Sunday, 8 October 2017

The pleasant day-to-day.

It's been a little while, folks. 

I've just come back from Sydney, where I was at a conference. I spent the weekend sitting beside my dear friend, SSG.

SSG and I see each other infrequently, less than once a year, but we are well across the broad details of each other's lives. We text or like each other's insta posts just about on the daily. Hence, catching up IRL (as opposed to URL) was companionable and comfortable, rather than the "squeee" and formalities and niceties of other infrequent catch-ups. I felt comfortable enough to launch straight into a rant about my hotel room; it had a pillar right in the middle and was the most unusably-configured hotel room I have ever stayed in.

Anyway, seeing SG felt like a continuation of the discussion and banter we have regularly. It is nice to regularly be reminded that people care, even if they are mainly only present in the text and tech world. Cheers, matey SSG! x

The conference and eats and drinks were orright too. There was not a great deal of time to do a great deal else, but SSG and I snuck out for a bite of lunch, which involved most of the major food groups (champagne, persian fairy floss, chippies, bread, dips and sausage rolls).

But yes, it's been a while since I last posted.

I was intellectually prepared for the IVF to fail, but the emotional fallout took me by surprise.

I sought some counselling with the IVF conglomerate, that was hard to come by and I had to talk to the patient complaints lady to make any headway on that (hint: the squeaky wheel gets the oil).

I have stayed afloat, kept doing all the things, but the veneer of normality has been thin. I have sometimes felt that, if I were to just let it (what ever "it" is) go, I could cry at any time. This has been getting better, though. I don't feel so fragile. Except for when I spend any time near a baby. Then I nearly lose my shit.

There have been many, many episodes of ugly crying. It's kind of nice, in a way. I have been letting myself feel, letting myself cry, more freely than I ever have in the past.

There were more ugly tears last week, after I went for a job and was unsuccessful. Why did I bother going for it? Because why the fuck not?

The sads can be a gnawing, heavy thing, or they can be a white hot overwhelming angry thing. The are not there all the time however. It is the time in between the sads that is keeping me together. I am taking comfort in the fact that, even though some fairly major things aren't going our way at the moment, the day to day, here and now, is actually reasonable.

I have been giving the phrase "tomorrow is another day" a good flogging, and have been putting on my big girl panties (so to speak) regularly.

I am living for crossfit, and training 5 or 6 times per week. Anyone who follows me on Insty will be abreast of my progress with handstands. I am working on my kipping (a gymnastics term). I am proud of the calluses that have formed on my hands. Last week, the workout was so hard that I literally cried afterwards (my state of mind was not the best going in, and I hadn't had a great night's sleep, by way of explanation).

I have made a friend, who is 22 years old. She is a curvy girl, but has lost quite a bit of weight and is very body confident. Like the most confident 22 year old I have come across, generally. She is my Workout Wifey. We generally pair up for workouts and have even been assigned a portmanteau by one of the coaches (ChrisCilla). She is a bit of an animal and is super fit. We laugh and joke and rattle off gangsta rap song lyrics at random. Hanging out with her is one of the highlights of my day. As the weather heats up she is leaning towards a bit of belly exposure in the active wear department and I am inspired to do the same #freethebelly.

The little things are intensified. For example, not having to brace myself against the cold when I walk outside is pleasant. The smell of flowers - pleasant. A good coffee - pleasant (FYI, McCafe coffee is really good, consistent). A funny meme - pleasant.

The time at home, waiting for my partner to return home of an evening, that can stretch and be uncomfortable. I have a bit of solitude in my life, and while that might in other instances be a good thing, I can go uncomfortably into my own thoughts. It is tempting to comfort eat and drink but I have (mostly) avoided doing that. I feel proud of myself for having done that.

I am thinking of other things, too. Like getting a new set of wheels. Maybe a Honda. It is about as prestige as I will go. I can't bring myself to pony up for a Beemer or Merc or Range Rover Evoque (sweet set of wheels, my friend has one). I am thinking of movies to see. Thinking of selling stuff on ebay. Thinking of movies I can go and see. We are thinking about looking at some display houses with view to a reno.

When one is going through something, it can be hard to get the head of steam to do the things that need it, like everything excluding work and eating and personal hygiene tasks. I am chipping away towards that head of steam.

A month ago, the thought of doing another round of IVF was obscene, I could not face it. While I am definitely not thrilled about going there again, at higher dose of hormones, I can actually bring myself to do it.

It's hard to get my hopes up at all, or indeed feel anything but "meh" about it. My technique is mainly just distraction. Enjoying the pleasant enough day to day, and holding on to the normal moments.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Tired by waiting.

My favourite poem is "If" by Rudyard Kipling.
One of the lines goes: "If you can wait, and not be tired by waiting.."

It's a wonderful poem. It has helped me through many difficult hours.

However, I am now feeling myself getting tired by waiting. A lot of other feelings also, but tired is one of them.

Saturday's result from the embryo transfer was not the desired one. As I only had the one embryo, another cycle of IVF is required.

I think I did the 2 week wait ok. I managed to say sane most of it.

I kind of knew before Saturday. The two pee tests I took were negative. "Oh don't worry, it could be too early", I said to myself.

Friday, I was hit with the unmistakable punch of the PMS. I was aaaaaangry. Saturday morning, despite having a few niggling cramps, I retained a smidge of hope. I went at the crack of dawn to get the blood test before I went to crossfit. Alas, they stuffed the pathology slip and I had to wait - again I was tired and impatient with waiting. I took my frustration out on my back squats - I PB'd (60kg x 5).

My dear friend met me for lunch. I received the phone call with the news. The nurse was nice. They probably get all reactions, from the matter-of-fact to the abject sobbing. I was much more on the matter of fact end of the spectrum. I discussed what I would do vis a vis the next cycle. I rang off and sat back down with my friend. She reached out to touch me and I replied with "Do not. I will lose my shit here if you touch me." My fella, who was teaching, texted me. I called him back. On hearing his voice, my thin veneer of being ok fell to bits, and I did an ugly cry, on the phone, on a sunny street in Northcote.

Aunty Flo came on day 28. Bang on schedule.

I have been tired, sleeping a lot, the last couple of days. Sleeping is a good way to slip the brain into neutral, to switch off the anger and other negative emotions.

Today, Monday, I don't have any scheduled sessions, but I usually do admin and research, then go to a meeting. I did none of that today. I went to crossfit and did a long, tough workout, plodding through it slowly to the finish. It was what I needed. I have not yet taken to bed today, though that may change, as I still have the tireds.

I have the angries also.

My womb was presented with a nice shiny euploid normal looking embryo, and supported with progesterone. It had ONE JOB. Instead, my reproductive system just acted AS THOUGH NOTHING HAPPENED; the HCG was UNDETECTABLE on the blood test. My womb made no attempt to be hospitable, it just went "PATOOOEY" to that precious little embaby.

It has been THREE YEARS too. Three years of cyclical hope and disappointment. Of hair falling out, acne, epic PMS. Of watching EVERYONE getting pregnant, seemingly with no problem. Of it being hard to plan anything else. It's not been miserable, there have been good times, but it's been a long time coming.

Being a planner, I am going to take the month off fertility treatment, and start the stims again next month, after speaking to my doc about how we might improve the ova haul this time.

We are going up Port Douglas way in November, something to look forward to. Also I am thinking of getting a new car, or leasing one. My i30 has been disappointing. It is still under warranty and doing all sorts of annoying things and I am sick of its shit. I need a sweet set of wheels. Anyone got any recs?

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Yes to.

You know what I think about the whole "think positive" thing. Our thoughts are our thoughts. They change.

Positive behaviours are far more powerful, I think. A meter by which I can say: "I am doing OK".

Hence, these past few days, I have been saying yes.

I've been saying yes to the hairdresser just doing what she wants. Blonde foils to amp up the vibrancy of the red semi-permanent. Going a bit shorter than what I might have. I quite like my hairdresser. She is Kiwi, and Kiwis are good.

I said yes to catching up with my fella and dog at the pub. Even though I have instructions to keep my alcohol minimal. I said yes to catching up with my Singaporean brother from another mother. His sister was in town, from Singapore.

I also bought some Singapore orchids.

I said yes to patterned activewear bottoms. Not black. Bright and flowery.

I said yes to a running workshop. My running style can best be described as injurious interpretive dance. I had that looked at, and learned some new tricks to make my stride more efficient.

I said yes to staying at home this Monday morning. Monday is my "day off" but I usually go in to do some admin/research, and attend a meeting in the afternoon. This morning, I have crossfitted, then stayed at home, where I said yes to baking and dinner prep. It's soothing.

I said yes to having a bit of a bawl yesterday evening. Father's day this year was hard. My father and grandfathers are long dead. We have not been able to make a father out of my fella. There were many kids and hipster dads around yesterday. Usually it doesn't bother me at all, but this time it was hard. It could be partly attributable to the "progesterone flu" (my terms).

I said yes to taking some photos of what I've been doing, but blogger said no to uploading them. Stupid program.

I am going to be saying yes to taking care of myself this week, doing what I need to, to get through. Big blood test/moment of truth on Saturday.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Download day. I made friends with Nina again.

Last night, I did some self-care. For the first time in years, I made a risotto. The shopping, chopping and stirring was immensely comforting. I bought some wine to put in there, and drank some too. I settled in to perform my Wednesday night ritual viewing of the Bachie and Offspring.

Offspring has gone off the boil the last 2 seasons, but I was committed so I kept on watching, despite swearing off a couple of weeks ago, to finish off the season. In for a penny, in for a pound.

Last night's episode got me in the heart. Nina has got her pregnancy glow on (I really really want to know what makeup products they use) and Asher Keddie is just immensely watchable. The Farshun was amazing also. Billie was reeling off her best lines. Billie/Kat Stewart's cheekbones are sublime.

What got me, though, was the storyline. Nina starts looking towards resigning her current position, even though she is pregnant, and deciding what she wants to do with her life, career wise. In the end, she was offered a position which would be more challenging and fulfilling for her (we won't know, as this looks like the end - I think they've wrung every last little bit out of the Proudman saga).

We women do not often dare to ask for more than we have. A lot is expected of us, but we are taught not to expect much - if we have children, or want them, then career must take a backseat. No such rules apply for men - they can have the beautiful family and the great career, and wishing for this is not frowned upon.

Most woman never consider what it is they want in their career, and even if they do, they rarely get asked. It takes a lot of courage to dare to ask for more than what you have.

This notion was nicely portrayed in last night's episode. It is an important story to tell.

The wine, the Offspring season (?series) finale, the progesterone all added to make me emotional.

I have been having the progesterone pessaries every night, and will do until my pregnancy blood test next Saturday. Happily, I have discovered a nice little night-time ritual of showering, pessary placement, then early to bed, as lying down after insertion is mandatory. Enforced lying down with a good book is good. Thanks, SSG, for the Mummy Blogger book rec!

So, today. The transfer was scheduled at the same time as my round, hence I took the day off work.

I was led into a room with a gynae chair (don't know their technical name), an ultrasound machine and a telly screen. I met with my doctor, a nurse and also to the scientist. Meeting the scientist "the cook" was nice, as they perform the magic. While I was arranging myself on the gynae chair, the cook prepped the embryo in the back room, show the name sticker on the telly screen, then showed me the embryo. Then they sucked it up into a long catheter and handed it to the doc, who placed it in the appropriate spot. I re-robed, collected my medical certificate and bade the team farewell.

I went down to see the nurse to obtain further instructions. I asked for the medical certificate. I went back upstairs and asked for it again. The clerk asked the doc, who replied that I already had it.

It is probably a good idea that I took the day off work.

I tottered off down Smith street to procure some food. There is a French Bakery called Gontran Cherrier which I enjoy, and I went in there for some fancy tea and some high-end carbohydrates. I went for both a sweet and a savoury pastry.

I then wandered some more. During those wanderings, my mood swung from glowing and happy to tears stinging the back of my eyes over the course of minutes. Bonds were having a 40% off sale, so I went in there. I succumbed to some floral printed tracky daks and workout tights. Normally I would not buy such things, I attribute these purchases to my state of mind.

I dropped by InspirAsia, a store which stocks brands like Elk and Maiocchi. I dropped some cash on a leather jacket that I had my eye on for a while. Again an emotional (but not irrational) purchase.

I've taken it fairly quietly for the rest of the day. Reviewing some articles, answering some emails.

Now, to the waiting. The 9th of September seems far away.

I have been thinking about the nature of hope. Hope is all about imagining the future with the desired outcome. It seems like hoping hard is associated with a bigger fall if the desired outcome does not come to pass. What is the correct amount of hope?

I will ponder this among the work and the other nice relaxing things I have planned.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

How to deal with IVF 101: Why "stay strong and positive" is bullshit.

I have had my LH surge, and I will be going to have my $6600 lump installed on Thursday.

I know everyone is thinking happy thoughts for me. I am glad to have people thinking of me, as being thought about positively, and people wanting the best for you, is a good thing and it makes me feel good. The idea of the thoughts changing the cosmic energy around my endometrium such that it is rendered more sticky and receptive to the lump is somewhat more questionable.

In the last few days, I have had a couple of people say some things to me that have made me feel a bit "WTF?" I take them in the spirit in which they are given, but I have the WTFs nevertheless.

I was in my fertility doctor's office. I mentioned something along the lines of wanting to limit the number of IVF cycles I have if this one were not to work, and she cut me off saying "you need to stay positive".

Somebody else, recently pregnant with IVF, said "stay strong and positive". I can much more happily deal with news of pregnancies that have been assisted rather than those that have occurred naturally. So sue me.

First of all, what does staying positive even mean?

Does it mean that I am not allowed to express fear, or doubt, or sadness? Perfectly reasonable and expected feelings? Do I have to constantly envisage a happy future with a fat little baby, rather than allowing the thoughts of "ok, what will I do if it does not happen, how will I live my life the best?"

Moreover, do I blame myself if I don't get pregnant, because I failed to think positively enough? Perhaps some ACUPUNCTURE or HERBS or CRYSTALS will help next time (although I fail to see how they will make my 38 year old eggs 28 years old again).

No, no and fuck no.

What about strong? In crossfit this morning, I did sumo deadlift, 3 sets of 5 at 80kg. That's pretty fuckin' strong.

Does strong mean "stay silent and do not ever betray your underlying mental state?" Does it mean "don't cry"? Does it mean "I am not comfortable to hear about your fears and doubts so don't show them to me"?

There is a 10 day wait in between the download and the pregnancy test. I am not looking forward to it. By all accounts, it varies between uncomfortable and excruciating. I need to get through this 10 days as best I can. Without wine!

It's good to have goals. Goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time Limited)

Specific: "Stay strong and positive" is very nebulous

Using that framework, I have come up with the following
  • Try not to fall down the rabbit hole of thinking too much into the future, thinking about how I will react, either way. I need to think of a thing that will break that cycle.
  • Aim only to get to work and crossfit. (If feeling tired, can lay off crossfit). Pat self on back when each of these things achieved.
  • Arrange catch ups with friends that are positive for my mental state (note: need to start arranging). 
  • If I am feeling sad, I will give myself some space to feel that way. Desist with anything non-urgent that is stressful. It can be put off till after.
  • Find some good books to read. Have them available. 
  • Make or plan 2 meals for next week - I might not feel up to cooking

Anyone else had any specific tricks to feeling better? 

Monday, 21 August 2017

Lettin' it go. George the Apache. Ride or die.

The moment I let go of it
Was the moment I got more than I could handle
The moment I jumped off it
Was the moment I touched down

These are some lyrics from the song "Thank You" by Alanis Morissette that have really resonated with me.

There are a lot of things I've been attached to that don't really matter. My day to day life and work is good. If that stays this way at the moment, I will be happy. I am feeling more cheerful already.

I went and had my thaw scan today. My womb looks proper snuggly, there is a nice dominant follicle, everything looks textbook awaiting a special delivery/download at the end of next week. The doc has given my chances of this one taking at up to 50% - it is a tested, chromosomally normal embryo. This has given me more hope than I have been feeling. The doc has also said that I can continue my physical activity as normal, which will be very helpful in managing the anxiety of the 10 days of waiting. Before the download, I have wee and blood tests a-go-go.

By way of a 180 degree change in topic, I wanted to share a story from my stay in Sedona, Arizona.

The conference was held in the mornings, and we had the afternoons free. One of the afternoons, I booked in for a beginners mountain bike riding course. My fella loves mountain bike riding, but I am not terribly confident on a bike. Fortunately, I was the only one signed up on this course, the other person failed to show.

I was met by George the instructor. I quickly learned that he was 75 years old, and Native American (Apache). He had long grey hair, in a pony tail, was short with a belly, but strong looking legs.

George quickly figured out that I was quite an anxious rider. We started on the road, then flat off-road. We practiced turning tighter corners and going on uneven surfaces, like little bunches of rocks. To turn smoothly rather than jerkily. To pedal smoothly uphill and "find your BOO-DHA". There was some summer rain, but I was pumped to be riding around in such beautiful surroundings, with an enthusiastic instructor.

We got to the single trail. There were a few cycling rules / life lessons George shared. George was quite emphatic. The emphasis (capitals) was his

"Look PAST the DRAMA" - whenever I was riding past a hazard, I tended to fix my gaze on that. However, if you look at the hazard, and focus on it, then you tend to ride towards it. Which you don't want to do, obvs. He told me to look 10 feet ahead.

"There is an old Apache saying: If you think you are going too fast, you probably are. YOU are in CONTROL of the BIKE". Judicious application of the back brake is required when going down hill, and remembering, yes, I am in control.

"COMMIT, DON'T HESITATE". I tended to want to want to stop the bike when things up ahead looked difficult, although stopping would have meant falling.

George would not let me drive onto a harder part of track until he was satisfied I could manage the easier one, and ride this a few times.

There was a patch of downhill which freaked me out.

When I was 11, I was dared to ride my bike down a steep dirt hill near a floodway, by my little hoodlum 10 year old neighbour. I rode down. My bike swayed violently then I fell off, really hard. I was winded really badly and I thought I was dying as I couldn't breathe in a while. My front wheel was bent at right angles to the frame of the bike.

I was unable to stand up without feeling dizzy for a day or so after. Nowadays this might score a child a trip to the doctor or the emergency department for a check over. Instead, I had to sit at home with this little neighbour, as my mum had to go to work. I was sick and nobody seemed to give a shit. Without going into too much, there was a lot of frightening stuff as a kid, which I had to deal with alone, which always makes things twice as scary.

On this beautiful trail, I was back to my 11 year old self. I shared this with George.

I am fairly sure this is the root of my fairly morbid fear of falling over, my reticence with jumping, my fear on bikes. Perhaps my anxiety more generally.


George introduced me to a trail which would be a surprise. There were cuttings, downhills, small ledges, uneven bits. I did it! It was fucking scary, but I did it.

I tried going up some of the little steep hills I went down, but I found it hard to COMMIT. I was tired and sweaty, but invigorated.

We rode back to the resort. I was shaking a bit. Probably from hunger, a bit from fear. I think I cracked a bit of PTSD. I thanked George profusely, even gave him a hug.

I was quite emotional afterward. I hadn't realised this fall off my bike at 11 was such a significant event, nor did I anticipate that this ride would be so important.

Now, when I have something difficult upcoming, George's booming voice greets me.




Thursday, 17 August 2017

My Sad Sack. And Nina and I are no longer friends.

When we went for pre-IVF counselling, one of the first things that the counsellor said was that infertility was, from research studies, on a par with having a serious illness, stress wise. This was validating.

I have a habit of trying to over-compensate for (real and imagined) failure. I will try and do bigger and better. This approach sometimes serves me well but can be a drag in the long run.

I also think that this "Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) always" is bullshit. Some things are shit. The odds for me having a baby are not great and I cannot deny it.

Hence, I am owning my sad.

I drag it, like a sack, around with me.

I take it to work, and leave it at the door while I am my sparkling work-self. I actually find my work very therapeutic for me. It takes me out of my own murky head.

I take it to crossfit, and also leave it at the door. I lift other heavy shit there.

The sad sack sits with me when I am alone, or sometimes when I am with my fella.

It comes with me in my car, and  sits with me while I sip my hipster coffee. . I let the sad wash over me as it needs to. Tears aren't far away. I let them come if I need to. I believe that the technical term is called mindfulness. If I let it come as it needs to, perhaps I can move forward with it a bit.

Next month, it'll be 3 years of attempted babymaking. Only now am I absorbing the reality of it, rather than trying to deny or delay.

Tuning out completely is also important. I've been reading some fantastic books. "Australia Day" by my GP colleague Mel Cheng is a collection of short stories looking at cross-cultural interactions, and I didn't want it to end. I have also gotten into some memoirs - "How to Dress a Dummy" by Cassie Lane and "Every Lie I've Ever Told" by Rosie Waterland are two.

My ranty feminist side hates it, but I have gotten into the Bachelor. There is a girl who I am friends with on instagram (she is also doing IVF) and we debrief the episode via private message. That is nice.

I must say that my ranty feminist side can appreciate that Matty seems to be going for the most curvaceous and least plastic of the bunch. Booty FTW.

I have been a die-hard Offspring fan since the beginning, but I feel that the series has lost its magic of late. The Wednesday Night Bachie-Offspring session is, or was, a safe tune-out space for me.

However, after a fairly tepid beginning to the season, last night's Offspring episode hit us with the emotional blunder-bus. First a fetal death in utero (bought back memories of no heartbeat on an ultrasound a couple of years ago). Nearly lost my shit there.

In fairness, though, many people praised how sensitively the stillbirth was managed, and that it should be talked about - I get that too. 

Then Nina reveals a hyper-acute sense of smell and kaching! she is pregnant.

Fucksakes she is nearly 40 and hasn't even been trying.

I got more angry than is reasonable to get at a fictional TV character.

My sacred leisure TV viewing has been violated, and, with the show on the decline, I don't know whether I can go back.

Funnily enough, one of my training buddies at crossfit is in a relationship with one of the writers of the first few series of Offspring, but hasn't been writing it for the last 2 series.

Wouldn't you know it, out at coffee this morning, I met this writer. I started the conversation with "you wrote Offspring when it was good", and then proceeded to inform him of the decline in the show and why I disliked the previous evening's episode, including details of my circumstances. Being such a talented writer of a hit show, I am sure he is comfortable with the darkest parts of female neuroticism. He looked sympathetic, anyway.

I will have to find a new show. No whoopsy pregnancies. Any suggestions?