Secondary infertility

I remember when I was pregnant with Monsieur reading an article about secondary infertility. Secondary infertility is where a couple have no trouble conceiving first time round but are unable to conceive second time round, or experience recurrent miscarriages.  I was appalled that, even though we’d managed to conceive easily the first time, it was no guarantee of future fertility. It seemed like a cruel joke.

I sometimes wonder if it hit too strong a nerve with me. Did I somehow will it upon us. Ridiculous I know, but the mind can lead you along some twisted pathways sometimes.

Not only is secondary fertility an issue, it is actually more common than not being able to conceive in the first place (a fact which I just read tonight as I searched for the correct term and definition). Kinda makes you wonder how many one child families are a deliberate choice and how many are a result of undesired circumstance.

Secondary infertility is painful – it is hard to adjust your vision of your family – but at least there is the considerable silver lining, perhaps it is a silver fill-in really, of already having a child. A sense of “Well, thank heaven we were able to have this one”. In some ways, I feel selfish to get sad and upset at our situation when we do have a child, and such a beautiful child at that. I feel like I should just be grateful for what we have; that I should gracefully and quietly let go of our dreams of another child. I’m grateful, extremely grateful for Monsieur, and I will always feel so blessed to have him in our lives, but that does not ease the ache of missing the other child we wanted.

We always imagined having two children, reasonably close in age. The age gap was ultimately going to be determined by when we felt ready for a second child and I felt ready to be pregnant again. Ideally it was going to be about an 18-24 month gap. We didn’t realise that the gap was not up to us, nor was the number of children. Huh.

Two pregnancies in 3 years, both miscarried early on. The second one was an ectopic so a natural miscarriage was the best case scenario. After the ectopic, I had to have a tubal patency test to check for any obvious issues in my fallopian tubes. I was told that it was also useful as it would “flush out” anything remaining, leaving a fresh slate, so to speak. The ultrasound technician told me that many women conceive after having the procedure done, possibly because of the “flushing out” aspect. I also heard a similar thing after my first miscarriage; friends telling me how they, or someone they knew, conceived within 2-3 months of having a miscarriage. Honestly, after each miscarriage, early as they were, it took my body three months, at least, to physically recover.  There was no way I was up for anything to do with conception while I was healing.

That really threw me for a six too. I couldn’t understand how I could still be having painful periods, and pelvic girdle pain three months after being pregnant, when I had been just barely pregnant. I mentioned to this to a nurse when she asked how I was doing after the first miscarriage and she said to me that pregnancy is a binary thing. You’re either pregnant, or you’re not. There’s no being “a little bit pregnant”. Once that pregnancy happens, all the hormones start flowing and the body starts it’s preparation, probably before you’ve even peed on a stick. I should have known that, but it hadn’t really occurred to me. Like so many people, I think that I judged the worth and impact of a pregnancy on how far along it was. A four week pregnancy isn’t anything really, but a 10 week pregnancy, obviously that would be really tough on you physically and emotionally to lose.  I still believe that the impact is much greater, the further along you are in a pregnancy, however I no longer underestimate the impact of an early miscarriage.

I have been seeing a fertility specialist since March, starting the long process of signing up for IVF. R and I have had many tests and there is no discernible reason for our difficulties in conceiving and keeping a pregnancy. Age is a strong possibility. Perhaps there’s some tiny damage in my tubes, too small to be seen in the scan. But for whatever reason, we are classified as being medically infertile for reasons unknown. IVF is the recommended course of action. And now that we are staring down this road, suddenly we are hearing about other couples who have gone down or are going down this same road. Just like miscarriage, it seems no one mentions it until you are experiencing it too. Then suddenly you discover just how common it is, and can’t quite comprehend how something so prevalent can be kept so secret. But really that is an issue deserves its own post.

Right now we at a fork in our lives and it is not 100% up to us which fork will be taken. Will it be the fork with a sibling for Monsieur, or will it be the fork where where we remain a family of three (with an awesome TV/entertainment room – because we will need to do something awesome with Sibling’s room, if Sibling doesn’t come to claim it).

 

Further information can be found online, of course, by googling. I referred to the following websites for information:

Resolve – The national infertility association

Babycentre UK

Women’s Ultrasound Melbourne

Advanced Women’s Imaging

 

In her recent post on Medium, Lorelei Vashti writes about miscarriage far more eloquently than I ever did.

House Renovation…the final photographs, finally

Whilst our house was being renovated, I was posting photos and comments on the progress. I only got halfway through the progress blog posts before we got to move back home and, well, I’ve been a bit busy since then!

I do hope to finish the more involved step-by-step posts, as I find them really interesting to look back on. It’s quite amazing the level of detail that my memory just does not retain. I enjoy being able to look back and be reminded of how a particular period of my life was, or, in regards to the renovation, all the thought and effort that went into our house. However, this post is just the finished product. I’m really embracing the motto “Better done than perfect”. It would be more perfect if I finished the detailed posts about each room, and then had the big reveal post – which is not so much of a big reveal as it is nearly two years since it was completed – however it will get done if I just do the final the post now. Better done than perfect!

The cost and time blew out on our renovation with discoveries that could not be predicted. These are the joys of renovating very old properties. We needed part of the house re-stumped, and that in itself was an unknown as the builder could not know exactly what the land underneath the house was like, and therefore how deep the stumps would have to go; as it turned out, we need five, very deep stumps in our room to stop the lean-to happening. So there were those sorts of unknowns which we knew to expect going into the project. Then there were the things like the bathroom framework being completed ruined from water damage, and the concrete lintel above our window which WAS NOT anchored into the wall. That particular discovery cost us extra money to fix and extra time as the safety requirements of the job then changed and amendments had to be made to the building permit – I think that was how it went at least…it has been a long time.

Anyway, everyone told us that it would take twice as long as quoted and cost twice as much. We laughed and secretly thought, “Not for us”. Well, it didn’t take twice as long as quoted but I did wish that I hadn’t packed all my winter clothes in storage! It did cost more, due to unexpected discoveries such as the above-mentioned (they were just the two things that sprang to mind), but also because we would go and pick beautiful lush carpet and underlay that was twice the allowance in the quote. As the original quote had come in under our budget, we felt okay with making these choices which ultimately led to a renovation without compromises which we would’ve regretted later. Also, it was hard not to get excited as we saw things coming together and then wanting to add just a little thing here or a little thing there!

The builder that we went with was Ange who runs Estate Building and Renovations. We chose him because we liked his manner, he seemed like a person who took great pride in his work and wouldn’t cut corners and he really listened to us and worked with us to achieve what we wanted. We worked a lot with Joel as well as Ange – most days one or the other was at our house looking after everything. Joel came up with the idea of installing a pool latch on our front gate when I was asking for help to make it child-proof. Both Ange and Joel were great at coming up with practical solutions for issues around the house and we definitely gave them some challenges. Double glazing for our windows was one of the biggest challenges; there was a lot of discussion as to the best way to do it considering that we have leadlight windows which have to stay (council heritage overlay) and do not react well to being double-glazed, and sash windows which leak a lot of air. Ange’s solution of installing a separate, double-glazed internal window was brilliant.

We have more things we want to do further down the track. As Ange said, when renovating, you just have to draw a line somewhere otherwise you can just keep on going. So we still have things to do, and I look forward to getting Ange and his team in again.

Patrica La Torre, of Outside Inside Building Elements designed our bathroom and laundry. Ange works with her regularly and directed us to her services. She was fantastic. When we said that storage was a priority, she delivered SO MUCH storage in the design and still managed to make the bathroom feel larger than it did before. She was excited when I picked the bright striped laminate for the laundry as it is the sort of bold colour that most people will steer away from. Shamefully I still haven’t had her around to see the finished house, because I want it to be all perfect and tidy and looking its best, which it does for a couple of hours every fortnight or so! The rest of the time it looks, well it looks like a family lives here; a family who have work, kinder, playdates, like to cook together and will follow their whims on weekends rather than their “shoulds”. I guess I need to apply that “Better done than perfect” motto here too.

The more time has passed, the happier I’ve been with the renovation and the job done by Estate Building. When we first moved back in, we felt like the house was too good for us! We have grown accustomed to our cosy, comfy, luxurious house now (oh the carpet, the bath, the insulation!!!) and I feel so incredibly lucky that we got to do it when we did, rather than having to wait for 20 years as we thought we would. It is beyond divine to have a proper laundry and no longer have all our piles of washing lining the hallway to greet friends. It is so wonderful to have a house that does not maintain the same temperature as outside, in all seasons. Insulation is a glorious thing, truly glorious.

I also love that instead of putting all the money into building up (which was our original idea), we put it into a reasonably small back extension and renovating the existing house (except the kitchen – that one is waiting a while). By choosing a smaller extension, we got to do things like renovate the bathroom completely, have built-in robes installed in our bedrooms, re-carpet and paint the whole house, get double-glazing put in. These are all things that have a far more positive impact on our daily life than a parent retreat and balcony upstairs would do. The way our house is, it is a lovely size now; it will expand to capacity with the planned Sibling, and then it will still be a very comfortable size once it is back to just us two again. I really like being in a house where I feel like I won’t need to upsize or downsize somewhere down the line.

The before photos are in this post. It’s been a while since I’ve looked at them and I had forgotten how bad some of the internal cracks were!

 

Two weeks on, two weeks loooong

Nearly every month for the past three years has consisted of two weeks which fly by, and two weeks that drag by with excruciating slowness. Each day I check my calendar, but no, we’re not yet at that magic day. A few days later I check again – surely it must be close now – but no, still 8 days away. It is painful, torturous and has felt unending. Each month I tell myself I will not get caught up in the waiting game, and each month I find myself waiting, waiting, waiting.

Our plans did not ever stop at one child, you see. We always envisioned two children, close in age. We have made so many choices based on the assumption that we would have two children. A pram with the capability to to switch to a double. A double bike trailer instead of a single one. A box set aside containing half of my childhood toys, the other half having been given to Monsieur. Ditto with childhood books and teddies. We built an extension, a whole extension, so we could have a room for the planned sibling. There is also a laundry there as well, and it has been lovely having a proper guest room, but still, it was the plans for Sibling that prompted us to renovate and extend when we did.

So many plans made to fit the possibility of a pregnancy. A bridesmaid dress based on a maternity dress, because I could be at any stage of pregnancy by the time the wedding day arrived. I wasn’t, (well, actually it turned out I was, but only for the briefest of moments really). The dress had to be taken in considerably and there’s many a more flattering dress I could have chosen! A trip overseas for the second wedding was regretfully refused, as was a cruise for my step-brother’s 40th. The thought of possibly having morning sickness on a cruise was just too horrible to contemplate! So many decisions made, plans made or put off purely on the basis of “I might be pregnant then”.

So, so many months waiting. Sometimes there’s been a month or two where one or the other of us has been too sick at the crucial time, and honestly those months it’s been a relief to not be hanging over my calendar, counting the days until my period tells us what our future holds. For that month anyway. In all this time of waiting, some days it has felt like every one I know has had their second child, some their third. That is not the case at all, but the vast majority of Monsieur’s friends do have younger siblings now.

Three years, two miscarriages and now we’re booking in for IVF. I’m coming to the end of my waiting. I only have so much waiting left in me. Only so many months I have the heart to keep getting back on this roller coaster. Besides, it almost feels selfish, this desire for a second child. We are so blessed to have such a gorgeous, healthy son. Our lives are full and happy. I have friends who dearly want children, who do not have any and are facing down the same scary prospect of IVF, daily injections, possible disappointments in a hormone-fueled, heightened emotional state, not to mention the financial drain. If I could guarantee a child for one of those friends, by ceasing our quest to extend our family, I would stop in a heartbeat.

Oh and did you know that in order to undergo IVF treatment, both partners need to have a police check done. Just to make sure that they’re okay to be parents. Or something like that. But don’t go bringing in your more thorough Working With Children Check; it has to be the lesser researched Police Check. This is the legislation which makes even the people working at Melbourne IVF look like they can’t decide whether to roll their eyes at the absurdity, or apologise greatly for requiring you to pass checks not required of anyone who can have children naturally.

Gertrude Street Projection Festival

Tonight we went to the Gertrude Street Projection Festival with friends. I haven’t gone through all my photos yet, so will do a proper post next week, but I was excited to post a couple of photos.

I love experiencing these things through Monsieur’s eyes. He notices things that I do not and takes such delight in new discoveries; sometimes the discoveries may be what we came to see, like the projections and sometimes the discoveries can be chink in the wall where he can see the red glow of a light! Going with friend of his just doubled the experience of seeing things through their eyes.

The images are not as clear as I might like, but I love my camera for managing these shots, at night, on the move, sans tripod.

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Everyone needs a goal

Monsieur spent a good portion of his day today doing things to earn money. He is saving up for something that he really wants. It all started last week, when a small toy caught his eye as we were walking past a bookshop. It was one of those hatch-it-yourself eggs – an egg that you put in water for 24-36 hours and the shell slowly dissolves to reveal the creature inside. He desperately wanted it, and really loves watching the eggs hatch, so I told him that he should go inside and ask the price. If it was $5 or less, he could have it. He went inside, politely asked the shop assistant  who informed him that it was $6. He was crestfallen and I was so tempted to say “Well, $6 is only a little bit over. Yes you can have it” But I really want him to grow up with an understanding of money, and saving for things, and not spending beyond your means. So I stuck to what I said, and told him that we needed to put the egg back because it was more than $5 and that was the limit that I had set. We spent the next ten minutes with him holding tightly to the egg saying that he would never put it back, and me just sitting with him (this was going to take a while, so I made myself more comfortable!) and reiterating that it was more expensive than the limit I set and I wouldn’t buy it for him.

At one point, I really thought we might stay there for half an hour – possibly the people at the next door cafe who were looking on with interest thought so too. Parenting always feels like the stakes are higher with an audience, although ultimately I know that what matters is my relationship with my son; not whether complete strangers applaud or condemn my parenting skills. However, he eventually put the egg back and we continued on our way. I was so proud of him. He had such strong emotions that he was battling, and he mastered them enough to move on.

We had a wait in the post office and he was so well behaved, remarkable considering the emotional turmoil he’d just been through. So I was thinking to myself that I might give him $1 change, that could go with the $5 I was willing to spend, so that he could get the egg. Although I was still debating the idea, as to whether it was a good thing to do (rewarding him for showing restraint) or whether it would set a bad precedent (so often a concern). Then he spotted a remote control Thomas train, and begged me to come and look at the “most awesome thing ever”. The train was $40, so a definite and easy “no”. He was much easier to lure away this time, to my relief, and I took him outside and gave him $1. I then showed him my $5 and together we worked out that equaled $6, the exact cost of the egg. Then I gave him a choice; he could go and buy the egg with his money and my money, or he could keep the $6, and start saving to buy the remote control Thomas. I was so sure that the immediate gratification of the egg would win out, but it did not. He thought about it and said he wanted to save up for the Thomas.

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On the walk back to the car, he asked how he would get more money. So far his money box has been fed with coins found around the house; occasionally pilfered straight out of my purse! This is not a method to encourage once collecting money becomes a goal. I told him that his Daddy and I would think of some things he can do to earn money, the same way Mummy and Daddy have things they do to earn money.

Every day after that he asked what he could do to earn money, so we had to come up with some ideas fast! Fortunately R and I have already had discussions about how we think pocket money should work and what stipulations we put on pocket money or money earned for completing extra tasks. The discussion about pocket money has not yet reached it’s full and final point, but we don’t intend to start pocket money for a few years yet. We always intended for there to be tasks that he could do to earn additional money however, so that is where we are starting.  It is important to us that any paid house chores are not chores that we expect him to do just as being part of the family. So things like clearing the table, loading dishwasher, cleaning room, vaccuuming etc, are things that we all pitch in and do. No one gets paid for them. However things like washing the windows and washing the car are things that he could do to earn extra money.

Of course, in our discussions we never expected that he would start so young! When thinking up things to do, we wanted them to be things that:

  • he could reasonably manage
  • would actually be helpful (so no make-busy tasks)
  • are not household tasks that come under the “being part of a family” umbrella

We also broke them down into small steps, so that nothing was too overwhelming, and he could earn some money for doing part of a task. We also put in bike riding, as he has been going through a phase of always choosing scooter over bike and we want to get him over the hurdle of thinking the bike is just too hard. The stipulation is that he needs to ride without any help – which he can do; he just falls back on our help too much. Our plan is to extend the distance he covers, as his confidence grows.

During the week, I wrote a list of all the things he could do to earn money and today he started.

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He started before he even got dressed for the day! Dusting the hallway bookshelves while his Daddy cooked breakfast.

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I was very impressed at his dedication, and determination to do a good job. He even dusted the fronts of the shelves – somewhere I’ve never thought to dust. Our bookshelves are looking much better than usual. I’m sure they could get used to getting dusted on a weekly basis!

Once he completed them, he worked out how much he had earned and we counted out the coins together. This is such a great way to bring in counting, addition and lessons in currency! He has a chart to track his progress and his adorable penguin money box to put all the money in.

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After breakfast, cleaning out the car was on the agenda. His attention was waning, so this took quite a long time. It definitely takes time and patience to teach him how to do a particular task and what we expect of him. I just kept telling myself that the first lesson is doing it properly and once he does things properly, then the next lesson is to do things quickly (and properly). It can be so hard watching a task take over an hour, when I could do it myself in 10 minutes, but this is about more than just the present time; this is about instilling skills, work ethic, focus and allowing him the time to learn, at his pace.

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Okay, I didn’t completely allow him to go at his own pace. I needed the car done by a particular time so I did give him a time deadline, after which I would finish the car, but he did have a generous amount of time to get it done in. He did get very distracted in the backseat, where there are many toys and books of his!

He was very proud of himself after he completed each task and was so chuffed to have earned money for his remote control Thomas.

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I have sourced the remote control Thomas at the local K-Mart, just in case the post office sells out before Monsieur has finished saving up for it. I could think of nothing worse than him going in to the post office, so proud and excited to be buying his first thing with money he earned, only to be told that there were none left. That is a brutal lesson that he can learn much later on – perhaps I’ll teach him about lay-by at that time too!

M o r e   i n f o
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