Testing out the trigger (and other stories)

I have read a lot about people testing out the hCG trigger injection. I suppose the point of this is to ascertain when you stop observing the presence of the injection and start observing hCG being produced by a living-embryo-and-placenta kind of situation. Obviously I was not expecting the latter but I felt like, as long as I was wasting money on an 8th round of IVF, I might as well do some science.

I had bought pregnancy tests on the cheap from ‘Fertility to Family’ (https://fertility2family.com.au/) and I needed to use them for something.

I took the 10 000 IU hCG injection on a Saturday night for my Monday morning egg collection. 10 000 IU is apparently equivalent to 250 μg and I have no idea why medical types can’t just say 250 μg. Mystery.

I’ve heard that you have to wait 14 days post trigger to do a pregnancy test to avoid a false positive. Given the results of my semi-scientific trial, I would say that, by 156 hours (6.5 days) post trigger, you won’t be getting much of a false negative signal (there is a faint line at 128 that doesn’t show up well in the photo below).

All the pee tests shown below were taken first thing in the morning and I *tried* to be about the same level of hydrated every day. Pee tests aren’t very scientifically robust :(.

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Testing out the 10 000 IU trigger. Labels show hours post trigger, ranging from 8 hours post trigger to 180 hours (7.5 days) post trigger.

Seems like waiting a week post trigger is plenty. Most clinics conduct their official pregnancy test 2 weeks post ovulation, or 16 days post trigger.

Anyway, I kept testing every bloody morning and getting a whole lot of nothing (not that there’d be any reason for a positive at that stage – pregnancy or not). Regardless, it made me feel pretty depressed. I was annoyed that they had wasted more than half my precious eggs. I was frustrated that there is absolutely nothing I could do about that (beyond tell them that I was pissed off that they had wasted my eggs and my money – which I did, multiple times…)

13 days post trigger, I did yet another early morning pee test which, again, gave a resounding negative. I put it on the table, got my breakfast, sat down, looked back at this damn test and there was a little barely-there nothing-much-to-see second line. I stared at it some more, turned on all the lights I could find and it was there. I compared it to yesterday’s test and the day before’s and it was there. I tilted it and squinted at it and gazed at it some more and it was still there.

I got to work and I googled, “does asparagus cause positive pregnancy test”, although, logically, I feel like I would have heard something about that earlier, if it was the case. Apparently I’m not the only one to have this question. The answer is “no – not at all” FYI.

So I actually was pregnant for the first time ever.

I decided not to tell anyone. Wifey’s last pregnancy was a chemical and I didn’t want to get her hopes up to have that happen again. I also felt that she should be the first to know, so I just kept it to myself.

I did a test the next morning and the line was darker. The next day, the line was darker again. That was Sunday and my official pregnancy test was on the Monday. I decided that I’d have to tell wifey. She had been hassling me about whether I had taken more tests and if I’d got a positive. The line was obviously getting darker so it seemed appropriate to tell her. The intention was to go to the shops and get a little gift basket for her and put a (proper, expensive and positive) pregnancy test in the bottom. I even bottled (and hid) my early morning pee so I could be sure that I had enough of the good stuff to turn another pregnancy test positive.

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“Honey, I got you a present!”

I went in to say goodbye to C (she was still in bed). Of course she starts asking me if I had taken a test, if I was going to take a test, what did the test say, etc? I tried to be non-committal and generally negative (I’m a terrible liar) but she kept pushing for an answer! In the end (being, as I said, a terrible liar) I couldn’t help smiling. The look of mingled shock and delight on her face was ADORABLE. I wish I had a picture. It was actually the same look she gave me when found her engagement ring in the bottom of a picnic basket or when I gave her a Fitbit for her birthday (she really liked that Fitbit…)

I kept doing a pee test every morning but, because I thought I’d better start drinking more, they got lighter – which freaked us out. Then they got darker.

On the Monday, I had my first official pregnancy blood test. The result was described as a “lovely pregnancy result” of 99 (mystery units?) hCG. hCG levels are supposed to double in very early pregnancy so, I imagine my blood hCG was around 50 on Sunday, 25 on Saturday and 10-15ish on Friday. Looks like even the cheap dodgy pregnancy tests can detect blood hCG at levels of 10ish in early morning (maybe slightly dehydrated) pee.

I had the next official pregnancy blood test on the Thursday afternoon and got the results call on the Friday. We were actually going to a wedding on that Friday. Darling wife was a bridesmaid so she was off early getting her makeup done while I sat at home stewing (having taken the day off months previously for the wedding). “At least if the numbers are going down I can get drunk for free tonight”, I consoled myself. Wifey kept messaging me during her hair-and-makeup-marathon to see if I’d heard anything. When I got the call, they were quite nonchalant. hCG was 419, which is good (the median for that stage is 421). Basically the message was, “Looks fine. Come for an ultrasound in a month.”

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Cheapo pregnancy tests ranging from first positive (top) at 9 days post ovulation and ‘3 weeks 4 days pregnant’ down to ‘4 weeks 6 days pregnant’ (bottom). What happened then? I ran out of pregnancy tests.

So here I was thinking the two week wait is shit and now it’s a four week wait.

 

 

Let’s get scammed #8

I have not felt much like writing about this but I suppose I should tell the story of our 8th IVF cycle. I’m going to be sneaky and back date it. In truth, I started writing this a few months ago and just didn’t have the emotional energy to finish it.

It’s a long one, encompassing 5 months of dealing with a new company and trying a new thing (and being slapped about by incompetence and patronising staff). Here is it:

After finally accepting that IVF Australia are nothing but cheating, lying, incompetent scum, we moved on to clinic #3, the very last option in our state.

Clinic #3 was Monash IVF. We hadn’t heard anything, good or bad, about them but it’s not like they could be worse than IVF Australia, right? They don’t seem to advertise and, until recently, we didn’t know they were an option.

I had decided this time also to choose a female doctor. There are two reasons for this:

1. I work in science and I know from experience that -in general- woman are not taken as seriously and, this, have to be better at their jobs to get to the same point in their careers as men. Sad but true. The plus side of this depressing fact is that by choosing a woman, you can almost guarantee that she’ll be more competent than a man at the same level. I’ll pick a more competent doctor, given the choice. I also chose a doctor who had herself gone through IVF, which does seem like very helpful experience.

2. There’s just something… arrogant… about a male gyno. From conversations I’ve had with those morons over the years, I’ve frequently thought, “you really don’t know that?” and “have you ever spoken to a female?”.

For example, when my wife had her miscarriage, the doctor advised her that she “could take 2 ibuprofen, if the pain was very bad”. Now, she takes at least 2 ibuprofen every few hours for the first few days of her period, normally. So I questioned this. Doctor seemed amazed that someone would take more than one ibuprofen for a regular period. I sat there thinking, “has this (allegedly great gynocologist) ever encountered a menstruating woman??” Even I, with the most mild period pain of every woman I have ever discussed this with, will pop 2 ibuprofen at the beginning of my period, just in case.

The same doctor couldn’t fathom that the effects of progesterone could be felt by my wife when I was taking it. Yep, women pick up on each others hormones. Easily. Frequently. I learnt that in lesbianism 101.

Suffice to say, I went to a female doctor. When I had the first appointment, she pretty much told me that, based on my medical history and age, I wouldn’t have any issue getting pregnant. So I told her how that had gone for me. Again, my extreme infertility is unheard of. I’ve had every test available and, it seems, every treatment available, except one.

The only one left to try was an ultra long down regulated cycle. Basically that means you go through menopause for 3 months and then do a cycle. Apparently it’s supposed to be the “cure” for endometriosis because your body can’t make uterine lining outside the uterus if it’s not making it inside the uterus. Now, allegedly, my endometriosis is gone, thanks to the probably redundant $8000 surgery I had. However, in the IVF cycle I had after the probably redundant surgery, it was only weeks after the surgery, meaning that the benefit of having eggs develop free of poisonous endometriosis for 3 months was not realised (thanks Dr #3!!).

This is the reason I got fed up with the last clinic. Not only did the timing negate the effectiveness of the surgery itself but its proximity to the surgery also meant that my ovaries produced a third of the eggs they usually do. Of course, I didn’t know this at the time so I got screwed over by yet another doctor.

Anyway, ultra long down reg it was. This involved going to the doctor to have an injection once a month for 3 months. All up the doctors visits plus drugs amounted to a little over $200. Not an unaffordable extra, which really makes me question why it was not presented as an option before now. There is no particular disadvantage to several months of menopause (fertility speaking).

I chose to do the down reg portion over summer as I was told menopause makes you depressed and I figured it was better to avoid the compounding effects of menopause depression and seasonal depression.

In the end, it didn’t make me depressed (any more than knowing I was wasting my time, money and life paying evil corporations to make me sick would make a person depressed). I wish someone had told me how great constant hot flushes are at the height of summer. Fun times.

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“At least I’m not *super* depressed.”

After 3 months of menopause, I did another round of poison injections. After 10 days of injections, they told me to stop because my follicles were developed enough. I told them that every time some idiot doctor had cut a cycle short before 12 days the majority of the eggs were too immature.

Did they listen to me?

LOL. How would I know a detail like that?!? When I tried to argue the point (because, let’s face it, I am the expert in how my body responds to IVF) the nurse offered that I could drive 3 hours (a 6 hour round trip) to have a blood test (can’t have them just anywhere) so that she could prove to me that she was right and I was wrong. Obviously, I declined this generous offer and just had to accept that they were going to waste most of my eggs.

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I’d like to thank the fine people at Monash IVF for this mess.

Sure enough, after egg collection (12 eggs), only 5 were deemed mature. This ratio is fairly typical after I’ve done 10 day cycles. In contrast, almost all my eggs are mature after 12 day cycles. They had my medical records. They chose to ignore this. Obviously they make more money the less successful they are.

5 mature eggs. 4 fertilised eggs. The doctor called me 2 days after the transfer to say, because they all looked so lousy and because I’m superinfertile, she’d like to transfer 1 embryo on day 3. Of course, I kicked up a fuss and insisted on 2 being transferred (can’t freeze them anyhow). I was a bit nervous about the prospect of a 3-day-transfer. I’ve never had one before and I am very aware that, in general, my embryos look great until day 4 when they all die. They’d probably all look the same at day 3. How would they choose the good ones?

Because of the short notice 3 day transfer, I had to drive the 3 hours up to Sydney on my own. I was a bit late, not accounting for Sydney peak hour hell, but I made it there in time.

In the end, of the 4, there were only 2 good ones. The other 2 had variable sized cells and fragmentation (neither of which are good). They didn’t make it to 5 days. Of the 2 that were good on day 3, one was a ‘pre-morula’ (i.e. between 3 and 4 days of development – good for only 3 days along) and one that was 10 cells (pre pre-morula but still a little advanced for 3 days – the average cell number for a 3-day embryo is 8 cells).

All in all, it was the same outcome as if I had have had a 5-day transfer. The same embryos would have been transferred (unless they died on day 4, of course).

After the transfer, I went to a dodgy looking acupuncture place and got (probably useless) acupuncture. It made me feel slightly less guilty about being so infertile, so that’s a plus. I bought a few groceries (fresh pineapple included, as it is apparently the customary food of the infertile) and drove home feeling sad and lonely.

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Pineapple: Food of my people.

That night, my beautiful wife arrived home from work and told me that she’d ordered our favourite take away and that it would arrive in 15 minutes. It’s a silly small detail but it just seemed to make the whole day better and I felt like everything was OK.

Episode 526, in which our heroines are found unworthy

Last week I received a call from the IVF Australia counselor, wanting to ‘check in’. Having no reason to object to being checked in on, I spoke to her. She told me the nurses had informed her that we were doing another cycle with ‘egg sharing’ and, apparently, ‘egg sharing’ requires us both to speak to a counselor.

OK. Sure. We were forced to go through ridiculous counselling sessions to access donor sperm (featuring thought provoking questions, like, “Would you tell your child it was conceived with donor sperm?” and “Do you mind that you don’t know the sperm donor?” As if my theoretical progeny isn’t going to get the memo that egg + sperm = baby, or that I haven’t understood what ‘anonymous donor’ means.) So, I figured it was another ridiculous box ticking exercise and played along.

Counselface said she’d be calling C in a couple of days to see how SHE felt. By then, we should have discussed to whom the theoretical embryos were going. (As if we hadn’t… see previous post). We had, of course, discussed it. We had reached an agreement on what would happen.

Between then and C’s ‘chat’ we didn’t have a lot of time to talk, so I told C to expect a call and not much else. Oops. Apparently THIS WAS A TEST! And, if we didn’t answer the stealthily disguised ‘assessment questions’ identically, we weren’t fit to participate in egg sharing, an arrangement we requested merely so that the idiot doctor could not justify throwing perfectly good embryos away. (They will only transfer 2 embryos maximum and sometimes, randomly, the doctor will only agree to transfer 1 – when you’re on your umpteeth IVF cycle, or are simply a rational person, you really do not want good embryos going in the bin). Solution = multiple embryos in multiple uteri. No brainer, right?

C had her chat. By the end of it, she was in tears, having been told, half way through an IVF cycle, that this self-important moron of a counselor, “Could not approve egg sharing at this time. You’ll have to freeze the embryos until we approve you.” C and I, and this shitty counselor know that our embryos cannot be frozen. Basically, she was saying that C would have to complete the cycle and NONE of the embryos could be used.

We are unworthy because we had different feelings and preferences which we were honest about. Because married couples need to have the same thoughts. Because the only couples who are worthy of having children never disagree and, thus, never have to make compromises on anything.

Ahem… what??

So, I have to be assessed by a psychologist to see if I am worthy of having my wife’s biological material placed in my uterus for the purpose of making OUR CHILD. Our mutual child.

I wonder, if I was a straight lady if I should have to be professionally assessed before making this choice. Would having my husband’s biological material placed in my uterus for the purpose of making OUR CHILD warrant assessment and intervention? LOL.

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Thanks to the makers of Orgalutran for this image of the happy couple. Presumably that weirdo lady is taking Orgal and having a great time. Weirdo.

Similarly, if C was a man/brimming with sperm, would she need to be cleared to put her biological material in her wife for the purpose of making OUR CHILD.

Nope, people can stick their biological material wherever they want, *unless* they are a couple of infertile, feeble minded dykes who can’t possibly make informed adult decisions without assistance.

Did we get approved? In the end, yes. We had a third Skype meeting in which we sat side by side repeating pre-rehearsed ‘happy committed couple’ phrases ad nauseum.

“We recognise the challenges of our choices and we will work together to solve any problem we come up against.” (Like the fertility bureaucracy, in which we are treated like moronic children.)

“We love each other and just want to bring a child into our family, however that happens.” (Noting that throwing away perfectly good embryos will not result in children.)

We realise we might have a range of feelings if the other gets pregnant, but we will work through them together.” (As if anyone’s getting pregnant from this IVF scam.)

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Few things make me sicker that having to spout disingenuous bullshittery.

— THE END —

 

P.S. We could have saved ourselves the trouble. C got 6 eggs, 4 mature, 1 fertilised. So, the 1 embryo, if it survives another 2 days, will go to C.

Will we get a baby out of IVF cycle #7? Oh hell no!

 

Anniversary Celebrations and IVF #7

An update before we start:

The 2 embryos transferred following IVF #6 did nothing but die. No one is surprised, least of all me, but I thought we’d better clear that up. As I said last post, I suspect endometriosis is a bullshit disease that doctors invented so that they could charge to cure it.

But, guess what?!? Today is our 2nd anniversary! Our 2nd anniversary of medically assisted baby making! What do we have to show for it?

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On our 2nd anniversary, we are celebrating: debt, destroyed relationships, demolished career plans, wasted youth, shattered lives, enhanced cynicism, etc

Even if this anniversary was worth celebrating, we are both too sick to. Chloe is in the middle of her 2nd IVF cycle (our 7th overall) and I am taking some crappo poison so that I can potentially get some of her embryos shoved up my cunt.

…And we both have the flu. It’s fun times in this household.

You might remember that on Chloe’s first IVF attempt, she got 2 5 day embryos of the same quality. They were morulas, not ideal but ‘OK’. The doctor refused to transfer both of them (because you really need to be cautious that you don’t give your extremely infertile patients too much of a chance at getting pregnant.) We had a bit of a fight about it but, of course, the person paying for the IVF (aka: me) gets no say whatsoever.

The one they did choose (at random) to transfer stuck for a few weeks and died. The spare went in the bin… which I am still furious about. Quite apart from the fiscal aspect of it, it is wildly unethical to dispose of what could be a human life. To deny 2 infertile people an embryo that they have gone through hell to get and could become their child is a severely fucked up move.

C decided she wanted to go with the same doctor for her second attempt. I despise the guy, but it’s her cunt and her choice what sort of human shitball she lets in there. So, at the negotiation meeting, we came with terms:

  1. If there is one embryo, it goes to C.
  2. If there are two embryos, one goes to C and one to me.
  3. If there are three embryos, two go to C and one to me.
  4. If there are three embryos, two go to C and two to me.

We have these in writing and the agreement recorded via audio. So, if an embryo gets wasted, I will be suing.

Of course, C has an AHM of 4 or 5 so the idea of getting 4 passable embryos is laughable. Getting 5 eggs total is pushing it. Still, the arrangement serves its purpose in that it protects against that horrendous doctor making more $$ out of our powerlessness.

About a week now until the human shitball rapes my wife. I will try to update. Wish us luck.

My bucket list and my incompetent progeny

Day 10:

I did manage to book that ‘scan’ but I opted for the only place nearby where you can book online, in order to avoid having to talk about it.

Ten follicles. Some not very big. There’ll be a few eggs. A few of them will fertilise and with any luck I won’t have to cart any stupid embryos around and have them die in my uterus.

It was 3pm before the very excited clinic nurse got back to me with the amazing and exciting news that, yes I’d be triggering tonight for a Friday collection and I’d need a blood test before the trigger. Now, Wednesday is an interesting day for me in that I work from 7am until 8.30pm with only a small 3.30-5.30 gap in which to inject myself with poison, get changed and drive across town to job number 2.

And now I had to fit ‘get a blood test’ into the mix. OK. I can do that. What time do I have to trigger? Either at 7, 7.30 or 8pm so I’d better take the trigger injection with me to work.

At my office job, that wouldn’t be an issue. But, just to make the whole situation more interesting, my second job involves supervising a bunch of university students through a lab class. Like, I’m supposed to be making sure they’re not spilling acid on themselves or impaling themselves with glassware. I’m also supervising the other supervisors and making sure everything doesn’t go to shit. But don’t worry, I’ll just run off and inject myself at a specific time during all that.

The excitable nurse found my plight exciting. Typical.

I left job 1 early, slapped on an appropriate outfit, speed-injected the day’s poison, placed the trigger in an esky with some ice packs and sped off to have a blood test.

Blood test done, I went to work feeling nauseous and being punched every so often by my useless ovaries. Despite this, it was one of the most organised lab classes I’ve ever run because I was absolutely determined to get them finished the lab component by 8pm so I could leave to inject myself. I did inject myself at the correct time in the toilet cubicle outside. So hygienic. But I’m a pro.

Hygienic injecting practices

Day 11:

Funny how your lofty aspirations can dwindle into shitty little goals. For me, the ‘have a baby’ goal became ‘get pregnant’ which has now become ‘make a pregnancy test appear positive’. I’m proud to say I have now ticked the latter off my bucket list. Yep. I managed to inject myself with a chemical and detect it in my urine the next morning (just).

Those faint lines are the closest I’ll ever get to actual pregnancy

Day 12:

Egg collection. Long story short, those 10 follicles yielded 4 eggs – the lowest I’ve ever had (my average is 10 eggs per cycle). 44 eggs have now been sacrificed to the IVF beast.

4 eggs, 3 mature, 3 fertilised with ICSI.

Day 15:

3 x 3 day embryos. Unsurprising. My embryos die on day 4 generally.

Day 17:

Transfer day. 2 of the 3 embryos are morulas. The other one is just a lump of shit. They should have progressed to being blastocysts by day 5. Hence, it seems to me that they are all useless lumps of shit.

Lump of shit embryo (bottom left) and ‘good’ embryo #1 (right)

They want to transfer one ‘good morula’ and the lump of shit. I insist that they transfer the 2 ‘good’ ones. They actually listen to me and I don’t have to make a scene.

Both ‘good’ 5 day morulas. That’s an oxymoron.

We go home. I’m feeling so sick from the new drugs I’m on that I spend the rest of the day in bed. New drugs, BTW, are prednisolone, clexane and aspirin, a combination designed to prevent my body from killing the little embryos. I doubt my filicidal body is the problem, however.

I can’t forget to take my aspirin with my clexane, since the box carries this helpful reminder

In summary:

The take home message here is: lack of endo doesn’t improve embryos. Some people, like me, just have bad eggs.

There’s not much modern medicine can do about bad eggs. IVF cannot help with bad eggs, although the common perception is the opposite. IVF helps fertile people. It helps fertile people with plumbing problems or people with hopeless sperm. It does nothing for anyone else, and yet it is touted as the infertility cure-all.

$45k I have spent ascertaining that I will never be pregnant. I don’t know the reason why and I never will.

Ugly crying and vaginal mucus

Pre-IVF 6, I’ve been pretty depressed because of the demon PMS tablets (great way to start another cycle – wasn’t feeling nearly shit enough about my horrible disaster-ball of a life). My wife and I are talking quite seriously about quitting our jobs, renting out our (newly renovated) sensible family home and moving to Melbourne, where all our fun, successful, child-free friends have moved. The unspoken *IF* in that resolution is, of course, *if I don’t get pregnant*.

Day 1: I went to the doctor about some sort of viral illness that I’d been suffering all weekend. I normally wouldn’t have bothered but I was paranoid that I had toxoplasmosis from the cat we recently adopted from my wife’s boss. The doctor didn’t seem too concerned, although I explained the imminent IVF situation. From his response, I don’t think he knew anything about IVF. I then realised I was being ridiculous, stressing over the well-being of a baby that doesn’t exist.

Day 2: My wife’s boss (the one that now has no cat) announced that she was pregnant. She had been infertile, allegedly. It happened naturally. My wife was devastated.

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Bosslady is unlikely to have toxoplasmosis.

Day 3: Spent the day sitting at my desk ugly-crying, wondering if my marriage was over because I don’t want kids and wifey is still obsessed with them. I told my boss I would probably be quitting my job soon as it was too depressing to stay in this no-hope town in our big family home since I can’t have kids.

I accidentally opened an email I had been avoiding, one about booking a ‘scan’ for next week. Of course it included a description of the kind of ‘scan’ they mean. Even just thinking about typing it makes my heart hammer in my chest and my eyes water so I’m just going to not, but maybe you can guess. Whatever. I almost rang up the clinic and told them I couldn’t book the scan so I had to cancel the cycle. I didn’t because I was crying to hard to talk on the phone to anyone.

That afternoon, I ran into the receptionist from my PhD days and word vomited my problems at her. It made me feel heaps better. I didn’t tell her about the current IVF cycle, though. I’m too embarrassed to tell anyone about that. I don’t need anyone else knowing what a phenomenal failure I am.

Day 4: I realised that I really truly don’t want kids. When I picture myself with a baby, I have the urge to punch it in its squishy helpless little face in retribution for ruining my life. I’m 29 now and I think those crazy biological urges to have kids are finally over. Probably shouldn’t be around kids, also, in case they get punched.

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Don’t tempt me, babies.

Day 5: I told a few of my Melbourne friends about our plans to move there. I spent an hour with one of my work friends discussing jobs I could apply for. She doesn’t understand why I’m waiting and not just applying for new jobs now. Neither do I, honestly. I can only put it down to the big *if* hanging over my head. *If* I get pregnant, I’ll be staying in my sensible dead-end job with its good pay and maternity leave in this friendless, funless town in our respectable family home. Sounds appealing, right? Why am I doing this, again?

 

I/we chose a sperm donor. There were 5 to choose from and they all sucked. I suspect they are the bottom-of-barrel sperm donors as they’re all ‘ICSI quality’, aka. ‘sperm so shit it can’t even get in an egg by itself, which is kinda the only purpose of sperm’. The donors also seem quite old, from what I can gather, although they won’t tell you their ages. Wifey said she didn’t care which I choose and I should surprise her. We have to pick 3 in case we don’t get the first 1 or 2 donors selected. With only 5 donors on offer in the first place, there is very little avenue for choice.

In the end, I preferenced a dude with green eyes and brown hair over the rest because my wife and I have green eyes and (naturally) brown hair and I suppose it’s easiest for a kid to look like both its parents, particularly when its parents look alike, right? He was also half Italian, like me, and Italian men are generally damn good looking, even if they do sound like dullards.

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Baby daddy: Some old Italian dude. 

 

My stupid ovaries are hurting like bitches and I look like I’m pregnant and my cute skirts don’t fit. Hoo-fucking-rah! What a fabulous decision this was!

Day 6: I forgot about the *one* *single* positive thing about IVF; epic vaginal mucus. I have been enjoying that the past couple of days. I am in constant abdominal pain and I’m now at the stage in the process where I have a constant migraine.

I went to a psychic today who told me if I keep doing this crap, I’ll eventually have a baby, but it probably isn’t worth it. I should quit my job and change my life and do things that I enjoy and be glad I dodged crappy life-ruining babies. Apparently, my life will sort itself out in my 30’s. I don’t really believe in that crap, but she was cheaper and more useful than my psychologist and it was totally worth it. I didn’t mention I was currently doing a cycle. I figured a psychic should know that, but she didn’t. Meh.

Extreme Excitement

It’s happening *again* and this shit show starts on my 29th birthday. On my 29th  birthday I stop taking the tablets that give me PMS and that should make my period arrive. I might even have a day of feeling OK to celebrate my birthday.

BONUS FACT: Chemical PMS has made me so angry that I broke my car door by slamming it. Haven’t told wifey. Totally didn’t know that was even a thing. I’m actually quite feeble since the surgery so it’s the last thing I was expecting.

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I honestly don’t know what happened, but it may have been something like this.

Yay! I’m starting on my birthday! How thrilling! My 28th birthday was embryo transfer #1, IVF cycle #2. That was a bust. The past year has been a bust.

99% chance the next month will be a bust too. YAY!!!

But, I digress. I got a call from a nurse last week. She was all peppy and upbeat and all that bullshit nurses are before they release you’re an old hat at this crap and they don’t need to pretend that you’re **going to have a cute widdle baby soon!!! OMG YASSS**

Because this was our first treatment at the new clinic, the nurses hadn’t gotten the memo about me being a cranky barren jaded bitch who does not want to hear their optimistic liar crap.

So, I got a call from a nurse last week. It was one of those upbeat calls where they tell you how *infinitely exciting* it is that you’ve started on your fertility journey with Dr X: Bullshit Fertility Shyster Extraordinaire.

Notice that a “fertility journey” isn’t really a journey. You probably won’t go anywhere except into a pool of debt. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get anything out of it… except that it’s invariably *exciting*. You will ruin your life… but you’ll be *incredibly excited* about the process.

Exciting
Thanks, IVF Australia. It sure is *exciting* when your staff are incompetent, your propaganda heteronormative and USELESS and your doctors more concerned with $$ than doing their jobs. (If only I understood my darn menstrual cycle!)

But, still, it’s refreshing to get the *exciting times* talk again. Just as it was refreshing to shut it down.

Big Kev
IVF nurses remind me of Big Kev. (International readers, Big Kev was an Australian weirdo who was very excited about cleaning products 20 years ago.)

I listened to the spiel. It was great. Those nurses would be great actors, I bet, because they do the talk with such conviction. *I* almost got excited about my fertility prospects. What an exhausting job they have!

“Yeah, look”, I said, when it had abated into a mild insistence that I take a day off work to travel for 6 hours to listen to some idiot nurse telling me how to inject myself with poison. “Can we forgo the part where you tell us how to use all the drugs? It’s just that this is our 6th IVF cycle and I guarantee we’ve heard it all before.”

As a new patient, I’m sure she expected me to be green as grass and *so excited about having a darling widdle cute baby !YAY PREGNANCY! OMG yass babYYYYY 😀 *.

She stopped rhapsodising about my forthcoming *extreme excitement* and simply said,

“Oh.” As in: “Oh. You’re fucked“.

“Oh.” As in: “Oh… 6 at your age… why are you even doing this? Are you crazy? You must be crazy.”

“Oh.” As in: “Oh. So you knew as well as I did that what’s about to happen is not in the least bit exciting so that whole charade was a waste of my time.”

I do wish this crap was over already. I rather just want to get started and get it over with, although I know wishing to be incredibly sick and to metaphorically flush money down the toilet is not something people traditionally look forward to.

But, perhaps, when it is over, I’ll have my answers. I’ll have satisfied my scientific mind with yet another experiment.

Aim: To analyse the impact of endometriosis on developing eggs and embryos.

Hypothesis: Regardless of the presence/absence of endometriosis, I am infertile AF.

I am SO EXCITED for the conclusion.

 

Next Stop: The Health Care Complaints Commission

Every time I tell someone about my experiences with IVF Australia and, more specifically, with doctor #1 (a.k.a Dr Douchbag), they have been incredulous. How can a doctor be that hopeless? That completely ignorant of the ramifications of his incompetence?

During our 6 month wait for donor sperm, (ex)friends (who turned out to be uberfertile, thus necessitating the discontinuation of the friendship, see TBH, I do hate uberfertiles) were going through the process at the same clinic (although, luckily for them, with another doctor). They were surprised that we had effectively been told to fuck off for 6 months. Their doctor had commissioned further tests like fallopian tube blockages (kinda relevant if you’re told you’re doing IUI) and had ordered fertility testing for both members of the partnership. Why not, when you’re waiting up to 10 months for sperm.

At the time, I believed there was nothing wrong with me, so I didn’t make a fuss. I just thought everything would be fine, although the complete lack of attention did strike me as odd.

I should have seen the warning signs. But, I just thought doctors knew what they were doing.

(What an idiot, right?)

I believe
My attitude to doctors, back when I was an innocent young fool.

A few months ago, a lawyer friend to whom I tearfully (and very drunkenly – no way I will talk about this shit otherwise) opened up to about this hell exclaimed,

“Oh my God! If you want to sue them, I’ll help you!”

(Lawyers, right?)

I reluctantly rehashed the experience to my psychologist who immediately recommended I make a formal complaint to the Health Care Complaints Commission.

So, that is what I am trying to do.

No one should have to go through what we went through. Furthermore, no queer couples should have to go through what we went through and I do firmly believe that has been a part of it. I honestly don’t think we would have been treated like this if we were a heterosexual couple. I don’t think doctor #1 had any interest in helping us get pregnant. A lot of his behavior was beyond ambivalent and was downright hinderous.

We should have been given our medical results. My concerns should have been taken seriously. Every other doctor we encountered seemed to see there was something very wrong. The more I read about others’ experiences in this, the more unfathomable it is to me that a doctor could tell a 27-year-old that after 3 IVF cycles, altogether yielding a *total* of one (pretty poor) blastocyst, that “there’s nothing wrong – do another cycle”.

What. The. Actual. Fuck?

Two weeks ago, I was reduced to tears after fighting IVF Australia for my medical records (and being denied them – no surprises there).

Last week, I cried my way through 2kg of IVF paperwork, looking for written proof of my story. They don’t like to give you much to go on. They don’t want any irrefutable evidence of their culpability. So, in addition to the buried memories that stack of paper unearthed, the exercise stirred a pesky voice that whispered:

“No one will believe you. You can’t fight them. They’re bigger than you.”

“Why did you ever trust them? You brought this on yourself. If you hadn’t have been so naive, they wouldn’t have taken advantage of you.”

WP_20180507_17_40_12_Pro.jpg
I’m not even exaggerating. It is 2kg. I weighed it. One day it will make a nice bonfire.

I can’t help but think that this is all my fault. Although physically, I now have a medical condition (endometriosis) to blame my barrenness on, I blame myself for my lack of action. Perhaps I should have stormed into the doctor’s office and demanded the results of my tests and then researched what the hell they all meant. What if I had called bullshit sooner and stopped blindly going along with more and more and more IVF? What if we had gone to two fertility clinics simultaneously, then maybe one of them would have been competent.

I don’t know how I am going to get through this, but what choice do I have? It’s not fair that I have to spend my days reliving this horrible experience. I never deserved it in the first place. It’s not fair, but the alternative is to lie down and take it and I WILL NOT be doing that, even if it kills me.

Some days I can’t believe it hasn’t.

For further reading on this thrilling topic, see my 2017 complaint to IVF Australia here:

One Year of TTC

Bad Hope

Here are the facts:

  • I’ve had the offensive parts of my insides peeled off.
  • Medically, I *should* be fertile (sure haven’t heard that shit from doctors before).
  • I’m expected to do that fucking IVF crap again.
giphy (1)
So now I’m fertile, am I?

Had the answer been the same shit, again:

*blah blah blah* *perfect health* *blah blah blah* *should be able to get pregnant* *peak fertility* *blah blah blah*

… there would have been an end. There would have been a closed door. I’m healthy, I’m infertile, and this is the end of the story. At least I have my health.

Ironically, the fact was that I was not completely healthy. Now that, apparently, I am, further medical intervention is sensible.

Sensible. Another life destroying, money wasting nightmare is a sensible choice for my wife and I.

A sixth fucking round of IVF is apparently sensible.

The one thing this crap is not is sensible.

This morning I was considering the topic of this post. These recent events have left me with a corrosive feeling in the pit of my stomach, and the only name I can find for it is hope.

Hope?

Hope is the wrong word for it, though, because hope implies something positive. Hope implies optimism and cheerfulness. This is not that. But what can you call poison hope like this? It’s a hope that feeds an addiction. It’s hope that drives to destruction. It’s the hope of a substance abuser that just a bit more of _____ will make everything better. Or the hope of a problem gambler that today has got to be a lucky day. It’s the hope of denial and it’s very bad hope.

Hope-is-being-able-to-see-that-there-is-light-despite-all-of-the-darkness.-Desmond-Tutu.jpg
Wisdom is knowing that the light is actually your house burning down.

It’s the force that drives us to do a 6th IVF cycle, even when we know deep down that it will just make things a lot worse. It will open up a half closed wound that grows more tender with every opening, and takes longer to heal. What drives people to do 10 or 20 rounds of IVF? Not common sense. Addiction and bad, toxic hope, that’s what.

My nerves rankle as I watch myself heedlessly shovel money into the pockets of fertility shysters. I know it is an addiction and I know it is time to stop. But… I’m twenty-fucking-eight. I have more than a decade left of watching people my age have kids. I’m twenty-fucking-eight and most of my friends haven’t started trying for kids. The unfairness of the situation drives the addiction as well. How can we give up yet? Sure, it’s been almost two years of fertility treatment. Sure, it’s been 5 rounds of IVF.

But what if the next time is different?

I could ramble on ceaselessly about fertility addiction and my experience with it, and about the bad hope propelling us towards cycle 6. However, I recommend this blog post; Child at heart: A brief look at ‘IVF addiction’  as a very good summary of various views on the topic and a source of further reading. I really couldn’t have said it better myself.

To quote a quote (I feel like a lazy undergrad) from the blog:

“If someone told you that you should bet $12,000, $15,000, even $20,000 on a horse that has a 5% or less chance of winning the race, you’d tell them to get lost, that’s crazy…Yet, IVF patients that go in for multiple rounds of IVF, beyond two or three are doing exactly that. Most clinics have pulled out all the stops, applied all the tricks they know by the third IVF cycle. If it still isn’t working, either the clinic is incompetent or IVF is not the right solution for that patient”.

And here we are on number 6. FML.

The Endo

The surgery started at 12.15pm so, when I woke up at 3.15pm, I FELT LIKE I’D WON THE FUCKING LOTTERY! Whatever had happened, it was not nothing!

All that the recovery nurses could tell me was that it went well and that I would definitely be spending the night in hospital. Doctor #3 had left by then but he had called my mother and my wife to let them know what had happened. Hence, my mother was able to fill me in a few hours later. Apparently, there is nothing wrong with any of my organs. Ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes are all textbook perfect. It took 2 hours to ‘peel’ (direct quote) off all the endometriosis.

endometrosis before after
Looking heaps better (don’t even ask me what that after shot is supposed to be… a steak?)

I didn’t cry then but, later, when I was alone, I did.

I had to go through all this to be diagnosed with something as common and well known as endometriosis. 2 years of being told that there’s nothing wrong with me, and then to just do another IVF cycle, and then that my eggs were just too bad to ever have a baby. Two years and two IVF clinics and 3 fertility specialists before anyone suggested to me that I might have endometriosis.

I don’t care if I never have kids. There’s no guarantee that this is the solution and, I feel that I have finally resigned myself to infertility. But, at least I know it wasn’t all my fault. I did all I could. I went to doctors, I listened to them, I did what they said. I did useless IVF again and again and again. I destroyed my life doing it.

If only someone could have said to me, ‘maybe you have endometriosis.’

If only I knew that endo is not just a disease of people with heavy problematic periods and intense pain every month. What if one of those doctors had told me that people with short, painless periods like myself might also have bad endometriosis?

I don’t really care what happens now. I might care later, maybe. For now, I am simply glad to know that it wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t all my fault that I could never make any babies.

I feel relieved to finally know and comforted to be free of some of the crushing guilt.

I guess it was worth it?