A Letter to all the “Gorgeous Men” out there

16 Jun


Dear Gorgeous Man,

Sometimes it’s hard for you to talk about our struggle to build our family, and I understand that. Where I might find it easy to express myself emotionally this can be a challenge for you. You have come so far in our years of infertility and are more open now than ever before, and I want to thank you for expressing yourself to me. When we talk about it together I feel the strength of us as a team and this helps me cope with the hard times.

 When we first found out that our infertility was due to my endometriosis I felt a huge sense of guilt, as it was “my fault” for “putting you through this”. Over the years you have always called it “our problem” and never once referenced the fact that in a sense it is my body that is letting us down. I appreciate your steadfast loyalty to “the team” and know that with you by my side we will eventually have the baby of our dreams. I also know that if the roles were reversed and our struggles were due to male factor I would have the same mentality that you do; this is our challenge and we’ll get through it together.

 I want to thank you for being my number one supporter, but it is important for you to know that it’s alright for “my rock” to have a few cracks too. Just as I feel the pain in our hard times and cry, it is ok for you to do the same, and I want to comfort you when you are feeling down. You cannot always be the one who is holding it together.

 I know that you have a hard time when people ask you why we don’t have children and lately you have found the courage to say that we do indeed want children but haven’t been able to have them yet. I am proud of you for owning this. As we have discussed there is no shame in struggling to conceive and it is liberating in a sense to let go of the façade and call a spade a spade.

 When we got married we had planned to start a family straight away and our plan has been moved of course by a few years! I admire your adaptability and the fact that you “ride the white water”. Your attitude of it being ok if it ends up the two of us (and the dogs) takes the pressure off of me and makes me feel very loved, like I am enough.

 I appreciate that you roll up your sleeves and go to work everyday to provide for our family. Without your hard work we would not be able to afford the treatments, and you have never once complained. You simply do what needs to be done. I admire this about you.

I was very much in love when we got married but I feel I was a little naïve. Although trying to start our family has been very taxing at times it has given me the opportunity to see you in all your glory (and I don’t just mean the naked kind); You are a man who is not afraid to be vulnerable, a man who is hopeful, a man who puts me first and provides me with a sense of love and support I cherish. I am grateful that our IVF journey has revealed to me such an extraordinary character, one of which I am fortunate enough to have married.

 Throughout all our IVF ups and down’s I have been granted one gift, and it is the greatest gift I have ever received…

 It’s you Gorgeous Man, it will always be you.


The IVF Lady’s Survival Guide for when it all goes Wrong

13 Jun


When you are trying to conceive some days feel like you speeding down the highway to hell not the harmonious path to parenthood all IVF’ers crave.

 This week in particular has been a taxing one in my household.  I started back at full time work, had my first late period on record (not resulting in pregnancy) and found out in the wee hours of this morning via email from South Africa that our five frozen babies did not fare well after CGH testing. Three of our embies didn’t survive the thaw, and the remaining two were abnormal, not suitable for transfer. Yep, I was definitely beginning to feel like I was catapulting at break neck speed down the highway to hell.

 So what to do? Falling in a heap is not exactly an option at the moment. After eight rounds of unsuccessful IVF as well as a couple of miscarriages you become a bit of a seasoned pro on how to handle to “dark times” as we like to call them in my house. Below are my top survival tips for when things go wrong.

 1. Process – Allow yourself time to digest what has happened. There are so many stages throughout IVF that are shocking; diagnosis, no diagnosis, failed cycles, poor test results and wasted money. These are not small things that you simply say “ho hum” and move on. Let yourself feel the emotions related to the event so that you can acknowledge them and move through them.

 2. Get help – If it feels too overwhelming to deal with alone call in the big guns. When I am feeling exceptionally down and out I outsource. Yes I have an amazing support network in Gorgeous Man and my friends and family however sometimes a situation calls for a little more muscle. Think counsellor, psychologist or even life coach.

 3. Create some space – If like me you are in the middle of a busy work week when sh*t hits the fan diarize some time in the near future when you can give this your undivided attention. This may sound completely detached but the risk of not doing this is receiving bad news, going to work for the rest of the week and never processing what has occurred. You cannot heal what you don’t acknowledge.

 4. Decide how you are going to share bad news with others – If you’re like me one of the hardest aspects of dealing with bad news is sharing it with those that care about you. I do not always share immediately but prefer to set aside some time when I know I have time for a discussion and my loved one has time for a discussion. Make a game plan for when you will pass on your news. Ask Gorgeous Man to assist if this is too difficult for you.

 5. Make a new plan. My biggest coping mechanism has always been creating a new plan. Changing your initial expectations of how you will become a parent is challenging, however as long as there is a plan there is hope.

6. Stay the course. Once you have processed, gotten help, shared with others and created a new plan of attack it’s time to roll your sleeves up, work the plan and work it hard.

 It was Franklin Roosevelt who said “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”

 Keep your sparkle alive with The IVF Lady xxx



Watching the Kettle Boil

10 Jun

pregnancy tests

Following two successive miscarriages from donor eggs this year Gorgeous Man and I bit the bullet and paid $4,000 on-top of the $30,000 we have already invested in our South African donor experience to send our frozen babies to Oxford for testing (talk about global travellers!)

Today marks the day when I have officially been waiting for two weeks for CGH results. Upon checking my email for the 500th time in one day I said to Gorgeous Man “I feel like I live my life having tests or procedures and waiting for results”. His response; “you do”. Well then, yes it’s true. I do spend my time waiting, and waiting and waiting some more.

I often joke that my now five-year struggle to conceive is the universe teaching me patience. I have never really been much for patience, I like to work hard, achieve my results and move on to the next “project”. So you can imagine my surprise when “Project Baby” turned into “Project IVF Baby” then “Project Donor IVF Baby”. With a WAY blown out deadline I needed to come up with some techniques so I could stop watching the kettle boil!

Weither you are compulsively checking emails, doing your tenth HPT, running to the ladies to check if AF has arrived it seems there may be a few of us out there that need to put some strategies in place to curb the neurotic behavior.

Have Reasonable Targets

If you have just completed an IVF round and are in the dreaded two week wait do not set yourself up for failure by doing a HPT a week early! Instead choose to test when you can realistically get a BFP. This goes for all treatment related activities.  If you are waiting on an email from a doctor decide that you are only get to check the email twice daily at specific times. Each time you do not get the answer you are waiting for you experience disappointment, instead make a conscience decision about restricting compulsive behavior.

Challenge Your Negative Self-Talk

Acknowledge that the negative thoughts are there, but instead of indulging them, minimize them by accepting them and then letting them go. Try to highlight the positives of what you are doing, how much progress you have made so far on your path to parenthood.

Be More Mindful

Focus your attention on the present moment. Let go of issues from the past or potential problems in the future. If you find yourself obsessing, try taking a mindful walk. Focus on the way you are walking, the sights and smells around you, the weather, anything that brings you from your head into your physical environment and the present moment.

Put Other People First

Instead of focusing on yourself refocus your energies on connecting with loved ones. Relationships provide IVF’ers with essential love and support. If you can focus some of your energy on those that you love you will have the opportunity to take the focus off yourself and your journey.

Keep your sparkle alive with The IVF Lady


Why Me?

9 Jun

stressed barbie

“Why me?” This is something that every woman who has struggled with infertility has asked herself, in my case numerous times! However it occurred to me some time ago that this small little phrase, or question played on re-peat in my mind was doing my psyche a lot of damaged and well honestly, no good.

What’s the big deal you ask? When you are constantly asking the world “why me, why me?” you are basically signing up for a season pass to “Victim World”, a scary place where IVF’ers are found stumbling around, their lives no longer their own, blaming everyone for their circumstances and left a shell of their former selves upon exit. Does this sound like a place you would like to spend your time? I don’t think so.

In his study, Are you a Victim of the Victim Syndrome? Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries states People who suffer from the victim syndrome are always complaining about the ―bad things that happen in their lives…People with a victim mentality display passive-aggressive characteristics when interacting with others. Their behavior has a self-defeating, almost masochistic quality. The victim style becomes a relational mode—a life affirming activity: I am miserable therefore I am.”

I am miserable therefore I am, interesting. How many of you know people like this? How many of you have turned into people like this? I believe one of the greatest challenges throughout IVF is being mindful of staying out of what I like to call “the pity pot” of victimization.

Yes, wanting a baby and not being able to sucks. Yes, watching others fall pregnant when they use the same soap as their Gorgeous Men is frustrating and unfair. IVF is hard enough without surrendering ALL of your control to this kind of negative thinking. How do you expect to go into what may well be one of the toughest fights of your life when you have already surrendered?

The question needs to change from “Why me?” to “How do I turn this victim mentality around and take back my personal power?”

The IVF Lady’s tips for leaving “Victim World” behind forever

  1. Let your thoughts go. If you have a twinge of  “why me?” write your thoughts down, say them out loud to a trusted person, acknowledge that you are indulging in victim mentality briefly but then LET THEM GO.
  2. Take a leaf out of Buddha’s booklet. “Life is suffering”, not ideal right? I would rather be sailing along the Amalfi Coast on my gold plated yacht with my perfect nuclear family basking in the sunshine, but alas this is not the case. Some times in life are tough, accept and move on.
  3. Make an action plan. Instead of feeling that you are no longer in control of your life make a plan of attack that will get you to where you want to really be “Mummy Town”. Write down the different routes that will take you to Mummy Town in order of your first to last preference. Work your way down the list and you will get to your destination eventually, it just may be via a different Google Map!
  4. When you’re feeling fragile POWER POSE. It has been scientifically proven that holding a “power pose” for two minutes increases your testosterone (power hormone) and decreases cortisol (stress hormone). Simply hold the “Wonder Woman” (legs apart, hands on hips) and you’ll leave Victim World in your dust. For more information on power poses watch this fascinating speech: http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html
  5. Turn up the Volume. Ever felt a power rush when listening to a particular song? I personally love “Fighter” by Christina of “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child to pull me out of a pity pot. Make a playlist of personal power songs and when you’re feeling like you are about to daytrip into “Victim World” crank up the volume.
  6. You can’t be in two places at once. If you are wondering around Victim World like a lost little lamb how can you possibly be in Mummy Town too? Put your energy into the getting to Mummy Town, stop wasting your time on destination that only brings you down.

Keep your sparkle alive with The IVF Lady


Versatile Blogger Award, GET OUTTA HERE!!!!

8 Jun


My blog is quite new so I was delighted and shocked to be nominated for the versatile blogger award. Thoughtful acts such as mommyoftwinangels.wordpress.com nominating me for this award really make sharing the journey rewarding as it affirms that my writing is reaching other women who are also battling infertility. A sincere thank you to  mommyoftwinangles!

As I am so new to WordPress it will take me a little time to collate a list of 15 to forward this award onto. However I am keeping my eyes peeled and will publish my list shortly.

Keep your sparkle alive with The IVF Lady


Building a Support Network within the IVF Community

8 Jun


Worried about talking to other infertiles about their situation? Scared you will say the wrong thing or react badly when somebodies journey delivers “the goods” before you do? Don’t have the energy to support somebody else through their rounds while you are barely able to support your self?

 These are thoughts that have all crossed my mind at certain times but I am here to tell you nobody gets it like your fellow IVF’ers, embrace them!

 This road can be isolating and although it can feel like you’re out of control, there are certain things you can do to take some power back and “normalise” your situation as much as possible.

 The key factor to making IVF less isolating is to know that you are not alone. The Fertility Society of Australia quotes that 1 in 6 couples experience infertility, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention sights that 10% of women in the United States (or 6.1 million) experience infertility. I could keep going down the list here, but the moral of the story is there are millions of us out there.

 This information doesn’t really help when you hear is as a cold hard figure, who cares about everyone else? You just want to have a baby right? Here’s where I weigh in on that. I can tell you from personal experience that it feels good to talk to other women who are going through what you are going through. I have never been so embraced or comforted in my hard times than by those women who have also experienced infertility themselves. There is an understanding of the pain you have been through that only an IVF war buddy can truly understand.

 When you first reach out to the support networks within the IVF community it can be confronting. I find that when I say something out loud it seems like it becomes true and if facing your journey is not something you are ready for then the interaction may feel uncomfortable. The good news is that there are ways to dip your toe in the support system without fully diving in. There are great online forums where you can relate to others from the safety of your living room.

 If you’re more comfortable support groups can be a great place to share your experiences with others. I recently made contact with the head of The Melbourne IVF Support Group and received the most beautiful email back from her after my initial contact. This is a group led by two patients who truly understand what you have been through. Check with your treatment facility to see if they have an active support group that you could attend.

 And last but definitely not least are friends and family who have travelled this road before you. I have one friend in particular who has been on this journey for some time. She provides me with a constant safe place to fall if I am having a wobbly day and can talk me off the edge if my anxiety levels are getting the better of me.

 This is not to say that those close to you who have not experienced infertility are not a priceless source of support, they definitely are. The thing about connecting with someone in a similar situation is that the relationship re-iterates the fact that you are not alone with every interaction.

If you are not currently connected with any other women experiencing infertility do yourself a favour and embrace your sisters. They will be there for you when the going gets tough.

 Keep your sparkle alive with The IVF Lady


IVF and Work – The IVF Lady’s 10-Point System for Nailing it

6 Jun

barbie working

If you visit any of the IVF forums, talk to women who are undergoing treatment, or are struggling to find balance yourself you will know that coping with work during treatment time is concern shared by many.

I have worked in the highly competitive world of fashion wholesale for twelve years and in that time had five years of treatment. However with my latest rounds of treatment I have had the luxury of absconding from work (it is a little difficult to show up for work in Melbourne everyday when you are doing treatment in Capetown). That said it can be a little difficult to show up for work everyday in Melbourne even when you are doing your treatment in Melbourne!

Here is my 10-Point System for Nailing Work/ Treatment Balance:

1)   Book treatment in your “downtime”. If there is such a thing in your workplace as a slower period book your treatment in at this time.

2)   If possible tell the truth. The biggest anxiety about undertaking treatment while working is that you have to come up with a million different “excuses” for your appointments. If you have a workplace that is supportive and open and you are confortable sharing your journey with your boss or team go for it. There is no shame in requiring a little help to start your family.

3)   When in doubt lie. One unfortunate aspect of being open about treatment is the very real possibility that you will be passed over for new opportunities. This is a sad truth. Somebody has to have the children but in competitive workplaces women can be ostracized for this choice. If you do not feel as if your workplace supports building your family simply don’t tell them.

4)   Embrace the white lies leave the guilt behind. If in fact you do have to discreetly undergo treatment don’t take on-board the guilt of missing meetings or having a patchy attendance record for a while. When those thoughts sneak in remember in the long run a woman never thinks, “oh, I should have worked more” she thinks about her family. You are doing this for yours.

5)   Allow mental health days. If things don’t go to plan or you are just having a particularly hard day don’t beat yourself up for taking a day off.

6)   Take a “holiday”. If you are unsure whether you can turn up during your treatment at all simply “take a holiday”. Of course make it one like “visiting relatives” not going to The Amalfi Coast to avoid those awkward conversation afterwards.

7)   Wake up half an hour early. On some days during treatment the last thing you want to do is get out of bed, let alone half an hour earlier. However during your treatment stage it is important to take a few moments to prepare yourself for the day. This may mean a few reflective moments of journaling, doing some breathing of simply getting up to put the slow cooker on to relive some dinner pressure.

8)   Ask for help. Undergoing treatment is throwing a whole other dimension into your normally busy life. During this period ask those who are aware for support with the daily chores. Your Gorgeous Man can be in charge of dinner, throw on a few loads of laundry and maybe even the grocery shop for you.

9)   Slow down the social calendar. Treatment can be pretty unpredictable. If you are about to start a cycle make sure that social commitments are kept to a minimum. This is one simply way to reduce your stress level.

10) Nurture yourself. The most important of my 10-point system. Treat yourself as you would your best friend or sister. If you are having a bad day it’s ok, if you want to eat your favorite chocolate bar while watching Sex and the City on repeat go for it! Now is the time to take care of yourself first and foremost so do what Samantha would and declare “I love you (work) but I love me more”.

Keep your sparkle alive with The IVF Lady

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