Another day, another circle

Today I got back on the erg at the rowing club . 6 ks of going round and round.  Stroke after stork. Legs, back, hands… hands, body legs.

My numbers were better than I thought.

It all came back to me. The rowing meditation when I was coming to terms with my first failed cycle.

I am now about 2 months post the 4th failed donor egg cycle.

I have done vaginal scans in 4 different countries.  Filled hormone prescriptions in 5 different cities.  Literally flown around the entire globe as part of this last cycle.  I have cried and hoped.  And feel further than ever from this ever working.

This time was easier.  I shed my tears in the middle of the cycle, after waking up one day and just knowing it hadn’t worked. I did the blood draw the day I landed back in New Zealand.

I got the results while standing on the street collecting for a local charity.

And then I went back to everyday life.  It was like the cycle never happened.

(It was also like my “vacation” never happened either because most of the 7 weeks away was just making the cycle happen)

And now I am back to square one… literally, back to the number one question.  Do I still want to be a parent?  And if so, how badly do I want it?  What price am I willing to pay and play this came of chance….

The view from here

The view from here is much better now.  I went down hard last November. Not get out of bed hard.  Being drug to doctor by friend hard.

Doctor put me on some anti-depressents — whoa that first day was the worst mental health day of my life. I called my contact list. Miss D thank you so much for saying exactly the right thing. Not “are you okay?” not “would you like me to come” just “great, I’ll be there in 15 minutes, wait for me out front!”

I was sliding down walls hysterically crying and then sort of blacking out before emotionally coming to leaning against another wall. Hysterical.  Simply awful.

The second day was the best day of my mental health career. The anxiety that has plagued me since I was a wee thing, finally lifted and has stayed lifted every day that I have remembered my meds. The forgotten days — well that was just proof that these meds are amazing!

Have I mentioned that I am not exactly into medication. Drug-adverse might best describe me.  I am a head strong person who has avoided medication with a such devotion.

Speaking of drugs — I also started HRT a few months ago.

All of you who said, “What were you waiting for,?”,  well you are right. This is amazing. It is completely different than the pill (which made me depressive, anxiety, with a wickedly low labido, and with this sense that the world had no colour). Also HRT feels completely different than the meds I was on for cycles.

I have opted to pay extra for estrogen via a patch rather than pills, and love it. And it is so so, I don’t know, can you describe being on hormones as  smooth?

I sleep better. I have more energy. I lost weight. I just feel better. I look healthier.  I bounce back from things better.

Then there is the progesterone week — yeah, that is sort of like my old ‘normal’ with a slight edge. I am so so excited when estrogen day rolls around again.  But even P- week isn’t so bad.

And best of all — all the benefits of hormones without the drama of a period.

So yes, it took me nearly a decade to start HRT and nearly two to start anti-anxiety meds. I think for whatever reason that it was the right time for me.  But I don’t regret waiting. AND I am also glad that I went ahead and made the leap.

It has made so many other leaps in my life possible.

Like what you ask… ha!  as much as I doubt you that you ask, I am going to go ahead and fill you in since this is an overdue update.

Here are the highlights since I those dark November days of last year:

  • Private practice – I am well and truly up and running in my own private practice.  In less than 10 months I have broken even, started to be able to pay myself, found several dream clients, and filled my schedule.
  • Day job – I have negotiated the hours I wanted at my day job which lets me meet a huge range of people. Every day is different and their is virtually no paperwork.   Perfect balance to my private caseload
  • I moved into a dream flat with a view of the sea and skylights.  And a bathtub to soak in on the nights where the house is too cold to describe (central heating is not really that common in New Zealand — think luxurious camping with space heaters)
  • Published my first journal article in the premier academic journal of my field.  I don’t mention it in public, but I can here on my private little blog that has few readers due to a very slow plot line (cycles that are years and years apart — with consistently negative results isn’t the normal 1-3 year page-turner of a blog arc, plus I am always doing my cycles in odd places that few people have access to)
  • Health — well so so, but I have somehow lost weight without trying again. I think because the constant stress and worry the verged on terror was not exactly conducive to anything except creating a layer of protective padding.  Almost not drinking.  Loving the lack of second hand smoke (but missing many other things in Europe)

What’s next — who knows.

I am talking to some parents who went down the international adoption path.  I have a donor lined up who might come to New Zealand for a cycle — if we can ever sort out our crazy international schedule between the lot of us.  I have 2 embryos in Spain waiting for me.

At any moment, I will.. I might.. well we’ll see, but at any moment action could happen and then we’ll see.

I do know that each time I do any forward action, even small ones like emailing a clinic to update our current address, I am awash in complicated emotions.  But most days I am just living.

Fertility is feeling like that craft project in the closet — just waiting to be picked up, but easily can be put off another week.  I know that I can’t do that forever though.  At some point I have to get on with this or empty that closet.

To be continued…

shadow self

It has gone quiet and still and a bit dark in my soul these past weeks. I feel invisible and I have done a good job of becoming invisible.

My mother skypes in and says how great I look and she is so glad I have landed on my feet. I smile and nod. They can’t help right now, so I let them assume things. It isn’t right but it is my path right now.

I text Italy in the the middle of my night and in the middle of their day. They hear my truth. I wouldn’t say I am depressed. I wouldn’t exactly call it anxiety. But it definitely isn’t thriving.

Something broke in me these past years… years of waiting and hoping and pouring all my momentum in daring to risk my heart again. In daring to not give up. I have great memories and photos of the past few years, but I haven’t been building anything either.

All those days I woke up and did a day of living… well from the outside careers and parenting seem to be hard, but day after day of effort leads to being able to stand back and say, "why look at that, by gosh we seem to have somehow got from way over there to way over here"

And yes, awful things can derail that. Children sadly die. Careers implode. People acquire disabilities that make years of work honing a talent suddenly become make that talent so hard to weld.

But I am taking it slow.

I have put my fledging private practice on hold. I am calling tomorrow to transfer out another chunk of money from my retirement account to buy me a few more weeks of living expenses. And I am just sitting.

I do little things

– I promised myself I’d donate blood after 2 women donated eggs to us. First donation done

– I bought flowers for a little girl today whose pet died and held her while she was sad

– I touch base with my friends in that awful final push of a PhD, providing encouragement

These things are enough to make these empty days have meaning.

I can’t help but wander what my life would have been like if kids had come easy. Would that have forced me to make certain decisions by now? Would we be living in a house of our own? Would I have pushed harder to do what is needed to build a career/livelihood for myself?

The reality is without kids I can coast for awhile. Its just numbers in the savings account.

And so I am still. I am still with frequent glances to the side to the paths not taken and the largest one looming over me is the path that I would be on right now if the cycle had worked in January.

loses all around us

Tonight I treated myself to a nice Friday night out. Great dinner . Great film. And then in the pouring sideways rain, I decided to take advantage of the cab sitting at the side of the road.

We get to talking about the weather.  I mention that its a bit of a hard change after Italy. He asks if I am from there, I say no, I grew up in America.  I ask him where he grew up.  He says Iraq.

I never quite know what to say to a complete stranger when I know they know I am from America and I know his country is profoundly different because of my country’s actions.

He repeats himself quietly with that tone of voice that suggests he wonders if I am too ignorant to know where that is… I felt bad.  It wasn’t that I didn’t hear him, I just didn’t know what to say. 

I said something like, “I am sorry for what has happened to your country and for the part in that my country did” .

He replied, “Its too late now”

He moved to NZ 11 years ago he said.  2003.  Two years after 9/11. 

I didn’t dare ask about his family or anything else. We only had 2 more minutes in the car ride.  I just was overwhelmed with this sense of loss. I don’t know if he lost anyone dear to him or if he lost many people.    I got the palatable sense of how much he felt the lose of his country.

I am an expat.  I don’t know if I want to go home ever to live, and when I visit, I don’t exactly fit in.. but I can go home.  If anything its stayed too much the same for my tastes in some ways.

I doubt that is true for him. 

Exile and expat are 2 very different things.   And perhaps he can go back, but I have no illusions that he can go back to anything that looked like the Iraq of his youth. 

And I walked out of the cab so so very sad.  So at loss for words.  So frustrated that I couldn’t have thought of anything kinder, more honest, better to say. I just sat in stunned silence not knowing what to say or do.

This violence in our dear world and the violence that bubbles underneath the American culture is something I have no idea how to deal with.  And I don’t mean how to stop it, which I also have no clue about.  But I literally have no idea how to cope with its existence. The 3 very public shootings when I was home this summer.  The wars my country backs and the ones it chooses to ignore. the college hazing and the love of watching contact sports.  And I am not saying that it is just the USA.  But it is something I am so uneasy with tonight.

dates and goals

So today I was sent some photos of where I used to live in Italy. Just Gorgeous!

My husband and joked that is we work hard, perhaps we can save the money and go back next year for a visit. I added that we could swing by Spain and try to get knocked up. He said write that down and put it on the wall.

But the reality is I have no clients yet, which means no money yet, and definitely no money on top of what I already invested into this business venture.

I should be polishing my website, reviewing my list of calls to make tomorrow.. any number of things.

But no. I am doing none of those things. I am doing the maths. 

  • I am realizing that if the first cycle would have taken… our child would have started school last month. He or she would have been 5.
  • If the second had worked, I would be at 30 weeks and counting down to October.
  • If the third had worked, I would be at 18 weeks and counting down for a New Years baby.

Instead I am just counting. So very much alone. With no job. A husband on the other side of the world. And a bus card that just ran out of money.  and a long night ahead of me sitting with this. 

At least when I called the fertility clinic up, the nurse remember me.  I literally only was there 3-4 times back in 2008.  So there you go.  I am world famous in NZ in the clinic. She even remember what I did for a living.  So there is that…

Old stomping grounds

I have met up with a dear old friend from my study abroad days. She is 100% mum now and the most delightful type. We stay up late talking about everything and anything over wine. During the days, its all playing with her delightful son. Helping with playdates. Trying new ideas out to help him communicate his wonderful ideas and insights. Inventing ideas on the fly to help smooth out the tearful moments.

I find myself talking about this blog in real life now.. I mention my anonymous blog. I also talk about the DE stuff a lot more.

And it just comes up more.

I asked a dad at a playdate what he did.. engineering.. now working on tech to help embryologists do various repetitive procedures. Just dove in to ask what he knew about how much the skill of the embryologist changes outcomes etc. The way people might talk about cars or something. Just another adult things, like mortgages, people think about and discuss, regardless if you have personally signed up for it.

Another friend from years back that I mostly know from a social dance scene also was talking about lots of adult things. Housing market, tax advisers, economies, expat visa drams… you know my normal chat over wine lately… and when I told him about how I opted to invest so much of my savings into the DE thing. He just was so lovely. Just spot on. It was a sincere ‘I’m so sorry’ with absolutely no pity.

But more than anything, I am realizing that I am in a new place. I am getting so many compliments about how handy I am to have around kids. My mom/dad friends love having me come stay. They call it a vacation to have me as a house guest. The kids love me so much. This used to be a bit salty… why would the gods keep me from mothering when clearly this is what I am born to do.

But maybe it isn’t in the cards. Maybe my destining is to do this really well in short bursts and help the exhausted, sleep deprived, day-in-day-out drained parents of the world get their spark back.

And it has been nice hearing my friends who are on the property ladder and looking like they are in much healthy financial situations that I am (for the moment) state the obvious… but Clare, what would you regret more — not having tried to have kids.

Exactly. I have tried. And I am still going to try a bit more. One last push to save up and go again. I have two embryos waiting me in Spain and a friend who can come down to NZ. I have to do a bunch more tests to make sure that the 3 DE cycles weren’t taking because of something in me. I have to sign back up for the adoption track too. And more than anything, I need to build my professional life back up so I have livelihood again to sustain me now and hopefully a much bigger us.

I have spent a week helping a little 3 year old learn to wait. I can apply those skills to me as well.

I think the trick of waiting is the same for him as it is for me… to make sure everything is in place and then find some mindful way to pass the time so you aren’t ‘killing time’ but living it and moving forward.


Today I felt flat.  I didn’t get much done.  Gave up and watched movies in bed all day.  Later I got brave and went upstairs to join my upstairs neighbours for dinner. 

I was in a funk.. and trying to round up someone to drag me to town for dancing or a drink or a slice of cake — anything really!

And then the neighbour who was cooking randomly said, “Clare you are just so positive.. I love that about having you around”

Which was literally so far away from what I was feeling.  I was feeling incredibly down and negative and lost. I was fretting that my mood was bringing other down. I was concerned that I was inviting myself over way too much, particularly if I was not in high spirits.

His words meant so much to me.  I shared my truth that him saying that meant a lot because I have actually been feeling rather down and was worried that I had been infecting others with my mood.

He responded, “well then, you fake it well”

That single exchange gave me the courage to just spend the rest of the evening with them.  I helped their oldest with science fair. I read with the younger.  I played piano for nearly an hour — which is grand for me, but I suspect the parents also don’t mind in the sense of ‘oh good someone is modelling practising piano for our daughters and this person also sometimes says things like drat and oh bother and even occasionally swears and then keeps going’. Or maybe not, but I play reasonably well nowadays and the girls more than half the time immediately start playing when I finish, and there are much more offensive behaviours than playing the piano as a neighbour/house guest.

It wasn’t going out or making new friends, but it was my speed and I felt useful and in community.

Then I saw that Mel over at Stirrup Queens had included me in the round up.  I swelled with even more of that wonderful feeling I call being “in community.”

Thank you all.  And thank goodness for words that have the power to reverse my personal doubts.