Aftermath of IVF


 

 

 

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So many emotions swirl around when you discover you need IVF. You go in search of your tribe, uncovering a plethora of online support. I want to address what happens when-after a truckload of heartache- you fall pregnant. The IVF clinic were my family. I clung to them, and saw them most days. I knew all the staff’s names, and it was familiar and secure, this place of dreams. They celebrated along with me upon my positive pregnancy test. I had one follicle. It was a miracle. Upon discovering that my baby’s heart was beating soundly and I didn’t indeed have a chemical pregnancy, I was released. What the? I am not ready! I was sent off to find an obstetrician, to join the ranks of the fertile I had previously avoided and feared. I had been turfed out of my nest.

I found the same online. I was ever-aware that my friends were struggling, and pondered on breaking my news. Everyone was most joyful, but I knew I didnt have a place on the IVF boards anymore. Interestingly, being on the post-IVF boards was painful too. There were ladies falling pregnant again naturally, with their second and third children. I didnt feel like I belonged nor identified with the group gathered for the pregnancy classes at the local hospital either. They had all travelled extensively and then decided to fall pregnant. In my world, that wasn’t an option. I felt intimidated to be around couples who had timed their lives. When they complained about their pregnancies I felt indignant.

I didn’t belong anywhere in pregnancy. I lost contact with those still going through the process, just as those who had fallen pregnant whilst I was undergoing IVF were lost to me. It is such a painful journey, and whilst you rejoice in another’s success, it is a reminder of your grief. In my mother’s group post-birth, I didn’t feel as though I belonged either, especially when they went on to have other babies. I was in and out of hospital having surgery and tests, praying to have a second child. They were lost to me too.

Oh man, the injections and nasal sprays, pills and procedures, egg pickup and embryo transfers, the two week wait, who could I share this with? Only those who have been to this precipice to insanity could understand. Our bond is so strong that a woman I had never met in person called around upon hearing that I had endured more endometriosis surgery in the hopes of having a second child. She came armed with flowers, a meal and a huge hug for my daughter. There are another set of mothers out there, who have been through IVF and had to leave that world, though don’t fit in with mothers who conceived naturally. I am proud to be amongst their ranks. This journey isn’t for the faint-hearted.

Seven Basic Ways To Increase Your Blog Traffic in Thirty Minutes


Suzie Speaks

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You’ve written a blog post that you’re proud of. You’ve read, re-read, edited, re-edited and then edited again once after you’ve inevitably discovered lots of mistakes that were missed. You’ve created a pinnable picture and included all your social media links.

Then the little-one starts to cry. Dinner needs to be made. The laundry needs to be hung out to dry. In my world, papers need to be marked.

For those of us that want our blogs to be seen, but have busy schedules, children, jobs and homes to maintain, we often find it difficult to promote ourselves to the biggest possible audience. Time is always our biggest barrier and in the blogging world it is highly unlikely that a post will receive lots of views simply by pressing the publish button.

When researching this post, I found lots of blogs that were offering lots of advice that I didn’t…

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Vivid


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So, my friend and I went to Vivid last Saturday night at Circular Quay. She is hysterically funny in that dry, laconic Australian way. I texted that my daughter and I were in the loos and wouldn’t be long. She said she would meet us there. I waited and waited and when she didn’t show, it dawned on me that perhaps she was at the facilities at the other end of the Quay. She was! We hugged, comfortable in our embrace as we are both under 5 feet tall. I gave her a birthday gift, which included size 5 (tiny), sparkly slippers. We walked around to the Opera House whilst it was still light and plonked down on the steps. Her daughter and mine got restless, so her husband offered to take them for a walk. We began a two hour chat full of enlightened dribble about my making a fortune off an upcoming YouTube channel featuring my guinea pigs, my filming her Tina Turner impersonation, and becoming her manager, and bursting into musicals whenever we heard key words.

Dusk was coming and the children and her husband still hadn’t returned. “I hope he hasn’t had a hypo,” she remarked. “Shit!” He is a diabetic and could well be disorientated. Fortunately, he sauntered over with the kids, and we went in search of food. We walked to The Rocks, and selected good, nutritious food from the market stalls, whilst the girls demanded pretzels. Us ladies all went to the loo, and took selfie’s (as you do).

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My friend laughed, “we are here to see Vivid, this light festival… We haven’t seen a thing in three hours!” I laughed too, and said that when we get together, we have so much fun talking rubbish, laughing and taking bathroom selfie’s that we forget what we are there for.

 She showed me these mints and I am now hankering after the tin.

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We saw the MCA and Opera House Lights, and walked around to Customs House, where I captured this.

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Our two IVF miracles adore each other, and were happy climbing trees and being together.

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Thousands of people were trying to get through Circular Quay by 8pm. Someone sneezed and one of our tribe called out “bless you!” “Thankyou!” came the response alongside thousands of people laughing and smiling at the exchange. My friend’s husband needed something sweet to raise his blood sugar, and so he and the kids had ice cream. We saw hardly anything, but a festival is about the bringing together of people. That is what a ‘happening’ is. This is what Saturday night was.

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That Sugar Film


Sugar… The issue is close to my heart. I watched my beloved Grandmother endure the horror diabetes inflicted on her. Her legs were eventually amputated. I was a healthy vegetarian when I fell pregnant, and I was then diagnosed with gestational diabetes. My endocrinologist and dietician looked at my food and exercise diary and could find nothing amiss, nothing that needed changing. I wanted to do the right thing for my baby so dutifully injected insulin and walked several kilometres after each meal. Diabetes runs in my family, so genetically, the gun was loaded. I have a little girl in love with sugar (as most kids are), and I was excited at showing her this movie. She had to see it for herself, rather than through a series of lectures. I am aware that if I become too much of a sugar-free officer, she will rebel, and gorge when I am not around. Everything in moderation.

That Sugar Film
That Sugar Film

Damon Gameau is the hero of That Sugar Film. He ate only (supposedly), healthier choices throughout his experiment. His weight shot up, he was well on his way to cirhoisis of the liver, heart disease and  type 2 diabetes. Interestingly, his calorie intake remained the same, as did his level of exercise. The only point of difference was his sugar intake. We saw a young American man with all his teeth rotted from drinking ‘pop.’ Images that remain. My daughter ate an apple as a snack today and has not asked for anything sugary. I resent sugar’s inclusion in almost all processed foods. How can you have control over how much  you are ingesting?

When I had gestational diabetes, I had to stop eating out. I would select the healthiest option on the menu, such as steamed veggies, only to have my sugar levels go through the roof. The dressings and seasonings they coated the meal in were often to blame. I make most meals from scratch in our place, and we have a big box of seasonal locally -grown produce delivered each week. My supermarket bills have gone down as a result. The film was an eye-opener as is the accompanying book. My daughter will still ask for fairy bread and donuts, but she knows she can’t live on them. The movie inspires critical thinking, and as a result, I owe Damon a debt of gratitude.

Party Plans


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I had never attended a soiree/party-plan before I had a child. It might have had something to do with my being a hermit, but still… When my daughter was a baby, I received my first invitation, to a Tupperware demonstration. I grumbled and was cynical and quite frankly, a bit afraid. The demonstrator and I clicked, and she has become one of my dearest friends. She wasn’t pushy, and treated it as a bit of fun. I had no spare funds, so her benevolence was appreciated! Over the years, I have attended underwear, candle, jewellery, linen,makeup, body care, craft and many other parties. The invitations keep on coming. This past month, I have been invited to six candle parties. I can’t keep up, and therein lies the problem.

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“You don’t have to buy anything.” You hear this when you say you are short of funds. However, I have heard women criticizing other ladies for having the nerve to attend their party without forking out cash. “You can browse through the catalogue online if you can’t attend.” The reason I am not attending is that I have no spare cash! It can be a minefield. I am cautious if I haven’t seen a person for a very long time and an invitation comes with an agenda. If I wanted a product, I would save for it and go out and get it without a party. Home schooling my child, these products now come with a debate in my head. ‘I could get a candle, or my child could attend a science workshop for a day with money left over….’ ‘I could get mascara or she could attend a term’s art sessions at the gallery.’ When I shop, I look for value above all else. I think most of us do. In my heart of hearts, I think giving girlfriends food and wine and giggles, then expecting them to make decisions  on  a whim is a little exploitative.

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Then there is the ‘what did you order?’ question when you are looking through the catalogue. I usually try to find the cheapest thing in there. I am the proud owner of a useless potato masher (sold by a demonstrator who shrilly told me to ‘shoosh’ as I was trying to talk to a friend and she was eager to start her demo), useless kitchen items and dodgy products.

I wanted to be liked, approved of, and so I ordered more than I could comfortably afford in the past. I have put my hand up to host a party to help out my hostess. I received a round of applause and felt adored. Then reality hit. It is bloody hard work to host one of these parties. A thorough house clean, the buying of food and plonk, the catering… People would cancel at the last moment or simply not respond  (I didn’t blame them). I have a tiny house, and am not confrontational so people knew I would understand. Awkward doesn’t cut it when describing a demo with less than six people in attendance. I have been quizzed by the demonstrator as to when the rest of  the people would arrive. So, I spent more than I should at my own party- to make up for it out of guilt- on things I hadn’t needed a day ago. Often the people who I had helped out by hosting my own party were no-shows.

There are so many of them these days, it is dizzying. People only have so much time and money. I will go to something I am curious about or believe in, but I wont go to them all, not anymore. That is not real. I have only hosted three parties and I felt uncomfortable  each time. I didn’t want my friends to feel that they needed to buy anything in order to see me. I didn’t want them to spend more than they had. I have a ‘no party plan’ policy now, and refuse to host. Please don’t be offended if your friend doesn’t want to attend your party. She is probably struggling with her budget as it is. She is being sensible. She is being honest and she would love to catch up with you without being sold anything. It is another expense, that some families can’t afford. Please be mindful. I think party plans have their merit, but when one is being hit each day with an invite, one has to politely decline.

 

Sydney Opera Centre


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A group of home schoolers met up at The Opera Centre in Surry Hills this past week. I admired opera, though my knowledge was pretty basic. I have learnt that it isn’t really an elite art, as previously thought. It is a complex mix of drama and music, and expensive to stage.  I was excited about taking my daughter to her first opera, Cinderella. Based on a score by Rossini, it had been condensed to suit children. The audience was enthralled throughout. We went to a nearby park for lunch, and I was welcomed into my new school family. Each parent had a back story as to why they started home schooling, and all were inspiring.

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Afterward, we went on a tour of the Opera Centre. It brought to life the passion and dedication of everyone from the seamstresses to the design team. I can see why it’s expensive to bring to life!

Each wig takes a week to make, every hair is hand-stitched.
Each wig takes a week to make. Every hair is hand-stitched.

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The books for the shelves are ultra-light!
The books for the shelves are ultra-light!
Model for a production
Model for a production

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Props for Aida
Props for Aida
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Okay, not just children!

 

The children were allowed to try on some of the magnificent costumes, which was a real treat!
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I am in awe of the opera singers. Their dedication to their craft is amazing. It takes vision to bring a production to life, much like individual dreams. An idea becomes a sketch, becomes a model and then a set. My daughter loves singing, and has uncovered a new way of trilling. I love that she was introduced to the many ways you can be involved in theatre. The world is yours, kid.

Grief and Homecoming (Part 2)


 

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A woman with auburn hair was walking in front of me. She was holding the hand of a little boy. For a moment, I thought it was you… I kept seeing you everywhere. In the shops, in the park. You can’t be gone! The horrible realization struck me afresh.

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You should be living in Balmain with your boys, your heart condition carefully monitored. I should be preparing to meet up with you, to share a meal for your birthday. The tears came as I sat in the park. Grief absolutely flattens you, like a tidal wave. It was a physical pain, so much so that I felt winded. What sets it off on any given day is a mystery.  I went from weeping to laughter  when I recalled you telling me about a party your eldest had attended. He was going to a religious preschool at five, and upon seeing the procession of fairies alighting from cars outside the venue, he hollered, “oh no! Not another #$%^&*# fairy party!” You were aghast, as all the mums heard him, though laughed uncontrollably on the retelling. Wiping my eyes, I went to get my daughter.

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I was bemused to receive her worksheets. She had felt sorry for Dr Karl, as he didn’t have much hair, so she thought she would style him. She asked a lot of questions about guinea pigs  which he answered concisely. When I asked why she had focused on guinea’s, she replied huffily, “they are a biology topic!”  I took her for lemon gelato, and then she climbed trees in the main street.

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We went home, and I received a message from Serena’s mum. She had sourced a Japanese Cherry tree. It became extinct in Japan and one specimen was found in an English garden in West Sussex. It was propagated from that tree (many more are now back in Japan due to this one specimen). Serena’s family were going to plant it tonight, and scatter her ashes around it. Serena was a world citizen and ardent traveller. She would have loved this. I looked through old photos, and lit a candle for my friend.
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You said in your school yearbook that you wanted to be remembered for as long as possible. Oh darling, you shall be. Until we meet again, happy birthday Serena. I hope you can hear me sing to you.

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Grief and Homecoming


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Today was your birthday

The 15th May was your birthday, Serena. You would have turned 41. This time last year, I was wrapping your gift, and my daughter was writing in your 40th birthday card. Tonight, we were getting ready to take you out for dinner with the kids. There was no indication that you were sick at all. Six months later, you were gone. I wish I had told you how much I loved you, how valued you were. I hope you knew. What would we do differently if we had known? I was grateful that my daughter had a science workshop. It meant getting up early, and taking a train and bus to Balmain. It meant escaping. 

We had breakfast in a dear little café.

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I had wilted spinach and mushrooms on sourdough bread. It was spectacular. Serena, you loved Balmain. You loved the city. I took my daughter to her workshop, run by a wondrous educator called Luisa. Dr Karl Kruszelnicki was going to answer the kid’s pressing questions. My daughter gave me this look, as she ushered me out.

"You can go, mum!"
“You can go, mum!”

I was left to wander the streets of Rozelle and Balmain. It is such a happy place, filled with beloved dogs, families, musicians and art. When I was eighteen, I lived here, in an old stable. I  lived close to the wharf, and remembered my first home fondly. There I was, living in a stable, and my landlord was named Moses. I wondered what it was like now? I walked down Darling St, until I came to the series of stables.

My home.
My former home.
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A beautiful idea for the base of a tree in Rozelle.

I moved one cold winter night into Balmain, and our neighbours greeted me the next morning with coffee and toast. They leant me furniture, and were so very thoughtful. I shuddered when I thought of the neighbour who had died after I moved out. She had been sitting up in bed, playing a computer game, when a person unknown had shot her through the window. I was devastated when I learnt of her passing. She had loved Balmain, been there all her life. She was her husband’s sweetheart, and he unabashedly told everyone he met. Grief, there it was again. Sorrow as I looked at the home in front of the stables, where she had lived for twenty years in a quiet street in a leafy suburb. She left a lasting impression with her kindness and warmth. I have told my daughter about you. Another neighbour, Sid, had hidden about ten wild cats in his stable, despite the fact we weren’t allowed pets. He gave me a television set he had fixed up because I was kind to his felines.
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I wondered why I had ever left this gorgeous place. It still feels like home. I was uncovering parts of myself when I lived here, my fingernails cracked and dirty after digging through shattered fragments of my psyche. I remembered when I sat in the park, elated, after having gone to the shops by myself. It was a very big deal. Living in this little village had made me brave. I walked for hours, up and down Darling St, and through laneways groaning with greenery and flowers. I was trying to escape the heaviness in my chest. I knew it was only a matter of time before the heavy clouds released their burden.

Joy


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 We went on a tour of our town’s annual art show. It was a thrill to see the names of friend’s amongst the talented artists. My little girl was buoyant. She has settled into the new regime of home schooling superbly, and her confidence has been lifted. To be able to do things in her own time means so much for a dyslexic kid. The pressure has lifted. She ran in to find me that morning, squealing that we had new baby guinea pigs. We certainly did! Five in all.

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They are a bit cute!

Snowball is the father. Here he is munching on a corn cob. He broke into the girl's hutch, hence the surprise conception!
Snowball is the father. Here he is munching on a corn cob. He broke into the girl’s hutch, hence the surprise conception!

My little girl, I love hearing you read. I love feeling your  joy when you “get” a word. I  look forward to seeing what you are going to do in this world. I know guinea pigs, music and art will feature throughout your life, as well as birds and trees!  I am delighted that you are coming into your own. You aren’t dyslexic. Rather, you have dyslexia. It is extraordinary how much music and art, compassion and strength can be found in one little girl. I am sad about the times you felt alone, frustrated and exhausted from the dyslexia. I will do everything in my power to make sure that is never the case again. We are able to sound out words, and spell them in a song. If you go to a workshop and are struggling, the teacher lets you use symbols rather than words. It is working.

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The Old Guard


The Old Guard is going down. The paradigm is finally shifting. I remember a time when harassment was put down to “having a joke.” I recall a time when domestic abuse was laughed off. It was not that long ago. I recall a friend’s uncle making lurid suggestions to me at a sleepover at her home when I was eleven. I recall the grown men thinking that certain commentary was okay.

Years ago,  I had a neighbour who was in his sixties. He didn’t give me a good feeling upon meeting him. By meeting him, I mean he peered over the fence at me, and always seemed to be loitering. He studied my visitors, and a conversation outside was never private. He had  a weather-beaten face, loved a drink, and chain-smoked. I invited he and his wife in for a meal to break the ice. He drank beer and mumbled. When he went outside to smoke, his wife confided that their marriage hadn’t been a barrel of laughs. She talked of his violence, of his erratic behaviour with money, his unpredictability. He was what one could call a larrikin in the Australian vernacular. He never called his wife by her name, rather she was “the missus.” She was a bundle of frayed nerves.

The thing I have noted about these men are that they take up space. They want more than their share. He introduced  a dog to their small yard. This breed of dog is designed to work on farms. It grew insane prowling their small  yard and barked day and night.  We tried talking to him, suggesting he may walk the dog, get him some exercise. He couldn’t have cared less. He used his power tools day and night, taking up every inch of space he was entitled to. He tinkered right on the fence line. Other men in the neighbourhood visited him, smoking and drinking out the front. “A good bloke.” A good bloke alright.

John Singleton has been in the news this week. He threatened a friend over lunch with the stem of a wine glass. He then joked about domestic violence. The next day, he said they were just mucking around. Yes, it is hysterically funny. It is wondrous to witness the woman next door with her anxious voice continually wringing her hands due to anxiety. It is wondrous to hear him bellowing at her, and prowling around like he is a grand old General. The old guard is leaving the building, and  fellows who respect  women and children are coming in. “Flirting” with children is out, as is mocking domestic violence. Sexual innuendos and commentary aren’t laughed off. To my mind larrikins are good men with a cheerful spirit and sense of adventure. They are not the above. Not any more. Thank God.