Drum Up Some Noise is a project based on the idea that sometimes, the best solution is to thrash the crap out of something. We take no responsibility for any breakages, but would love to hear a recording, see a video, or read a description of your efforts.

Here's how it all started.

And these are the people who've participated so far:

  • Vee and Max whose entry can be found here or here. They've used proper percussion instruments, which just happened to be lying about the house.

  • Me and Mr Bea whose entry can be found here or here. We've used a washing machine, two umbrellas, a dessert spoon and the empty bottles from all the wine we've consumed in our sorrow.

  • Somewhat Ordinary who described her efforts in the comments here. She used her drummer brother's practice kit.

I'll be adding to this list over time. Advice on recording strategies coming soon...

Infertility can be such a secretive and isolating experience. Take this example: we have just returned home from a holiday in Vietnam. For the next couple of weeks, everyone I see will be asking, "So, your holiday, what was the highlight?" and I will not be able to say, "Menstruating."

"Oh yes," I would like to tell them. "It started with a little brown spotting in Ho Chi Minh City, and escalated to a rusty tinge during our tour of the Mekong Delta region. In the end I menstruated heavily all the way to Da Lat and back. It was fantastic. Want to see pictures*?"

I had some light, brown spotting during a visit to this temple in Ho Chi Minh City.

A woman pauses in her rice field to watch me as I start my period.

Here I am menstruating on the back of a motocycle in Da Lat, in the Vietnamese highlands.

Instead I will have to brush them off with the usual vagueness. "All good, you know." "The standard stuff." "Plenty to keep us busy." At least with this, if pressed, I can faciliate a change of topic by threatening a slideshow of over a hundred photos.

On a practical note, we have now entered MD's testing cycle. If you like to read about temping, urinating on OPKs, and undergoing endometrial biopsies, have I got a treat coming up for you!

*Yeah, I had you going.

If you want a more orthodox trip report, email me (infertilefantasies at gmail dot com) and I'll CC you onto the list when I send it to everyone.


The safe-looking Vietnamese coffee apparatus I purchased (left and right, foreground), along with the evil, finger-burning one (background).

"Do you know what the worst part about this is?" I said last night to Mr Bea, who (bless him) was still talking to me despite my injury-induced foul temper, some of which had been taken out on him directly*.

"What's that?"

"I'm going to get a scar across the top joint of my right, middle finger, where the skin has actually melted off exposing this raw, pink tissue underneath, and whenever someone asks me how I did it I'm going to have to say, 'Well, I was making coffee**,' and they'll say, 'Yes...?' and it'll be, like, 'No, that's it. There's no story.' Fuck. Another forty-eight hours and I could've at least made some lame joke about it being an old injury from 'Nam."

Because, you see, that's where we're off to tomorrow morning. Vietnam. But let me back up a little first.

My deed for the week was giving money to buskers, because it's not a grand living, some of them are really quite good, and it's so easy to walk on by. Besides which, approximately two thirds of the buskers in Singapore (according to my one-woman survey) are disabled and therefore have limited employment opportunities. There was some moral wrangling over whether giving money to bad buskers was actually the opposite of a good deed, but in the end I returned to the simple philosophy which will never make me a big wheel in welfare and charity funds allocation: spend less time worrying about where the money's going. Sprinkle it widely. Some of it will land in the right place.

I may post next Thursday, or not. I may read a little, or not. I hope you stay well while I'm away. I'll be reading So Close and thinking of you all the while***.

Baby Blues sent me a very nice card, along with the travelling books, and it was purchased from Hands on Manila - an organisation dedicated to "alleviating poverty through income-generating projects". As of the time of card printing, HOM volunteers had devoted 417 hours in five different skills sessions. Thanks Baby Blues! I got a real buzz. Plus: you guys have handwriting. You do exist!

And I want to give a shout-out to Mel, who has cross-stitched for several charitable quilting projects in the past. This time it's for the Australian Version of Cole's Quilts, for a girl named Michelle. She is 16 and has maltese terriers so Mel is stitching a maltese terrier. The quilts are for critically ill children.


*The rest - indirectly.

**I was using a metal stovetop coffee maker. I managed to melt some skin off one finger, blister a couple of others, and give myself a good scalding at the same time.

***I'll be reading For Whom The Bell Tolls as well, which will no doubt also remind me of infertility, although I'll have to work harder to draw the connection. I wonder how Hemmingway would sound as an infertility blogger?

"Que va," I said to myself, "that my period should arrive."
"It will."
"But that it should arrive soon. It hast been too long."
"It will arrive," I repeated, and stood, running my fingers absently against the contours of my breasts. There had been slight spotting in the week before last, but nothing which would indicate a full flow. I started to curse in a flood of obscene invective that rolled around me like the hot white water splashing down from the sudden eruption of a geyser.
"I obsenity in the milk of thy 'soon-ness'..."

Remember how last week I gave you a week to drum up some noise? Yeah. I wasn't thinking very clearly.

We're going away early Saturday morning, which is still Friday in some parts of the world, so I won't really be around to pull it all together. So! The good news is you have until Monday the 28th of May to drum up some noise instead.

So hit something! Record the sound, or a video, or describe the experience on your blog! It's good, I promise.


Earlier this evening...

Bea: So, you're doing a PhD. What in?

Newly-introduced Person (NP): Life Sciences.

Bea: And what are you doing exactly?

NP: Research into biology, that kind of thing.

Bea: Right. (Thanks.) What aspect are you actually studying, yourself?

NP: Fruit flies.

Bea: And what are you doing with the fruit flies?

NP: Mainly feeding them.

Bea: What are you learning from them?

NP: Nothing at the moment.

Bea: Ok. But what are you going to learn from them in future?

NP: I don't know.

Bea: What are you aiming to learn from them?

NP: Not a lot.

Bea: Right.

NP: Mm.

You don't have to be religious to appreciate this story of King Solomon. I remember discussing it with my mother when I was very young, and the ideas it gave me about motherhood.

Two unmarried women came before the wise King Solomon with a baby, both claiming he was theirs. After listening to each case, the King threw his hands in the air and declared he couldn't decide who the real mother was. Best thing, he announced, was to cut the baby in half and give each woman a piece. One woman stood back, satisfied with the verdict, but the other threw herself at his feet, begging him not to harm the child, even if that meant letting the other woman have him. Thus the case was solved - the child was placed into the custody of the second woman, and the people marvelled at the wisdom of their leader.

And frankly, who wouldn't? Come on - that's a freaking awesome story.

The thing is, my mother explained, only the real mother could possibly care enough about the baby to react in this way. I went away thinking that King Solomon, through his ingenious actions, had unmasked the true biological connections of the case.

Suddenly, today, it occurs to me I may have missed the point. Where in the text does it provide conclusive DNA proof of genetic relationship? It seems to me King Solomon unmasked something much more important than that. Perhaps his wisdom was this: the woman didn't act that way because she was the "real" mother - rather, she was the real mother, because she acted that way.

So this is for all the real mothers out there today - regardless of what definition others may hold. Regardless of whether you've conceived, given birth, passed on genes, or held your child in your arms. Happy mother's day. I recognise you. And you're doing a terrific job.

First - there's a new "how to" post up at IIFF, about making a cartoon-style video. Just for those interested in entering the upcoming second round - "Seasons" - screening online from July 28th. (And there's plenty more shameless festival promotion where that came from. Oh yes.)


So y'all remember the curse dream from Monday's post, right? Remember how MLO suggested some rememdies? Now, I don't believe in curses and I don't think she was implying one exists in our case, but sometimes you need to do something to build your confidence in the future, even if it's something whacky and superstitious. Especially if it's something whacky and superstitious.

I decided to start with a ritual of purification*. Then Vee offered to get out her drums on both our behalves, and somewhere in the exchange we said to each other, "Wouldn't it feel great to just make some noise?"

True to form, Max and Vee achieved this intimidatingly good result:

Or if that's not working (due to file transfer limits) I just uploaded it onto Myspace.

Whilst Mr Bea and I managed to prove that you don't have to have a drum kit, practice, or even a sense of rhythm to participate! It took under five minutes, using only a washing machine, two umbrellas, a desert spoon, and the empty bottles from all the wine we've consumed in our sorrow, to prepare and record this:

Or listen to the version I just uploaded to Myspace.

But we thought it'd be even better if all our bloggy friends recorded some household percussion of their own, so we could play it all together in a curse-busting cacophony of mighty sound! Huzzah!

What do you think? I give you one week! Bang something**! Record an mp3/4 or video! Post it on your blog and leave a comment here with the URL, or email it to infertilefantasies at gmail dot com and I'll post it here, with a credit!

Hit something! Drum up some noise! You know you want to!

*I, er, did the housework.

**Oh, good grief. This is the infertility blogosphere - you can't still be thinking of that.

After our third chemical pregnancy I did the by-then-familiar ringing of colleagues to swap shifts so I could have my followup beta, except this time I ended up sobbing down the phone to said colleague, with the effect that a) she readily agreed to swap shifts with me and b) she offered to cover for me until 4pm on the day of the blood test, if I needed the extra time.

I came in at twelve. "I'm surprised you didn't take the day off til four," she said, when I'd caught her up on the news.

I just shrugged. "Why?" I replied. "It's not as if I'm going to feel better about it by then."

The RDA ball happened last weekend, on the 5th of May, and April was abuzz with it. Every time I fronted up someone would ask, "Are you coming?" and people talked of little else apart from the costumes they were planning, or the preparation which had yet to be done. At first I held off, not sure I'd be in the party mood, but a week before the event it struck me. Why not go? Was I going to wait til I felt fully ok before I stepped out the door again? Did I expect that to happen if I just held off four more hours?

I was "away sick" when they formed the ball committee, whose efforts were enormous, but I managed to get in a good deed by helping a bit with the last-minute preparations. I took a moment out to front up to a shop selling retro fashions, and allowed the sales assistants to go crazy putting together an outfit. We grabbed Mr Bea a wig, shirt and glasses from a costume shop, a ticket or two, and presto - we were off to the RDA Annual Charity Ball.

I'm now halfway through my Fifty Good Deeds In Celebration Of Life, and I've been thinking about what it means. A lot of you have said flattering things about my generosity and kindheartedness, which always makes me squirm a bit because most of my deeds are very small, the types of things many do from day to day without thinking twice - certainly without crowing about it on the internet - but mainly because I'm not sure if you realise how much this does for me.

It does nothing less than this: it reminds me that, ridiculous as it sounds, I still think I can change the world. I haven't been swallowed up by bitterness or despair, and I still believe you have to try, even when the task seems too big. It reminds me there's still something worthwhile here, no matter what each cycle brings. It means I haven't lost hope. It means I haven't lost.

I wanted to let you know, in case you've just been kicked in the gut once again and you're left feeling cursed and forsaken, like life has let you down and you should return the favour. I want to tell you to go ahead and praise the people who make your coffee, compliment someone at your local shop, clean your neighbour's house, write a thankyou to those who went the extra mile, or let someone know you love her and you're there. Anything - just make it something you didn't have to do. I want you to remind yourself you're still worthwhile, and no matter what's happened or what you've decided for the future, you're not beaten, and you're not lost.

And even if you don't yet feel one hundred percent ok, I want you to go to the ball*.

*I also want you to drum up some noise, but more on that tomorrow.

I remember it happened last year. I hit a point where participating in blogland lost its charm. It was also heading towards mid-year, also just after our first transfer. The feeling went away again. Just wanted you to know my decreased commenting isn't all personal, like, and I'm still trying to keep up with everyone.

Finally, here's a post I didn't publish last Sunday morning (the 29th of April). It pretty much marks rock bottom for this cycle. The moment has since passed, but this record doesn't feel complete without it.


When I'm not sleeping properly I have fascinatingly vivid dreams, often with quite clear narratives. I have just woken up from one in which we brought home a healthy, adopted child who afterwards sickened and, after a long period of traipsing around to various specialists, died. The doctor who came to speak with us about the death was angry. He listed off a whole catalogue of the losses we had experienced since starting out on this quest for children, including pets (our dog, who is still not well, was on the Dead Pets List), possessions, immaterial things, and a total of eight lost pregnancies, and asked us how we could possibly have escaped the fact that we were cursed. And given that we were so clearly cursed, how could our consciences have let us bring this innocent child into our care, to suffer and die? He then stormed off with the parting comment that in future, if we had to kill children, we'd better stick to our "own" unborn.

There was some random dream-noise in here, which I'll edit out, except to say we decided to see a practitioner of the dark arts. Suddenly we found ourselves in a Buddhist temple, talking to an African witchdoctor with an upper-crust English accent and an ornament of woven, dried grass through his nose. He said he could do nothing to cure us, although a significant number of couples saw the curse spontaneously lift. In the meantime, he advised me against touching babies or pregnant women, as that could cause them to become sick or miscarry.

In order to monitor the curse he provided a cageful of mice which, he explained, were relatively immune by reason of their rapid metabolism. We were to care for the mice carefully, noting birth and death rates, and when these had improved into the normal range he would move us onto cats, although he cautioned that many infertile people were never able to progress beyond cats.

I woke up wanting to be sick.


The pattern seems so familiar. I find myself slightly relieved because I think I may have hit bottom - not that I want to jinx myself. With daylight comes a sudden, life-affirming belief that I am currently at the lowliest place I'm going to be for at least a couple of months. It's a place I might revisit several times over that period but I think, perhaps, it will get no worse and it seems I can survive.

The ill-timed pregnancy announcement hit me particularly hard last week. She was my STAR. I was expecting the announcement and ready to be happy for her in the usual mixed-feelings way, but I was not ready for her to fuck up telling us so badly. I feel desperately alone this weekend. My real-life support network seems suddenly, frighteningly small. If I can't rely on my STAR, who is left?

I feel seedy, as if I'm hung over. I get daily headaches and frequent nausea. Logical Bea, in some weird, detached way, is forcing me to eat even though food seems repulsive. It's very comforting - I know The Beas will get me through. Mr Bea thinks I'm physically ill and is asking if I need to see a doctor. It all sounds terribly alarming when I write it down, and the truth is I'm not ok, but I know I'm going to be. I know all I have to do is endure. It's a little more intense than usual, but at the same time so familiar. Now the darkness, but after this, the light.

This evening Mr Bea ran as part of his work team in the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge. It was a 5.6km run which benefits various charities. [There was going to be a photo here but the computer is being icky.] Seems to be the week for it - Melissa's March of Dimes is coming up soon, and I believe you can still donate. My recent physical exercise, on the other hand, consisted of a turn on the treadmill in our apartment's fitness room, inspired by Serenity. I am ashamed to say I felt it the next day. I need to get out more.

You'll be pleased to know I put a good deal more effort into this week's Good Deed Challenge, although I did change the rules a bit. The challenge was to write a letter to a business praising an employee, but I couldn't think of anyone in particular, and I sort of did a similar thing a few weeks ago. Instead, I wrote an email to my younger sister, M.

Let me tell you a story about my younger sister, M. You may remember I was recently upset with my mother because I'd sent her an email telling her what was going on with Jester, and heard no reply after several days. Shortly after we sorted it out, and as I was instant-messaging with M, a bunch of flowers arrived at our door*.

"Some flowers just arrived," I typed.

"Who are they from?"

"They're from you guys. Cheers for that, hey**."

"Oh yeah, I think I heard our mother say something about flowers, now you mention it. I'll tell her you said cheers."

I then sat down and emailed a thankyou note to my mum. "Good, you got them," she replied. "I hope you like them. It was M's suggestion - she arranged it all."

And not only that. She visited me every day when I was in hospital with OHSS. She asks about our IVF at just the right intervals. She's looking after our beloved dog (who is still worryingly unwell) and arranging top veterinary care. She calms our mother, and encourages her to say and do the right things, at the right time. She also chatters incessantly, doesn't have a proper sense of my privacy, borrows my clothes and shoes without asking even if they don't fit her properly and returns them bent out of shape or not at all, ditto my CDs, and generally gets up my nose and on my goat***. But I left out those last bits in the email, having addressed them fruitlessly on many previous occasions.

I don't think I've ever truly realised how good she is to me, and I've certainly never told her. So M, as much as it pains me to break the family code by saying it, this deed's for you.

If you've completed your Good Deed Challenge, post it in the comments, or point us to your blog post about it.

*Yes, I am going for the Most Hyperlinks To Your Own Archives In One Post record.

**Statements like "cheers for that hey" are expressions of the highest order of gratitude in our family.

***Couldn't resist the mental image of having my sister, on a goat, up my nose.

At least you know you can get pregnant. You're not supposed to say it, and if you haven't been there I wouldn't even try, but it's true. Emotionally, of course, a miscarriage is kind of sucky*, but if you look at it strictly from a clinical perspective, the news is good. Because here's the thing: if you don't get pregnant, you can't have a baby**.

The corollary, of course, doesn't hold. Try it: if you get pregnant you can have a baby. It's ok, I'll wait til you've finished choking on your coffee, it's my fault, I should have warned you first. You see my point, though. Nothing's a guarantee, but the ability to get past that magic step is a start. That's one of the points MD*** made this morning, when I spoke to her. She also said we'd covered most bases with our testing already, it was great we'd found nothing wrong, and whilst they could certainly do other tests we were getting down to some real rarities and she didn't expect anything out of it.

And she said, which has improved my outlook immensely, that despite Jester's chromosomal normality, the problem is still most likely to be with the embryos. It seems I missed an important point somewhere. We've all heard that OHSS increases the rate of abnormal embryos, and I, for one, tend to think of abnormalities in terms of genetic problems. But an embryo can also have metabolic and developmental defects, and OHSS can produce these, too. Therefore, IVF/ICSI Mark II - now with 50% reduced FSH! - could make all the difference. Plus or minus heparin injections (not for its blood thinning action but for its immune modulating properties) depending on how we all feel about it on the day, because why not it shouldn't hurt.

"Does that make you feel better?" I asked Mr Bea.

"Well, does it make you feel better? Because I'm really only concerned about your feelings, having none of my own what with being so manly and in control," he replied, looking profoundly relieved. (I didn't mention his little outburst at the cafe the other day, his reluctance to address the subject late last week followed by his newfound sense of despair and pessimism over the weekend, the - whisper it - brief and uncharacteristic teariness... well you get the idea.)

The plan is to await the next cycle, monitor for ovulation using peesticks, and book a biopsy in Sydney with MD ten days after LH surge. Then, since I'm there anyway, she's going to order the usual panel of blood tests even though everything else will almost certainly be normal. Results will take a few weeks, which might be just in time to start stimming again from the very beginning.

It sounds like a very good place to start.

*There's no use trying to describe it properly.

**The pithiness factor was too low on: "If you don't get pregnant, you can't have a baby, except through adoption or surrogacy, obviously." I mean no disrespect.

***MD - for "Miscarriage Doctor" - is how I'm going to refer to the woman I had a telephone consult with this morning.

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