My Busted Stork

The travails of an infertile…and no, I won’t just relax!



Toothy grin!

This weekend was my Dad’s 60th birthday. W and I joined the family in a weekend away to celebrate.

My Dad is one of the reasons I really want to have a child. He is why I am the person I am today. Obviously my Mom and my step parents also helped mould me but my dad is so special. To have a relationship like that with a parent makes me yearn for the same kind of relationship with a child of my own.

Dad has lived a very exciting life doing everything from working on the docks to land surveying in Swaziland to being a motivational speaker and life coach. He has changed many people’s lives mostly through his wisdom and his quirky ‘left field’ approach to problem solving. Although he was absent having separated and then divorced from my mom when I was 6, as a father he was sensitive, loving and terribly exciting . He was always surprising us: once pitching up at my school play in Std 6 having driven 1500km across the country, carrying a single red rose. Later on, in my party years, he gate crashed a night on the town and beat all my friends at pool.

In 2003 I was living in Taiwan and after a big night of partying I came home to find a message saying that my Dad had had a major stroke (at age 52). A few days later I flew back to SA and walked into a hospital ward to find my father lying small and scared on a hospital bed. His paralysis was temporary although his feeling on the left side of his body was gone. But what had been stripped from him was his speech, ironically his greatest asset. He has expressive aphasia which means when he tries to form words mumbo jumbo comes out.

It’s selfish of me to talk about how this changed my life because obviously my father’s life changed tragically. But as a daughter it was so hard to let go. To accept that he wouldn’t give a speech at my wedding like he did at my 21st. That I couldn’t cry on his shoulder and get the perspective I needed when I went through a tough time.

After two further strokes both again stripping him of more of his communication,dignity and independence his spirit still remains. Yes, I have lost a large part of my dad as a parent, but have been blessed to have him in my life these past 8 years.

One of the reasons why my Dad and I have such a special bond is that he says that I changed him. At my 21st birthday he opened his speech by saying “SJ is not my child”. Hushed silence banged on my ear drums while I prayed this wasn’t some horrible airing of family dirty laundry. Then he said “I am hers”. He went on to explain how being a young, dope smoking hippy and finding out that his girlfriend was pregnant gave him the fright big enough to send him running for the hills. But once I was born he was a changed man. He always marveled at my every development growing up and my achievements were his biggest kick.

I sometimes wonder whether I will make a good parent or not. I suppose people would be horrified that I am not sure after all the pain and agony of the TTC journey. I am bossy, and over opinionated with a short fuse. But is it so wrong to want back what I lost with my Dad? It will never replace him but I know that having a child will change and improve me as a person more than anything else.

Happy 60th birthday, Pappie. I love you so much.




I hate Facebook pregnancy announcements!

We have all experienced the hell, the hate, the dark black misery that comes from Facebook pregnancy announcements. All kinds of people from people with PCOS (that has never had her period!) to underage (try18?) to overage (oh, look! I’m 45 and we just had an oops!) to people we hate (read “I stole your boyfriend at varsity but bad karma won’t touch me because guess what…)

This is a great post from Yolk about the awful ways in which people infiltrate our day with this special form of hurt.

One of the comments asks why can’t we be happy for people who announce their pregnancy on Facebook. I agree that we need to realise that our hell is not a reality for most others. But to be able to bitch about it to people who understand is our reality and our right.

We all know that it’s very hard when friends say they are pregnant. I think from living “in the infertile closet” so long I have learnt to put on a brave face and smile through it. And even now when I am being more honest about my feelings I still have a sense that a friend has every right to want me to share her joy, otherwise am I really a friend? But then the other half of me says that she has the happiness which doesn’t depend on hurting me – she will be happily pregnant without my joy. This is still something I am grappling with.

I am quite a Facebook sharer but have never openly admitted to being infertile on FB. I hate the pity and all the crap that comes with it. Besides the many negative outcomes from announcing it I also have horrible visions of my ex boyfriend breathing a sigh of relief that we didn’t end up together (he has 3 little boys now but luckily all of them are very bad sleepers. He he!).

But one thing I do know is that I will be announcing my pregnancy (if it ever happens) on FB. I will disclaim it with the big reveal of the X number of years we have been trying. And I will wait until I am in the 2nd trimester. And I know that all my friends will be happy for me, even my TTC ones.

Until then I will have to try and breezily ignore all those silly ultrasound pics and pics of growing bumps.

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An outsider to the circle

I am determined to have a better week than last week. There are options out there, there is support out there and there are people out there who feel the same way as I do. To you, friends, I applaud you.

Sometimes I feel a little like I am faking this. It’s like I have this out of body experience where I think that surely I must be imagining this all and that I can’t possibly be part of this circle of women who have gone through untold pain and heartache, that I am the outsider looking in. I think this is because for the first 3 years of TTC I didn’t tell many people and brushed everything under the carpet, convinced that I was missing something, that I wasn’t having sex enough or at the wrong times. I was so determined not to be one of those desperate, frail women who define their lives according to their ability to breed (a seriously dogmatic, hardarse and arrogant approach). But after my appointment with the doc back in November there was no denying it anymore – there is a serious problem at play here (although who knows what!). And I think it has been hard to stare this pain right in the face and, well, feel it! So now I find myself tapping on the window of the circle of women who have been honest and straight about their journeys, begging to be let in.

Now there are plans to be made and things to focus on to start getting this ball rolling again. First is the drinking. I have thoughts of my liver being renewed and refreshed! I don’t feel different, healthier or on top of the world. But it must be having a positive effect on a smaller scale and any improvement is good. Then in March I have my first appointment with Vicky Hindmarch who is an acupuncturist who specialises in IF. Then the following month I will pluck up the courage to make certain calls to enquire about IVF through government hospitals. So that is the POA – good advice from the circle has been taken!

Until then I am blessed with a lovely husband, 2 gorgeous doggies (Daisy and Sushi) and a (slightly unpleasant) cat called Minksy. The house is sometimes so full and chaotic that who knows how a baby will fit in!

A very hot day but Daisy insisting on loves from Dad. She is actually fast asleep!

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Detox day 8 – an ode to wine!

Mmm, my good friend! Until we meet again...

Well we made it through the weekend which is huge! We never make it through a weekend without beer and wine. Whenever I am on a diet (yes, I am doing that to myself at the moment as well) chances are always that I am never 100% good on weekend, it’s just too hard. So I am pretty proud of my self control.

And we didn’t kill each other either. It did feel very strange though. We went to rugby on Saturday and who knew a rugby game went on for soooooo long! We then went out for dinner which we were really looking forward to. But as we sat down and ordered a rock shandy the world kind of dulled down. We couldn’t even think of anything interesting to talk about which is not like us at all. We were just missing something. But reading this makes me a little sad. We should have rich lives with or without alcohol. Does this mean we have a problem?

It’s not the feeling from booze (I don’t like feeling drunk) but its the actual booze. I love wine so much, I think I love wine more than food (if thats even possible). I love the taste and the ritual and the colour and the pretty glass…(sniff) I am usually happy with 1 glass, I don’t need to drink a lot (but obviously sometime I do!). W feels the same about beer. He loves it. He loves trying new beers and dark beers and beers made from different stuff. And as he is an avid sports lover beer goes hand in hand with the event.

Obviously as soon as I (oneday, maybe) get pregnant then I will say goodbye to wine. But I will have a very strong reason not to drink. To not drink now, even for this short month, seems like fishing for a shark with a tadpole net. I know everyone talks about diet and being healthy affecting your fertility but surely thats for someone who has only been trying for a short while? After 4 years of trying I don’t think something like eating lots of spinach (or whatever it is) will help that damn sperm boink that damn egg!

But so I press on with the madness. Once again, desperation is my name!

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Detox challenge 1: Girls night blues

So last night was fun! Or not so much.

Every month a group of my girl friends get together for dinner. One of us chooses a restaurant and we try new places every month.

I am usually the one who is loudly talking about my sex life while quaffing down a bottle of wine or 2.  I do this for 2 reasons. Firstly, that’s who I am (expressive, loud) and secondly because I try and keep things light, breezy and fun because believe me, if I don’t then things become desperate. I love my friends BUT (I seem to be saying that a lot) they can get so stuck on the details of mundane life. We are all in our early 30s so obviously there is going to be talk about husbands, and children and buying houses and mother-in-laws etc but is there really the need to talk about maids, and the price of vegetables, and cleaning products and…toothbrushes! Yes, last night we had a 30 minute conversation on toothbrushes and flossing. Do you know how excruciating that was without wine?

But that wasn’t all. Later on I felt that I wanted to bitch and moan a little bit just to try and be me. So I was going on about how being on detox makes me feel like I have nothing left to look forward to, like boozy lunches by the sea, or watching rugby or games of 30 seconds. I was only sort of getting into my bitching session when a friend of mine says “Well, I don’t know what you are whining about, I did it for 9 months while I was pregnant and it was fine.” (!) The knee jerk reaction was to head butt her in the face. But I managed to keep my cool long enough to say that she had a reason for not drinking, like the health and wellbeing of her unborn baby, something which I have not had the pleasure of experiencing yet. But I didn’t want to get into the infertility thing again. I always come out of those conversations feeling even more depressed than going into them as invariably people will end up saying hurtful things and I will just have to take it to keep the peace.

We ended off the evening with chatting about our friend who was absent because she is hugely pregnant and can hardly move. There was lots of deep statements like “Wow, she is on the brink of such a life changing experience” and all of that. By this time I was seriously blue and sober and so over it all. Thinking of this friend just brought up so much envy and desperation that the evening ended on a really bad note for me.

I am finding myself slowly but surely alienating myself from the friends who I know just don’t understand. These are not only the obvious moms or moms-to-be but also those friends who are not yet trying and that its all ahead of them. That doesn’t leave too many people. For someone that has always been surrounded by loads of friends the world is becoming a little lonely for this infertile.


Detox Day 2

So I have explained why we have decided not to go the IVF route yet. But I am not one to sit on my laurels. I have read a book that talks about Chinese medicine working with Western medicine. My husband rolls his eyes at even a mention of ‘alternative’ therapies like acupuncture and homeopathy. But my argument (and I am quite a good arguer) is that it won’t cost us tens of thousands of rands and it can’t do any harm so can we really say we have tried everything when we haven’t tried this? (See?)

You know how everyone with kids always tells you “enjoy this time when you still have free time, and sleep and you can go out at night”? This really makes me want to strangle them because obviously I can do all those things but want more out of life. I want to strangle them even more when they continue to whine about how terrible their lives are (crying babies, no sleep, no sex blah blah) but they always end off the rant with the real twist of the knife like “sigh, but when I hear my baby laugh for the first time I would do it all over again”. So in the last couple of years W and I have taken the advice to heart – the bit about go out and enjoy your youth. We have a busy social life with great friends and frequent and sometimes excessive alcohol consumption. W is an avid sports watcher and player of playstation (yes, they said “enjoy your youth”!) and for a short guy he consumes A LOT of beer. I love good food and wine and time with the girls. Also, not only do I work in advertising but I manage the account of an alcohol brand so part of my job is to schmooze clients while drinking.

W has also battled with smoking for years now. He gave up about 6 years ago and for 2 years he was good. But every six months he has a slip up and goes straight back to smoking full time – no half measures of him! So he started again at the beginning of December. Apart from 2 agonizing days when he tried to quite over New Year and failed he has been smoking ever since. Until yesterday.

So yes, our house is in full detox mode – even the dogs! No alcohol, no cigarettes, no chocolate or anything sweet. We are also supposed to be cutting caffeine which was W’s biggest concern. But we have agreed to only 1 cup of coffee a day and decaf from then on. For the month, even though it’s the shortest month.

Right now I am feeling good about it. There will be less socialising and late nights, no drunk husband or hangovers. That means more quality time together where we can start enjoying each other’s company again, and therefore maybe a bit more nookie. Whether it will be baby-making nookie, um, not so hopeful but it will be fun all the same.

So feel good for now but speak to me in a few days time, round about Saturday night and I doubt my house sans Chardonnay will be a nice place to be!