Tag Archive | infertile

The one where Sadie gets her “groove” back (Part One)

Warning: this post is super long and mentions sex a lot so if you’re a prude…don’t read it? Haha!

I met James on Halloween night in 2014.

I’d been invited to a party hosted by one of the girls in my new group of friends. The group I had ingratiated myself with after my friendship circle of ten years cast me out in favour of my ex.

I was super excited to attend the party, as I felt like it was an opportunity to dress up, cement my new friendship bonds and finally do something fun.

I thought it would be hilarious to go to the party dressed as a corpse bride, given my husband had left me only three and a half months prior.

So I found an old wedding dress in a Salvation Army shop and then my mother and I spent hours coating it in blood. Then we tore up a veil, bloodied and dirtied it and splattered blood all over a bunch of white flowers. Finally, we covered my exposed skin in cuts, bruises and blood then painted my face to make me look dead.

I looked absolutely horrific and I absolutely loved it. I looked nothing like myself at all and all my new friends thought it was fantastic.

When I arrived at the party he came up to say hello and introduce himself. He was the older brother of the girl who was hosting the party, but as she was a few years younger than me it turns out that he and I were actually the same age.

He was dressed as a scary version of Willy Wonka – purple velvet suit, oversized purple top hat but macabre white face paint. I honestly had no idea what he looked like underneath his costume and didn’t really care to find out.

I quickly rushed off to join my friends and was surprised when he followed and pulled up a chair across from me. He wasn’t part of our little group so I wasn’t exactly sure why he wasn’t off enjoying the party with his own friends.

Like I said in my previous post, men were not on my radar and certainly not whilst I was dressed as a terrifying corpse bride. It didn’t even occur to me that he was hanging around us because he was somehow interested in me.

I was having coffee with a friend the following day when my phone buzzed and I realised that he had sent me a friend request over Facebook.

“Oh God no.” said my friend, rolling her eyes. “You’ve just gotten rid of your stupid Willy Wonka husband, you don’t need another Willy Wonka in your life.”

I laughed so hard I spat coffee all over the table, but accepted his friend request nonetheless.

Browsing through his Facebook photos, I realised he was actually quite good looking. He was the total opposite of my husband, who was 5’5” and nerdy with red hair and glasses (think Ron Weasley, only wearing Harry Potter’s glasses).

In stark contrast, James was very tall and muscular with dark hair, golden tanned skin and eyes that were a curious mix of green and blue. More of a Channing Tatum than a Harry Potter.

But whilst my husband was a high flying executive with a hefty salary and a corporate car, James had never been to university and instead dropped out of school when he was 16 to become a truck driver.

I’d lived a sheltered upper middle class life and had never even met someone who didn’t finish school. I couldn’t imagine we had very much at all in common.

But there was something about him that I found interesting, so when he asked for my phone number and invited me to dinner the following Tuesday night I nervously agreed.

I’d been on a couple of dates with a couple of different guys after my husband left, but always hated the experience, never gone back for a second date and definitely never let them kiss me. I wondered if it would be the same with James.

Tuesday rolled around and we had a lovely dinner. I discovered that he had a four year old son from a previous marriage, and had just as much baggage as I did. His wife had remarried, and taught their son to call her new husband dad so the poor kid was very confused about the fact he had two fathers.

Despite the fact we clearly led very different lives I actually found myself attracted to him. I ended the date feeling very optimistic.

But the next day I received a message from James letting me know that whilst he found me to be a very nice person, he wasn’t romantically interested in me and he hoped we could be friends.

I was a bit shocked, but honestly not upset as I’d really only just met the guy. I agreed that I’d like to be friends and completely forgot about the whole episode.

A week later I saw him at the wedding of a mutual friend. It was a “party wedding” at a rural site where all the guests stayed overnight in dormitory style accommodation. Once again, to my surprise, he made a beeline straight for me and even sat next to me at the reception.

There was an abundance of alcohol flowing, and I’d hardly had a drink in the years since I began IVF treatment. But that night I knocked back eight shots of vodka and kept the drinks coming. To say I was drunk would be an understatement.

James ended up just as drunk as I was, somehow managed to hit his head and a few of us all helped him back to his dorm room to lie down (yes well done…a bunch of wasted idiots helped the potentially concussed guy to sleep…).

But after we helped him into bed and all went to leave, he asked me to stay behind. Still thinking nothing of it, I flopped onto the bed next to him. I was shocked when he confessed that despite his best efforts to keep things platonic, he was extremely attracted to me and then he kissed me.

We didn’t take it any further that night. Firstly because we were both so drunk we’d lost majority of our motor skills and secondly because he was sharing his dorm room with others and it would have been weird to do anything intimate with people wandering in and out of the room. Obviously…

The next morning I brushed the encounter aside. We’d both been intoxicated and I’d had a sneaky pash with a guy that wasn’t my husband for the first time in many years. So I was very surprised when he invited himself to my place the following evening to watch movies.

After that, we started hanging out almost every night. He even introduced me to his four year old son Isaac, who he had custody of every second weekend. We’d go to dinner, we’d hang out at my place, we’d go for ice cream. It was fun and innocent. We’d kiss and hold hands but I’d never let it get any further than that.

In the end it got to the point that even my mother was pressuring me to take things further with James. She kept on telling me there was nothing stopping me and I needed to move on with my life. She suggested I have a few drinks to take the edge off my anxiety and then just…go for it.

In the end James did the hard work for me. We were at my place one evening and he suddenly informed me that he’d brought a condom. I told him I was extremely apprehensive as I hadn’t been with anybody except for my husband since I was a teenager. He was very understanding and promised to take things very slow.

Having sex with someone who wasn’t my husband was quite honestly devastating. I had no clue what I was doing because I was so used to Doug’s little intimate quirks. James was totally different to Doug. I didn’t know where to put my hands. I didn’t know where to look so I just kept my eyes shut. All the sensations were just totally different. He didn’t smell like Doug, he didn’t feel like Doug, he didn’t taste like Doug, he didn’t sound like Doug.

It made me miss my husband, yet at the same time made me realise that our marriage was truly over as there was no going back from this point.

After it was over, James suggested he stay the night with me but I asked him to leave. I couldn’t believe how horrible the experience had been. Once he was gone I phoned my cousin crying, telling her I hated sex and I never planned to do it ever again. She just laughed at me and suggested I’d soon change my mind.

Once again James surprised me by calling the next day and inviting me out to dinner. I thought for sure I’d never hear from him again.

Even more surprising, after our date he was clearly willing to go for round two.

To be honest I can’t remember when sex with James turned from horrific to amazing. It definitely wasn’t the second time or even the third. But I can tell you that his patience with me was outstanding. He never once made it seem like my clear lack of experience was a problem.

But suddenly one day I realised that I was actually enjoying myself. The things that made sex with James different were the things that made sex with James better.

He was much stronger than Doug and much more willing to try…um…more adventurous things? He never judged me or my body. Never made me feel silly. Never said anything along the lines of “respectable girls don’t do those things” like Doug used to tell me. It was like I was having my eyes opened for the first time.

Almost overnight, it seemed like my life was completely turned around.

James started spending the whole weekend at my house, even when he had custody of his son.

Isaac and I bonded almost immediately, and he loved having sleepovers at my place. Suddenly my spare room was full of his toys. Something I never imagined would happen after my husband left me. It was truly amazing.

James was very understanding of my infertility, and had no problem letting me take over some of the menial parenting tasks like bath time and cooking dinner. I’d sit next to the bath and listen to Isaac talk about silly nonsense while he played with his rubber ducks. It made me feel like a whole person again.

In the mornings, Isaac would come running into my bedroom about 5am, climb into bed with us and curl up with his arm and leg thrown across my body. He would tell me I was beautiful just like his “other mum.” Of course I would correct him and tell him that his mother was his only mother, but he was confused because he already had two dads so he didn’t see it as a problem to have two mums.

Having James and Isaac in my life even made my first Christmas without my husband a magical experience.

James and I went shopping together to pick out Christmas presents for Isaac. We wrapped them and placed them under my Christmas tree.

Then on Christmas Eve we took Isaac around the neighbourhood to visit all the houses that had awesome Christmas light displays. After dinner, we watched Christmas movies and James took Isaac upstairs to put him to bed.

As I was heading up to join them, I noticed our thongs (flip flops for you Americans haha) on the landing all lined up from biggest to smallest. I suddenly felt kind of like…I belonged to a family. I wasn’t alone anymore.

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The next morning Isaac was sooooo excited to discover Santa had visited him overnight. He actually shouted out “Daddy! Sadie! Santa has left me gifts! This is bloody excellent!” and James had to tell him off for swearing hahaha.

After we all had breakfast, James took Isaac back to his mother’s house. But it was still just so lovely to wake up on Christmas to a happy, excited kid in the house for the first time ever. I honestly didn’t miss my husband at all.

The following day, Boxing Day, was hot and humid. So James and I spent most of the day floating in the pool and enjoying each other’s company. We made plans for New Years Eve and I realised I was actually looking forward to 2015.

Little did I know, everything was about to drastically change…

(to be continued in part 2!!)

Love,

Sadie xx

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The other side of the mountain

Sorry for not updating in so long. Can’t believe it’s been almost a month. I have no real excuse, other than I just haven’t had it in me to sit down and write a blog post. Sometimes I would start to write something, then just not have the energy to finish it. Forgive me if this post is all over the place and makes no sense, it’s reflective of my head space at the moment.

I guess I’ll cut right to the point because I still don’t feel in the mood to write flowery prose. My FET was a failure. There was no happy ending for me. I am still as barren as ever.

Jelly thawed successfully, went through assisted hatching and was re-expanding nicely prior to transfer. But I never experienced any symptoms the entire two week wait, apart from extremely sore breasts which I was experiencing from the progesterone prior to transfer anyway. There was absolutely nothing to indicate implantation. Both times I’ve been pregnant in the past I’ve felt tugging, pulling, pinching etc. This time it felt like I’d never had a transfer at all. I had a gut feeling right from the start the cycle had failed. Can it stil be called mothers intuition when you aren’t technically a mother? Ha…ha…

So this is me. Here I am. A complete failure.

I am 27 years old and I have now failed 4 fully stimmed rounds of IVF and 2 FETs. I have never reached the point in a pregnancy where I’ve heard a heartbeat on an ultrasound. I have had 51 eggs collected, and only 6 of them have survived. Only 2 of them made it to the blastocyst stage. I have had all 6 transfered, but none have been successful. 0% success rate.

I went through a really low, dark period for a couple of weeks and so did Doug. I felt so lost and confused. I honestly couldn’t find any blogs on the internet written by young women who started fertility treatment when they were 25, had failed 6 cycles of IVF and still weren’t pregnant. All of the blogs I could find were happy stories, success stories; nobody fitting my description.The average number of cycles it takes to get a woman under 30 pregnant in Australia is two.

Two.

I can’t even pretend that I’m anywhere close to that point anymore. I am so far away from that point, I might as well be in another country. I can’t even remember my second cycle.

You know how cumultatively, your odds of success with IVF increase after each cycle? Statistics are different for every clinic, but maybe you have a 30% chance of having a baby after one cycle, a 45% chance after two cycles, 60% chance after three cycles, 75% chance after four cycles, 85% chance after five cycles and so on and so forth (those stats are completely made up for the sake of this blog post, but just go with me here). Each cycle you do brings you statistically closer to the cycle that is going to be successful for you.

But then you climb that percentage mountain, and hit the top. You’re standing at the summit. And then suddenly you find yourself on the other side of the mountain, climbing back down. On your fifth cycle your chance is 85%, but on your sixth cycle your chance drops to 60% and on your seventh cycle it falls again to 40%. Why? Because you are one of the unlucky ones who are way too broken to suceed. You are too infertile. So infertile, not even the doctors can assist you. You are beyond hope, and beyond help. You’re suddenly in that ‘too hard’ basket. You’re over the other side. You’re in that small group of women unlikely to ever conceive ever, ever, ever no matter what medical intervention is attempted.

And I’m afraid that’s me. Is that what I have become? I’m afraid the odds are against me now. I’ve reached the top of the mountain and now I’m climbing back down again. My chances are less now than they were a year ago.

I mean, I don’t know for sure. I don’t know how many cycles a 27 year old has to fail before she is statistically unlikely to ever have a child. But I’m worried I am that anomoly. Only a small percentage of women ever need IVF, a significantly smaller number are aged less than 30, and a terribly tiny group of them never succeed. Is that me? When I look into the mirror am I looking into the tired eyes of a young woman who will never achieve her dream of being a mother?

I’ve been seeing my therapist and she has been helping me. I told her I’ve been thinking about death a lot. Not death in the sense that I want to go out and drive my car into a tree or overdose on metformin (can you even do that? I suppose you can…) but I just mean that throughout the day these morbid thoughts pop into my head like “I just can’t do this anymore, it would be easier if I wasn’t here” or “I wish the ground would open up and swallow me” or “If someone told me this was my last day on Earth, I wouldn’t be sorry.” Just depressing thoughts like that. Thoughts that demonstrate I am simply tired, and frustrated, and worn down by my life. I’m certainly not suicidal, just feeling so down trodden. Does that make sense?

It’s been helpful just to have my therapist there. I can talk to her and I know she won’t judge me. She won’t tell me something hurtful like “Well Sadie there are people dying of cancer and I’m sure they’d love to have your problems” or “At least you have food on the table, there are children starving in Africa and that’s much worse than infertility.” She just listens to me.

The other day I sat down in her office and vented for about half an hour. She didn’t try to interrupt me or offer suggestions, she just let me blather about every little problem in my life and let me get it off my chest. I was speaking so fast I honestly don’t even know if she could understand me. But she told me I can call her anytime, and not to let myself get to the point where I am too desolate to be brought back.

We’ve discussed anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication, and she has told me she will support me whatever I decide to do. We’ve found a few that would fit with my current medications, and offer little risk to me if I was to ever fall pregnant. At the moment I don’t feel like I need them, but I’m glad I have her support if I ever get to that point.

I know that probably doesn’t make sense. How can I not need anti-depressants if I’m thinking about death? I can’t really explain it. I feel like I’m strong enough to push through this with the support of my family and my therapist. I am down, but I am not out yet. I am open to the idea of medication if I do get to the stage where I need it (previously I haven’t been receptive to it) and just knowing I have that option on the table now makes me feel more determined to get through this. I know if I feel like I can’t get back up, there is medication that can assist me when I need it. I am buoyed by that fact. Again, I’m not sure if I’m making sense…

I have also arranged for Doug to see a therapist. For the first time in almost three years he lost hope. He stopped believing we would ever have a child. He has been crying, and he never cries. He has been so stressed and upset he hasn’t been sleeping at night, and has muscle aches all over his body. It’s amazing to see the physical affect his depression has had. He’s even been running fevers. It’s especially shocking because Doug is normally so strong and stable. He’s my rock. I rely on him for support. It’s been hard knowing he isn’t coping either. I feel so responsible because my body is letting us both down.

Doug didn’t want to see my therapist because he was scared about a potential conflict of interest, but we both agreed he needed to see someone. My own therapist helped me find a male therapist for Doug who also deals specifically with infertility. This guy seems so great that when Doug phoned the reception to make an appointment, the actual therapist phoned back the next day to have a chat with Doug. They discussed his circumstances, and the therapist was super understanding and supportive. I saw an improvement in Doug after just one phone call, so I’m eagerly anticipating his first actual appointment.

We have also decided we are absolutely done with Doctor Holiday. She kept me waiting for over an hour for my transfer. That is two transfers in a row that I have had to wait over an hour with a full bladder. It’s just unacceptable.

This time it was so bad I was actually crying from the pain in my bladder, and could barely walk into the transfer room when my name was called. My mother, who had accompanied me to the transfer because my husband had to work, had to physically support me just to get me into the room. When I told Doctor Holiday, with tears in my eyes, that I couldn’t walk, she was very dismissive and told me I had to change into my hospital gown before she would even scan me to check if my bladder was over-full. That was the final straw.

I spent the second week of my two week wait researching new clinics, and setting up an appointment to see a new IVF specialist. When I called Doctor Holiday’s rooms to ask for my medical records, the nurse was very stand-offish and told me to go through my own records to find what was missing and only those missing documents would be provided to me.

But how will I know if something is missing, if it isn’t there? Does that not defy logic? I’ve had hundreds of tests and scans and procedures over the past few years. I’ve been admitted to hospital 7 times in the past 7 months alone. I’m not going to know if one set of test results is missing. Isn’t that obvious? Am I entitled to my own medical records? Apparently not.

Not knowing what else to do, and not having the energy to spend hours going through my huge stack of fertility papers, I went back and saw my GP. She is a very expensive women’s health GP so I don’t see her often. She charges $125 just for an appointment, so she certainly isn’t your run-of-the-mill GP.

I explained the situation to her and she so very kindly said she would piece together the important parts of my medical record that Doctor Holiday’s office had forwarded to her, and then send them on to my new doctor. Then when I went to pay for the appointment, I found out from the reception staff that the doctor had insisted on waiving the fee for my visit. I am so thankful for the kindness of the few individuals in my life who are helping instead of hindering. I was so very grateful to my GP.

Speaking of money, that’s a whole other blog post topic that I won’t get into now. We are running extremely low on funds now, and it’s one of the factors driving Doug’s depression. Six cycles of IVF have completely drained us of our life savings. We don’t know how we are even going to afford any more treatment at this point.

My parents are more than happy to lend us the money, but Doug is scared that if we do six more cycles we’ll then be $50,000 in debt and still not have a baby. Spending $50,000 of your own money on a faraway dream is different to spending $50,000 of someone elses.

The doctor said it’s a sad but true reality that older couples are much more financially stable and able to afford more treatment, but often it’s too late for them because they have diminished egg quality. Whereas younger couples are physically more likely to succeed, but don’t have the funds to do it. Nobody wins I guess.

I think I have rambled on for absolutely way too long. If you have read all the way to the end you get a gold star. For those of you who haven’t, here’s a handy summary:

1. My 6th cycle of IVF failed

2. I am seeing a therapist because I am sad

3. My husband is also seeing a therapist because he is sad

4. We have no monies left

5. We are going to see a new IVF specialist at a new clinic, because even though we have no savings we are still desperate and childless. And clearly insane.

I really want to say I’ll update again soon, but I’m making no guarantees. If I feel up to it I hope to tell you all how the appointment with my new specialist goes. I’m hoping for good news, but I rarely receive it so who knows…

Sadie xx

A boring summary of my 4th IVF cycle (part three!!!)

The embryologist phoned me to let me know I had been scheduled for a day 4 embryo tranfer.

I was prepared for this eventuality, and not happy with it. Neither was I planning to go ahead with it.

“Can I ask a question?” I interrupted her as she was discussing the time I needed to arrive at the hospital.

“Sure.” she said uneasily.

“Why am I having a day 4 transfer?”

“Um, well,” she started. “Unfortunately you had your egg pick-up on a Tuesday and that means a day 5 transfer would take place on a Sunday. And we don’t open on Sundays.”

Ah yes, but of course. Never mind what’s best for the patient who is paying thousands of dollars for treatment. The clinic doesn’t open on Sundays. Makes perfect sense.

“”But why am I having a day 4 transfer?” I asked, undeterred. “I mean the embryos are taken out of the incubator on days 1, 3 and 5 aren’t they?”

“Yes….” she said.

“So they were taken out on day 1 to check for fertilization.” I said. “Then they’ll be taken out on day 3 to check for progress, taken out on day 4 to pick the best embryos for transfer, taken out on day 5 to check them again and then taken out to freeze on day 6. What happens to embryos when they’re taken out of the incubator?”

“They’re placed under stress.” the embryologist said. “It has a very small impact on their quality.”

“Right.” I said, happy she was proving my point. “And you’re going to take my embryos out of the incubator four days in a row. That doesn’t seem like a good idea to me, unless you can definitively tell me that there’s evidence to suggest a day 4 transfer improves pregnancy rates compared to a day 3 transfer. Of course I want the best possible chance to get pregnant, but I’m also very mindful of our other embryos. I want to freeze as many as possible and give us as many chances as possible to succeed.”

“Well actually,” the embryologist said. “It’s much harder for us to pick the best embryo on day 4 than it is on day 3. On day 4 the embryos are going through a transition stage and it’s almost impossible to tell which ones will come out of it looking the best.”

“So you’re actually recommending I go with a day 3 transfer?” I asked.

“I’m not allowed to recommend one day over the other,” she said. “But between you and I, if I was you I’d be going with a day 3 transfer. Put two embryos back so you give yourself the best chance at pregnancy and also help your other embryos in the incubator at the same time.”

“Ok that’s great.” I said happily. “Let’s set that up.”

There was silence on the phone for a moment.

“You’re always so smart…” the embryologist suddenly said, in a faraway voice.

You guys, I think I’m getting a reputation at the clinic as someone who likes to interfere with my treatment plan. I don’t know whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing…

As it turns out, Doug wasn’t available to have time off work for my day 3 transfer so instead I elected to take my mother along. The transfer was to be at 11.45am on Friday morning, and it was going to be with Doctor Eventi. That same replacement doctor who had turned up half an hour late to my egg pick-up.

“This doctor is supposedly fantastic.” I explained to mum as she drove to the hospital. “But after my egg pick-up fiasco he has one last chance to prove himself. My own doctor isn’t anything to write home about, but I’m certainly not transferring to this doctor if he isn’t any better.”

My admission time was 11.30am, and my full bladder was just starting to become painful when we arrived at the clinic. The worst thing about embryo transfer, other than the nerves, is the fact you need to have a full bladder for the guided ultrasound. This time around I had stupidly polished off 150ml more water than I was supposed to. 150ml is no big deal unless you leave it sitting in your already full bladder for an hour.

At 12pm, fifteen minutes after my scheduled transfer time. a nurse came out to ask me how I was coping.

“My bladder is stinging, but I’m managing ok.” I said. “How far away is the doctor?”

“We aren’t sure. ” she admitted. “I’m sure he’ll be here soon.”

At 12.30pm, a huge 45 minutes after my scheduled transfer time, they started ringing the doctor’s phone but he wasn’t answering. I was furious. I couldn’t believe he was late again! And this time he was super late.

The embryologist came out and showed me photos of my embryos to save time. Of the seven embryos that had fertilized, we had a grade 1, a grade 2, three grade 3s and a grade 4 in the incubator. The grade 1 was perfect looking and actually developmentally quite ahead and sitting at the day 4 stage. The embryologist was very happy with it. The grade 2 embryo was nicely compacted and also right on schedule, but had some fragmentation. They were the two chosen for transfer.

“Don’t worry about your other embryos.” she said. “From memory last time you had a grade 3 embryo on day 3 and it ended up coming good and was frozen on day 6.”

“Yes that’s right.” I nodded, feeling confident.

At 12.45pm, an entire hour after my scheduled transfer time, the nurse took me into the theatre and started prepping me. She dressed me in one of those sexy backless hospital gowns and had me up on the table ready to go. She said there was nothing else they could do other than wait.

The pain in my bladder was so terrible that I was sure I was going to end up with a bladder infection, and I was concerned about my embryos who had already been prepped for transfer an hour ago.

“All I can say,” the nurse said. “Is that if you pee on the doctor during the transfer then it will be entirely his own fault for keeping you waiting!”

At 1.00pm the doctor strolled casually into the theatre.

“Oh hello!” he said. “You’re already all set up in here? How unusual!”

“Yes we’re trying to be quick.” the nurse said grumpily. “You haven’t been answering your phone.”

“My phone?” he said flippantly. “Oh I lost it.”

Well, great. The guy is an hour and fifteen minutes late while I’m sitting in the waiting room with a full bladder because he lost his phone. Happy days.

“Well Sadie,” he said, turning to me. “The other day at your egg pick-up I was late and you were very cross with me weren’t you?”

“Yes.” I agreed. “I was.”

I was honestly in so much shock I didn’t even have it in me to complain about the fact he was once again late.

“This is the first time we’re properly meeting isn’t it?” he asked.

“Yes.” I agreed again.

“But look at you! You’re just a baby!” he gasped. “How old are you?”

“I’m 27.” I replied.

“27 is too young for IVF!” he said. “Why do you need IVF?”

“I have endometriosis, PCOS, adenomyosis, hyperprolactinemia and blocked tubes.” I said through gritted teeth. “And this is my fourth cycle of IVF. I’m not a baby.”

After that I think he got the idea that I wasn’t really in a mood to chat so we got started with the procedure.

“I always have to remind Doctor Holiday that I have a long cervix so you need to use a longer speculum.” I told him as I lay back onto the bed with my legs in the stirrups.

He began with an internal examination and cleaned the crinone build-up out with saline. After that, we were ready for the transfer to begin.

“Actually I disagree.” he said. “You have a normal length cervix and we will use the normal length speculum.”

So he inserted the instrument and started opening my vagina. I have vaginismus so it was excrutiatingly painful, particularly with my over-full bladder. I was gripping my mother’s hand so tightly it was starting to turn purple. After a minute Doctor Eventi stopped and assessed his work.

“It looks like you were right Sadie.” he said. “We do need that longer speculum after all!”

Just like that! No concern for the pain I was in, or apology for the fact he had ignored my advice and now I was paying the price for it. The nurse rolled her eyes so violently I thought they were going to fall out of her head.

When Doctor Eventi finally got the second speculum in place, my body was starting to go into lockdown. My pelvic muscles were trying to shut up shop so desperately that even with the speculum holding me open he couldn’t get the catheter inside my uterus.

“Your internal organs seem to be resisting…” he frowned, pushing harder to try and get the catheter inside me.

In the end he had to go and get a different type of catheter and wash my cervix with saline again just to force his way inside. Then the two embryos were loaded into the catheter and ready for transfer. The nurse was scanning my belly so we could see a clear image of my uterus on the screen.

“Where is the catheter?” Doctor Eventi asked, looking at the ultrasound screen.

“What do you mean?” asked the nurse.

“I can’t see it in there. Where is it?” he frowned. “I’m going to poke it around and you just shout out if you can see it on the screen.”

Let me tell you if I hadn’t already been lying down I would have fallen over in shock. The man who I was trusting to get me pregnant, the man who was pocketing thousands of dollars of my hard earned savings, didn’t even know where the catherer was. He had apparently lost it in my uterus.

“There!” my mother said. “I see it in the top corner of the uterus.”

“Ah yes!” the doctor nodded. “Good work Sadie’s Mum. It looks like it’s in a pretty good position so I’m ready to insert the embryos now.”

I couldn’t believe it was up to my friggen mother to find the catheter for the doctor! And I couldn’t believe he was being so flippant about the whole thing. A pretty good position? You’d better be damn sure it was in the absolute perfect position if you’re playing with my health, my emotions and my bank account.

As he was completing the transfer, the doctor began to laugh. “These embryos look so healthy. What will you do if they both take? What will you do if one splits and you end up with triplets? You might get triplets you know!”

What kind of stupid question is that? If I get one baby I’ll be ecstatic. If I get two babies I’ll be completely over the moon. If I get three I’ll be completely freaked out, but also thankful. Did he expect me to say that I would selectively abort a baby if we had triplets? That I would adopt one out? I mean honestly what an idiotic thing to mention.

Thankfully, before I had the chance to say something biting or witty I was informed the procedure was over and I was allowed to get up and run to the bathroom. That was much more important than wasting time having a go at the doctor.

“Well congratulations and good luck!” the doctor said. “I’m sure you’ll do just fine because those embryos looked great.”

On the way home from the hospital I called Doug to let him know how everything had gone. He was completely furious with the treatment I had received, but also happy with the final result. We had two beautiful embryos on board, and four more still alive in the incubator who were going to bake for a few more days. Everything was falling into place.

“Doug what will we do if neither of these embryos implant, and none of the other embryos freeze?” I asked quietly.

“Don’t be silly.” my husband said. “That’s not even going to happen. You’re 27. Your embryos looked great. We’ll get many chances. We’ll get pregnant. This is going to be our year! I can feel it!”

If only wishing made it so…

(to be contined AGAIN….only one more part in this long-winded saga, I promise!)

(You can view Part One here)

(You can view Part Two here)

How to roast an infertile

A couple of days ago I did something both spontaneous and stupid.

I was browsing on the internet and counting down the minutes until 5pm Friday, so I could leave work and start my weekend. I clicked onto a popular site that is completely geared towards women. Think articles about cooking, celebrity gossip, fitness and most definitely raising kids. Even though heaps of the articles on the site are about babies, I usually feel comfortable enough ignoring them.

But not that day.

At the top of the home page was an article about how hard it is to be a stay-at-home mum. The title immediately flared both my curiousity and my anger, so I decided I had to click the link. Oh to go back in time and stop myself from reading that story…

The article was written by a journalist who had recently given birth to her first child. At the top of the page was a gorgeous professional photo of the author, with her hair and make-up perfect, cradling her baby. In the photograph she looked happy and contented.

But the article was completely different. It went on and on about how stay-at-home mothers are invisible. Nobody cares about them or pays attention to them. The author complained that all she got to do all day was sit at home and feed her baby, change her baby’s nappies and eat family sized blocks of chocolate. She lamented the fact that she had gone from a fast paced job to a hellish sea of nothing but babies.

She then admitted the only time of the day where anyone paid any attention to her was every afternoon when she took her baby out for a walk and everybody on the street stopped to admire and compliment her gorgeous daughter. On one such occasion while out for a stroll, a drunk man in a pub leered and wolf whistled at her, basically insinuating she was a MILF. She was apparently so incensed by his behaviour she decided to turn her life around, start eating healthier and think more positively.

I was completely taken aback by the article. I was glad that it had ended the way it had, with the author realising she wasn’t helping herself or her daughter by feeling sorry for herself. But I still couldn’t believe that she actually thought nobody cared about mothers with newborns, or that she was somehow a victim because she had to raise a small child.

And here’s where the stupid and spontaneous part comes into my story. You guys, I decided to write a comment
on the article.

I tried to be very diplomatic about it because I didn’t want to insult the author, the way I felt she had insulted me. So I explained that I had been through four failed IVF cycles, experienced pregnancy loss, and desperately yearned to be a mother. I told her I would happily lay down on the road and let a car run over me if it meant I could have a child, and I would gladly live in a ‘hellish sea of babies’.

But then I went on to say that I thought she looked like a great mum who was doing the best she could, and her daughter looked lovely and happy. I basically just wanted to remind her that she was very lucky and even when things are bad, that she should remember that she was blessed.

Feeling quite pleased with myself, I posted the comment anonymously and then carried on with the rest of my day. I thought my perspective might give the author, and other readers, something to think about. I thought I’d done a good thing.

Yesterday I happened to log back onto the website in search of a recipe for Christmas slice, and saw the article again. I wondered if anyone had left a comment under my own, so I clicked back into the story again.

Basically, all hell had broken loose. The internet mummies, who typically spend such a large part of their days nastily attacking each other and tearing each other down, had all united against me. I was an infertile in a sea of mothers. They’d sniffed me out immediately, and closed ranks against me. I did not belong. I was enemy number one.

A lot of the mothers told me I was horrid, and I had no right to say what I’d said. They told me to shut the hell up. They told me I was insensitive, uncaring, and it was people like me who caused postnatal depression. My lack of sympathy for the author was apparently grossly unethical and frightening. More than one commenter told me that someone dying of cancer would gladly lie down on the road and let a car run over them if it meant they could just be infertile, and there were lots of people out there with problems far worse than mine. It was suggested that if I was so sad about the fact I couldn’t have children, why didn’t I just adopt one. How dare I say something negative to a new mother who was struggling to come to terms with her new routine. How dare I suggest that her life was somehow easier than mine. It was pointed out that I was clearly mentally unwell.

At first I just stood there, with my ipad propped up on the kitchen bench, staring intensely at the words on the screen. You know that sensation when you slip and land on your tailbone, and all the wind is knocked out of your lungs? For a minute you can’t move or breathe and you’re consumed with pain? That’s akin to what I was feeling. Then I started to panic. And then I started to hyperventilate.

I was shocked by how nasty these strangers on the internet had been. Bullying hurts, even when it’s online. I hadn’t meant to insult anyone. I’d told the author she was a good mum and her baby was lovely. I hadn’t expected such a vitriolic reaction.

Suddenly all these thoughts started running through my head…

Why had I read that friggen article? Why had I commented on it? Why had I ventured out of my little infertile bloggers community, where I am safe and protected, and surrounded by women who understand me? Why did these people think I was trying to be insulting? Why did I think I was allowed to comment on an article in a parenting community, when I don’t have any children? Why was it clearly not okay for me to have a negative opinion of the author, but it was quite acceptable for all these women to have a negative view of me? I am a horrible person. I am selfish. Infertility is nothing compared to what others go through. I should take that advice and shut the hell up.

Then the rational side of my brain kicked in and I started to negate the stupid arguments these commenters had made.

First of all, nobody can directly cause postnatal depression. It’s brought on by a hormone and chemical imbalance in the brain, following pregnancy and childbirth. The author did not have postnatal, but even if she did I was not the cause of it. It was irresponsible of these women to suggest that.

Secondly, it is certainly understandable that new mothers struggle. They’re tired, confused and overwhelmed. If a new mother came to me seeking help or support I would gladly do everything I could for her. But this was not a new mother reaching out to her family and friends for help. This was an article on a large, popular website written by an award-winning journalist, carefully crafted to generate interest. The headline sucked you in! The author had written a controversial opinion piece. It was meant to be thought provoking. It had provoked a thought in me, so I had left a comment. Wasn’t I simply doing what the author wanted me to do when I voiced my own opinion?!

I wasn’t off-the-cuff leaving comments on the internet about how new mothers need to suck it up. I was commenting on an article about how tough new mothers have it compared to the rest of the human population. I was allowed my opinion on the article, and I didn’t see why I was being roasted for it.

Thirdly, I have never in my life said that I have it harder than people dying of cancer. That is a gross exaggeration of my opinion. If the article was written by someone dying of cancer, and I’d left a comment saying “Suck it up Buttercup, I’m infertile. Try that out for a day or two and see how you like it.” I would expect to be abused by everyone on the website.

But I was comparing having a child to childlessness. I was comparing two sides of a coin. This lady was basically pointing out how awful it is to be the mother of a young child, and I was counter pointing out that it’s even worse to not be the mother of a young child (when you badly want to be).

But comparing infertility and terminal cancer is like comparing apples and oranges. It was not what I had intended at all. Of course people dying of cancer have it much worse than me. I never said they didn’t! I’m not trying to say my problems are worse than anyone else’s. Am I making sense at all here?

Finally, I feel I should address the good old “why don’t you just adopt” throwaway condescending line from mothers who have never experienced infertility. Oh my gosh! You guys! I should just adopt! This never occured to me before now! How silly that I’ve been wasting my time and money on IVF! I can just go down to the shop and adopt a baby! It’s practically the same as adopting a stray dog from the RSPCA!

Never mind the fact that Australia has the lowest adoption rate in the developed world. Never mind that adoption here takes an average of nine years, once you even get onto the waiting list, and many couples “time out” because they get too old waiting to reach the top of the list. Never mind that I can afford to go through at least eight to ten cycles of IVF for the same price as adopting one child. All my problems are solved! Yippee!!

In all seriousness though, I just want to sincerely apologise. I genuinely never meant to offend anyone with the comment I left on that article. I feel like saying that, even here on my blog, will somehow get this weight off my chest. I didn’t mean to hurt the author, or anyone else who read my comment.

Maybe the others who commented didn’t mean to hurt me, although I suspect they did. Maybe my tears and sorrow were for nothing. But don’t worry, I have well and truly learned my lesson. I feel awful. I feel like a sub-human. I feel unworthy to breathe the same air as everyone else.

I will never, ever, ever step outside my blogging community again. I’ve noticed that some of the nastier comments have now been removed by moderators, but it’s too late to unsee what I have seen. I won’t try to give fertile people perspective. I see now that they really, honestly don’t want it. They will just resent me for trying. They don’t get it. They’ll never get it. They don’t want to get it. They don’t want to even try.

It’s two days until Christmas. That author will be celebrating her first Christmas with her new baby. Her first Christmas as a mother. I will be miserable, and barren, and alone. If anyone is angry at me for my comment on that article, maybe they can remember that fact and they will feel satisfied that I have served an adequate punishment for my words.

Now I’m going to push this whole incident out of my mind and try not to think of it again. Like the author, I want to turn this story around and end on a positive note.

So here’s three great things about being me, so I can remind myself that I’m lucky to be me:

1. Later this week I’ll be jetting off to Malayisa to enjoy my first overseas holiday. I’m so grateful.

2. Even though this is my last week in my job, I get to go back to another job next year. Sure, it’s less pay, but so many people are out of work at the moment. I’m so lucky to have a permanent position.

3. I have amazing friends and family who rally around me to support me all the time. I know not everyone has someone they can turn to when things get tough.

See, isn’t that a much nicer way to end a post? 🙂

A state of calamity

Two nights ago I had a complete meltdown.

It started in the afternoon, after my traumatising experience at the pathology collection centre. I’d suffered a mini anxiety attack in the middle of our city’s busiest mall because I couldn’t stop thinking about the man who took my blood excitedly announcing he was going to become a father on Christmas morning. I pictured the way he would share the news with his family. The imaginary scene played over and over again in my mind like a bad video clip on repeat, and I couldn’t seem to turn it off.

When I returned to work I was unable to complete any more tasks for the day, and instead just sat at my desk trying to keep myself composed and looking busy.

On the way home I stopped off in a nearby suburb to collect a large white photo frame that I had purchased on ebay. I stumbled across it quite accidentally on the site, and thought it would look great in our new master bedroom. I knocked on the seller’s door, and was greeted by a slim, blonde woman in her early 30s.

“Hi,” I said, offering a broad smile. “I’m here to collect the -”

“Shshshsh!” the woman interjected urgently. “I’ll need you to keep your voice down. I’ve just put my baby to sleep. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get babies to sleep?”

My eyes bulged in shock, but I said nothing further. I simply handed over the money and took the frame.

Did I know how to get a baby to sleep? Well yes, actually. I’ve put plenty of babies to sleep. In fact, my friends used to joke that I was the baby whisperer. It was all so different a few years ago when hardly anyone in my group of friends had babies. If there was a baby at a party or social function it would be happily passed around the group for all my friends to coo over. But as soon as it started crying, the baby would be thrust in my direction. My friends were terrified of crying infants, didn’t know how to change nappies, and didn’t want to learn. I was the only one in the group who was willing or able to provide care and comfort. Now it’s so different. Now half those friends have children of their own.

I was relieved to finally arrive home, but quickly realised my relief was to be short lived. Our floors are finally being polished upstairs, and our tiler has started working downstairs. The state of the house meant that we would have to spend the night at my parents’ place. I ducked inside to pick up some clothes and medication. On the way out, I checked the mail box. I was quite surprised to see a letter from my sister-in-law Jess.

I have mentioned in the past that Jess has been quite insensitive and hurtful this year, throughout her pregnancy and the birth of her second child. If you don’t remember you can read a few examples here and here.

I have also previously mentioned that after finding myself unable to cope with the constant baby photos on Facebook I deactivated my account about 7 weeks ago. What I didn’t mention was what happened shortly afterwards. It took Jess a few weeks to cotton onto the fact I no longer had a newsfeed to be clogged with photos of her new baby, so she kindly started texting me through photos that I could enjoy and keep. Yay. Just what I wanted.

“What’s next!” I had lamented to my husband. “Will she start sending me photos of her damn baby in the damn mail?”

But I will admit that I hadn’t actually believed that would happen. No one was that cruel.

So when I peeled open the envelope and pulled out a photo of my two year old niece and her new baby sister dressed in pink Santa hats I was completely stunned. Flipping the photo over, I saw my sister-in-law’s scrawl and the words ‘To Uncle Doug and Aunty Sadie, get ready for a pink Christmas! Love Layla and Amy’.

It took me another few seconds to work out the true meaning of the message – because Jess now had two girls and we had no children of our own, the entire family was going to celebrate a girly Christmas day. The entire day’s celebration was to revolve around Jess and her daughters. Of course.

I was absolutely fuming mad. Was that really the kind of shit I have to cop from someone in my own family, a couple of weeks after terminating an unviable pregnancy and less than a week before the due date of another failed pregnancy? The act was low, and unacceptably selfish.

When I arrived at my parents’ place I decided to try relaxing and watching a comedy movie. Doug was out with a mate for the evening, so I could choose whatever I wanted. Flipping through my parents’ dvd collection I came across ‘This is 40′ and decided it would be perfect. I enjoy Judd Apatow movies (yes I’m a sucker for lame humour) and had never seen it before.

The first half of the movie was pretty good and I chuckled along happily. Then came the part where the doctor surprised Leslie Mann by announcing she was accidentally pregnant at 40. Oh no. Oh, no no no.

Leslie reacted by sobbing, clawing at her face and neck, and wiping sweat from her brow. She was obviously horrified to hear the news. I quickly turned the movie off, realising I couldn’t even watch a comedy without being reminded of my failures as a human being.

When I headed out of the living room I saw that Doug had arrived, and sidled up for a hug. But as I moved towards him I realised straight away that he was angry at me.

“Did you just sit around all night watching television?” he demanded, seemingly ignoring the fact he had spent the evening at the driving range perfecting his golf swing. “You didn’t even bother to pick up some of my clothes from the house when you were there, and there’s no sheets on the bed in the spare room! It’s late! You could have put sheets on the bed hours ago! Now I’ll have to do it!”

I did feel really guilty, especially about the fact I’d picked up clothes for myself but not him when I was at our house. He had completely taken over domestic duties since I had my methotrexate shot. He had been doing all the cooking each night, washing the dishes and doing all the laundry. I could understand why he was angry that I hadn’t even been able to do this one thing for him. I hadn’t thought about him at all.

“I’m sorry.” I spluttered. “I don’t feel well.”

He rolled his eyes and stalked off to find some sheets. Feeling dejected, I headed into the bathroom and started stripping my clothes so that I could take a shower. Peeling off my underwear I noticed the blood immediately. My period had properly begun. Again. My third period in five weeks.

Suddenly I was howling. I went from calm to utterly hysterical in about 12 seconds, having completely lost the ability to control my emotions. There was nothing I could do to stop myself.

Doug rushed into the bathroom to find out what was wrong. I was sobbing so violently I could hardly speak.

“I just don’t feel well.” I managed to repeat.

“I know things are tough at the moment.” Doug said. “But if you don’t feel well why did you watch that movie? Why didn’t you just go to bed? How can I help you if you won’t help yourself? I don’t want to listen to your self-pity.”

That was all it took to send me completely over the edge.

“Get out.” I spat, turning on the shower. “Just get out.”

Without another word Doug left the bathroom and I stepped into the shower cubicle. I washed myself, then just let the hot water wash over my body as I shook and sobbed. Suddenly I could feel my chest tightening and before I even realised it I was having trouble breathing. I started gulping in big lungfuls of air, but I still didn’t feel like there was any oxygen in my body at all. I knew I was having a panic attack, but it felt like I was dying.

I hopped out of the shower, dried myself and wrapped my fluffy towel around my body, all the while gasping for breath. My gasps became quicker and quicker. My hands were on my chest and around my throat. Suddenly the room started spinning. I couldn’t breath. I just needed air. I was going to collapse if I didn’t start breathing. Why were none of my gasps pushing air into my lungs? Looking at myself in the mirror I saw that my skin had lost all of it’s colour, and my lips were turning blue.

I don’t remember how I started breathing again. I don’t remember Doug coming back into the bathroom, or how he calmed me down. But I know that he did. I remember him helping me sip water, dressing me in my pyjamas and putting me to bed.

Then he lay with me on the bed, in the dark, rolling me over so that my head was on his chest, his left arm wrapped around my back, his right arm around my shoulders and his legs locked over mine.

I knew he felt bad about the things he had said earlier. I realised that they had been blurted out in the heat of the moment, without knowing what I had been through already throughout the day. The last few weeks had been hard on both of us, and sometimes when people are worn out they snap. His careless remarks had simply been the straw that broke the camels back.

Doug rocked me gently as I continued to cry, telling me that it was okay to be upset. We stayed that way for forty-five minutes, my tears puddling onto my husband’s chest. Somehow I managed to drift off to sleep.

The next morning I awoke feeling like I’d been hit by a bus. It was almost as if my body had gone into some kind of shock. I was so slow getting dressed for work, missed the bus and ended up arriving half an hour late. Two different colleagues asked if I was okay, thinking I had the flu. One even suggested I go home, but I insisted I was fine.

The entire day I felt like I was on the verge of tears, even though those feelings of anxiety had dissipated. I had severe stomach cramps and indigestion type pains, despite not eating much of anything at all. I kept rushing to the bathroom thinking I was going to vomit, but instead I just dry heaved. I was a total wreck.

After work Doug met me in the city and we went to see a movie. We hadn’t had a date night since before we started our last cycle of IVF, and he was trying very hard to keep my mind off things and make me feel better. I shivered violently throughout almost the entire movie even though I was wearing a thick cardigan. Doug had both his arms wrapped around me, rubbing his hands up and down my biceps. It must have been so uncomfortable for him to stay in that position, leaning over the armrest that separated us, for a two and a half hour movie.

Last night I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow and I slept solidly until 11am this morning. I feel so much better today. I’ve kept some food down and my mental state seems to have stabilized. I still have a hormonal headache but I feel like a human being again. I’m incredibly tired and imagine I’ll probably sleep for another 12 hours tonight.

This has just been a really long, really hard year for me. I feel like all the shit in my life has been slowly building for the last few months and my panic attack was the climax. Now I’m hoping I can stay under the radar and just slip quietly into 2014. It would be really great if this year could just end now.

Two days ago I hit rock bottom. But I’m still here. I’m still surviving. I’m taking one breath at a time. I refuse to stay down. I will make it through this. I will.

Anti-D, Anti-Everything

Last week Shirley, one of the nurses at the clinic, phoned me and told me that I had to come in at 7am the next morning for a blood test and an anti-D injection.

For those who aren’t aware, Rhesus Immune Globulin (anti-d) is an injection that is used to prevent the immunological condition Rhesus disease. I need to get these injections because I am Rhesus negative but around 85% of the population is Rhesus positive, including my husband. When I am pregnant there’s a high chance my baby is also Rhesus positive like Doug, because most people are Rhesus positive and my babies already have a Rhesus positive parent. You all with me so far?

When the baby is on it’s way out of my body (either during miscarriage or labour – if I ever make it that far in a pregnancy!) there is a risk that a small number of the baby’s red blood cells can leak into my blood stream, allowing my body to develop antibodies against anything Rhesus positive entering my body in the future. If left untreated, during subsequent pregnancies if my baby is once again Rhesus positive my body may use those antibodies to attack and ‘remove’ it (yay!). Otherwise it can still cause lots of long-term problems for the baby including anaemia and jaundice. And nobody wants that. So basically I need to get an injection of anti-D to prevent this happening every time I miscarry and also at 28 weeks and 34 weeks pregnant (again, if I ever get that far in a pregnancy…).

The anti-d injection is produced from the blood of Australian Red Cross donors. I always find it fascinating when I’m injected with other people’s blood. Does that make me a weirdo? I know blood products from donors are also used to assist fertilization of eggs during IVF cycles and I’m also fascinated by that. I wonder if those donors have any idea they’re helping to create life rather than save life. When I imagine donating blood I see it going towards saving a car crash victim who is rushed into the hospital with an amputated leg and is bleeding out and close to death. I can see doctors running around the room and intubating the patient and shouting orders to each other. And I can hear the theme song to the television show ER. And I can see Doctor Green and Doctor Weaver, and definitely Doctor Ross. Oh hello, Doctor Ross. I have a fever would you like to do a full body examination? Oh…sorry…I think I just steered you all into one of my fantasies…

Back to the anti-d.

When I lost my first pregnancy in April I was with a large and impersonal clinic with unimpressive levels of patient care. I was never offered the anti-d injection, even though it should have been mandatory. Luckily when I was tested at my new clinic they found that Nemo’s blood cells had very kindly avoided my blood stream as he vacated the premises and I hadn’t developed anti-bodies. But I’d completely forgotten this time around that I would need an injection and was unpleasantly surprised to receive the phone call from the nurse.

Not only did I have to come in at 7am, I had to get another huge intra-muscular needle in my thigh. Why is it always in the damn thigh lately? And why always in the muscle? Give a girl a break.

After terminating the ectopic pregnancy I was looking forward to resting in the weeks coming up to Christmas. I was looking forward to not having to be up at the hospital most mornings before work for tests or scans or appointments or injections. I was trying to see the positive side to losing my little Peanut and/or Butters. But no! The inconveniences continued!

Five minutes after receiving the bad news, my phone rang again.

“Hi Sadie, it’s just Shirley again.” said the voice on the other end of the line. “We’ve changed our minds. Can you come in tomorrow at 7am for the blood test and then 7am the following day for the anti-d shot.”

Ugh. Seriously? Two days in a row? Just my luck.

“If the blood test comes back negative do I still need to get the shot?” I asked hopefully.

“Yes.” Shirley replied sternly. “And don’t forget the day after that you need to come in here for your first follow-up blood test following the methotrexate.”

Well…..damn. Apparently you can’t sleep in when you’re going through IVF, you can’t sleep in when you’re pregnant and you can’t sleep in when you’ve lost a pregnancy. You just can’t sleep in. At least not if you’re me. And I am me.

To be fair, the anti-d shot itself wasn’t too bad. It certainly wasn’t anywhere near as painful as the methotrexate. It sort of just felt like a regular FSH injection, except with a much bigger needle. I’m glad I had it done. Now I don’t have to worry about anything else going wrong next time we go through a cycle. Because let’s face it, not too much else can really go wrong for me at this point.

Now I’m just waiting for my next follow-up appointment with Doctor Vacation. Sorry, wait. I meant to say with Doctor B when she comes back from yet another holiday abroad. That will happen in the first week of December.

Now that everything is out of the way for this cycle, I can simply be “anti-everything” and just take a break from all the infertility stuff. At least for another couple of weeks. It feels so nice to just be away from it all. I can focus on other things now! I might even be able to catch up with a couple of friends for coffee and not bore them with fertility treatment talk. And I might even drink actual caffeinated coffee. I’m wild!

I can’t believe how positive I am being at the moment. I actually feel a little bit like a real human being!

You guys, I give it a week tops until I am back on here complaining about some other crisis or drama in my life.

A week.

And you let her go

I’m currently up at the hospital sitting in a comfy reclining chair in the oncology unit.

I came here to receive an intramuscular methotrexate injection to end my pregnancy of unknown location. They can’t pick it up on any scans because it is too small, but it’s clearly there somewhere. Most likely in my right tube, but we’ll never know for certain.

In the ward each patient gets their own little nook with a big green recliner, visitors chair, tv and little table, but we can all see each other which is a little confronting.

Everyone else here has cancer. Everyone else here is receiving chemotherapy. Everyone else here is potentially dying. I am here just to end an unviable yet persistent pregnancy. I feel like a massive fraud. I feel unworthy to sit amongst these people. They are the true faces of strength and bravery.

The nurses are so lovely. They keep asking everyone questions like “can I get you a warm blanket?” “can I get you a tea or coffee?” “can I get you a sandwich or some biscuits?”

I would love a cup of tea but I keep politely declining. I don’t feel entitled to consume this food or drink. This level of care is not for people like me, it’s for people going through life threatening illnesses.

Other than that I feel calm and unemotional. I know this is the right thing to do. I wish my husband was with me, but I am coping fine on my own. I don’t want to weep or scream, and I am able to joke with the nurses. I am doing okay.

A nurse approaches me and picks up my chart. She’s probably 40 years old with cropped blonde hair and a friendly smile.

“Oh golly intramuscular methotrexate! Yuk!” she says sympathetically.

“It’s fine, I’m doing IVF so I’m used to being injected and poked and prodded.” I reply, replicating her friendly smile.

“I have a close friend who did IVF!” she gushes. “She got 6 eggs and ended up with 2 children.”

“That’s nice.” I say, understanding that she’s trying to be positive and helpful.

“How many cycles have you done?” she asks.

“Four.” I tell her.

“Wow!” she gasps. “So how old are they?”

“Sorry? How old are what?” I ask, confused.

“Your kids.” she says. “Your IVF babies.”

My chest tightens and my stomach drops. I’m sitting in a recliner in a cancer ward waiting to get an injection of a chemotherapy drug to end a much wanted pregnancy, and a nurse is asking me how old my children are? Seriously?

“I have no children.” I say soberly. “All of my cycles have been failures.”

For a moment she is silent, then she brings her hand to her mouth in shock.

“I’ve just put my foot in my mouth haven’t I?? I’m so sorry! I shouldn’t have asked you that!” she says frantically.

At this particular moment in my life I really don’t need to be having this conversation, so I quickly try to shut it down.

“It’s fine.” I reply hastily. “What you said was pretty low on the insensitivity scale.”

But in my mind I’m not so calm. I’m actually boggled by the fact this registered nurse standing in front of me clearly believes each cycle of IVF is guaranteed to give you a child. What the actual fuck.

After apologizing a few more times the blonde nurse scurries away and is quickly replaced by a brunette.

“Ok I’ll be taking your vitals.” she says. “Can you hop on these scales for me?”

I nervously do as she asks and step onto the scales. I watch the digital reader dance between 75.50 and 76.20 before finally landing on exactly 76.00kg. After 10 days of daily exercise and extremely healthy eating I have lost a grand total of 0.00 grams. Yay me.

The nurse then takes my temperature, and checks my heart rate and blood pressure. She is extremely surprised to see my blood pressure is ‘text book perfect’ for my age and weight, particularly as the hospital environment tends to have a significant detrimental effect. I told you – I am cool as a cucumber.

After a boring discussion about drug side effects and after care, the nurse disappears. I am left alone for some time to watch tv, while the pharmacy downstairs prepares my dose. Morning television blows. I flick channels until I find Antiques Roadshow. I stare at the screen but I’m not absorbing what I am watching.

After 20 minutes a new nurse comes to see me, pushing a silver cart. She opens a draw at the bottom of the cart and pulls out scrubs, goggles and a mask.

“We have to fully suit up when we’re administering chemotherapy drugs.” she explains. “Even though you’re not getting actual chemo.”

I want to tell her I don’t really give a damn what she wears, but I remain silent and smiling. I know soon this will all be over.

The nurse draws the curtain so the patients around me can no longer see me, adjusts my recliner so I’m lying almost flat and lifts my dress to my hips. Then she cleans my thigh with an alcohol swab and turns back to her tray to prepare my needle. It’s a much bigger needle than I’m used to, but I am not afraid.

“Do you want me to warn you when I’m about to inject you?” she asks, the needle hovering inches above my skin.

“No.” I say decisively, closing my eyes. “Just jab me.”

Once I feel the initial sting as the needle touches my leg, I open my eyes to watch with interest as she pushes it down into my thigh muscle. She then draws up on the syringe before slowly injecting a yellow liquid into my body. She holds the needle in place for a few moments to make sure the contents has been fully administered. I am used to this process because it’s a regular step in self-administering FSH injections.

Almost immediately a searing pain starts moving across my thigh muscle and down into my lower leg.

“Wow that hurts!” I gasp.

“I’m so sorry,” the nurse says. “There’s nothing I can give you to help the pain.”

“It’s okay.” I assure her. “I’ve had far worse pain on a multitude of occasions.”

I am left to sit for a while to make sure I have no adverse reactions. The nurse goes off to let my doctor know the dose has been successfully given and I am told that soon I will be discharged.

At the moment I’m feeling incredibly nauseous but otherwise fine. I don’t feel overwhelming sadness or grief or anything at all really. Apart from the aching in my leg I feel like maybe I’ve just been at the doctor for a check-up, rather than to terminate a pregnancy. I am numb to it all.

After they let me leave I’m going in to work. The nurses were shocked when I told them, but honestly I don’t have much of a choice.

On Wednesday night I started bleeding out of the blue so I went up to the hospital to get tests, and also sent my inconsiderate boss a text message to let her know I wouldn’t be in on Thursday. She responded at midday the next day, informing me that since I was at the hospital she would expect me to provide a medical certificate to prove I was telling the truth about my whereabouts. Upon reading the message I simply burst into tears. What an awful thing to send someone when they’re going through a crisis. I’ve kept her really up-to-date with my IVF progress, even though I am not legally obliged to. How appalling that she chooses to treat me with such disdain.

I don’t know how the rules work in other countries, but in Australia all government departments, statutory authorities, bodies and entities strictly enforce a policy that only requires staff to produce a medical certificate when they have been on sick leave for three consecutive days. I was asking for one day of leave in dire circumstances and she just had no right to make me feel so awful.

All of last night I was much more anxious about calling in sick again today than I was about the methotrexate shot, even though my doctor gave me the medical certificate my boss had requested. In the end I decided it was just less stress to drive in to work after I’m discharged, so that’s what I’ll be doing.

Yesterday I was informed I will be getting weekly blood draws until my hcg level drops below 5, and then the doctor said we can start planning our next FET cycle, which is promising news.

Doctor B told me she is extremely reluctant to consider removing my Fallopian tubes at this stage because I am so young, and removal of the tubes leads to decreased blood flow to the ovaries and also the risk of lower quality eggs. But she did stress that if I keep having problems the option is not off the table. I’m satisfied with that for now, but still feel uneasy about my risks in the future.

I guess I’m just going to focus on taking it easy this weekend and trying to move forward with my life. There’s nothing else I can do.

Flicking television channels just now I landed on a music channel that was playing the Passenger song ‘Let her go’. This is the song I listened to over and over when I had my first loss in April. I can’t believe it’s playing now as I haven’t heard it for months, but it really is quite fitting.

Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low.
Only hate the road when you’re missing home.
Only know you love her when you let her go…
And you let her go.