For those of you interested I’ve gathered together all of the IVF blogs I’ve done over the past wee while. They are part of my usual blogging process but I thought it would be nice for people to be able to get to them all from the one page. IVF can be a mean old cow who likes to take you riding in the emotional jallopy from time to time. Anyone who has been through it knows that one day you can be extremely positive about everything and you are going to get pregnant, the next it all hits the fan as the fail button is depressed with firm abandon.
As the title of this post suggests the focus for myself and Mrs. Boon is turning towards IVF with a ‘day one’ appointment coming up very shortly. Day one does sound a little like ground zero but it is, less ominously, the day in which everything IVF begins in earnest.
Before we start let’s delve into a little background…
We have been trying for children for a few years now. Due to various health experiences she had had in the past the wife had always suspected there might be an issue with our ability to conceive children the natural way. After attending a fertility seminar last year we decided to pay for a consultation with a private fertility guru – Dr Mary Birdsall from Fertility Associates Auckland. As a result, we were put on the fertility waiting list and now we find ourselves just a couple of months out from our first appointment. An extension of the story here can be found by clicking here.
There was an operation earlier this year and since we were already on the waiting list for IVF we bumped ourselves to September so that conception might happen as the higher powers intented. Alas this is not the case and we find September just over a month away now and resignation has begun to set in. Children may not happen for us without scientific intervention.
With this resignation comes other thoughts… Will we ever have children? What will our lives be like without kids? Because we have been trying for so long it seems that having a baby is our life at the moment is nigh on impossible. And sometimes you do think terrible things like, “when this is over and we don’t end up with any kids we might be able to go to Vegas for a cool holiday” This is one of the many, many times when guilt sets in.
This whole process makes you feel guilty in the first place because things aren’t happening correctly. You feel guilty in the second place because you’ve just thought out beyond your current predicament – a time when IVF may fail and you may not ever have kids of your own. I keep telling myself it is a coping mechanism but it doesn’t really help. Guilt is always there bubbling away and will lift its head up and roar its guilty roar at any moment.
For example, I saw a pregnant lady on the street the other day and I thought to myself, “cow, how come she’s pregnant and we’re not?” The roar of the guilt monster invades my brainspace.
The trouble with fertility is many-fold but key to it, as I’ve mentioned previously, is the fact that it takes a long, long time. You only get 12 chances a year – fewer if your parents are staying. It’s all mathematics, peeing on sticks and timing. Very mechanical.
Everyone tries to make you feel better as well. I must be careful here because our friends and family have been remarkable and supportive through this but there are only a few people we know who have had fertility issues and really know what we’re going through. Everyone knows we’ve been trying – we could’ve kept it secret but other friends were trying at the same time and let us know so we let them know. They got pregnant and had kids as well and we’re still trying. You sometimes feel a bit left behind.
While waiting for an appointment with our fertility counsellor the other week we stumbled upon an article in a magazine. It talked about all the things people say when they are wanting to be supportive to their friends in times of unsuccessful fertility. The beautiful thing about the list of ‘sayings’ was that they had replaced fertility with the ability to walk in all of the things people said and posed the question, would people say these things to someone who couldn’t walk?
- If you just forget about walking, it’ll happen.
- Why don’t you just stand up and start walking?
- I had a friend and they were trying to walk for ages and ages and they ended up walking and it was great. You’ll walk just like them I bet.
The article had a very long list of similar phrases many of which we familiar to us.
Well… I have so much more to say on this issue but that’s enough for now. I will, of course, keep you posted as things happen. There will be times of sadness and anger and if you wish to communicate your experiences through the comments option on this page then do feel free.
Until next time, may all your swimmers be successful.
By way of an update…
The process has begun. Yes, this is true. We are officially part of the Fertility Plus baby making machine. Small portions of me now lie frozen somewhere in the vacinity of -200°c. How my swimmers might be able to survive a slow freezing to that temperature and then get re-thawed back to +37°c both amazes and astounds me.
Let me put in the beep beep beep of a reversing truckular unit here and background a wee bit further the events of last Wednesday…
You may have read in my first IVF blog about my feelings of guilt towards our IVF experience as a whole. Due to my wife’s endometriosis a vast majority of the medical events will be happening to her. The guilt I feel relates to the fact that she is going through all the pain, prodding and procedures while I isn’t. To prevent these guilty feelings taking over I’ve been focusing on giving her my complete and total support when called upon.
Another thing I’ve been doing to allay the guilty feelings is to talk to people about our procedure. This has been quite cathartic also – mainly because everyone seems to be excited about the whole process starting and this excitement is rubbing off on me. I too am now excited about beginning IVF. At some point over the next couple of years (maybe sooner) we might have a little Boon running, crawling, dribbling and/or pooing around the house. That, my friends, is awesome.
The people I’ve been talking to are the ones who have to know – boss and team leader – but there have been others. Fertility Plus gave us a book with a time-line showing what happens and when during IVF. Day 1, as it’s called, will be happening sometime near the start of September. This is the first day of Zoe’s period when she rings up and books in an appointment to learn how to give the injections that will turn her body into an egg producing machine. This time-line is great because it’s all on one page and you show it to people and say ‘this happens there’ and ‘about this time we’ll be doing that’ and so on. The penultimate entry on the time-line is eggs fertilised with the final one being, obviously, embryos implanted.
At the very moment I point to that section of the time-line, or I tell someone about that part of the process, I wait. I wait to see which euphemism the person uses to describe my delivery of sperm to Fertility Plus. I’ve had “your contribution” and “doing your bit”. There’s no getting around it though and when you’re talking with someone about it you can see it in their eyes. You know. They know. You know that they know. They know that you know that they know. Everyone knows. My part involves going into a little room with a plastic jar with a pink lid and getting somewhat jiggy with myself. It’s just me, the room and my imagination. On Wednesday it was my turn to produce a back-up sample so that if I couldn’t on the day there would be one there we could use.
While I was walking down the corridor to the lab I noticed four large picture boards on the walls. Every single one was filled, packed, with pictures of babies and children. All of the children Fertility Plus had helped parents to create. It was a totally awe inspiring sight. Hundreds of pictures, from family pics of the kids lined up on the couch, down to a couple of babies being held up by the doctor/midwife moments after being born. I thought as I wandered down to the lab to pick up my pink-lidded jar that one day our baby could be on the corridor wall. A most heart warming and positive moment. It was the first time in a long, long time that I felt we would have children after IVF, or at all.
After ‘contributing’ to the pink-lidded jar I had to fill in a consent form, which Zoe had to sign. I almost ran down the corridor to the waiting room where she was and told her she had forms to sign. While we walked I showed her the photos. On one of the photo boards there was a small gap between pictures. I saw this and pointed and said, “Look. There’s the gap for our baby.”
What I thought was going to be a daunting and highly clinical procedure has now turned into one of the most exciting experiences I’ve ever had. That’s in stark contrast to how I was feeling even three weeks ago. It’s amazing what a couple of hundred incredibly cute baby photos does to the IVF psyche!
Until next time, happy contributing.
I was thinking about a few subjects to meander through this time…
Should I talk about the New Zealand Geographic Board recommending the city of Wanganui be spelt the same way as the river running through it: with a small ‘h’ following the capital W. That is, the area called Whanganui by the people who’ve lived there for the last few centuries could be spelt as such in the future. An important side note to this is that the city’s residents have voted against that move in a referendum AND that all (not just some, but all) of the people I’ve seen on the news objecting to this, including the his esteemed worshit the mayor Michael Laws, have been white. The objectioning has been so ardent also. Why object to spelling something in the traditional way? Unless of course you need an excuse to be racist…
That dabbling of the toe of opinion into the icy lagoon of racism brings me to the current “campaign” against Obama’s health plan. A lot of the placards seem to be saying President Obama’s plans to let every US citizen (except the illegals – anywhere up to 20 million inhabitants) have access to some kind of healthcare is communist or fascist. Communism is where the state controls everything on behalf of the people. Sounds like a good idea but generally it gets hijacked by the likes of Stalin or Mao who end up killing loads of people who disagree with their version of it. Of course, this is completely different to a capitalist democracy seen in the US where people are elected to the Senate or the House of Representatives so that they can make change completely independently of any company willing to “donate” thousands of dollars to trusts run by their families.
This is, as usual, a generalisation. I’m sure there are loads of capitalists in Washington D.C. who don’t take any money from people working on behalf of companies. Also, since when was capitalism a better model than socialism, communism or fascism? At least with socialism the government is trying to look after the people rather than letting the markets decide (remember when Lehmann Bros “decided” to pay Richard Fuld $300 million in the years leading up to the collapse for his strong leadership and excellent decision making). Comparing Obama to Hitler is not going to make your point very well. It’s like trying to get Christians to convert to Islam by telling them Jesus was a lesbian. Pretending to believe in the 2nd amendment by walking around these protests with an Ak-47 strapped to your dick isn’t going to win you any friends either you idiot.
Anyway, those two small issues aside…
This week the process has begun. We are now officially going through IVF. When I say ‘officially’ I mean the procedures have started and when I say ‘we’ I mean Mrs. Boon. As I’ve said previously during my other two blogs on the subject, my part in this process is important but is about as invasive as scratching the tip of your nose gently when it’s slightly itchy. I’ve also talked about the guilt factor that can develop from this and the fact I wish I could be doing more – and by doing more I mean having things done to me. But in IVF it seems not to be the way for the man to endure these moments associated with artificial insemination. Helping and supporting is our job.
The very first procedure Mrs. Boon went through in our – hopefully not too long – IVF journey involved her joining a research project looking into the effects of a uterus wash of lipiodol on increasing the chances of pregnancy. For those unversed… Lipiodol is a poppyseed oil that is used as a contrast medium. A contrast medium is one that, when pumped into veins or tubes shows up on x-rays allowing physicians to see blockages and the like. In women it is used to see if there is anything holding things up in the fallopian tubes. As with previous accidental breakthroughs like penicillin or coca-cola, it’s been discovered this flushing may actually enhance the prospectss of a successful pregnancy. So Mrs. Boon offered to go into a New Zealand study investigating this phenomenon.
When she said yes to taking part she had a 50/50 chance of either being in the control group, who would not have had the flushing, or being in the group who did. When the researcher opened the envelope last week she was pleased (although this may be a bit of an understatement) to hear she was not in the control group and was going to receive the lipiodol. Once again, as if I needed any more proof of how amazing my wife is, she selflessly puts her body forward so researchers can develop better and more successful methods of IVF for other couples.
I must also mention at this point that yesterday, the day of the lipiodol wash, was our 5th wedding anniversary.
So next week we head into the hospital to learn how to inject her with hormones that bring on a menopausal state. I am fast running out of superlatives to describe the overwhelming sense of awe I have for my wife and her willingness to undertake such a vast range of actions to bring our baby into the world. I only hope that one day I can return the love.
Anyone reading my outbursts over the last few months may realise that there’s more on my mind that George W. Bush these days. Indeed… earlier this year Richard “The Dick” Cheney accused Obama of dithering in Afghanistan during a speech where he bragged that they reviewed their war machine there in the fall of 2008 – just as the Bush juggernaut rolled into ‘thank God they’re almost finished’ station (7 whole years after they started their lamewad attempts to control international foreign policy) – I’ve really had no time to focus on that kind of nonsense.
My mind and my energies have been elsewhere.
Friday October 23rd, 2009
After being on hormones to bring a halt to her cycle Mrs. Boon and I head for a wee scan up at the clinic. They need to see if the correct things are happening in her ovaries to warrant taking what’s called the ‘trigger injection’. Before you ask, this is not as violent as it sounds. The trigger injection is taken to release the eggs.
- Ultrasound of Follicles
If we go back a step, what the hormones do is to stop the natural cycle of the body. Once the IVF people have control it is that time they need to tell the body to release the eggs. Once the eggs are released into the ovary follicles the harvesting can take place. Phew! It all sounds very pagan.
So, when you head into the clinic to have your follicles checked, you end up getting a picture like the one here. Inside the folicle there might be an egg hiding…
At that Friday appointment we were told that things were going along nicely and that the trigger injection would be needed shortly. It’s a very fluid situation based on hormones being at appropriate levels – not too high, not too low. Results of the morning blood test came back and another scan and blood test would be needed the next day.
Saturday October 24, 2009
The blood test and ultrasound confirmed that it was time to pull the trigger. Technically, I suppose, an injection involved some kind of pushing motion. Anyway, it was to be done in preparation for the harvesting ceremony to be held on Monday – quite ironically this was Labour Day here in New Zealand.
- Human Egg Cell
Monday October 26, 2009
So the harvesting went well with six of the little ‘half-bubbies’ (as the wife called them) found and put into tubes. As an aside – did you know that the human egg is the biggest cell in our bodies. See, look, it’s huge!
After that it was my turn to deliver. A sample was duly produced and washed in the lab so the testicular Michael Phelps’s were separated from the silver and bronze winners.
Then our DNA was mixed together in a sterile environment and voila!
- The Moment of Truth
Tuesday October 27, 2009
Emily the scientist reported back from the lab. We had one definite, two maybes and the rest were unclear as to whether they had fertilised or not. This bit is quite hard. On the one hand you could have one egg removed, totally fertilised and put back in. On the other you might have 16 eggs removed and none of them fertilise so you have no mini-bubs to put back in. Which is harder? I do not know.
Thursday October 29, 2009
D-day… well not really, it’s E-day. Mrs. Boon gets our little one put back inside and the more natural part of the process begins as miniBoon affixes to the endometrium and begins to grow into a baby. It’s a great little process. The small one is placed in a looooong needle in a bit of solution, bookended by 2 pockets of air. You sit there and watch the ultrasound screen, the needle goes in and pretty soon you see a flash of light as the embryo is deposited. It’s the air bubbles doing it but it looks like a flash of light you see when there’s a star being formed at the edge of a space cloud. It’s all very beautiful. In about 10 minutes it’s all over and you’re sent on your way.
And now we wait. November the 10th is the day we find out whether we are having a baby through a simple blood test.
Sunday November 8, 2009
After doing a wee test on Saturday (and failing), we were both convinced it was all over. That was that – no baby for us, not this time anyway. Well, after going online to her discussion forums my wife discovered that the test she had bought from the chemist may have been about as useful as a Republican at an anti-chastity meeting. So out she went and purchased a different, more robust test.
That was during my school fair day. I got a text asking when I’d be home. I thought that was a bit strange, but thought nothing more of it until I walked up the stairs of our house to see the wife with a goofy yet triumphant grin on her face. She told me she was pregnant then she showed me the wee test she had done. Very cool. That was the first time in my life that I thought, “Wow, I’m going to be a dad!”
After all the dramas of the previous 2-3 years, or however long it’s been, neither of us could believe what the stick of joy was telling us… I suppose you set yourself up to deal with failure so often that when something positive happens your brain can’t process it!
Tuesday November 10, 2009
- miniBoon – 7 cells
Today the blood test confirmed the wee test above. More amazement, goofy smiles and whooping for joy. I’m sure this caused some consternation to the people walking past our car in the supermarket car park where we were situated.
If you’re interested, just before our little one was replanted, a quick picture was taken. 7 cells of magic. Thank you scientists, doctors and nurses who made our baby happen.
Suddenly, after all these years of trying, it’s happening! It’s quite surreal really. You go through so long of thinking it ain’t gonna happen and then it’s all go.
Thursday December 3, 2009
Today was the day of our 7-week scan. Today was the day we saw our baby’s heartbeat for the first time. Today was one of the greatest days of my life.
We both looked up on the ultrasound screen and there, in the centre, a embryological lighthouse shining through the fog of infertility was our baby. Our tiny baby, no bigger than a thumbnail, heart racing at 180 bpm.
Double wow (wowow).
Wednesday December 16, 2009
Our miniBoon is now 9 weeks old. We are out of the IVF system and in with the ‘normals’ hunting for a midwife and wondering what the hell to do next. Thankfully all our friends who’ve had babies over the last few years know what to expect and will be tapped handsomely for their information.
IVF is the single most harrowing thing I have been through. So many ups and downs, but the ultimate up when it comes is so sweet. To all others out there reading this and perhaps going through the same situation I wish you well in your endeavours. You will try to be positive throughout but that may not work sometimes, so do embrace the grumpy bums when they come, because you sometimes need to yell and scream and curse to get it out.
Kind regards and best of Christmas wishes to you all.
Boon x x x
Post Script: IVF 5 (the second go)
This post I wrote following our second attempt at IVF treatment over the Christmas New Year period of 2013/14.
30-odd years ago the first “test-tube” baby was born. Over the ensuing years many thousands of babies have been gifted to couples who may otherwise have remained childless.
Science and innovation gave us our first child. Anyone who has been through the IVF process knows just how miraculous a pregnancy is – let alone one that was conceived outside the body.
We had been trying for a while to get a little sibling for our three-year-old. Again we had no luck. Unfortunately you only get one round of IVF on the taxpayer, so until we got the offer from some very, very kind relatives, it didn’t look like we would be adding to our little family (a “round” of IVF won’t give you much change from $15,000).
We had our first meetings with the specialist towards the end of last year and during the school holidays we spent some of our time in Christchurch getting the necessary things together. Visits were made, hormones were taken, eggs were harvested and combined with sperm, bundles of cells resulted.
This time, unlike last, we had over 10 eggs harvested – every one of them a possible little person. From these eggs however, just one viable embryo made it through to the stage of being strong enough to implant. In an effort to get my wife’s body back to the right hormone levels for implantation, the 5-day-old bundle was put on ice for a couple of months.
At the end of March we returned to the clinic to have our wee embryo implanted.
The thing about IVF, and if you’ve been through you will know, it is utterly unlike becoming “with child” in the usual way. If, as we did, you have been going to a range of appointments over a number of months, it’s very hard to keep what you are doing on the downlow. When you get pregnant the usual way people don’t often tell until the 12 week period when the know things are mostly ok. Sometimes that doesn’t quite work because there are those people out there that have some kind of all seeing sixth sense about pregnancy and can pick it by looking at a woman.
When you are doing IVF you don’t have the luxury of waiting. Once things get implanted, the wait is on and everybody knows. When they see you, they will ask you how it’s all going.
The main follow-up appointment following implantation is the blood test to confirm pregnancy. Ours was last Monday. It came back negative.
Out of 14 eggs, one fertilised to the point it could be implanted, and that wee embryo didn’t make it.
I’ve been sitting here for five minutes or so trying to think of words to adequately express what this has left me feeling. I’m staring at the screen with a definite sense of hollowness. You can’t help thinking about what might have been.
I just wanted to give thanks to my beautiful wife who has worked so very hard to bring another little person into our family.
I love you utterly with all my heart.
This is our wee embryo.