The organised chaos

Time and perspective

One year ago, I was in a deep, dark place.

I had no idea if we would ever be pregnant. I had no idea if the ART treatments would work. I had no idea where this infertility bullet train was headed for. I had no idea for how long I would need to be on the train.

I had no idea and nowhere to go.

And now, 12 months later, things are looking so different.

I have a Tiny Human in my belly. We are oh so cautiously happy. Our marriage is stronger, sweeter and still heaps of fun. I am teeming with optimism at the new job. I am calm, confident and looking forward to the future.

But I also know that for many out there, the answer that they are seeking still eludes them. And I am grateful that I finally am at the place where I had so desperately wanted to be in, never mind that it took us a good two years.

During dinner with Mr Thick one night, I told him that sometimes, I feel almost guilty for being pregnant and writing about it. I know that there are those who started reading my blog because they identify with my struggles and it must be tough for them to know that another “sister” has left the infertility path and “graduated”. His reply was that we bring these people hope. That knowing we had succeeded and in such a miraculous fashion would give them the strength and courage to push on because if even we could do it after a year of almost continuous treatments, so could they.

I don’t know how true that is but his words brought me some consolation. I hope he is right.

I once wrote that miracles don’t happen to me and that I was putting all my eggs into the baskets of Science and Medicine. Well, I’ll have to eat my words now because Mother Nature has proven me wrong.

And for that, I am immensely grateful.

Health Goddess

Don’t look back in anger

A friend of mine and I were having a chat over MSN this afternoon when I asked him about his wife, who was due next month. The conversation moved on to the topic of needles and I casually mentioned that my phobia of needles was almost completely erased, after the whole IVF experience.

(I mean, it would have been extremely counterproductive had I been squeamish about jabbing myself, wouldn’t it? I would really be wasting time and energy squirming in pain when I could just stab and go.)

He very innocently asked me the following questions: Is the course of IVF working? Is the jab helping in any way?

His questions made me smile, for it just underscored the fact that most people don’t really get what IVF is all about and they will never have to know what it entails.

And then I wondered, do I regret going through IVF?

There are some people who, when faced with infertility, dither and fall into deep depression because they cannot fathom going through the whole shebang of assisted reproductive technology. To them, the cost of going through something as deeply intrusive as ART is not worth the end result of possibly having a child.

But it was never like that for me. I would never have forgiven myself if I didn’t pursue relentlessly what I wanted. I will go on to my second or third or even fifth IVF if I need to, finances permitting (touch wood though!!). I would have done everything I could in order to spawn (and make the world a better place too!).

At the same time, I think the whole process has made me a better person. I’ve always been the instant gratification sort of person and you can imagine what kind of cosmic joke it is for the Universe to put me through infertility! Want to have a baby now? DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200 AND HEAD STRAIGHT TO JAIL.

So yes, I have learnt patience and empathy.

I used to plan my life around the perfect goal posts but now, I realize that it’s okay to move the goal posts back a little. I don’t have to have a child before I hit 30, as long as I have my child eventually. There is no law stating that 30 is the best age to have a kid, nobody is getting upset except me and for what? A silly childhood notion of white picket fences and marrying Prince William? Gah!

Plus, I think IVF has shown me just exactly what I was made of. I didn’t moan (excessively, anyway) even though I was so sick towards the end and was bordering on bloody ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome. I endured the jabs myself and even helped myself to more (acupuncture, anyone?). There were no tantrums or hormonal rages from this genetically-modified cow too. Was v proud of myself.

Along the way, I even made new friends. Talk about multitasking! I just had dinner the other day with YL and S and we were laughing and joking about our silly incidents during IVF. Like, when I went to KKH and did a vajayjay scan with Dr Handsome, only to find myself lying on that uncomfortable bed with NOTHING but a piece of PAPER TOWEL covering my nekkid lady parts. See, IVF-ers are not a depressive lot, we laugh and giggle too! We are not always moaning and weeping!

IVF has even made our marriage stronger than before. We’ve been through so much and we emerged more in love than before. He has seen a side of me that even I never knew existed, and he took care of me so tenderly and selflessly. It’s true, what doesn’t kill us will only make us stronger.

And so, my answer is no, I don’t regret going through IVF and I never will.

Health Goddess

Step by step guide to spawning

When people who are fertile maximus try to propagate, here’s what they have to do:

1. Shag
2. Go on with their lives
3. Do not get their periods on time
4. Pee on a stick and behold! two lines!
5. See their obstetrician on their 6th week of pregnancy

When reproductively challenged people try to spawn, this is what they have to do:

1. Shag
2. Shag
3. Shag
4. Hmm, shag?
5. Start taking BBT every morning
6. Examine cervical mucus in great detail and curiosity. Is it EW consistency?
7. See gynaecologist and horrors! no can haz baby for free?
8. Embark on life as a hormonally charged cow with little white pills or injections
9. IUI
10. Bedrest – no activities that might shake/frighten/push/jiggle/kill potential babies
11. Strictly no caffeine, no alcohol, no spicy food, no raw food ie. nothing that might poison potential babies
12. Pee on x number of sticks
13. Google “5dpIUI symptoms” and “cramping backache nausea” obsessively
14. Period arrives. Cry heart out at failed attempt
15. Retry steps 8 to 13
16. Cry heart out at failed attempt
17. Rinse, repeat x number of times
18. Give up weak attempts, let’s bring out the big guns! IVF, here we come
19. Turn stomach into pincushion and jab continuously for X number of days
20. Jab twice a day. May or may not feel sickly and pukey and exhausted
21. Get stabbed by IV and go under for doctor to suck out eggs from the ovaries
22. Worry obsessively about whether eggs are getting it on with sperm in petrie dish
23. Expose nekkid bottom to all and sundry as fertilized embryos get sent back to Camp Womb
24. Bedrest – no activities that might shake/frighten/push/jiggle/kill potential babies
25. Strictly no caffeine, no alcohol, no spicy food, no raw food ie. nothing that might poison potential babies
26. Google “spotting 5dp3dt” obsessively
27. Stick little white pills or tubes up the vajayjay day and night
28. Pee on x number of sticks
29. Period arrives OR go for blood test
30. Cry heart out at failed attempt
31. Check bank account for money left (if any)
32. Go back to the doctor and arrange for another cycle
33. Live like a normal person for a while
34. Repeat steps 19 to 28

No wonder we are all stressed!

Health Goddess

Blah blah IVF blah

So. The fabled Dr Handsome.

Let me preface this by saying that it was Dr Y who proclaimed him A Very Handsome Doctor. That got me quite excited, enough to Google for his picture. Whee. And Dr Handsome must be quite photogenic because he did look pretty cute in the photo. Coupled with the fact that he was v nice over the phone and bam! I was sold.

And then we met him for the first time on a stormy Saturday morning at KKH. It was…okay. I mean, I was definitely not expecting the hottest doctor in the world but I was hoping for some form of visual pleasure. While Dr Handsome did turn out to be v v nice, he was also merely pleasant looking. In fact, Mr Thick proclaimed him the typical pleasant looking doctor.

I concur.
And was a tad disappointed.
I should have known better than to trust a man’s taste in men.
Tsk.

And erm, yes, I have broken up with Dr Y and hooked up with Dr Handsome despite the latter’s lack of handsomeness.
As I said to Dr Y, he charges like Chanel and I can only afford Uniqlo. The only logical conclusion: Splitsville. We are still friends, although I think I will miss the days of spamming his phone with my queries. Sobs.

Anyway, it appears that many Singaporeans are finding out that they are also not able to spawn simply by shagging because we have been penciled in for the cycle in…OCTOBER! Holy cow. That’s four frigging months. FOUR! I nearly fell off my chair when the massively pregnant nurse told me the magic month.

That threw a monkey wrench into my Type A, well laid out plans. With the possible changes coming up (shh! can’t talk about them now), I was in a tizzy over how I was going to fit everything in. That’s the thing with this infertility shit – your life starts revolving around jabs and scans and retrievals and transfers. I have a love/hate relationship with cycling (nothing to do with the two-wheeled sort).

Dr Handsome had suggested that we go for the longer agonist protocol which I am cool with, except that it means MORE JABS for a longer period of time, which equals being a Genetically Modified Cow for a longer period of time. I’m also really, really hoping that he can “force” me in for an earlier cycle, we’ll find out again when we see him in July.

And…the biggest revelation of all: I DO NOT HAVE A RETROVERTED UTERUS!

Gawd. You would think that I know my uterus after all these years but NO. During our consult, Dr Handsome asked that I be acquainted with his dildocam (ie. have it stuck up my vajayjay for a look-see) and I casually mentioned that I have a retroverted uterus.

Hmm actually you have an anteverted uterus but that’s okay, he replied.

WHAAAAAAT?!

Either my uterus has been skipping around my insides or…or I don’t know.
Maybe I have a schizophrenic uterus.

Uteruses (uteri?) these days, tsk.

The organised chaos

The kids are okay

Two weeks on, I have somewhat accepted that our first IVF attempt was a failure.

Don’t worry, it’s not like I was sitting in the dark every night, crying my heart out. As Yi Lin once wrote, it’s saddening because the “project” that you had worked so damn hard on didn’t succeed. Nobody died – and it is precisely that which makes me very sad. Because, as perverse as it sounds, I would rather have had a miscarriage than a negative.

When you have gained and lost, at least you live with the knowledge that you once had it. Even if it had been a fleeting moment, for that period of time, you were happy. It worked and you know that you are capable of being pregnant. You had a little embryo implanted in you. It gives you hope to try again and again because you know that it IS possible.

But when you have faced months and months of negative results like we have, the road seems extra long and arduous. Lots of “what ifs” dot the future: what if we would never be pregnant? What if we need five or eight or 10 IVFs to get there? What if the next cycle is exactly like the previous one – crappy? What if my eggs are just inherently crappy?

Initially, I was adamant that we ride the wave of momentum. Rest up a month or two and then plunge headlong into it again. There are lots of other factors at play here – a possible change in working environment; the need to get something, ANYTHING done; time racing against us.

But two weeks later, I feel more relaxed and happier about where we are now. Yes, the goals are still there, it’s just that the goal posts have been moved back, that’s all. So I wasn’t able to live my dream of having kids before I was 30. That’s okay. I’d still be a mom, just at a later age. Who knows, I may be a better mom because of all that we have gone through. And if I can’t do the transfer within the same cycle, not a big deal. It’ll let my body recover and perhaps I would be in a better condition for the frozen embryos a month later.

Of course, there is still this big black hole of fears and worries looming. That’s the thing when you bring out the Big Guns – you know that if the Big Guns misfire or malfunction, there is no Bigger Gun to come to your aid. Of course, there are always options like donor egg or adoption but these are decisions that cannot be made lightly. Nobody just adopts or just opt for donor eggs.

But I can’t afford to think of that right now. We have made an appointment to see Dr Handsome* and we’ll see how things go. KKH is notorious for having a crazy long queue for IVF (goes to show just how many couples NEED assisted reproductive technology to conceive in Singapore – someone point that out to our government please?) and we may have to take a longer break than planned.

That’s okay, as long as it’s not a break of, like, SIX MONTHS. In the meantime, there’s always shagging for the sake of shagging! Phew! No more performance anxiety (plus the durian season is over). Clearly, shagging is not going to get us anywhere, as we have proven.

No siree, I am leaving my reproductive future firmly in the hands of Science and Medicine. Let’s hope they don’t disappoint me.

Dream

*I still feel a tad sad at consulting Dr Handsome but my guilt is assuaged by the fact that I am not having a fling with him behind Dr Y’s back and that he was recommended by Dr Y.

Health Goddess

The end. For now.

It’s over.

Call me Debbie Downer but in my heart, I’ve always known that it wasn’t going to go our way. Right from the start, the odds were firmly stacked against us and it would take a miracle for us to get the happy ending.

Miracles have never happened to me.

But you know, just because there wasn’t much hope doesn’t mean that I wasn’t holding out for a dream come true. Because with every procedure, there is always a faint glimmer of possibility that it might just work. You hear of stories, good stories that have happy endings, and you wonder, maybe, just maybe, it is my turn this time.

It isn’t.
But maybe next time.

In a strange way, though, I am thankful for having gone through this. No, not glad, because nobody who wants a child deserves to go through hell for it. It isn’t fair. But this infertility shit has shown me just how strong and strong-willed I can be. I’ve cried my fair share of tears, I’ve lain in bed feeling sorry for myself but I’ve never allowed myself to stay down. And that’s something nobody can ever take away from me.

But you know what, I could never have done it on my own, as strong as I think I am. Without my darling husband, who patiently took over some of my household duties when I was all choked up with nausea, who never showed signs of giving up hope, who bought me chocolate milkshakes because he just knew I needed one, I would have crumbled. He’s my beacon in the night.

And oh, all those other people – some friends and some strangers – who brought me so much love and encouragement. Someone once told me that the support of friends is very important for those going through IVF and it’s true. The support that I had envisioned from my usual quarters did not materialise; instead, the cheers came from people whom I have never, ever expected to hear from. And it meant so much to me, to know that people were rooting for me.

Special mention to:

  • My friend the Queen of the Prairie – for oohing and ahhing at the right times, for christening my little underdog embryos, for sending me those lovely, lovely flowers, for giving me hugs over Whatsapp even though she is far away in Kansas.
  • The wonderful Miss Ene – for texting me regularly and asking how I am, for helping me with you-know-what (I don’t want to jinx it by saying it out loud!)
  • My cousins/godsisters – for just being there and never, NEVER saying platitudes like, oh it will work. They kept it real. And I appreciate that.
  • The Squirts – for bringing me dinner when I was sick, for coming over to keep me company just because, for having that super cute baby who makes me laugh all the time.
  • Yuling – for always, always sending me the sweetest messages that never fail to bring tears to my eyes. She’s a mother of one but she gets it. She just gets it.
  • Everyone who has ever left encouraging comments or emailed me – you have no idea how much those messages mean to me. They made me smile and they kept me going. Your comments allowed me to be real, to be me. Thank you Serene, Dot, Bookjunkie, Pleasure Monger, Lady J, Sherie and oh, so many others!
  • The cleverest, funniest Dr Y – poor him, for being stuck with a high maintenance patient like me, always bombarding him with text messages. But he did his best and he was always kind. He’s also probably the most positive person in the world. I’m so glad to have found him. Although I don’t think he shares the same sentiments.

So what’s our next step going to be?
Husband and I have talked it through and we have some ideas. I’m going to let this poor little body of mine detox and have a rest before starting on another cycle. We’re going for a quick holiday in two months’ time and in the meantime, there’s going to be plenty of beer guzzling, wine sipping and sashimi slurping.

I’m going to bloody live again.

Leaving you with this beautiful song by my two favourite singers that’s made me cry and cry when I was at the lowest point. I just hope that there will be something for us to look forward to this coming Christmas.

Health Goddess

This ain’t a fairy tale

I had a meltdown yesterday.

Unexpectedly, the embryologist called to confirm, again, that none of our remaining embryos were good enough for freezing. That I knew. I took the opportunity to ask about the quality of my eggs and she said that yes, they were developing a little slower than normal. Again, that I knew.

The kicker was when she said, well, let’s hope for the best and Dr Y will advise you on your protocol for the next cycle.

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of my heart breaking into tiny little pieces and the embryologist crushing them with her feet callously.

She might as well have said outright YOUR EGGS SUCK, PRESS THE BUTTON AND TRY AGAIN.

I burst into tears immediately after I hung up the phone.

But it turned out fine.

Because once the tears had dried, I decided that there was no point being all sad and mopey about it. Yes, Bryan and Bryna, bless their little underdog status, may decide that Camp Womb is a great place to stay in for the next nine months. But there is also a greater possibility that they won’t. I can’t put all my eggs in one basket – pardon the pun – and hope that one of them will stick. I can cry a little, mourn our inability to get pregnant just like that but at the end of the day, I cannot and will not let myself get stuck in the trenches of depression and guilt.

Sure, the Universe may be screwing around with us. Yes, it’s been a hellish journey. I am 30, look 50 and feel 60.

But you know what, I’m not going to give up and go running back to my mama crying just because my reproductive bits are not functioning as they should and some random cosmic lottery dictates that we are not meant for the easy shag-and-reproduce way out.

If it’s a fight you want, it’s a fucking fight you are gonna get.

I’m just one step away from what I want and I will do whatever it takes to get my damned happily ever after, no matter what form it takes.