Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Take-home messages

Whenever I go to a lecture or conference or anything where I have to learn, I very rarely write down anything.

Instead, I take one or two "take-home" points. Things that were salient and that I will remember. Otherwise it's bits of paper which I will never look at again.

I went to see the IVF doctor again, the review visit.

My IVF doctor is a specialist handpicked by me. He is one of Australia's most experienced IVF specialists and is well into his 70s. He is Scottish and he has a dry, irreverent sense of humour and kindly grandfatherly type nature. He also took the government to court so that single women or women in same sex relationships could access IVF. He won.

I had all the tests. They were fine. My pelvis is in good configuration. My partner and I are pumping out gametes like champions. I could literally have had tens of biochemical pregnancies, plus one I actually knew about.

However, my kindly Scottish specialist told me something very sobering today, nothing that is particularly emphasised in any of the lay literature, and nothing that rings a bell from what I was taught back at uni.

He said that, at my age, on average, about 90% of my ova are aneuploid, compared with maybe 40 or 50% (or maybe 30? I can't remember what he said) at age 25. That means that, as a result of my age, I am pumping out faulty eggs with abnormal chromosomes. They are not worth the paper they are written on. I don't mean that in a perjorative way, it's just the way it is. They are doomed to fail and not result in a take home bundle of joy. There are plenty of women over 35 who have babies, but there is a mix of luck and maybe having a few more "good eggs".

I wondered, with all my bits and his bits being good, what IVF would actually circumvent, and make a baby more likely? After all, IVF is invasive, expensive and potentially risky.

Essentially, what they would do in the process would be to check the embryos, and implant only the good ones that had the best shot of sticking and resulting in a pink squalling bundle after 38 weeks. It's a bit more complex than that, and I've done more than a cursory search of google scholar and medline to gain some idea of the ins and outs, but that's basically it.

This discussion put everything into clear relief. All other things being equal (ie no major medical illness or diseases of the reproductive tract), egg quality is the determining factor. The determining factor of this is maternal age. People say that all the time, but it really hit home today.

Would it have been better if I had the baby with my Ex at 31, when my eggs would have been happier? No. It's not helpful to think of the "what ifs". A good relationship needs to come before the baby, I have always firmly believed that.

Applying the retrospectoscope, if I had the clearheadedness in the setting of the dissolution of a marriage, I would have had my eggs frozen. There is a bit of a push for this by the IVF people, but I feel probably not enough. But for me, it's a moot point.

What would I say to a professional female in their late 20s or early 30s who is single but might like to have children sometime in the future? Freeze yo' eggs. It's expensive but probably less expensive than repeated cycles of IVF with aged eggs, and the resulting mindfuck that can ensue.

So I have a plan. It's onward with the IVF. We have to go through the counselling, police checks, parting with cash, et cetera. It's just a case of when. Soon.

I am really keen to see a friend in Costa Rica and doing some ziplining and some surfing and looking into the crater of a volcano. Also some Crossfit WODs (she is my Crossfit friend who was doing a PhD in Melbourne and went to my Xfit box). The desire to go to CR is mostly reflecting a desire to escape some stressors.

Costa Rica is not really a place I want to go while undergoing IVF. My last hurrah pre IVF perhaps? The other take-home I got from the consult today was that, if IVF will be successful, it is most likely to occur within the first three goes. So hopefully the rigours of IVF will be short before the rigours of pregnancy supervene. I had my head around laying the groundwork later this year, and  getting the hormone shots rolling in the new year.

In other news:
  • am meant to be doing a healthy eating clean living challenge with my gym. It's really hard. A bit of comfort eating may have done the trick when I was climbing the walls last night. Not all comfort eating is bad.
  • I have a better idea of what I want to do when I grow up (ie career goals). 
  • I think, more than ever before, I am appreciating having siblings. They warm my heart, increasingly.
 Sooo....IVF.....Costa Rica..... comfort eating..... a true miscellany.


  1. a few of my friends have frozen their eggs.

    It is a miracle that anyone gets a take home baby at almost 40.

    I seriously do not know how my body pulled it off.

    You will have a baby. Keep the faith xxxxxxxx

  2. It really is a brave move, and I wish you the very best luck strength through the process.

  3. I'm so grateful to be a grandmother of two beautiful girls, born when our DiL was in her mid-thirties (she's significantly older than our son). She had a miscarriage first time around and was worried for the future. But she was blessed a little over a year later with a full term healthy baby and then again about 20 months later. We were all overjoyed. Children bring such happiness. They also fill our lives with enormous responsibility and take up so much of our time and energy yet bring so much joy.
    Best wishes for whatever you decide to do - Costa Rica and volcanic craters - or starting a family. Our son was born when I was young so I've had years since to do all the things on my wish list, including a career and also travel. Best wishes, Pamela

  4. Fertility can be so fickle and so hard on those of us whose lives unfold so that our only real choice is to seek motherhood at a point where we should be hanging up our baby making boots. Although for me the issue was more about high risk pregnancies resulting in Prem bubs which was certainly not helped by age. It's a hard path, but as ff said keep the faith. Wishing you all the very best in bringing the plan to reality. X

  5. Sending positive energy.

    You will be a mum.

    SSG xx

  6. I was watching SBS last night and it was an interesting program about older parents- very thought provoking including one woman who had done 23 rounds of IVF, used donor eggs and finally fallen pregnant at 49, one woman who fell pregnant accidentally naturally at 49 and of course the Dads who were 70, 90 etc... it was interesting hearing also from (now adult) children with older parents. If you didn't catch it look for it on SBS catch up, you'd probably find it interesting. Keep the faith. I'm sure there's a baby in your future.
    I have friends with frozen eggs. Hopefully there's a baby for them in the future too. They just need to find the right man now, but even then the clock is ticking. xx