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, October 30, 2006


There are many bonuses to IF.

Yep, you heard me right, I really think there are. Not necessarily bonuses that you can live without, but I think I am thankful for them.

We have participated in 'science currently in development'. This process has been an education not just for the issues that concern us, but the wider community.

We have been forced to consider our opinions on embryonic stem cell research. Would I have skipped gaily past this issue without a care in the world had I not been in a position to consider what I’d do with my own excess embryos? Yes, maybe.

I know most of our fertile friends look, quite frankly, disinterested when this topic is raised. Are they pig-ignorant? No, they just don’t have any spare embryos anywhere to make decisions on. It’s theory, and it’s political discussion that’s currently getting airtime, but without being in a position to decide if it’s something you’re going to participate in, well maybe you can just get by without a strong opinion.

Designer Babies (don’t you love that term?) This is something else we’ve been exposed to. If we had opted to PGD any of our embryos, we would also have been in a position to find out gender.

We didn’t PGD, because unfortunately the writing was on the wall for our embryos – poor embryo quality due to maternal age.

But one of our friends did.

Having suffered a late-term loss due to downs (boy), and having had a further two first trimester miscarriages (downs) followed by two failed IVF cycles, her and her husband opted to PGD on the third cycle. They also opted to find out gender. Because they wanted a designer baby? No, because they were forking out $8K already and they decided that they would find out gender, at the same time, as any genetic disorders. Four embryos – two tested positive for downs, two came back clear. The two positive were boys, the two negative were girls. Cycle result = negative.

Are they monsters? Not that I can see.

They are people that opted to find out additional information. Were they planning on throwing back either gender? No. Reality was, they were finding out gender in advance simply because they could. Some decide to find out during an ultrasound, others decide to wait till birth.

Am I too liberal? I have no idea.

What I do know is that one of the greatest bonuses of this journey is that I have become completely open to other peoples choices. I cannot bring myself to judge anyone that makes 'ground breaking' choices (gender selection) any more than I am able to judge those that choose to wait for the 'surprise' at birth. In fact I feel I have to respect people for those choices. I know how much discussion, research and time it has taken myself and Mr. S to reach the point of making decisions for our future. I know what we have had to experience, what doors have been slammed shut in our faces.

So we have made the decision that we are embarking on a donor eggs journey. Will some people judge me and think my choice is repulsive? Probably.

But as an adult, I have chosen to do what's right for me to build my family.

Am I a monster?

My thanks to Stella And/Or Ben for starting this discussion.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

When to Blab?

We have always planned on being open. Clearly we are going through a known donorship with Star, we have all also discussed a ‘least expectation’ situation, that will mean we always keep up-to-date addresses and emails. What we hope, but cannot predict, is that our donor relationship turns into lifetime friendship.

We are so advanced in our discussions, our Counsellor was taken aback, this is not the usual scenario for people who have met in a forum. Most IP’s go into donor relationships with the idea that they will keep the donor egg a secret – from everyone – child, grandparents and friends.

We have done enough research and then attended the adoption seminar to know that this is not the best possible situation for a child. Yep, the genie is out of the bottle for us and will not go back in, and truthfully we’ve become comfortable with all of it.

We are not ashamed that we will be using donor eggs, and we don’t want our child to be.

What we haven’t figured out is when to start having those conversations with our family and friends.

I have tried to ‘bring up the discussion’ a few times with my closest female friends – most, not ready. Their immediate reactions were that it was something too far-fetched to consider – something for the stars(!)

Finally, on Friday night, having dinner with friends I was able to tell someone. My friend Magenta, she got married late last year and is going to start trying for a baby in the next couple of months. But somehow, she is someone I felt would be receptive.

Once we had established that it wasn’t surrogacy, that I would be carrying the baby, that we would go through an IVF cycle to get Star’s eggs, that it would be Mr. S’s sperm AND I’d told her about Star -
‘Fantastic’, was her response. ‘I know you, and you would have done all your research and looked into everything, what a great thing to do.’

It felt good.

Then we started discussing strategies for me to use, so I can tell my other friends … and family.

Telling my family is not something I will look forward to. My mother NEVER got IVF – how many times did I hear ‘Oh it’s all Brave New World stuff isn’t it?’ She doesn’t know it, but she’s a Fertility-Ist. She judges women on how easily they fall pregnant – because she had no trouble conceiving and giving birth to five.

Growing up I remember her saying things like ‘Some women are just not meant to have children’. Well I can tell you it’s been a long time since she’s ever said anything like that to me after the last time I blew up her and my father for saying ‘Some people think it’s God’s will that that certain people can’t have children’, after I first started IVF!

My thinking is that I will wait till I’m actually pregnant (please) – that way any ‘unintentional’ cruel remarks that come my way, will not mar our cycle.

Mr. S’s family - bloody hell, I’ve been thinking, another dicey one. They are very conservative people. Our surprise on our journey has been how supportive they’ve been to us (we thought it’d be mine!)

They know that we have investigated adoption and have come to understand that if we pursue it further, we will be undertaking an International adoption - we will be a multi-cultural family.

Then, on Saturday, Mrs S Senior surprised us.

She had been talking to her niece who lives in San Francisco. Her niece was updating her on her best friend that has just had a baby.

‘She did what’s called Embryo Adoption, have you heard of that, apparently it’s cheaper than IVF?!’

‘Yes we have, we’ve looked into it’.

‘Well apparently, she was matched with looks, colouring, build and now she has a beautiful baby. She’s been able to experience the pregnancy, the birth, and she’s really open about it – and will talk to you about it if you want?’


‘We have looked into our options here, and spoken to our doctors, we haven’t shut any doors, but we’re just not ready to talk about how far we’ve got with everything’. We replied.

‘Well I think that’s great, I think the way you’re doing things is great, there was none of this available to us in our day’.

Mr & Mrs S Senior experienced IF themselves and consider themselves lucky that they had one.

[I think the enthusiasm for this option is not based on opposition to adoption, more so for the obvious - me being able to experience pregnancy, also, because the waiting game has blown out incredibly – we’d be looking at around 18 months to 2 years to get through adoption.]

‘Well, wasn’t that amazing?’ Mr. S & I were saying on the way home. We didn’t need to work out when to broach this subject, it was done for us!

I don’t know who was more surprised – Mr. S or me?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Five Hours In Sydney

Yesterday, I woke up with a migraine, so took a sickie ...

Yesterday, Mr. S and I picked Star up from the airport and headed to our appointment at our SDD’s office.

'Migraine's are a really handy sickie excuse for work' I informed Star 'They're good to use at least twice a year'.

While Mr. S then went off to work, Star and I grabbed a coffee and chatted for nearly an hour before our appointment.

How had each of our counselling gone the couple of days earlier?

Easy. In a word.

Star said their Counsellor mostly spoke to them. Our Counsellor was the same. We’d covered so much ground together over the last couple of months, there were no sticking points and no surprises.

So we had time to chat about our lives, then headed to our appointment.

‘If we look like we’re disorganised,’ SDD’s wife announced, ‘we are, we’ve had a whole new computer system put in and we’re learning the ropes’.

While Star was sitting filling in her details, I checked if she had her GP’s Referral Letter with her? Blank look. SHIT.

She had misunderstood and thought she needed to go visit somewhere after this appointment.

Easily fixed, we could go to a local medical centre straight after the appointment and the billing would be corrected so we could claim back.

I was up first to see the doc. I was again told not to get too excited. Not to start worrying about anyone’s dates. Christmas was coming, clinics close. I had to remember the logistics, double the time I thought things would take, lots of problems can happen. Okay, got it. Then straight to the dildo cam.

‘Okay, theres your uterus in all it's glory, here the endometrium - looks like things are happening there’
‘How thick?’ - Reflex reaction.
‘9mm, aaand that looks like the remains of a corpus luteum’ he said looking at a big black hole
‘A WHAT' [Holy shit, a corpse in my uterus!] (bing went my mothers voice ‘Pardon not What!’)
‘The follicle left behind after releasing an egg’
‘Oh’ [Phew]
‘There on the right looks like another follicle forming’
‘KEH? I’m on Day 23?’
‘They form all through the cycle’
(Question: does this mean I have the lunar cycle?)
‘Right, so that’s you done, everything looks good’.
‘Actually, that’s slightly depressing’
‘Because you still can’t get pregnant?’ (He got it)
The tragic irony - living as the fertile infertile

Star’s turn, so I focussed my full attention on the glossy mags. in the waiting room. Next time I looked at my watch close to half an hour had gone. Briefly thought, I hope Star’s okay with the dildo cam. Funny, she’s had a baby, but never had a dildo cam!

Ten minutes later I was asked to join her and the doctor.

By now there was a an energetic whirlwind of paper and instructions being issued to the Coordinator and us.

‘These papers for Star and Mr. Star to sign, script for BCP for Star, Pathology Orders, this sheet to read ... both of you to start bcp’s on your Day 1., all the drugs to be picked up today, we’re trying to get everything organised for the next cycle so we can transfer before Christmas’.
‘Ummm, do I need a script for bcp’s?’
‘Fill Star’s script now, then split the pack’

Hmmm, so obstacles are clearing. Was meeting Star reassuring to the doc.? Reassuring to him that I hadn’t dragged a total fruit-loop in off the street? Or the internet?

So we were ushered out of the room into the Coordinators room for Star’s instructions.

The show bag is prepared.

We go over everything. Syn.arel is primed. 'Start either nostril then alternate. AND it doesn’t matter which side you start'.

‘Hey, keep some tic.tacs handy, the metallic taste in the back of your throat is awful in the beginning’ I offered.
‘Oh, I didn't know it tasted bad’ adds the coordinator.

Pure.gon - dose 150ml, 900ml cartridge loaded. Then we practise with a foam block. Star’s turn – she’s stabs it into the foam with such force I blanched.

‘Hey, here’s a tip – grip the pen in your hand and use your thumb to depress, it’s more stable. Place the needle on your belly, then breath out, then slowly push in, and slowly depress’
‘Hey that’s a good tip to hold it that way’ confirms the coordinator.

‘Here’s the trigger, flick the top then get rid of the bubble’
‘Mr. S and I will do it for you if you want’ I offered, 'the needles a bit thicker, so can sting a little more.'

So we’re looking at the mountain of contents all over the table that have to fit in the bag.

‘Here, let me have a go at packing’, so I quickly start rearranging everything around the ice brick. Voila, all in.

While packing the stacks of alcohol wipes I mention -

‘I know I shouldn’t say this, but by my last couple of cycles, I didn’t even bother with these, I just bunged in the needle ... Whoops, sorry I know it’s bad, but I did do six cycles’
“Dear god, how awful for you ... oops sorry Star – you’ll only be doing one cycle – and you will be using the wipes’, the coordinator looked at me with sympathy.
‘You know it’s not as bad as people think, I mean you can watch the procedure on TV and think ‘Yikes’, but I always found my life the most difficult thing to manage when cycling’.

So there we were, packed, instructed, instruction sheets, new appointment (for me and Mr. S), letter for the airport, after two hours we were leaving.

Next thing, find a GP for the referral. Thankfully we found someone that could book us in within the hour - bonus - they also bulk.billed (nothing to pay). We managed to squeeze in time for a bagel and coffee. My great plans to take Star to a great place for lunch squashed.

After Star had seen the GP I asked her if he asked why she needed the referral – she said that he’d asked if she had any particular gynaecological problems, and she had told him ‘No, I’m doing a donor cycle for my girlfriend in the waiting room’!

We laughed loudly as we walked down the stairs.

BCP script filled and split, then Star also had to split to get to the airport and catch her flight home.

Me, straight back to the docs. to drop off the referral (had to be dated for the day of the appointment in order to claim back from Medi.care).

‘Here I am with the referral’ I announced.
‘Great, we can put this through the new system’.

Paperwork done, ready to go, both the Coordinator and SDD's wife say to me -

‘Sparkle - Star is lovely’
‘Yeah I know, amazing isn’t it’
‘She’s fantastic, you are really lucky’

Yeah I know.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Age Old

I sometimes wonder what a fly on the wall would make of some of the stupid conversations Mr. S and I have. I also think about what our thought bubbles would look like in a cartoon.

Twice in the last week we have had idiotic conversations.

I never imagined myself becoming the type of woman who would say things like ‘well that’s just typical of men’. I always loved the idea that intellect outweighed any silly sexisms that existed. What a waste of time, we’re all just people. IF has made a fool of me and that theory.

I was telling Mr. S about how gobsmacked I was to learn of a former colleague’s pregnancy, and how annoying it is that this stuff creeps up and slaps me in the face, just when I feel there will be no more preggy surprises.

My former colleague Jazz is over forty and has been pretty much single since her divorce years and years ago. She is stunning – tall, thin – so much so that a friend who met her at a work function asked if she was a supermodel. But you know, life being what it is, she never seemed to meet the ‘right’ man. Plenty of men would ask her out, but there was always something wrong – tight-arses, broke, stupid, ill-mannered, (I would love to go on and on here), so unbelievably a single, beautiful, highly paid woman seemed to be forever single.

A couple of times we talked about kids – me saying ‘yes, one day we’d like them’, Jazz saying ‘I just think I’m getting further and further away from that’.

Many times in the last four years, when I’ve been at work dinners or company functions I’ve been the boring ‘two drinks’ colleague. Many times Jazz has been blind drunk ‘another bottle of Veu.ve please’.

Last week I was told she was 14 weeks pregnant, to her 28 year old boyfriend of 5 months. I’m like ... so she got pregnant after knowing him six weeks? FUCK.

I like her, so I texted her to say how happy I was to hear her news and that I thought she’d make a great Mum. You know, it IS truthfully how I feel, despite my own misery, and texting is so easy for this stuff. She texted me back to say how excited she was, because she never thought she’d be a Mum.

Relaying all this back to Mr. S – you know how she’s boozed through the last 4 years I’d known her, and how boringly I’d been on the sidelines, watching what I ate and drank and how unfair it was.

‘Yeah well - there’s stories like that every single day’ he replied nonplussed.

End of conversation.

Jeez, this is ‘my’ story ‘today’ was my thought bubble. Bloody hell men are stupid.

Then again yesterday.

Mr. S had a ‘men’s weekend away’. Almost all these friends have children, so I was catching up via him with all the news on everyone.

‘Well I haven’t seen most of their wives or partners since our wedding, since the men only ever socialise together at the pub, or they organise their big effing ‘Baby Get-togethers’ - which of course, we do not attend. Mainly due to me, because I became so nauseated some years ago, with being unable to contribute to the rehashing of the ‘birthing story’, or staring at the backs of some women while they talked only to those in the Club about secretive stuff ... I think sex stuff when you’re pregnant. Of course someone that hasn’t had a baby is not allowed in that circle.

Anyhoo, slow-forward to the present.

‘You know it’s partly our fault we’re not in closer contact with people’ Mr. S soap-boxed. ‘We withdrew ourselves, we’re the ones that haven’t participated’.

‘Not true, we did not do that right at the beginning’ I argued.

Four years ago is pretty much the time everyone started popping them out. Right back then, I was still naively thinking we’d be next. While I was hoping back then ‘this might be the month’, I was sitting listening, not saying anything snarky (only thinking snarky). Several times it became apparent that some people would prefer the company of others with children, rather than those without. Several times we’d hear about dinners organised between our friends ‘with children’.

‘So it wasn’t all us, I was told to my face that some of those dinners were the parent get-togethers’.

‘Well it wasn’t a malicious thing’ Mr. S. exclaimed, now getting exasperated.

‘So now there’s the bloke nights, the Baby Get-togethers and then there’s the social world that only parents have together’.

He labours on ‘once people have children, there is a natural movement to spend time with others that have them, it’s not a spiteful thing, if people said things to your face, it was said unintentionally and without knowing it would hurt’.

‘Well good, I can’t wait till I have my baby, I’ll make my own ‘natural movements’ to form my own clique, and I’ll say whatever I want, and nobody can reproach me – because I’ll have a baby and can be an effing bitch to whoever I want!'

End of conversation.

Thought bubble? ‘Well isn’t that just like a typical bloody man!’.

On the upside, Deadwood 3 has started, so Mr. S and I can sit happily together swearin’ along like troopers with the crims and whores.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Moving slowly forward

What I would love to know is, when will I really feel like we have a donor?

After a hundred or more phone calls, I now have a few things worked out.

Next Tuesday Mr. S and I go for our counselling session. Following that, next Thursday Star will come to Sydney and her and I will go for our ‘matching’ ultrasounds, then she will have her blood tests. Then we’ll have lunch.

Star and Mr. S have to book in for their counselling. Finally it has been worked out they can see a fertility counsellor in their own state. At this stage it looks like we won’t have to do a joint session.

Mr. Star has to have his blood tests ... The Heps, HIV and Chlymidia. Apparently he’s okay with this thank god.

Do I have a donor yet? Because it still feels like everything could fall over and we’ll be back at square one.

This maybe just me, but the truth is I really don’t think I’ll feel like I’m on solid ground with this until we’ve got a fertilisation report following the EPU.

Not that I can imagine this happening to us, but what I’ve recently learned is that legally, until actual fertilisation, a donor can pull out. Specifically, in the hours following an EPU, PRIOR to fertilisation if she decides she doesn’t want to go ahead, then the eggs remain her property.

Interesting isn’t it? Forget the legaleese, this is bloody interesting thing to contemplate from a donor’s perspective. Imagine going all the way thru a cycle and getting to the point of having all your eggs collected then changing your mind. Might make a note to find out what type of anaesthetic they’re going to use on Star ... half joking.

But right now, I’m all about the emotional side of this. I’m scared that the enthusiasm will wane, and what had seemed like an awesome altruistic trip becomes a boring reality. I mean I’m selling Star short, she’s a very intelligent person who had thought this thru long before approaching me. But in my world, having random good luck often means that there is a hideous random bad luck coming to slap me in the face.

Having random good luck at all has been in short supply these past four or five years, so having this happen seems so out of this world, it’s hard to accept it’s going to happen.

The bonus to that is that all the stuffing around I’ve had to do on the phone for the past few weeks has just seemed par for the course for me. Nowadays I don’t expect anything to be easy, making 10 phone calls to find out one simple thing – no worries I’m used to it. My notorious impatience has been improved beyond recognition thanks to IF.

My mother is also to blame. One of her favourite things to say over the years has been ‘There’s a price to pay for everything’. Well sh** I keep wondering if all this works out, what price am I going to have to pay?

Oh, and I have another question, when we get as far as cycling, do I qualify for Cyclesista?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

How Many Degrees?

When I read about bloggy friends catching up, people whose journeys I’ve followed for the last couple of years, and who now I feel like I ‘know’, I often get a pang of jealousy.

Well last week I got to have my own ‘real life’ catch up.

Stella from our divine journey and I (plus M & Mr.S ) caught up for a drink in Sydney.

Anyone that lives in Sydney laughs heartily at the Six Degrees of Separation theory!

It turns out we were all in the same 2-Day Adoption Seminar in February, we just weren’t in the same workshop groups so didn’t really get to meet. Our similarities go further – from age, repeat IVF, refugees from the same CFG and unfortunately miscarriage at around the same point in the pregnancy (both likely from elevated ACA’s).

Now again we’re at the same point, I’ve now done my last cycle, Stella is currently doing hers (fingers crossed).

We’re also both now on the donor egg journey.

It’s fantastic to meet people dealing with the same things, heading in the same direction. Being able to talk openly about our journeys is valuable beyond belief.

It's also awesome to meet people we really like.

I’m sure I’m not the first IFer to suddenly realise that there have been some pluses on this crazy journey. While so many of our friends have had the Mothers Groups to extend their friendships – well guess what? IF has extended ours.

Stella and M had a truly amazing experience with an energy healer that has to be heard to be believed ... well I’ve never heard anything like it. Go to her blog and say ‘Stella please write a post about the energy healer!!’ it has to be written.

Whoever said Sydneysiders weren't friendly ...?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Brand New Rollercoaster

This morning’s meeting with Specialist Donor Doc (SDD), started rather like being told off by the scary school teacher.

Mr. S and I sat there quietly while we were told about all the logistical difficulties involved with an interstate donor cycle, all the things that can go wrong, plus all the requirements and necessities.

‘Sooo, would you rather not help us with this donor cycle?’ I eventually asked?
‘Yes, I am more than happy to help, I mean we coordinate for overseas donor cycles, I just want you to be aware of everything. People get over-excited and don’t think about everything involved and what can go wrong’.
‘Yes, we understand’ Mr. S. said.
‘No, you don’t’ he replied
‘Well then we appreciate everything?’ he ventured

He was happy to settle for ‘appreciate’.

So after taking some preliminary notes, and advising me I’d need another ultrasound (!!!) he asked his wife to come in. She will coordinate the cycle.

We may or may not need our donor (now known as Star) and partner (Mr. Star) to come to Sydney for their counselling. That’s being checked out, we’ll know on Thursday.

Star will definitely need to come to Sydney for preliminary bloods and an ultrasound at the beginning of her next cycle.

Then she will start her cycle and come back for the week prior to the EPU.

Prior to the appointment I’d spoken to Star about her cycle and other details. Giggling. I mentioned that it wasn’t weird for me these days to ask such questions, but maybe strange for her. Today I was able to tell SDD what day she was up to in her cycle.

We’re really hoping their counselling can be done interstate, otherwise that’ll mean both Star and Mr. Star will have to come here together. Not really an issue, just a disruption for them.

Star and I will have our ultrasounds done at the same time/day, then she’ll have her bloods. In turns out that Mr. Star won’t need bloods done, unless something shows up in hers.

In the meantime Mr. S and I can have our counselling done.

We’re going to talk through all this stuff with them tonight.

When we were walking back to the car I explained to Mr. S how initially I wasn’t sure SDD was keen to help us.

‘Well he’s extremely experienced and takes the responsibility very seriously – I find it reassuring’ he said.

‘Also now it’s up to us to make sure we don’t start sugar-coating everything for Star – so she has all the right information and knows why things are being done the way they are. That way she’ll know what to expect at all the points along the way.’

While all this is going on, I get scared everyday that it's going to fall through, something is going to go wrong. Everytime I speak to Star either on Messenger or phone she's really excited, can't wait to start, is so excited at the thought that I will get pregnant. In between, sometimes I just think it's not going to happen. F*** I just don't have any faith that something could work out for me, it's horrible.

We’re back on the rollercoaster, but it’s a different one with bigger and trickier loop-de-loops.