IF and the City

I used to feel sad when I watched the episodes with Charlotte failing over and over again while trying to get pregnant. Little did I know that my own attempts would lead me on the same sad journey. We've now passed 4 years in the trenches. 6 failed IVF/ICSI cycles = nothing. Time for something new - donor eggs. Success at last. Now for round 2.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Am I a desperado?

Just because I’m going thru fertility problems, does that automatically make me ‘desperate’ to have a baby?

I hate this inference and all the other many misconceptions and emotional assumptions that are dumped on anyone going thru infertility.

I’ve never in my life been desperate to have a baby, I just want to have a family. The fact that we have had to face and deal with many challenges doesn’t make me a frothing at the mouth lunatic!

The inferences about couples faced with infertility makes me want to puke.

I’m not explaining myself well, so let me try to do better.

When people talk in general or you read stories written about infertile couples, there are a whole stash of tired and trite descriptions. Couples go thru ‘exhaustive and harrowing’ fertility treatment because they are ‘desperate’ to have a baby. We’ll do ‘anything’ to have a baby – in other words we’re freaks.

Some of the most desperate ‘baby hungry’ women I’ve met in my life have had no issues with fertility whatsoever and have gotten pregnant the first month they tried. They’ve become the Pregna-zilla from hell and then the most over-protective know-all mother.

Just because it’s taking me [yawn] more than 31/2 years so far to become a mother – am I now desperate?

I would argue the point.

I am now maybe more determined to have a baby than before. I haven’t been able to take it for granted and have had to do much more research on the subject and I will have to go thru a more complicated means to get there. I’ve been thru some emotional and physical pain along the way, and I am willing to keep going with this because I have the same normal drive as anyone to experience pregnancy and motherhood, because I’m in a loving relationship - and not because I am desperate!

Can we not go thru infertility, deal with the issues and treatments and not be considered desperate? Yes, we feel the social marginalisation around happy families, we feel emotional pain because we’ve been thru miscarriage and worse. But that doesn't mean we're less level-headed, we're not all card-carrying fruit-loops!

My father has high blood pressure – does taking the hyper-tensive tablets everyday make him more desperate to live than anyone else? Is he not just a man dealing with a medical issue and taking the required medication?

So why does seeking fertility treatment make anyone desperate?

Isn’t the theory that facing challenges gives you character and strength?

I don’t know if this is just a stupid gripe and a rhetorical question, but yet again I have to say I'm not fitting this demographic - this t.shirt is the wrong size!

Is it possible that I could be dealing with infertility, but not be desperate to have a baby?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Streamlining Continues

Once IF really kicks in, you find some of the normal social situations suddenly challenging, in my experience none can be worse than dealing with the pregnancies at work.

It’s funny because once upon a time, I just joined in with the crowd and stood around smiling and saying all the right things. But that was when I thought that one day it would be my turn. So now this is both painful, and sometimes embarrassing. Someone always asks you the ‘when’ question. Happened today actually and I just blew it off and said ‘who know’.

In the last year more than eight women became pregnant on my floor (and there’s many more in the rest of the company). One by one I’ve been counting them down as they leave to go on maternity leave. A couple of the babies have been born, a couple more are on there way, and a few more will be leaving shortly.

Well, one came back on Wednesday, still pregnant. She is due in a couple of days and says she wanted to get some stuff fixed with Helpdesk(!) Why, when you’re not going to be back for a year, and chances are since you don’t want to work full-time you won’t even be coming back! (In Oz, your job is held for a year, but if you decide you only want to work part-time, unless you can do that with your position or there is another job of equal standing that can be, companies do not have to guarantee you a job).

Of course … you can imagine the conversations ‘wow look how big you are' 'only 3 days to go, we better be on standby’, ‘oh you still don’t know if it’s a boy or girl?’, ‘what hospital?’….blah de blah blah.

When faced with this stuff I tend to duck for cover. I managed to bolt to the bathroom, then gave a cursory wave and then effected the ‘I’m so busy, got make a load of calls’ look, then hid. I went so far as to keep my mobile headset permanently on.

It got worse, because somehow word spread that she was back in, then suddenly there was a mass welcoming committee – all the pregnant women on the floor came over together! So there's five pregnant bellies all around me. By now I’m paralysed with fear, still hiding, and pretending to be on the mobile and wondering how long I’ll have to stay in this hell.

I hate myself for feeling like this, for being so resentful, for being so inept I can’t just smile and spout the clichés with everyone else, just ‘share in this joy’ and be happy for all these women. I hate that I’m a hateful infertile women. I hate this pain.

As with all things, I got some courage back as I was leaving for home, and I managed to go over and chat nicely and cast my vote for a ‘girl’.

I genuinely feel happy for everyone that gets pregnant, I can’t seem to control the panic I feel in these situations.

If therapists believe that the lack of tact and insensitivity we have to deal with is based on the fact that most [fertile] people cannot imagine how bad it would be, so don’t allow themselves to go there, what is the theory for us? We are in fact living with it, we have been forced to go there – so then what is the theory for how we should be dealing with the fertility of others? Bite the bullet - that just doesn't seem right?

In other news, my streamlining continues.

I’ve been considering my strategy with acupuncture. I have been going to the famous CFG, and she’s great, but expensive and in the year I’ve been seeing her we’re not pregnant. The new drawback is that she’s shortened her hours even more. She only works four days a week (no weekends), and now only from 9-4pm. (used to work until 4.30pm), so in the time-honoured practise of the Friday POETS (Piss Off Early Tomorrow’s Saturday), I was always able to walk out the door backwards at work and grab her last appointment. Now with that missing half hour (plus travel time), I really don’t think I can swing it.

So I’ve found a new acupuncturist, who is located close to work. I saw her on Wednesday. She doesn’t have the reputation, but CFG always said to me that there was no big mystery or secret to it, she’s just doing the same thing they’ve done in China for the last few hundred years, even her herbal concoctions are made from standard age-old recipes.

The difference so far is time and money. My new CFG had more time to spend in my initial consultation, more time checking pulse, and more time putting in the needles (she also did Moxa). She says she wants to work on my kidneys and spleen. She also said that while I say I only occasionally feel stress – my pulse told her another story altogether and she wants to work on that.

So while it seems like I’m adding more in, (with the pelvic manipulations) my costs will be down substantially, and then both these practitioners are close to work, so no more cabs rushing across town.

Loving watching the Aus Open tennis at the moment ...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


I was recently given details for new wonder doctor who has helped several women get pregnant – women who have been thru failed IVF cycles.

Yeah, yeah heard it all before, but I got the details anyway.

Turns out I didn’t get a name but a number and told was that what he did was called Chiropractic Pelvic Manipulation – his practice is based at one of the ritzy beach suburbs – more than an hour out of the city.

I ummed and arrrred about this for a couple of days, then thought – could this really be that specialist?

I’ve chased down all these recommendations in the past – and as with CFG have ended up forking out big coin, and while I’ve felt really healthy, well the bottom line is I’m still not pregnant.

This year I want to streamline this stuff, so it's not so consuming of my whole life. So I did my own investigations into this field, I mean I researched ‘my field’ - chiropractors who have clinics around where I work.

I found a lady that whose clinic is very close to work and gave her a call.

She was honest right off the bat. She has gotten a few women pregnant (long term infertiles), but she’d done most of her research for her own purposes, she had her first baby at 40, and has had a couple of miscarriages since. But what about this special technique ‘pelvic manipulation’? It’s all the same techniques, she said and most of the women I’ve helped get pregnant have had chronic lower back pain.

I’ve had lower back pain for years, it's worse when I have my period.

Since it was so close to work – and since she charges $60 I went and saw her.

I went over my history and she decided that she had a couple of herbal tonics for me Sepia 200 (5 drops every second day except when I’m menstruating), and Cramp Bark – since I’ve had serious spasms every time I’ve been checked out (when I had my laparoscopy/hysteroscopy they couldn’t get any dye into my tubes, so I had to have the HSG – then they could only get the dye into one). She thinks this is my body’s response to stress, and most likely I have those same spasms thru my cycle = not good prospects for an embryo to implant. Phew.

Then it was time for my manipulations.

I had to take everything off except bra and knickers and put a smock on open at the back except for a tie at the neck. Her assistant came in and gave me a massage to warm me up – she found all the knots in my shoulder – ahhh bliss.

The manipulations were classic – at first she just pushed down on my lower back then between my shoulders. I got the classic neck crunch, then a couple of side contortions that clicked my back. Then came the pelvis. She made me move my legs around and lift my arm pushing against her while she prodded my pelvis. I’ve always had a problem and am unbelievably sensitive particularly on my right hand side (you should see me when I’m getting a bikini wax!). I nearly leapt off the massage table.

‘I’m going to freak out’ I said
‘I’m going to grab a big pinch of your skin on this side of your uterus and pull it up’ she said

My whole body is fighting this manipulation. Somehow she managed to get it done, then re-checked and my sensitivity wasn’t nearly so bad.

‘You’ve got a torque’ (I think she said). ‘You’re twisted around, I’ll keep working on it’.

She said that this wasn’t any real earth shattering revelation, but that it is probably the reason why I’ve always been so sensitive to being touched on that side (even by D).

It’s funny I told her, but that’s the side that they couldn’t get the dye in because of the spasms.

She also told me about a product called Juice Plus. She takes it and says she feels fantastic, she has more energy than she’s had in years. She says it’s expensive – around $75 a month, but she’s having such great results herself that she’s recommending it to some of her patients (some that are getting over serious illnesses).

As I was paying and booking my next appointment I asked her if it was normal to feel abit funny afterwards – yes she said, the manipulations make you feel abit strange for a while – like I'm away with the fairies? I asked her, Yep. Well I guess I'm normal then.

So while we’re heading into donor eggs, we won’t be actually be at that point for some time. In the meantime I want to get myself in good shape. Let's not forget we've still got that 1% chance ourselves every month!

Egg quality issues aside, I want my uterus to be ready to take these young embryos and give them the best possible chance to implant and grow.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Fork in the blog

Things are moving along for us at a very quick pace and also very slowly. This blog is changing direction, we are at a fork in the blog.

Since my last cycle didn’t go so well, we’ve had time to discuss various options. Things we never dreamt of in the beginning of this process. Things that no one we know has ever been through.

Things like donor eggs and adoption.

After a frank and heart wrenching discussion, I told D that I didn’t think we needed to go through any more IVF cycles to realise that we were not producing great embryos. I don't feel that going through a PGD cycle is going to tell us anymore than we already know after 5 cycles. I said to him that I felt we needed to make all our decisions from here on in based on my age.

For a 40 year old, the statistics are not good, and it doesn’t matter how fertile my family is, it apparently also doesn’t matter how low my FSH is.

We have a 1% chance of a natural conception due to sperm morphology, and a 5% chance via IVF.

That stupid Dr. FU didn’t have any answers for us in terms of increasing D’s morphology percentage.

Since I was never confident of my last cycle being successful, and being someone who likes to have a Plan B in place, I contacted an RE who I knew dealt with donor eggs.

We had that appointment on Tuesday.

This is a small private practise, a husband and wife team connected to one of the biggest private IVF clinics in Australia.

These people are fantastic.

We sat down and discussed all the options we know about, both those with overseas clinics they are have experience with and those that I have researched (via blogs and forums). Here's the first thing we were impressed with: they don't charge for this consultation(!)

They have working relationships with 2 places in Europe and 1 in the US.

Why international?

In Australia it is not legal to pay someone to be an egg donor, so therefore you have to find a donor prepared to do it for altruistic reasons only, either via your family/friends or by advertising.

I only have 1 sister within the ideal age, and am just not prepared to go down that path. My family have not been supportive of my/our fertility problems and can only imagine how difficult life would be if we even broached the subject.

We are not prepared to advertise. Chances are if you found a donor, they would drop out after the first meeting when they were told the whole process.

We have decided to go with one of the European clinics that they have an extremely strong relationship with. The wife in the team (A) is the person that coordinates everything. She has a medical background. She told us that they are getting 70% success rate with this clinic – this is the statistic they are getting from their patients – not what the clinic itself is quoting. 70% of the people they send over get pregnant.

The bad news is that we now have to have a bunch of new tests done. For me a whole new batch of the usual – FSH, E2, Hepatitis etc., these get out of date very quickly. D has to have a complete cystic fibrosis screen (it's a blood test) – it will take around 3 weeks to get the results from this. The really bad news is that I also need an HSG. I was immediately nervous, for me this test was worse that going thru the egg retrieval, but that may have been because I had it first. A tells me that this is not an uncommon reaction, but that her husband is so good, most women are shocked when it’s over. I’ll take her word for it, but I did ask for valium.

Our views on whether we would be open with this child on donor egg? The 30 second version is that we would want to be open. The issue for us at this time is family, you can’t be open with a child and then tell them it’s a secret from the rest of the family. The view we take going forward is that for the moment due to family problems we would have to keep it private. We will revisit this issue within the first year of our child’s life (amongst other things, we are in the unusual situation of having a family member on both sides that we know has been thru fertility treatment and have kept it secret, yet they all happily talk openly about us and our problems!).

Adoption – well that’s a whole other post on it’s own …

I'm sorry not to answer a couple of the questions left about which clinic we're using in Europe, at the moment I'm feeling a little bit protective of this until we really get up and running, but am happy to answer via email.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Fence sitting?

I’m kind of in a fence sitting phase at the moment. But I've realised that I start stacks of my posts ala Ms. Carrie Bradshaw, so in keeping with the show that was the inspiration for my blog title - Am I in a fence sitting phase at the moment?

I’m waiting to see a new RE and also to have a follow up with another new-RE on my previous diabolical cycle. There are going to be some very interesting times ahead.

But in the present, it leaves me in a weird place, and sort of nice - I’m currently not living with any expectations on anything. I’m not waiting to cycle and then find out results, and now that we know we only have a 1% chance of getting pregnant each month, we’re certainly expecting any miracles there.

My CFG has been on annual leave, so I haven’t seen her since before Christmas either. (In the meantime it seems that she has some very famous patients).

Everything’s just humming along.

It gives me more time to think about stuff though.

Like the fact that I don’t discuss any of this with anyone in my family. My fertility problems caused the estrangement between myself and one of my sisters. (old post)

I also had problems with my mother – when I told her we were going to start ivf, I said that we wanted to keep it to ourselves so we could cope with the ups and downs better. She apparently went deaf and discussed it with the sister I don’t talk to and then told my brother. So I stopped talking to her about any of it.

My mother is also not comfortable or particularly understanding about fertility issues. She had five children without blinking, now four of her children have children. She was very lucky in this area of her life and has been sheltered to any of these problems.

From time to time though her and my father have said things to me like ‘some [religious] people believe that these things are God’s way, some people just aren’t meant to have children’.

‘Well I don’t believe that’ I told them, ‘because God enabled people to be born that could become scientists and help people with these problems’. So pooh!

One day she also said to me that she was never sure that she could have children herself before she started trying [doh like all women], and if she couldn’t she would have just got on with her life happily.

‘PIGS ARSE’ I thought rudely, your life has totally revolved around having this family, and now it revolves around your grandchildren.

My problems have shown me a whole different side to my family – much like holding a mirror up to us all – and like all people that go thru this painful exercise – I haven’t liked what I’ve seen.

My mother secretly [and openly] blames me for the trouble with my sister – she thinks I should just forgive her and welcome her back into my life. I don’t know how many times I’ve told her that I was never been happy with my relationship with her in the first place.

It’s all so complicated and with what we’ve had to deal with, it’s been easy to put on the back burner.

The thing is you can’t change people, so if you’re having trouble getting on, then you have to figure out a way to do things so they cause you the least stress. In my case I chose to walk away.

It looks like my sister could be returning from o/s in the not too distant future (pregnant with her second – and having problems with the pregnancy), so I keep seeing this scary time looming ahead of me.

Nothing will have changed, no one will have changed, but all the same problems will still remain.

I’ve noticed that I’ve become very uncompromising these days on what I will and won’t do. I figured out a long time ago that I wasn’t going to be awarded any bravery medals for putting myself in painful situations again and again, it wasn’t going to make me feel better about myself and it certainly wasn’t going to help get me pregnant. I figure that if I want to hibernate and that’s the best way for me to deal with something, then that’s what I’ll do.

If there’s one thing that prolonged IF teaches you, is that there are no quick fixes.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Follow Up

Once an IVF cycle has failed, you are supposed to ring the clinic to let them know. I mean ideally, it doesn't fail and you're getting a Beta.
Because my cycle was officially over on Christmas Day, they were shut, so I couldn’t. After that I just couldn’t be bothered.

Last week they called me.

‘Hi Sparkle, just ringing to see how the cycle has gone?’
‘Not good, Christmas Day everything was officially over’
‘Oh dear, sorry to hear that, terrible timing… etc.’

I have this side to me now, where I almost enjoy reporting back the bad news, I’ve managed to file the cycle away in the ‘Doesn’t make me cry anymore’ folder in my emotional cabinet (remember those scenes in ‘Being John Malkovich’?)

But I now enjoy the fact that other people think it’s terrible.

Is this a new form of psychosis I’ve developed or is this what happens to everyone that becomes damaged in this process?

Once you’ve reached that point where you’ve passed all your own worst case scenarios and lived through them, do you develop this armour plating to your own pain, but get great pleasure is watching other people react. I mean I feel like I’ve become every fertile women’s worst fear. Is it enjoyable to shatter the dream?

Yes I became pregnant and then miscarried.
I’ve been thru every test known to gynaecology, and have never had anything found wrong.
We went thru 3 failed cycles of ICSI/IVF before we knew we had a morphology problem.
We just spent close to the entire last year and a hideous amount of money on acupuncture and Chinese herbs and never got a positive result.
We combined both IVF and Acupuncture/Chinese herbs and haven’t got a result.

Suck it up because this is my life, and there is no rhyme or reason to any of it, there’s no great ‘karma’ god balancing out the good with the bad. Bad things can happen for no reason, and you’re not entitled to think things will go right, because they can just continue to go wrong.

Anyway, as you can see in this pleasant frame of mind I continued my discussion with the nurse (actually one that I really like).

She suggested, that maybe if we wanted to cycle again it would be good to have a review.

‘No, actually I’m not interested in a review with my [shitful] Dr. Doom, I had a review after my first 3 cycles, then went thru a Miscarriage Management Program, and even though at that point we were under the illusion we were unexplained, and we were yet to be informed that we had a serious morphology problem, Dr. D suggested I should consider donor eggs. I also have never had my protocol changed in any cycle, so if my options are that I have to have a review with him to cycle again, then I already know what he has to say I’m not interested.’

‘Nothing against Dr. D. of course’ I added.

‘Well I don’t blame you Sparkle, but you know you can see one of the other doctors thru our outpatient services for free – both Dr. Top Dog and Dr. The Best attend these. It might take you till February to get an appointment.’

‘Oh really? Well that would interest me’ .

‘You could see either as a private patient if you wanted as well’.

‘Nup, not interested, I’ve already spent enough money of seeing these Drs. as a private patient, and Dr. The Best is meant to be the most expensive.’

So as I hung up, and felt like I’d been a complete IF bitch, I also wondered if I hadn’t, would I have been made aware of the free services?

I don’t have a clear view on what damage has really been done to me thru all this. I think it’s a toughening up. In the beginning I thought subconsciously that if I’m nice to everyone, especially the Fertility people, that it’ll somehow influence the results. Maybe now I feel like I’ve got nothing to lose?

I mean that’s not to say that if I find myself back in the stirrups chatting to the embryologist, I wouldn’t dream of rubbing her nose into any of my misery …

To conclude this tale in the same sorry theme, when I spoke to Outpatient Services to get an appointment, the first available was with my Dr. Doom …. in April! The following week I could get in with Dr. The Best (so I booked in).
So folks with yet another swift kick to teach me another lesson [not to be rude to Fertility people], I will have to see Dr. TB as a private patient if I want to see him sooner … and will try and make an appointment when he returns from holiday – yes you can’t leave a message for him either!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Post Christmas Stress Syndrome

Phew glad Christmas is over, and things can go back to normal.

I mean D and I spent Christmas Day with his parents, so we didn’t have the pain and misery of being with my family and everyone fawning over my nieces and nephew.

We did have D’s father discussing D’s visit to Dr. Famous Urologist with us at our Christmas Eve dinner and that made me uncomfortable enough for the next few days. You see D’s father is a doctor and when D needed a referral, rather than just go to a GP like a regular person, he asked his father to write him one. Now Dr. Famous Urologist decided to phone D’s father and give him an update!

D’s father mentioned it while we were eating our dinner and went on in some detail about how there was nothing physically wrong with D and there was some method of making the imperfect sperm swim away. All I can say is that it’s nothing short of a miracle that I didn’t choke on my prawn.

I mean D’s father is not an expert in fertility – in fact he and D’s mother are still in the dark as to their own infertility.

I spoke to D about this after a couple of days, by which time I’d calmed down. I had to remind him that his father is not our fertility doctor and in fact is not my doctor at all, and actually we have confidential information regarding our fertility that we have never discussed with them for our own reasons – like the fact that we had a MISCARRIAGE! So perhaps he better tell Dr. FU to pull his head in and oblige by patient confidentiality!

Am I wrong or does this seem slightly unethical?

D assures me that it’s the last we’ll hear of him, but the fact is I want it to be the last his father hears of him.

Now today I go to put in our claim for D’s necessary blood test and find out that we are not able to claim one cent in Medicare – do you think this might be information D should have been told since the flaming test cost $220?!

Now I hate the Dr. Famous Urologist.