Sunday, 30 November 2008

In need of some care.

Can I have a hug please?

My eyes sting from tears today and I am weary and tired and need to be carried.

If that is OK by you.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

And also...

Can you take care of beautiful Michelle who has been put through the wringer more than anyone deserves.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

The nine toes of Jill Dennis

I didn’t tell many people (in real life) about this last cycle. A change that has occurred gradually in me since the death of my daughter. I used to be a confessor, and relied on the support and intimacy that confessions generate. I have found lately however, that, save for cyberspace and professionals, I prefer to go it alone. More accurately, for us to go it alone. The challenges remain pure in this way. They are not complicated by the needs and reactions of others. I can’t resent the hopeless responses of friends or family, or have  my energy diverted by their need to help, their desire to “do something”. I know that others in my life will never understand my  journey, and have stopped seeking that from them. It has been freeing to do this, and I feel strong, but there is a nagging tug. Dare I say it? At this moment, I feel like I don’t need friends anymore.

I got through the week, not much more than that. At least the waves of grief are familiar and I am not so overwhelmed that I cannot see, when I surface for air, the direction of the shore. I know I will be OK.

I returned to “my healer” (can’t say that without inverted comma, too much like my own personal Jesus). I told him i needed to re-inhabit my body, being a person that copes with the invasiveness of IVF by dissociating. He did footwork, to ground me. It wasn’t a vision exactly, but memory that has the quality of a dream, something comes back to you and you live that time again.

I used to do care work for people with disability. Jill had a spinal injury in a diving accident when she was a teenager. She was in her 60’s when I knew her. She had been sitting on her bum (literally) for decades, and her bum was rather over being sat upon. She had terrible trouble with complications -pressure wounds, skin break down, broken bones and  poor circulation – which resulted in hospital stays for months at a time. To relieve some pressure and assist with circulation her feet were elevated so they stuck straight out in front of her when she got around in her chair. Due to the circulation problems, she had, at some point, had a toe amputation. It was a toe on her right foot although I can’t decipher if it is the second or third toe missing when I see it in my mind.

Jill was another woman ambitious for her own happiness, and knew how to find it in places most of us forget to look. She had a friend sew her up these way-out tops, floral print cotton, a tube shape with elastic and a frill around the top. A roomy boob tube. The particular joy of these tops was that you could sit outside and feel the sun on your shoulders. On blue clear days, like we had on Friday, I would shower her, wash her hair and dress her in one of these tops. We would go out in the back yard and I would brush her long silver hair, while she sat with her eyes closed and face to the sun, her wrinkled skin and head absorbing the warmth until they too began to radiate it. Sometimes I would pick a flower and put it in her hair.

Jill had a brother, Harold, who she was close too. I can’t remember if he was her big or little brother. We wouldn’t see him for months as he lived half the year in Bali doing god knows what. When he came back he had the skin of a white person too long in the tropics. Handbagged, as my friend Vicky would say. Brown and deeply wrinkled. Sandals on his feet, shirt buttoned low with a (greying) hairy chest and gold chain. He did look a bit like a dealer except for the kind smiley lines on his face.

Harold always came over with a big bag full of nail polish. He had every colour you could imagine and then some. Not only polish, but brushes, toothpicks, sticks. His wife would come out and chat to us carers or the others in the house, or help out with lunch while Harold and Jill hung out together. And their hanging out meant Harold setting out his toenail paints, and slowly and carefully, painting the nails of each one of Jill’s ten fingers and nine toes. It wasn’t just a matter of 2 coats of a chosen colour. He would paint tiny, finely detailed pictures on each nail - flowers with coloured petals and fine stalks, patterns of lines and colours, or little dot paintings. At Christmas he would paint holly or Christmas trees, bells and snowmen. It took him hours to complete and we would all rush to see when it was done.

The image of Harold and Jill in the sun, big sister little brother, painting and being painted is what came to me as my feet were being worked. It got me thinking about intimacy and friendship, giving and receiving. It provided a counterweight to my utilitarian dismissal of the gift of friends. And the image will go with me as I go back to the drawing board to figure out again, what friendship is about.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

A new arrival

Please go give some comfort to mlg - a new loss mamma

Saturday, 15 November 2008


A bright red spot on the end of the progesterone applicator signals the end.

I go in for the blood test anyway. The nurse is still hoping for me. Sure. If it makes you feel good.

I pull over when driving home and say a prayer... of sorts....

FUCK YOU. mother fucker. 

What is it in me that redirects my fist and foot? The tut tutting protestant whispering "waste" and "melodrama" and I hit the tiled wall and door frame instead of the intended mirror and shower screen. Fuck.

The familiar noise of my wailing - keeping up with the 6 month old next door. They leave the house, and I wonder if it is because of me.

The pee stick, thrown into the bin in disgust, is retrieved. Just. In. Case.

I turn up for my shiatsu appointment. Sunglasses cover my face. And when I remove them I cover my face with my hands and balls of tissue. He starts his thing about hope. Whatever. I need to be in this I say. Don't ask me about the future. 

A humble practitioner. He accepts it and asks what he can do to support it. "I don't know" I whisper. And the sobbing begins. I lie there, a shuddering damp thing. The self conscious part of me wonders why on earth i came when I know I am in no place to receive whatever gift this kind man has to offer. But I continue to lie there anyway. My breath begins to slow, and catch less often. At some point I open my eyes and see that he is working, not only with his eyes closed but with his face turned away. To respect my need for privacy or to protect himself from the toxicity of my anger? Maybe both. Gradually, my hands are removed from my face, my shoulders gently moved from my ears. He stretches my arms up high and out wide, so that my poor broken heart remains open despite every instinct in me telling me to protect it. I see the wisdom in this and I'm grateful. 

By the time he reaches my head my tears have almost subsided. My hair and face are damp from them. He massages my clenched jaw and smoothes my brow.  Scrubs the top of my head and pulls something out, and I feel it leave. I don't know what it was that left me but I feel a little lighter. He places a wheat bag over my eyes and my hands over my heart saying this is where I need strength, and leaves me to be still for a while.

Jake comes home and we wait for the call together. It is late - which is a sure sign of an unsuccessful cycle. I ring the nurse and she confirms what I already know - it's the end. My hormones are not at zero - there has been some attempt to implant. Was it hours or even a day or two? Somehow this makes it all a little bit sadder. It is the closest we have ever come.

I don't know why I am not pregnant. When I fell pregnant with Maya I fell straight away - and yet we have had three healthy tested embryos put back (over the course of 4 fresh and a frozen cycle) and none have stuck. I don't get it. 

Now the final wait. For my period - the post progesterone supplement tsunami - to come.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Some more good news.

In the end they were able to test 15 embryos.

Out of those 15 tested there was the one they put back and a further three have tested as either balanced or normal.

So 4/15 - which is about average (usually 30% are OK).

So 3 embies on ice. One more piece of news to go. Let's hope it's positive too and makes this (my 4th cycle) a dream run.

One more week to wait.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Even I shed a tear....

From one of "the forgotten corners of the world" .....

I was huddled by my radio listening to the world cheer.

What amazing speeches by both candidates..... but to see the dancing on the streets, not only in America, but in Kenya, Japan and many others nations..... To see the tears pouring down the faces of black people who have migrated because they have found in other countries a freedom that they were not able to find in their own........ to hear and see a belief in hope.......

It has moved me to tears.

(an irreverent aside - I can't get the theme tune of Bob the Builder out of my head. Bob the Builder, Can we fix it? Bob the builder, Yes! We! Can!)

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Can I trouble you with details?


This is the story of my ovaries, my heart and my brain over the last 5 days with a late but showstopping entrance by my uterus.

My Trojan ovaries really did a stellar job this cycle. Although my meds had only increased a bit, my egg numbers skyrocketed. In total 29 were collected. A gruelling procedure when you think about that meaning my ovaries were punctured 29 times - plus a few extra in and outs with that mofo needle in order to use a catheter to drain the bladder, etc. Even my Dr (who I am very fond of and trust immensely) was surprised. As I was looking at the screen, watching the needle travel further and further to reach the next egg (I swear it was up under my navel). My Dr's head surfaced above gown level and he said "of course they won't all be mature, otherwise your hormone levels would be through the roof". People. Let me fill you in for a moment on the most important lesson you can learn as a special ed teacher. You should always tell someone what to do, rather than what not to do. Because when you say "Don't climb out the window" what you are reinforcing for the person is the words "climb out the window". "Feet on floor" is a much better option. So, when I heard the Dr. say "otherwise your hormone levels would be through the roof" what I heard was "hormone levels through the roof" which was then reinforced when he poked his head round the curtain in recovery to let me know that actually 26 of the eggs were mature. Which then translated as "your hormone levels must surely be about to go through the roof, if they aren't already".

enter (or was it exit) heart and brain, stage left
Zen master Barbie (and I had been so Zen and chilled until this point) flipped. Although excited by the increased chances that 26 mature eggs might offer, I convinced myself that I was about to get OHSS. Which is weird cause although I have done 3 cycles previously this has never even crossed my mind. I've always thought my Dr was so conservative and safety conscious that none of his patients ever got OHSS.

If the static energy being radiated from my head was visible it would have looked like a giant plasma ball. I am sure if harnessed and used as an energy source I would have saved tons of emissions.

Let's just say I ended up on the doorstep of my shiatsu therapist two days later and burst into tears when he opened the door and went "Barbara?"

And I left school feeling rotten on Monday because I mistook a little panic attack as OHSS symptoms (well how would I know? I've never had either.)

Weirdly though, I was fine on Tuesday. I went back to school, having figured out the my body was doing just fine, and my head, considering the pressure it was under, wasn't really that crazy.
I got a call in the morning (in between chatting to parents at the gate) to say that 5 embryos were ready for biopsy. (For those techy people interested in why I'm doing PGD on day 5 instead of day 3 look here). I got a call to say what time I would get the results while trying to herd my little autie kids off the bus and towards the pool entrance. (I'm great at using all limbs to help shepherd kids in the right direction). And then..... the call with the results.

When they do day 5 tests they like to put the healthy embryos back ASAP. What normally happens is that they get you to loiter around town near the clinic at the time the results are expected back. The clinic loiter rates highly as a Bad Wait in a run of bad waits. You've come into the city (on Melbourne Cup day no less - it's all about office workers having boozy lunches, feathers in the hair, wearing pretty or laddish outfits, and betting too much on horses you know nothing about), found a park (and lady luck was on my side - not in the sweep I had entered, but as my personal parking assistant. I got one directly in front of the doors of the clinic), then you get out of your car and a) loiter, b)sit in a cafe drinking decaf c) sit all tight arsed on the edge of the very stylish lounges in the foyer of a ritzy city building. And WAIT. FOR. THE. PHONE. TO. RING. Then, as soon as the scientists have done their thing, and talked to the nurses, the nurse calls the doctor and the patient to let us know IF IT'S ON. Which it was yesterday. Apparently lady luck was in the petri dish as well.

We met the Doc in the lobby - he'd been running. He was sweat soaked with a singlet and running shorts and sneakers. Out of professional politeness we took a different lift to him although when we met again on level 4 he'd pretty much just washed his hands and chucked a surgery gown over his exercise gear, which I kind of liked.

And well - you know how the rest goes. A blood test. A wrist band. A talk from the scientist, the embryologist, the nurse and the doc (whose Scottish accent is rather like Shrek's) "Leit's doo it".
enter the diva lady uterus, shining in her sparkly progesterone supplements
And then it was done. Or in.

S/he was a good looking hatching blastocyst when shown to us on the screen.

And no doubt s/he'll be a good looking teenager one day too.

We hope.

My two week wait has been shortened from 11 to 10 days for the convenience of the clinic (which makes me why it isn't always 10 days). I'm sure there is reasons.

So, hopefully the last of the waits for a very very long time.

Oh - and for the rest of the techy details. 3 that were biopsied were "unbalanced" which means that if they continued to develop into babies they would die (like Maya), and 1 they were unable to get a result for so are testing the cells again today. They also tested more in the evening and more today so my nurse will ring me this afternoon with all the results and maybe we will even have one or two healthy embryos to freeze.