Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Sword Master

I’ve been pottering away in my pursuit of happiness and by most standards doing pretty well.  I have to say the last couple of days have been a bit of a struggle though.  We’re away on holiday at the beach and while there’s a lot of time spent off doing activities, there’s also a lot of time to sit around and think, and thinking’s dangerous.  Add into that more Facebook pregnancies/babies (knives to the gut) and it becomes a sea of treachery navigated only by a few wobbly stones to stand on.

So after 2 and a half weeks of feeling good about life I’ve had a couple of tough days.  The trick now I think is not to allow myself to wallow in this feeling, to stop the empty hollow pit of despair & loneliness in my stomach from washing over me in entirety to undo all the good progress I’ve made over the last 17 days.  The key to this is to focus on the good, discard the bad, and begin to heal the wounds that the jealousy of others fortune has had on my heart.

But how?  Well, I’ve been continuing with my 100 Happy Days project and at day 17 am having no trouble finding things to photograph.  I’ve also continued my attempts to change my thinking.  Reframing the negative to focus on the positive, to concentrate on what is going right in my life, and the affirmative “what-ifs”.  I’m focusing on the future not the here-and-now, and not the been-and-done.  We’ve got a new deck on our house and have been busy with the finishing touches on that, we’ve ordered my long awaited (five & a half years) wardrobes so I can finally get rid of all the clutter dotted around our house, and I have to say it also helps that work has been busy and I’ve felt like I’ve been making a difference in that realm of my life.  I’ve even made it to the point now where I’m looking forward to hanging out with friends again.

On top of all that we’ve got our first compulsory counselling session to look forward to in a couple of weeks, the first step in taking the plunge into the world of Donor Egg IVF.  I’m a bit nervous about it as the two counselling sessions I’ve had in this infertility process have both been a complete waste of my time.  After seeing two different counsellors, at two different clinics, I’ve started to lose my faith in talking to ‘experts’.  I didn’t connect with either of them and both felt like they weren’t at all interested in our situation or helping me get through it, they either just wanted to feel good about themselves or were in it for the money.  However whatever the outcome it surely can’t be worse than what’s already been so I’m choosing to think it will positive experience regardless of whether I get a lot out of it or not.

So it seems that despite a hard few days with far too much thinking, by focusing on the positive I think I’ve managed to pull myself through.  I’ve successfully pulled the sword from my gut and left it to hang precariously above my head once again.  I know I can beat it should it begin to fall, I’ve become the sword master.

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Dancing in the rain

I’m so sick of infertility ruling my life.  This year I choose to take it back.  I’ve spent so much time away from my friends, so much time avoiding social situations, so much time with my own thoughts, it’s time for a change. I choose life.  So how to fight back?  It’s a challenge to reclaim your life, especially when the nightmare of infertility is still hanging over your head.  I found a quote last year and have decided this year to make it the motto I live by. “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”  I’ve spent so long waiting for the storm to pass, and all likelihood it never will, it’s time to learn to dance in the rain.

I think the first step is to change my thought process, to force myself to be happy.  I’m trying extremely hard to reframe negative aspects of my life, to remind myself of the good bits, and not focus on my infertility. To be honest, I think knowing that my eggs are crap is helping with this.  I know 99.9% that I won’t be able to have a baby ‘normally’, one that’s genetically mine, so I don’t bother concentrating on it.  Admittedly (and expectedly) I still think about it and still have my bad days, but knowing there’s now nothing I can do to change the situation – no amount of healthy eating, lack of coffee or alcohol, no amount of supplements – I’m finding I’m more relaxed about it.  Knowing that both donor egg IVF and adoption are long processes, and there’s little I can do to speed it up, is lifting the pressure of trying to conceive.  If and when it happens is when it will happen, I can only do my bit and hope for the best.

I’ve also started the 100 Happy Days project, taking a photo of something that makes me happy for 100 days straight.  Apparently 71% of people never finish the challenge, but I will.  I’m only 9 days in and already it’s made an impact on my mood and how I deal with the world.  It’s a great way of focusing on the joyful moments of your life and I’ve found that, no matter what kind of mood I’m in, I’ve been able to find at least one thing to take a photo of.  Initially I put a bit of pressure on myself to take photos of big things, aspects of my life that are major impacts on my happiness, but then I realised that was silly, something as small as a cup of coffee can make me happy so why shouldn’t I include those moments.  In actual fact, recognising those little things has had a massive impact on realising my happiness, possibly more so than the obvious ones.

I’m making an effort to reconnect with people.  I’m still not up to facing big crowds, (or even small crowds for that matter) and I’m not sure I ever will be, but I’m making an attempt to reconnect with people who really matter to me.   I will Skype my mate in New York, I will arrange a dinner with the ‘marrieds’, I will catch up for a glass of wine (now that I can drink guilt-free again) with my friends.  I’m taking back my life and I’m loving it!  I’m by no means back to where I was before infertility took over my life and I doubt I will ever be that again.  We can never go back, only forward, and a new me is forming from the ashes that once was my life.

I’ve created a little sign, nothing flash, just a handwritten sign on yellow paper, and I’ve attached it to my computer screen at work so that it stares me straight in the face.  Whenever I’m wavering, whenever I get a little down and take a step backward, I look at this sign and it reminds me that whatever is getting me down is just a small part of my world, it reminds me to make the most of every moment and to reclaim my life.  It reminds me to be happy.  What does it say you ask?  It says this: “This year I will learn to dance in the rain” and this year I will dance no matter what the world throws at me, I will dance to survive and to thrive.


The workings of my brain

Let me try and give you some insight into how the infertile mind works, or at least how my infertile mind works.  Infertility sucks your soul.  Any confidence you may have once had (and I can’t say I had a lot to begin with) is sapped from you as your body lets you down again and again every step of the way.  As your body fails your mind begins to falter too.  “What’s wrong with me? What did I do to deserve this?  Why am I not normal like everyone else?” You begin to question everything about your life.  It feels like nothing ever goes right.  You pull away from friends and wonder why they still want to be friends with you.  You don’t feel like you fit in…..anywhere.  You don’t fit in with the fertile crowd – everyone you know has children.  You don’t fit in with the childless by choice – they chose this life while you were forced into it.  Half the time you don’t even fit in with the other infertiles – we all have different problems and a great many go on to have children which makes you feel left out even more.  You don’t understand the workings of people any more, you can’t function in social situations, you don’t know how to be happy.  You plaster on a smile and pretend everything’s ok.  You don’t expect anything to go right, you end up just not expecting anything.  So when someone says “I’ll be your egg donor” it’s on par with winning the lottery, only better, it feels like a dream and you can’t quite believe it’s real.  Could something actually be going right for once?!?  Do people actually care that much?  Are people really that generous?  We still cry but this time it’s tears of happiness rather than tears of despair, and we let that little bitch hope sneak back into our lives once more.  Things might work out, and they might not, but just knowing the offer is there is enough to brighten my day.


In the market

So we’ve been doing a bit of research into donor egg IVF and it seems the difference in process between countries is immense.  From what I can tell the USA is the only country that pays people to donate eggs, many other countries allow the use of donor eggs in an IVF cycle but without payment (you ask a friend or advertise for a donor), and a few  (such as Italy) don’t allow donor eggs at all…how horrific that must be for many Italian women!

While we haven’t been for our compulsory counseling session or follow up appointment yet, and therefore have only a small idea of how long donor egg IVF (DEIVF) will take in NZ, we’ve already started looking at the USA as a possibility for a donor egg cycle.  While this is likely to cost us approximately 3 times what a domestic cycle would cost us we would most probably be able to commence a cycle much sooner than if we were to wait for a donor in NZ.  And all this waiting is really getting to me, you need the patience of a saint to be an infertile!  It’s amazing the number of donors you have to choose from in the States!  It’s pretty much like logging on to an online shopping network and browsing the aisles.  You can find anything on there and the amount of detail you’re provided with just blows my mind.  I think ideally, we’d like a domestic donor but it’s nice to know there’s another option out there.

The donor issue is just so difficult to deal with.  We’ve largely tackled the grief of losing our genetic child and, other than the odd pang, are ok with this.  Now we worry about who the donor will be and whether we’ll find one at all.  We’d love for the donor to be someone we know – we’d then know we like the donor’s personality traits, there’d be less ambiguity and risk, and most importantly our child could have some kind of relationship with the donor.  We plan to be very upfront and honest, with both with our child and with those around us, about how our child came to be.  The hard part about wanting someone we know is that they’re either too old (you have to be mid-30’s or younger to be a donor) or we’d feel weird about asking them, worried that it would change our relationship for the worse, worried that they’d feel uncomfortable or obligated to say yes.

The other difficult thing about the whole DEIVF (and adoption) piece is just how challenging it is to proceed with and how judgmental people can be about it.  Any old drug addict can have (and often keep and/or abuse) a baby yet a couple like us who would do anything for a child, and love it unconditionally, have to jump through a hundred and one hoops just to get a foot in the door.  It seems so simple in the States, you decide to go down the DEIVF route, you select your donor from the list and away you go.  In New Zealand it’s quite different.  I found this article, written by my specialist, quite an interesting read:

http://www.ohbaby.co.nz/pregnancy/conception/the-gift-of-hope/

This section

At the time the Human Assisted Reproductive Technology (HART) Act was passed here, a decision was made by our Parliament to use only non-commercial donors. The effect is to both limit the available pool of potential donors, and to lower the chance of success, given the relatively older age of most New Zealand donors.

has the dual effect of getting me riled up and making me want to cry.  The idea that our government can think that this is a great outcome fills me with horror at the collective mindset of the people leading our country.  NOBODY goes through this by choice.  This process is so emotionally challenging and financially crippling that only those who truly want to love and nurture a child would go through it.  It’s not the kind of thing you do for fun.  So why do you want to punish those who would do good things for the future of the country?  I can understand the reasoning behind not wanting to commercialise the donor egg industry but I also understand the hurt at just how hard it is being on the other side and so desperately wanting an egg just to have a chance at what comes so easily for the majority of the population.

So what does this mean for us.  Well, I think we’ll probably give domestic DEIVF a go, hope we find a suitable donor, and if it doesn’t work out (yet another IVF fail) we’ll look to raise the funds needed to get us to the States and try again that way.  Keep on truckin’.


The beginning of the end?

So I’ve had yet another meltdown.  To be fair this is only the second one since our IVF round two fail and the second since we learned my eggs are fucked so I think I’m doing pretty well.  I don’t melt down terribly often and so far my husband has always been there by my side.  The further we progress in this journey though the more I worry whether our marriage can handle the turmoil created by this battle.  I used to think we could get through anything, we’ve been together 15 & a half years and while we’ve been through a lot, we’ve always managed to work our way past whatever issue was plaguing us and stand united as a team.   However I am beginning to wonder if this infertility might be just a little too big for us.  Deep down I know we can survive it but that doesn’t stop me worrying about what could happen in the meantime and what we’ll have to endure to get there.  I’d love to know what my husband thinks and feels about all of this but he’s a man, he doesn’t talk about it.  Does he even think about it?

The latest meltdown had the unfortunate timing of occurring at our friends wedding.  We’d gotten up early (bear in mind I am not a morning person at all!) and driven the 3 & a half hours home from our holiday.  A quick shower and change then another hours drive out to the wedding location. Friends had rented a house and we were to stay for the weekend.  I was a little apprehensive about it as I knew one of these friends to be pregnant and was nervous about how I would cope with that so soon after such a devastating cycle fail.  Soldier on I tell myself, you can do it.  We pull up to the house and it turns out both of the women we are staying with have pronounced baby bumps, gee, thanks for the warning.  It hits hard.   Both these women are older than me and have had no trouble at all in conceiving.  I shed a few tears outside then off we head to the ceremony.  From there it never stops.  99% of all the child-bearing-aged women there are either pregnant or are sporting young children.  The cries and gurgles of infants ring through the surroundings as the afternoon progresses.  There are endless remarks from the preggos lamenting the fact that they can’t drink, “not being able to drink really sucks.”  I’m tempted to reply with “yes, and hearing pregnant people complain about being pregnant feels like a stab in the guts but at least you’ll be able to have a drink in a few months time so I guess one of us won’t be suffering forever”, but I hold my tongue.

The ceremony is lovely and I’m genuinely happy for the married couple, even though the entire time my head is telling me they’ll be next on the baby-train. I attempt to cheer up and chat, then the baby talk starts.  Not being able to stand it I wander off to the other end of the party with my husband but alas we can’t get away from it.  You’d think I would have realised that impossibility with the 99% right?!?  The sounds and words build and build, surround me.  It’s like in the movies where someone’s going crazy and all those voices and faces swirl around their head until it all gets too much, only it’s not imaginary voices and faces swirling around my head but the very real sounds of babies and pregnancy talk.  I break.  Tears stream down my face and I can’t stop them, I struggle to breathe, it’s just all too much.  I need to get out of there and eventually it’s decided I should go home.  I know it’s bad form to leave but I can’t help it, I’m a mess.  Cue the awkward moment with M. as he tries to play the nice guy while all the while hinting that he should stay behind.  “You should go home.  I can drive you home.  Or you can drive home and I can stay here”.  I know he desperately wants to stay (ever the FOMO sufferer) but I so desperately need him.  I can’t force him to come with me, I need him to make that decision himself, to decide I’m more important.  But as expected I’m heading off alone yet again.  I wander back along the beach to the house and spend an hour on the lawn in hysterical sobs before finally pulling myself together enough to get in the car.  I still cry all the way home.

I pull in the drive and no one’s here.  This is both a blessing and a curse.  I don’t want have to explain myself to my sister, who’s housesitting for us, but at the same time I need someone here, I need a hug.  I’ve never felt so alone.  Why does the party always have to come first?  I realise my grief appeared at a completely inappropriate time but does that mean it’s better to ignore it and party on?  I often feel like the emotional side of this struggle is all a little too much for my husband.  That he doesn’t know how to deal with the mass of sadness that overflows from me at times.  That he doesn’t understand how this journey has changed me.  From my perspective I don’t understand how he can go on as normal.  I know this hurts him too, how does he pretend it doesn’t, and I envy him of this skill to hide his emotion and be ‘part of the crowd’.  I worry that this is what will destroy us.  My inability to deal with this curse, and his inability to acknowledge it.  I can see now how the fight for a child can annihilate a marriage.  I can only hope we’re stronger than that.


Happy New Year

And here we are in 2014.  It’s a sunny day and we’ve said goodbye to a devastating 2013 with tears and fireworks.  Good riddance.  I’d love to say the new year will be our year, that things can only improve, that it’s going to be better than the year just gone, but I said all that 12 months ago and look where that got us.  So 2014.  It’s a brand new year and whatever happens will happen.

I’ve had a few comments that this blog is sometimes a hard read, that it’s depressing, or negative, so I thought it time to write a post that somewhat addresses this.  My life is most definitely not a hard slog all the time, like nearly everyone else I have good times and bad.  However this blog is not a documentation of my life as a whole, although who knows, one day it might serve that purpose.  It is a documentation of our struggle to have a child, and that journey is hard, way harder than I ever thought it would be, so naturally (that is if I’m doing my job right) what you read upon this page is sometimes hard.

You sit down to a nice relaxing breakfast, I’m on my way to yet another early morning fertility appointment.  You take a sip of that delicious coffee (the one that I can’t drink due to its potential impact on my fertility), I’m on a hot date with dildocam.  Yep, dildocam, I’m sure you can imagine what that involves if you don’t already know.  Having a nice night out with friends? Check out the non-alcoholic drinks on that beverage list (the list of drinks us infertiles often have to stick to)…..9 out of 10 times there won’t be one.  Now think of the one thing in your life you’d really love to achieve but for reasons outside of your control can’t, and imagine everyone around you talking about how they’ve achieved that very thing, how easy it was, and how fantastic the results are.  Relaxing on a beach or in a park? Take note of how many families are there with their kids and imagine how you would feel if that was all you wanted but couldn’t have.  Feel good?

This journey is physically difficult.  During treatment it involves a hundred and one appointments with specialists, invasive (and sometimes painful) tests and ultrasounds, surgery, constant monitoring and blood draws, and piling multiple chemicals into your body – often accompanied by hideous side effects of some description or another.   And that’s just the beginning, for some of the more unlucky amongst us this voyage involves even more.  I, thankfully, have not had the experience of that ‘more’, and hopefully never will.

Outside of treatment time, we’re trying to give our bodies a fighting chance of being able to conceive.  That means trying to ensure your body is in the best possible condition fertility-wise.  Exercise (but not too much exertion – quite a hard balance to find), eating the right foods at the right times, taking a multitude of supplements, alternative medicines such as acupuncture, the list goes on.  It all may seem excessive to the fertile community reading this but when your body doesn’t perform as it’s supposed to you try everything to bring it back to ‘normal’, often on the recommendation from the medical community.  Now try fitting all of this in around your job and the rest of your day-to-day life.

Yet the physical is the easy part.  As well as being physically challenging, it’s also a complete mind-fuck.  You know when you buy a new car and then suddenly you start seeing that make and model everywhere you drive?  It’s like that with kids.  Everywhere you go there are children, babies, pregnant people, and when I say everywhere I mean EVERYWHERE.  It’s inescapable.  We took a walk to a waterfall miles from anywhere in the middle of the bush, there’s a pregnant lady there at the waterfall.  Out to the pub for New Years Eve, a pregnant woman…and what’s worse, she’s drinking, a lot, vodka and energy drink no less.  To a ‘normal’ person that’s horrifying – we’ve been conditioned to know this is bad for the baby – to an infertile it is heartbreaking.  Why is this woman who is abusing her baby before it’s even born allowed to conceive yet we, who would give that baby everything it could ever need, cannot.

You’ve just sat an exam, one that the rest of your life depends on, and you’re awaiting the results.  Now let’s say you can’t do many of the things you enjoy because they could potentially effect the results of this exam, and this exam is going to dictate whether you get to have the life that you want or whether you’re destined for the sidelines to watch from the outside.  You have two weeks to wait until you know what path your life will take, and all the while you’re surrounded by those who have already passed the exam and are living the high life while unintentionally bragging about it.  Welcome to the two week wait.  The torturous two weeks following treatment (or ovulation) in which you wait to find out if you’re pregnant or not.  You try to distract yourself but it always comes back to the same point, will I have the life I want for myself or will I need to heartbreakingly change my dreams.

For infertiles, everyday things become a challenge.  Meeting new people comes with questions of kids, time is measured by appointments or treatments rather than days of the week, even going to work comes with the constant reminder of what you don’t have – colleagues funny anecdotes about their children, or the thought of ‘if everything had gone to plan I’d be on maternity leave/planning a kids party too right now’.  Your mind is your worst enemy.  The smallest of things can trigger an emotional response, and sometimes it all gets too much.  I was negotiating a change to my job recently and things didn’t entirely go to plan.  Rather than my usual response of ‘take a step back and reassess’ I had a complete meltdown and cried for half a day.  Now on the surface this looks as though I’m an overemotional nutbar, overreacting to what is a seemingly normal job transaction but what the majority of people don’t see is that this job transaction comes at the tail end of another failed IVF cycle (one with atrocious side effects), a cycle that has ended the dream of a biological child for us, a cycle that cost us nearly $12,000 and, because of my defective body, we weren’t able to complete.  Imagine knowing this is all your body’s fault and not being able to change anything.  It’s like building a house of cards or a Jenga tower and slowly pulling out the foundations one by one.  The job hiccup was the last piece that caused the house/tower to come tumbling down.

I don’t know too many infertiles in the flesh but I sure know a plenty online, via Twitter and this blog, and they are some of the strongest and most resilient people I know.  They’re survivors.  So next time you feel like saying we’re a bit negative or the tales of our lives are hard to read, spare a thought for the people actually living this reality.  No, it’s not our entire life summed up in these pages, but the haunting reality of what’s written here has an impact on everything we do, and on who we are as people, good times or bad.  These words are merely our outlet, a way to cope


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