Wednesday, 9 September 2009

My IVF Story. Part I

The other day at the beach, Dave and I were each holding one of Rocco's hands. It was very cute, I looked at Dave, looked at Rocco, and said "Awwww look, our little embryo."

And he was - our little embryo. The child I pined for so much, for many years.

I have procrastinated writing this post for so long now it's ridiculous .... because we all know what happened, Dave gets cancer and the birth got fucked up and we all drowned and everything was dreadful.

BUT, I need to write this story here. For a lot of reasons .... the main one is to share my experience of infertility with others. It's a subject very close to my heart.

When Max was two months old, back in January 2002, I thought I was pregnant again. I told Dave and he went white with fear. Max was my first child, and his fourth. I wasn't pregnant ... a few days passed, and Dave announced he was getting a vasectomy. I was in New-Baby-Land. Also, New-Mother-Land. I was pre-occupied, in love, amazed and delighted that I had found something in the world who gave me a bigger high and rush than a lot of things ever would. Who knew ... who knew that love felt like THIS?? I certainly didn't. I love Dave - but the love I felt for that tiny baby turned me inside out. It was actually a Spiritual kind of Awakening, but I won't harp on about it beause I'll get annoying. (TOO LATE).

Like, the only thing in the world that could have kept me on solid ground, was falling in love with Max at that exact time of my life. I had never been pregnant before ... I was 29.

So. Back to the vasectomy .... Dave booked it in, and asked me one night. "Hey, you're fine with just having one baby aren't you? Because I'm done." I said sure, that was cool. And it was, at the time. Who thinks of more babies when the baby they have is 2 months old? I was outraged that nobody had told me "the truth" about sleep deprivation.

Dave got the snip, and that was that. Max grew, and around the age of 2, I had the stirrings of a yearning for another child. I felt sad, watching Max grow bigger. That I would never experience this again, that he wouldn't have a "full" sibling, closer to his age. My relationship with Dave was tricky - we went to counselling for a while. I was only just growing up myself. We would go to the marriage counsellor with Max laying in the bassinette in the corner!

Things got better - they always do. Dave and I are a pretty good match. (My friend Palemother recently tweeted to me that "sooner or later, we all realise that we ALL have married the wrong person." This saying made me sigh with relief.)

We got married in November 2005, Max was almost 4. I was extremely clucky, and knew I wanted another baby, but kept pushing the feeling down. I'd talk about it with Dave, but always convince myself that a new baby would steal time away from Max, that I was just being selfish.

A few years passed. It just got bigger and bigger, this Yearning. Huge. Massive. Pregnant bellies would make me cry, or feel angry, or look away in pain. I wasn't "suffering" from infertility, as there was nothing "wrong" with my body. But we were incapable of making a baby on our own, because of Dave's decision to have a vasectomy. I started researching the chances of falling pregnant anyway ... maybe some of his swimmers will escape! It happens! I'd set myself up, every month. To be upset. My heart was sore. I'd never wanted anything so much in my entire life.

Dave knew I was serious, and he understood. We were kind of at a Mexican stand-off. One of us would have to compromise. I wrote him a letter one night, printed it out and left it for him. It's still in my computer. He knew how badly I wanted this .. but all of his kids are evenly spaced by 5 years. He was done, and wanted to start "living." He could also understand where I was at, and told me that if it's what I really wanted, then it was ok by him.

I had been a stepmother to his children for a long time by then. Before he met me, he'd thought that nobody would be interested in him because he had three kids. All of his kids are wonderful. And here he is with somebody who wanted more. I promised him that I would still earn money, writing from home. I set up my own freelance business. I told him to book a trip to Greece, by himself or with a friend. Anything .. he could do anything, if I could just have my baby.

I researched vasectomy reversals. 10 thousand bucks, and only a chance that it may work. I researched IVF ... in Australia, IVF is not so expensive. I looked at a fertility clinic which was also a teaching hospital - not-for-profit. You pay $2900, but got $2200 back with a Medicare claim. (I can't count the amount of times I've felt so badly for my American friends who pay tens of thousands of dollars for their fertility treatments. Something is just not right.)

Most importantly, I found IVF blogs. I found infertility blogs. I found adoption blogs, loss blogs .... hell, I found BLOGS. I had never read a blog before! What are these amazing things?? Who are these amazing women?? It's like I'd discovered a well-kept secret. I even stopped watching television. It was mindblowing.

In April, 2007 - I started my own blog. Under a pseudonym, to document my IVF process. I felt like a bit of a fraud ... I already had a child, conceived with no help or treatments. I realised I was in the "secondary infertility, male factor" category. But, I kind of belonged, to this group of amazing women.

My first appointment at the infertility centre was May 22nd, 2007. I had a DATE. I was living in the possibility that I could have another child - oh my God I was so happy to be given a chance to try, so grateful to my husband for saying yes, knowing how much this meant to me. I was blogging with wild abandon, as it wasn't with my real name. A lot of my family history came out, as well as some dark places I had been in my life. I met people online, which is so foreign and incredibly strange, in the beginning. Now it's just second nature to me.

I was privileged to glimpse these very personal stories, of some brave and courageous women. Imagine - not being able to fall pregnant when you want to! The pain, and the fear. Imagine not knowing if you will ever get to be a mother. The anger that other womens bodies work so effortlessly, but not your own. The loss. My goodness I learnt a lot. And they let me in. I will be forever grateful.

The Big Kahuna of infertility blogs is STIRRUP QUEENS. Written by Mel. She is this firecracker ... just when you think she's straighty-one-eighty, she lets fly with the F-bomb so magnificently. She spoke at the recent BlogHer Community Keynote. She has written a book - Navigating the Land of IF. She brings people in the ALI community together. (Adoption, Loss, Infertility). I have dreamt about her, and will hopefully get to meet her next year. Through her, I have met some of my best friends. If you, or anybody you know, is experiencing anything to do with infertility, send them to Mel. She is incredible.

NEXT UP: Part II. Let the games commence - Dave and Eden make a test-tube baby .... right after the infamous Purple Balls fiasco.


  1. I love that you are writing this out.

    I met Mel at Blogher and when I intorudiced myself she said "wait, I know you- youre the one that eden writes about!"

    I was like "hell yeah- she's my bff"!

    i teared up when I met her bec she does bring this if community together.

  2. i totally wish there was spell check on this thing.

  3. The missing piece! Yay, you are writing the part of the story that I missed. Thanks for the catch up. I never did have a chance to go back and read the archives of Topcat. I just sort of leapt onto the ute and held on for dear life at the very moment of Dave's diagnosis.

    I didn't realize it, but your IF journey was sort of beginning as mine was wrapping up. Your first appointment was about a month before Himself was born. I think our IF stories had some things in common in that it was secondary and that we both knew both sides of the fertility fence and we knew how lucky we were in spite of our angst.

    I knew a lot of women in my IF message board support circles that were struggling to conceive (secondary IF) after reversals. I think most of them won out in the end ... but you are so right ... Australia's more sensible coverage for IVF totally made that the way to go. Good for you guys. And I gotta hand it to Dave for being able to put your happiness above his comfort. That's so huge. He's a keeper.

    HA. That Tweet! You know I second-guessed it badly after I typed it. I thought I should have qualified it more, but you know ... 140 characters doesn't allow for much wind. LOL.

    Relieved to see you got my meaning (of course you did, that's why I love you ... great, twisted minds think alike).

    I meant, you can only really be married, only really love someone (NTM yourself) once you realize that

    A. Your "soul mate" is not going to save you or make you magic wand happy (I feel I should make some clever double entendre about the wand part ... The Kransk, oooo errr).

    B. Soul mates are very human. Warts and all, they are going to piss you off. A lot, sometimes.

    I almost divorced DH at the point that I slammed into those brick walls myself. Came THIS close. Separated for seven months (before kids, thank goodness). Fortunately, he proved his mettle and left the door open until I came to my senses. But it only worked because, rough spots aside, neither one of us gave up. Marriage is such messy business sometimes.




    I had no idea that you did IVF to get around Dave's vasectomy.

    All this time, here I am loving you to bits and thinking I could not possibly feel more connected with you. And now this. Gobsmacked, I am.

    There is so much I want to say about this - how glad I am to hear you describing those crazy hopes that some swimmers would escape, and then the crushing lows when they clearly did not. Cause I so completely did that - for years. And how interesting it is that we both made decisions based partly on cost and expediency - we opted to try the reversal because as long as we stayed in the province, it was much cheaper than trying IVF right from the get go. (Of course, it didn't work, and we probably could have done IVF with the $$ we spent on the reversal and then the donor sperm, but hindsight is all brilliant or whatever...) But, like, WOW. I am amazed that we have this in common. And I want to come over with a box of Tim Tams and make a strong pot of tea and get all sugar-caffeine high and go over every detail with you.


    PS: I told Manny yesterday that he was awesome with the sauce on and he loved it. You are becoming part of the vernacular of our household.

  5. Its about time woman. I have wanted to hear this story forever :)

  6. Thank you for sharing this mate! I've always wondered even though I read Topcat all the way through!

    You know...I felt the same. That first awful loss before I knew about blogging, or bloggers, or the world of wonderful women out there who I would grow to love and learn so much from. I wish I had known about them the first time I was pregnant and innocently sure that I would be having a baby in no time at all. Ha. Thanks Universe!

    The fact that five years later it looks like I will be having a baby is in no small part due to what I have learned from the IF community. And one of the big things I have learned is that sometimes hope is ok. And letting out grief is ok. And last, and not least, that miracles do happen.

    I want to hear about your IVF. And the miracle that happened for you.


  7. Yup. We are... a little over $30K in so far. After next cycle we will be about $50K in. Thank goodness my husband's parents are helping us. But STILL, we've spent more than $10K of our own money on this and are as yet, without a baby.

  8. Yay for you for writing this out! Now get back on the computer and get busy with the next Part/s please.

    I am so glad you have decided to share this here, thank you. I have wondered.

    I heart you.


  9. Thanks for sharing with us. Can't wait to hear more.

  10. I am on the edge of my seat. I wish that I'd waited because now I'm impatient for Part II.

  11. Yeah for writing this.

    Yeah for you. :-)

    I SO want to go to BlogHer to see you guys. Totally jealous. When/if it ever comes to my neck of the woods, I sure hope you'll come there, too!

  12. Two of my friends' husbands had their vasectomies reversed - One friend has 3 kids now, one had to have some sort of treatment (I haven't inquired - I think it would be rude) and has twins now. One of the husbands got another vasectomy (I think he had it - he at least volunteered for it) after the third kid - apparently he likes to sit around with an ice pack on his balls.

    Can't wait to hear the rest of the story!

  13. I loved reading this. I look at my 2 year old daughter and just marvel that she is the wish that came true, though I don't share IF. I'm a lesbian so there werre hurdles, but we were lucky. And part of me still somedays wishes my body would magically produce another child without me having to make the decision and be sure I did everything all responsible like I should. Just have one and make it work.
    Anyhow, great post as usual. Glad you are getting to enjoy your embryo with Dave. And the photo with the egg and spoons was too good.
    Melissa from the US

  14. I was just talking about you the other day to someone -- about stumbling across blogs -- and that amazing moment where the world opens up.

    I love hearing more about your life.

    I honestly think you've changed mine...and in fact, when I read the other post where you mentioned your toe hairs I thought I was the only one who was part hobbit and had to shave my toes -- though one kind person once thought it was sexy....

    and again big things, little things, profound things --

    Love you,

  15. I love reading you and even more so in regards to this. It's amazing how much of a struggle getting pregnant can be. I only wish I had tuned in to the awesome blogging community sooner.
    And it truly is amazing how different love is once you have a child. Britt and I have discussed it several times since Embers was born. I flat out told him, "You know, I love you, but it pales in comparison to my love for Emberly." He agreed.

  16. I've read you from the beginning, mate, but it's nice to get the story again :)

    I'm waiting for the bit abuot how the Mr realises that his part is going to be a lil uncomfortable.



  17. I love this.
    And yes, whenever I encounter someone dealing with infertility I send them to Mel.

  18. Funny you should mention Mel, I just popped over from the crème de la crème list.


Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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