Thursday, May 28, 2009

IVF 3: It's Over

My specialist obviously thought my results were as pathetic as I did. He jacked up the drugs to an unusually high level and ordered another ultrasound, hoping to get a better outcome.

But the blood tests showed very low estrogen and my cycle has now been cancelled.

At some level, I just can't believe it. I waited seven months, had an operation, spent all that time preparing myself mentally and physically for the big event, and it just failed so quickly. Over almost as soon as it began.

The clinic has suggested a flare cycle next - its a different protocol, where they don't shut down my own system so hard and the whole cycle is a lot shorter. It's possible that I am just one of those women who get over-suppressed on the lucrin, with hormone levels pushed down so low they just can't get up again in time.

But there is another possibility which is in my thoughts every day now. In the last year, I've had four (possible) follicles, two follicles, and now one. The drugs don't make a difference to the number of follicles available to be stimulated, they only stop some of them from dropping out of maturing to produce a viable egg.

What if I am just ageing faster that I predicted? What if it's all one follicle from here on out? Or maybe soon no follicles?

Statistically, fertility does start to drop sharply from around 37 years old (actually, it declines from your mid-20s), but its very individual. My friend Pat is pregnant again at 44 years old and she has conceived every time she has tried. I am only just 37 years old and I look unusually young for my age. My face is smooth and plump with only one tiny and very light wrinkle where I keep frowning when I write and think. My hair is shiny. I move with energy and dynamism. I'm cheerful and optimistic. People often think I'm only in my late 20s, and even I know that I look that way.

But maybe its all an illusion. My mother has just told me she entered menopause quite young, at 40 years old. Physically, I am very like my mother, including having the exact same pattern of my natural cycle.

What if I just blew seven months of my last fertile year because of a stupid operation I turned out not to need? What if not just this cycle, but this chance, is over before it really began?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

IVF 3: Disaster

Today, I had my first ultrasound and blood test for this IVF cycle.

I have been feeling quite optimistic. Having gotten generally fitter and healthier, done the laparoscopy in April and on a nice high dose of the drugs, surely the prospects for this cycle are the best they've ever been. I have been almost looking forward to my ultrasound this morning.

But this morning, after rummaging around for ages, the technician could detect virtually no response at all. My early results are never great, but this is the worst yet. I managed to hold it together while in the clinic, but couldn't help the tears in my eyes, which I tried to disguise.

Then I went to the local shopping centre and tried to cheer myself up. I tried on (and lay-byed)some new clothes. I bought myself a nice lunch and included a semi-forbidden glass of red wine. I even filled up a shopping trolley with groceries for a local charity, which was asking for donations for poor families who would struggle to get through winter. This usually provides not only a nice warm inner glow but a good sense of perspective on who really has problems in this world.

But nothing takes this feeling away. Nothing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

IVF 3: Weight

I am two weeks into this cycle and already my body is starting to expand. Using my usual hole on my belt is starting to feel uncomfortable and my trousers seem just that little bit tighter around the thighs.

Damn. Unfortunately, both the drugs they use for IVF cause weight gain, so it is practically inevitable. Some of the gain is just more retained fluid from all the hormonal disruption, but some of it will ultimately be more fat. I also have bad headaches but, for some reason, it's the weight gain that really hurts.

I've lost quite a lot of weight in the last two years. All the baby weight and some more as well - around 23 kgs or over 40 pounds. I've been eating a lot better, and also eating less, but I've also been swimming and going to the gymn.

Strangely, and unlike most women, I didn't always mind being heavier. There is something actually quite comforting about letting yourself get plumper and settling into the sofa. But when I was heavier, I always had this moment of unfamiliarity, of disorientation, when I looked in the mirror. The self I was in my head didn't match with the one in the mirror. Somehow, this matched what I felt about my life. Nothing was what I imagined it would be, including myself.

Now, I'm oddly familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. I can't actually quite see that I look better at this weight. People tell me I do. They comment a lot. But actually, I have a similar feeling of disorientation when I look in the mirror. To myself, I look longer rather than skinnier, more as if I've grown a few inches upwards rather than lost a few around the middle. But I can see that I look more like I did as a girl - a younger, almost teenaged Emily looks back at me and I remember that person.

So losing weight hasn't been the overwhelmingly positive thing I hav always thought it would be. But now that at least some of that effort is at risk, I find that I do mind. The skinnier Emily has more energy and feels younger, somehow. I move differently at this weight. I don't think I realized how much more energy it takes to keep a bigger body moving around in the world. The day ends and, instead of feeling completely exhausted, I still have a reserve.

Also, it's completely illogical, but somehow at this weight I feel more in touch with the girl I was - as if the world has more possibilities.

I don't want that feeling to be taken away from me.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Angry Anzac Day

I spent Anzac Day this year feeling angry.

The reason I was so pissed off was that I watched a TV special about the psychological problems returned servicemen from Afghanistan and Iraq are having.

TONY GILCHRIST, FORMER CAPTAIN, AUST. DEFENCE FORCE: There’s people crying, screaming, there's people calling out for help, deceased people laying there, body parts laying around... it’s the smell of the explosives that have been used, the burning wreckages around you plus the smell of burning bodies... You've got the constant thoughts of what you’ve seen and been involved in. You still wake up with the, it’s like you’ve still been there that night. You can just about taste the smoke and you can smell it in your nose still.

GAYLE GILCHRIST, TONY GILCHRIST’S WIFE: I guess the second night and he wakes up not being able to breathe and he has to, he’s gasping for breath in our bed because he can’t breathe and he has to run to the toilet and vomit and vomit and vomit until he can get his breath back and I said to him oh you know, naive me, "Are you alright, are you sick?" and he goes "I’ve got this smell in my mouth and my nose and I just can’t get rid of it."

That poor bastard. His poor wife. His poor kids. Their lives are ruined. And for what? Their supposedly grateful country apparently isn't willing to pay for someone to meet them at the airport when they get home, debrief them properly, and give them psychological support and treatment.

Imagine smelling dead bodies night after night, for years after the war is over.

My Big Dude has been through it. My little family and I have been through it. The Big Dude and his friends spent years working for better awareness and treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and all the other war-related problems that veterans need help with. Now we hear of veterans left homeless while waiting for help, and of family members who commit suicide.

I'm just so disgusted that our society doesn't seem to learn that when it sends people off to war, it actually owes them something when they come back.

Disgusted and angry.