Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Random musing #1

Um, hello.
So, like the blog equivalent of elevator muzak, I thought I would create a little linguistic waiting music of my own - to pass the time while we wait for somethiing IVF-y to happen.
How do I plan on doing that? Well, I'm glad you asked.
With some random musings, tonight about public toilets.
I must preface this by saying I am someone who spends too much time stressing about how many people have touched those ATM buttons, or that door handle or this petrol pump ... honestly I am not a germophobe (my three-second rule can sometimes blow out to, like, 10), but society has to have limits when it comes to yuckiness. Surely that is a UN law or something.

Toilets are on my mind today because I heard someone exit a cubicle of the work loos - and then walk straight out the door! Gone. No bypass trip to the basin, no tell-tale sound of running water or the squeak squeak of the soap dispensing its wonderful cleansing goodness or the satisfying rip of paper towel signifying a final ADIOS to those invisible bottom nasties - NOTHING!

It was all I could to to stifle the rising bile in my throat.

Why do people do that?? Once the incredulity had passed, relief took over and I thanked my lucky stars that I had made the choice many years ago to use said paper towel to open the main toilet door after I washed my hands. Sure some people look at me funny, but I won't be the one with gangrene, tinea and septicemic diarrhoea, ok?

You know what else just freaks me out? Those draught horse women. Have you heard of them? Are you one of them?

You are at the basin having done your thing and you are washing your hands (like NORMAL people) and someone comes in to go. They look nice, presentable, they might have great shoes or a fabulous bag or really shiny hair - "very elegant", you think. Then she disappears behind the cubicle door, the lock slides closed and before you know it, your ears are assaulted and you think 15 elephants are peeing into one tea cup. At once. You try to fight the instinct to run, because you fear the bowl is sure to overflow at any time, given the intensity of the stream; but you are somehow stuck still to the spot. Looking. Waiting. Watching those beautifully-shoed feet and waiting for the spillage to come bubbling out from under the door!

My other favourite game to play at work, where there are three cubicles in a row, is Toilet Block Stealth. You can't play it every time you are in there, because timing is crucial. Basically it can only happen if you are already in a cubicle, hidden, secret and unknown. The action really heats up if someone else walks in while you are sitting down. Then, the race is on to get out of the loo - properly, hands washed and everything - BEFORE the other person does.

Because you just know they are in there going "I wonder who that is, right next to me? Can I see their shoes? I can see the very edge of them, they look like Sally's. Is it Sally? Oh well, I will see her when I finish. We can have a good old catch-up". UH-UH - NO YOU CAN'T! I am GONE in a flash, and you will NEVER know. Mwoo-ha-ha.

Toilet Block Stealth.

And then there is the game we all play - each of us, once a month. It's called Let's Pretend I am Coughing Loudly Instead of Unwrapping a Tampon. Actually, I don't cough, I wait until someone flushes or turns the taps on and then rip the damn thing open in a dizzying blur of sound and motion. I have got it down to about 2.7 seconds. Some days I wish it was an Olympic sport because I know I could have a good crack at gold. Haha.
Why do we do that? Why? We're adults, we know we all get our period, it's not embarrassing.
But bigger than that question is this one: why in God's name are those things wrapped in such noisy packaging? And pads? Do NOT get me started? Let's have not one, not two, not three, but FOUR separate pieces of packaging you have to remove before you can use them - counting the outer wrap and the three labell-y things that cover the middle bit and the wings - you've got to have wings.
And that's just OPENING the damn things. I do not need to go into details about the ball-tearing sound they make when being removed from your knickers.

I'll tell you who designed them...the same person who designed choc top wrappers and the bags all the lollies at the movies come in.

A man.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Live a little

Sorry it's been a little while!
There will be a brief hiatus I suspect between now and a couple of weeks when I am due to have another embryo transfer.
In the meantime, I have resumed by love affair with coffee, red wine, Asahi, J and B scotch and Cooper's Pale Ale.
That makes me sound like an alcoholic...and I suppose I have been compared to the nun-like stance I took on all of the abovementioned these past four or so weeks.
And to my obstinate little mind, I kind of figure that I have done without for SO LONG, I deserve to make up for lost ground.
Like when you would do the 40-hour Famine...and bitch and moan about having nothing but 1357 barley sugars and more water than is medically advisable - and for what? The $13.75 your mum would end up coughing up because your "sponsors" never came through?
Nope, the only thing worth hanging in there for was the inevitable trip to Macca's, Sizzler or some such other fine dining establishment for what amounted to triple what you normally would eat in one sitting.
"Oh, I am STARVING" you would say...kind of missing the point of the whole thing...
So, if you will excuse me, the footy is on and my scotch needs more ice.
Talk soon!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Science speak

Ok, so I spoke to the IVF clinic scientist today who ran me through my freeze record.

What an inordinately bizarre sentence that was.

That's what my little list of chilly embryos is called apparently: a freeze record.
So, up until this afternoon when I had a 20-minute chat with the scientist, I had thought of those seven frozen embryos as fairly equal in vitality.
Now, I know a bit better.
Apparently the scientists grade them and the average is Grade Two (Three is the best, and rarely bestowed, the equivalent of a Nobel Peace Prize in embryo world).
They also then like to only freeze the ones that show a division of more than two cells, at least, by the time a few days have passed after fertilisation.
And mine are all Grade Twos...and among them are three two-cells, two three-cells, one four-cell and one five-cell.

They will thaw the five-cell first and then progress down the line, if need be.
See, the thing is, there is a 70-80% survival rate in the thawing process. That's a good stat, in my book.

Some do not continue to divide, some show some lacerations or irregular cell development...and it just doesn't work.
But the scientist did say the "vast majority" continue to divide. A good stat.
I asked her what the difference was between pregnancy success in fresh versus frozen embryo transfers.

Apparently for someone my age, there is a 40% chance of getting pregnant with a fresh embie, and a 30% chance if I go frozen.
But she did say that rate is always going to be less because the very best embies - the pick of the bunch - are put in first, and fresh. So, grain of salt.

Still, whether you're talking about 30 or 40%, it doesn't sound very high, does it? Bad, bad stat.
But despite the differences in success rates in fresh versus frozen, the fact is pregnancies do result from frozen transfers every year...all the time.

I finished off our informative conversation by telling her that perhaps it was an occupational hazard thing that demanded I be so questioning and over-informed (I'm a journalist).
And I do feel more reassured knowing more than I probably need to...perhaps.
Yes, I do.

The uncertainty was beginning to niggle.
Beginning to?
Who am I kidding.
It always has.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Here we go - round two

So, my teenage runaway showed up last night...a few hours after my last bewildered post, and I am no longer playing Where's My Period?
Actually it was almost as much of a thrill as finding out I was pregnant - you get to a stage where you cry out for any sign of certainty, regularity or rhythm from your body.
Something you can rely on.
Like a calendar or a clock. What on earth did they do before such fandangled things?
Well I know what they did, because I have been there for weeks: all at sea, vulnerable and uncertain.
So I rang the doc's office this morning and was told to book a blood test for another 14 days, to check that I'm ovulating.
Then we can try with another little embie!
It's kind of freaky that the process just keeps on rolling...I'm not sure if it is preferable to wait a month or two between transfers, or if it makes any difference at all.
And of course my blood test happens to be due on the May Day public holiday.
Do you have any idea how difficult it was finding a pathology lab that could take a bit of blood from my arm on that day??
Four phone calls and 40 minutes later, I have it sorted and thankfully will avoid a pointless commute to Brisbane. (That was the original option, before I realised all that was needed next was bloods so I could try to stay local).
Apparently if the results are A-ok, the second transfer can happen by the end of that week.
And apparently the embryos need to thaw for two days.
The receptionist at the doc's office just casually mentioned that, and my breath kind of caught in my throat.
I don't know, it sounds weird, doesn't it. Like you are popping some chops in the fridge to defrost before throwing them on the barbie...
A two-day thaw.
And isn't it just incredible that a little tiny life can start, and then presumably be paused by some icy hand...and then be allowed to start up again.
Like a wind-up toy that just needs another twist.
A remote-controlled car that needs a new battery.
A Scalectrix car that just needs a gentle nudge back on the tracks.
I feel differently about this next round of embies than the first one...for that reason, I think.
In my mind, because I don't quite understand it, I am worried that because they are frozen, they won't be as strong.
What amazing force is it that tells those little cells to get moving and dividing again?
I am worried the magic that triggers that force will have forgotten one, some, all of those little embies.
Ahh, there's my old friend Worry back again.
But as long as Worry's sparring partner Hope hangs around more often than my teenage runaway, we'll be right.
we'll be right.

Monday, April 19, 2010

No joy

So, what a surprise - not.
I did the second test this morning and it was negative.
I kind of knew it would be...well, I was as certain as you can be about these things, which is frankly not very.
Anyway, the bonus (and you've got to look for the positives wherever you can I reckon) is that meant I didn't need a blood test, and therefore avoided another needle.
I told T once that one blue line appeared once more and she said "oh, I was hoping it would be a miracle".
Of course, so was I, but it's almost like I have put that experience behind me already.
Like some kind of self-preservation tactic with a mantra that goes something like: I can't change the past, focus on the next goal, focus on the future.
And all the while I am so, so thankful for the fact that I have been allowed goals and future chances in the form of those seven little embryos currently sitting in their icy home in the middle of a lab in Brisbane.

So, in the meantime, I am having less and less fun playing "Where's My Period?" - the lesser known gift with purchase that came with the Where's Wally? books sold in Kazakhstan, Berlin and Chechnya during the 1992 Christmas sales.
I note that the countries chosen for this interesting marketing trial are not known for their senses of humour, which is probably the reason Where's My Period? did not take off around the world.
Bullshit, of course, but you've got to laugh, don't you? We all know the alternative just won't boil anyone's kettle.
I was joking with a friend today that my period is like some rebellious teenage runaway, most likely hiding out in some seedy back alley.
No phone calls, no texts, no email to let me know where it is or that it still even exists - and no indication at all that it even wants to show up.
It's been missing for a full week tomorrow.
Should I call the police?
Haha. I didn't sleep very well last night, can you tell?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Second time lucky?

Ok, T and I have talked about it.
There is a second pregnancy test sitting there idle in the pack. Right there in the bathroom cupboard. So, why not?
The thing is, I am more than a week (I think) late for my period...there has been no sign of it.
Although, you do wonder what impact all those crazy hormones artificially introduced to my body over the past six weeks have had. Of course they would probably screw with my other due date. Would they?
T is also saying I should get a blood test tomorrow regardless. I really don't know.
Maybe we should give it a bit longer...next Friday?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Um, so

I'm just going to come right out and say it.
The pregnancy test was negative.
As much as I stood there willing that second line to appear...it didn't.
Actually it did, but that was after, like, 15 minutes and that's what is supposed to happen to everyone.

God, it was devastating. Or maybe that's too strong a word. Disappointing, definitely.
I don't know, I've had a full day on the scariest, twistiest part of the rollercoaster - maybe I'm just at the jaded "I've got no more emotion left" stage of the evening.
I did the test at 5.50am, as soon as I got up - it was that early cos I had a business breakfast to get to. I stood there for a few minutes - again willing that second line into as much existence as I hoped little embie had.


So I deliberately covered it with the pamphlet and had a shower. That killed about seven minutes or so.
Then I ripped the pamphlet out of the way as soon as I got out of the shower, desperately hoping that second line was staring back at me.
It wasn't.
There's a reason that saying "my heart sank" is so common. Cliche or not, it actually happens.
My heart sank.
T kept popping her sleepy adorable head in and out of the bathroom to check on me, reassure me, re-read the instructions.
I didn't want to believe it...and I instantly thought of the blog post I had put up not 12 hours before about how I felt pregnant.
Obviously wishful thinking...
But then Jay stirred, I looked at the clock, realised make-up and clothes were an immediate necessity and life sort of went on.
I hurried into Jay first and have him an extra 15 strong hugs - he must have wondered what the hell was going on.
And that's when the tears started. Because I was right back to the time when T had done the test that showed up positive...and what a positive!
What a result! Here he is in my arms...and now I have to wait that bit longer until it happens to me.
But this disappointment is not something to dwell on, far from it.
The fact - and Lordy, as a journo, I am clinging to my facts at this point - is that we have seven more embryos in the freezer ready to go.
The fact is T did not have that luxury.
And the fact is it is impossible to stay cynical or depressed with a two-year-old in the house.

We were kicking the footy inside tonight, I know, not overly good parenting right there - but they are baby kicks, and he had that toddler chuckle thing happening every time I booted it to the door.
Each time he would race up and grab the ball, then bring it back to me, grinning.
Each time I would ask him if he wanted to kick it or throw it, and each time he would say "BB, BB".

On about the fourth or fifth time, he handed me the ball and I gestured back toward him.
"Jay?" I asked him.

And whether by some delightful Freudian slip or some deliberate act on his blessed little behalf, he said "no, mummy, mummy".

Now in our house so far there has been a clear distinction between mummy (T) and me (BB). We just figure it's easier that way - for now.
But tonight he called me mummy.
I don't know about you, but it was symbolic to me. My eyes welled up and I gave him yet another squeeze-the-life-out-of-you hugs, before kicking the footy to the door once more.
Moments that not only make you smile, they remind you that what you've already got is really quite spectacular.

We are so, so lucky.

The symbolic last tube of Crinone, left, and the pregnancy test (both unused for anti-yuk reasons)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Just breathe - 12 hours til pregnancy test

I've run it through my mind a thousand times.
I wake up and instantly feel butterflies like the ones you got as a kid on Christmas morning, or on the day of a flight overseas or when you start a new job.
Pure excitement.
Pure nerves.
I will urinate (spent a bit of time thinking about an appropriate word for that and decided to go with the clinical and rather sterile "urinate". Clearly sterile was the wrong word there, but my head is all over the place, alright?) into the cup.
That will be interesting and potentially quite funny as I will have just woken up and be attemping to line up what will doubtless be a cup of tiny circumference with, well, a hole of even tinier circumference.

Then I will place the stick in the cup for 10 seconds. And then I will most likely set the timer I will have grabbed in anticipation and count down from 2:00 minutes until the screen says 0:00.

In 120 seconds I will know.

I have spent all day believing I am pregnant. I am getting more and more people telling me that I would be unlikely to feel any physical symptoms this early AND I was due for my period about two days ago and haven't got it...AND I have had none of the bloating or bitchy moods that usually accompany the week before those little monthly delights. Well, certainly there has been no bloating. That I will swear to.

Surely they are all good signs?

Another reason tomorrow is such a red letter day is that it will be the last time (for now, potentially) that I have to inject, snort or shove some random medical chemical into my person.

There's been nasal spray, injections...and now the disarming concept of squeezing a gel called Crinone into my, well, you know.
That's right. Morning and night I twist the cap off the end of these little white plastic tubes, find a spot on the wall and think of England.
Let me tell you, it wasn't good for me and the earth didn't move as much as make me feel slightly nauseous.
But apparently it's all good for little embie...it contains a hormone or something that helps prepare the womb for pregnancy...I imagine it to be the soft furnishings and landscaping of a new home.
IE, the big gruff dirty builders come in and lay the foundation (ovary stimulation drugs), construct the frame and pop in some walls, windows and a roof - using the all-important Polyfilla (donor sperm, meet the egg) then the plumbers come in and put all the bathrooms and toilets in (embryo transfer). It looks pretty lonely right now...and not very lived in.
So a team of property stylists whizzes in and, hey presto, all of a sudden we have a stunning garden, some gorgeous curtains, rugs and cushions and some very special 1000thread count Egyptian cotton bed linen (Crinone). They take a long time (these creative types always do) and they work morning and night, squeezing every last ounce of effort out and up into the work site...

Here's hoping the finished property will win Home Of The Year...

Monday, April 12, 2010


Grrr, is it Thursday yet?
If one more person asks me how I'm feeling, I will scream!
It's all my own doing, of course, and everyone's interest is so so lovely, but I have been thinking that I wish I had kept it quiet.
I have been thinking of a friend of mine in high school actually.
She was so paranoid of failure and looking like an ass that she didn't tell anyone she was going for her driver's licence test.
Then, on the day, she actually got it - it ended up being a big surprise for everyone.
She had the Cheshire cat thing going on and we all thought she was amazing...

In our situation, everyone from close family to aquaintances at work know pretty much the minute and the hour that little embryo went in.
And, granted, I have been pretty forthcoming with all the details on this blog...
So, I can't turn back time, I can't change it...but I wonder if it adds to the worry levels.

What if something goes wrong? What if I don't get pregnant this time (sorry, broken record, I know)? I guess I have to focus on the thought that my open disclosure will mean I have a wider support net to draw on, a larger comforting blanket to wrap around me, if something...disappointing happens.

I keep asking T to rack her brains for how she felt at this time all those years ago. Did her belly ache, did her boobs hurt, did she feel sick...???

People are asking me how I feel, if I feel sick, if I am having cravings. Then I say no, because I feel really well and my normal old self. Then that makes me freak out a tiny bit inside.

Mums who have been before me are good at the follow-up soothe, saying "it's a bit early yet". And I cling to those words.

The pregnancy test is on the bathroom counter. I look at it every time I am in there and continue counting down the minutes until Thursday.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Worry worry worry

I started reading bits of What To Expect When You're Expecting and thank you Heidi whatever-your-name-is for writing in your introduction how common a perpetual state of worry is for a pregnant, or possibly-pregnant, women.

I am a worrier by nature anyway - to the point of neuroses, truly frightening visions and black thoughts, actually, but that's another therapy session.

So, add a pregancy into the cauldron of concern...then make it one that won't be certain until another seven days...and I can pretty much slice cheese with the furrows in my brow.

Mostly I worry that I don't feel anything at all right now. I read something that said morning sickness doesn't normally start until the sixth or seventh week, so that ruled out being temporarily overjoyed at vomiting the other day. Sadly, it was merely gastro...

I swear sometimes I have felt a slight twinge low in my belly, down on my left side. I've felt it about six times so far, and it's not like a pain or anything, but I am convinced it is the embryo planting its suckers into the lining of the uterus and latching on for dear life! Ha, wishful thinking.

I also read something that the embryo floats around for about four days before actually attaching...what a bizarre thought. Is it scared, worried where the hell it is and if its not-yet-formed feet will ever touch solid "ground"?

It's probably having a great time...like going on a last-fling cruise before settling down: literally.

I worry that it's already been absorbed away into nothingness, like the second emrbyo that was implanted into T alongside Jay did.
T felt nothing...it was a tiny speck of cells that simply stopped...being.
What if that's happened already? And what if that's why I feel as normal as I've always felt?

Now, that sort of talk is DEFINITELY NOT helping - but it clouds my mind sometimes. Lots of times.

I put my hand on my belly when I'm alone and try to feel a connection with that little bunch of cells...my little bunch of cells, our little embie.

Sometimes I have a wave of maternal warmth wash over me. Other times, it's like calling out to no one in a cold, empty church...

I keep trying to focus on the thought in the back of my mind that I will look back at this time and laugh at how ridiculous I was, worrying so much.

But you show me a parent who doesn't worry and I'll show you a Catholic priest officiating at a same-sex wedding...with Tony Abbott as best man!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I'm back like Jesus

Sorry about the brief hiatus - blame Jesus, Red Tulip and family.

Yes, Easter has been and gone and we had family visit, including a surprise trip from mum, which was a great shock! I mean a shock in a great way!
I have also just recovered from the most evil 24-hour gastro bug that Jay had, then passed to T who then shared with me.
And, no, there was honestly no connection between the vomiting and enormous consumption of Easter eggs - although I did eat about four tonne of home made hot cross buns...which Jay delightfully decided to call "BB buns". Not sure how he got "BB" from "hot cross", but he calls me BB, so it makes sense to me.

Nope, this was some nasty bug I think.
This time, though, it was more awful than ever. So violent was the vomiting, I was scared I would bring up little embie (embryo)!
Again, completely irrational.
In fact I am on quite sharp tenterhooks at the moment. Tomorrow will have been seven days since the transfer and I have one statistic rolling around in my mind.
60-70% of transfers result in a pregnancy...30-40% do not.

Some days the first number seems huge, more chance than I would ever need. But on other days, I dwell so much on the 40%...and the size of that number. Shit, I think some days, that's almost half. I have no chance!

So tomorrow is officially the half-way mark between the transfer and when we can do a pregnancy test. Half-way there...

In between times, I am trying not to stress about every single thing I eat and drink - although that is near impossible. One book says coffee and tea is fine - just limit the amount of sugar you take (sugar in tea or coffee? yuck); another says avoid caffeine at all costs, while yet another says no more than three cups a day.
Two books I read today praised the virtues of baked potatoes in their skins, and yet I saw someone supposedly knowledgeable on TV the other day cursing them.
Leftovers, no leftovers? Ham, or just leg ham? Herbal tea, which kinds?
Anyways, like the pamphlet I got after the transfer last week said, all the self-injecting, hormones, blood tests and drugs that have gone before pale into insignificance compared to the torture that is the waiting during this fortnight.