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.


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


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.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

How to deal with IVF 101: Why "stay strong and positive" is bullshit.

I have had my LH surge, and I will be going to have my $6600 lump installed on Thursday.

I know everyone is thinking happy thoughts for me. I am glad to have people thinking of me, as being thought about positively, and people wanting the best for you, is a good thing and it makes me feel good. The idea of the thoughts changing the cosmic energy around my endometrium such that it is rendered more sticky and receptive to the lump is somewhat more questionable.

In the last few days, I have had a couple of people say some things to me that have made me feel a bit "WTF?" I take them in the spirit in which they are given, but I have the WTFs nevertheless.

I was in my fertility doctor's office. I mentioned something along the lines of wanting to limit the number of IVF cycles I have if this one were not to work, and she cut me off saying "you need to stay positive".

Somebody else, recently pregnant with IVF, said "stay strong and positive". I can much more happily deal with news of pregnancies that have been assisted rather than those that have occurred naturally. So sue me.

First of all, what does staying positive even mean?

Does it mean that I am not allowed to express fear, or doubt, or sadness? Perfectly reasonable and expected feelings? Do I have to constantly envisage a happy future with a fat little baby, rather than allowing the thoughts of "ok, what will I do if it does not happen, how will I live my life the best?"

Moreover, do I blame myself if I don't get pregnant, because I failed to think positively enough? Perhaps some ACUPUNCTURE or HERBS or CRYSTALS will help next time (although I fail to see how they will make my 38 year old eggs 28 years old again).

No, no and fuck no.

What about strong? In crossfit this morning, I did sumo deadlift, 3 sets of 5 at 80kg. That's pretty fuckin' strong.

Does strong mean "stay silent and do not ever betray your underlying mental state?" Does it mean "don't cry"? Does it mean "I am not comfortable to hear about your fears and doubts so don't show them to me"?

There is a 10 day wait in between the download and the pregnancy test. I am not looking forward to it. By all accounts, it varies between uncomfortable and excruciating. I need to get through this 10 days as best I can. Without wine!

It's good to have goals. Goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time Limited)

Specific: "Stay strong and positive" is very nebulous

Using that framework, I have come up with the following
  • Try not to fall down the rabbit hole of thinking too much into the future, thinking about how I will react, either way. I need to think of a thing that will break that cycle.
  • Aim only to get to work and crossfit. (If feeling tired, can lay off crossfit). Pat self on back when each of these things achieved.
  • Arrange catch ups with friends that are positive for my mental state (note: need to start arranging). 
  • If I am feeling sad, I will give myself some space to feel that way. Desist with anything non-urgent that is stressful. It can be put off till after.
  • Find some good books to read. Have them available. 
  • Make or plan 2 meals for next week - I might not feel up to cooking

Anyone else had any specific tricks to feeling better? 

Monday, 21 August 2017

Lettin' it go. George the Apache. Ride or die.

The moment I let go of it
Was the moment I got more than I could handle
The moment I jumped off it
Was the moment I touched down

These are some lyrics from the song "Thank You" by Alanis Morissette that have really resonated with me.

There are a lot of things I've been attached to that don't really matter. My day to day life and work is good. If that stays this way at the moment, I will be happy. I am feeling more cheerful already.

I went and had my thaw scan today. My womb looks proper snuggly, there is a nice dominant follicle, everything looks textbook awaiting a special delivery/download at the end of next week. The doc has given my chances of this one taking at up to 50% - it is a tested, chromosomally normal embryo. This has given me more hope than I have been feeling. The doc has also said that I can continue my physical activity as normal, which will be very helpful in managing the anxiety of the 10 days of waiting. Before the download, I have wee and blood tests a-go-go.

By way of a 180 degree change in topic, I wanted to share a story from my stay in Sedona, Arizona.

The conference was held in the mornings, and we had the afternoons free. One of the afternoons, I booked in for a beginners mountain bike riding course. My fella loves mountain bike riding, but I am not terribly confident on a bike. Fortunately, I was the only one signed up on this course, the other person failed to show.

I was met by George the instructor. I quickly learned that he was 75 years old, and Native American (Apache). He had long grey hair, in a pony tail, was short with a belly, but strong looking legs.

George quickly figured out that I was quite an anxious rider. We started on the road, then flat off-road. We practiced turning tighter corners and going on uneven surfaces, like little bunches of rocks. To turn smoothly rather than jerkily. To pedal smoothly uphill and "find your BOO-DHA". There was some summer rain, but I was pumped to be riding around in such beautiful surroundings, with an enthusiastic instructor.

We got to the single trail. There were a few cycling rules / life lessons George shared. George was quite emphatic. The emphasis (capitals) was his

"Look PAST the DRAMA" - whenever I was riding past a hazard, I tended to fix my gaze on that. However, if you look at the hazard, and focus on it, then you tend to ride towards it. Which you don't want to do, obvs. He told me to look 10 feet ahead.

"There is an old Apache saying: If you think you are going too fast, you probably are. YOU are in CONTROL of the BIKE". Judicious application of the back brake is required when going down hill, and remembering, yes, I am in control.

"COMMIT, DON'T HESITATE". I tended to want to want to stop the bike when things up ahead looked difficult, although stopping would have meant falling.

George would not let me drive onto a harder part of track until he was satisfied I could manage the easier one, and ride this a few times.

There was a patch of downhill which freaked me out.

When I was 11, I was dared to ride my bike down a steep dirt hill near a floodway, by my little hoodlum 10 year old neighbour. I rode down. My bike swayed violently then I fell off, really hard. I was winded really badly and I thought I was dying as I couldn't breathe in a while. My front wheel was bent at right angles to the frame of the bike.

I was unable to stand up without feeling dizzy for a day or so after. Nowadays this might score a child a trip to the doctor or the emergency department for a check over. Instead, I had to sit at home with this little neighbour, as my mum had to go to work. I was sick and nobody seemed to give a shit. Without going into too much, there was a lot of frightening stuff as a kid, which I had to deal with alone, which always makes things twice as scary.

On this beautiful trail, I was back to my 11 year old self. I shared this with George.

I am fairly sure this is the root of my fairly morbid fear of falling over, my reticence with jumping, my fear on bikes. Perhaps my anxiety more generally.


George introduced me to a trail which would be a surprise. There were cuttings, downhills, small ledges, uneven bits. I did it! It was fucking scary, but I did it.

I tried going up some of the little steep hills I went down, but I found it hard to COMMIT. I was tired and sweaty, but invigorated.

We rode back to the resort. I was shaking a bit. Probably from hunger, a bit from fear. I think I cracked a bit of PTSD. I thanked George profusely, even gave him a hug.

I was quite emotional afterward. I hadn't realised this fall off my bike at 11 was such a significant event, nor did I anticipate that this ride would be so important.

Now, when I have something difficult upcoming, George's booming voice greets me.




Thursday, 17 August 2017

My Sad Sack. And Nina and I are no longer friends.

When we went for pre-IVF counselling, one of the first things that the counsellor said was that infertility was, from research studies, on a par with having a serious illness, stress wise. This was validating.

I have a habit of trying to over-compensate for (real and imagined) failure. I will try and do bigger and better. This approach sometimes serves me well but can be a drag in the long run.

I also think that this "Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) always" is bullshit. Some things are shit. The odds for me having a baby are not great and I cannot deny it.

Hence, I am owning my sad.

I drag it, like a sack, around with me.

I take it to work, and leave it at the door while I am my sparkling work-self. I actually find my work very therapeutic for me. It takes me out of my own murky head.

I take it to crossfit, and also leave it at the door. I lift other heavy shit there.

The sad sack sits with me when I am alone, or sometimes when I am with my fella.

It comes with me in my car, and  sits with me while I sip my hipster coffee. . I let the sad wash over me as it needs to. Tears aren't far away. I let them come if I need to. I believe that the technical term is called mindfulness. If I let it come as it needs to, perhaps I can move forward with it a bit.

Next month, it'll be 3 years of attempted babymaking. Only now am I absorbing the reality of it, rather than trying to deny or delay.

Tuning out completely is also important. I've been reading some fantastic books. "Australia Day" by my GP colleague Mel Cheng is a collection of short stories looking at cross-cultural interactions, and I didn't want it to end. I have also gotten into some memoirs - "How to Dress a Dummy" by Cassie Lane and "Every Lie I've Ever Told" by Rosie Waterland are two.

My ranty feminist side hates it, but I have gotten into the Bachelor. There is a girl who I am friends with on instagram (she is also doing IVF) and we debrief the episode via private message. That is nice.

I must say that my ranty feminist side can appreciate that Matty seems to be going for the most curvaceous and least plastic of the bunch. Booty FTW.

I have been a die-hard Offspring fan since the beginning, but I feel that the series has lost its magic of late. The Wednesday Night Bachie-Offspring session is, or was, a safe tune-out space for me.

However, after a fairly tepid beginning to the season, last night's Offspring episode hit us with the emotional blunder-bus. First a fetal death in utero (bought back memories of no heartbeat on an ultrasound a couple of years ago). Nearly lost my shit there.

In fairness, though, many people praised how sensitively the stillbirth was managed, and that it should be talked about - I get that too. 

Then Nina reveals a hyper-acute sense of smell and kaching! she is pregnant.

Fucksakes she is nearly 40 and hasn't even been trying.

I got more angry than is reasonable to get at a fictional TV character.

My sacred leisure TV viewing has been violated, and, with the show on the decline, I don't know whether I can go back.

Funnily enough, one of my training buddies at crossfit is in a relationship with one of the writers of the first few series of Offspring, but hasn't been writing it for the last 2 series.

Wouldn't you know it, out at coffee this morning, I met this writer. I started the conversation with "you wrote Offspring when it was good", and then proceeded to inform him of the decline in the show and why I disliked the previous evening's episode, including details of my circumstances. Being such a talented writer of a hit show, I am sure he is comfortable with the darkest parts of female neuroticism. He looked sympathetic, anyway.

I will have to find a new show. No whoopsy pregnancies. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

I am/I have/I will be

I am back from my holiday/conference. My skin is brown. The twinkle in my eye shone while I was away, more than it had for a while. It's back to the grind now. I've hit the ground running into usual life, jetlag notwithstanding. I am already looking into my next holiday - that is the most tried and true way to beat the post-holiday blues.

I have a lot of photos from my trips, showing the wonderful time I had, we had. They are on instagram. @c_j_hay - take a squizz?

I will be transferring my $6600 lump this month. People say "oooh, that's exciting". It's not, really. I have a lot of feels about it, none of them are exciting. The sensible thing to do with these feels is take care of myself. I am.

Apropos of this, I have decided that, tonight, I will give crossfit a miss. I had a busy day, today. I will hit it hard tomorrow, but tonight, I am resting (also folding up on the washing).

I have re-discovered the magic of "Jagged Little Pill", the album by Alanis Morissette. I was not a very cool teenager and this was the first album, and perhaps the only album since, that I loved, song by song. Alanis is playing in Melbourne. All the tickets sold out and are on resale (greedy fucking scalpers). This prompted me to do the re-visit, and I still know all the words to all the songs. I am staggered that she was only 20 or 21 when she wrote and performed it. It screams of life having slapped you hard a number of times.

I have re-discovered my singing. I sing along to that album, loudly. While my partner is not at home. Thankfully, my dog is not wont to howl along.

There is another Alanis song "Thank You" which has been on high rotation on my iphone. So many truths. It's my new anthem. It's about incorporating all the good and the bad into yourself, about enjoying the moment, and the good that comes when you let go of what is not helpful.

Hence, I have googled "how to let go of things". My main focus at the moment is getting through the IVF treatment and riding out all the feels with that. New ego-bolstering jobs, house renovations and all the other things that other people seem to be nailing along with having babies - these can wait.

Now - I need to attend to the washing.

Does anyone else have an anthem?

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


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


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?

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

A hundred reasons to smile, a few reasons to be sad.

I had a lovely time on my holiday. Those of you who follow me on instagram and effbee will be abreast of it. If you come visit me, I will happily show you photos over a good cup of coffee. I enjoy looking through them.

Visiting the area gave me a sense of why the Mid-East is in the position it is now.

It's been nearly a month since I returned. Gosh. I am at the point where I am thinking about the next holiday.

I've been headfirst into work, earning the cash, dealing with the things. The holiday seems to have broken the cycle of stress that I had before. This is a good thing.

Easter was a nice opportunity for a 4-day break. We saw Urzila Carlson, the comedian. She is one of the funniest comics I have ever seen, with a warm persona. I recommend.

Easter Saturday, I went to see my ex-husband. I was very anxious as I had not seen him in a while. I was irrationally scared that he might want to pick some bones regarding the past. He looked genuninely happy to see me, and I was happy to see him. However, seeing him was confronting. He was quite bad. He had difficulty speaking, difficulty swallowing. A PEG tube had been inserted and he had lost weight. It is distressing to think about, that, very soon, he won't be here. I had some bouts of sad after seeing him; it is just horrible.

I am still crossfitting like a boss. I have taken some initiative with my diet, and joined an online program with a fellow by the name of Jordan Lark. He gives you a program and you tell him on facebook what you've eaten and how you are going, and he replies. Accountability is key; I know very well what to do but it helps to be accountable. My problem is that much of the time I like food and wine more than I dislike my belly pooch/ I am two days in. I have not capitulated yet, I have been eating vegetables like a badass and I have been proactive with the food prep. I had thought I was eating well but now I am really eating well I realise how often we eat out, have wine, et cetera. On this I am allowed one dinner per week to eat what I like. Bloody hell I am looking forward to it.

I have been in the process of getting my shit in order, as far as I can, before I go into IVF. There are some things that I have to accept. Like that I will have to be proactive in seeking support during what will undoubtedly be a trying time. There are people, like my family, who I won't be able to ask for help. I will need to find my tribe, and know what help to request. Asking for help 101.

I have to find those hundred reasons to smile, those multiple small pleasures. Eating and drinking fancy food has made up most of my pleasure, and I need to diversify. I have been getting into actual paper books, and I have been reading this. Only problem with paper books as that they can't be read in the dark, like an iphone or ipad on night mode. I have a book for daytime and a book for night time. I need to plan little things to look forward to, activities with my partner and friends. Lots of little things.

Monday, 13 March 2017


I am off to Israel and Jordan today. I am very pumped. Excitement has only kicked in over the last couple of days.

I am looking forward to learning about Jesus, the Jews, Jerusalem, the Arabs and eating the food. I might even do some crossfit over there (they are mad for crossfit in Israel).

I will have fun. I am travelling on an organised tour and I will be careful. I will post plenty of pics to instagram +/- facebook.

Take care, all of you.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

A timely reminder.

My first post as an actual 38 year old. It might be a swearier post than usual #sorrynotsorry

The festival of 38 began last weekend, with an impromptu trip into the city for some shopping and some lunch/bevvies at Arbory (if you are in Melbourne, it's a great place to hang on a pleasant day). Wednesday was my actual birthday. I started my new job on that day, then went into town to see The Book of Mormon. If you can, go see it. If you are easily offended, don't see it. It's hilarious, like one of the funnies things I have ever seen.

Thursday, I went to meet with a senior colleague, then went to Highpoint to do some self-gifting before my round.

I was looking at the pretties in Mimco when I felt a text message go off. It was from my ex-husband.

A few of you will know my story- I had been with a fella for 13 years, married for about 6. We grew apart, and the split could be summarised as "good people, married too young, not good together anymore". Our divorce 5 and a bit years ago was reasonably amicable; we were probably more considerate of each other in our divorce than in the latter part of our marriage. He re-partnered soon after our separation, and they have a 3.5 year old.

I had not heard from him in about 3 years. This was not because of any particular animosity; from my end, I always wished them well and thought they were good together. I knew her peripherally before our split. There was just no particular reason to contact him, nor him me. I had often thought about him, like when I go to my sister's house (my ex lives on the Mornington Peninsula also), or when I did or saw something I knew he would like. Any trace of bitterness had passed some time ago. I never trash talked him. There was no reason to.

So when I got his text, I thought "holy fuck, somebody has died".

I rang him up straight away. I was a bit taken aback to hear that his speech was slurred. My first thought was "has he been day-drinking?". My second thought was "holy shit he has a brain tumour, just like his dad" (his dad was diagnosed with a nasty brain tumour just before we got married, and died about 6 months after).

He dropped the bomb - "I've got motor neurone disease"

My stomach lurched. I rushed out of Mimco and said "Shit, Ian! I am so sorry!" I was lost for words, other than the swear ones.

I know what a fucking awful disease that is, so I didn't ask any questions along the lines of "how long do you have". I told him that I had always wanted the best for them and that I was really sorry for them as a family.

I asked after his mum. He told me that she was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer.

I said "well, that's awful, that can just go and get fucked!". Ian laughed.

I asked if I could do anything. Whether I could go and see him. He agreed. I don't know if he will think better of it later but I would like to see him. Bring him some nice beers, before he loses the ability to swallow.

I just wanted to go there and give he and his wife a big hug. I told him as much.

After I rang off, I mindlessly bought the thing I had been looking at in Mimco. I staggered out into my car to go to my round. I felt so sad for him and his family. I took 2 wrong turns to work, and could not bring my a-game once there.

I have paused somewhat for thought over the last few days. How lucky we are to have our health. How stupid it is to worry about a few skin blemishes or extra kilograms. While doing a particularly tough crossfit workout yesterday, I went to a dark place, and pondered just how unfair it is that he should get this disease. I took it out on my snatches and burpees. My grunt/roar at the end of the workout let some of this out.

I have taken mindful pleasure in the little things. The sun on my back, breeze in my face. Watching my dog playing. Enjoying how good food tastes. Why does it take something like this horrible disease to bring us back to this?

I am trying to get my head around it, but I probably will not be able to. All I can do is live as best I can - this has been a bit of a wake-up call to do just this.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

A bit brighter. On the eve of my 38th birthday.

It was a bit of a shit fortnight, really, but stuff has begun to sort itself out.

People have been forthcoming with other workplaces, and general support of my career. This is good. I am grateful. I am feeling like missing out on that job was for the best.

With the stressors of the past few months, my mood has been a bit wobbly. I know the difference between feeling stressed out and feeling depressed/anxious, and I have recognised the early signs that the former might be turning into the latter. Therapies are afoot and this makes me feel good.

My first proceeds from my PhD have finally hit the press, and that feels pretty awesome.

I am doing the Crossfit open. The first of the five workouts was yesterday.

Workout 17.1
For time:
10 dumbbell snatches
15 burpee box jump-overs
20 dumbbell snatches
15 burpee box jump-overs
30 dumbbell snatches
15 burpee box jump-overs
40 dumbbell snatches
15 burpee box jump-overs
50 dumbbell snatches
15 burpee box jump-overs
Women use 10kg dumbbell and 20-in. box, step-ups OK
Time cap: 20 minutes

That sucked hard and I completed 219 of the 225 reps in the 20 minute time cap. I am sore today.

Looking back on my birthday post from last year, I am definitely stronger than then. It is great to feel stronger as I get older, it may not always be the way so I am enjoying the feeling.

I will be strong enough to carry a backpack as I travel around Israel and Jordan. 

Tomorrow, the fella is taking me out to see The Book of Mormon. Exciting times.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Another one bites the dust

So I went for a job a couple of weeks ago. I bought a new dress for it and everything.

I did not get the job. I was crushed. I was given reasons, they did not relate to my ability, they wanted to keep existing staff on.

In applying for the job, I was wanting to a. work close to home and b. help along my career. I had reservations about whether I would feel comfortable or included within that role, or whether I have the same ethos as other staff members.

Mostly, being knocked back was a blow to the ego. 

Perhaps the more difficult thing was this occurring on the background of significant frustration related to my infertility. On spec the two things aren't related but to me, it's the feeling of not kicking goals.

However, I have felt the work-love - other boss types have come forward to offer me more work, and support for what I want to achieve in my career.

I think I will achieve more in my work if I feel happy, embraced and encouraged, rather than on guard in a dog-eat-dog, closed shop environment.

Onward and upward, though. Plenty to look forward to, plenty to do, and plenty of love.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Goals Update: Broken New Year's Resolutions. Stuff I am into.

So you know how I wrote a set of goals for the new year a month or so ago. Some work related, some travel related, some fitness related. I wanted to update you on them.

The "only travel locally" goal: broken.

I've been thinking about Israel and Jordan for ages now. It is high time I went, and travel is life for me. I have not yet found out about changes to my work (see below) but I have booked it, and soon (mid-late March). I am going with G Adventures. I needed a trip to look forward to. It's on like Donkey Kong, people. IVF after that.

Details of trip here.

Regarding the fitness things, they are going great guns. I have commissioned one of my coaches at crossfit to do some 1:1 sessions to help me to achieve my fitness goals. I can now do 2 double unders in a row.

Regarding the box jump, I have got my hands onto a Swamp Box, my mate Emma was giving hers away for free. This is essentially a large high density foam box the size of the wooden one, so I can jump without fear of my shins.

Regarding the career things.... I have been a bit quiet on this blog because there has been a bit of pushing and wheeling. I went for an interview last week (see my outfit on instagram - it was on point). I find out tomorrow or Tuesday whether I got it. I am nervous. When I get nervous I get heartburn or stomach upset. I have it now :(

There were a few other interviewees. The interview itself was very short, and we were led in and out of the interview room so we didn't come face to face with other interviewees. Is that a thing? All very cloak and dagger.

Another job in a different department has come up in the same place, which I have also gone for. I hope to get both, so I can consolidate close to home. It's good not to have to drive around.

Research wise, I am finishing what I started, but also being invited onto other projects as a co-Investigator. This will hopefully yield papers but without as much grunt.

Last Friday, I made a trip into the city. It was a couple of weeks after the horror of the people killed by a murderous driver. I was bracing myself for it to be really sad and sombre. Instead, I ran into a street party of sorts.... buskers making money for the victim's families. It was a real party atmosphere. The blokes looked like metal heads but were playing flamenco tunes while head-banging. People were smiling and dancing. I became overwhelmingly proud of my city.

I went into the Mothership (David Jones). I looked at the cosmetics. I found some things I liked, which I will share here:

Niche Perfumes, like this one (Akkad, by Lubin). I like to smell a bit spicy, expensive and different to others. All mainstream perfumes smell roughly the same to me. I have run out of Black Afghan by Nasomatto and am now on the hunt for a new signature scent.

My good mate SSG has got me rather hooked on cosmetics. I am after a nice go to eye palette, as, like her, I am not terribly fond of L'Oreal le palette nude. I also would like to have some peachy/pinky shades.

I already have cult products Nars Orgasm blush, Nars Laguna Bronzer, and Chanel Fantasme eyeshadow/sparkles. I cannot go past Lancome Virtuose mascara - no other mascara is nearly as good on my eyes.

I need to put a lid on the spending..... maybe that needs to be another goal.

I am starting to get into home cooking again, having got into a bit of a rut - SSG, being the oracle of good things, has put me onto Recipe Tin Eats, which has some super easy, super tasty food.

Do you have a go to fragrance, mascara, or tasty dish? Share here.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Passive aggressive Facebook status updates.

I often see facebook statuses with just a sad face, or an oblique reference to people being upset, and I feel annoyed and sorry for the person in equal measure. Facebook is a place for funny memes, not for coded cries for help....although upon consideration, it's good that somebody might feel compelled to reach out and ask if the person is ok.

Today, I posted an epic passive-aggressive FB status update:


It did not even go halfway to explaining the way I felt today, yet I felt it appropriate. I find contrived platitudes about gratitude and positive attitude (rhyme!) annoying too. Anger and frustration are a part of life. It is confronting to people when they are expressed.

I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself to get my work situation sorted before I start on the IVF. I feel like my job seeking prospects might be limited in the future. This has caused a lot of angst, largely because part of the job thing is out of my control. There are wheels within wheels there.

Also, I have found my lack of substantive work quite erosive to my self worth. The good feedback goes nowhere and I begin to doubt myself, and resent the processes.

The situation with my mum has weighed on my mind, too. We would all like the calm guidance and support of our mother when we embark on our own motherhood, but I have come to the conclusion that this will not be the way for me, and I have to find a way for that to be ok.

These thoughts seem quite coherent, to me anyway, but they have bubbled under a lot of general feeling shitty lately. It's good to have them surface, and I can take a deep breath in and while breathing out I can say "fuckit". I can't wait for the ducks to line up before I do the IVF. There is never a good time. I just have to press on. The other shit will be what it is, and I have to deal with it as it comes up.

Fitness goals:

1. I did a pullup with only an orange resistance band (pullup arms getting stronger, I can feel an unassisted pullup coming soon)
2. I did a set of 3 of these with 40 kg on the bar

I did not look as smooth as that guy, but my grunt was on point. Grunts are good. They fix things.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Goals update. Harnessing the hive brain.

Happy new year, folks! It has been a while.

I have been back at work since returning from Bali. My "office" is not one that closes over any festive season! The ground was hit, running, and I have continued to run at decent pace since.

Health and fitness wise, I have been doing well. I got to all 6 crossfit sessions last week, and I am feeling suitably strong. My diet has also shaped up considerably to support this badass training.

I saw my sister and niece and enjoyed it. I saw my mum and managed it semi-graciously.

The main sticking point is my work. As I mentioned, I was gunning to consolidate at one workplace. I have been doing a locum position at this workplace and the feedback has been good. Another 6-month locum position has come up for application, to replace somebody off on sabbatical. Unfortunately, in order to take this job, I would essentially need to resign from my permanent work.

I am not prepared to do that because a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Also, this is now the 3rd lot of locuming I have done for this work place, and I am starting to tire of being used as a stop gap rather than becoming a valued member of the team. The good work ethic I have shown has come to nothing, hence I feel there is no incentive. It's a bit depressing.

My approach was, if they press me, was to say that I would love to work for them, but it would involve me having to resign current positions for a temporary role. And leaving it there.

What are your thoughts?