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.

WkLMHv2.gif
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.

berlusconi
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

Just the Starto

A month ago, I mentioned I was about to have surgery to *hopefully* find out why this pregnancy thing is so unreasonable a prospect for my 28-year-old-purportedly-perfectly-healthy body.

https://cluckydykes.com/2018/03/10/waiting-for-endo/

That surgery didn’t happen. Doctor #3 is from a different state and there was a delay in finding a hospital in my state for him to operate. The details are not important. Suffice to say, I prepared for some very expensive, possibly useless surgery and organised my life around its occurring. The cancellation left me depressed for all the reasons that the fertility industry destroys my spirit.

Promises broken, misinformation, and complete disregard for how this circus effects my life. (The fertility circus, in my case, being an immensely consuming 3rd job that I do not have the time nor the emotional energy to endure.)

So, when the nurse called me the week after #surgeryfail with a *real* date for my surgery, I politely asked her to email me the details.

fertility fuckwits
Dealing with the fertility industry.

With no email forthcoming (*gasp*), I resigned myself to the fact that I had exhausted every fertility treatment option available.

As a same-sex couple, there is a total of 2 companies in my state that will treat my wife and I. We had tried both. We had tried 3 doctors. We had gone through 5 IVF cycles (the full stim cycles, not the stick-a-frozen-embryo-in-and-call-it-a-cycle IVF cycles that uberfertiles love to whinge about). Almost 2 years had elapsed since this nightmare started. That qualifies as trying, surely. So, I decided, if they contacted me about the surgery, I would go ahead with it and *theoretically* discover why I’m barren A.F. If not, I would put this baby business to bed.

The surgery was, after all, an expensive exercise in regret evasion. Wouldn’t I regret not knowing why I can’t have kids? Isn’t that knowledge worth $7k? (Don’t answer that – I realise most answers will not be like mine.)

Last Wednesday afternoon, I got a phone call from the same nurse asking me to send the consent forms back. I still had not received any emails or follow up phone calls regarding this supposed surgery date and the whole thing reeked of fertility industry incompetence (FII). If she wanted something signed she’d better email it to me. But she had, she insisted. Problem was, she said, most of her emails went to people’s spam folders. (Perhaps Gmail has a fancy filter to protect infertiles from FII.)

Dubiously, I checked my spam folder and there they were; 3 emails related to the surgery, dating back 3 weeks. Surgery was scheduled for Saturday, less than 3 days away. So, I just said I’d do it.

Why not, hey?

knowledge is power
The pursuit of knowledge can be used to justify many stupid decisions.

TBH, I do hate uberfertiles

Last night my uberfertile friend sent me a short message which ended with:

‘Miss you so much xx’

My first thoughts were:

‘Why is she doing this to me?’, ‘Why would she ruin my night like this?’ and ‘Where the hell does she get off messaging me?’

Then I imagined her lying at home with her perfect baby, lazily amassing gossip to pass the time. No doubt I’m a prized subject of said gossip, having been MIA from social events for the past year, busy becoming a tragic enigma.

shit fertile people say
Shit fertile people say.

We haven’t spoken in 6 months. The last time I saw her was at my best friend’s birthday party. After Mrs Uberfertile showed up, I struggled not too cry for the rest of the night, ultimately leaving early. I was a horribly unfun best friend.

I would have been furious at me. I was furious at me. I’m normally really fun at parties, instead I sat in the corner with my face in a margarita.

I apologised to my bestie the next day. She, in turn, apologised for inviting a pregnant person. I told her, quite rightly, that she shouldn’t have to screen her friends on my account.

I wish she had’ve, nonetheless.

I very much doubt that Mrs Uberfertile knows how much she ruined that night’s party for me, or how much distress she caused me in the week that followed. I’m sure she thinks I am thoughtlessly ignoring last night’s message, not dwelling on it and crying and wondering what to do with it.

Reply?

Ignore?

If reply, what to say?

The truth is, I don’t really want to end the friendship with Mrs Uberfertile. I feel guilty about how I’ve treated her. It’s not her fault she’s uberfertile. It’s not her fault she lucked out with a good fertility doctor from the start. It’s not her fault her body is really fucking good at not killing babies.

The other side of that truth is, I can’t be friends with uberfertiles and pregnants and parents. At least not when my wife and I are trying so hard to hit the sweet spot between too much IVF and just enough IVF to avoid later life regret at not trying hard enough.

It’s not about babies for us anymore, it’s about what we have to do to console ourselves to childlessness. It’s about knowing, in 20 years’ time, that we did our absolute best to have a baby and we couldn’t have done any more.

So, why associate with people who have such disparate aspirations for 20 years into the future? They’ll never understand. Why should they?

I wish uberfertiles would just stop contacting me.

Our TTC saga – Part 1: Trying to try to conceive (TTTTC)

When we started on this journey, we had no idea what we were doing. We had no friends to ask or reasonable sources of advice beyond what the fertility clinics deign to provide. By fertility clinics, of course, I mean the very few private fertility clinics who are licenced to provide donor sperm to couples like us. So here’s a timeline of our experiences. I hope it will help other couples like us shed light on the whole process (or, perhaps, frustrate the crap out of them).

We chose to go with the artificial insemination route for several reasons:

  1. Legally, in Australia, if the pregnancy is brought about by a doctor who both mothers have been referred to (by another doctor) then the resulting baby’s birth certificate can bare both mothers’ names. This was very appealing because:
    1. We would both have legal and parental responsibility for the child, no questions asked, from the time they were born.
    2. It saves the stress and cost of the non-birth mother having to adopt the child later. It may even work out cheaper in the long run.
  2. We didn’t have a sperm donor so donor sperm was a better option. Fun fact: it is actually cheaper to buy donor sperm from the clinic than it is the BYO sperm donor. Or course, if the sperm donor is intended to be the baby’s father, then it’s pretty much free to BYO sperm. Go figure!

June 2016:

We had always talked about having kids but Chloe and I actually started to do something about it! I had finished my PhD in January and gone back to work full time in February 2016. I had applied for a few post-docs overseas and a job in Melbourne, Australia. I hadn’t got any of the jobs but, I didn’t really mind. I had a pretty good job already and that’s pretty lucky for any newly graduated PhD student. Chloe had a job too and our home and work places were all within a 6km radius.

I don’t know how it happened, but somehow we threw out the idea of me getting a post-doc overseas, moving far away and having a great adventure. Both of us were so keen to nest that it was hard to find the motivation to shake up our lives at that point. Our families were in our city, or close by. We were 27; a bit young, but not too young to have kids.

It was time, we decided. Time to nest and make babies.

July 2016:

Although we had our wedding in March 2016, we were finally able to hand in the paperwork to have our relationship ‘registered’ in July. In the state of NSW, Australia, they allow same-sex couples to get registered, which basically means you pay money to have a certificate. This certificate essentially means that you’re de-facto. We decided to do this for some weird reason (it’s expensive and practically useless since most couples living together are considered de-facto in Australia). I guess we didn’t want to give anyone an excuse to treat our relationship as being less than any other, if we could possibly avoid it. Having an official document to prove we were a couple seemed like a good back up for a lot of life maladies.

What we didn’t realise (because we are still the only couple I know to get ‘registered’ in NSW), was that, if my wife wanted to change her surname to my surname (which she did, because it’s a far superior surname :P), she’d have to change it before we got registered because, if she changed it after, we’d have to get registered again in her new name. Yet another reason why Australia should just get on with legalising marriage equality… you can get married and THEN change your name without getting remarried!!

The day we finally submitted the registration paperwork was the same day we went for our first doctor visit. We went to my GP. I had never come out to my GP (he was fairly new GP) so it was a little nerve racking for me walking in there with Chlo and announcing, “Hi. We’d like to have a baby. Together.” I wasn’t really surprised that he had never had such a request before. But, he’s a great doctor and asked us what we needed. We had done enough research about the process to know to request a referral to a fertility specialist who we knew would be able to refer us for a dose of donor sperm and the IVF clinic. We got our referral and were on our way. (My GP, BTW, was super excited and requested that he be my doctor through the pregnancy and our future baby’s doctor).

Now, a word about choosing a fertility specialist: if I were to do the whole thing again, I would have done my research into the fertility specialist above all else. The IVF clinic, when I enquired about what to do told us that they had one fertility specialist in our city. Our choice to use this doctor came down to an issue of travel. Do we travel for 10 minutes or do we choose to travel for 2-3 hours? It seemed an easy choice at the time. We were told to get a referral for the fertility specialist in our city and so we did. Interestingly, a couple of friends of ours who lived very near us were going through the same process and the same clinic a few weeks after us. They were told by the fertility clinic that there was NO fertility specialist in our city. I wish I had have been told that too. Worth mentioning too that our FS was just a referring FS, not actually part of the IVF clinic. My advice: stay away from doctors that are not part of the clinic and will not be part of the treatment. Also, read reviews on the FS in question (this particular FS has several bad reviews online, which should have been a flashing red light, but I just didn’t Google it!)

August 2016:

We went to a donor sperm information evening hosted by our chosen IVF clinic. I thought hosting an info session like that meant that they were pretty involved with helping same sex couples conceive. How did we choose the IVF clinic? It was a choice of two in the state (NSW) and I chose the one that seemed least homophobic. Seriously. I think I made the wrong choice in hindsight.

A few days later, we paid to go onto the donor sperm waiting list. We were informed the wait for IUI quality sperm was 8-10 months and the wait for IVF sperm was 2 months. Our friends, who were a couple of weeks behind us in this process were told there was a 6 month waiting list for IUI sperm. Go figure.

Spurred by these hopeful developments, I started looking to buy a family and doggo friendly house J We had our first fertility appointment the same day I took Chloe to see a house I liked. It was the first house I had looked at and the first one she had looked at. We went straight from the house to our appointment.

Our first appointment with the only person in Wollongong capable of proclaiming people worthy of donor sperm. It was anticlimactic. He referred me for all the standard tests: pelvic ultrasound, blood tests.  He said it was good we were starting young. That would make it a lot easier.

I bought that house, or, at least, had my offer accepted.

September 2016:

I went and got all those tests. It didn’t seem much point hurrying because we were preparing to wait almost a year for donor sperm. But, I got them anyway and called up the doctor’s office to see if I had to come in and get the results. The receptionist told me they were all fine and to come in once we were at the top of the donor sperm waiting list. So we waited.

November 2016:

Wifey and I moved into that kid-and-dog friendly house 🙂

December 2016:

My mother met a woman who had gotten pregnant using donor sperm and IVF. Apparently, she didn’t have to wait at all for her sperm. “Why don’t you go to IVF Australia? You won’t have to wait for sperm and B says they’re really good.” Out of two possible choices, we had gone with IVF Australia, gaining us a 8-10 month sperm wait. Thanks for the advice.

February 2017:

The compulsory time-wasting money-grubbing counsellor sessions at the clinic.

“Have you thought about who’s going to work and who’s going to take care of baby?

“Have you considered that baby things cost money?

“Do you know about maternity leave?

Anyone who gets to this stage and hasn’t spoken to their partner about who’s going to take care of the bloody baby is a nincompoop. So, counselling was pretty pointless because any person who has been waiting to do IVF for 6 months has ACTUALLY THOUGHT ABOUT THE RESULTING BABY! But the IVF clinic got $400 and we were approved to continue along the baby making road.

Mostly, I think these counselling sessions are for people who have to deal with surprise infertility and all the rubbish that goes along with that. Lesbians are immune to this, being already quite sure that they are not going to make a baby naturally. There’s always surprises for everyone, though.

You just need to learn a different lesson

When you’re trying to make a baby, and failing to make a baby, and paying out the arse to make a baby, there’ll be someone who makes you feel just a little better about the situation. Maybe it’s your partner, maybe a friend, for me, strangely, it seems to be my father.

When I was younger, I didn’t have much of a relationship with my father. This makes our relationship now kinda weird. He doesn’t feel like a parent, rather, we’re just two adults who like each other, happen to have similar interests and do stuff together.

It so happens, therefore, that my father is the only other person, besides my wife, who has heard all the gritty emotional details of our TTC frolics. This is a situation that I would have never seen eventuating. I always thought of my father as the last person to look to for life advice.

Maybe it’s age and wisdom, maybe it’s his way of never doing things the logical or generic way, or his wacky way of thinking or that he seems to be singularly and enviably at peace with life, the universe and everything. Either way. He’s a good bloke to talk to about the frustrating meaninglessness that is infertility.

The last time I saw him, I told him how we were going with it, and how it had failed, yet again. I got teary and started feeling like the horrible void of nasty barren womb feelings was going to swallow me up… yet again.

“Look”, he said, ending a long and difficult conversation in his usual sage style. “The thing is, some people just get pregnant by accident. That’s because they need to learn some responsibility. Now, you’re already responsible! So, you must just need to learn a different lesson.”

It’s most certainly BS but it made me feel better. I know I’m getting wiser from all this. I know my relationship with my wife is getting stronger and more complex. I know I’m more assertive and more confident and more sensitive to my own needs. I feel like an adult for the first time in my life, not just a teenager masquerading as a responsible grown up human.

One day I’ll finishing learning this darn pesky lesson and then finally it will rain babies**!!!

 

** In a really controlled fashion, I should think.

One year of TTC

Today marks 1 year of us trying to make a baby.

One year ago, today, the weather was just like this, bright, sunny and warm. The perfect Australian winter day. It was a Saturday so we were both off work and we went for our first doctor’s appointment and obtained our first referral. One year ago, today, we celebrated the milestone by having friends over and drinking wine.

We were optimistic AF. Now, this is definitely not the worst first year of baby making in existence, but it has been a pretty shit time. Between me being sick as a dog every second month and metaphorically setting fire to large vats of borrowed money, it has certainly been the biggest challenge our relationship has ever faced.

On the plus side, I’m pretty sure I illegally married the most calm, tolerant and kind woman in the world and I couldn’t be more in love with her.

As a pessimistic summary of the past year, below is a letter of complaint I recently sent to our IVF clinic. (Names omitted). Writing it did make me feel better I suppose. I don’t suppose it helps in any other way. Unfortunately, being that we require donor sperm, we have the choice of 2 fertility clinics in our state i.e. within 1000 km of us and our lacklustre doctor is the only one within 80 km.

To whom it may concern,

My wife and I wish to raise several complaints regarding our experience with [IVF clinic]. We have been trying to conceive using donor sperm as we are both female. We attended an [IVF clinic] sperm donor information session on 10/8/16 and joined the sperm donor waiting list on 15/8/16. We were told that the waiting list for IUI quality sperm was 8-10 months while the waiting list for IVF quality sperm was 2 months.

Soon after this we consulted with Dr ____. Dr ____ implied that I would not have much difficulty falling pregnant due to my age (27) and lack of health issues. He referred me for fertility tests and informed us that I would be doing IUI using donor sperm. At that time, my wife and I intended that I would be the biological and gestational mother.

After going for the prescribed tests, I called Dr ____’s rooms to see if I would need to book another appointment to discuss the results of the tests. I was told by Dr ____’s receptionist that all the tests came back fine. My AMH was a little low but it was nothing to worry about. We would need to make another appointment when we reached the top of the donor sperm waiting list.

During the next few months, my wife and I attended the compulsory counselling sessions at the Kogarah clinic where we discussed IUI and general parental readiness. We also did extensive research on IUI in preparation.

A few weeks before we were due to reach the top of the sperm donor waiting list, we attended another appointment with Dr ____. We were abruptly informed that my AMH test result was so low that we should be doing IVF in order to freeze embryos now as I may not have any eggs left “by the time [I’m] 30”. Needless to say, it was very stressful for my wife and I to suddenly discover this after being led to believe that I had no fertility issues whatsoever.

We were, and continue to be, extremely angry that we were not informed of any fertility issues and were thus kept waiting for IUI quality sperm for 6 months. I could have started treatment last year, had I been told my correct and complete medical information when I attempted to find out the results of my fertility tests. Because of this, we were also denied the ability to discuss infertility and IVF with the [IVF clinic] counsellor, which greatly increased the stress we felt at this time. Additionally, we had very little information or knowledge about IVF, given that we had been told it was a far off possibility.  This again made the situation very overwhelming for both of us.

My next complaint pertains to our treatment following the first IVF cycle, when we came in for our first embryo transfer. My wife and I both had to take the entire day off work and travel for 2.5 hours to reach the clinic. When we arrived, we were charged $500 for the embryo transfer before being sent to another waiting room for additional waiting. Finally, a nurse took us into the procedure room and told us that there were no embryos to transfer. To get to that point in the process and be told the entire cycle was a failure was very upsetting. It would have been very nice to receive notice of this before we left home, or while we were on the way to the clinic, or even before we were charged $500 for the non-occurrent transfer. After asking for our money back we did, however, receive a refund.

My final complaint relates to Dr ____. After our second failed IVF cycle, I requested that he refer my wife for the standard fertility tests, given that I had had so little success up to that point. My wife and I felt it was important to understand our options in order to maximise our success in whichever way we needed to. Dr ____ repeatedly refused to refer her for tests until I underwent a third IVF cycle. Once again, I feel that Dr ____ is denying us relevant medical information. As a couple trying to conceive, do we not have a right to fertility information about both of us?

As an additional, more general comment, in nearly all cases in which I have been speaking to a new contact at [IVF clinic], they have assumed that my partner is a man. Given that same-sex couples do not seem to comprise an insignificant portion of your clientele, it would be lovely if your staff could keep this in mind and use gender neutral language if the gender and/or preferred pronouns of a partner are unknown.

I look forward to your feedback on our grievances.

Regards,

N

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?