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!

 

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.

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?

Infertility: The more you know

Call me naïve if you will, but I never realised that the process of trying to make a baby would be so emotionally devastating.

Seriously, I really didn’t. I didn’t! Honestly, I think that goes for a lot of people who have never tried or never struggled. I like to think of myself as a very rational person. I’m a scientist. I do research for a living. I make spreadsheets for everything. If you think I didn’t make a spreadsheet and do the statistics on this whole baby making caper, you are absolutely kidding yourself.

But, although it’s expensive and although it’s physically exhausting, the worst thing by far is the emotions. I don’t even know how to describe it to people who haven’t been there. It’s fucked.

My mother got pregnant once before she had me. My parents were on their honeymoon and it just happened. She miscarried a few weeks in but didn’t feel upset or emotional about it. “It was just a bunch of cells”, she always told me. True. Rational. You don’t miss what you weren’t looking for. This story has always coloured my view of conception and loss.

A bunch of cells is nothing to cry over.

A couple of weeks ago, I came as close as I ever have to getting pregnant. Although I don’t have a positive home pregnancy test to base this on *TMI alert* when I got my period, I was losing what looked like big chunks of bloody flesh. Not blood clots, but actual tissue. This has never happened to me before. Ever. It was a legit bunch of bloody cells. And I felt a bloody emotional, teary attachment to them/it. Is it disrespectful to humanity to flush these down the toilet? (If so, I was eventually disrespectful).

Anyway.

How it turned out for my mum: After me, she tried for 6 years to have another baby, naturally and through IUI, and never had another pregnancy. The story she only really told me recently is about how devastating and all-consuming it was to want a baby, knowing that your body can do it, theoretically, and just never ever get one. That particular story is the one about sobbing over baby clothes and about buying heaps of soft teddy bears to cuddle when she was craving a little soft thing to care for. It’s the story of resenting my father for not caring as much as she did and resenting those for whom pregnancy came easy.

It’s the wanting that makes it hard. It’s the knowing it’s just luck and chance and persistence and that the only thing you can do is try and try and try and wait.

N

P.S. My mother recently bought me a really soft fluffy toy when I was in the ‘progesterone-crying’ phase of the cycle and started weeping profusely over it in a shop. She told me the above story and said it would make me feel better. It did.

At the present time

As I write this, I am sitting on a rooftop enjoying a glass of red. I’m on doctor prescribed mental health leave after my third failed IVF cycle. As nice as it is to be able to tuck into my first red wine in a month, it’s a poor substitute for a little red cluster of foetal cells living in my uterus.

My wife and I have being trying to make a baby for a year now. In that year, we’ve fitted in: lots of bureaucratic  hoop jumping, waiting unnecessarily for sperm, and, finally, 3 cycles of IVF which resulted in 2 embryos and 0 pregnancies (chemical or otherwise). We have spent 10 times what our wedding cost on a whole heap of pain and heart ache.

My wife and I met in 2013 and got engaged in 2014 (couldn’t resist – classic lesbians). We hung out until 2016 for our wedding, hoping that Australian law would change and we’d be able to get married on the day (nope – classic conservative Australians). One day we’ll get married and it will be great. Until then, I’ll continue to complain loudly and frequently about the issue. There’ll be a post on that topic, I guarantee.

I finished my PhD a month before our wedding and if I had have got any of the post-doc jobs I applied for, we would not be trying for kids. Luckily I suppose, I didn’t and we started ttc 4 months later. Luckily, because I’ve been told I probably won’t be able to have children after 30. Lucky I got to start now. Lucky, I guess. My wife and I are now 28. Tick tock.

At the present time, we are preparing to try again with the pregnancy thing but after 3 failed IVFs, I am loosing confidence that I will ever be able to make a baby. I really want to be pregnant and I really want a biological child. My wife doesn’t want either of those things. This is inconvenient because it is becoming increasingly likely that she’ll have to do this for us. I am worried that if this happens, I will be jealous of her. Jealous of her getting fat and being tired and uncomfortable and all that pregnancy stuff. Disappointed with myself for not being able to do this for us and I am terrified that I won’t feel a connection with a child that hasn’t come from me.

At the present time, I’m wondering if I’m not socially and medically infertile because I’m just really not supposed to have a kid. My wife is wondering whether it’s happening because she’s a bad person. (My wife is so bloody nice she’d put Mother Theresa to shame, so I doubt this is the issue). I told her it was probably because a bunch of militant homophobes prayed for it. She told me not to make fun of her. I wasn’t making fun of her though. It was something I was thinking myself.

Making babies sure makes you crazy.

 

An introduction

I’m Nik, one half of an Australian lesbian couple trying very, very bloody hard to make a baby. We’ve been trying since July 2016, so I have quite a bit of news to catch up on in this blog. I probably should have started sooner but it didn’t really occur to me that it would be of interest to me or anyone else. We pay money, sperm goes in, baby comes out, yeah? Needless to say, this past year has robbed me of most of that hopeful naivete.

But really! Of course it’s of interest. Of course it’s relevant. There is not enough information and resources out there for people like us (dykey, lezzo, spermless types) who are ttc. Devouring all the stories my wife and I could find on the internet was helpful, but it’s not enough. We have felt bamboozled and blindsided so many times during this process. No one teaches you this stuff. No one expects you to need it.

I want to record this for my wife and I, so we can look back and remember this time in our lives. I want to put this out there for others struggling down the same path as we are. I want to capture all of this for the child I hope we will make.

I will try to be honest about this process. I will probably verge on the side of TMI quite regularly. But, I’ll also try not to be too sombre and serious, because if you can’t laugh at an emotionally and financially crippling happy fun adventure like IVF, what the hell can you do?