My Busted Stork

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


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A salute to my TTC journey

It’s been almost 2 years since I posted last. I had to approve a recent comment so came back for a little visit and reading my posts have done so much for me.

When I was TTCing I read a lot of blogs and one of my pet peeves (gees, did I have a few!) was following a blog that I really identified with, and then the person went and finally got pregnant and became a mom (continued to blog) and I no longer identified with them at all. They just became another person of which my life is filled – mommies. I was very clear that this blog was about the travails of infertility so what would I have to write about when I came to the end of my journey? I loved the small amount of blogging that I did do but I didn’t think it was fair on anyone reading that I just write about being a mommy. Eeugh!

But in reading my story again yesterday I felt that I hadn’t quite ‘closed the loop’. And I also hadn’t acknowledged how my battle with infertility has been part of my story and a part of who I am today.

So this post is about doing just that. However, I will allow myself one sentence of gushing (here goes). Isaac (AKA Zac) is one year old and is the chubbiest, happiest, cutest baby boy ever known to man and I am one ecstatic, fulfilled and completely smitten girl. There.

While reading this post yesterday it struck me that although I do my fair share of bitching and moaning about sleepless nights and snot in my hair it never leaves me that this is what I so badly yearned for and it is everything I hoped and more. I stare into Zac’s cot and watch him sleep – I actually risk waking him up by going in to see him because I miss him. I don’t think I would quite appreciate him in this way if I hadn’t have gone through the journey I did. I am not for a moment saying that other Moms don’t appreciate their offspring in the same way. But in my personal journey it gives me a perspective that I don’t think I would have without having gone through that kind of pain.

I lost my Mom a month ago. In a cruel twist of fate she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Cancer a few months after moving down to Cape Town to finally be the Granny she always wanted to be. She died 4 months later as a thin, frail shell of her former self. Yes, I know I must be grateful that she at least got to meet Zac. But to be honest I am still pissed off that after all her prayer and sacrifice (like this) she wasn’t able to be Granny at all. Zac will never know the awesome lady that could have been his Granny all through his childhood. She was the one and only person who gave a damn about every small tiny detail. We argued about what to feed him, when to change him, when to stop breastfeeding, what time he should sleep. She wanted to be part of all of it and now she can’t be. But in all that anger there is gratitude. As she lay dying I whispered to her that I am so thankful that God blessed me with Zac before she died because it meant that I could understand her as a Mom. I could understand her love for me in a way I never could before. I could understand that her love for me caused her physical pain and that she wished and prayed for my happiness above her own. To have missed out on this understanding would have been so much harder to bear.

On a lighter note I have become all that I detested! Yes, that is sad to all those reading that are still TTCing. I know I would have said – “can’t one of you smug mommies just hold on to one iota of strength and bitterness and not buckle under the pressure to be gooey about your offspring?” Well, I wish I could but we are not built for it and I am not going to profess to be stronger than my emotions. I talk about poo, I don’t sleep well, I boast about Zac’s genius, I band together with other moms for support. I am my own worst nightmare and I love it.

But I am also aware of the thorn in my side. That ugly little devil is not dead yet.  Now all my mommy friends are going on for number 2 or 3 and I sit quietly calculating how I am going to have to cash in a policy or sell my house to go for number 2. After the horror of that FET cycle I was the happiest, most excited pregnant woman on earth and I have to, need to, have that one more time.

So until round 2 strikes, good luck to all of you out there and please keep in touch.

(I leave you with a picture, I’m sorry, I physically couldn’t resist!)

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My first IVF cycle Part 3: Growing babies and trusting my body

Things were becoming very real. There were 8 possible babies chilling in a petrie dish somewhere and we had to wrap our heads around how each one of them had the possibility to become a completely individual human being.

I had such a complete meltdown over nothing on the way to the transfer appointment. It was Saturday morning and W got up early to go and fetch our man who works for us in the garden. But W didn’t know that the guy wasn’t where he thought he was and my cell just up and died so I couldn’t get hold of W to tell him to not wait anymore and come home because we had to leave. W was also being really thick because I had told him that the time of our appointment had been moved a half hour earlier but he had forgotten and was chilling at a MacDonalds somewhere while I, unable to get hold of him, was pacing on the street outside. I tore off to the MacDonalds to get him, luckily found him there and was shaking with stress and rage. As I have said, no one knows how to bring out the monster in my quite like my Darling Husband. Not the serenity I had hoped to have that morning!

We arrived at the clinic and were taken through to a room that has a labour bed, a TV on the wall, an ultrasound and a mysterious hatch in the wall. The Doc had asked that I come prepared in 2 ways: Have my husband with me to hold my hand (or rather glare at from the other side of the room!) and a full bladder which didn’t happen because I had forgotten to drink anything during my stressful morning. So I got up onto the beds with my legs in those awful stirrups and the bum part down so you really feel at your most attractive. On the screen was a webcam view of our petrie dish with the 2 selected Embryos. The screen also showed the microscope view of the embryos.

Perfect little blast number 1

Perfect little blast number 2

The next part wasn’t so fun. I wasn’t expecting it to be so sore! The Doc inserted his horrible little tool that felt like it was ripping open my vagina and I nearly hit the roof. The nurse was trying to soothe me while the Doc said something really irritating like “yes, it will feel a little tight”. Yeah right dude, when you have a sharp metal object ripping you open then lets talk about the use of the word ‘tight’ and see if that is indeed what it is. So once again a harsh reality taking away from the serenity of the moment. Through gritted teeth I watched the lab technician on the screen aspirate the 2 embies into a tube and hand them to the Doc through the hatch in the wall. Doc then used an external ultrasound to guide the tube into the uterus to deposit the embies in the lining. Who knows if he chose the right spot? Or whether that even matters? I was just happy it was over and he could take that dreadful thing out of my vagina. I then had to lie there for 10min and think positive thoughts. Hmmm.

Ironically this was a joyful experience and shows that there are 2 sides to this IVF coin. Besides the horrors, the fears, the pain there is a surprising side that you discover along the journey. You are completely in touch and in tune with your body – it is hard graft getting pregnant and if moms going through labour pains feel that the journey is worth it then I suppose this is another version of that labour. And you know the exact moment of everything. You know when you ovulate – because you take a shot to trigger it. You know when you are growing eggs. Even this is special because you see those eggs at least twice and you know they could be half of what makes a baby. There are 13 of the bloody things so you think about which one will make it and the odds of one versus the other – would they have different personalities and looks and talents. Then W goes in and the pressure is off when it comes to his underperforming sperm. He must have at least 13 good sperm which is like 0.00000001% of the total sample. And you realise that when they fertilise it is most likely that it is the first time this has happened after thousands of times of us trying on our own. Science is amazing!

The next stage is the scariest because I have lost faith in my own body – my body has never pulled through before and now I had to trust it to clinch the deal. Science’s job comes to an end – it has kept up it’s side of the bargain. And the precious cargo is now unloaded to our untrustworthy bodies which have let us down so many times before. That is big-deal stuff right there!


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My first IVF cycle Part 1: Numb Robot versus Tinkerbell

Ha ha. I just read this post and had a good chuckle to myself. This is so typical me – I was all indignation and resentment but it didn’t take me long to get over that and start scheming how to get on this IVF train. We have been waiting for my Gran’s estate to come through and so as soon as we had the money we went to see the doc, which was last month.

In June/July this year we had an amazing overseas holiday, also paid for by my inheritance. My Darling brother got married on a beach in Scotland and it was one of the most special times.

Gypsy bride!

Then W and I went off for a dream-come-true week in Italy. We didn’t have too much money but we had the best time. It was so good for us. We laughed, drank, ate, got lost, nearly died on a moped, swam in the Med and soaked up everything.

Florence!

We both thought that with the amount of romance in the air we might even have a little Italian baby on board (we would name him Sergio!) but OF COURSE NOT! What overcame me to be so uncharacteristically optimistic, I have no idea.

So we came home to money in our bank account and decided to bite the bullet. It actually took me a few weeks to make my first appointment. I really think that in the last year I have had to harden my heart. I withdrew from the broodiness and the yearning and the “why me!”. I would grimly face visits with friends and their kids and either climb into the nearest bottle of wine or else clam up and look for the closest exit. I knew that I didn’t have the resources to face things. And then my best friend, the last one standing, fell pregnant unexpectedly. But I soldiered on and to be honest it really worked. I had moments of despair but I felt so numb that after a short time everything returned to normal.

Intro The Numb Robot. A friend remarked on how I didn’t seem that excited or positive about doing IVF. I just matter-of-factly decided we were going ahead. I think I am so immune to getting my hopes up after years of having them dashed.  So a battle ensued –  The mean Numb Robot against the tinkerbell fairy daydreaming about pink booties.  Squash! …fairy dust.

So I made the appointment and we went to see our Fertility Specialist. He had a quick look and remarked on how healthy everything was looking and said we should go for it. A few days later I got my period the doc gave me a whole freakin cooler box full of drugs, needles, you name it. It was a formidable sight.

Ouch!

But it was a challenge I took head on. My first time injecting myself was a metaphor for how I have approached this whole thing. There was a bit of fumbling around with the syringe but when it came to jabbing that needle into my flesh (thanks to the Numb Robot) I didn’t stop to think and just went for it.

I started almost looking forward to my morning jab. For the first time in many years I could DO SOMETHING to getting a baby. I suppose it was the same mechanical, pragmatic approach that I used to sometimes view sex when we were “trying” (You know , that really awful awkward sex when you would rather scrub the toilet bowl with a toothbrush rather than touch each other. The sex is like scraping your nails down a blackboard. But you do it to get it done. Oh, those blissful times.)

Heroine addicts had nothing on me. I jabbed away with 3 amps of Menopur started on CD3 (Cycle day3) for about 10 days. I embraced the pin cushion inside of me.

More to come!


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Purchasing babies

So most people would probably ask me why I haven’t tried IVF yet. The truth is I really didn’t think it had resorted to that until 3 months ago. After taking a years break from fertility specialists I always thought I would go back and start the different treatments and drugs again – pick up from where I left off a year ago. So when I saw the doc he explained to me that seeing that it had been 18 months since my lap to clear the endometriosis and still nothing had happened the odds were not in our favour – statistically I should be pregnant by now. And therefore IVF was now the only option. That came as a huge blow.

Besides the initial weepy “poor me” vibe all I felt was anger. Why do drunk and stoned irresponsible teenagers fall pregnant? Why do the mega wealthy have babies easily? Why do I have to make the decision to put our financial futures in jeopardy just to have children when its something we are built to do for free? Rational? That is something I have never claimed to be!

My best friend (J) lives in Joburg and I distinctly remember the conversation after my doctors appointment. She kept asking why don’t I just find the money and do it until I blasted her with the above ranting and raving. There was a strained silence on the other end of the phone. Then I remembered that she was going to go for IVF after 3 months of trying to conceive! And in the nick of time her body conceded and she fell pregnant. She lives in a world where she has the luxury of throwing money at a problem. Unfortunately I don’t. My husband is a teacher – yes, not a vocation known for bringing in bagfuls of money. I am in advertising – also one of the worst paid industries if you consider the danger pay of potentially killing or being killed by overly passionate or stressed out colleagues. Forking out the 30k for ONE round of IVF would cripple us, not only financially but imagine the emotional pain of it not working and still paying off a high interest loan every month?

So right now I am making a stand. I won’t buy the conception of my child just yet. I won’t stoop to the level of my doctors laziness at not even finding out WHY we can’t fall pregnant. I will find another way.

And once I get down off my high horse, after another year of nothing happening, I will probably bow and scrape together the funds and obsess about the contents of a test tube.

I hate that infertiles are always reduced to going back on their principles out of pure desperation. It’s very sad.