Friday, 14 July 2017

The $6600 lump.

After the ovary stimulating, then blocking, then triggering, then plucking, then watching, I have a single embryo to transfer.

One of the two was aneuploid (genetically abnormal) and so is no good to transfer (I wonder where they put the spent, faulty embryos? I am sure they have a routine).

One. Statistically a 30, maybe 40% chance of implanting.

I had a little cry after I heard about the biopsy results. Now mostly I just feel numb.

The hormone stuff wasn't so bad.

I got the bill - the cost minus the rebate is the figure above. We are lucky we can comfortably make that payment.

I can't get excited about this one little lump of cells. To put all my hope on it would seem unfair on it. The statistics are not that kind (they are not zero, but not great).

I am feeling a whole lotta "what the fuck" at the moment. I try not to extend the "wtf" into "it's so unfair" or anything like that. I feel the pain but don't think too hard.

I had a whole lotta PMS this week. Had a big ugly cry after seeing my friends newborn, but I regaled you with that story.

People say "stay positive" or "it only takes one" or even a weak "oh that's great, at least it's one", but it is not helpful sugar-coating things. It is not good to deny somebody their grief or anger.

I have a week more at work, then a week away, then a conference. Then the transfer.

Then, I don't know. We will see - maybe that $6600 clump of cells will be very badass and stick like a sticky thing.

Perhaps the hardest thing about the last couple of years has been the lack of certainty, having to think about multiple eventualities. I will try and make ourselves a nice Christmas, whatever happens. I am sick of dreading Christmas.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Two.

I have two embryos in the freezer. They have been biopsied and we are awaiting the results to see whether they are chromosomally normal.

Two embryos.

I have since learned that this is a fairly average haul for a woman of my age, however it made me a bit sad. See, I had a number in my head, and it was three. With a roughly 30% chance of a live birth per frozen embryo transfer, three seemed a lucky number.

So what happened to the other three fertilised eggs? One embryo didn't look good, the other two had growth arrest. Now those 8 day late periods make a bit more sense.

I have regrouped and moved forward, though, mostly with some retail therapy (see below). Today I went to see a couple of friends and their newborn, over some coffee at a local cafe. I was doing fine, until we were about to leave. The song "Only you" started playing ("All I needed was the love you gave"...etc). I don't know this song well, but it stirred something in me, and I pretty much sobbed my way down the street to my car.

I had been doing quite well through this and I suppose I was due an ugly cry. I have time to take it a bit more slowly today so it is ok.



This is the bag I bought. It is small but carries my things that I need for work. My old one was a bit tatty. I like cross body bags as I need both hands free.

I also bought a pair of white sneakers. I am a late adopter of the white tennis shoes trend but I am here. I wanted leather, as canvas gets too grotty, and I need arch support as I am too old not to have it. Most of the shoes fitting that bill are in the $200+ range (Frankie 4, Ziera etc) but I sourced a pair for $70 on sale. I am very proud of myself.

I also bought myself a couple of Karen Millen knits, whose pics I cannot locate on google images. They are beautiful and I love myself sick in them

I have also been keeping sane using the Faux Fuchsia method - de-cluttering, tidying and cooking. So soothing, as she would say.

Also crossfit. Despite having had a few woines last night, and being Day 10 post procedure, and not quite back to normal, I managed to do a retest workout, and beat my last time by about 40 seconds. I was pretty happy with that. I am getting fitter with age, I just wish my eggs would get the memo.

I am following a few IVF-infertility related instagram feeds. Perhaps it is a skewed view of the people who have these types of accounts, but for some people the whole fertility treatment issue can be all-consuming.

Though a fair chunk of this blog has been about the "journey" (I hate that word - I like process), I think I have tried to diversify my life with concentrating on other things.

I have to, otherwise it would be depressing.

It's been hard to get my career progressing as I want it, though. It hit me last week - I was asking about a role that is coming up. The person said "oh but you have other things going on", to which I replied "yes but I think I can do the job, and do it well".

It's a bit of a rock and a hard place - if people know or suspect you want to get pregnant, opportunities close. I can think of a few instances where they have. They are not meant to but they do. There are many reasons other than merit why people aren't given jobs and proving discrimination on the basis of family aspirations is impossible.

The problem is, I am not getting pregnant. I am at least a good year away from a live birth - that's the great thing about a human gestation period - there is plenty of notice to hire a replacement, and it's not like maternity leave is that expensive as we only get 10 weeks paid.

It's a shitty catch-22 situation for. It has only just come to my consciousness that this is what has been getting me feeling glum. It pays not to think about it too hard.

Another distractor has been watching "The Handmaid's Tale" on SBS. Brilliant but I can only handle so much at a time. Too scary.

I have been searching for some nice fluff, some holiday reading (Bali in T minus 13 days). I bought the book "How to dress a dummy" by Cassie Lane. She seems a smart, funny woman, an ex-WAG of a prominent AFL player.

Any other recs re light fluffy entertainment?



Friday, 30 June 2017

Eggstravaganza.

First cycle done. In the can. Or the incubator, as it were.

I went for an ultrasound on Monday. My ovaries were the size of oranges. The specialist said they were growing fast, and that I needed the blocker injection stat. So I had it stat.

A couple of days of two injections (one blocker, one grower) later, at the second ultrasound, I had grapefruits. My ovaries would be ripe for the plucking on Friday. Seven eggs, she said.

Wednesday night was the trigger injection. Chorionic Gonadotropin, ie the pregnancy hormone. That was rough. Sore sore boobs, sick, sore pelvis. All the symptoms of pregnancy, but no pregnancy.

I went out for a coffee, the other day. 8 women sat beside me, probably a mother's group, with babies around the 3 month mark. All looking good and breastfeeding with apparent ease. Just the thing you want in your face when your ovaries are swollen with hormones.

Today I went for the collection. Seven eggs, she collected. How bout dat?

I watched all the other women go in for their egg collections. They all looked hale and hearty. Young, healthy. Wealthy. Like they should be strolling around in their active luxe and beachy waves with a chubby baby in a bugaboo, or gracefully lifting the baby out of their Audi 4WD.

Some of them were in for their fourth or fifth go.

The operation itself went fairly well, insofar as I was knocked out for it, and I am not in a lot of pain. More of a pressure when I sit down.

My little oocytes got whisked off to the lab where they will get fertilised. Tomorrow I will get told how many get fertilised.

It's a bit of a game of attrition from there. A certain percentage will fertilise, of those a proportion will get to blastocyst stage, of those a proportion will pass the genetic screening, of those a proportion will survive the freezing and thawing. Of those embryos which are for transfer, on average, 30% will proceed to a live birth. Attrition. Let's hope my oocytes do crossfit too, and they are super good quality.

People say, when I am doing IVF, "oooh how exciting". They haven't considered the attrition above. I find it hard to be excited as it all seems rather improbable. Sometimes it's not good to know the facts. For now, I am just focussed on getting through this one, on recovering, on getting back to crossfit, on getting back into work. I have not thought about whether I will do any more cycles.

I had an exciting work related email the other day, which turned out to be a furphy, but it gave me a bit of food for thought for how I want my career to proceed. It's important not to put all my eggs in one basket (pun absolutely intended), life goal wise.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Day 5.

I am 5 days deep in Gonal-F. For the unfamiliar this is where I shoot myself up in my belly fat with follicle stimulating hormone for 8 or so days. This is in the hope of getting up to 20 mature ovarian follicles that can be sucked out with a big needle transvaginally (I was going to say up my coochie but goddamn it I am a doctor and we are adults) either this coming Friday or next Monday. Thankfully this big needle will be wielded while I am under sedation, in an operating theatre.

There are a few more stages to get through before the ova are collected, different injections, one of which stops ovulation from occurring prior to harvest, and another which gets the ova in the right spot within the follicle.

I was really worried about the side effects of the IVF, mainly that the drugs would cause hormonal fluctuations that'd make my hormones and mood go cray cray. However, so far, it has been tolerable.

I have had a bit of a headache.

I have felt a bit queasy (alternately feeling hungry sick and wanting to eat all the things, then feeling full-sick and sorry that I have eaten all the things).

I have become aware of the presence of my ovaries. This is not surprising. They go from about the size of a date or just larger, to the size of an orange, thereabouts. There are twinges when this occurs.

I can't go quite as hard as I previously would have at Crossfit. I am still doing Crossfit, though.

I have been taking to bed early and with enthusiasm. I am good in bed!

Not too much in the way of mood lability, thankfully.

So I will know more when I have my stimulation ultrasound tomorrow.

More to the point, for a moment the other evening, I had a moment where, rather than imagining all the things that could go wrong, I was able to imagine that things go well. Maybe the treatment works, I have a healthy baby which I can look after without too much trouble.

I have been under a bit of a cloud - it's hard to allow yourself too much hope after a miscarriage and months of not getting pregnant. It was good to have some hope that things will be ok. It's novel at the moment. Nothing is guaranteed.

I am doing OK, in other words.

Meanwhile, there have been some other good distractions.

I have had a couple of pieces of jewellery commissioned - some earrings and a necklace, by a local jeweller. They are lovely and I feel very special wearing them. They are made from some bits and pieces of diamond jewellery I had but didn't wear. Incorporating the old into the new - very poetic.

I participated in a crossfit competition last weekend. I had a terrific time and hit a personal best lift (47.5kg power clean). I improved my standing from last year's comp - I was somewhere near the bottom last year; this year I am smack bang in the middle. One year older, a lot stronger and fitter.

I have rediscovered my thermomix, in particular making soups and vegetable purees. Cauliflower and potato is a good mix. I am also giving the slow cooker a good workout.

I am loving Masterchef, which is on at present. Am gonna go back to watching that.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Big, strong and useful - some late-night thoughts

For me, it is not so much the childlessness that is the issue with being subfertile. My heart leaps when I see little ones smiling, but I know that there can be significant challenges involved in raising children.

It is the feeling of somehow being less than whole, of being physically inferior. Not capable. Bad. Maybe being punished for something. Maybe if I had just stayed with my ex, maybe if I were a bit slimmer.....and I stop going down that rabbit hole there. The general theme is "not good enough" that besets so many people, myself included.

There are things that I do that bolster my self esteem.

My work, for instance. I take pride in (mostly) calmly and efficiently solving difficult problems, (mostly) with good humour.

At crossfit, I can be big, strong, loud and powerful. Lift heavy things and roar like a tigress.

I have rediscovered cooking, selling things on ebay, Kmart. I like to be thrifty. I hate to waste.

I have found my tribe of friends, friends who make me feel good when I am with them. I am sticking by them.

The feeling of being bad is close to the surface, though.

My mum and I have had an increasingly fraught relationship. She has had her own issues, and is being rendered helpless by them.

Our interactions have consisted pretty much solely of her complaining about her situation, talking at me. Loudly, as she is a bit deaf. Also asking for money quite regularly. as she is not working at the moment.

She has had a hard life and I have always felt a bit responsible for her. This, and the "not good enough" theme, have cost me some tens of thousands of dollars in therapy. That's why I pay somebody - it might all get a bit repetitive debriefing to a friend.

Lately, though, I have felt resentful. I don't ask for her support. Not really. I have not had any significant emotional or material support from her in about 15 years. I don't expect it. She has had a hard life. But there are some not insignificant expenses of my own. I am the family money pit.

At this time in my life, all I want from her is "pleasant adult interactions" - nice cuppa tea, game of scrabble, a movie. I get angry with her, and then I feel guilty. It's not helping me. It makes me feel small and I can't really deal with it at the moment.


So a wall has been thrown up. I think, all things being equal, it's better that contact is limited at present. Do I feel guilty? Sure, but it's low level. Not the corrosive back and forth of the anger, frustration and remorse.


Sunday, 28 May 2017

What happened to the impromptu cuppa?

I've been doing a bit on my own recently. Coffee-ing. Eating. Doing things. Like on Saturday, I saw the Van Gogh exhibition. It was ok. Very crowded. Not my favourite work of his. But glad I got to see it.

I am quite comfortable in solitude, and enjoy it sometimes, but it gets a bit lonely.

My intellectual crush, Alain de Botton, stated recently on social media that loneliness was a common part of the human condition. We text rather than have live face on face time. Often these text discussions peter out. The response to "how are you doing?" is rarely truthful in a text conversation. I have gotten out of the habit of being able to talk on the phone - I am as guilty of text volleys as the next person.

I am finding myself craving an impromptu cuppa and heart to heart with a person. I didn't even know I was craving it, I worked it out. I managed to catch up with a friend yesterday, a day after the need was identified. It was great, and much needed. I felt so much better. I am lucky that I have a friend I can call upon to do this.

So often we are planning catch ups weeks in advance, our lives being as over-scheduled as they are, but sometimes company is needed in the here and now (or soon), I am finding.

Therapeutic chats out of the way, I have also been doing some therapeutic buying.

Here are some things I have dropped some cash on:

1. Witchery Fine fold over knit
I have not been a fan of the off-the shoulder thing, as it makes me look wider than I actually am. However this top works if I sit it on my shoulders or a bit skew-whiff (looks a bit Parisian, too).


2. Nars All Day Luminous Weightless foundation
I have been on the hunt for a new foundation. I didn't know until recently that stores like Mecca or Myer will give you a generous sample to try at home.
I had been tossing up between Lancome's Teint Idole Ultra wear and this one. I found the Lancome too heavily fragranced. The positive of the Lancome though is that it has an SPF. The Nars stays on really well, and is less inclined to turn into an oil slick come 1pm.

3. Lipstick Queen Sinner (matte) in Hot Rose





I had been out and about in Northland (or Norflands as it is known to the Locals). I idly went into Mecca (bad idea as more often than not I end up dropping cash there). I tried this lippy on, with no intention of buying it. I loved myself sick in it, and put it down as a therapeutic purchase. My Mac Rebel signature lippy look is getting a bit stale and things needed shaking up anyway. It's not very feminist, but a pop of bright lipstick makes me feel good.

Only thing is that it comes off really easily, like on a few sips of liquid. To this end, I bought myself a universal (clear) lip liner from Sephora ($14).

Anyone ever tried a clear lip liner?

Does anyone else lament the decline of the impromptu cuppa and chinwag?

Monday, 22 May 2017

Oh Masterchef, come ON! Writing without judgement.

I am watching Masterchef. It has become ridiculous. Getting amateur chefs to make sugar balloons to suspend an icecream (sorry, semifreddo) in thin air. I may sound churlish here but I really don't see the point.

Oh who am I kidding. I would be all over the chocolatey, Icecreamy goodness.

Speaking of which, I had a life-changingly good chocolate gelato at Zero Gradi with a mate last night.

I've been a bit dead on the blog recently. I know. It's all very same-old.

I have just heard of a GP colleague who has won a major literary award, one that launches careers. And I think "good on her". And I think that it is time that I start writing again. Just writing, without worrying that I am not bringing the everyday to life as well as my mates SSG and FF.

Writing without judgement. Maybe some doodling (drawing) without judgement?

My life is the same. Work. A bit of Research. All the crossfit. Nothing particularly interesting. I guess that this is the reason why I have stopped writing.

Nobody will want to hear that I got THREE PBs THE WEEK BEFORE LAST!!
(50kg bench, 45kg CNJ, 32.5kg snatch). My Double-Unders have gone AWOL. I can jump on a 20 inch sinking foam box but I still get scared, my pull-up is edging closer and closer. I can latch my feet and arms around a hanging rope and shimmy up a little bit but not that far. I have a bruise on my inner thigh from attempting this.

Also edging closer is the IVF. Late next month. Next cycle I start getting shot up with hormones like a dodgy dairy cow. I am worried about the effects on my mood - my luteal phase sends me cray cray at the best of times, I worry what the hormonal peaks and troughs will do to my brain. The IVF therapists seem to play this down. There are plenty of other things that are vexing about the process - the attrition of the gametes/conceptus, the waiting, the driving, the ultrasounds. Et Cetera.

Still, I'm strapped in. For one round, anyway.

The embryo will be tested for genetic abnormalities, and frozen awaiting the results. So while the cells are on ice, I am going away. We are heading to Bali (Canggu, it has a Crossfit box) and then I am turning around and going off to Arizona for an update in Cardiology for generalists. Nice surrounds, near the Grand Canyon, I get to fly at the pointy end of the plane, and I don't have to get my juniors to explain all the new fangled tests and interventions to me. A distraction. Then back in to get the winning blastocysts shot in, and fingers crossed one of the winners happily and firmly and healthily and properly embeds itself in my endometrium. But that's another round of uncertainty. I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

It's frustrating, not being able to plan things. Still, I have a good knack for making the best of the uncertain situation, don't you agree? Bali! Arizona! Yeah!

I have let go of a few things that are a bit stressful. Taken a step back from people who have that effect on me. Put some work things into perspective and adopted a "que sera, sera" approach. There are stressors that remain, apart from the IVF.

One of my entourage (sounds much better than "my psychiatrist") pointed out that A. I might be lacking a little bit in the close supports department and B. I am also pretty shit at asking for help. It's true that generally I am more comfortable in the caring role than the one being cared for, but now and in the future, I have to see my way to mobilising those supports I do have. I have some gorgeous friends who live close. One of my friends suggested a "safe word" to send out the distress signal. We were eating gelato so we thought that "gelato" might be a good safe word.

I also need to moderate my social media use (I have already unfollowed a few mummies). I need to read good books and see good movies. Nice, funny ones. Not "Bridget Jones' Baby". That shit set me off, big time. Cried all over my dinner.

Any suggestions?