bloody hell that egg pick knocked me about. I was in quite a bit of discomfort. I took 2 days off work after, I've not taken 2 consecutive sick days in.... I can't even remember when. I was bloated, tired, and had pain in the belly with movement. Staring at the ceiling did my head in. 6 of my 12 eggs fertilised. I was angry - last time I got 7 eggs of which 5 fertilised - all those extra side effects for one more fertilised egg. However, I've forgotten about it for the time being.

However, today and yesterday have been good.

I have:
  • not required a daytime nap
  • not cried
  • not gotten angry and cursed things.
At all, yesterday and today. It is the first time in maybe a few weeks that it's been that way. I don't take it for granted. Perhaps it's because I have been able to get to Crossfit? Perhaps it's just the natural history of a foul mood.

I have been very hungry and eating ALL THE THINGS. I attribute this to the residual HCG from the trigger shot. Gotta take the good with the bad.

I have had the energy to do some research related tasks. Or perhaps it's the deadline looming on them.

I am going out with my fella for dinner tonight at a fancy city restaurant. The IVF is sometimes hard on relationships, and we are only human. It is important that we do nice things together.

Bit of a busy weekend this weekend, before a busy week.

15 days to Bali, too.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Twelve

I write today, Friends, from my Sick Couch.

I am groggy from the drugs and sore from the holes punched in my pelvis, but OK nonetheless.

I have just finished my second stim cycle of IVF, and it was hard going. I was on a higher dose of the follicle stimulating hormone, and it made me feel tired and seedy. I have been good in bed (as in, I have spent a lot of time there).

Last time I got seven eggs. This time, the specialist thought I might get ten eggs, but I woke up from the anaesthetic with the news that I got 12.

I cannot tell you how happy that made me. When things aren't going one's way, and one holds on to the little tiny things as a way of staying sane, it is wonderful to have something exceed your expectations.

There is a great deal of attrition involved in this process, and more eggs collected means a greater likelihood of having a genetically normal embryo, which will proceed to a full-term pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Each woman is different in IVF.

Mostly, IVF is an invisible process. Most women don't share. I have shared a bit, because I think it is important to.

Most of those women who are open about their IVF seem to be of the #IVFwarrior variety. They are the never say die, never give up hope variety.

I am not in that camp.

IVF is hard, physically, mentally and financially. The results are by no means guaranteed. I do not know how these women have the strength to keep going with many IVF cycles. I have heard it said that infertility and IVF is a series of continuous psychological adjustments to changing circumstances.

My approach is very much a "one day at a time" process. I have glimmers of hope, but most of my energy is spent on getting through as best I can. I dare not say "give up", but in the back of my mind is the "ok, what if it doesn't work, what then?" track, a track that I cannot fully engage with while I am doing the IVF.

For now, though, I can be happy that the stims are over, and I can look forward to Bali. It is the place that I wish to run to when things are overwhelming at home. Within the next couple of weeks I will find out what these eggies have done with themselves.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

The pleasant day-to-day.

It's been a little while, folks. 

I've just come back from Sydney, where I was at a conference. I spent the weekend sitting beside my dear friend, SSG.

SSG and I see each other infrequently, less than once a year, but we are well across the broad details of each other's lives. We text or like each other's insta posts just about on the daily. Hence, catching up IRL (as opposed to URL) was companionable and comfortable, rather than the "squeee" and formalities and niceties of other infrequent catch-ups. I felt comfortable enough to launch straight into a rant about my hotel room; it had a pillar right in the middle and was the most unusably-configured hotel room I have ever stayed in.

Anyway, seeing SG felt like a continuation of the discussion and banter we have regularly. It is nice to regularly be reminded that people care, even if they are mainly only present in the text and tech world. Cheers, matey SSG! x

The conference and eats and drinks were orright too. There was not a great deal of time to do a great deal else, but SSG and I snuck out for a bite of lunch, which involved most of the major food groups (champagne, persian fairy floss, chippies, bread, dips and sausage rolls).

But yes, it's been a while since I last posted.

I was intellectually prepared for the IVF to fail, but the emotional fallout took me by surprise.

I sought some counselling with the IVF conglomerate, that was hard to come by and I had to talk to the patient complaints lady to make any headway on that (hint: the squeaky wheel gets the oil).

I have stayed afloat, kept doing all the things, but the veneer of normality has been thin. I have sometimes felt that, if I were to just let it (what ever "it" is) go, I could cry at any time. This has been getting better, though. I don't feel so fragile. Except for when I spend any time near a baby. Then I nearly lose my shit.

There have been many, many episodes of ugly crying. It's kind of nice, in a way. I have been letting myself feel, letting myself cry, more freely than I ever have in the past.

There were more ugly tears last week, after I went for a job and was unsuccessful. Why did I bother going for it? Because why the fuck not?

The sads can be a gnawing, heavy thing, or they can be a white hot overwhelming angry thing. The are not there all the time however. It is the time in between the sads that is keeping me together. I am taking comfort in the fact that, even though some fairly major things aren't going our way at the moment, the day to day, here and now, is actually reasonable.

I have been giving the phrase "tomorrow is another day" a good flogging, and have been putting on my big girl panties (so to speak) regularly.

I am living for crossfit, and training 5 or 6 times per week. Anyone who follows me on Insty will be abreast of my progress with handstands. I am working on my kipping (a gymnastics term). I am proud of the calluses that have formed on my hands. Last week, the workout was so hard that I literally cried afterwards (my state of mind was not the best going in, and I hadn't had a great night's sleep, by way of explanation).

I have made a friend, who is 22 years old. She is a curvy girl, but has lost quite a bit of weight and is very body confident. Like the most confident 22 year old I have come across, generally. She is my Workout Wifey. We generally pair up for workouts and have even been assigned a portmanteau by one of the coaches (ChrisCilla). She is a bit of an animal and is super fit. We laugh and joke and rattle off gangsta rap song lyrics at random. Hanging out with her is one of the highlights of my day. As the weather heats up she is leaning towards a bit of belly exposure in the active wear department and I am inspired to do the same #freethebelly.

The little things are intensified. For example, not having to brace myself against the cold when I walk outside is pleasant. The smell of flowers - pleasant. A good coffee - pleasant (FYI, McCafe coffee is really good, consistent). A funny meme - pleasant.

The time at home, waiting for my partner to return home of an evening, that can stretch and be uncomfortable. I have a bit of solitude in my life, and while that might in other instances be a good thing, I can go uncomfortably into my own thoughts. It is tempting to comfort eat and drink but I have (mostly) avoided doing that. I feel proud of myself for having done that.

I am thinking of other things, too. Like getting a new set of wheels. Maybe a Honda. It is about as prestige as I will go. I can't bring myself to pony up for a Beemer or Merc or Range Rover Evoque (sweet set of wheels, my friend has one). I am thinking of movies to see. Thinking of selling stuff on ebay. Thinking of movies I can go and see. We are thinking about looking at some display houses with view to a reno.

When one is going through something, it can be hard to get the head of steam to do the things that need it, like everything excluding work and eating and personal hygiene tasks. I am chipping away towards that head of steam.

A month ago, the thought of doing another round of IVF was obscene, I could not face it. While I am definitely not thrilled about going there again, at higher dose of hormones, I can actually bring myself to do it.

It's hard to get my hopes up at all, or indeed feel anything but "meh" about it. My technique is mainly just distraction. Enjoying the pleasant enough day to day, and holding on to the normal moments.



Sunday, 10 September 2017

Tired by waiting.

My favourite poem is "If" by Rudyard Kipling.
One of the lines goes: "If you can wait, and not be tired by waiting.."

It's a wonderful poem. It has helped me through many difficult hours.

However, I am now feeling myself getting tired by waiting. A lot of other feelings also, but tired is one of them.

Saturday's result from the embryo transfer was not the desired one. As I only had the one embryo, another cycle of IVF is required.

I think I did the 2 week wait ok. I managed to say sane most of it.

I kind of knew before Saturday. The two pee tests I took were negative. "Oh don't worry, it could be too early", I said to myself.

Friday, I was hit with the unmistakable punch of the PMS. I was aaaaaangry. Saturday morning, despite having a few niggling cramps, I retained a smidge of hope. I went at the crack of dawn to get the blood test before I went to crossfit. Alas, they stuffed the pathology slip and I had to wait - again I was tired and impatient with waiting. I took my frustration out on my back squats - I PB'd (60kg x 5).

My dear friend met me for lunch. I received the phone call with the news. The nurse was nice. They probably get all reactions, from the matter-of-fact to the abject sobbing. I was much more on the matter of fact end of the spectrum. I discussed what I would do vis a vis the next cycle. I rang off and sat back down with my friend. She reached out to touch me and I replied with "Do not. I will lose my shit here if you touch me." My fella, who was teaching, texted me. I called him back. On hearing his voice, my thin veneer of being ok fell to bits, and I did an ugly cry, on the phone, on a sunny street in Northcote.

Aunty Flo came on day 28. Bang on schedule.

I have been tired, sleeping a lot, the last couple of days. Sleeping is a good way to slip the brain into neutral, to switch off the anger and other negative emotions.

Today, Monday, I don't have any scheduled sessions, but I usually do admin and research, then go to a meeting. I did none of that today. I went to crossfit and did a long, tough workout, plodding through it slowly to the finish. It was what I needed. I have not yet taken to bed today, though that may change, as I still have the tireds.

I have the angries also.

My womb was presented with a nice shiny euploid normal looking embryo, and supported with progesterone. It had ONE JOB. Instead, my reproductive system just acted AS THOUGH NOTHING HAPPENED; the HCG was UNDETECTABLE on the blood test. My womb made no attempt to be hospitable, it just went "PATOOOEY" to that precious little embaby.

It has been THREE YEARS too. Three years of cyclical hope and disappointment. Of hair falling out, acne, epic PMS. Of watching EVERYONE getting pregnant, seemingly with no problem. Of it being hard to plan anything else. It's not been miserable, there have been good times, but it's been a long time coming.

Being a planner, I am going to take the month off fertility treatment, and start the stims again next month, after speaking to my doc about how we might improve the ova haul this time.

We are going up Port Douglas way in November, something to look forward to. Also I am thinking of getting a new car, or leasing one. My i30 has been disappointing. It is still under warranty and doing all sorts of annoying things and I am sick of its shit. I need a sweet set of wheels. Anyone got any recs?

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Yes to.

You know what I think about the whole "think positive" thing. Our thoughts are our thoughts. They change.

Positive behaviours are far more powerful, I think. A meter by which I can say: "I am doing OK".

Hence, these past few days, I have been saying yes.

I've been saying yes to the hairdresser just doing what she wants. Blonde foils to amp up the vibrancy of the red semi-permanent. Going a bit shorter than what I might have. I quite like my hairdresser. She is Kiwi, and Kiwis are good.

I said yes to catching up with my fella and dog at the pub. Even though I have instructions to keep my alcohol minimal. I said yes to catching up with my Singaporean brother from another mother. His sister was in town, from Singapore.

I also bought some Singapore orchids.

I said yes to patterned activewear bottoms. Not black. Bright and flowery.

I said yes to a running workshop. My running style can best be described as injurious interpretive dance. I had that looked at, and learned some new tricks to make my stride more efficient.

I said yes to staying at home this Monday morning. Monday is my "day off" but I usually go in to do some admin/research, and attend a meeting in the afternoon. This morning, I have crossfitted, then stayed at home, where I said yes to baking and dinner prep. It's soothing.

I said yes to having a bit of a bawl yesterday evening. Father's day this year was hard. My father and grandfathers are long dead. We have not been able to make a father out of my fella. There were many kids and hipster dads around yesterday. Usually it doesn't bother me at all, but this time it was hard. It could be partly attributable to the "progesterone flu" (my terms).

I said yes to taking some photos of what I've been doing, but blogger said no to uploading them. Stupid program.

I am going to be saying yes to taking care of myself this week, doing what I need to, to get through. Big blood test/moment of truth on Saturday.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Download day. I made friends with Nina again.

Last night, I did some self-care. For the first time in years, I made a risotto. The shopping, chopping and stirring was immensely comforting. I bought some wine to put in there, and drank some too. I settled in to perform my Wednesday night ritual viewing of the Bachie and Offspring.

Offspring has gone off the boil the last 2 seasons, but I was committed so I kept on watching, despite swearing off a couple of weeks ago, to finish off the season. In for a penny, in for a pound.

Last night's episode got me in the heart. Nina has got her pregnancy glow on (I really really want to know what makeup products they use) and Asher Keddie is just immensely watchable. The Farshun was amazing also. Billie was reeling off her best lines. Billie/Kat Stewart's cheekbones are sublime.

What got me, though, was the storyline. Nina starts looking towards resigning her current position, even though she is pregnant, and deciding what she wants to do with her life, career wise. In the end, she was offered a position which would be more challenging and fulfilling for her (we won't know, as this looks like the end - I think they've wrung every last little bit out of the Proudman saga).

We women do not often dare to ask for more than we have. A lot is expected of us, but we are taught not to expect much - if we have children, or want them, then career must take a backseat. No such rules apply for men - they can have the beautiful family and the great career, and wishing for this is not frowned upon.

Most woman never consider what it is they want in their career, and even if they do, they rarely get asked. It takes a lot of courage to dare to ask for more than what you have.

This notion was nicely portrayed in last night's episode. It is an important story to tell.

The wine, the Offspring season (?series) finale, the progesterone all added to make me emotional.

I have been having the progesterone pessaries every night, and will do until my pregnancy blood test next Saturday. Happily, I have discovered a nice little night-time ritual of showering, pessary placement, then early to bed, as lying down after insertion is mandatory. Enforced lying down with a good book is good. Thanks, SSG, for the Mummy Blogger book rec!

So, today. The transfer was scheduled at the same time as my round, hence I took the day off work.

I was led into a room with a gynae chair (don't know their technical name), an ultrasound machine and a telly screen. I met with my doctor, a nurse and also to the scientist. Meeting the scientist "the cook" was nice, as they perform the magic. While I was arranging myself on the gynae chair, the cook prepped the embryo in the back room, show the name sticker on the telly screen, then showed me the embryo. Then they sucked it up into a long catheter and handed it to the doc, who placed it in the appropriate spot. I re-robed, collected my medical certificate and bade the team farewell.

I went down to see the nurse to obtain further instructions. I asked for the medical certificate. I went back upstairs and asked for it again. The clerk asked the doc, who replied that I already had it.

It is probably a good idea that I took the day off work.

I tottered off down Smith street to procure some food. There is a French Bakery called Gontran Cherrier which I enjoy, and I went in there for some fancy tea and some high-end carbohydrates. I went for both a sweet and a savoury pastry.

I then wandered some more. During those wanderings, my mood swung from glowing and happy to tears stinging the back of my eyes over the course of minutes. Bonds were having a 40% off sale, so I went in there. I succumbed to some floral printed tracky daks and workout tights. Normally I would not buy such things, I attribute these purchases to my state of mind.

I dropped by InspirAsia, a store which stocks brands like Elk and Maiocchi. I dropped some cash on a leather jacket that I had my eye on for a while. Again an emotional (but not irrational) purchase.

I've taken it fairly quietly for the rest of the day. Reviewing some articles, answering some emails.

Now, to the waiting. The 9th of September seems far away.

I have been thinking about the nature of hope. Hope is all about imagining the future with the desired outcome. It seems like hoping hard is associated with a bigger fall if the desired outcome does not come to pass. What is the correct amount of hope?

I will ponder this among the work and the other nice relaxing things I have planned.