I don’t do Baby Showers

I got an invitation today from a friend to attend her baby shower.  Yes… another one of those.  This friend had tried for three years to conceive and eventually managed to get pregnant without any medical intervention other than some acupuncture (which probably did more for her mental state than her physical state, but I digress) so she’s one of the lucky ones in my book.  But seeing she is someone who struggled for quite some time with the whole conception thing, you might expect that she would have a teeny weeny bit of understanding how those of us who have turned into the epitome of an IVF Cautionary Tale, would feel about attending the baby showers of well… the pregnant people.

I don’t want to go to this thing!  Are you nuts?!  To sit around and watch the cooing and the oohs and ahhs over cute little baby stuff that people will bring.  It sounds like a special fucking torture to me… and I can’t perceive a reason why I SHOULD willingly put myself through that.  Especially at the moment when my own circumstances feel so precarious.  If I go, I get to spend an afternoon gritting my teeth and smiling appropriately and trying not to say things that are negative or depressing or just plain sad.  If I go, I get to spend the afternoon trying not to burst into tears inappropriately or running off to the bathroom to hide when I feel myself getting upset.

But if I don’t go… then I’m an awful friend, perhaps even just an awful person all round.


Groups are my speciality…

So we had a group counselling session today with Nicole, the TrickCyclist and our surrogate angel who is turning out to be someone who is so excessively generous and genuine that I can see us being life long friends… it is rare that I find a female friend that I just ‘click’ with, but I have felt that she is just our kind of people, if that makes any sense.

We had pretty much the same chats with Nicole that we had had in our individual counselling sessions and covered off an extensive checklist of ‘stuff’ that they need to review.  Basically the psych’s job in this situation is to make sure we have discussed a lot of the hard stuff up front and that there are no ‘red flags’ that would indicate that we shouldn’t go ahead.  If anyone is interested these are the sorts of areas that they are required to discuss:

Areas covered with Intending parents:
Relationship stability
Family and social support
Financial and work considerations
Relationship with the surrogate (current and future)
Disclosure of arrangement to others (including work and family/friends)
Considerations around informing the child
Intentions regarding continuing treatment in the case of failed attempts
Impact of the arrangement on their son
Implications of an unsuccessful outcome(s) on all parties (including their son)
Possibility of a multiple birth
Possibility of complications that may affect either or both parties (including loss of job, relationship breakdown, severe illness, injury, or death of partner, or death of both).
Control and complications during pregnancy (including activities/conduct/health of surrogate, prenatal screening, foetal abnormality, termination of pregnancy)
Possibility of a breakdown in the surrogacy agreement (particularly dealing with a disabled or seriously ill child issues around birth complications and decision making.

Areas covered with the Surrogate:
Motivation for entering into a surrogacy arrangement.
Current/ future relationship situation.
Family and social support.
Financial and work considerations.
Relationship with the intending parents (current and future).
Disclosure of arrangement to others (including work, family/friends).
Impact of the arrangement on her own son.
Future relationship with any potential child and the intending parents.
Intentions regarding continuing treatment in the case of failed attempts.
Implications of an unsuccessful outcome(s) on all parties.
Possibility of multiple birth.
Possibility of complications that may affect either or both parties including control and complications during pregnancy.
Possibility of a breakdown in the surrogacy agreement (particularly refusal of Intending Parents to accept the child).
Issues around birth complications and decision making (particularly the relinquishment of the child by the surrogate).
Possibility of loss of job, relationship breakdown, severe illness, injury, or death, including death of both intending parents).
Activities/conduct/health issues, prenatal screening, foetal abnormality, potential termination of pregnancy.

All good hard stuff to discuss I can assure you.  And while everyone is entering into this with the purest of intentions… the whole situation scares the living hell out of me.

I just can’t bring myself to be happy about this, let alone be actually excited at the prospect.  I have spent so many years managing my expectations regarding infertility, pregnancy, babies, children and all these things, that the idea of it actually working is such an anathema to me that I just can’t see it happening for us – and yet here I am going through all the processes anyway.  The psych says ‘You should allow yourself to be excited about it, there is plenty of time for disappointment down the track if it comes to that’… but it’s just not that easy to let go of a mentality that you’ve been carrying around for a decade.


Enter the Trick Cyclists.

So, this whole surrogacy gig has a defined process… you go to the fertility clinic and say ‘Hey, I have found this incredible woman who is prepared to lend us her uterus, (rent free!), and give us the biggest gift of our lives’, and the fertility specialist says ‘Yep, she’s a goodun, let’s move forward’, and he signs you off as eligible for surrogacy in accordance with the Surrogacy Act of Qld, 2010.   Step One, very straight forward.

Then Step Two, they send you to the psychiatrists… and for some reason, the big fertility clinics are referring people to the biggest, most expensive, but very experienced, surrogacy psych in town.  A wanker named Michael Condon.  The only reason I know this man to be a wanker, is because the surrogacy groups on Facebook and the Surrogacy Australia Forum are only too happy to share their good and bad experiences.  Michael Condon has a widespread reputation for being a complete arsehole – arrogant, full of wankery, making people sit an entire personality and mental health questionnaire of 500 odd questions.  Yes, that questionnaire, the one they usually reserve for seriously fucked up people with serious mental health problems containing questions like : “You have difficulty ignoring the voices in your head” – True or False… yeah, try answering that. True: ‘I have difficulty ignoring the voices in my head’, OR False: ‘I have no difficulty ignoring the voices in my head’… but where the fuck is the, ‘There are no fucking voices in my head‘ option?!  You can tell I have done this test before and found it traumatic and somewhat ridiculous the first time round, so I was keen to avoid wasting another hour or so of my life on that sort of psychobabble bullshit. Anyway, based on the info and feedback from the surrogacy forums, I was planning to avoid the wanker, Michael Condon at all costs (and hells yes he is pricey – by all accounts he charges up to three times what others charge).

We ended up choosing a psychologist named Nicole Wimmer who specialises in relationship counselling, grief and loss counselling, pain management, infertility issues, and of course surrogacy counselling.  Well, I think she sounded right up our alley… and will wonders never cease, she has actually been down the IVF road herself and actually ‘gets’ it.  I have seen several counsellors over my years of dealing with pain, dealing with IVF and dealing with grief over IVF, and not a single one of them really ‘gets’ what keeps driving people like me to have a child/children.  People for whom these things come easily just literally have no idea what it is like – they don’t get it.  They just don’t.

Fortunately our first counselling session went really well.  She bought up a lot of things that we have already been talking about with our surrogate – apparently I am allowed to call her ‘our surrogate’ rather than ‘the surrogate’… which feels weird to me, as there are connotations of ownership with that turn of phrase, that I am not really all that comfortable with.  I am sure I will get over it, all the other IPs on the forums use the term – and usually with a great deal of affection.  Anyway, so we had our session this morning and Nicole was great – easy going, very approachable and intelligent and understanding.  She raised a few issues we had not thought about – like the fact that we needed to update our Will to reflect our wishes in the event that we both karked it in the middle of this process – but nothing major leaped out at us as having been overlooked in our discussions with our surrogate (yeah, that’s going to take a bit of getting used to).

Next step is counselling for our surrogate – tomorrow afternoon as it turns out, and if that goes well… onto a group session sometime next week.

Now that this is all happening (I have the bills starting to come in to prove it!) – I really feel like I think I need someone to pinch me.


We have a surrogate. OMG! OMG!

Okay, I need to calm the fuck down a bit… I feel like I going to hyperventilate.

I have met the most lovely, and I mean truly genuinely lovely, wonderful, smart and sensible lady who has offered to surrogate for us.  She is absolutely perfect.  And trust me, the smart and sensible bit in the previous sentence is sooo important! (Especially after our recent surrogate offer from last month).  We met for a coffee today and it felt like we had known each other for years.  We were chatting away very easily and comfortably for hours – which was great because I was so worried she wouldn’t like me… women rarely do for some reason.  :/

We are on the same page with all the big ticket items as far as pregnancy and surrogacy is concerned – how many embryos to be transferred, what to do if there is a sever abnormality detected, ideologies on medically necessary termination, accidental multiple birth etc., All the big hard conversations have been had and like I said, sensible and likeminded.  I can’t believe our good fortune in meeting her.

I have no concerns whatsoever that this woman will make a wonderful surrogate.  She lives nearby (only an hour away) which means we will be able to be very involved if we have a successful pregnancy and her motivations are good – she’s keen to do this because she has watched a friend struggle through 12 years of infertility but was never in a position to be able to offer to surrogate for her friend.  And while we have gone “yes!” and are unable to believe our luck – that she chose us out of the untold number of other couples that she could have opted to help – I am seriously freaking the fuck out.

It’s my natural pessimistic state I am afraid.  All I can see is ‘what ifs’ and they are all bad… so, so bad.

What if she decides to keep the baby? (under stupid Qld law, she can do that)
What if she changes her mind before we even get to transfer?
What if none of our embryos are viable after all this time?
What if she gets pregnant but has a horrible miscarriage? (I would feel responsible)
What if this whole thing sends up broke and we get nothing to show for it?
What if everything goes pear shaped and we find ourselves in court in a landmark test case, desperately attempting to gain custody of our own biological child because she can’t part with the child once it is born?

I have had nothing but bad and horrible and negative experiences surrounding IVF, and attempts at baby creation… and I can’t help but project them onto my expectations here.  I know this situation is all different and has nothing to do with my traitorous body… but my mind is just not stopping with this freight train of negativity.

surrogacy baby

Commonly used IVF and Infertility Acronyms

The world of infertility and IVF is bit of a mystery to most and it is full of a weird language that only initiates seem to understand.  If you’re new to the whole thing, the jargon can all seem a bit overwhelming, especially when the Frequent Flyers are throwing around a lot of acronyms that don’t seem to make any sense at all.  I found a short list of commonly used acronyms for IVF and infertility terms, and amended it by adding in quite a few that we use at my clinic, and that I see regularly used on the various forums and infertility support groups.  Hopefully if anyone stumbles onto this list, feeling lost with all the lingo, this might help somewhat – though at the end of the day, Google is your friend.  

2WW = 2-Week Wait

AH, AZH = Assisted Hatching
AHI = At-home Insemination
AI = Artificial Insemination
AIH = Artificial Insemination from Husband
ART = Assisted Reproductive Technology
ASA = Anti-sperm Antibody
ASRM = American Society of Reproductive Medicine
BA = Baby Aspirin
BBT = Basal Body Temperature
BCP = Birth Control Pills
BFN = Big Fat Negative
BFP = Big Fat Positive
BG = Blood Glucose
BW, b/w = Bloodwork
CASA = Computer-assisted Semen Analysis
CD = Cycle Day
CF = Cervical Fluid
CM = Cervical Mucus
CNM = Certified Nurse Midwife
COH = Controlled Ovarian Hyperstimulation
CPFM = ClearPlan Fertility Monitor
CVS = Chorionic Villae Sampling
D&C = Dilation & Curettage
D&E = Dilation & Evacuation
DE = Donor Eggs
DI = Donor Insemination
DOR = Diminished Ovarian Reserve
DOST = Direct Oocyte-Sperm Transfer
DPO = Days Post-Ovulation
DPR = Days Post-Retrieval
DPT = Days Post-Transfer
Dx = Diagnosis 
E2 = Estradiol
EB, EMB = Endometrial Biopsy
ED= Egg Donor
EDD = Estimated Due Date
EPT = Early Pregnancy Test
ER=Egg Retrival
ET = Embryo Transfer
FBG = Fasting Blood Glucose
FI = Fasting Insulin
FET = Frozen Embryo Transfer
FHR = Fetal Heart Rate
FP = Follicular Phase
FS = Fertility Specialist
FSH = Follicle Stimulating Hormone
GC=Gestational Carrier
GD = Gestational Diabetes
GIFT = Gamete Intra-fallopian Transfer
GnRH = Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone
GP = General Practitioner
GTT = Glucose Tolerance Test
GS= Gestational Surrogate
hCG, HCG = Human Chorionic Gonadotropin
HCP = Health Care Practitioner
HPT = Home Pregnancy Test
HRT = Hormone Replacement Therapy
HSC = Hysteroscopy
HSG = Hysterosalpingogram
ICI = Intra-cervical Insemination
ICSI = Intra-cytoplasmic Sperm Injection
IF = Infertility
IF= Intended Father
IGTT = Insulin and Glucose Tolerance Test
IM = Intra-muscular (WRT injections)
IM= Intended Mother
IOR = Immature Oocyte Retrieval
IP= Intended Parents
IR = Insulin Resistant
ITI = Intra-tubal Insemination
IUI = Intra-uterine Insemination
IVC = Intra-vaginal Culture
IVF = In Vitro Fertilization
LAP = Laparoscopy
LH = Luteinizing Hormone
LMP = Last Menstrual Period (start date)
LP = Luteal Phase
LPD = Luteal Phase Defect
LSCD = Lower Section Caesarian Delivery
LSP = Low Sperm Count
MC, m/c, misc. = Miscarriage
MF = Male Factor
MIFT = Micro Injection Fallopian Transfer
MMR = Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccine
MRI = Magnetic Resonance Imaging
NEST = Non-surgical Embryonic Selective Thinning
NORIF = Non-stimulated Oocyte Retrieval In (office) Fertilization
NP = Nurse Practitioner
NSA = Non-surgical Sperm Aspiration
O, OV = Ovulation 
OB = Obstetrician
OB/GYN = Obstetrician/Gynecologist
OC = Oral Contraceptives
OPK Ovulation Predictor Kit
OPSS = Overweight & Pregnant Support (mail list)
OPT = Ovulation Predictor Test
OTC = Over The Counter
P4 = Progesterone
PA = Physician’s Assistant
PCAO= Polycystic Appearing Ovaries
PCO = Polycystic Ovaries
PCOD = Polycystic Ovary Disease
PCOS = Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
PCP = Primary Care Physician
PCT = Post Coital Test
PESA = Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration
PG = Pregnant
PGD = Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis
PI = Primary Infertility
PID = Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
PIO = Progesterone in Oil
PMS = Pre-menstrual Syndrome
PNM = Perinatal Mortality
POC = Products of Conception
POF = Premature Ovarian Failure
PROM = Premature Rupture of Membranes
PTLS = Post Tubal Ligation Syndrome
RE = Reproductive Endocrinologist
R-FSH, R-hFSH = Recombinant Human Follicle Stimulating Hormone
RI = Reproductive Immunologist
RPL = Recurrent Pregnancy Loss
RSA = Recurrent Spontaneous Abortion
Rx = Prescription
SA = Semen Analysis
SART = Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology
s/b, S/B = Stillbirth
SCORIF = Stimulated Cycle Oocyte Retrieval In (office) Fertilization
SHG, SonoHSG = Sonohysterogram
SI = Secondary Infertility
SIS = Saline Injection Sonogram
SM= Surrogate Mother
STD = Sexually Transmitted Disease
TESA = Testicular Sperm Aspiration
TESE = Testicular Sperm Extraction
TET = Tubal Embryo Transfer
TL = Tubal Ligation
TR = Tubal Reversal
TORCH =Toxoplasmosis, Other, Rubella, Cytomegalovirus & Herpes test
TR = Tubal Reversal
TS = Traditional Surrogate
TSI = Timed Sexual Intercourse
TTC = Trying to Conceive
TTCAR = Trying to Conceive after Reversal
TUFT = Trans-uterine Fallopian Transfer
TVEPU = Trans-Vaginal Egg Pick Up
TVU = Trans-Vaginal Ultrasound
TWW = Two Week Wait
US, u/s = Ultrasound

V = Vasectomy
VR = Vasectomy Reversal
ZIFT = Zygote Intra-fallopian Transfer

IVF jargon acronyms