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.

woman with eye makeup
“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.

pink and green pineapple
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.

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.

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.

animal kitten cat pet
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.”

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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.
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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.

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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.

Money, money, money

Over the course of this disgusting experience, I have lost track of the value of money. Having spent $50k to completely ruin my life, my physical health, my mental health, my career, my relationships with friends and family… any amount of expenditure that brings me any level of joy seems very legitimate.

$50 for a bottle of wine? No problem!

$200 for a fancy dinner? Beats IVF. Hands down.

$500 for a weekend getaway? Bargain!!!

$3000 for surgery which is probably entirely useless? (E.g. my upcoming exploratory laparoscopic adventure). That’s like a third of the price of an entirely useless IVF cycle, and far less time consuming. What fun!

I’m not even being sarcastic. I’m looking forward to it, because, honestly, the best that I can expect from life is a day off work to have useless surgery.

10 years ago, I baulked at paying over $100 a week in rent. (Those were the good old days.) Now, I am legitimately happy to spend thousands of dollars on bullshit surgery just because it’s more fun than work… or because I feel like knowing if there are hordes of free range endometrial tissue roaming though my abdomen.

IVF promises to make me poor in many indirect ways.

Waiting for Endo

In 5 days, I am having laparoscopic surgery to ascertain whether my faulty body has thwarted my attempts at pregnancy. Thus, I really hope I have severe asymptomatic endometriosis because at least then, I can have an answer. I can be told, ‘this is why you can’t have kids.’ I can understand why this has happened to me. I can give it a name and I can move on.

Two years ago, I can’t imagine hoping for a medical condition like I am now. Now I’m imagining the worst-case scenario as waking up from surgery and being told, “There’s nothing wrong with you. There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be able to get pregnant.”

And that shit is getting real OLD.

Can you imagine, spending thousands of dollars on exploratory surgery just to find out that, as you have been told hundreds of times before, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU?

I can. In less than a week, it will probably be my reality.

I am, most likely, physically healthy in every way.

The thought is depressing AF.

Infertility Showers: The awkward new trend

My wife and I were invited to a baby shower last year. It was to take place during IVF cycle #5. Throughout IVF cycle #4, I thought to myself,

“If I get pregnant, I might have the strength to go to this stupid baby shower.”

I used to LOVE baby showers. I don’t know why, but I did. I used to want a baby shower. I attribute this to being an inherently selfish bitch. The hosts of the baby shower were a couple I had known singularly for over 10 years and who met 8 years ago at one of my birthday parties. It would have been appropriate for us to go. It would even have been appropriate for me to invent some great excuse as to why we could not attend. In the end, I did neither of those things. My wife and I simply stayed home.

My wife, the fair minded, socially capable angel that she is, tried to encourage action on the baby shower issue. This ultimately led to an argument which concluded with me storming out asserting,

“I am not going to another baby shower until I get the most epic infertility shower the world has ever seen!”

“You CANNOT have an infertility shower,” my wife tells me. Underlying this is the pervasive idea that it is embarrassing to acknowledge infertility and certainly in bad taste to celebrate it. It’s like an ‘I-can’t-find-a-partner’ party or an ‘I-got-fired’ party (I have been to the latter BTW and it was perfectly enjoyable). People don’t know how to acknowledge and celebrate things that aren’t socially accepted triumphs. Do you need sympathy or what? You can’t do normal stuff. You’re deficient and now I’m supposed to rejoice in it? How?

Forgetting the invitees for a moment, let’s weigh up the facts, shall we?

Infertile women have, most likely, sacrificed their:

  1. Money
  2. Career progression
  3. Emotional energy
  4. Physical health and well-being
  5. Mental health and well-being
  6. Time

… in the pursuit of fertility.

Infertile women also have to deal with:

  1. People asking them when they’re going to have kids.
  2. Almost every woman they meet waxing lyrical on the stupendous greatness of being a mum.
  3. Almost every woman centric nugget of media portraying motherhood as the only real option for womanly fulfillment.
  4. People offering hot tips on how it really is possible to get pregnant, how they/their mate/some random stranger overcame infertility.
  5. Family lamenting a lack of grandchildren/nieces/nephews/cousins and having nothing to give them.
  6. Almost every friend you ever had popping out kids and posting about it on all the social media platforms they can access with absolutely no consideration of how phenomenally privileged they were to have sex and get a free bonus baby.

After all this. After all the shit infertile people have to go through… WE DON’T EVEN GET TO HAVE A PARTY THAT’S JUST IN HONOUR OF US!?!?!?

BECAUSE IT’S AWKWARD FOR OTHER PEOPLE!?!?!

?!?!?!??!?!?

How is that fair?

Pregnant women get showered with gifts and attention and paid maternity leave and those poor fucks who have spent their life savings on some useless fertility treatment bullshit get nothing? Nothing? Nothing.

(We’re especially precluded from one of those screaming, shitting, drooling booby prizes.)

So, I say, bring on infertility showers as the new awkward 21st century trend. Bring me gifts of wine and beer and lovely grown up pretty things that children would destroy. Bring me potting mix and pot brownies. Bring me tens of thousands of dollars in cash and I’ll put it towards recouping the money I spent on infertility.

We’ll eat unpasteurised dairy products, unwashed salad, we’ll gorge ourselves on grog from bottles infused with BPAs and we’ll have an bloody excellent, child-free time.

Who’s with me?

 

 

“For a 28-year-old to have had 4 IVF cycles and no freezable embryos is unheard of” and other things doctors say

“For a 28-year-old to have had 4 IVF cycles and no freezable embryos is unheard of,” says doctor #3 to me this afternoon.

He’s heard of it now, though, as have I and, if you’re reading this, so have you.

Am I really the only one or is he just trying to make me feel like a special snowflake? I don’t mind being a special snowflake. I suppose if I HAVE to be a medical oddity, being the amazing-late-twenties-lady-with-nothing-wrong-with-her-but-who-absolutely-can’t-get-pregnant isn’t the worst option. It’s surely better than the lady-in-a-coma-for-no-reason or guy-with-the-mystery-flesh-eating-virus.

I might, however, had I been given the option, opt for an illness that did not require me to spend $50k on revealing myself to be a medical oddity. I bet guy-with-the-mystery-flesh-eating-virus didn’t have to do that. Lucky rich bastard.

Maybe, given that I am such a miraculous medical oddity I’ll get journal articles written about me and I can weasel my way into being one of the minor authors on the paper. Then, being that the article is about the misadventures of a true maverick of infertility, it will be vehemently cited and my h-index will skyrocket and set up my academic career for future credibility and, thus, greatness. Or something.

Dr 3 also tells me that, given my past monumental failure in the field of fertility, there is a 70% chance I have asymptomatic undiagnosed endometriosis.  Neither of the first 2 doctors have considered the possibility of endometriosis so it seems strange to me that Dr 3 thinks this has such a high probability.

Dr 1: “Only 20% of IVF stim cycles result in frozen embryos”. So, following that logic, the probability of me having 4 cycles and zero freezable quality embryos is 0.8⁴ which is 41%, a statistic which would hardly be considered “unheard of”. Contradictory? Welcome to the wacky world of fertility doctoring.

Dr 1: “An AMH of 7 in a 27-year-old means you probably won’t be able to have kids after 30. You’ll have to do IVF and freeze some embryos.” This was a justification for not starting the fertility nightmare with the simpler, cheaper and less invasive IUI treatment. It was also articulated prior to the comment above which really begs the question of why IVF was recommended given the improbably of producing freezable embryos in the first place. According to Dr 3, this statement is utter bullshit, both for the notion that people with slightly below average AMHs will ‘run out’ of eggs by the tender age of 30 and also that a single AHM test can predict, with that level of accuracy, what ovarian reserve is in the first place. It’s a guide, he tells me, as to how many eggs to expect and not a measure of quantity. I did another AMH test 6 months ago (a year after the first one) and it was 11… meaning that I had more eggs after a year and 3 rounds of IVF. It doesn’t seem worth basing that much on AMH.

Dr 1: “There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re completely average. It’s normal not to conceive after 2 IVF cycles.” He said this after 3 cycles. I told him this and he insisted I was mistaken. Because why would *I* count them??

Dr Douchbag
Keeping notes on your patients is for chumps.

 

The moral of the story is; the only certainly in infertility is that most of your doctors will contradict each other, be fuckwits, be men, lie to you or simply not give a shit about you.

Maybe, if you’re a medical curiosity, you might be interesting enough to warrant a shit being given about you and your reproductive capabilities. Maybe. I hope. Fingers crossed anyway.