Long time no see…

•22/05/2011 • 9 Comments

For those of you who’ve heard the results of our fetal assessment scan a few days ago, to avoid confusion, let me state that I wrote this post on Thursday afternoon, the day before our scan, but never managed to complete and post it…but am posting it now…

Hi Jed. Hi Jade…how you guys doing?

Now’s when I normally apologise for not posting in ages…and then give the reason for the latest blogging hiatus…and today’s no different – I’m nothing if not consistent!

But this time, the reason is a little more exciting than normal…this time the reason wasn’t a bleak and sad delay causing a lack of comedy, it wasn’t concerns over privacy or readership, it wasn’t a pause because nothing was happening in our lives and there was nothing to say…in fact, it was exactly the opposite. The cause for the lack of blogging was the incredible fact that we are now pregnant!! Yup, we’re knocked up. Our oven is no longer devoid of buns…and that it’s twins…so we’re well and truly knocked up! Twice!!

And that has resulted in a lack of blogging.

Go figure…

Truth is, it’s not been all peachy since I last chatted to you guys. Last post was written in the ward awaiting retrieval for our third IVF cycle…and it didn’t end well. BFN…actually, I’m not watching my language this time…it was a BIG FUCKING NEGATIVE!

We weren’t happy. In fact, I was distraught – for some reason I had convinced myself that ‘third time lucky’ was going to be us…that we’d played the odds and it was now certain to be a success. I had somehow managed to con myself into knowing this 3rd IVF was definitely, no doubts about it, gonna work.

But, it didn’t, and I couldn’t believe it. I had this strange and incredulous WTF feeling. I just couldn’t believe it hadn’t worked – I was utterly shell-shocked.

So we did what most people would probably think was a crazy thing – we phoned the clinic back the day after our BFN and told them we wanted to do an IVF the very next cycle – back-to-back cycles…no breaks, no pauses to catch our breath, no time to come to terms with the failed cycle and the increasing sense that we were never going to succeed…nope…straight back in there…back on the horse, (or, more accurately) back in the stirrups. Yeeha, giddyup.

And that’s exactly what we did. And boy am I so glad we did, because for us, it was 4th time lucky…hey what do you know…it worked.

Now I could tell you all about our emotional state, how we seemed to invest so little emotionally into the fourth cycle, how for the previous 3 cycles I had all the milestones marked off in my calendar and how this time there wasn’t a single mention of it anywhere, how in the previous 3 cycles we got excited and discussed names and nursery themes and spent countless hours talking about what it would be like to have kids and how during this fourth cycle we did no such thing – it was like it was happening to other people. Once the decision was made, how we never discussed any of these things. How when the test day approached that I was convinced that this was going to be just another shitty negative in a growing line of negatives and how I was more worried about getting the two of us through dealing with two negatives in a row, as we’d never really dealt with the preceding failed cycle…but I won’t. I really believe that I had invested so much of myself emotionally in our third cycle, that I was numb after the failure and so it seemed that going straight into another cycle wouldn’t hurt as much when that one failed too. That I didn’t have the strength to get too emotionally committed to this fourth cycle.

What I will tell you is that the result of all this, was that we were totally unprepared for the positive – that we were blown away by the high and alarmingly rising beta’s – well above the triplet pregnancy beta’s on beta base! I’ll tell you how excited and scared shitless at the idea/probability of multiples we were, that we couldn’t buy anything because we didn’t know how many we would need…1, 2, 3, 4, more???

It’s been an incredible 10 or so weeks since we got THAT phone call from the clinic. It’s been an emotionally draining time. There were many tears when we walked out of the scan room from our first scan after the positive and all the clinic nurses were lined up and waiting for the results.  Who would have thought that there would be tears when leaving the fertility clinic? But there were – your mom cried like a baby at the last scan at the fertility clinic when we said goodbye to our super Doctor S and discussed our hand-over to our new gynae.

The tears haven’t all been good – we had a scare with spotting early on, there have been lots of tears for friends who have had BFN’s, but by and large it has been an incredibly positive and exciting time…but with caution always there, worried about getting too excited, getting too smug in our ‘pregnancy-ness’. So, as with everything infertility related, it’s been an emotional and conflicted time.

So, you might ask, why blog now…and the truth is that tomorrow morning is our 13 week foetal assessment scan. Exciting milestone – absolutely…but why blog now when all the preceding exciting milestones have been whizzing by for the last 13 weeks without a single typed word??

And the answer to that is simple…tomorrow we will hopefully find out exactly what we’re having…we know there are two little babies in there…but we don’t know their genders…and this is a big thing!! For almost 17 months now, I’ve been writing to you guys. Granted, not as regularly as I should have, I know. But always I’ve written these posts to both of you, Jed & Jade, 1 boy and 1 girl…In this time, I’ve imagined you guys in our lives, I’ve pictured the four of us doing all sorts of things, the things a normal family does, and I’ve always pictured the two of you as a boy and a girl…and from tomorrow morning onwards, those images and pictures in my mind’s eye might all be wrong…I might need to readjust all of these daydreams and imaginings to fit in with the new reality we will be shown tomorrow morning during the scan…will it be two boys, will it be two girls, or will it still be my lovely Jed & Jade…I just don’t know.

The odds aren’t any help in this instance – there’s a 50% chance (roughly speaking) of a Jed & Jade outcome….but this means there’s a 50% chance of a different outcome – whether it’s a ‘dropping Jed for another girls name’ or ‘dropping Jade for another boys name’.

And this all of a sudden seems a big deal to me. It feels like I need to get a last post in before reality can intrude. I need a last chat with the Jed & Jade that have become such a big part of my life over the last while. I need one more small moment, just the three of us, just in case my next post starts with different names…and so this is why I’m writing to you now.

I needed to tell you how important you two have become to me, how you’re helped me cope through a tough few years, how the thought of you two coming into our lives has helped me cope with the 350 plus injections, the countless embarrassing or difficult situations I’ve faced in this time, how you’ve given me the motivation to keep going, to keep trying, to keep hoping. I wanted to thank you two for giving me the end point, the dream, the reason why we’re subjecting ourselves to all we’ve been through and why we do so with a smile on our faces.

You two have been there for me to talk to when I felt like there was no-one else, you’ve allowed me a sounding board to help me understand my own thoughts, to clarify my own feelings. You’ve been the catalyst that got me writing, that keeps me writing (if somewhat erratically), that have allowed me to express things in a way that I would struggle to verbalise, and in doing all this, have helped me communicate with your mom, as well as, in some strange way, with myself.

And so, Jed, Jade…before the results come in and things might all change, I want to say a very big “Thank You”….it’s been a blast, and if things are different from tomorrow onwards, I will still always think of you two…

Déjà Vu

•04/02/2011 • 11 Comments

Well kids, it seems that after a bit of a break, we’re back here again…I’m sitting in the little curtained-off area around your mom’s bed in the fertility clinic ward – yup, it’s retrieval time again…serious case of déjà vu!!

She’s donned her sexy arse-in-the-wind clinical strait-jacket, covered that with a little silk dressing gown she borrowed from nan, and is alternating between reading her book and responding to messages on her blackberry, trying to pretend she’s not chomping at the bit, that she isn’t counting the seconds into minutes calculating how long it is till 9am – we’re first on the list this morning for the theatre, so it’s likely to be 9 o’clock sharp.

And, in keeping with this sense of déjà vu, I find myself typing the next sentence…

I know it’s been a long time since we’ve chatted, and I know I’ve said that so many times before.

I have a problem with the blogging thing now…since the Carte Blanche interview and coming out the closet so totally, I’ve had second thoughts about blogging to you guys…the anonymity has gone, I worry about who might be reading this and what they might be thinking. Before the TV interview, it was easy to believe that the only people reading this blog were other infertiles, the vast majority of whom, I’d never meet. But whether I would be someday having coffee or dinner with them was immaterial, because at the end of the day, they’re infertiles. They understand. And if they don’t understand exactly, they can imagine, because they’re experiencing similar trials and tribulations. I can write about the embarrassing experiences of infertility, I can talk about medically sanctioned masturbation, I can openly discuss the strange thoughts and feelings this whole experience evokes…and because they’re infertiles, when I meet them, knowing they’ve read these deep and dark secrets, know that they know that until just a few short months ago, I wasn’t producing sperm, and I can still look them in the eye with no embarrassment (well very little anyway).

And, as much as I’m writing this blog for you two, for your mom and for me, I put it on the web, in the hopes that it might help other infertiles to see things from a guys perspective, to hopefully help the women out there to maybe understand what their husbands might be going through, and also hopefully let any guys out there know that they’re not alone.

But that’s the infertile readers…now that we’re so totally “Out”, it’s ridiculously easy for anybody else to find the blog. Nothing brought this home more than the fact that I received phonecalls from complete strangers straight after the TV interview aired, and still do. Never mind finding my blog, they’ve found my home phone number, connected to me on Facebook, sent me emails…

A huge part of me is thrilled when I get these contacts…the phone call a few weeks ago from a gentleman in Pinelands who wanted to talk to me because his daughter and son-in-law were struggling with infertility and he had no-one else to talk to…that’s special, feels like making a difference.

But the flip-side is that fertiles could be reading this too. People who don’t understand, people who may not be able to put themselves in our shoes. It might be people I have known for years, acquaintances and work colleagues, my mother, my sister, my father-in-law, my brother-in-law…and it’s not that I specifically have a problem with that, but it does make me take pause before writing, wondering if the things I say may inadvertently hurt them or make them uncomfortable.

It’s difficult to write about the ups and downs of this experience when you’re wondering if your family will understand, how they will react if you post about having second thoughts about having kids, or how spending time with your 15 month old niece is such a bittersweet experience every single time. How it totally melts you inside when she sees you and gets all excited and smiley, and how depressing it is every single time that I watch her being strapped into her car seat and the car seat going back into my sisters car. How it leaves me feeling horribly jealous and sad.

I’ve wanted to post about many things, nothing more so than our Christmas holiday – 6 nights rough camping on the beach with nan & granddad, Aunty K and her husband, their daughter and stepson. Absolutely awesome and the kind of thing your mom and I love above all else and totally thrive on…but how watching my sister with her 15 month old daughter and 9 year old stepson impacted her holiday. Sitting back and realising the challenges of travelling and camping with small children, how different it would be, and wondering if I was really up for that. Wondering whether my dreams of travelling Africa, South America, the Far East would become virtually impossible with kids in tow, of just how different longs days on the road are when you have a board toddler (or teenager for that matter) with you. And how this all trigger the biggest period of doubt since we started this journey to conceive. But I would hate for the family to feel like we didn’t want to spend time with them.

I wanted to post about friends of the family trying (I assume) to be sensitive and not invite your mom to a big baby shower, but how this actually hurt her all the more than inviting her but saying you would understand if she didn’t make it. But would hate for them to know how much it hurt your mom, because they were, I believe, doing what they thought was best.

And there are many of these sorts of instances, things to write about but concern about who might be reading it…

And the result of all of this…no blogging…

I won’t promise to be a better blogger – history has proven that to be folly, but as I sit in this cubicle, waiting to be beckoned to the wank tank while your mom is wheeled into the theatre, I feel like I’m closer to you guys again, that the period of doubt has passed, that I know I do want kids, and we’ll continue doing what we can to get them.

And if we’re going to do that, then I must work through my concerns about who else might read these posts, because, at the end of the day, they’re really for the four of us: me, your mom, and you two special people…our children.

Staring at the wrong side…

•20/10/2010 • 4 Comments

Hi Kids,

I’m very conscious of the fact that I often seem to start a conversation with you guys, by apologising for the long time since my previous post. It seems to be a recurrent theme, and as you read through these posts (or as I do anyway), the cause is fairly obvious. Most often, any significant gap in my posting has been caused by my going through some kind of issue, something that’s causing me to stop and think for extended periods of time, rather than just write… most often a crisis of faith.

Now when I say a ‘crisis of faith’, I’m not talking about me having doubts or issues around some existential god-like figure, not questioning religion or my beliefs. No, the ‘faith’ in questions is almost always about Infertility: my belief in our success in bringing you guys into this world, my faith in us overcoming these seemingly unscalable hurdles, my thoughts on having children versus living child-free.

But this time, my reasons for not talking to you guys a bit more frequently have a slightly different reason.

You see, this second IVF cycle was tough – a strange comment when you hear that we never even made it to Transfer! But it was, it was really tough, it was way harder to deal with than the failed first IVF cycle. It’s left your mom and I reeling a bit, we’ve taken a knock the likes that anyone stepping in the ring with Mike Tyson would expect, our sails are well and truly windless.

Because, in a cruel way, for the first time since we discovered we had sperm, we’ve been faced with the idea that this still might not happen for us, that you guys may forever be virtual and imaginary, that we may never get to hold you and nurture you and watch you take on the world. And this has left your mom and I pretty down and depressed.

And this is the reason I haven’t been chatting to you guys.

I don’t want this blog, these conversations, my posts to be negative. I’m not trying to hide the darker side to the emotional toll of Infertility. I don’t want to pretend that the sad and depressed days don’t exist. I don’t want to hide the strains it places on us, our relationship, our finances, our lives…but I also don’t want to harp on about it. There are enough people out there blogging about the downsides of Infertility. I want you kids to understand what we’re going through, but it doesn’t mean I need to tell you all about the bad things in the minutest detail. I don’t want to dwell on the pain, we can wallow in the self-pity without dragging you into it.

And that’s why I haven’t posted for a while…because this time, it wasn’t a crisis of faith, it was a crisis of comedy. I ‘ve been struggling to find the funny side of things. I’ve been unable to write to you without it descending into negativity and self-pity…and no-one wants to read about that…least of all you two! The last thing I want is for you to feel guilty about what we’ve been through to conceive you…after all, it was our choice, our decision, and you could do nothing about that. It’s enough that you know it wasn’t easy, because that may give you some inkling into just how much your mom and I were willing to endure to have you, how much we wanted you, how much we love you…and that’s the important thing.

I fantasize about you guys reading these letters when you’re both a certain age. Something we can give you when you’re old enough to understand. And I want you to enjoy reading them, to laugh, to cry but most of all to understand.

So, it’s because of the mood I’ve been in that I haven’t posted – this crisis of comedy. And this mood is because of this latest cycle that went so horribly wrong.

Our IF journey has not been typical – maybe a gigantic understatement, I know. Most couples decide they want kids, and then start trying the old-fashioned way – flowers, dinner, candles and rose petals round the bath overflowing with bubbles, Barry White schmoozing from the hi-fi and then some horizontal dancing (okay, this might be the VERY old-fashioned way, but you know what I mean). Then after a year of that they pootle off to the doctor, because by this stage they’ve run out of bubble bath, the unattended candles have burnt the house down once or twice, one of them has finally recovered from a rose thorn induced infection while the other has developed a nasty allergy to rose petals or massage oil or silicone lubricant, they’ve both got sick of Big Barry and his annoying voice and reached the stage where the horizontal dancing has become something that’s scheduled in a work-like manner (they’ve probably both got it in their Outlook calendars like any other work appointment), an appointment that’s slightly dreaded each month, that’s approached with a dutiful sigh in much the same way as any other household chore. They see their doctor who may give them some advice and send them off for some more DIY conception attempts, or may refer them to a fertility specialist (and may end up doing this referral a few month later when the poor couple come back telling the doctor that he can stick is crummy DIY advice). Then they head off to the Fertility clinic…

From there the scenario’s diverge depending on the causes of IF, the treatment options selected, the success and failures of these treatments…but there’s a natural progression, a sort of general order and escalation process. It might be trying again at home (oh god no!!), but using an OPK (ovulation predictor kit) to make sure the sex is timed to provide ulterior motives to the usual recreational reasons – and the sooner they wi-fi enable these OPK’s the better – because then it can automatically email the Outlook appointment and reschedule it if required based on that morning’s test results. It could send reminders and set off alarm bells when ‘the time’ has come. The couple may be recommended to take certain supplements to increase quantity and quality of any output, they may move up the next step to medicated cycles, then maybe IUI. Generally speaking couples will try a few IUI’s before IVF is even mentioned. But if they don’t work, then it’s on to the Big Cahuna – IVF. But that also has its starting points and escalations – beginning with straight IVF, like a Delia Smith episode – take 5 parts eggs and 140 million parts sperm, mix in a medium-sized petri dish, let stand for 5 days at gas mark 2 and viola. Next step is ICSI – take 1 part egg and 1 part hand-selected sperm, combine forcefully and observe regularly till morula develops, at which stage return to oven and wait for 10 days before testing. Maybe straight ICSI isn’t enough, so they try PICSI or IMSI and maybe throw in a pinch of PGD for seasoning or add some IVIg or an Intralipid infusion to the mix. And it’s often only when these couples have tried IVF (or any of its permutations) a few times that donor eggs or donor sperm come into the equation (unless there was zero egg/sperm in which case this would have of course been included earlier in this exciting journey). Then there’s the surrogacy option. and for many, the final option in this journey of many steps is adoption.

Obviously (before I get flamed to death by irate readers who have had a different experience), this progression is very general. There are many people who skip stages, reverse orders, and/or who don’t see adoption as the last resort. But, “sweeping generalisationally” speaking, this is the normal (and I purposely didn’t say ‘natural’) progression.

But not us….Noooo. Why be normal…or why start now in any case.

We start off spending years thinking adoption will be our route to parenthood (if we ever decide we definitely want kids). End of story.

Then, (roughly) 2 years ago, your mom’s biological clock starts ticking, loudly. Scrap that, it starts ticking VERY LOUDLY. So, pregnancy is required. Well then, donor sperm it is then. End of story.

Actually, lets seek medical advice first. Doctor does SA and tells me ‘not enough sperm for a count and definitely not enough for natural conception’ – so the horizontal dancing is purely recreational and no need for the OPK (web-enabled or otherwise), Big Barry, flowers, bubble bath, fancy dinners, candles, massage oils, or my Outlook calendar – they’re all surplus to requirements. Doctor refers us to FS (after putting me back on testosterone injections which it turns out was not the best thing to do, but that’s another story). FS says he wants to do tests, but it sounds like IVF or donor sperm is going to be the only options. SA at fertility clinic comes back as Big Fat Zero…no sperm whatsoever…Donor sperm IUI it is then (dIUI). End of story.

We (well mostly your mom if I’m honest) do a bit of research on Secondary Hypogonadism (my diagnosis many years ago). Find The Pituitary Foundation. Your mom convinces me to get in touch and ask them if they have any experience in getting someone with my condition to produce sperm. They come back with positive answers and protocol suggestions. They do say that it could take two years with no guarantees, but there is a quick option that should give us some indication within a couple of months as to the likelihood of success of the longer treatment option. So it’s back to the FS for a discussion. Test protocol it is then…a few months of injections, regular blood tests – no response. Not going to work. donor sperm it is them. End of story.

Hang on a sec, change FS – communication/language problems with the old FS leaving us uncertain. Same clinic, new FS. He tells us treatment option ‘will work’. Long discussions – 1-2 years of injections with no guarantees (other than the FS saying it will work)…what the hell…lets poke me full of holes on a very regular basis and have SA’s so frequently that they may name the Wank Tank (the clinic’s andrology room) after me! 6 months later – first ever SA comes back with ‘some motile sperm’. Donor sperm out of the picture then. Sperm count perilously low, ICSI is the only option – no timed DIY sex, no medicated cycles, no IUI’s, no IVF – it’s straight to ICSI for us. Keep at the treatment protocol, and schedule our first IVF with ICSI for a couple of months time. 5 follicles, 4 eggs, 3 embryo’s,  3 transferred (although the third, ‘Runty’, isn’t in peak physical condition) = CYCLE FAILED.

2nd IVF planned, 5 or 6 follicles, 2 eggs, 1 fertilised, never develops past fertilisation = CYCLE CANCELLED.

Nothing transferred…story still ongoing…to be continued…

Now that I get here, I can’t remember the whole point of telling you about our journey versus the ‘traditional’ journey…I think it was something to do with the fact that we didn’t follow the normal progression, we didn’t get used to months of trying with disappointment after disappointment, we never felt the safety of knowing that if this didn’t work, that there was always another more complicated but more effective treatment option available. We didn’t pass ‘Go’, we didn’t get our $200, we went straight to the end of the line…and the problem is, that it feels like if this doesn’t work, that that’s it…we have no idea of how the story will end.

And, unfortunately, this last cancelled cycle has brought it home to us that even though IVF with ICSI is the most advanced Artificial Reproductive Technology procedure there is, it still may not be enough for us.

And this is the reason we’ve taken such a knock, why your mom and I are battling to keep the depression away, why I’m struggling so hard to see the funny in things. And when I can’t see the funny, I don’t want to write, and when I don’t write I don’t get to talk to you guys…and I don’t want that either.

So, I will try my damnedest! I will look for the brighter side of things again, and stop fixating on the darker side…I’ll hopefully chat to you a bit more frequently…and maybe just maybe, by talking to you two, I’ll find the funny again…because staring at the dark side isn’t gonna do it, of that I’m certain.

Check it out…

•14/10/2010 • 3 Comments

Just a very brief post to let anyone interested know that the segment that was played on Carte Blanche Medical this week is now up on the MNet website.

It’s at this address and is in two parts. The first part has the drawing of the brain and pituitary gland as the link and the second part has the urologist they interviewed as the link.

Please go have a look if you’re interested…and pay particular attention to the mention of The Pituitary Foundation as well as the Fertilicare Forum (which you can even see us browsing on the laptop).

Thanks for watching…

After all the excitement…

•13/10/2010 • 10 Comments

Well, it’s been an interesting and stressful couple of days!!

Coming out of the closet about your infertility is one thing, but doing it on television is something a little different.

I couldn’t believe how nervous I was straight after we got the phone call saying the preview had gone out on Sunday night…and the nerves just seemed to escalate, ratcheting up steadily until about 2 minutes into the episode…I spent half of Monday wondering if a heart-attack was imminent!

I spent some time trying to figure out just why I was so nervous. Sure, coming out the closet about MFI isn’t easy at the best of times, but this was ridiculous. And the conclusion I came to was this…

Normally, when you tell people about your infertility, you have some control. You can’t control how people are going to react, but you can control when you tell someone, you can control exactly what you tell them, how you phrase things, how much detail you go into, how much emotion you will show. And, ordinarily, you have a feedback loop – you can see the person’s face, judge their reaction, their comfort levels with what you’re telling them, their interest, their level of understanding, and adjust your message accordingly.  And, maybe most importantly, who you tell.

When thinking about agreeing to be interviewed, I never really appreciated what a difference that all makes to the whole experience.

The thing that had me in cold sweats was that this interview was going to be aired without me having seen it first. I had no idea what the finished product looked like. I had little idea of the angle they were taking, the slant, the point they were trying to get across. I had no idea what our doctor had said to them. I had no idea of what they were including and what they were cutting.

And I was also having difficulty in remembering exactly what I’d said during filming…

So I was feeling stressed. Seriously stressed.

But, by far the biggest concern to me, was the fact that without being able to view the finished product first, I had no way of knowing if there were mistakes in the programme. I, maybe somewhat melodramatically, felt that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to connect to people who may be experiencing infertility and feeling those sensations we all feel at some stage – feeling alone and confused, frustrated and embarrassed, ashamed and clueless. This was an opportunity to talk to them directly, make them realise they’re not alone, make them realise you can talk to people about it, you can find support and information, you can be infertile and still be a man. And the last thing I wanted, was to waste or dilute this opportunity, by being in a segment that was factually incorrect, overly emotional, or made us look like fruitcakes. Because then nobody watching (and particularly none of the guys watching who have MFI) would take it seriously. They wouldn’t be inclined to talk about it. They would dismiss it. It would have been an opportunity totally wasted.

I think we can all agree that Infertility is a pretty complex and involved issue. Besides all the emotional, financial, relationship and psychological intricacies, there is an unbelievable amount of technical complexity. There’s a host of complex procedures, aimed at circumventing a plethora of medical issues resulting from a gargantuanly complex group of biological parts, organs, chemicals and systems. Knowing your ICSI from your IMSI and your FSH from your LH or AMH, knowing the difference between a varicocele and a vas deferens is not something for the uninitiated. And that’s exactly what the producer was – someone being thrown into the very deep end of an emotionally charged, technically challenging and jargon filled subject.  The potential to mix things up was immense. I’ve been living with my diagnosis for almost 20 years and I still sometimes feel like I could do with crib-notes.

It was while trying to get all our information across to Angus, the producer, that is suddenly dawned on me that this was a herculean task. For someone who hasn’t been intimately involved in IF, producing a 100% technically correct segment for television is a tall order. And this is what was bothering me so badly…the potential for factual errors that could invalidate the entire piece.

They obviously have a fairly tight time frame to produce these segments. There clearly isn’t time to get everyone involved to preview the segment before it is sent to the Carte Blanche studios. It would also be impossible giving everyone a preview as the natural tendency would be for them to want to provide feedback and suggestions, wanting to tweak the segment to each individuals own view…so it doesn’t happen.

And I know that if I had been producing it, it would have been very very different.

But, having watched it now a couple of times and having discussed it with a few people, I realise that what I would have produced would not have been any good.

It’s a big topic, and you cannot possibly cover it properly and in-depth in an 8 minute segment. You can’t begin to deal with the strain MFI puts on you, your relationships, your bank account and your life. You can’t begin to explain the depths to which it changes your life when your wife is in constant pain and you are the cause. You cannot even scratch the surface of the way it affects your perceptions and feelings. There’s no way you can deal with the myriad of potential reasons for MFI, the treatment options for each of them and the prognosis for these treatment options.

So, all that’s left is for you to pick a story, tell the basics, back it up with knowledgeable experts and focus on getting one or two messages across.

And I think that’s what they did. So I’m happy.

I’m also very chuffed at the importance shown of the Fertilicare forum. How valuable it is to have a safe place to talk to other infertiles, to get support and advice. Them showing us on the laptop browsing the forum, including the links to the forum on the MNet webpage and mentioning the forum in the voice-over was great…the kind of thing that might just encourage infertiles watching to get online and have a look. And I really believe that this could make the difference…Because, by logging on and having a look, those people will have started doing something about their infertility, acknowledged they have a problem and that sitting back isn’t going to solve it, that reading and (hopefully someday) posting on the forum may be the first steps in overcoming their infertility.

And if nothing else, hopefully it’s got the message out there that yes, MFI is embarrassing, but it’s a medical condition that is not our fault and it’s nothing to be ashamed about.

So maybe, just maybe, some guys out there will stop and think. They may not be ready to talk to friends and family, they might not be chomping at the bit to share their story with anyone and everyone, but maybe they will look over at their wives/girlfriends and start the process by talking to them…and if that happens, all the stress will have been worth it.

We’re gonna be on National Television!!!

•10/10/2010 • 16 Comments

Completely buzzing at the moment…just had a call from Lesley who was watching Carte Blanche and they aired a preview of our interview….So it looks like out interview will be aired on national television in South Africa, tomorrow night (Monday), 19:00-19:30 MNet…

I guess we’ll officially be out of the closet now – although, I suppose, we’re already out to anyone who saw the preview…very very exciting, but slightly terrifying!! We haven’t even seen anything since they left our home on the day of filming…so could look like complete idiots…who knows….

I just hope that there are guys out there who will watch or hear about our interview and seek medical assistance from a proper FS, or at least feel like MFI isn’t the end of the world. At the end of the day, the only reason I decided to do the interview was in the hope that I could spread the message that MFI is embarrassing, of course it is, but it’s nothing to feel ashamed about….and let’s hope that whoever edited the piece, made sure that if nothing else, that’s the message to get out there…

I hope my heart isn’t going to be pounding this hard al night and all day tomorrow as we wait to see ourselves baring our souls on national television….

Gulliver’s travels come to an abrupt end…

•08/10/2010 • 12 Comments

Hey Kids.

Well, it’s been a very difficult few weeks – maybe the most difficult few weeks since we started trying to bring you into our lives.

We tried another IVF cycle…but it’s finally been cancelled – didn’t get to transfer. And somehow, this cancelled cycle was harder to cope with than the negative first cycle.

So, following my theory of blogging being my cheap-ass therapy, I thought I’d tell you guys about it…then I can move on.

Before I start, I best point out that all facts and figures are subject to correction…I have a pretty useless memory (maybe, when I was a foetus, it developed on the same day as my shitty pituitary gland!!). In fact, my memory’s about as useful as a waterproof teabag. That’s one of the many reasons I keep your mom around…she’s like a living breathing calendar, diary, PA and fact-checker all rolled into one adorable package. Which means that all the numbers, dates, facts & figures will no doubt change not long after I post this, when your mom sends me a scathing email correcting all the inaccuracies in the post…

We decided on CD1 to go ahead and have another go at IVF. It was a last-minute decision because there’s been a lot going on in your mom’s life the last few months, and with her women’s prerogative to be difficult, we weren’t sure when exactly her previous cycle would end – so planning wasn’t really an option with her being so irregular lately.  But, as fate would have it, her period started just the day after all the hectic work stuff was over (and she’d seemed to have dealt with the scattering of her mom’s ashes a few weeks earlier as well). So, even though we’d planned to leave it another cycle before plunging into IVF#2, we didn’t.

We got the meds, and she started shooting up as required. BTW our cleaning service who come in once a week must think we’re running some sort of drug den. With the amount of paraphernalia in our bedroom bin hitting an all time high when your mom’s stimming, over and above my weekly plethora of jabs…honestly, it’s terrible. I can only imagine what they say about us behind our backs. In fact, I’ve taken to cleaning out all the bins before they get there…just to hopefully prevent the imminent police raid.

Then it was scan time…CD8. We were excited to see how things were developing, to get a handle on the clutch your mom was brewing…the fantastic Dr S arrived and proceeded to wield the wand…and we were all surprised to see one follicle way out ahead of all the others! This one was huge (I’d write here that it was already 15mm while the other 5 or 6 were only 6 or 8mm, but your mom will correct me, so I won’t).

I immediately named this one follicle ‘Gulliver’, because he was making the other follies look like Lilliputians. I took this as a sign of my genetics at work – I’m a big guy whilst your mom is vertically challenged. I don’t want to be rude (well that’s not strictly true) but no-one from your mom’s side of the family has ever seen what’s in the top of a kitchen cupboard – they need a ladder to change the light-bulb in a bedside lamp – they still use those little padded booster seats at the hair-dressers – they can only buy items from the bottom two shelves of their supermarket …lets just say she comes from a long line of short-arses (how’s that for euphemism).

But anyway, there was Gulliver – storming ahead and making all the other follies look like midgets.

Over the next few days and scans, the Lilliputians made a gallant effort to catch up, but it was just too big a task for them – there was Gulliver, taking up two or three seats in the ovulation waiting room, probably taking the lions share of the hormones and nutrients, overshadowing his miniature maybe-siblings.

As we approached Retrieval, things were looking good – your mom’s lining was thickening nicely (thanks to some increased meds), there was Gulliver raring to go, and 5 or 6 smaller follies – smaller, but still at an acceptable size to give us hope of a good haul during ER. Your mom gave herself the trigger injection on the Wednesday night, and Friday morning, we were at the clinic before dawn had cracked, ready to aspirate us some eggs.

I was nil-by-mouth again, just in case my sample had regressed back to a zero count. I was still nervous at this precaution, more because it seemed to signify that the doc/prof thought this might actually happen, than anything else…saying that, the thought of the prof playing hide and seek with my testicles, whilst holding an excruciatingly sharp instrument, still didn’t excite me!!

I was a little nervous, but was actually looking forward to what comical and embarrassing things your mom was going to say or do when still under the influence of the sedative.

The nurse came to collect your mom, and the lab tech came shortly afterwards to hand me my trusty sterile container… So, while your mom was having the walls of her vajayjay poked full of holes as they navigated the shortest route to her ovaries, I was back in the andrology room once again. I was startled to notice a new addition to the pathetic ‘inspirational’ material…a photographically illustrated guide to the Karma Sutra…I thought this was definitely worthy of investigation…how wrong I was…it seemed to me, in the 5 second flick through, that the photographs seemed to consist mainly of shots of some guys bum and a women’s legs and feet…in different positions I’ll grant you, but still hardly worth the hassle (and definitely not in the least bit inspirational).

Anyway, I did what I had to do, making sure to tell my sample in no uncertain terms that there damn well better be enough swimmers in it to prevent me from having to have my balls shaved within the next few hours! I handed my no-longer-sterile container to the smiling lady, and resumed my seat in the IVF theatre waiting area.

I short while later, Dr S came out with a disappointed look on his face. I was expecting him to tell me there was going to be an extra charge for the procedure because Gulliver had turned out to be too big for the extraction needle and they’d had to improvise using a rubber hose and a toilet plunger to get him out of your poor mom…but it was worse than that. They’d only recovered two eggs. The remaining follicles were empty – just full of mucus. He assured me they’d had an extensive rummage around, and in fact, called in the other embryologist (Hodges the White Coated Wonder who it turns out is quite the dude!) and asked him to double-check. Very disappointing, but, I was assured, 2 beautiful eggs.

I knew immediately that this was buggering up our chances, that it was going to take a ‘lottery-win’ style lucky streak to achieve our baby this cycle. The doctor said he wanted to make an appointment to see us in a few weeks time, regardless of how this cycle panned out, and this immediately started me worrying that this was a sign of things to come, that we were going to be told we had female factor infertility issues to add to the equation.

I didn’t really have much time to mull this over before they wheeled your mom out of the IVF theatre. She was awake, and this time not sobbing…I thought this was good news, but it didn’t take her long to start – she was absolutely distraught at only getting 2 eggs. And, to top it off, it seems the shock of the bad news brought her round much quicker – she never said anything funny or embarrassing, which was very disappointing!

The following day’s Fert report just piled bad news on top of disappointing news – only one embie showing signs of fertilisation…and even that one was behind the curve…only showing two polar bodies, when we would expect it to already be showing two pro-nuclei…so not good at all. Still, we were basing things on our previous cycle, so were still holding thumbs. And the news over the next couple of days just confirmed our fears – the one remaining embie had fertilised, but failed to cleave (divide).

We were due to go in on the Monday for Transfer, but the nurse called us when we were literally 5 minutes from the clinic to say that they wanted to postpone till the Tuesday to give it one more day to see if the embie did divide and develop. Got a call on the Tuesday morning to say the Prof was cancelling the cycle – Gulliver never progressed past the Fertilisation stage – two pro-nuclei, but no division/growth…and that was that.

These last two paragraphs really cannot convey the stress and emotions over the period from Friday’s ER to the cancellation phone call on the Tuesday…these were some of the hardest days we’ve ever had to endure, and certainly the hardest days since this journey began. The terror that we were both experiencing that this may be a sign of egg issues and a resulting death knell to our bio-kid dreams, was indescribable. Your mom spent the most part of these 4 days sobbing her heart out, and I spent them trying not to. I told myself (and your mom) that this was just one of those things, just a bad cycle, nothing to read too much into…but as much as this felt like the truth, it didn’t stop the worry and fear that this wasn’t the case.

The nurse, during Tuesday morning’s cancellation call, asked us to come in and see the Prof the same day. So, just a few hours later, there we were, in the clinic waiting room yet again. We were a lot calmer, we’d both really given up hope on Gulliver after Monday’s phonecall, making Tuesday’s phonecall just seem like the inevitable conclusion to a terrible few days. While sitting in the reception area and marvelling how quiet it was (two of the three docs were out all week), one of the nurses came over and sat with us and had a chat. She was so genuinely sad and apologetic (it turned out she was the one who had been making the update phonecalls to us all weekend). I’m even positive there was a tear in her eye as she expressed her sadness and tried to encourage us. It was really special.

Then it was in to see the Prof. He was incredible. He started off saying that he wanted us in to go through the cycle in detail and to encourage us. To allay our fears that the bad egg numbers were not a sign of disaster, that based on your mom’s blood work results previously, that we shouldn’t be worried, that this was just one of those things – a bad cycle. He reiterated that every cycle is different, that we shouldn’t give up hope and that he wanted to discuss our plans going forward. It was then that he explained that it was the clinic’s policy to refund as much as possible in the case of a failure to get to transfer – to make it easier for patients to have another go. There was also the fantastic news that my sample provided on the day of ER was showing an incredible improvement over previous result – 1 million little swimmers and 40% of them a-swimming – not too shabby for someone who had absolutely zero just a few short months ago. And so, with the Prof’s encouragement, the encouragement of all the nurses we saw, the vastly improved semen results and the considerable refund, we left the clinic two very different people.

Yes, of course we’re still devastated that this cycle went so badly, we’re obviously gutted that Gulliver’s travels (and his siblings) never progressed further than the lab petri dish, but we haven’t given up hope. We’re feeling positive again and planning the next cycle. There are some tweaks and details to take care of in the next month or two, but we will get right back on this horse, because that’s the only way we will defeat this IF demon.

So we will try again, and we will succeed…