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.
If you are wondering why this post is called IVF5, you can read about our last IVF journey (1-4) here.
I think I spent too much time complaining last year and not enough time celebrating, or being positive. It’s all going to change!
That’s right. This year I’m going to ignore those things that annoy the hell out of me – like greedy banks or drivers who seem incapable of passing a licence test despite the fact they’ve been on the road for years. Those types can kiss my taut buttocks.
This year I’m celebrating. There’s a lot to be positive about. American Idol season 9 has just started in New Zealand (we are a few weeks behind you guys in the US so no spoilers please!!). My wife has just entered her second trimester and as of tomorrow it is just 6 months until our wee bairn (newborn child) is due. It’s all looking good for me.
Anyway, have a look at the pictures below. Both are of Henry VIII. One is the real Henry while the other is a dramatised Henry from the television show the Tudors. Can you pick which one is which?
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
As of last week, and thanks to $9 million spent by the New Zealand taxpayer on a referendum that nobody has to do anything about, nearly 90% of us voted in favour of being able to assault children legally.
The point must be made that when I say ‘assault’ I mean smack. I use the word assault because if I ‘smacked’ any adult in the street the charge I would face is ‘assault’. Do we live in such a backward world where people get so worked up after a law is passed to protect children?
When the law was originally passed all it did was remove Section 59 of The Crimes Amendment Bill which allowed parents to use the defence of ‘reasonable force’ when disciplining their children. For example, 28 strokes of the birch would not have counted as punishment under the revised law. I’m just thinking as well… what normal parent would want to use ‘reasonable force’ against a child. More to the point what adult would believe that using force against any innocent is the right thing to do. Also why would you want to protect your rights to hit the most innocent members of society – those who need the most protection – and campaign publicly to do so? I just don’t understand why or how people see smacking, hitting, or caning of children as OK.
Previously you may have read about my current experiences with IVF and the commencement of our journey through this process (IVF and IVF2). By implication this tells you that I am yet to be a parent. It is very easy for me to say these things when I have never had the fright of my life as my three year old runs out onto a busy intersection without looking. I cannot say what my reaction would be because it hasn’t happened yet and it would be a reaction. But things should never happen when you’re reacting.
Spare the rod and spoil the child? I’m sure we’ve all come a long, long way from this biblical nonsense – or maybe we haven’t. People in NZ obviously want the right to hit their children. They have shown it with their voting pens. Good work there, he says sarcastically. I would now like to hold a referendum and vote in favour of hitting people who don’t indicate when they are cutting across in front of me on the motorway. Just a gentle smack would do. A light smack on the bottom would be all it would take to stop these people from not using their indicators, despite the fact that the indicator switch is one of the closest at hand when you are seated in a driving position. Maybe not just a gentle smack… I would actually like to use reasonable force against these people. Yes… reasonable force. I would like to retrain them by using reasonable force.You can’t do that Boon – it’s assault.
The unfortunate side of this defence of ‘reasonable force’ is the fact that my ‘reasonable force’ might involve a trousers down smack with some kind of reinforced wooden cutlery. However, someone else’s ‘reasonable force’ might include putting their child into a clothes drier and hanging them out onto a clothesline. If you’re overseas reading this think I’m enhancing my point by going to an untrue and exaggerated extreme, cut and paste Nia Glassie Case into Google and see what you find out.
In this referendum month of August two New Zealand children have died because parents and caregivers used what they believed to be ‘reasonable force’ when disciplining – or just had no idea at all about parenting or humanity.
Being part of a couple who can’t get up the duff without a bit of science helping along the way it breaks my heart to hear these horror stories of severe abuse. It starts you thinking… why can these dickheads have children at the drop of a hat and I’m forced to make love to a jar in a room at a hospital and put my sperm in the freezer to bring my child into existence. If these so-called ‘parents’ don’t want their children let me and Mrs. Boon have a go.
It’s something that we’ve thought about. The only problem with the adoption/fostering of children these days is how open it is. Biological parents still have access – to an extent I suppose, dependent on their fitness – but it’s all monitored by the government through their wonderfully resourced and thoroughly agile Department of Children, Young Persons and their Families (CYFS). I don’t think I’d like to be a parent under those circumstances… the thought of giving all of your love to a child and then having that child head off and find biological parents at some later date, or have a relationship all the way through their childhood, would make me feel like half a parent. The carpet of love could be pulled out from under you at any moment.
New Zealand has voted in favour of hitting children. 87% in favour. It’s still astounds that nearly 90% of New Zealanders have voted that smacking/hitting/assaulting children should NOT be a criminal offence. I don’t believe it. I just don’t believe it. What is wrong with you people… (thanks to the nearly 12% that voted with me. You are the right kind of people).
I promise to blog on a slightly more upbeat note next time.