Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Big Day

I haven't been able to talk about it until now. I'm really not actually sure why - I just needed a little distance from it.

Saint Anne phoned me soon after I last wrote and asked if I could come in a little earlier.


I phoned AdventureBoy who was planning to meet me there after his early morning meeting. Message bank. Shit.

Oh well, time to go!

Saint Anne took me through the secret back entrance into the Big Top. Just through here, it will all be fine. She pulled the curtain aside and I stepped into the bright, glaring light. I turned to say goodbye, but she was gone.

I was in my gown and waiting in the pre-op room when Dr I Love a Challenge finally arrived. I had already been spoken to by Helga, my new scientist, who had broken the news, in broken English, that I only had two blastocysts to transfer.

Only two?
But there were eight?

That is true, but this is what happens. It can be very disappointment. But OK, there are two. They are not perfect as we like, but they are medium.

What does that mean?

They are not bottom. They are not top - they are middle. But the bit that becomes baby is verry good. Lots of cells. Very dense.

She left and I was quite calm. I surprised myself and I found myself thinking, well at least there are two. There's still hope. I started my new hope page in my new tiny sketch book.

I closed it quickly when Dr Challenge opened the curtain. Too private. Too much of my soul. What is that?
Oh, just some stuff.
Show me.
No way, pretty boy! You get to see every other part of me - this one's mine.
Where's AdventureBoy?
He's on his way, we're just a little earlier than he expected.
No problems, plenty of time, you're th eonly one transferring today.


What happened to all of the others?

They didn't make it. Yours were the only ones that went this far.

I felt even closer to my two right then. Strong little buggers! Despite my inexperienced juggling, they had still managed to stay in the air for 5 days.
So, because we've only got two, I'm going to go against everything I usually suggest and implant both! They're not good enough to freeze, and we don't want to just throw them away. How do you feel about twins?

AdventureBoy walked in at that point.
What?! Do you know that already?

Cue knowing and slightly condescending chuckle from Dr Challenge. He explained the situation again and AdventureBoy just sat there grinning.
Bring it on!


And then we were in the darkened room.
Scientist Helga was there as well as another very competent looking nurse, ready to begin.

I suddenly became very, very nervous.

Do you want to see your embryos?

As they came into somewhat blurry focus on the screen, AdventureBoy held my hand and smiled. I even think there was a tear.

And then the fun began with an important medical question:
Have you heli-skied?
He and AdventureBoy swapped ski stories until Dr Challenge shoved a cold, wet swab inside the speculum.

Cue enraged yelp from me! What the ...?!

Righto, but the rest will be OK. I knew what to expect from here. Slip it in and be on your way.

Perhaps in some people's worlds!!

Those without a twisted cervix that is. Their worlds. Certainly not mine!

As Dr Challenge attempted to insert the catheter, I could feel it poking at a place inside I had never been able to feel before. I held my breath and then let it go in a long, slow exhale. It's OK, this bit doesn't hurt.

What about Aspen? Been there?


Does that hurt?


Real pain?

What other kind is there?

Oh, you know, anxiety.

Owwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!! Tears were running down my face and AdventureBoy took my hand again. No more ski conversations now.

This was the most excruciating pain I think I had ever endured. So much for slip it in! Dr Challenge tried a number of different catheter sizes to avoid damaging the canal. Everything he did felt like hot burning needles in a place I could never reach to remove. It was agony. I was panting and holding my breath in equal amounts. Sister Sensible patted my head and wiped away my tears.

I was N OTprepared for this. No slipping in and out for me.

Dr Challenge finally decided he had worked out the problem. I had a kinky canal. Lucky me. Whilst I cried and panted, the softest and smallest catheter was wriggled and prodded and twisted and then it was gone. Like he'd taken it out again, but he was through.

That's more like it. Scientist Helga, are they ready?

He treaded them through and after all of that waiting, crying, injecting, juggling, they were in. Just like that. He withdrew the catheter and Helga checked that they hadn't stayed behind on the ride. Sometimes they stay for just one more spin. Then Dr Challenge checked inside me.

And there they were.

Perfect, Dr Challenge boasted. Look what your fabulous Doctor has just done for you. They couldn't be in a better place.

I hope so.

Perhaps we should go skiing sometime.
With a hug from Dr Challenge, I hobbled to the recovery room. And back to the tightrope.

I just hope I can keep them safe.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Today's the Day

OK, it's about the start. I have my appointment at 9.30am and I'll be in for the transfer. Right now, I have no idea how many are still there waiting for us. There could still be eight, or maybe there could only be a few. Or one.

That would be hard.

I had my blood test early this morning (although not early enough it seems - I got into trouble from the front desk woman at the Leech Factory.

We thought you'd all be in at 7!

Oh, I was told by 7.30. (took note of time with a surreptitious glance at my watch ... all good, 7.25)

Well it doesn't give us much time ... and none of the others have turned up yet!

I'm taking actually sure what I was supposed to do about them not being there, but I let out a sympathetic and non-commital, Oh.

And all the others who are here get upset when you girls just come in and jump the queue ahead of them.

For god's sake, I screamed. I have been here about 28 times in the past month!!!! Surely I get some degree of special treatment! I'm a VIP member by now. I should just get waved through like when I was 22 and my boyfriend was 'in the band' ... It's OK, I'm on the door! Followed by hushed whispers of awe, she's on the list! Indulgent smiles passed their way, maybe you'll get here one day. But for now, you'll just have to wait in line like the rest of the fabulous nobodies.

Well, that's what I thought at least.

All I really said was,


My witty and slightly manic retort stuck silently in my throat. And I felt like shit, Nerves, bad pizza, or the effects of too many glasses of champagne at Designer Baby's christening.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A sign?

Another sign ... another star ...

I have just taken the sheets from my bed to wash them. As I did, there was a star of blood on my pillow slip. AdventureBoy's blood. This morning, he had cut his finger and when he leant over to give me a kiss goodbye as I slept he left blood on the pillow slip. In the shape of a star. Our star?

Still wishing ...

Now there are 8?

How does that happen? I started with 13 eggs, which became 7 embryos, which this morning are now 8 embryos. I hope that's a good thing. I was so dreading th ephone call this morning, expecting that I would hear that none of them had made it .. or only one or two. But to be told there are more, that's not at all a scenario I had run through in my mind.

"Roll up, roll up, the show's about to begin ..."

I think 2 of them don't sound very strong. She told me the details ('she' being the scientist I met on Wednesday who looked a bit like a supermodel): 3 eggs at 8 cells; 2 at 6 cells; 1 at 4 and 1 at 3. But, she who was nothing at all is now 5 cells! Supermodel Scientist said that if it fertilised a little later, then it could be a little behind (and it's already ahead of the other 2). I've decided that it's definitely a girl as only a girl would be that determined.

"And now, we get to see our star attraction, on the tightrope, juggling not 3, not 5, but 8 at one time! An amazing feat ladies and gentlemen, just watch the concentation on her face as she wills them to stay in the air!" My hands are sweating as I inch slowly forward, not daring to hope I will actually make it to the end. Tomorrow is taunting me on the platform again. "You can't catch me" he calls. Maybe not, but I'll be where you are now, and that's good enough for me.

My pain seems to be getting worse with each passing day, not better. On Thursday I felt quite fine, but by Friday afternoon I was feeling quite tender and bloated and today it's worse. I'm back to the heat pack and panadol and hanging the washing will just have to wait. I'm supposed to be going to a BBQ tonight with a group of AdventureBoys rowdy mates. It's only around the corner, but I just don't want to go. I feel like I would be letting him down, but the thought of their loud, ignorant, sarcastic, think they're funny behaviour sends me right now into a state of dread.

It's bad enough that I have a Christening to go to tomorrow. Don't get me wrong, the couple are two of our best friends, Mr and Mrs Designer Lifestyle. The thing of it is that she and I started trying together (and I had even been secretly trying before that). She had one miscarriage and now her gorgeous little girl is 3 months old. I love them all, but it's so hard. And I don't want to cry at a Christening (I don't actually want to cry anywhere!).

I think that's one of the hardest things. The friends who have all had success while I'm still walking the tightrope. Some didn't even have to go near the Big Top. The friend who started in the SAME MONTH as me whose daughter will be one this week. She's starting to think about number 2. The friend who had cancer and was told she might not be fertile again. She had 2 miscarriages, not taking away her pain, but now she's successfully pregnant. My secrecy leads her to say, on a regular basis, "when are you going to get up the duff? Hurry up, it would be so great if we could do it together". Always saying, "after everything I have been through", as if her pain is the only one that counts, cause it was out there. Visible. Communicated.

I suppose that's my fault. If she knew I know she would be a lot more sensitive, but I can't. I can't bear the sympathy of others at the best of times. I couldn't deal with the questions. The hopeful expressions. My mother, Rain on my Parade. AdventureBoy's mother, the Glamour Queen. My sisters, with their healthy sons.

So far we have told no-one. We mentioned that it might be the way we are heading to Mr and Mrs Designer Lifestyle, but have told told them about the tightrope yet. Our fabulous next door neighbours know about that much as well, although I'm thinking of going in there today for a cup of tea and a spill the beans. They're great. He is an anesthetist (sp?) and she is a teacher who has just completed her PhD and has been giving me a lot of help with mine. They have a funny little girl who insists she is a fairy and runs around the house constantly singing 'Everybody' or High-5 Xmas Carols (no matter the season) and another one due in May. But that's it. Strangely, I think somehow I totally trust these people. Their discretion and their not overbearing support.

My own sister (the one around the corner) is a gusher. Everything is "fabulous" or it's tears. She cries at TV comercials without hormonal influence and insists on touching you in every conversation. Her support would be oppressive and I would have to prop her up if it didn't work! I can't deal with her emotions as well as mine. I love her excessively, but this has to stay a secret. My other sister has her own burdens to carry. She has a disease which has not been labelled as MS, but has very similar symptoms. And her husband's a gambler, attending Gamblers Anonymous so that she doesn't leave him again.

I think every family has their dramas.

AdventureBoy's are no better, but there's time enough for them later. I need to go and squirt something in a place I'd rather not squirt to keep it all chugging along.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Saint Anne

I had a phone call from Saint Anne from the clinic. Her gentle voice and genuine inquiry brought tears. I didn't let them be known - I have always been much too in control for that kind of thing. I remember as a child, NEVER allowing anyone to see me weak and with tears. Nothing could be seen to upset me (in my eyes at least). I really don't think I was tough, but I never wanted to be the butt of anyones joke.

And now, it's all happening and my transfer is on Monday at 9.30am. Well that's made that decision for me ... day off for sure!!

And I forgot about the fact that I get a phone call tomorrow morning to let me know how the 7 are going. I worry about them on their own. Saint Anne told me that they don't even look at them until then! The dying are gone and shrivelled before they are even looked at. I love them, no matter how long they last. Those little pieces of AdventureBoy and me. Together, perhaps meeting for the very first time.

I sometimes think about that. Have they met before and never found the best place to set up a home? Or have they waited in different meeting spots and never known where to look? I think about AdventureBoy's adventurous boys ... have they been following the right directions or getting lost on the way?

I think it's too hard to keep thinking.

But I'll do it nonetheless.

More about the Carnival tomorrow.

The Leech Factory

Well, that was quick and relatively painless. As painless as sticking a needle into your vein and making a withdrawal can actually be. I wonder if making a withdrawal at the handybank was that painful, would we all be better savers?

It's amazing how some of the leeches and the Leech Factory (I think this is more what it actually feels like - you are really only there to be processed) are able to glide it in and gently take your sample whilst others seem to enjoy the pin-cushion effect, or at least the pain part of it anyway.

My leech this morning had a nose stud - a star - a sign perhaps? She was calm and I was 'darling'. I am actually running out veins after so many jabbings and stabbings and she found one which hadn't been touched before. Avoiding the bruises, the canula spot, the other tiny pinprick scabs that haven't fallen off yet. Sister NoseStud made it worthwhile to take the day off today.

It was interesting to see the different people at the Leech Factory at that time of the day. Usually I go in at 7.30am, before work, so that I can be there on time and pretend that nothing unusual has been happening this morning. 'No, just slept in', if the crowd is thicker than usual. A crowd of uniforms and suits and tapping fingers and flicking pages and watch twitching. Everyone in a hurry to begin their day - to get to where they're going.

But this morning was different. That was where I was going and the only hurry was to be back to have my cup of tea (which I'm enjoying right now, by the way). The crowd was tiny, and I barely had time to give them a glance as I deposited by donated magazines. Sister NoseStud came straight out of one of the withdrawal rooms, took my name, looked at the list ('IVF?', she inquired discreetly) and I was in. During peak hour, there is always a wait. A shame I can't take every test day off.

Next one ... Monday. Will I stay at home? That's transfer day as well ... but I'm jumping the gun ... I was going to talk about the carnival ...

The Story of my Carnival Ride ...

November 2004: When I say it like this, it sounds like it's been such a long time. I suppose it has, but time has a way of laughing in your face and running away from you and before you know it you're 37 years old and wishing on a star. Time and tomorrow - they're certainly in it together.

It was November, and I had finally scored a ticket to the Carnival I had been waiting for. I didn't realise, at the time however, that my ticket had been for the Big Top. I really only thought I would only be going to see a few stalls, watch a few clowns, see a bit of juggling, that kind of thing. I even thought I might get to taste the fairy floss and put a ball in the moving clown's open mouth. It would be a great day and I would walk away with a soft and cuddly bear under my arm, won for me by the fabulous AdventureBoy.

Wrong, but thanks for playing. We have a much bigger adventure lined up for you! You are going to end up at the Big Top and, here's the surpise, you are going to be the star attraction. You, my dear, will be on the tightrope! Of course, AdventureBoy will be there to catch you, as well as a web of hands and probes and syringes and leeches. But you ... you ... it's all up to you to learn this new skill and stay upright.

And at the end, if you stay on, there will be your star, waiting for you.

of course,
they didn't tell me all of this straight away.

Dr Chanel Spectacles showed me around a few of the stalls first. Gave me a bit of fairy floss (in the hope that the sweetness would distract me) and helped me start to juggle.

Great, I thought. Won't be long now. I'll be home before I know it with that cuddly bear under my arm.

Like a Virgin

A bit nervous - like a virgin - my first time - is this what I want? I can never take it back ... but I don't think I want to. I want to do this. I need to.

For me.

And them.

And him.

Poor him. He has been so patient and calm and present. I couldn't have started it all without him - literally and emotionally. But I think he'll be grateful for the break from the onslaught of my twisting hormones. And my pain. And trying to cover his for me. It's hard for an AdventureBoy to be so calm. I know and love his sacrifice.

Right now, we have seven, but what if they all don't make it? In fact, I know they won't and that is scaring me just a little. What if none of them do? Tomorrow I will know and it seems like an eternity away.

I woke up this morning thinking of them. Ours, but so far away. In a warm, dark dish. Home for the moment. I can't help them from here - I can't look after them - I can send them encouraging thoughts ... keep dividing ... keep changing ... stay warm ... don't give up ... but that's about it for now. I'm looking at the rain out of the window. Such simple things to keep my veggie garden fertile. Some manure, deep soil, some mulch, and water. Maybe I just need to water myself a little more?

It's hard to know. But we'll keep trying. Wishing. Hoping. Waiting.

Time to go to the Leech Centre again. It's supposed to be before 9am but I think I'll be late. I've taken a few days off work and I feel surprisingly calm about it. I think I'll take some new magazines with me. I can't stand to keep reading the same grubby words from the same grubby pages. I have no delusions, of course, that these won't also become grubby soon enough. But at least they'll be current. Brad and Jen are still together in most of them there ... and Diana is even alive in some.

Time to move ...