The Grinch of Halloween

I’m currently hiding away, pretending not to be home and feeling like a right party pooper. The neighbourhood is filled with happy families and noisy kids going trick or treating.

For a start, this was never something that was done when I was a kid, so I’ve never participated & it’s never really been my thing….it’s possible it’d have grown on me if I had my own kids begging to play. Instead, I’m wishing everyone would shut up & go home. I don’t want to listen to their happiness & I don’t want to sit here anxiously hoping no one rings the door bell. I closed the gate (which we don’t normally close) and had meant to hang a sign on it saying No Trick or Treaters, but I got home a bit later than planned and everything was in full swing, there’s been no chance to dash to the gate without being accosted by various creatures.

And because there’s no sign out, I don’t want anyone to see I’m home – which means I haven’t had dinner, as when I’m in the kitchen I’m in full view of anyone walking down the street. Also means I can’t do the things on my to-do-list I’d planned to do tonight, because its all set up in the spare room – also in full view of the street. So I sit here getting crankier, and hangry, and pissed off at the world at yet another occasion stolen from my by infertility. Yet another day of the year I’m reminded I don’t belong, and get my grief thrown back in my face.

One day hopefully I’ll be able to willingly hand out lollies to random kids….but for now I just hope I get some dinner soon.

Advertisements

Decisions, decisions.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for ages, finally found a little free time and having handed in my last assignment a smidge of energy. Please note up front, this post is not asking for advice.

We didn’t go into fertility treatment with a pre-arranged limit, to be honest at the time it felt like we levelled up before we’d even started – we’d only be TTCing naturally for about 6mths when we found out we would need IVF. And then our Dr. told us we were the ideal couple, the one IVF was designed for – our only issue was tubal damage, and as IVF bypasses the tubes we’d be all good. In fact, the Dr told us about a family who got their whole family (3 or so kids!) off one cycle – as our first cycle was publicly funded, the idea of getting more than one child of one cycle was perfect. We’d get our family without financial considerations having to be a big part of deciding whether or not we’d try.

Potentially our doctor set us up with false expectations, but as we got 6 embryos in the freezer (no fresh transfer) off our first cycle, we though we were on to a good thing. 7 transfers laters, several cancelled cycles, another surgery, a chemical pregnancy and a miscarriage we’d used up our allocation of public funding. We had to decide if we were going to continue, and if so where would we find the $$, or if we were going to call it quits. The doctor told us it was a numbers game, more times you try the more likelihood there is of success. Some lovely family offered us some financial support so we decided to continue.

We signed up for a package deal – 3 cycles for the price of 2 and a bit….and if you get to the end with no success a refund equivalent to about 2 cycles. We figured we wouldn’t need 3 cycles, but thought’s Sod’s law would have it that if we signed up for 3 we’d get luck on our first cycle. Another 3 transfers later (2 of them were transfers of 2 embryos at once), another chemical pregnancy and another miscarriage, and we’d reached the end.

We were devastated. We got our refund. It didn’t mean anything to us. The arrangement was it’d go back to those who’d helped us out, so we couldn’t even have a fancy holiday to cheer ourselves up. We’d thought that was the end, we were tired, heartbroken and out of mental & emotional resources. We were struggling. We’d said that was our last try, but were tempted to try again. We were told we could use the refund to try again if we wanted to.

We decided we would. It would be setting us up for at 13th embryo to be transferred….in my family 13 has been a winning number for us before, so surely that meant this time it’d be our turn….it was a numbers game after all, as the doctor kept saying.

We started our 6th round of IVF as the New Year rolled in. This was going to be our lucky year. We got a good number of eggs, it was going to be our turn.

None of them fertilised. It was all over.

Apparently, its really common for couples to not be on the same page at this stage. One wanting to continue or to try other options, one wanting to stop treatment all together. Both view points valid – its either the devil you know or the devil you don’t really. Both options scary and full of emotion. It’s really tough when you’re not on the same page. It’s not like there’s a solution that’s a compromise, either way one person is going to get what they want and the other isn’t.

But we’d gone into the final cycle saying that was it, we were drawing a line in the sand, if it didn’t work we’d walk away and start trying to learn to live again in a life we didn’t choose. It was tough, we were broken and lost. People tried to convince us to change the plan, they didn’t understand. They couldn’t grasp that being on a different page from each other at that point, could be a breaking point for our relationship. We had to choose our marriage over the idea of a family. We had to try and find a way to keep that strong, but somehow find a way to not dissolve under the weight of a decision we didn’t agree on nor wanted to make.

And now we’re nearly at the other end of the year, and it doesn’t feel like we’ve healed much. It’s been months purely focussed on survival. It might be common for couples to not be on the same page when it comes to making the decision to stop fertility treatment, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

If you’re facing a decision like this, I’m really sorry. It’s painful and tough, be gentle with yourself and each other. Take your time. Feel the feels. xo

Asking for help.

A few weeks ago I womaned up, and booked an appointment with a psychologist. Just getting the appointment is not that easy, as most of them have a couple of months waitlist here! I was a bit unsure of going, meeting someone new, having to talk about myself, and I thought I was doing ok – but I’d said I’d get some help once I got to the quieter part of the year, so I made myself go ahead with it. And I figured, even if I didn’t get anything out of it, I’d at least get the experience of being on the receiving side, which would be useful since I want to be a psychologist when I finish studying.

I’m glad I did – I’ve been back a second time now, and have some more sessions booked. I have a suspicion I’ll need to go for a while. It’s not easy, but sometimes the best self-care is doing the hard things, what needs to be done, not what is the most comfortable.

I think particularly when dealing with fertility treatment, we get so used to just keeping on keeping on. We survive, we put one foot in front of the other. Tick another appointment off, another cycle off, keep plastering that smile on, keep doing whats expected of us. It takes a bit of time after treatment to realise that that doesn’t have to be how it is all the time. Asking for help doesn’t come naturally for me, but I realised that while I could keep on keeping on, I’d done it for years after all, now it was time to stop focussing on surviving, and figure out how to start thriving.

Hindsight also has me thinking, I probably should have made more use of the counselling services offered through out treatment – so if you’re going through treatment, or coming out the other side (what ever that looks like), I’d recommend taking care of yourself by finding a good counsellor or psychologist – for you and your partner, together and individually. Because infertility takes a toll on all aspects of life, and you deserve to have a life thats more than just surviving xo

Auntying

I have 8 niblings (not counting my friends kids that I think of as niblings) with another nibling planning to arrive later this year. I love being an Aunty and take my aunty role seriously – anything is acceptable to score favourite aunty points! (I don’t really expect my niblings to choose a favourite….just to have them like spending time with me is enough.)

Growing up I wasn’t particularly close to my aunts and uncles. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it when they came to visit, but for a start they didn’t live that close so visits weren’t that frequent, and secondly, my parents are the youngest of their families so my aunts & uncles were in their 40s when I was born, where as I was in my 20’s when my first 2 niblings arrived, which I think makes a difference to the relationships. It also meant when I became an Aunt, I decided I wanted to be an important part of their lives – I personally think kids can’t have too many adults that love them and want to spend time with them.

Another motivating factor to being a good aunty, was not having any adults I could talk to growing up. I wasn’t particularly close with my parents – not in a tell them everything/anything kind of way, and there were no other adults I felt I could go to if I needed someone. So I’ve always hoped I could be someone my niblings felt they could talk to, so if they needed another adult to have their back, they knew they could come to me.

Recently I had the privilege of hanging out with my teenage nibling – I was a bit worried they might be too cool for me, particularly with all my self-conscious, lacking in self-worth thoughts lately. But we have a fabulous time together, chatting about almost everything – even drugs and alcohol! The fact they felt they could talk to me about such things, maybe I have achieved what I wanted to – being an adult they trust. And then when their parent shared that this nibling felt they had a special bond with me……well, I might have cried a little bit.

I’ve read/heard comments in the past about how being an aunt is the best – cos you can hand them back at the end of the day, or when they get tired & ratty. And yes, to some extent this is true, it’s also the worst part of being an aunt – well an aunt thats childless at least. ‘Cos handing them back, saying goodbye, is often one of the hardest things, when you return to normal life, the house that’s no longer filled with the sounds of younger people, and the reality that you’re not going to experience parenting a teenager.

Because for all that being the favourite aunt is something I strive for – I’d have done that anyway, even if I’d been luck enough to be a mother to children on Earth. For all that I love my niblings to bits, it doesn’t fill the gap left empty by not having children of our own. Auntying and Mothering are two different things.

Blog Community

Having you read my blog and comment/interact is such a lovely thing – sometimes it’s hard to feel like there’s a community I belong in, but connecting with people via blogging seems to be creating a new community for me to be part of.

And recently I’ve been nominated for some sweet blogging awards – so thanks to Dubliner In Deutschland, Post IVF World and Infertility and Life. The awards were slightly different with different rules, so instead of doing a post for each, I’m combining them and instead of me sharing the blogs I like reading (you can find them listed under Blogs I Follow) I’d love it if you commented below with a link to your favourite blog to read 🙂

  • Why did I start this blog? Well, when I realised I was facing a childless life I went looking for other blogs of people going through similar things, and found only one written by a New Zealander (possibly the only one across Australia too), and that blog, while very interesting to read was in a very different space – having been blogging about their adjusting to living without children for many years. So I thought I’d write about my experiences incase anyone else on this side of the world was going through something similar and wanted to read some more recent thoughts/feelings. I’ve yet to connect with many New Zealand or Australian bloggers though, so if you know of any I’d love to know about them.
  • Top Blogging tip – be honest, share the good, the bad and the ugly.
  • I love travelling (though haven’t been doing as much as I’d like lately….cos you know, fertility treatments and $$). Off the top of my head the countries I have visited are: Australia, America, Vietnam, Taiwan, Croatia, Slovakia, France, UK, Scotland, Ireland, Mallorca, Gibraltar, Italy, Greece, Malta, Canary Islands, Cape Verde Islands, Antigua, Trinidad & Tobago, & Norway.
  • Once upon a time I could play the flute quite well.
  • I spend way too much time on Twitter & Instagram.
  • I had 2 penpals from about 14yrs old – one of them I’ve lost touch with (after meeting several times in real life) and the other, we’ve switched to emails – but still send real mail for Birthdays and Christmas. (If you like getting real mail and want to exchange some real mail let me know!).
  • I’ve always dreamt of being in a netball team – but due to my lack of co-ordination, and not wanting to commit to something every weekend I’ve never actually been brave enough to join one!

Now its your turn 🙂 Share a favourite blog and/or a random fact in the comments.

And a big thank you for continuing to help me be part of the blogging community.

Why me?

Studying sociology and anthropology is a good and bad thing. Good because it makes me think about the world from other peoples perspective, which we all should try to do. Bad, because when it comes to my infertility and childlessness, it’s all about me – so I don’t actually want to think about it from someone else’s perspective, I don’t really want to be aware of my privilege in this situation, because despite all my privilege, it didn’t f’ing help me did it?!

There’s a conversation happening round New Zealand at the moment that was started by a political party making a comment along the lines of “people shouldn’t have children if they can’t afford to raise them”. There is so much wrong with that statement I don’t really know where to start – there’s several essay’s worth of content there for sure. But the general idea coming from it is that ‘poor people’ aren’t desirable parents, it’s their fault they’re poor so therefore they don’t deserve to be parents.

I’m sure you’ve had similar thoughts, and I’m not proud of these, but through out disappointment after disappointment, I’d often make snap judgements about other people and their ability to reproduce: one night stands – how does everything align to make that even happen?! Those people that smoke, drink, eat unhealthily – how do they get pregnant so easily (cos of course I can tell this just by looking at them) when I give up every enjoyable food & drink in the vague hope that this might be the magic combo that works. People that have barely anything, and living on benefits etc – why do they get to have 6 kids when we have so much more to offer and we don’t even get one?!

These uncharitable thoughts continue, Why me? Why don’t I get to be a mother? Surely I deserve to be a parent? And particularly now that treatment is finished and we’re facing life without children, I often get caught in this cycle of Why me? What did we do to deserve this life we didn’t choose?

But actually, why not me? What makes me so special that I should be spared from experiencing life’s shittyness – why do I deserve parenthood more than anyone else? We all say we’d never wish infertility on our worst enemy – but making these judgements about other people that manage to get pregnant when we don’t, we’re (unintentionally) saying we don’t think those people should be allowed to experience the thing we most desire.

And it’s this awareness I don’t like – because really I’d like to wallow in my bubble of self pity and not face the ugly truth of those thoughts I already felt bad about.

But the reality is, for all that this childless outcome is pretty f’ing shitty, why not me?

PS: Despite this ‘annoying’ awareness I’ll probably still spend a decent amount of my time stamping my feet, yelling (possibly silently) “Why Me?” every time I have a bit of a meltdown 😜

Fragility

For all that we talk about recognising and accepting our limits, and making choices that are best for ourselves – in reality it’s a lot harder to put this into action.

It’s easy to get caught up in expectations, society niceties and family responsibilities. Earlier this year I said (mostly to myself) that I wouldn’t go to gatherings such as family events, where all our niblings’ would be together, and wouldn’t go to friends kids birthday parties etc (self preservation right?!), but would make an exception for niblings’ birthdays…..so when a certain someones 3rd birthday came around, I agreed we’d be there, and despite Mr’s misgivings, convinced him to come too – partly out of duty and partly as moral support for me.

As the day got closer I recognised I was feeling pretty fragile…a bunch of triggers and a whole pile of stress does that to you I guess. But instead of acknowledging my fragility and changing plans accordingly, I stuck to my normal ways – do everything you’ve committed to, don’t let anyone down, and plaster a vague attempt at a smile on your face while faking it til you make it.

In hindsight I should have politely changed my mind about going to the party, and organised to see the birthday child at another time, when I was feeling more up to it and when I wouldn’t have to deal with the family gathering with all the kids together. I got caught up with not wanting to let anyone down, and still wanting to be a great Aunty, that I didn’t think about what worked for me…or even realise that a 3yr old wouldn’t remember if I came to their party or not – and actually children would probably prefer having time with an Aunty where said Aunty can smile and be more playful, than a token gesture.

And of course attending something like this when not in the mood just becomes a vicious cycle…feeling apprehensive, means I’m more socially awkward than normal, so interacting with anyone/everyone feels weird (whether or not anyone else notices that I have no idea) so then I leave the situation feeling weird & like I’ve let everyone down anyway! Sod’s law really, isn’t it? And being fragile going into a situation means that things like seeing cousins playing together hurts my heart more, and a certain child turning 3 is an even bigger reminder of our “what if” that would have been 3 a few weeks ago if they’d become more than just a “what if”…

It can be really difficult navigating all these social events – you never know how you’re going to cope, and you figure you have to start attending/participating in life eventually, so you try things again before you’re quite ready….think I’ll be avoiding these kind of gatherings for a while now (she says as she realises there’s another family birthday party coming up in a month or so, that will probably end up trapping her just the same!)

I hope you’re all finding ways to navigate this situations in a way that works for you – I think it’s a constantly evolving and changing combination of our coping abilities and the events characteristics, which means we might never have a perfected way of coping…but I guess we just have to keep trying don’t we?! xo

Where does Hope hide?

Hope is a funny thing, I don’t think any of us would go through as much fertility treatment as we do, if we didn’t have some glimmer of hope to hold on to. But when you decide to stop fertility treatment where does hope go? As far as I can tell the decision to stop is more complicated than just losing all hope. Being hopeful definitely becomes very difficult.

Often in the early days I scoured the internet for people’s success stories, reading about someone else’s miracle helped me feel hopeful……but as time went by, this hope tended to be replaced with envy. Envious of others success, envious of others BFP, envious of people getting natural BFPs, envious of people who didn’t need as many rounds of IVF, envious of others having more eggs, better eggs, less procedures, less side effects…..

And now that we’ve stopped fertility treatment….envious of those who are still going through treatment, envious of those who shill have hope. 

Over the weekend we were talking with people we know, who are embarking on a trip overseas for a donor egg cycle. They told us their plans, the process, the details, the sightseeing they’re going to fit in too. And through it all shone their hope. It was exciting and hopeful, I felt hopeful. 

And then I remembered…..we’re not sharing this process with them…..it’s not our hope.

That sneaky feeling of hope hadn’t gone anywhere….it was hiding all along…

Now I need to tuck it away again, and figure out how to be hopeful for others without feeling it for ourselves.

PS. Please don’t go suggesting we try donor eggs or any other options – those options aren’t for us.

Definitions

Bit quiet here..buried under assignments. Has meant I have had time or energy to think or feel much which isn’t a bad thing….though today ended up a low after some random thoughts (not helped by barely sleeping last night!).

One of the assignments I’ve been working on recently was about infertility…..we had to hand a draft in & then the tutor gives feedback, we can make changes then hand it in for grading. One of the pieces of feedback was around a choice of word j used and it got me thinking. 

I described infertility as a chronic illness (I was relating to some of the similarities about it and other chronic illnesses, she reckoned it should be described as a chronic condition. But when I looked up the World Health Organisation definition of infertility….it called it a disease!

So then I’ve been trying to figure out what the differences between an illness, a diesease and a condition are…..seems everyone agrees their different, but not how they differ.

I’m no wondering, how do you think of infertility? Is it an illness, a disease or a condition (or something else) to you?

Brains can be silly.

Just the other day I was thinking to myself, maybe this is getting slightly easier….I should have known what would follow, as every time I think that, it seems to get harder to cope again. The day I thought this I then saw online that it was International Bereaved Mother’s Day and my eyes leaked a bit…then I decided to make things worse by having a look at Facebook (I tend to avoid this these days as generally when I log on I see something that annoys/upsets me) and looked at photos some friends had posted of their babies….dumb move really!

Then the other night as I lay in bed hoping to fall asleep, I started mulling things over (again) and wishing I could have done numerous things differently, all those food/drink/supplement choices I should or shouldn’t have had…..the thoughts were all going crazy & I was getting more awake instead of sleepy, until in the end I screamed (silently in my head because my husband was sleeping peacefully next to me) I DID NOTHING WRONG. Of course this didn’t stop the thoughts completely, but it paused them a bit before the voices started quietly arguing again….eventually though I managed to fall asleep….

Except, the next morning I saw an article online about the negative impacts of artificial sweeteners and caffeine….and it read so conclusively (even though I admit I didn’t go off and check the studies/sources cited) that yet again, I was back regretting my consumption of coffee (even though I mostly consumed decafe!)…left me thinking that maybe the reason the last cycle failed so spectacularly was because of the coffee I drank in the couple of months beforehand (decafe didn’t seem to have made a difference in all the other cycles, & the specialist had said if having a coffee a day helped manage stress then it was probably better to have it than not…) so I was in a bugger it mood, I’ll drink the coffee….but what if that was what fucked that cycle up? what if it was my fault? I know I’ll never know, but I now just really wish I could have another go…one more cycle, another chance to hopefully have perfect health (i.e. meet all my standards about food, drink, supplements, exercise, weight) this time & hopefully get a better result.

Because I really don’t know how to reconcile all the things I didn’t do, or could have done better with this outcome……