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Cover Girl (and boys)

Please note that the following photo & words are by Luke Bowden & Anne Mather respectively – I have just taken screen shots of the article to share.

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Follow Up

#74 follow upA week following pickup Dr Bill wanted to see me, to make sure that I was recovering and to see if I had any questions. As a matter of fact I did (turns out the in-theatre blood test was just routine) but more importantly Dr Bill had something to ask me…

The clinic wanted more egg donors and part of the campaign was a newspaper article with the Sunday Tasmanian and he wanted me to be part of it with him. He knew as soon as he mentioned it to the press they would want to interview someone and he thought I’d be the perfect candidate; having gone through IVF myself and been successful I now wanted to share the joy of motherhood with others.

I was so shocked that he’d thought of me first of all and I said ‘yes’ straight away but he told me no, he wanted me to go away and think about it and let him know in 24 hours.

I was so honoured! I never expected something like this to be offered to me, but Dr Bill was right, I had to think about it, talk it over with my family. So many of my family and friends were unaware that Hamish was an IVF baby, let alone that I was donating so I would technically be ‘outing’ myself. There was a lot to consider.

But it didn’t take me long to throw caution to the wind and agree to do it! We even got Hamish in on the action and he was in the photo shoot with me (even though the poor little nipper was sick).

So my question to you today is:  when have you been asked to take part in something?

Recovery

!73 recoveryThe first thing I wanted to know when I woke up was how many wonderful eggies were retrieved, but unfortunately the anaesthetic I was sporting hadn’t quite worn off so I was a rambling mess! So I tried to focus on the vitals monitor in front of me until I was coherent enough to ask the nurse.

She was pleased to tell me that 12 had been retrieved! That was an awesome number. But I couldn’t help feeling a bit disappointed that there were only 12, after all there had been at least 20 viable eggs. But then I remembered that I shoot blanks, and of course there would be the follicles in the scan but nothing inside at retrieval. Part of me hoped that having Hamish would have snapped my body out of that by now and we could have collected all of them!

12 was still a pretty good effort and was more than I was ever able to get, so as I recovered I snapped myself out of my funk and messaged my recipient to let her know how we’d gone. She was overjoyed! It was the most that she’d ever received before and was extremely grateful.

We only had to wait 24 hours to find out how they went with fertilisation, but again I was disheartened. Only 8 had fertilised! Even though these were great numbers I felt like I was letting the recipients down. Of course I knew that 1 to transfer and 7 to freeze was marvellous bit I couldn’t help feeling deflated. When you work so hard for someone else’s benefit (and on their dime!) you want to do your best.

So my question to you today is:  when have you felt disappointed with an outcome that was actually good?

EPU

!! 72On a freezing Wednesday morning in the middle of April I dragged my excited body out the door and down to the clinic at 6am for my first donor EPU (egg/ovum pickup). I was feeling less bright eyed and more bushier haired but I was feeling positive about the procedure and confident that we would be getting a good number of eggies for my recipients.

The preparation side of things was a breeze and as I was going to be first in I was happy as I was flying solo today – I had my big girl panties on and was toughing this out alone. Not that I was really alone as I had the lovely nurses to keep me company!

Dr Bill was in Launceston that day so he was unable to perform the retrieval so Dr Irena was scheduled to do it for me. I was nervous about that, not because of her, but more because Dr Bill had always done them and he was what I was used to. Lying nervously on the operating theatre table (no, I wasn’t going to have an operation but it was in a theatre) we were told that Dr Irena was running late.

So with me being me, the nerves got to me and I started rambling! With a room full of women (bar the anaesthetist and the lab technician who was collecting my eggs) the topic got onto men vs. women! It wasn’t my fault that the anaesthetist had given me some good meds to settle my clearly elevated nerves… but yes, a conversation that probably shouldn’t have been discussed in present company had the room full of women in stitches and drifted off into my medicated slumber giggling.

So my question to you today is:  When was the last time you started an inappropriate conversation?

As a side note, I would like to draw your attention to the beautiful hospital gown I am wearing in the picture and give a shameless plug to the beautiful ladies at Annie & Isabel who made this stunning & practical hospital gown (pictured: the ‘Anita’ gown). You can find them at: http://www.annieandisabel.com/

Deja Vu

!! 71 de ja vue

I was intrigued to see if my pregnancy with Hamish would change my internal workings as often people say that #1 was an IVF bub and #2 was totally unplanned! Knowing full well I wasn’t trying for a baby myself I still hoped that with not-so-distant pregnancy hormones and those from the recent injections would spark some action – and boy I wasn’t disappointed!

It felt so surreal being back there, sitting nervously in the waiting room with all the other prospective parents, no one wanting to make eye contact for fear of recognising someone or being recognised. But the busy bustle of Dr Bill, and his preparing the instruments for my scan, made me strangely calm; like I was back to familiarity.

The anticipation of a ‘cook’s tour’ soon got my nerves tingling and I couldn’t wait to see how how many eggies I had brewing. Dr Bill handed me the familiar form for me to fill in when he called out the follicle numbers (sizes) and as he started calling them out I couldn’t believe my ears!

21 decent sized follicles and another 8 under 10mm! Wowser! This was amazing. We were suitably pleased & I couldn’t wait to let my recipients know. This was the best result I had ever had and I was so happy that there was a chance that the couple they were going to would be able to have a few frozen for back up. It’s heartbreaking when you hear that someone had a good scan but then the collection resulted in low numbers and then the fertilization/freezing process left them with nothing to fall back on. I prayed that this wouldn’t be the case for my recipients.

Dr Bill booked me in for the pickup for two days later and I left with a new-found sense of altruism – something admittedly I hadn’t felt for a long time.

So my question to you today is:  what was the last thing you did for someone else?

Like Falling off a Horse

!!o-EGGS-facebookCycling for my first donor recipients brought back all the excited nerves I faced when I was prepping for an egg pick up: the few seconds of courage needed to make that first jab, the distinctive smell of the epi pen & the quick sting as the needle pierced my skin. But this time it was all so different because I was putting all of me into this part only, and not the future. For once my prep was all that was needed, and it felt strangely exhilarating!

In the past this was just one of the many steps in the process; injections, scans, egg collection, fertilisation, replacing the embryo & then the two week wait. But for me my job would be finished after the egg collection and I’d be able to go home and take all the medication I would need to recover. It felt strange, alien. The bundle of emotions I usually felt at the beginning of a new cycle weren’t there, I was relaxed; calm. It felt good!

And then I suddenly realised that that there wasn’t the usual pressure I placed on myself. I was doing this for someone else, that at the end of all of this once the eggs were collected they would no longer be mine and that they would become the recipient’s. As the days passed and the familiar bruises appeared on my lower abdomen there was a level of detachment. It was as if it wasn’t my body I was doing this to (although trust me, when those needles went in I knew it was me!!)

This was what I was subconsciously hoping for. A part of me was so worried that I would get attached to the whole process and begin wishing it was me that was doing this; that I was trying for another baby but it wasn’t at all like that. I felt such a relief to know that I was actually OK with growing my little follicles for someone else’s gain. I mentally high-fived myself over how mature I was about the whole thing – kudos to me for taking one for the team!!

Now to hope that there’s enough juicy follies brewing away to be able to give to my recipients!

So my question to you today is:  when was the last time you got back on the horse?

Donor Rollercoaster

!!donor egg

To fill in the time before seeing Dr Bill, I joined many of the Donor pages on Facebook & the EDA (Egg Donor Australia) forum. I needed to arm myself with as much information as possible (as always!) and it shocked me to find out that donors were the ones who had to single out potential recipients and contact them, rather than vice versa. This is to protect the potential donors from being bombarded with recipients ‘begging’ for donations (which I guess makes sense!).

So I went straight to our TasIVF facebook page and started researching some ‘locals’ to offer to. Within about 24 hours I had found 2 lovely couples that I thought were very deserving and I plucked up the courage to offer them my eggs… probably the most daunting thing I’ve done in a very long time! Both couples we very welcoming of my offer and after I explained my situation (had spoken to the donor co-ordinator and waiting to see Dr Bill) we all nervously counted down the days.

It was a nervous few weeks to wait to see Dr Bill, but the wait was worth it and he was super excited to tell me that I would make a perfect candidate for egg donation! I nervously pushed a piece of paper towards him and said ‘I’ve contacted both these couples and they would love for me to donate to them, if you think it’s a good idea?’ He looked at the names on the list, and was very happy I had selected both couples for their very different needs.

I left the appointment on cloud nine! Things were coming together and I couldn’t wait to get home and let the recipients know that Dr Bill gave us the OK to go ahead!!

So my question to you today is:  when was the last time you were on cloud nine?

Future Endeavours

#67 future endevours2016 found me with a new life direction, a new lease on life and a renewed enthusiasm for the future. Due to some unforeseen circumstances at the end of 2015, I have had to make the hard (but ultimately right) decision of only having one child.  At the end of the day Hamish is every little bit the blessing we all had hoped for and I pray that one day, when he’s old enough, he will understand the decisions that have led to this.

The remaining 7 embryos from the ICSI cycle that blessed us with Hamish are to be destroyed in the near future and this itself has brought with it a multitude of emotions. It wasn’t an easy decision by any means, but in the long run the best option for us all. It took me for ever to sign the form to have them destroyed. I sat and stared at it for ages. My heart broke a million times over knowing that I was signing the death sentence for these precious little lives that had been created for us.

It took me back to every month we failed to get a pregnancy and the feelings of betrayal and hurt I felt each time I saw the negative pregnancy tests and in an instant I hated myself for what I was wanting to do; to knowingly destroy these gifts from God. But I signed, because I had no other choice.

The following weeks left an ache in my heart that I couldn’t shake and it was at the end of January that a seed of something special replaced that ache. On one of the many IVF pages on Facebook I followed a fellow IVFer asked a question that I myself had recently faced – how does one go about destroying embryos? And as I offered up my own recently gained knowledge another mum gave an alternate suggestion: why not donate said embryos?

Now this had always been something Mr T and I had discussed and as I’ve previously mentioned in past blogs this had always been a thought in my mind that maybe God had had an ulterior motive for us needing IVF but as this wasn’t a possibility for our embryos a thought dawned on me… what’s stopping me donating my eggs?

I didn’t have to think about it for long! I was on the phone to the donor co-ordinator within a few days and began researching everything I needed to about the whole donor egg process.

So my question to you today is:  when has the seed of something exciting been planted in your mind?

A New Chapter

19 months later and I have the most inquisitive, cheeky and adorable little toddler who is hitting all his milestones early –  including the terrible twos! Every step of the way he has excelled: rolling, crawling, teeth (everything including his 2 year molars poking through by 13 months!) and walking!  I don’t remember signing up for this!  Where’s my placid, quiet, angelic child who was meant to sit and observe life? Apparently that one is only in the brochure!

Don’t get me wrong, my life as a mother is wonderful, but it’s definitely not what I was expecting! The books & professional blogs really don’t explain to you just how hard being a parent really is. It’s one of those ‘you have to try it to know what it’s all about’ kinda deals. No sleep, wearing the same clothes three days in a row, reheated meals and drinks, showering bi-weekly and smelling like desperation and vomit will become the norm! But blind faith and that deep-seeded feeling that you know you won’t let your child die are the two things that keep you going… well those and copious amounts of coffee!

And once you think you’ve worked things out and that you’re coasting along, a new milestone comes along and you’re thrown back into complete chaos where nothing makes sense! But I guess that’s all part of the parenting game – they lull you into a false sense of security with their cute little faces and hit you with the new developmental leap!

My biggest bit of advice would have to be: do not compare your child with any other child! Whether it’s your bestie whose son is the same age or your cousin’s child who was ‘just like that at his age’ – your child is your child! They will walk, talk, cry, sleep & poop however they damned well please, so grab them with both hands and roll with it!

Looking back over the past year and a half I really couldn’t tell you what is the hardest or easiest part of being a parent (to this date). The days, weeks and years start merging and then one day you wake up and you have this little human who is becoming his own person (with his own feelings & emotions) and you just can’t help but sit back and wonder “where did my baby go?” Take each good or bad day for what it is, a huge learning curve, and remember that they are just mini versions of their parents and we have no one to blame but ourselves!!

 

So my question to you today is:  when was your last sleep in?

Perfection

Hamish Christopher Lewis Weston was born on Thursday 23rd October 2014. His proud grandfather would later be quoted in saying “Tasmania had a holiday for his birth”! He was our perfect little baby boy and we were all over the moon

 

The labour was fairly quick apparently (only 7 and a bit hours) but as I had been in the delivery suite since 5pm the previous Tuesday (a total of 39 hours!!) I was yet to be convinced!

Since then I have had a crash course in motherhood, lack of sleep and what that can do to your mind and emotions, and constant self doubt. No amount of reading books or articles or parenting pages will ever prepare you for the seemingly endless fear that you will drop/hurt/squash/forget about the baby but believe me this is all natural!! You are only human, and it is human nature to second guess yourself. (Personally I think it’s quite healthy to have self doubt – you’re more careful and less cocky and therefore unlikely to make serious mistakes)

4 months in and I still catch myself looking at him in awe, and I cannot for the life of me work out why we have been graced with such an attractive, (and for the most part) well behaved and laid back child! How can he be so calm and collected when I’m such a basket case?

 

A huge part of me wants to tell those of you still trying that “your time will come” or “keep at it, it’s worth it” but I won’t because I recently read an article from a lady talking about Emily Symons (who plays Marilyn on Home & Away) who is pregnant after many years of IVF and who (Symons) is telling women not to give up hope. But for those who are still trying after so long and are still not lucky it’s the hardest possible thing to have a success story tell you not to give up hope – and I should know, it happened to me.

So instead I am going to say for once, put yourself first! And that’s for everyone, not just the TTCers! Do something that will make you happy or help you vent, even if it’s only for a minute, and don’t you dare feel guilty for it! Eat that whole block of chocolate, or drink that whole bottle of wine! Lock yourself in the bathroom and cry! Buy youself that rediculously expensive bag/outfit/pair of shoes! Because Maybelline got it right “you are worth it”. We are forever putting ourselves last and it’s not healthy! Love yourself. 💜

So my question to you is this: what will you do for yourself?

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