Friday, November 20, 2009

The Truth Breaks Out

Children can be so honest, sometimes (when they are not lying their heads off, I mean).

Here I am, faking my way through my social life. People at work ask how I am and I say, "Fine". My face closes up. My manner does not invite further inquiry.

A nice lady at church says hi and asks what we have all been doing. I say, "Oh, you know - the usual".

The Little Dude pipes up and says, "We've been making embryos - in a dish!", he says, as if it's all been quite exciting. "But then my mummy cried when the baby didn't come", he adds mournfully.

I watch the nice leady reel as she confronts this outbreak of inappropriate truth-telling in the polite church environment. She pauses as she wonders whether to pretend he didn't say it and save us the embarrassment, express her sympathy, or simply busy herself with her own child, who is pulling at her skirts. But she is too late to do any of it because, while she thinks about it, I have run off to the bathroom to hide where no one can see my lips trembling and my face collapsing - a private place where no one can see me cry.

But later on I have to start laughing as well. That lady teaches Sunday school. Wait till the Little Dude starts sharing with the other pre-school aged kids what mummy told him about where babies come from. The story is longer and wierder than they can possibly imagine...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

IVF 5: Grieving

I am grieving. I am. I try not to let the world see how sad I am. I am working and busy with my life. I have too much pride and awkwardness to cry in public. But sometimes the tears well up and I just can't prevent them.

I am grieving for my embryos. Not just my latest embryo, which I nicknamed Moja (The Little Dude was known as Mojo when I was pregnant - A private joke, as the Big Dude hadn't contributed sperm, but he was "working his mojo"), but all of them. Five of them in the last two years and one extra in 2004 who accompanied the Little Dude into my uterus but didn't stay.

I know they were not babies, those six little embryos. They were just little four-celled creatures. But they were potential babies. They were all created with love and hope. They were all alive when the specialist put them inside me. They were our potential children and my Little Dude's potential brothers and sisters. I am grieving the fact that he didn't get to know them just like I am grieving the fact that I didn't get to know them. They are still a loss, a huge loss to me.

I am grieving for the loss of what I have put into this process. My bank account, so carefully built up and now empty. My body, so laboriously prepared and now fat and slack and exhausted and ill. My relationship with the Big Dude, so hopefully worked on, which has taken so much strain. His health, which has taken too much of a burden and is not good.

But mostly I am grieving for my hopes, which were carefully cultivated to motivate me through this painful, unpleasant, humiliating proceess. My hopes of a second child, for a noisy house with two children playing and fighting, for a life filled with people.

I tried, but I lost. I just have to face the fact that I put everything I had at risk for this, but I lost.

My Little Dude was disappointed, too. I had to tell him some time ago what we were trying to do, because all these visits to the clinic at the hospital, to see the specialist, made him anxious that I was sick. He knows that some people get sick and die and I could see him worrying. When we first saw the specialist, the Little Dude came out of the offices and said, tremendously excited, "Where's the baby? Can I see him now?" It was him who asked for one more try.

He is a smart and sensitive boy and good at empathy. My Big Dude is uncomfortable with grief. He hugged me but then he sat rigid in his chair as I wept and wept. The Big Dude never cries. It's ridiculous, but I felt like I should apologise for crying.

But my Little Dude climbed on my lap, took a tissue and wiped my tears away as they fell. He was disappointed himself, but he gave me little sympathetic kisses through the day and climbed into my bed and stayed with me all night to comfort me.

At least I got one child. One very beautiful child - beautiful inside and out. In my worst moments, I feel like I have ruined my life by trying again. But I don't blame myself for looking at my child and wanting another one. Humans are greedy. We get one kind of happiness and just want more. I don't blame myself for trying for another child, for reaching out for more of this kind of happiness.

I haven't made any final decisions. Our clinic asked me before this one failed if this was our last attempt. I muttered "Probably", but I didn't really have an answer. I still don't and it's too soon to try to have an answer.

It's possible we will try again. Officially, we are booked in for another cycle in February 2010. But the clinic says I have to pause for a while and let my body recover from all these cycles, or it will simply stop responding to the drugs altogether. Of course, after what my specialist said about our lack of time, a break for a few months may make the decision for us, anyway.

Rationally, we can't afford another cycle, especially financially. But if we'd focused on being rational, we probably wouldn't have tried at all.

I tell my friends I am running out of cash and optimism. I think if we had more chance, I would be more optimistic and more willing to keep going. If we had good cycles and were simply not pregnant yet, the obvious answer would be to just do more cycles until we got there. But our cycles are terrible. Out of five cycles, we only got to transfer three times. Specialists say that IVF is a numbers game, and our numbers are very poor. Our chances of getting pregnant are really very low.

But the sad fact is that, in some ways, its the cash that is the main problem. If we had limitless money, I would probably keep going until I had not a single egg left. Then I might even consider donor eggs. It's a step well beyond where I wanted to go, but the whole process is so far beyond anywhere I actually wanted to go that its a moot point. But all of that costs money, a lot of money. We are already badly in debt. I curently have two major loans - one for the Little Dude which is almost paid off and one for the last two years - and I would need take another loan to try again. It seems dangerously foolhardy to take on more debt when I still have my Little Dude to raise.

It's very hard to know when to give up. I read somewhere that infertility patients are second only to cancer patients for what they will put their bodies through. I told myself I would do up to five or six cycles, then see how I felt, and that is where we are now. There are always people you know or hear of who flog their bodies through nine, ten cycles, and are just about ready to give up, then get pregnant on that final cycle. But of course, there are always those people who you never hear of who do their nine or ten cycles, bankrupt their wallets and their bodies and their souls, and have nothing to show for it. I'm more than ready to move on from IVF, but its hard to move on from all possibility of a second child.

But I don't want to keep going just because I don't know how to stop.

Apologies to my readers for the length and incoherence of this post. But, but, but... my thoughts are like one, long, endless sentence, with too many buts. But this is the only place that I can say all this.

Intuitively, I have a feeling it may be time for us to take a break, at least for now. We need a pause to rebuild, and appreciate what we have. The pause may become a permanent stop. It may be time for a different kind of life, a different kind of happiness.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

IVF 5: Fuck and Alas

It's a negative result for us this cycle- confirmed today after a few days delay.

Fuck and alas, indeed. We are screwed, my friends, screwed. Apparently, my uterus is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn't want to stay there.

RIP my brave little embryo... Thanks for trying, and I really mean that. I appreciated the effort. But I would have liked to have known you.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

IVF5: Beta Today

I have my pregnancy test, known as the beta, today.

Sadly, I am feeling quite pessimistic about the outcome of my cycle. I was hopeful a few days ago, especially as I have been more nauseous than usual on progesterone.

Personally, I think it is just a little cruel that IVF patients need to go on progesterone supplements at the end of their cycles. It supports any possible pregnancy, but the list of side effects includes: bloated stomach, fatigue, nausea, sore breasts and mood swings, ie the same "side effects" as being pregnant.

So every time I've felt like throwing up, I've also felt a little hopeful.

A few days ago, I started to feel almost triumphant, because my stomach started to recoil at specific smells and then started to reject the idea of certain foods. I looked at a plate of chicken salad and pushed it away. I was simultaneously grossed out and happy, because chicken was something I couldn't eat when I was pregnant.

But for the last day or so, I have been feeling much more normal. Then, since my beta test was delayed because it fell on a Sunday and my clinic was closed, I yielded to temptation and bought a home pregnancy test. These usually can't detect the very earliest chemical changes of a pregnancy, but some of the "early response" ones can detect an early implantation. There was not even the faintest of faint lines. A blank window greeted my hopeful gaze.

It reminded me very much of an entry from my favourite infertility blog, where the writer and the commenters posted in haikus that reflected their infertility experiences:

Two pink lines or one? Urine ripples, surging wish... One. Fuck and alas.

Another test this morning showed the same.

So its not looking good. But I will take my beta test and try to suck up the result in as dignified a manner as I possibly can without killing anyone.