Wednesday, 21 February 2018

6+1 - big but little changes.

At the moment, I am hyper-aware of every little thing. I wanted to write some things down, for posterity. Part of me knows that there is a chance this could all be taken away from me. This feeling does not overwhelm me but it is there, it it what it is. It won't be through anything I do, just an unknown and unknowable milieu of micro-vessels, positioning and chromosomes.

I am a little bit queasy. This has just come up over the past couple of mornings, later in the day if I delay eating a minute after I get hungry. The nausea is nothing that some simple carbohydrates cannot promptly fix.

I am starting to get less anxious about my food cravings, namely that I will gain too much weight and get diabetes. Indeed, sweet food is neither here nor there. I am all about the savoury and salty food. My drug of choice at present is fast food potato cakes, with lots of salt and vinegar. I have limited myself to no more than one PC per 24 hours, some days I have a PC free day. Though I would like to do an experiment whereby I consume PCs until the desire is extinguished. I wonder how many I will get to. I have lost interest in meat, except for that contained in Dim Sims (steamed, in my defence) and salami (cooked up in a pasta sauce of course).

I am getting the odd cramp in my belly, some dull, some sharp and unilateral. I am told that this is normal, with the uterus increasing its blood supply. I didn't have any pains last time. The boobs are doing their boob thing.

Mostly I have good energy levels, this arvo I could have done with a nap. My patients and co-workers were no doubt grateful that I was able to push through.

Horrible news of violence and war from overseas would previously have made me sad, but not emotional. Today, I saw a teacher who died shielding his students from the gunman in Florida, and burst out crying. My fella is out for the evening but I felt I needed comforting. Other news stations were barely less emotive, so the TV is off for newshour.

It has not all been about the pregnancy, though I am told by reliable internet sources that the emby is about the size of a pea, at present.

Perhaps mercifully, there has been plenty to occupy my mind. From the collective rage and blustering and supporting my trainees after the RACP exam fiasco, to finding some solutions to tricky problems at work, to thinking about my boss and my ex, who are both sick.

I have my viability scan on Friday. I have taken it as a morning off work, I don't have work in the afternoon. It'll be a day off. I'm not nervous about the ultrasound, not at the moment, what will be will be.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

BFP. ODAAT.

I had been tossing up whether to blog about this.... I've been talking about the IVF etc so much in this forum it would seem remiss.

Anyway, about 5 days after my embryo transfer, I started getting cramps, like an impending period. "Oh don't worry," my internet friends would say, "it could be implantation cramps".

"Yeah, right" I thought.

I found that 10 day wait really hard. Mainly because I thought I was just having to wait till I was disappointed again, and I just wanted to be put out of my misery.

On day 7, feeling really cagey, I thought "oh what the hell, I'll just pee on a stick (POAS)".

For the first time in 2.5 years, there were 2 lines.

It took a few days for that to sink in. Finally, on day 10, I went to go and get the official blood test, at sparrow fart in the morning. I worked the morning session and tried to chillax in the afternoon, having swapped my sessions.

The IVF doc rang. My HCG was in the comfortably 4 week pregnant range, as was my progesterone. My BFP - IVF forum lingo for Big Fat Positive.

I asked her a question and she told me to stop googling. I argued with "but I google scholar....". She said to go and get an ice-cream. It was a hot day. I did what the doc said.

Since then, my mind has been a bit all over the shop. I am one minute dressing my hypothetical baby in a cute onesie. Other times I am worried to the point of tears that the pregnancy will go down the route it went last time. I am trying to live in, if not the moment, then what I have to do in the day in question, and not think too far ahead, at this stage.

I have resisted the urge to look at the stats. I know that with my age my chances of all not proceeding are higher than average, but it does not do to dwell on that. Waste of time and energy, for starters. Hence I have done a good job of distracting myself, plotting world domination, et cetera.

It seems a long time to go till the viability scan. Just under two weeks, seems ages away. I am taking it One Day At A Time (ODAAT). The time will pass, it is up to me as to how anxiety filled it is. What will be, will be. The future is not really ours to see.

At a work  meeting, my male colleague, whose wife is pregnant, got a hearty slap on the back from the male seniors/head honchos. I wonder whether the congratulations to me (if forthcoming) will be different. Along with the slight fatigue, the munchies and sore boobs, my angry feminist side seems to have popped up.


Monday, 29 January 2018

Inferno. The download and the 10DW. Plans a and b.

Melbourne has been positively INFERNAL the last few days, though thankfully the cool change has come through this evening. Our evaporative cooling chose the few days before the heatwave to bite the dust. The repair guy told me the cooling unit was 17 years old, which was an excellent innings for a cooler. I duly ordered a portable aircon on the internet - dispatched to the warehouse last Wednesday. I went to the Toll warehouse to see if I could collect it  on Thursday, but I was sent away, that they could not possibly retrieve it for me. Hence we spent the weekend with a small portable aircon which was far more effective at making noise than at cooling.

I had my solo embryo downloaded yesterday. It has been a fairly emotional run up. I have been feeling the progesterone flu hard. Wanting to cry at this thing or that thing (or nothing much). Feeling irritable. Wanting to eat all the things. Fortunately, not all of these things occur at the same time.

In the US, it's called the 2WW, the 2 week wait - the period of time between the transfer and the pregnancy blood test. In Australia, it's 10 days. The 10DW (10 day wait) is tough. You have to avoid soft cheeses, alcohol, spas and saunas. It's hard to forget about, and just a matter of getting through the days as best one can. I have come up with a list of strategies.

Things to do
  • put shampoo-in rinse in hair to make the colour a bit brighter
  • Get eyebrows waxed
  • Get pedicure
  • write papers
  • See I, Tonya
  • Draw things
  • Raid freezer and cook things from it
  • Read my book
For the day of the test, I have decided that I will get the blood test drawn early in the day, and get the results rang through after my clinic is finished, in the late afternoon. I don't think I will manage if I have the results and have to work after. Either way. I will arrange to meet up with my fella for some quiet time to let the results sink in.

I have plans for if the embryo transfer doesn't work out. I have put a paper in for presentation at a conference in Vienna. I have made arrangements with my internet diet guru friend to help contain (not eliminate, contain) any comfort eating and/or drinking that may occur. I will book in some 1:1 training with my crossfit coach to nail some skills

I have no plans for if the pregnancy test is positive. It's been so long, 2 and a half years. I may find it hard to find the joy in it, such will be the fear of having another miscarriage. I will need to think of some ways to nurture myself and my partner through this period, also. I have no ideas. Maybe a google search?

Another great distractor is that we are looking at doing a knock down rebuild for our house. Lots of internet browsing at house designs.

I also bought myself a pair of shoes. I can't get the image pasted here, but google Senso Mackenzy heel in ebony. They are beautiful. I could not find them new online, but I found a pair in my size on ebay, pre-loved. They are badass shoes. I saw them on a girl in a cafe and she told me the brand, I tracked them down. Commitment.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

#fitAF, My fitness story.


This post might be boring to anyone who is not me.

The above is a picture of myself power-cleaning 42.5kg, I am mid-air. I am blurry because it is a fast movement.

I go to crossfit 5 or 6 times a week. I see my box-mates more than I do my family or non-crossfit friends. Hence it is quite a big deal in my life. So I am gonna write about it.

I am now coming up to 3 years since I joined the Holy Church of Crossfit, and I can say with confidence that it is the best thing I have done, fitness wise. It is not for everybody, but it is for me.

I was never a fit or sporty kid at school or even really uni. I had my greasy nose in a book most of the time. I could not jump high or run fast, which was a big deal back in the day. Yet I am willing to bet that many of my athletically talented primary school contemporaries are now sliding into a middle age spread, and can barely touch their toes. (Though I have stalked Narelle, my school arch-enemy, on Facebook. She is a personal trainer who says things like "dream believe achieve"....I can't even. Silly Mole.)

I started running a lot when I had a bout of depression in my late 20s. I was not particularly good or fast at that, but I worked my way up to a half-marathon. I was running to "lose weight". I didn't lose a lot.

I had a second bout of depression, then a divorce. I upped my game to a full London marathon (distance ran proportional to trauma - here is hoping I never wish to run an ultramarathon), but got injured after so stopped. I trained with a now defunct running group. I still catch up with the women who I met there. Fabulous women, about 6 of us!

About 4 years back, I started doing some boot camp stuff with a lady whose alias shall be J. A lady in her late 40s, she was clawing her way through the menopause, one knee-destroying, crop top wearing, laser skin rejuvenation marathon at a time. At the time I thought she knew her stuff. She had a garage gym set up. She would look us up and down after we came back from holidays to see whether we had gained weight. She did not believe in positive reinforcement, and didn't like it when we cheered each other through a workout. She screamed and yelled. I trained with her for about 18 months. All the while, I was coming to an increasingly firm conclusion that she was, in fact, a bit of a cow.

One day, I had a tough day at work, and was in the thick of writing up my PhD. I did not go right to the end of a stair run, and one of the other bitches girls who was there dobbed me in. J yelled at me to do it again. I said "No.".

I never went back after that.

I had been a bit curious to try Crossfit, but it looked a bit scary. The official intro video showed fit people doing scary things. I ramped up the courage to call the owner, to see if I could try, and to outline my concerns. I did a trial session and from then on, I was hooked.

Soon after I started, I did run for the kids, and sustained a nasty sprain to my ankle. That cooled things for a bit. Then I had the infamous pregnancy/miscarriage event of 2015. I didn't train that hard until I finished my PhD at the end of 2015/early 2016.

The main improvement I have made since doing crossfit is in my strength.

Optimized-strength-standards-1024x352

I am in or near the "Strong" category relative to my body weight for all the moves listed above, except that I cannot do an unassisted pull up.

There are things that I can do that I could never do before I started, or even a year in. For example, we did 100 sit-ups for time yesterday. I did that without taking any more than a 2 second break.

I have been introduced to the wonderful world of Olympic lifting. I still giggle when I ask coach to come and watch my snatch. I clean weights better than I clean plates. 

I am not very fast, but I can jog 5 kilometres when the fancy takes me. I might struggle with 10 but it would not take me too long to train to it.

As with most things, though, most of the limitation occurs in the mind. There are a few things that I have not made much progress on - pull ups, kick up to handstand, and box jumps being the main things.

I realise that the error that I make with these is that I expect improvements to be made in large chunks rather than in small increments. These are "can or can't" movements but there are levels in between. I need to train with that in mind. Thankfully, our coaches have designed the program that allows us to make continuous incremental improvements without having achieved the complete movement. The coaches also let us know we are improving. I nearly did a kick up to handstand today! Not long now.

The other error that I make is that I compare myself to others, and get discouraged when I see other (often younger, skinner athletes) people pulling ahead of me in a workout. Hence, I have taken to consciously blocking them out and focussing on my own game.

I also used to freak out and slow the hell down when I got uncomfortable. I learned to deal with discomfort and work to the edge of it.

These skills - chipping away at things, enjoying the process and the millimetre increments, focussing on my own game, and dealing with discomfort - have bled over into other areas of my life.

That, for me, is the most powerful thing.

Also, though I have a bit of a belly and am fatter than when I thought I was fat, I have far better body image. I cringe when I hear women telling other women about "fat burning" or "not getting too big". and things along those lines. Crossfit delights in strong women, who sweat and cuss and grunt and have muscles and hand calluses. 

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Triumph and Disaster. New Year Resolutions.

Happy new(ish) 2018, readers.

I've been meaning to write for a few days now. Touch base, check in.

I've had a good Exmas and New Years' period.

On Exmas day, despite the fact that a guest was heavily pregnant, I was near to my best self. I cooked a great meal and was a good hostess. I did not cry and only required one nap, and this was because I went out a bit hard on the campari spritzes, and followed it up by serving negronis. My pavlova was demolished. We had just enough food and not too many leftovers. I consider it a win.

We went to the Barossa Valley in between Exmas and New Year, for my fella's birthday. I got a taste of some Grange 2013 at Penfolds MacGill estate, at the bargain basement price of 50 bucks for a mouthful, with some other posh wine tastes thrown in. A bucket list thing ticked off.

NYE was spent at home with my fella and dog. We had a nice meal cooked at home, and some bubbly. As I slid between my clean sheets at 2230 hours I applauded my life choices - no jostling crowds or small talk with people I barely know. Sleep is good.

I have been working throughout the festive period, and generally keeping busy. With the break in IVF proceedings, I have managed to forget about it, which has done me the world of good, and turned what might have been a stressful time into quite an enjoyable one.

However, there is the small matter of the embryo in the freezer, which I am having deposited this month. It's like the screws have tightened and I am feeling stressed about it, again. My plan of psychological attack during the period will once again be "one day at a time".

Work wise, I have had a bit of unsettling news. I work in a few different locations, some job roles I like, one I don't. I have been looking to ditch the role I don't like, but just waiting for another job role to fill it. Gradually my role in another place has been expanding, under the supervision of a supportive boss who I admire. I had told him that I wanted to work more with him, and that I appreciated his mentorship.

Anyway, today I rolled up to do some work and researchy things. I went and said g'day to this boss's secretary. She looked upset, and asked me what scope I had to do further work. She then went on to explain that the boss was sick, the exact nature of the illness unclear, and he asked me to fill one of his roles while he was undergoing treatment which would take at least some months.

The potentially good opportunity for me to do some good work (and ditch what I don't want to do), and do my mentor proud, is wrapped up in the very shitty news that he is ill and may not even be around to mentor too long. I can't imagine what he must be going through.

I've learned that life does not often look like what we thought it would. The extension of that is that good opportunities, rather than being presented on a silver platter, are sometimes wrapped up in dirty newspaper.

I've also learned that being an adult is hard. The older we get, the more we hear about illnesses, divorces, loss. We are dodging bullets. We hope that one does not hit us, as we see people close to us fall. There is often very little sense to how and who the bullets hit. All we can do is live our best life.

With this in mind, I have come up with a set of NY resolutions that do not involve slimming. I wrote these a little while ago.

1. To (definitely) visit Wilson’s Prom and Far North Queensland. Maybe also Europe, Galapagos amd Costa Rica (depends...)
2. To draw a picture once per week, or write things.
3. To always have nicely groomed eyebrows
4. To see a fillum one a month, at a proper cinema
5. To give others more compliments and encourage them.
6. To give myself more compliments
7. To be patient with myself, practice things I am not good at or that are time consuming but important, and just plug away and not worry how long it’s taking. To be in love with the process rather than the outcome.
8. To wear more bright lipsticks
9. To eat and relish fruit and veg in season
10. To keep my hands well moisturised and free of too much callus (life of a crossfitter...)
11. To ensure my footwear mostly meets the brief of stylish but comfortable
12. To keep a list of things to do if I feel bored/stressed

13. To do 5 minutes of decluttering per day because it is legit good for the soul. 
14. To say yes to fun things.

Monday, 18 December 2017

A picnic. 2017 reflections 1.0

It's been a little while. Sometimes I go to write and then don't know what to say. A lot has been happening up here in this ol head of mine.

Since my ex-husband Ian's diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease, I have been in touch with him and his wife, H. I went and saw them in August. We all sat and talked for a couple of hours, until Ian's fatigue necessitated a nap.

I have a lot of time for H. She's a good woman.

Ian never had many friends, he was somebody who knew many but could talk with few. He was just very introverted. He and H did some specialty training together and they always got along well and talked often. There was nothing untoward going on between them, while we were married, but I always knew they connected well.

Back in the day, when I was all confused and considering ending my marriage, I did a little mental exercise. I wondered "If he repartners before me, how would I feel?". H's name came up in my head, immediately. I felt sick for about 10 minutes and then I decided that I could manage it.

Of course, when it did happen, a couple of months later, I felt sad, but I understood. I was upset and angry that we could never find that connection, that he could never show me the thought he seemed to be showing H, but the leaving was my decision.

When I saw them back in August, that understanding of how good they were together was reinforced. They loved quiet, and books (mainly science fiction). I felt sad for them. That they would not get the years together they deserved.

Fast forward to Nov, H invited me to Ian's 40th. We had a good chinwag on the phone, maybe about half an hour or more. Comparing mother in law stories. H telling me what was happening with Ian's brother. All was not well there. I was a bit scared that MIL and Ian's brother, who I have not seen in 6 years, would not want me there, but H assured me that Ian was very clear that he wanted me present. I was very honoured, feeling this was a testament to the years we loved each other. Anyway, brother has buggered off overseas to live with his new girlfriend, leaving his brother with MND and his mum undergoing treatment for cancer.

The party was yesterday, a potluck picnic, where we could all bring something to share (ideally gluten free). I was shitting bricks beforehand. I decided that I would make a pavlova to bring. Everybody loves home-made pav (cept maybe Ian).

Making the pav was very stressful. I was insanely worried I would bugger it up. It was not perfect in the end but I got there and bought it along. I bought it along dry, packing some cream, berries and chocolate to sprinkle over at the venue.

I got there. H came up to me and said "I haven't told L (ex-MIL) that you are coming". I grimaced. Shit. I gurded my loins and strutted to where the party-goers were assembled. I plopped my pav on the table. Also present were all of H's family, many from Israel and all celebrating Hannukah.

I looked to Ian. He had faded. His limb muscles were wasted, and his speech barely intelligible. He smiled and said hello. His eyes, always bright blue, had a new intensity to them. Perhaps it is the best way he can communicate now.

I walked over to L. She exclaimed "Cilla" in surprise, stood up, and gave me a hug. She was wearing a cam boot, having recently broken her foot. I asked her what she did to herself, then announced that I bought a pav.

That bit over, I walked around. H asked me how I would like to be introduced. I rolled my eyes and said "I'm the evil ex-wife". She laughed. I then introduced myself as Ian's wife v1.0. Ian's mum had made up a photo album of Ian's life. I was a little sad to see that no photos of our life together were present, but I got it.

Anyway, I chatted with some folk, but mainly kept to my fella. I was glad he was there.

The time came to sing happy birthday. Ian's mum made a short speech, then started crying. Ian and H and their 4 year old boy stood there smiling bravely. My heart broke at that point. My heart breaks typing this. I think it will take a long time until I can think about this without feeling sad.

I assembled the pav. It was consumed by all, and remarked upon. I had many compliments on it, including from H's mum. I suggested that a pav might be an appropriate Hannukah treat. She said yes. We will call it "Hannukova". I felt very happy and proud. The pav redeemed me in a way I cannot fully explain. I suppose I feel like I didn't belong there.

After the pav, I had a chat with L. She told me about her cancer treatment, that she would be moving to a suburb near me to be able to access. I gave her my mobile number and said that, if she wanted, we could go for a coffee. She said that she would like that. We certainly had our differences while Ian and I were married, but we loved each other, and I missed her for a long time after we split up.

My fella and I went and had a look at the sculptures in the park, then went and said our goodbyes. I had to take a nap after getting home. Napping seems to be the thing I do when I just can't handle things. Also I had hit the grog at a ladies night out the night before, so I suppose I had a bit of a delayed hangover.


As much as I dislike writing off whole years, this past year has had more than its share of challenges. That encounter I describe above is but one example of a sad/awkward/difficult encounter that I had to trudge through. I think I did that one quite well (because PAV). There were others that I struggled a bit harder with.

I have been for a few jobs this year, the most recent of which was a few weeks ago. I would like to change my job detail a bit. Alas, I have missed out on a few. It has added to the feeling of inadequacy, and also I have developed a "nobody likes me" complex. Today I went for feedback on this last interview. I did not go as shit as I thought, just the other candidate was able to be more specific about their experience, and I got some good tips.

In the face of quite a few challenges and disappointments recently, perhaps the most difficult thing has been balancing staying realistic with getting hard and negative. My ego has had a few beatings this year, and with it, my attitude has suffered, truth be told.

I was never one to read self-help books, but I have cracked open a few in the last few months. "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck" by Mark Manson was great. I will read "Daring Greatly" by Brene Brown. I am in the middle of a fiction novel at the moment, but with that I am also reading "Chasing Excellence" by Ben Bergeron, who has coached a few Crossfit athletes who have won the games.

Ben Bergeron is quite matter-of-fact, preferring anecdotes and solid psychological theory to platitudes. He talks about embracing adversity, focussing on the process and the parts of the situation that are under ones control, and about doing the best one can at each juncture, rather than focussing on the outcome. I think this will be my manual for living, going forward. Much of my angst has come from comparing myself to how I think I should be going/living (musterbation), or comparing myself to others, rather than fully embracing and taking advantage of the day.

For the past few Christmases, I have thought "this time next year, I will be pregnant/with a baby". Hence, the last couple of Christmases have stung. Last year, we ran away. This year, I am facing up to it. I have bought a super-tacky electric Xmas candle, so bad its good. Also some glitter gingerbread earrings. My fella bought a proper pine Christmas tree today. Fake it till we make it. As well as tying up some things at work, I will focus on making a great lunch. Saturday will be my family, Sunday we will be hijacking another family's celebration, and Christmas lunch will be at ours, with some randoms and my mum. I am not dreading it. I am kind of looking forward to it.

I hope all that read this have a wonderful festive period, wherever they are.

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.