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.

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