Sunday, February 27, 2011


I used to groan if I ever had to recover a polypectomy patient. So boring, a bit of sedation, they would be chatting away soon enough. Always seemed 'neurotic'. I used to look to the other end of the unit at the patients post open heart surgery or mastectomy and think...polyps?...come on! A couple of sets of blood pressure, oxygen off, check pad for spotting and off to the ward. Not much of a challenge really. But it was extra pocket money. (I could write another blog 'Confessions of a Nurse but it would be too risky).

I'm sure there will be some bored Nurses on duty tomorrow, arrogant Dr S to do the removal and Dr P, keen as ever to have another look at my bendy uterus. I hope I can have the same cocktail of sedation as I did for the egg collection, a nice gown to cover my bits when I go to the loo and that I won't have to wait too long. I don't expect any smiles from the Nurses or bored theatre staff. I'm very happy to be having a boring old routine procedure with no surprises, fingers crossed. Another box to tick.

I've never held a baby

I'm not sure I've even held a toddler? Unless manhandling my little sister counts when we were fighting every day? I once held a small child actually whose mother was doing an amazing balancing act on her hip with one arm between the babies legs and her hand spread to support the babies back. I naturally tried to copy but it was awful and after calling me 'cack handed' in front of my boyfriends family someone came to my rescue. I didn't grow up in a big, extended family with little ones running around. And as my last post says, I took the road less travelled and consequently have lots of friends who have yet to start families. So I've had little opportunity.

I'm always amazed at people who confidently scoop up a little one in their arms and start coo-ing in fluent baby talk. I bumble and stutter if faced with in an infant. I avoid anyone holding a small child and hope they don't introduce me to it. It wouldn't understand me so what do I say? Usually 'ooh/ah....hello there...aren't you a lovely thing'. The last time this happened I corrected myself to '...hola', I was sort of joking but the little boys Dad said ...'yeh he's only one', (as though I was a complete moron). Well I wasn't expecting a response!

My Mum had never held a baby either until she held me, she was 30. She said it was weird and wonderful but she seemed at home with it. I have no qualms about holding, bonding or coo-ing at my own child and responding to it's gurgles and babbles. Maybe I won't, I'll be dumb struck. My friend, a lovely Mum, confessed that she couldn't tell her babies cry from the others on the maternity ward, that it sounded terrible and she was clueless.
Anyway, this is another reason I steer myself away from kids under 11, not just because I don't have any myself yet.

Lucky me indeed

I've had a lovely holiday from my blog. I've checked other peoples blogs to see how things are going of course. It's been nice to rejoin the real world, time has flown and I have restored some perspective. I hate that this blog has become all about infertility but at least my whole life doesn't have to be about inf...! It's impossible to move on fully in these times of uncertainty but all these 'childless days' are also 'childfree days', just days drifting by and I don't want to waste any more of them wishing them away between appointments.

What's taken me by surprise about not being able to conceive naturally or at all possibly, is that I feel so bitter and twisted and can't cope with pregnancies and new parents. I suppose it's common and apparently 'normal' but this is something I want to challenge in therapy. I don't want to live this 'half a life' until I finally have a baby or until I give up on trying to have a baby. That would fill me with more regret in my old age than not having children at all. Thinking I let years pass by, waiting for something to happen.

I've never worried before about being different. I didn't go to university with my peers or study, until later. I didn't have a gap year but travelled later and I never minded listening to peoples tales of far away places. I enjoyed my single days too, never in a rush to settle down, never 'needed' a boyfriend. I lost count of the number of times I've heard people say 'you can't know what it's like unless you've been....... to a full moon party, climbed Sydney Harbour Bridge at sunrise, crapped yourself on a train in India or walked down the aisle to meet your future husband'.

Quite frankly I never cared. I never looked at the bride and wished it were me. I had no interest in the man she was marrying. I also felt the same about Motherhood. One day, yes please! I would have been devastated not have the choice but I was in no rush either. I saw other peoples babies indifferently. They were not mine so I had no feelings of envy there either. I had all these experiences, eventually, except for crapping myself in public thankfully and so I never really worried.

It's a shame that the path to parenthood has a time limit on it. Then again perhaps I'd put it off forever if it did, waiting, procrastinating, enjoying myself too much to get on with it. Appreciating my life just the way it is. Perhaps it's not 'on the cards' for me. For now, I need to enjoy my time while I wait and see...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Back in therapy

I'm a recovering therapy addict. When I stopped going to therapy myself (after10 years, maybe more) I started training to be a therapist. I love it, the good and the bad. Towards the end of my training (I have only completed part 1), I found myself talking to my supervisor about clients and craving a turn in the clients chair.

Over the past year, living here has allowed me a break from, the therapy room, in either chair. There were times when I wobbled after our big move across the world and I thought back to that chair, the desk light with a 40 watt bulb illuminating a decorative box of tissues. I feel like it's been waiting for me and last week I decided it was the right time.

In a city that claims to have 1 psychotherapist to every 50 people, I had plenty of choice but few are covered on my health plan and even fewer speak English. I went on line and took a few recommendations from ex pats. After wading through some horrible prices I found a very reasonable fee with a lady not far from me. Once the appointment was booked I started to let myself feel all the things I have been 'managing' by pushing them to the back of my mind by keeping busy. It's worked. I am studying every day with homework and tests and it's a marvellous distraction. I feel like I have my life back again after it disappeared temporarily in January.

On the bus to the therapists office I fully unpacked all my feelings and shed my armour outside the door and rang the bell. P opened the door and invited me in to the room that was just as I had imagined. Soft desk lamp glowing in the corner, ceiling to floor books, chairs with ornate cushions and throws. I let a happy sigh escape and P checked what sort of sigh it was. I assured her it was a content one and so we began. I began my rehearsed script of 'Well, I began therapy when I was problems....admitted twice to a psychiatric ward...not coping...better in my 20's...began to pull up some deep seated childhood traumas and by the time I hit 30....pretty much sorted'. I'm here now not because I'm struggling with old issues again but because of the gruelling IVF treatment regime, the uncertainty of the future, the disappointment and social isolation I feel some days.......but mainly because I plan to do it a second time, possibly third, possibly who knows...?'. And well, I was quite surprised and proud of myself that when I said the said the words, '...and it didn't work', I let the tears come...

....just for a second, for as quick as they welled up and teetered on the edge, ready to roll, they were sucked back violently on hearing the words...'mmmm, I can relate to how you feel...I too had IVF'. UNBELIEVABLE.

Even people who have not had therapy themselves know that 'I know how you feel...' is banned. This sort of disclosure is a no no! Well at that moment, whilst nodding along to her story of failed attempts and finding success in the end, I repacked my baggage and tucked it to one side. What a shame. The neutrality I longed for had gone. Silly P. No matter how a therapist tries to persuade his or her self that they disclosed in the clients best interest, 99.9% of the time, it's not true. I'm not even sure that P has the awareness to take this to her next supervision session and she will no doubt be coming up with all sorts of hypotheses as to why I have not made a second appointment. I certainly don't have the energy to tell her.

Second time lucky hopefully, I hope this self disclosure is not a Latin American trait.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Infertility in fiction

I have two, half-read, books on my bedside table, (I only brought half a dozen books with me when I moved abroad) and kind visitors have added to the collection. The first, 'Tomorrow' by Graham Swift, about a woman lying awake at night and running through ways of telling her children that they were conceived via an anonymous sperm donor. The second, 'Lady Chatterley's Lover' by D.H. Lawrence, such an old copy, the corners are folded down on the pages with the sex scenes, not by me (but by someone like the young school girl I used to be). I remember, when I found it on the school library shelves, thinking how tragic it was that Clifford Chatterley was impotent but never from a fertility point of view, I thought more about what I would do, would I sneak off to the gamekeeper's hut or be a faithful wife, sacrificing my needs in sympathy with my husband.

I grew up with Grange Hill, these days it's Hollyoaks. Characters get pregnant accidentally whilst taking the oral contraceptive pill after a one night stand. Others get Chlamydia and told by men in white coats the perils of leaving STDs, especially symptomless ones, untreated. Though, usually on the soaps/dramas the STD is picked up through casual sex not from a healthy, monogamous relationship while on the pill. As a born worrier, I took all these story lines very seriously. I suppose part of my fear of infertility (before I had to face my fear) came from watching TV or reading books.

So when I realised we couldn't conceive naturally I thought back to all those story lines and I revisited a lot of them. 'Inconceivable' by Ben Elton, I remember him denying that it was autobiographical in any way, though he and his partner had fertility treatment. So I watched 'Maybe Baby' which was as dreadful as I remember the first time around. So much of my understanding about IVF came from this film but I didn't realise until I re watched it, the injection in the bottom scene for example had me terrified unecessarily. Some parts are great, like Rowan Atkinson as the Gynaecologist but the rest just didn't work for me. I love the main actors but not together as Mr and Mrs Bell. However, at least the treatment did not have a happy ending like so many other story lines.

I don't remember much of Monica and Chandler's fertility issues on Friends, I remember them trying for a baby and it taking a while and of course Rachel had got pregnant without even planning to so it was good to see it as a story line for two such famous characters, especially a couple that had planned a family with such care (including Monica deciding to spilt up for good with Richard because he didn't want children with her). Of course it was all tied up with a unrealistic, sugary bow when they adopted new born twins because it's a 'feel good comedy' of course.

So could I think of any realistic portrayals? Not many. I loved Skins, the first 2 series anyway, 3 and 4 tried a bit too hard but were very watchable and I saw them both after I moved here. Interesting they decided to throw in the issue of early menopause for Katie (at 4.24 min) but it's a shame there wasn't any room for it and options were not discussed for having a family in the future. It was badly managed but the purpose was to add contrast to the relief of not having an unplanned pregnancy that Katie has for a split second and also displayed by her boyfriend only to be faced with something else terrible a bit of a twist in the tale.

I thought back a lot to the Sex and the City story line about Charlotte, it was quite sensitively done. Having to attend Brady's christening or birthday party after her miscarriage of a very wanted and planned pregnancy and she draws strength from watching a documentary about Liz Taylor who had suffered miscarriages. I'm always looking out for a celebrity hero or heroine when I'm struggling with something, it seems to help. Also, she had a failed marriage to a man with sexual dysfunction. Then going on to adopt a child, that was not a baby or a perfect racial match like so many TV/film outcomes would have given her.

I suppose the characters in Cold Feet and the story lines have stood up best of all to my experiences so far. From Pete and Jen's 'charting', attempting to time intercourse and sperm tests to Adam and Rachel's failed IVF attempt after Adam's testicular cancer and Rachel's struggles post abortion and diagnosis of Partial Asherman's Syndrome. The story line developed well, except for the 'surprise pregnancy' which was inevitable, I really wanted to see where the adoption story line was going. Here are the main characters in a story and for once they aren't going to get everything they want in the end. I suppose killing Rachel off was a more 'entertaining' way to tie up the loose ends for the 6 couples who in some way or another didn't get what they wanted. If I had to pick a favourite bit, it's the bit where Karen is the kitchen with her kids and tells Adam and Rachel how lucky they are and Adam snaps. I'd love to say, next time someone tells me how lucky I am to have the freedom or independence that comes with childnessness, "Am I? Am I really?!".

I suppose in the same way that working in a hospital for years has ruined my enjoyment of hospital dramas, going through fertility tests and treatments has spoilt any fertility related plots. I recently watched The Kids are Alright, great film, but found myself wondering how both parents managed to conceive successfully via IVF with sperm donor, so close together, back in the 90s but I still really enjoyed the film as a whole.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

More hurdles to jump

I've been busy at last this week and the time has flown by, I've hardly touched the internet and feel almost 'normal' again. What an awful week, next time I won't take time off in the 2 week wait, except for the last few days before testing as I think I would have struggled to work this time around once the bleeding started. If I was in my old job I would certainly have made my excuses and crawled home. Otherwise, I will keep busy. I would also like to meet and shake the hand of anyone who felt 'relaxed' pre embryo transfer on a fresh cycle. Impossible, waiting until the last minute to find out how many are being transferred, the quality and if there are any left, just days after egg collection and two weeks of injectable hormones. Positive and happy times, yes but relaxing? Not for me. I imagine a frozen cycle would be different, you can keep busy and active until transfer, lie around with acupuncture needles sticking out of your body and being something close to relaxed.

I can hardly face writing this it's so tiresome, nothing would surprise me now. I saw Dr P before he went on holiday and we are now waiting to sort out a few more things. I hope we can have a cycle in April, not sure about March. The polyps in the cervical canal that disappeared have grown back 4 times the size because of all the hormones. The doctors managed to get past them to transfer the embryos but predict that next time, with all the oral pre transfer hormones they will get bigger again and it could make transfer impossible. This explains the horrendously painful period I'm having at least. All Gynae Drs take a holiday now it seems and arrive back mid month so I have an appointment to see someone new then so I can beg him to do the operation before the 4th week of Feb, that gives a small chance of an embryo transfer in March, just a small one, we have to wait for histology too, another potential delay and of course hope there aren't more surprise polyps in the uterus. More bloods early yesterday morning...boring, boring so bored of tests and waiting and trying to fit them around my course and exams.

I can readjust my fantasy accordingly, so maybe one day there will be a baby but not in 2011, I can scribble that part out. I'm enjoying being back in the real world this week so I'm definitely packing the fantasy away again for a while.