It's about time I started blogging again. Since starting this little project, this is the longest break I'd taken from both cooking and writing about it. And it's been killing me; not just being unable to spend the time and energy it takes to sit down and write, but also feeling so physically unwell that I couldn't even open a recipe book, let alone step foot in a kitchen. But I cannot, will not, complain because ...
I'm finally pregnant.
Our infertility (and subsequent IVF) journey - thankfully - turned out to be relatively short-lived. And I feel so very - unbelievably - blessed and fortunate. I made 14 weeks (end to the first trimester) yesterday.
Anyone who has suffered from infertility and subjected themselves to assisted reproductive therapies will tell you: it's a bloody difficult ride. For me, the emotional roller-coaster (sorry, that's a cliche but there's no other way to describe it) by far surpassed any physical discomfort I felt from the many procedures, incisions, tests, needles, medications, hormones, poking and prodding that formed part of my existence over the last few years. And let's not forget the expense - thousands of dollars only to be told there was 'no reason' - then several thousand more for each 'treatment'. The "unknowns" were the hardest part: will we ever have a child? What's wrong with me? Will our marriage survive? Will I? And then of course the parade of couples all making their happy announcements in the midst of our own suffering. How strange to feel so happy for someone else, but so sad for myself, simultaneously.
But there's another difficult part of infertility that only those who've experienced it can relate to: the "advice" and "well-wishes" from no doubt well meaning friends, family and (some) alternative health care practitioners. What NOT to say to someone you know who is having difficulty conceiving:
- "just relax and it will happen" (this is like a kick in the stomach for the fertility-challenged, who often already blame themselves for the problem. One in 6 couples will have trouble conceiving, and of those over 90% will have an actual, physical reason for it. Of the remaining 10%, it is thought there could also be a medical reason that simply can't be diagnosed with current medical tests available. THERE IS NO RELIABLE RESEARCH WHICH SUPPORT THE STRESS = INFERTILITY URBAN MYTH). So no, going on holiday, getting a massage, or "forgetting" about trying to get pregnant won't work.
- "you should try standing on your head after sex" (aside from feeling even more desperate and ridiculous than you already do, it's also bad for your back. As above: totally unsubstantiated)
- "we had the opposite problem to you - we got pregnant straight away!" Ouch.
- "you should sit on the Receiptionist's chair - all the girls who use it, fell pregnant!" Are you fucking retarded?
- "you should try bowen therapy/acupuncture/reflexology/chinese herbs/yoga/meditation/reiki." Ok, so the jury's out on most of these things except for acupuncture, which has been shown to slightly improve one's chances of conception. I myself actually went to a wonderful reflexologist who didn't actually help with getting pregnant per se, but because she saw lots of infertile women who were going through IVF, was a great sounding board for my experiences and had some good practical advice on how to get through the process relatively unscathed. I am a huge fan of complementary therapies and if nothing else, it's lovely to just relax and have a bit of time out. But this stuff is expensive, dude. Along with my hospital excess, medication, health insurance, reflex treatments, chiropractor, fertility specialist, a dozen blood tests and about 10 ultrasounds (none bulk-billed), I think in one month I shelled out over $10,000 just on health care. So to hear about yet another "miracle cure" at that point just made me want to scream. Then cry. For a good few days.
I don't want this post to be all about pain and suffering; I do want to celebrate my good fortune. But during my time in fertility-pergatory I developed some amazing connections with women all over the world - bloggers, mostly - who were going through the exact same thing. So it's natural that I immediately think of them and wish the same happiness and relief that I feel right now - whether that means they eventually realise their motherhood dream, or simply end their journey and find peace. As the Dresden Dolls wrote "I consider them my sisters..."