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.

Monday, February 27, 2006

We are where we are ...

We’re at a limbo stage with our two new options, and it’s kind of weird.

Today is a CD1 for me, but for the first time in a long time - a Day 1 without any sadness.

We do have a low chance of conceiving each month, but at the moment we’re so relaxed about our next steps I’m not worrying too much. This month I didn’t use any OPK’s, I certainly had all my ovulation symptoms, but we’ve timed and tried for so long without results, I just want to relax for a while and not worry.

We have soooo much work to do to get to the point of lodging our adoption forms, not to mention budgeting for the initial payment. We’ve got to gather up all our official paperwork, get a full medical and write our life stories. We’re taking it slowly.

We are also waiting on paperwork for our donor egg stuff, and then we’ll get moving with that. Realistically we probably won’t be doing a donor cycle till close to the end of the year.

I’m enjoying my weekly Acu and Chiro sessions and starting to feel as if all my hormones are getting back to normal following my last IVF.

The other form of treatment I’m recently hearing about and considering is ‘Energy’ healing. This treatment helps people deal with not having a child, and reaching a point of accepting that.

Apparently I need to reach that point. I can’t imagine getting to there – because in all honesty I don’t want to accept that – to me that sounds too much like giving up? But I have been told I need to – so I can move on, and stop holding so much emotional stuff in, which I’ve also been told I do(!)

I have become more open to telling people about what we’ve been going thru.

We kept so much of our stuff to ourselves because we initially didn’t get great support from my family, and everything became too hard to deal with.

Now that we have a new plan, I feel a lot more comfortable talking to friends, and it’s been amazing how kind and understanding they have been.

It’s also been a great education for them. Some of my friends are going to make sure they get their FSH checked when they next go to the doctor.

We're happy to tell people about us moving into adoption, but at the moment we're keeping pretty tight-lipped about the donor eggs. I don't think this is the right time to talk about that yet.

It’s a funny old feeling, being nowhere but not being too worried about it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Beer and Breasts

I have something to admit. I’m not sure if it’s healthy or not, but IF has changed many of my opinions on motherhood.

Last weekend we caught up with our new Adoption Friends.

Now, we’re all at the early stages of getting to know each other, so we haven’t yet reached that point of understanding what kinds of restaurants everyone likes or more importantly, what kind of budget we all have.

So someone suggested a pub that had dining and booked a table.

Let’s say it was a trendy inner west pub – that has undergone a radical transformation in the last year. I mean the last time I went to this pub – it was to see an indie rock band - in a former life. This place now has a dining room attached that has had rave reviews, but the suggestion was made to have a drink in the pub and just order some pub food.

So now we’re all sitting in this transformed place – that has a modern-e open barn style design. Big wooden tables and we were able to have our own.

As we’re sitting there one of our group notices a pram with a tiny baby.

‘Far out, that baby only looks a week old’

We all had a good laugh at how hilarious it was that a bunch of infertile couples considering adoption get together and end up next to a table with a newborn.

As I looked up I spotted a groovy father walking by in his Billa*bong t.shirt and leading his girl-child by the hand. I also saw several pregnant women joining friends, with all their children.

We have another drink, and catch up on where we’re all at and what we’re thinking with our adoption forms.

As I’m talking with one of the women about donor eggs we notice at the table with the new-born that there’s another one, another newborn … AND THE MOTHER IS BREAST FEEDING ... IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PUB.

I mean, wow, now you don't have to go to Hoo*ters, or whatever it's called to get an eyeful.

So as we order another bottle of sauvignon blanc, and manage to get back from the bar without tripping over ALL THE PRAMS now in this pub, we start talking about how strange it is that so many parents are out with their babies and children.

‘Yeah’ the couple say who suggested the pub. ‘It’s funny, but people always seem to be here with their babies and children’.


Now Sydney has come a long way in recent times – new legislation with the smoke-free zones, means that those wanting to light up a durry are herded into the pokie rooms or have to go outside – BUT WHEN DID PUBS BECOME MOTHER’S CLUBS?

‘It’s funny’ I said to one of my female companions ‘I’ve changed my whole view on the public breast feeding thing’.
‘Yeah, it happened within a week of my miscarriage. I was having lunch at the mall near where I work, a place where I used to get a great pizza slice and could read my book. In the middle of my lunch a woman with her baby sat down next to me and she started breast-feeding. Now I probably still had all my preggy hormones coursing thru my veins, but it really upset me. That soon changed to anger, when I noticed that not 10 feet away from where we were sitting was a PARENTS ROOM! This incident changed my view forever. Now I think, with 1 in 10 women miscarrying, how dare anyone presume that this issue is about their right to breast feed in public, and not consider the feelings of others.
‘I agree’ she said, 'I hate Mothers Clubs too'.

Now this is clearly my issue and it’s tied in my IF. I would never ever berate anyone, and have sat quietly by while our friends have suckled in full view, and [hopefully] never made them feel uncomfortable. I’ve left that emotion all for myself.

But now can we not even go to a pub without having to feel this joyous motherhood in others, and feel it would be politically incorrect to be uncomfortable?

‘You know, it’s just all about Showing-off Parenthood’ Mr. S said.

‘Now I know I’d never want to live in that suburb, all those people in that pub made we want to puke’.

Am I justified in my attitude or is this something I should keep working on?

When Mr. S and I have our children, we vow we will never buy into the ‘Show-off Parenthood’ rubbish. Of course we’ll still want to go to the pub from time to time, but not to dangle our young. We’ll keep the pub for times when we want to catch up with our friends and we'll make full use of those babysitting in-laws. When it's kids in-tow, I think we'll be able to find better places than the pub to meet up with our friends.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Our picture should be on the wall

If there’s one thing all fertility doctors have in common – gynaecologists, RE’s, TCM's and all the other practitioners I’ve seen, that is the recurring BABY WALL.

The Wall is there to reassure all the new patients the success this doctor has ‘see all the happy patients and their babies’.

This used to work for me until … ahem … the various treatments weren't working.
I mean the The Wall still worked in but in a different way, I started looking at the photo's and imagining ‘how bad were all your problems when you started coming here, could you have had as many problems as me … or do I just have bad luck?’.

Occasionally I used to point to the photo’s and ask about them:

‘Oh that couple, they tried IVF 12 times before they come to CFG, she got them pregnant in 3 months’.

‘Them, they live overseas, they visit CFG when in town and take all the herbs back with them’.

That sustained me for a while too. Couples that overcame obstacles far greater than ours and yet the treatment worked. YIPPEE, hope!

The world kept turning, but sometimes mine stopped.

When another IVF treatment didn’t work, even though the cycle went well and I had lots of eggs that fertilised. And even though I’d had acu and taken all the revolting herbs during the cycle, paid out ALL that money. Well it just must have been bad luck?

Or [shiver] maybe my eggs really are the pits?

But then it happened again. I followed all the instructions, did everything right and had the WORST IVF cycle ever. Even so, I still went and had the acu and took the herbs and spent ALL that money again.

Doubts were creeping in, isn’t acu supposed to aid implantation and it was a GRADE 1 embryo, and this IS the best TCM.

So why didn’t it work this time?

So now I have to face up to the fact that none of this stuff will work with my eggs. No matter how many cycles, how many [poisonous] potions to regenerate my eggs, it’s just not gonna work. Somehow I have the feeling not going make that Baby Wall.

By now I’m talking specifically about CFG. Maybe that's because of all the hours I sat waiting to see her, I saw the inside of that little clinic more than any other, that Wall is the most prominent in my mind.

Mr. S was the first to say it of course.

‘You know what, the Baby Wall is a crock, the true story behind these doctors is the wall with all the failures’.

These doctors are only as good as their failures, and that's what we don't see.

That being the case, our picture should be sitting front and centre on FIVE WALLS. Couples new to treatment should be able to point to our picture and say ‘what happened, were they just so untreatable that even your genius couldn’t work for them’?

That’s when I would love to be a fly on the wall.

When we started on this odyssey we were the easy couple, we still had age on our side and presented with very few problems:

‘Almost all of the patients I have referred to this doctor have gotten pregnant’
‘IVF is the most positive thing you could do right now’
‘I get you pregnant in two months’

The alternative practitioners I see now don’t have the Wall and neither does our new RE. I mean our RE did show us some photo’s, but they came out of a folder, and that was only after we decided we were joining the program.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Heading out West

For our Two-day Preparation for Adoption Seminar . It was held in a conference room at the Do*cs offices in Western Sydney. Smack bang in the heart of our multi-cultural city. A good fit.

Mr. S and I live pretty close to the city centre, and with everything on our doorstep we don’t have much reason to travel too far afield.

With that in mind I got us fully prepared with a printed ‘Whereis’ map and instructions. Our trip out there went pretty smoothly and we arrived within a minute of our 9am start. Thankfully there were 3 other couples that arrived after us, so we had time for a cup of tea, and to check out the ‘others’.

As we all walked in the door we meet the two facilitators who crossed off our names and gave us a name badge with coloured sticker. Being the curious type I scanned the room looking for other couples that might also have the ‘brown’ sticker. Some had pink, some green, some yellow. Only one other couple seemed to have brown. It would turn out that all the other ‘brown’ couples were the late ones. Chortle.

Our facilitators introduced themselves – let’s call them Happiness and Joy, because that’s what they were.

We were given a brief introduction about the ladies and their qualifications (immense) and then talked about what our expectations were of the course and adoption. After that we were told to break up into our ‘colour’ groups. In turned out we were grouped by geographical location. In the event that we go ahead with adoption they encourage parents to socialise with other adoptee parents. They figure that you’re more likely to socialise with people who live in your neighbourhood, so they start that ball rolling straight away.

I think it’s a great idea, but as Mr. S pointed out – we were in fact put in socio-economic groups.

I think it took till, umm let’s see, morning tea time before we all started comparing our infertility stories. How many cycles we’d all been thru, miscarriages, what doctors, which alternative therapists. Guess what? suddenly our story was not unusual. Suddenly we’re talking with people and not feeling like we’re talking in a foreign language.

It was amazing how many of us had had the same doctors. I remember wondering – do I recognise this person from a waiting room?

The rest of the first day we talked about issues around Intercountry adoption - from the child’s perspective. How and when do you tell your child they are adopted, how do you deal with issues of racism, what story do you tell them about their birth mother or ‘Tummy Mummy’, how you actually parent an adoptive child in completely the opposite way to a birth child (ie you want this child to form an attachment to you – so controlled crying is not an option, they also encourage parents to have the baby in bed with you). We finished the day with the staff from Do*cs coming in and advising us on the countries they looked after. This was a chance for everyone to find out about particular countries and the requirements for each.

That night Mr. S and I were going to see a play with his parents, at this point we hadn’t told anyone that we were thinking about adoption. We decided to tell his parents what we’d been up to that day. They were pretty positive. Mr. S’s mother was a little apprehensive, asking why we hadn’t gone to the catholic-run agency – so we had to tell her that there was pretty much no local adoption anymore. We will have initial issues to deal with if we go ahead, we know that. We will not be telling my family anything at this stage. Since I haven’t had any support throughout our infertility and IVF, we’ll learn from that and work out a time down the track.

The next day we spent watching the doco on ‘Project Airlift’. Stopping at intervals to talk about what was going on. This was the airlift of the Vietnamese orphans/ children during the war, basically it was an exercise in propaganda for the war. You may have seen the doco., it’s the story of a woman called Heidi who was given up by her Vietnamese mother at the age of six (father US soldier), and was adopted by a single woman, who moved her to Tennessee [yikes]. It’s quite a compelling story and is told from both the birth mother and Heidi's perspective. The adoptive mother is glaring absence – they now no longer talk. This isn’t due to the adoption, but because basically this woman was not a fit mother to begin with and rejected Heidi when she became an adult and started dating.

There was a variety of emotions in the room as it was being played – some people crying and some not happy. Not happy because this wasn’t a current story that would relate to our experiences today. The reason we were told for being shown it – because all the emotions are apparently the same – for the adoptee child and the birth mother. This is the point - understanding how your child will feel and how to help them.

Lunchtime that day we had connected with two couples and we all went to the pub (one drink!). It was amazing to hear some people’s stories, seriously I thought 1 miscarriage and 5 failed cycles of IVF was bad enough …

Interesting that all of us had been to the same CFG!! She has the reputation of being the best, word of mouth recommendations (plus a couple of celebrity patients). We all had the same issues – the cost, the waiting, the disgusting taste of the teas and the FACT THAT IT DIDN’T WORK!

We spent the rest of the afternoon wrapping up and talking about some of the requirements. One of the most heated discussions was around the rule of not actively seeking ART while adopting. Most people in the room didn’t think that Do*cs have the right to tell people not to keep trying. While we were talking in groups it seemed that a lot of people had decided that they would try if they wanted to and just not tell. We’re not in the frame of mind to keep going with IVF the way we have, so it really didn’t bother me.

Interestingly, several of the women there were talking about donor eggs.

We wrapped up by having one of the staff from Do*cs go over the application form and all the requirements.

In the medical requirements your GP (who has one of those?) has to check your BMI – this is one of those controversial requirements – and not considered fair. Not an issue for me, but a couple of people in the room were carrying some extra weight.

That night we met some of our friends, and actually asked of them if they’d be our referee, they said they’d be honoured. We felt honoured. We've since asked another couple and been told the same thing. We need three all up.

We haven’t been totally open with a lot of our friends about what we’ve been thru, this course has somehow enabled us to be able to speak about it. I’m not sure why.

One of the things that made me feel good, was seeing a roomful of PEOPLE JUST LIKE ME.

We had been told to expect some very bitter and resentful people, and also to expect there’d be some much older people. Not true for us. Sure people have been thru some pretty heart wrenching experiences, but we didn’t meet anyone bitter and twisted, hey we didn’t even meet any desperados! What you learn when going thru IF is that in it’s most basic sense – it’s pure comedy. Most of us in the room could tell our stories and laugh our heads off.

It was an amazing two days and we’re already organising to catch up for dinner with some of the people we met.

Sorry if this is abit long-winded, I just wanted to capture what we went thru.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Our other consideration …

A while ago I alluded to the fact that Mr. Sparkle and I had been considering ‘other’ options. We’ve reached a point where we don’t think we want to go thru another IVF cycle with my eggs, so we’re pursuing donor eggs and adoption.

The donor egg option is moving forward, we’ve met with a doctor and had our mandatory testing and we’ll be able to start planning the first part of this in a few weeks.

The other thing is adoption.

During our last doomed cycle, Mr. Sparkle contacted the government authority that handles adoption here – Department of Community Services (Do*cs) and had the information pack sent out. They look after both Domestic and Intercountry.

The thing with Australia is that because our social welfare system is so good, domestic adoption has pretty much become extinct. I think maybe 10 babies are adopted in the whole country each year. And that’s a good thing. So Intercountry becomes the most viable.

We sent our $40 off and received a pack that included a book Making Sense of Adoption: A Parents Guide by Lois Melina, a Considering Adoption booklet and an Expression of Interest form.

For the next couple of weeks the forms sat in the envelope and I gave it a cursory glance from time to time as I walked by.

Then one night Mr. S decided we’d fill it in. So he started filling in all our details and I started panicking ‘You shouldn’t be filling in anything for me’ I exclaimed. ‘I should be filling in my family medical history not you’. So he went on and filled in all his and his families details.

So then I let the form sit there a little longer.

Then another week later Mr. S picked it up again ‘do you think we could complete the form now?’ ‘Yeah okay, but I still need to read some of the stuff and we still don’t know WHAT COUNTRY WE’RE INTERESTED IN, so how do we know what boxes to tick’?

So we decided to tick a couple we thought we were interested in and I said I’d finish the rest of my stuff and send it off the next day.

I put the form in my backpack and carried it around for another week or two, then one day I just completed it.

All my delaying had been my panic about letting go of my own fertility and I suddenly realised that we weren’t at the point of DEFINITELY and IRREVERSIBLY doing anything.

That was in October last year.

A week later we received confirmation that our EOI had been received [along with our $150 cheque] and we could expect to hear from then as to our suitability within 10 weeks.

Just before Christmas we received another letter advising that we had been screened and it seemed we met the criteria and were invited to attend a Two Day Preparation Seminar, upcoming dates listed.

Well this is progress we thought. Maybe we might just have some value afterall.

Now at this point we’re heading into a two week wait following a botch-up IVF cycle, and actually were holding onto the tiniest thread of hope that maybe we might be lucky.

But you know, we’re all about hedging our bets these days. Stats be damned, we’ve been on the downside of luck at every turn, so give us your worst because this time we’re prepared.

Somehow this little invitation gave me a wee confidence boost about myself.

Of course I forgot my letter the next day and it took me an extra day to ring and book in. We’d decided we may as well book in for the first seminar listed. When I did ring the next day it turned out the first seminar in January had been booked up, and the next one, and in fact there’s just one place left in the third – being held in March.

‘Okay, well if you have a cancellation list can you put us on that?’
‘Sure, but there’s already four couples ahead of you’

Right-E-O, March it is then.

Well said cycle went to hell in a hand-basket, and we also decided that maybe we’d had enough. We thought we had one more cycle in us, but then we wondered why?

A couple of days after I got back to work following Christmas I found an email from Do*cs letting me know that there had been cancellations and there was now a place for us in February ‘Were we interested’?

‘Yep, sure are, when do we need to send our $500 in for the seminar?’

In all honesty I think my delaying and insecurity about adoption is a normal thing, I think not being sure is actually healthy. This is a big thing, there’s no ‘just’ moving on about it. We’re considering and talking about this every step of the way.

We attended that seminar last week, and that’s also a whole other post. But as a prelude I will say it was an entirely positive experience. This seminar meant that we were actually now at Stage 4 of the adoptions process...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

What was all that fuss about?

I had my HSG this morning.

It was much anticipated and feared. Last time I found it a nightmare and was cramping during the procedure.

This time I wondered if I’d even had the same thing? I mean, if memory serves me correct, I had to lie on a table and had a overhead thing pulled atop and was told to try not to move.

I've been such a sissy-pants about this, in a blind panic I requested valium and pain killers, I didn’t need any of it.

The worst part today was putting the speculum in. Last time I seem to remember a jabbing feeling when the dye probe was being put in position?

The doctor said at the outset that he was most concerned about the uterus and wasn’t worrying that much about my tubes.

This time, as before dye only went into my right hand tube. Left hand side showed only partial ‘opacification’.

My uterine cavity is satisfactory without filling defects, and cervix competent without abnormality. This is what he was looking for. Sheesh, it's not like a report where you get an 'excellent' or anything.

The doctor said he’s not worried about the partial block in my tube – his concern is with fibroids and polyps and none appeared to be present. Incidentally my last doctor thought the partial block was due to spasm – but this is a subject of much debate.

The reason I had to get an updated HSG, is that it's the main test I need in order for us to proceed with donor eggs. Unfortunately my last one was 2/12 years ago, so it needed an update. Apparently fibroids can hinder implantation – and with the amount of oestrogen I’ve had to pump in throughout the IVF cycles I really was wondering if I might have encouraged a few to come hither and flourish.

Both D and I have had to have some up to date blood tests, and again I will be very interested to see how my FSH is looking these days – after 5 cycles! It's hard to believe it could be holding it's own.

So now that this is out of the way, we can look to move forward! I dropped off our signed forms [with photo], and now we're officially in the program.