Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Love and Pain and Truth

I haven't even started writing this yet and there are already tears. This post has been brewing for over a year. I've procrastinated and pretended, but I guess it's time to say how I have really been feeling. To myself as much as to you. I know that I write here about my husband and children ... I have asked their permission, and as long as I don't embarrass or shame them, they have agreed. I have not written about this because I wasn't ready. It's difficult to narrate something that you are still living and feeling. But it's time, now.

I went through years of aching for a baby, then I did IVF, then I fell pregnant on my first try. Everybody said, "Straight away! It's a sign ... it's meant to be." Which always made me feel uncomfortable ... what about all the fellow infertile bloggers I had come to know and love, who weren't falling pregnant. Was it not their "time" ... was it not meant to "be" for them? But I accepted peoples good wishes and went along in the process of watching my belly swell, neatly placing my six pack of Chicken McNuggets inside my Quarter Pounder.

I was beyond elated. Finally, the thing I wanted the most in the whole world was happening ... I had MADE it happen, almost forced it. My intense wish to have another child was being granted. Life was amazing. 2007 and early 2008 was a wonderful time. It was just Dave, Max and I. Cruisy and quiet. I imagined what it would be like when the baby was here ... the cute little clothes, the tiny little miracle that was coming into our lives. I remember clearly thinking .... this could be as good as it ever gets. Enjoy these feelings.

I was so happy.

But there was something wrong with Dave. We thought it was because of work, or kids. He seemed "off' ... had bad heartburn, couldn't lose weight, and was not himself. Then his pain started ... a torn stomach muscle? A hernia? He asked me what side his appendix was on. I was annoyed at him. I actually said, "Come on, hon. I need you to be strong. I'm about to have a baby."

His pain got worse in a manner of weeks. He went to the doctor, the ER in hospital ..... finally, some random GP ordered some specific scans, as a long shot. I was so pregnant, so excited ... but the sheen started to wear off. I had a terrible feeling of foreboding, and said to him before his scan, "What if they find a black mass, hon??" Dave laughed at me, his glass-half-empty wife.

The instant Dave walked in the door after being gone for hours, getting his scans and results .... everything changed. Our entire family landscape got forever altered. Because cancer can go away, but it never actually goes "away". I knew that we would never be the same again - even if Dave beats this, we would always have to look behind and around and inside us, for the cancer can always come back.

The word "cancer" passed Dave's lips, and my pregnancy instantly took a back seat. And that did not stop once the baby was born ... Rocco was an afterthought. My entire pregnancy, I was most looking forward to being in hospital with my baby, just the two of us. And it turned out to be the worst week of my life. Dave was in oncology in a bigger hospital over an hour away; and we didn't know if he would make it.

Schadenfreude at its best. My enemies would have had a field day. It really, painfully sucked to be me.

So that's all background ... what I'm getting to here is Rocco.


He was a hard baby. He came into the world pissed off .. maybe because his birth was a planned c-section and he wasn't ready to come out yet. I could handle the cancer, the chemo, the fear, the nappies, the painful breastfeeding, the no sleep ... all of that. I am strong, and I could handle all of that.

But the crying.

That crying. I raged at God in those months. How can you fucking do this to me, motherfucker!!! Wave your fricken God-wand and make this baby STOP CRYING.

Alas, there was nothing anyone could do ... Rocco just cried a lot. My wonderul friend Anna recently told me that maybe he was crying for all of us. And maybe he was. But I swear it sent me over the edge. I felt like I hated him. I did not want a baby anymore. I had to walk out of his room many, many times, for fear I would hurt him. I walked around the block, around the house, around the kitchen, around the fucking bend ....... his crying sent me crazy.

And he would fight me at every turn - feeding, changing a nappy - everything. He was a hard baby. I couldn't help comparing him to Max. To my disappointment I realised that I had expected another Max. My dream baby, the baby who anchored me to Life in a way that nothing else ever could.

I didn't want this baby - this crying, flailing, cranky baby. I wanted a nicer, quieter baby.

I had waited so long for him and it was all terrible. Dave couldn't help because he was sick, so it was all on me. I despaired. I thought Rocco hated me, I didn't play with him, didn't drink in his newborn-ness like I had imagined. I ignored him when I could, left him at home with Dave at nights so I could just get away.

Serves me right .... I wanted too much, and look what happened. Greedy, greedy girl.

I would write a bit about how hard it was, but always end the posts with, "but I love him so much and snuggle him and thank my lucky stars he is here."

I lied.

My sisters knew .... thank God there are no filters with us, I have told them the most terrible, shocking things. And they understood and didn't judge, and in some ways, have been there too because not all babies are easy ...... WHO KNEW.

When Rocco started daycare back in April, I was appalled at my relief. Driving off, having him looked after for for a few days in a row .... my God I needed the respite. I'd count down the days until daycare days would start again. I had wanted him so much, yet couldn't wait to palm him off. And left it til the last minute to pick him up, and then counted down the hours until his bedtime.

To this day, I wake up in the night with a racing heart. His night wakings have been like ..... like my fucking PUNISHMENT for doing something wrong. He cries because his leg is poking out, or his sheet is off ... or just because he wants to cry. So I go through the whole rigmarole of training him - again, letting him cry it out, reminding him that night times are for sleeping. I have to tell Dave to put his ear plugs in, otherwise he gets up and pats him.


I am wild, in the middle of the hard nights. Wild and angry and just fucking tired. I have punched pillows and wailed and stomped around. Recently I read a blog discussion on letting your baby cry - how damaging it is, detrimental to the babies mental health, and all the damage done in the first year if you let them cry. It made me feel really bad, all these women chiming in with "hold your babies close" .... "just rock them" ... "can't understand how a mother can let her baby cry."

I can understand it. I've learnt so much compassion and empathy for other mothers who struggle. It's easy to judge, especially when your so loved-up living in newborn land.

I wonder what kind of a baby Rocco would have been if Dave had not gotten cancer. I wonder if Dave would have still got cancer if I had not been pregnant. I wonder if I did not do the IVF, if the desire to have another child would have faded. If a baby cries in the forest and the mother is off having a mental breakdown, would the baby be scarred for life?

Years from now, I will probably look back on photos of Rocco at this time and my heart will do the usual, "Ohhh! He was so tiny and perfect and beautiful!" And he was and he was and he is. But I will never forget how hard it's been.

These days ... these new days, when he walks up to me and hugs me, when he looks into my eyes, plays with his brothers, says words, and is just so SO much more content in the world .... it's getting better. Rocco and I have turned the biggest corner together. We dig each other. I'm starting to understand now why I did it all ... those moments where your heart melts and I hug and hug him. And for the first time, he lets me.

Rocco is a beautiful, funny, adorable child.

Last week I took Max to the movies to see Up. We sat in the theatre, but before the film came on there was a short film called "Partly Cloudy." It's shows clouds making beautiful babies for the storks to come and deliver to people and animals. Gus is a lonely grey cloud who creates dangerous babies like crocodiles, porcupines, and rams ... the stork who delivers Gus's babies gets pummeled, punched, and beaten. This poor stork has to work so very hard ... and at one point, looks around at all the other clouds creating wonderful, contented babies.

I start to cry. I got given the most beautiful baby too .... but he pummeled and crashed into me. He rebelled and raged, fought me at every turn. In the end, Gus's stork flies off and he thinks he is gone - but he's not. He flies back, and has on his head a helmet. And got on with the business of looking after the babies he was entrusted to deliver.

I was sobbing, lost in thought about how this applied to Rocco and I. I've learnt so much ... the biggest thing being how to love him. I feed him and take care of him ... but really love him. The credits rolled ... Max turned to me so confused. "Was that it??" I couldn't talk. "WHAT? Is that the end of the movie??" His confusion so strong it made me laugh.

I miss Rocco now, when I am not with him. It's such an awesome feeling to have. I never want him to feel like I don't love him. One day I will tell him the story about his birth, and how tricky it was for us - all of us. And I will tickle him, and tease him about his crying, and smoosh my head up to his sweaty face and drink him in.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

If Rocco Could Motherfucking Talk ...

.... then he would say:

"Oh man. ANOTHER night with hardly any sleep. Can hardly keep eyes open. This getting up ten times a night is getting old. Where's my double-shot flat white ...." -

"Mum! I need my coffee, dammit." -

"Ooooomph. Gemph. Hrmmmmm. Oh yeah baby, dis da shit." -

"I wonder if I can eat my cup now, like in Willy Wonka when they eat the dishes. The first version with Gene Wilder, not the Johnny Depp version .... can't believe they just got one midget for the whole of the Oompa Loompa scenes. Tightarses. Wow I'm not tired anymore. Feel great. On top 'o' the world, Ma! In fact, I could go another coffee. Perks me up a bit, yannow? Can I get another flat white please thanks. Mum. MUUUUUUUUM Are you even listening to me?? What do you mean, you're tired too?? ...."

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Mmmmffff, I just love chocolate. Makes you feel sexy, you know?

I don't drink, take drugs, or smoke. But I eat a lot of chocolate .... this clip is EXACTLY what happens whenever I buy some.

- From one of the best TV shows of all time, 3 Non-Blondes

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

The New Girl Comes Home

The little red-haired girl .... top row, second from left. Drasa Avenue Primary School, Fiji - 1977.

Max is almost eight. By the time I was his age, I had already been to three schools. I can't imagine uprooting him now, taking him away from all of his friends and the connections he has made. At a parent/teacher interview recently, I was gobsmacked at his teachers words: "He is the most popular boy in his class, if not the whole year. Children scramble to sit next to him ... I only hope he uses his immense powers for good."

I went to nine schools. Nine. Schools. And I resent the hell out of it. I started kindergarten in a country town called Cooma ... living with my grandparents at the time, as mum had not long left our real father. I didn't even complete the first year .... mum met "our new dad" who got a job in Fiji, so guess who dragged her three young daughters to follow him? My grandmother was livid, and told mum she would "rue the day" she took her daughters away like this. Mum always scoffed at that. Years later .... long after the last drunken dinner party, after the suicide of our stepfather, I realised that my grandmother had been right. To this day, I wonder if mum "rues the day" she took her kids away.

Some schools were pretty cool .... the one in Fiji was an eye-opener. We were there for a year, wore green dresses and shoes were optional. We would buy cups of hot crunchy peas at the tuckshop. Whites were in the minority ... I remember being loathed and bullied by the Indians. The Indians hated white people. They would break the rubber off the tops of my pencils, make me cry. But my teacher was wonderful. I forget her name, but she taught me how to read. She would draw a little red wagon on the board to carry the "e" over to the word "rat." Rate ... a brand new word. I understood it so well, I think she made me fall in love with words and all of their meanings.

The following year we came back to Australia, and I went to a Catholic school in Sydney. I would flash all the boys my underpants, every single day. And try to kiss them. Then, we moved into the house that held the most of our childhood. Our brother was born ... we stayed for eight years. We became filthy rich overnight, and started going to private schools. Then we moved to England, and I went to school there. I was sixteen, and PAINFULLY DORKY. The world's biggest plastic glasses did not help. How confident I was and how I looked at the time ... were the two biggest factors in what group I was in at whatever school I went to. Sometimes cool, sometimes nerdy. Always the new girl. For three years in a row, I started a new high school. Remember how painful being a teenager is? I had to walk in to classes and stumble over my words and go crimson with shame. I was often very shy, thought I was ugly, and never had a boyfriend. We were soon flat broke again ... my chameleon training had begun. I always slipped through the cracks .. at home my mother called me stupid every day of my life, and at school I thought I was too stupid to try. Except in English .... I always kicked arse in English, especially in creative writing. The one thing I didn't need to study for, could just use my imagination.

So. It has been twenty years since I was at school. Twenty! I have avoided every single reunion from every single school ..... I have been so angry, I missed out on "proper" friendships with people. It's not as cool as it looks in movies ... being new in school SUX. I missed out on graduation and the debutante ball. I fit in everywhere and nowhere. One thing that hurt me deeply was at my dads funeral ... I was in between schools. So my sisters had a whole heap of their friends there, yet I had none.

Ouch. Still stings, after all this time.

There was one school that I attended for four years. A PB. The twenty year reunion was last Saturday night ...... and I went. It was the best damn fun I have had in years. Even though it's a rich hoity toity school and they served up pathetic barbeque chicken which I paid twenty bucks for .... even though I do not drink, therefore had no lubricationary activities to take the edge of my intense nervouseness.

It was amazing .... to see the familiar faces, twenty years on. I remember when they had the ten year reunion, and I couldn't go because I was institutionalised. *ahem* ... And people knew, I knew they knew. My stepdad used to be Head of the School Auxiliary or some shit. Which is laughable, considering he couldn't really give a fuck about us at home. He just liked the power and attention that came with it.

People asked, "Eden! What have you been up to for twenty years??" It's a tricky question, and I always think and censor myself. But on Saturday, I was unusually honest about myself .. spoke frankly, and didn't really mind what people thought. We went out afterwards .... I proved to myself, yet again, that I do not need alcohol to have a good time. I was first on the dancefloor (Sa Sa Sa Sa Sa Salt and Pepa's here!!!) ... and pretty much stayed there until 3.30am, the latest I have stayed out in ten years! I did not want to go home. Ever. I played the air guitar in front of horrified, nubile, eighteen-year-old blonde things .... drank three Redbulls in quick succession and thought I would have a heart attack .... and grabbed my friends cigarette and took the biggest motherfucking drag. FREEDOM.

My stepsons friends were everywhere ... and a few texted him, with reports they had seen me out.

We all laughed and talked and danced and let our hair down. Spoke about kids and divorce and addiction and cancer and love and hope.

I belonged! Until .... I told some really dark tales of where I had been and what I had done and what happened last year ..... and they looked at me with love and compassion, and I belonged even more. The Truth really can set you free. Who knew?

It was one of the best nights of my life. Even though I am still painfully shy ...... see?

I drove into my driveway at almost 4am, got out of my car, and it was so peaceful and quiet. All the boys were asleep, and I looked up at all of the trees, realising they had been there all along. Rocco woke me up at 5.30am, and I didn't even mind. It was like he had been training me like an athlete for over a year now .... if sleep deprivation were an Olympic event, I would win gold.

Everyone met for brekkie the next morning, we all laughed at each others sunglasses. Then we all drove off, in a competition to upload party pics on facebook first. I totally won ..... because I live around the corner from that stupid hoity toity school and drive past it every fricken day. I'm like Klinger, staying in Korea after the war is over.

Friday, 18 September 2009

... and the gullet of the mother shall be passed down unto the sons ...

When Dave watches me eat or drink, he calls me "the gullet." Which is SO romantic. It's true, I have a huge capacity to fit things in my mouth (insert witty joke about blowjobs here) ... it's no surprise I've won every beer skulling competition I went in.

I have sat at the dinner table after eating, taken a sip of my sparkling mineral water, to find half a glass is gone. It makes me feel proud that Dave is so disgusted ... I say "I KNOW! CAN YOU IMAGINE ME IN MY DRINKING DAYS!!!" He almost shudders.

It appears I am harbouring a certain son with certain gullet-like tendencies of his own. I bought Max a roll of bubble gum as a treat .... parked the car, turned to him, and saw this:


"Is that empty??"

He could only nod in agreement.

Then, the very next day, he had to read a book to his class. He chose Mr Noisy, his favourite of the Mr Men books. I happened to make a cake that night and asked Dave to ice Mr Noisy onto it, to celebrate Max's achievement. He did, we called Max downstairs and he was SO excited. Dave and I stood chatting while Max cut his cake. We turned around to see the piece he'd cut for himself:

SERIOUSLY. Max saw our faces, said, "Ummmmm, maybe it's a little bit big??"

I wonder if gluttony is learned or genetic. We have been known to search underneath Rocco's highchair for food he's obviously dropped because nobody could eat that quickly.

We never find anything.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Again with the IVF: Things the Cherryblossom Taught Us

Preface: Everybody in this house has been hit with a stomach bug so violent, and so long-lasting that I have gone crazy and come back again. Poor Rocco ... it has been the sickest he has ever been. A few nights ago was one of the worst nights of his life, possibly even worse than his first night home after he was born. Emergency midnight baths were needed, he was up every half-hour, shitting and teething and crying. Dave is away - it was all up to me.

Where do those deep wells of mother love and kindness come from? Mine *almost* ran dry. I don't function so hot when things are too overwhelming for me. As you can see from my twitter update yesterday:

I wasn't joking, not one little bit. (Click on above image for a larger view ... please note, my cluttered, overflowing "office" is so messy that I must write from bed. One day, when real life starts, I will get organised. I will. Why can I suddenly hear my sisters laughing?)

So, that's why it's taken so long to post. I have a series of posts waiting patiently in line in my head, after this IVF mini-series is finished. They have all taken a number from the deli counter machine. But they all came after this, and none would make any sense until I had written this out.


Before you read this post you must look at this photo of Dave planting a Cherryblossom tree on the 1st September, 2007:

My embryo transfer was the 1st September, 2007. The first day of spring .. a Saturday. I'd driven down by myself .... Dave hardly came to any appointments at all with me to do with the IVF, which was mostly fine. It took AGES for his poor purple nethers to heal .. and all of you are right. It was such a display of love. The doctor actually stuffed up the first sperm aspiration, and had to do it twice on Dave. Twice. The guy's a keeper.

Straight after my embryo transfer, I drove into the driveway to find Dave gardening. He called me over to tell me he was planting a cherryblossom tree. He said, "I thought I could plant this, the same day you got implanted." I smiled. My first thought was to correct his mistakes, because ask ANY woman undergoing fertility treatments and she will tell you that "implant" and "transfer" are two very, very different things. Embryo transfer is when the embryo is transferred into the uterus. Implantation occurs when the embryo adheres, or implants, to the wall of the uterus. Not every embryo transfer ends in a pregnancy. Sometimes, the embryo does not implant. This could be for different reasons, but it's the same as "normal" babymaking ... just because you have sex doesn't mean you get pregnant, even if the sperm travels to the egg at the right time, etc.

The second, louder but unspoken thought I had when I saw Dave planting that cherryblossom tree ... YOU IDIOT! Because it's rare for a woman to achieve a pregnancy and then go on to have a child, after her first-ever IVF cycle. All the nurses all the way through spoke to me as if my first cycle was doomed anyway, more of an "oh, let's see what we do wrong now so we can do it right the next time" kind of way. So I expected it to fail, yet inexplicably and simultaneously expecting it to succeed. Strange.

I watched Dave plant the tree - even took a photo, and resigned myself to the fact that the tree would always remind me of my first failed IVF cycle.

Have I ever mentioned I'm a glass-half-empty kind of gal?

I went inside, walked straight upstairs, and pissed on the first of 798 pregnancy tests I had stashed away. I had been given an HcG shot, so knew I would get double lines. My plan was to test every day, watch the second line fade, and then if I really WAS pregnant, hopefully watch a second line appear.

I took it easy, laid around. Walked gingerly. Full of this brand-new hope that, after all these years, there was an actually possibility I might be pregnant. The only people who knew were my sisters ... and my bloggy peeps. I blogged everything, in detail, daily. It was exciting, and nerve-wracking, wonderful and terrible. I received support from women still in the trenches ... still undergoing treatment to try for their first child. And here I was, hoping for my second. I will forever be grateful and amazed at their Grace, to give support freely to me.

There is this thing called the 2-week wait, or 2WW. Like, a limboland, waiting for the embryo to implant ... or not. Every twinge, every bump ... is obviously a sign from Jesus.

I promised Dave I wouldn't piss on any pregnancy tests, but I privately pissed on every pregnancy test. One day I was waiting for one to dry, ran outside to my car, and I don't know how but I managed to drop it in the crevice of my dashboard console. I think of it sometimes ... still there, with the answer that I never saw.

The HcG finally went down after a week, so I had a pure white test one morning, with no false second line. Let the games begin. Wanting something so badly .... made my heart spin around on its bloody axis a few times, do some somersaults off a lung, then spring back in its place.

At 8dp2dt (8 days past a 2-day transfer - (embryo was 2 days old)) .... I was down in Sydney with Max, about to go to his cousins birthday party. We were in a food hall, suddenly I got ravenous, and craved a particular food. Right then, with my mouth salivating, I knew. I knew I was pregnant. I bought some massamum curry with naan and dahl, wolfed them down, and went to a public toilet for pregnancy test #649. (Nancy I know you don't believe in food cravings, and I never had any with Max - but I swear, that was the first of MANY food cravings. I'm here to tell you .. they are real.)

So, I took my first big proper official pregnancy test in a disabled/parenting toilet in Bondi Westfields, with my five year old fully clued in. "MUM! Why are you weeing on a plastic thing??"

(I'm all class. Delayed gratification? What's that?)

The pregnancy test was positive.

The end.


It wasn't the end - it was just the beginning. Of the second-biggest, longest, torturous journey I have ever been on in my life.

Here is the Cherryblossom, two years later. (I put this post into Stirrup Queens weekly Show and Tell .)
Spring is here .... the blossoms are just starting to show. The buds and flowers and fresh growth are all there, just below the surface. How can I be 37 and not know that all of that renewal is underneath the barest of branches? Like, I didn't know Dave's renewal was underneath all of his cancer and sick and tumours. Patrick Swayze died this week from cancer. A husband of one of Maxs teachers at school died this week, from cancer. Max brought the note home, with this look in his eyes. I read it and was silent. Max turned to me ... "Mum, can you believe dad SURVIVED????"

The Cherryblossom does not remind me of my failed IVF attempt ... it was Dave's intention for it to remind me of the baby that was to hopefully come. The tree has stood there, quietly, doing its own thing. Throughout all the chaos and bullshit, it's just there, being a Cherryblossom tree.

It's teaching me things that I don't even realise yet .... Zen things.


(PS: I will now be blogging a whole lot more often)

Friday, 11 September 2009

My IVF Story Part II ... The Shooting Star

It's the eighth anniversary of September 11. I remember it vividly, crying and watching the TV all day. I just read this post of Penelope's. I wondered if the owner of the hand she held got out safely. I hope so.


So, Dave agreed to *try* to have another child. This is big .... I was in awe. "Wow, you must really love me!"

He must.

I was elated, and very scared. This is what happens in your brain when you decide to pursue fertility treatments:

What if it works? What if it doesn't? What if it works? What if it doesn't? What if it works? What if it doesn't? What if it works? What if it doesn't? What if it works? What if it doesn't? What if it works? What if it doesn't? What if it works? What if it doesn't? What if it works? What if it doesn't? What if it works? What if it doesn't? What if it works? What if it doesn't .... etc.

All aboard the crazy train, toot toot!

We went to the appointment, got the go-ahead. Living in anticipation that it might work is sweet. Living in the fear of it failing is hard ... and I already had a child. I was lucky. If IVF didn't work for us ... well, it would be very hard, and very disappointing - but I had Max. Some people go through cycle after cycle, year after year. And they do not conceive a child. And I can't imagine how hard that would be.

When I was a kid, there was a woman who lived around the block who was infertile. Her name was Lyn. I remember her last name. She wore her hair high in these buns, and had a fake boob from the chemo she had for her breast cancer. You couldn't tell which one was real and which one was fake ... I stared at it all the time. I remember the inside of her house ... so neat and clean and stylish. I remember my mother gossiping viciously about her, and I always wondered how Lynn really felt. She always looked happy.

I used to knock on her front door and run away to hide, watching her come and answer her door. After a while she would get so annoyed. I don't know why she did this - I liked her. She was a warm and giving person. Maybe I wished she was my mother. Maybe I was just a brat. As far as I know, she never had children.

Some people say silly things, to couples who are having difficulties conceiving. "Just relax" ... "Why don't you just adopt" .... "not everyone was meant to have children." Silly, thoughtless things to say.

I didn't tell anybody about doing IVF. Except my sisters. I didn't like the idea of people knowing how badly I wanted something. In all my outspoken showy-off inappropriateness, I can be very private.

I rang the IVF clinic on the day of my cycle, told them I was good to go. (Actually, I told them I had my period. Strange, calling up somebody and saying "Umm, hi - I just got my period! *Cue gameshow music*).

And so it began. Going on the pill for a month had turned me NUTS, but it was so purposeful. To actually take the steps. To know I had the chance to be pregnant again. It was fucking awesome, and I will be forever grateful to Dave for making that decision. Regardless of what happened next ... he let me try.

The Eggs are Gettin Bigger August 25th 2007 -

I have come to look forward to the long drives down and back to the hospital. And I love .... the Gonal F injections. They were the things I was most worried about! I remember earlier this year, finding out EXACTLY what doing IVF entailed, and crying so hard, I couldn't believe how invasive it was. But, I guess you kind of get used to it. It's amazing how we adapt, how the abnormal becomes normal.So, I'm pretty sure I'm responding well. (Yay!) My tummy feels like this. I have to hold it to laugh.

I showed off to Dave tonight with my Puffy White Pen, and made him squirm as I shot up. Felt pretty fucking tough.I can't actually believe that I'll make it to retrieval, it seems so surreal. After all these years. Sometimes I feel like there's a baby up above, guiding me on, waiting .... and other times I just feel that this will all turn to shit, I'll have a MAJOR meltdown and howl at the Gods and take up smoking again and fly by myself to Paris on a whim. Strange. I'm right smack bang in the middle of an IVF cycle. It's safe in the middle. I like it here. Big bloated gut and all - it's safe. The beginning was terrifying. And the end? I have abso-fucken-lutely no idea.

Day of Egg Retrieval August 30th 2007 -

Dave had to have a sperm aspiration, at the same time I was getting my eggs retrieved. He got a big fat needle in his nethers, for ME! So romantic. I came to, and he's standing over my bed.

"YOU LIED." (I may have told him that it wouldn't hurt.) I ate a ham sandwich, groggy and sick ... and he looked at me like a wounded bull. I could not believe how he still had trillions of sperm. Through his pain, he was pretty impressed with himself too.

I'm so overwhelmed - driving home, I teared up, and told Dave that what he did today - was the most amazing, most giving thing anyone had ever done for me in my life. And how much I love him.

So tonight, right now, right this second, in a hospital clinic west of Sydney, some of Dave's MANY sperm are all dressed up, on their best behaviour .... one may even have a rose clenched in his teeth .... smooth talking the hell out of my freshly harvested eggs. "How YOU doin'?"
Please send them Barry White thoughts!

The Shooting Star 2nd September 2007 -

Well. I have MUCH to say. So please get comfy! Firstly, I'm still in shock ... that my husband is so freakin virile. I'm still dumbstruck by Thursday's Cup Overfloweth Sperm Episode. I've slowly realised that I really, honestly thought that he wouldn't have any sperm left. That at least going to all this trouble would stop any relationship issues down the road. Of course, I hoped and dreamt, but during the treatment my mind has tried to stay calm, not letting me get carried away with the whole Baby Dream, lest the fall be too much.

To have 22 eggs retrieved - out of which 12 fertilised, 1 was transferred yesterday, and 8 were frozen. Now, I have slowly realised that my clinic should be called IVF's-R-Us ... I have never seen the same doctor or nurse more than once, so personalised care is non-existent. So I don't even know their criteria for freezing - but the scientist (that's what they call themselves!) was pleased with the whole nine.Watching my embryo transfer yesterday, I was dumbstuck, dumfounded, enthralled, excited. I couldn't wait to see the embie. I wanted to take a photo of the monitor - but instead, I actually had to hold the ultrasound to my uterus! I had to help the doctor! In another room, the scientist was getting the embie ready - and there it was on screen, all four cells, waving hi. Look mum, no hands! Un-freakin-believable! Like an episode of Star Trek! Through the microphone, the scientist said "Topcat, C. Whiskers, is that you?" His voice was so distorted, it actually sounded like "Meat or bean or half and half?". I had to confirm the embie was mine, then watched it get sucked up in the catheter "Wheeeeeeeee" - he comes in and hands it to the doc, who told me to watch the screen. I did - and saw the precise moment he was shot into my uterus. It was like a shooting star in a galaxy.

"I saw it! I saw it!" I was so giddy. "Wow! OMG! That is SO amazing! Isn't that amazing?" The doc just nodded, amused. "I guess you're used to it now, hey." He said he was. Aware I was babbling, I couldn't stop. "It's still amazing though! Wow!"I walked out, four cells heavier. I thought that it would have been more than four, but the scientist said they like them to be four at 2 days old. Had an HcG injection, given a date to return for a blood test (September 19th - 17 sleeps away!) Then drove home. In amazement. I rested as much as I could yesterday - the nurse said I didn't have to rest, to go and do something nice for myself. But I wanted to lie down. Felt a bit fragile, not wanting to move around much.So, my scientific quest on "What the cells are up to now" .... has led me to some interesting discoveries. For instance, technically, the embie should still be travelling in the tube towards my uterus. Being released early, for good behaviour, makes me wonder what's going on in there? Is the embryo just like a pinball, cruising around wherever it wants? I guess it's instincts will lead it over to implant ... or not.

How incredible. How totally ..... random. This is all such a big gamble, really. All bets are off, at this point. The roulette wheel is still spinning. Black or red? Implant or die? Pregnant or not? Ecstasy or heartbreak?I did POAS yesterday, just to see how strong the second line would be, so I will have something to compare the inevitable future pee sticks to. I'm feeling calm. A few silly thoughts .... I feel like a Coca Cola IT'S A CRAVING! Twinges down below I'M OVULATING! I love my husband so much HORMONES KICKING IN! Undoing my pair of socks this morning, foolishly punching myself in the tummy - hard YOU'VE KILLED IT! Don't count your chickens I'M PREGNANT UNTIL PROVEN OTHERWISE!

I'm in the 2WW. Today is Fathers Day down here in Oz. I made Dave a teeny, tiny card. On the outside it said "Happy Fathers Day!" On the inside I wrote:"Dear Dad, Thanks for giving me a chance. If this works out, I'm really looking forward to meeting you. Lots of love,Your Four Cells xoxoxoxox"

Dave nearly cried.


It's incredible reading that now, knowing it was Rocco. (I even called him a him, back then.) I imagine Rocco as four cells, bashing and headbutting all the other puny embryos out of his way. "Outta my way, motherfuckers."

It had to be him ... had to be the toughest one. I wonder if he knew what was coming? Because I certainly didn't.

NEXT: If a woman pees on a pregnancy test and it falls down the crack of her car console before she looks at it ... can she still be pregnant?

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.

Monday, 7 September 2009

The Long Way Home

Sunday morning, we had a five-hour drive ahead of us. Unfortunately I picked late on Saturday night to have some laxatives. I'm not in the habit of taking them, truly ... but when I am away from home I find it hard to "go." The pack said to take 2 or 3, so I took 6 with a huge glass of water, and went to bed.

Woke up ... nothing. Not one twinge. Took Max and Rocco walking around the block ... nothing. Tim and Dave packed the ute, we all got in, and suddenly I had to go to the toilet. I ran back inside and went.

*I cannot blog about what happened next. Jesus wept, children cried, and dogs hung their heads*

After about half an hour, I slunk back into the ute. I couldn't look at anyone. "I KNOW you've been waiting and I'm sorry. There was nothing I could do." Dave took pity on me and smiled, even though it was Fathers Day and he was dying for a coffee. I love that man.


We stopped at a Bazaar on the way home. Dave and I shared a kransky (which already had us laughing, as "The Kransk" has been our codeword for "penis" for nine years) ... Rocco was barrelling through the crowd, Max studying a birds nest,and Tim sprawled out on the ground. A family, all together, enjoying the sunshine. We had a pretty good time away ... no major meltdowns by anyone. Tim had the shits about something, so Dave and I were trying to make him laugh. Dave ate the last of The Kransk, which left a huge mustard stain on his upper lip. I started singing "Mustard-ah on your mustach-ah" he grabbed me and swung me around and we were both singing it, loudly, putting on a little show for Tim.

"Mustard-ah on your mustach-ah,

Mustard-ah on your mustache.


Tim did not appreciate it one bit, which made us sing louder. We are arseholes like that.


Dave took Rocco for a walk, and ended up getting all of his baby curls cut off. Rocco now looks like Friar Tuck as an 80's choirboy. I took photos, just need to recharge the camera. Daves karma was getting his own hair cut too, and the girl sliced half of one of his prized sideburns off.


The Piscean full moon was amazing. It came right down onto the water, I told Dave that the moon was giving me all of its power, telling me the second half of my life has now begun. He said "That's a big statement." I said, "Mate, that's a big moon."


People in Blogland have started to receive the parcels I am sending out. (In the order I originally received everybody's addresses). I have to do it in instalments - considering it's costing me a fortune in postage. Which I don't mind at all, I just can't do it all at once. Dave thinks I have finished sending them ... I've only just begun! He's like, hon - why the fuck are there koalas holding boomerangs all over our bedroom floor??


So after a few false and somewhat messy starts, it was time to drive the five hours home. Before we piled into the car, I grabbed the ground. "Nooooooo. Dave, I don't want to go home!" None of us did, but we had too. I plugged my iPod in the car, and timed the songs for each leg of the trip. Some soulful acoustic ballads first, then we got a little funky. A few hours in, we needed a revival, so I put on my dance mix. I proudly told Tim that these were all original 90's tracks - "Gonna Make You Sweat" "Whatta Man" and of course, "Groove is in the Heart." I still know all the words to "Busta Move." Remember? "Your best friend Harry has a brother Larry in three days from now, he's gonna marry. He's hopin' you can make it there if you can, coz in the ceremony you'll be the best man .."
I am made from Awesome with Sauce on.

Then I told the guys that I could feel the wind rustling through my toe hairs, which totally killed the mood. They were so disgusted, and carried on like I just took a huge crap in the front seat.

A lady I am not.


Stopped at some random park in Sydney, so I could use the toilet*ahem* again. Somebody had drawn, right on my toilet, a big picture of a bearded guy with glasses and a speech bubble saying "BLOW ON ME." While I love grafitti, I thought that was just stupid. This was a girls toilet - girls don't blow. Do they? I came out, and asked Dave if girls blew. He was more disgusted and just walked off.
I shouted after him. "I'm not talking about the laxatives, I'm talking about the grafitti." Right then I noticed the family of SIX about to start their friendly game of cricket.
Dave kept walking and didn't look back.
We kept driving. I thought about everything in the whole world and back again, then remembered (too late) that I shouldn't think so much. Max played his DS, Rocco punched his toys then slept, the skin on Tims hand finally grew over his mobile phone so he is now half-teen, half-phone. (Note: Any girls who visit here in search of incriminating gossip about Tim - there is none. He knows I write about him here, but I would never embarrass him. Well, I do actually, but only IRL).

Dave and I took turns playing the drums, the synth, and the guitar, to our various songs. I am such a WANKER when it comes to dancing to songs. It makes everybody cringe, but there's always a teeny bit of pride in Daves eyes.

I ate the last few Alps of a Toblerone. And you know what happened? God HIMSELF came down from his cloud and whispered into my ear to take a few bites of a banana, while I had Toblerone still in my mouth. Taste. Sensation. Told the boys I felt sorry for them, that they could not taste what I was tasting right now. It was so good. I don't know if I can ever re-create it ... Universes aligned, just for that moment in time.


Just as we rounded the corner to come home, Tim and I had a stupid spat about something. I got him back later in the supermarket .. he was holding the 12-pack of toilet paper, I was a few paces in front. "TOILET PAPER GUY COMING THROUGH, S'CUSE ME, TOILET PAPER GUY CARRYING A HEAVY LOAD. THANK YOU." Tim just laughed. That's my toilet paper guy!


We are home.

It's quite nice.

Who knew?

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn .. and a time to dance.

Most nights, I relish the time when everyone is in bed. I get the house all to myself. No phone will ring, I can make cups of tea, bring out my hidden blocks of chocolate and think, dream, cry.

Last Saturday night was hard for everybody in this house ... nobody ended up doing what they wanted. Dave wanted sexy love time, but ignored me when I put his carefully cut-out starsign from the newspaper in front of him during dinner. I just wanted him to know that Leo's have amazing power lately, and he walks off to watch Australia's Funniest Home Videos. And then expects me to give it up? I don't think so. He went to bed frustrated.

Rocco was beyond tired but did NOT want to go to bed. I put him to bed amid howls of protestations. He went to bed super annoyed.

Max wanted to watch a DVD but it was all scratched, which is what happens when you don't put them back in their covers and they litter the floor. He went to bed disappointed.

Tim pretended he was sick to get out of helping us at the busy feral hour, by the time he came down his dad had already left to go pick up the Chinese food so he missed his lift to his girlfriends house. He went to bed in a huff. (Then he called a taxi an hour later to take him to his girlfriends house.)

I stayed up for a few hours, then knew if I didn't go to bed before midnight I would go past the point of tiredness, into the land of "You are too old for this shit and will pay for it tomorrow."

So dragging my feet, I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth. I felt frustrated, annoyed, disappointed, AND in a huff. Life is crazy busy hectic fucked-up and it makes my head spin around ten times each day. I cannot keep up, and wait for the day when things will be more manageable.

I had my iPod on, with The Gossips new album "Music for Men." It's rare for me to connect with much these days, but this album stirred the rock in me and I started dancing in my bathroom. I could see myself reflected in the windows, black tracksuit pants and wild hair. I was surprised at how cool I looked, always feeling so haggard and ground down lately.

I danced harder. All over the bathroom, in and out of the shower recess, jumping up and down on the impossibly freezing and hard-to-clean sandstone tiles with all of my might, I seriously started to rock out. It was very uncoordinated at first .... I lost my groove sometime back in May, right between Dave's cancer diagnosis and Rocco's birth. Haven't really danced much since.
I love dancing. Peeling off my long sleeve-top, Beth Ditto launched into "Love Long Distance" and that was when things REALLY started to go off. My rhythmn came back, and fuck me if I did not dance the shit out of that antarctic bathroom down here in Edenland.

I *may* have started daydreaming at that point, that I was on a film set that had just wrapped ... some really cool movie that had Brad Pitt in it, and I was like, a Creative Advisor or some shit. And The Gossip were playing at this post-production party and Brad and Angelina were there but I *totally* did not hit on Brad, and Angelina was really nice and I forgave her over the whole husband-stealing fiasco. And I could dance but they couldn't because they were too famous but I wasn't famous and they were jealous of my cool moves.

I ended up dancing for at least twenty minutes. I even got sweaty, and seriously contemplated going out somewhere and finding a dancefloor. But I thought of trying to explain it to Dave, so I stayed put. But it was nice to know I still got it going on.

Maybe I have had my life quota of wild dancing. Lord knows I was the Queen of Nightclubs all through my twenties. Unfortunately I was also the Queen of the One Night Stand, Queen of the Broken Dreams, and Queen of the Cocaine. (Which in turn, led to the ultimate ... Queen of the Dark Places).

Motherhood marriage addiction re-parenting writing crying cancer remission recovery time-managing stepmothering second-guessing and fucking it all up. ALL OF IT.

But for twenty minutes last Saturday night, in the safety and privacy of my own home, I was the Queen of the Dance.

I slunk into bed next to Dave; matted hair, a sweaty face, and a beating heart.

I went to bed happy.
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