1. You mean apart from get pregnant like I want to?

2. But girls can do anything, can't they?

3. Get motivated enough to tick some stuff off from the first list.

4. Look skilled whilst playing sport.

5. Go through life without doing things I regret from time to time.

6. Cook anything that involves sculpting or wrapping. (Eg Fish cakes, spinach and fetta triangles... that sort of thing.)

7. Work out what photos to enlarge and hang in the living room. And where.

Musing: I don't actually feel 100% comfortable with this list. I think a lot of the things listed fall more into the category of "things I could do if only I wanted them enough and was willing to put the effort in". I think I prefer to think of things in that light. Like, I could make fish cakes, but I find it difficult and I don't feel like rising above that difficulty. But I could. If I really tried.

The only things that really belong on this list are numbers one and five. I think that's why they hurt so much.

It's become clear that doing all those lists at once is pretty exhausting. So here they are, in chapters.

1. Parent (you're going to be hearing this one a lot round this little blogging group, folks).

2. Busk - some sort of horribly earnest self-composition about how angry and unfulfilled I am being middle class. And infertile.

3. Find a job I like - maybe parenting?

4. Live for several years in an Eastern Asian country (see - that one wasn't about having babies at all).

5. Volunteer for a role in some overseas aid organisation, and, like, help people whilst exploring new cultures and stuff.

6. Um... be a grandparent?

7. Become a real live creator of... something creative. Like the author of a play, or the director of a short film. Something that gets seen by strangers. Blog doesn't count. Sorry - you guys aren't strange enough.

8. And! Visit Antarctica. If you wait several posts you'll see why I just thought of this one.

Oh! And P.S. If you're wondering what all this is about, ask Meg. She'll tell you.

People often write letters to their newborn babies, knowing it will be years before they learn to read. More before they learn to understand. But you will probably never read, or understand. So I feel strange, writing this.

Maybe it would be more fruitful to write a letter to the embryo who makes it. The special one I hope is in there - the one who will taste, touch, and witness the double edges of my maternal love, cutting both ways. But then, that would feel strange, too. Because I'm not sure that one exists. Yes, I can feel him/her in my mind - like Santa Clause, or the Tooth Fairy. People keep assuring me s/he's real, but I'm too old to accept a few cake crumbs as proof of existence.

You, however, my precarious little embryo - I can believe in you. Your life, however brief and insignificant, is as solid as anything upon this earth. As solid as a mountain, or the wind, or the history of time itself.

Tonight, you are safe. You nestle amongst your siblings, more unique than snowflakes and twice as cold. Nothing is going to harm you tonight. But tomorrow, we will set in motion a series of events which will lead to your development or demise. I am afraid for you, because the odds are against you. But I will do it anyway.

I can't leave you in safety. It doesn't make sense. Without risk, there is no gain. Without peril, there is no possibility. I only wish the danger was smaller. I won't make it go away.

But don't think I do this without regret. My decision may be clear, but my thoughts are turbid with fear and melancholy. It's the right thing to do, but baby - I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry for what I'll put you through.

I hope one day you'll understand.


Update 26/6/06: Our little embryo survived the thaw and started to grow again. None were lost this time... none yet, at any rate. Now s/he goes into that black box of uncertainty - 16 days til we look for her on the other side.

I am having a round table, inside my head. It's being attended by various speakers, but two in particular are causing the most stir. First, there's Donor Bea - the Bea who had more embryos than she could use and decided to donate them to another couple, then went on to donate some eggs as an encore. Then there's Recipient Bea - the Bea whose ICSI failed; who turned to consider donor sperm.

Both of them are Thinking Of The Children.

"But there's not just The Children to think of," says Recipient Bea. "I mean, let's not be ageist. People over eighteen still count for something, don't they?

"You know - I'd love it if everyone's life here was simple and uncomplicated. Mummy and Daddy could have a 'special cuddle' which makes a baby. Then another - and hey presto, we're all growing up like the Brady Bunch. Except the Brady Bunch was a blended family, which is a whole complication in itself. And I guess that's my point. Things are always complicated. You do the best with what you've got.

"This is what we've got. We've got adoption, gamete/embryo donation, or giving up entirely.

"Give up? Well, frankly I can't see how that benefits anyone - especially not the donor kids. How can it be a benefit for a child to not exist?

"And adoption doesn't give me a pregnancy. I'm sorry, but pregnancy reduces my risk of contracting a highly unpleasant and life-threatening cancer, for which I have a family history. Allow me to be selfish enough for a moment to not want that. Allow me to be selfish enough to want to reduce my risks in any way possible. And if I can pretend to not be selfish for a moment, I also don't want it for Mr Bea or The Children. It's not nice for them either. I've been there.

"Which leaves us with donation. You know, I don't believe it will be the easiest road for any of us. But I believe we'd get there in the end. Me, Mr Bea, Little Bea, and Our Donor/s.

"Donor Bea - I know you understand me, or did once. Remember what it was like, and donate."

Donor Bea frowns. "I want to, but I'm worried."

"Worried about yourself, or are you Thinking Of The Children?"

"Perhaps worried about our existing children. How would it feel to have a sibling or half-sibling out there somewhere, being looked after by someone else? Perhaps worried about Mr Bea - but he's a big boy, and can speak up for himself. Certainly worried about people's expectations. What would The Parents expect of me? What would The Children expect of me?

"But these are issues I think I can muddle through. I guess mostly I'm Thinking About The Children themselves. You were the one who said it, Recip. We have a family history of cancer. We used to have issues with creating children out of our genes at all. Do you remember those times?"

"Yes, Donor, I do. But we were young, then, and overly dramatic."

"No we weren't. It was a serious concern. But facts are facts. We're probably not going to get cancer. We might not pass on any predisposition. And even if we were to get sick - we're sure we'd never regret existing. And we concluded our children wouldn't either. In spite of all.

"And in any case, we figured our possibly-cancer-predisposed genes were a long way from being worse than average. We were bright, we were, if not stunningly beautiful, at least naturally slim. On balance, we thought our genes were ok. Remember, Recip? We Thought Of The Children. And we decided to have them anyway. And Mr Bea agreed.

"But here's what we promised them, that they wouldn't suffer our anguish. We promised to be open, no matter what. We promised to tell them our whole family history. We promised they wouldn't find out, as we did, when we were already in our late teens. Because that was no time to find out. That was too hard."

"I remember, Don. I remember how angry we were, and for how long. I remember wondering how our parents could have thought they were doing the right thing. And I remember forgiving them, at last - even understanding them a little. I remember realising we wouldn't want to swap them for the world, but promising not to repeat their mistake."

"So how can I donate my genes, knowing that others may not share my view? Knowing that, even if they did, law may prevent them from accessing that information before The Child turns eighteen? How can I donate under those conditions? How can you receive?"

Recipient Bea pauses. There is the sound of a whole audience not breathing, as they wait for a reply. When Recipient draws in, finally, a long, slow breath, it echoes all the way from my head to my bowels, and even my heart stops and waits for her reply.

"I don't know. Maybe we can't."

There is an awkward silence.

"Maybe we need to change the conditions."

"I'm afraid," says Donor gently, "to remove a donor's right to anonymity. I'm afraid the donations will dry up. What would that mean for you?"

There is another pause. Then Recipient nods quietly.

"But there are more like you," she says, at length. Then she smiles, and winks. "You're just not that special, Don. There are others - more each year. We just have to find them."

"And they are...?"

"The new generation of donors. Those who are willing, not just to perform the act of donation, but also to take on the responsibilty. To be invisible, but available."

"And where does that leave the recipients - the Parents?"

Recipient Bea shrugs. "I'm not so special either. When it comes to the crunch - we'll be Thinking Of The Children."

This post in honour of Richard, whose blog you should visit if you haven't already.

Here's my problem.

I think having to first look up, and then afterwards contact a fertility clinic is one too many steps for people. I base this on my own laziness, which, sadly, is no worse than the next person's when it comes to issues affecting only Other People.


1. Direct reader to their GP.
Pros - people have his/her number.
Cons - will the GP give an appropriately enthusiastic reception to the offer? Will the GP even know where to start? You still have to make an appointment - and probably pay something, too. Damnit, that's not a very good idea at all.

2. Name specific clinics local to me.
Pros - gives a specific number. Phone answered by someone who will more likely gush instantly about what a great thing you'll be doing.
Cons - is this advertising?
Rebuttals - do I care?
More cons - if there's more than two clinics, pic gets cluttered and complicated. Also, do the clinics in question want to be associated with this campaign?

3. Name central, non-profit group responsible for such things.
Pros - all the way.
Cons - does one exist in Australia?

4. Further suggestions?

I should also point you towards Richard's Blog since he's the one who started the campaign so you can read more about where the whole idea came from, where it's going, and what it means.

Dynamo Dad created the poster and you can discuss it in more detail on his blog.

First of all, I would like to make an apology to everyone who's been the victim of my irritating assvice lately. Yes, it's a phase. It comes and goes. Soon, it will go again. Promise.

Five Items

Roasted artichoke hearts - two opened jars of.
Left over pregnyl, puregon, progesterone pessaries.
Hot bean paste.
Half a home-grown watermelon.
Tofu sausages.

There are less than five items in my closet at the moment.
This is a Long Story.
In fact, there are only two items: DH's interview suit, and a pair of calf-high lace-up stilettos (not part of the same outfit).
The rest is evenly strewn about the bedroom.

Several wire coathangers.
A dog crate, water bowl, food bowl, and pillow.
Road maps for our city and Australia in general.
Some small change.
A mouth organ.

Handbag (Backpack)
Doggie poo bags.
A large pocket knife.
More wire coathangers.
A receipt for an FET cycle.
Several novelty keyrings, unused.

...I couldn't quite get the energy up for linkistration. Maybe I'll come back and edit in the 2ww.

I can't remember if speeches are customary at Christenings, but I'm going to make one anyway, because a lot of people have come up to me this morning to ask me about the cake.

First of all they want to know if it's our wedding cake, from all the way back in July 1999 - and yes it is so "ooh, gross, X-year-old cake, urgh" - I'll come back to that. Secondly people want to know why there's a piece missing. How intriguing - a missing piece.

Well, this morning I delivered the missing piece to Dr K's office. Dr K is our fertility specialist and we started seeing him in 2005. In 2006 we started IVF treatment, and I was in the unlucky 1-5% of patients who have the sort of complications that get you a month off work including ten days in hospital with tubes sticking out everywhere trying to decide if the side-effects of the morphine are worth enduring given that it only just takes the edge off the pain. If you like I can tell you all about it sometime.

Then we had to wait for some months until my body became reproductively capable again at which point we did technically get pregnant but only very very briefly. After that....

It was all pretty awful. Some studies have shown that infertility is almost as stressful as cancer, and other studies have shown it's worse. I really don't want to get into an argument about which is worse, and I'm not sure who's counting anyway - but my point is it was bad, and it's not just me saying it.

But it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Because it might not have worked, and it has. We would do it all again. Hell, we will be doing it all again. But anyway, you might be getting some idea here that I'm saying this for the sympathy or whatever, which I'm not.

The reason I'm telling you all this is simple. I want you people to eat some damn cake! And yes, it is X years old but you can pretty much suck it up, because if there's anyone in this room who wishes it wasn't quite so "mature" - then it's us. Nobody wishes that more than we do.

And I don't even care if you don't like fruit cake - I didn't like a single damn thing about IVF. So, you know - tough.

Here's what's going to happen. You're all going to be happy enough for us to eat the cake without complaint. Because I think we've earned it.

Hunky Dory?

Alright, well let's dig in.

There are fish again in the Aral Sea.

Fishermen are casting nets. Weathered boats are patched, repaired. The people, learning to row again.

The markets are filled with seafood once more. No longer a distant delicacy. Old recipes appear, renewed.

Older hands remember, quick, the flick and twist of scaling knives. The cut and shove of gutting knives. Unconscious memories of the flesh.

Long-forgotten things return. Welcome, cloaked in familiarity. The taste of trout. The feel of water.

The tenacity of life.

I was still mulling over our failed May transfer, when yet another wise person said to me, "Well, it's better than nothing!"

An idea started to form in my mind. Carefully, I put aside the teensy bit of pregnancy I'd had and waited.

When we had a miscarriage at eight weeks, sometime later, I added it to my little stash. The nurse at the clinic said she was sorry for our loss, and praised us for how well we were holding up.

A couple of months of straight negatives went by. I debated whether to keep them or not, and wondered how you'd judge their worth. In the end I kept them, just in case.

Then we hit the jackpot. Second trimester miscarriage. As the anaesthetist placed my catheter for the D&C the nurse soothed me. "This must be awful for you," she said.

I shrugged resignedly. "At least it's better than nothing," I replied. She gave a couple of startled blinks, then her expression transformed into one of sympathy, and she patted my shoulder kindly as I went to sleep.

It wasn't long after that we made it. The nurse from the clinic called to say our latest pregnancy was over, at only 6 weeks, 3 days. She asked if I was ok.

"I'm good," I told her, grinning. "I'm coming down - I've got something to show you."

When I arrived I handed them all over for her approval - nine month's worth of pregnancy, all present and correct. I expected to haggle over the straight negatives, but 36 weeks is almost as good as 40, so I was feeling fairly confident. I even picked up my dear husband on the way, so he could be there when they handed us our baby.

But the nurse just shook her head. "It doesn't work like that," she explained.

"But they all said... everyone told me it was better than nothing!" I was crushed, the tears were welling in my eyes.

She took my hand and rubbed it gently between hers. "Honey," she said. "I don't know what to tell you. They were wrong."

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