I awoke, that sunny morning, and had my breakfast. I kissed Mr Bea on the cheek, asked him if he'd be home when I returned from my blood test, and when he said no, I asked casually if he'd like to meet for lunch, in the gardens, in the city. Yes, he said, that sounded nice. And he kissed me back, and I left.

On my way home from town, I gathered a few things. Fresh scones. A little jar of fig jam and some thickened cream. Shaved champaign ham, fresh croissants, some sort of exotically-flavoured juice to wash it all down. At the last minute I added a rocket leaf salad and a couple of cheese-stuffed peppers in olive oil.

By the time I came home and packed it into the picnic basket, the results were in. A nice high beta.

Filled with the boldness of our achievement, I took a sports bag into which I smuggled the dog for the duration of the train ride. It felt like a family occasion, after all.

I remember the river - it sparkled. And the dog sitting angelically on the edge of the picnic mat, patiently waiting for her treat. I remember the look on Mr Bea's face when I told him the news, and how it echoed that look he gave me at the altar, almost exactly seven years ago, just before we kissed as husband and wife. Even the simple rememberance of that look melts my heart away.

It was the most perfect day of all.

The most perfect of all the days that never happened. And never will.

In the archive of my mind, I wipe a few tears and shelve volume 29. And then I leave, locking the wire cage door. Because the time for nostalgic indulgences has once again passed by, and there is work to do.

I've been
Catheterised, cannularised,
Overhyperstimulated and hospitalised,
Then paracentesised
And I want to
Do it again,
I like it.

I've shed blood
Mucous and tears,
Delivered cum,
And spread my legs
Entered by unyielding apparatuses
And I beg you to
Shit on me again
It's fun.

I've gained,
Loved, lost
First lonely,
Now alone
And still with more to lose
Come get it -
Take it from me,
I dare you.

Don't finish with me yet
I'm stripped
And naked
But there's still my flesh
My eyeballs
And my soul
And when you think it's over
Watch me bending,
"Please sir,
Please, I want another."

Last Friday, the 18th of August, I went to bed having spent the day weeping on the shoulder of my good friend, N. And I thought I would sleep until morning. But I didn't. Uncanny Intuition woke me sometime around two, and I couldn't get back to sleep.

Because I knew.

I knew I was pregnant.

Logical Bea was the first gainsayer. "Where are our symptoms? What of the bleeding? And that terrible embryo? How can you possibly think we're pregnant when even our specialist doubts this cycle will work?"

"But," explained Intuition gazing, starstruck, at the universe on the back of her eyelids, "it's not that I think. It's that I know."

"It doesn't make sense!"

But Intuition just opened her eyes languidly, and fixed them on Logical in a way that bestowed silence.

Anxiously Superstitious Bea was the next to weigh in. "You're not going to tell anyone, though, are you?" she wanted to know. "I mean, Mr Bea would probably actually believe you, bless his little heart, and as for your blogfriends... why, I think it's one of the ten commandments of infertility blogging! Thou shalt not compare a fellow blogger's pain to thyne own... Thou shalt not announce that you think you're pregnant until one hundred percent sure, or at least until you've pissed on a stick and maybe racked up a list of symptoms. Etcetera. And verily, it was said."

"Besides, I'm a little concerned about your thought processes," Inner Therapist interjected. "I mean, doesn't it all smack a little too much of the fairytale ending? 'Facing a hysteroscopy and curettage, the prospect of tests for untreatable conditions, and her husband's relocation to Singapore in less than four weeks, Bea overcomes the incredible odds of a low-quality three-cell embryo and a luteal phase spent spotting and cramping in a way that squashes the optimism of even the sunniest fertility specialist to achieve that elusive, ongoing, healthy pregnancy to which she and Mr Bea have so long aspired.' I mean, I can see how that might work for Batman..."

"We just don't think it's good for you to be thinking like this," Maternal Instinct said gently, rubbing Intuition on the shoulders. "We just don't want you to get hurt."

"That's what you always say. All of you." And when Hopeful Bea stepped forward from the shadows, everyone saw the tears on her cheek. "I know you hate me sometimes. You hate my sunny voice, and my rousing singalongs. You hate my smiling face and my refusal to see Logical's point of view. You've all thought it. You've all asked yourselves why I stick around. Why I don't just go away. Because, you say, at the end of the day, all I cause is hurt.

"But it's never been my fault. We're hurting anyway - this shit. And now Intuition has brought us this crazy, beautiful dream, which doesn't make sense, and sounds exactly like a fairytale, but I'm going to believe her anyway, because if you do - if you can, just for a moment - try it. The hurt all goes away."

And they paused, and there was the gentle atmosphere of happiness. In the morning, Uncanny Intuition was gone, but she left a sense of peace.

Then, on Sunday the 20th of August, she returned. "We're not pregnant anymore," she announced in a loud, etherial voice. There was a stunned silence. Everyone turned to Hopeful, but Hopeful slunk away. And Maternal Instinct started to gently sob.

But there was nothing to do but sit. And wait. And sit and wait.

Today, the 22nd of August, the clinic sides with Uncanny Intuition. I was pregnant, but that pregnancy is fading fast. They'll double-check on Thursday, but nurse says she doesn't want to give me hope, when really there is none.

"It's a long way, from here to baby!
It's a long way, to go....

"Bea! Do come in! We're having a singalong!"

"Hey Hopeful, guys. A singalong? Really?"

"Yes! Absolutely! You know - something to keep our spirits up in the trenches! It's all terribly, terribly rousing!"

"I'm roused. Do I not look roused? I am, though."

"First we sung 'When Baby Comes Marching Home To Us, Hurrah! Hurrah!' then 'Pack Up Your Memories of Failure and Pain, Your Hatred of Life, and Your Uncertainty Regarding the Future In Your Old Kit Bag And Smile, Smile, Smile'! Although we couldn't quite get that one to work..."

"Well, I can see you're having fun."

"Oh, Bea! We're having just the jolliest of times!"

"Well that's great, Hopeful. Don't let me disturb you at all."

"I do hope you'll join in, Bea! Everybody - from the top, now!

"It's a long way, from here to baby!
It's a long way, to go....
It's a long way from here to baby -
But we'll get there, I know!
Goodbye, trouble-free conception!
Farewell making plans!
It's a long, long way from here to baby
But get there? Yes we can!"

There is something wrong with me.
But they don't know what.

Dr flips backwards and forwards through my paperwork with a worried frown slapped across his face, until eventually his expression crumples under the strain and he rubs his eyes and temples in frustration.

Blood tests this morning, more jabs, and he says he wants to book me for a hysteroscopy and/or curette before the next transfer. He also wants to run more tests on Mr Bea's sperm. Yes, more than 30% of our embryos should be making it through the thaw. He's stopped talking about our "family in the freezer" and has begun alluding to our next EPU.

Then there is an awkward pause, and he adds, almost guiltily, "Unless this round works, of course."

Of course.

But his words lack the force of belief.

*Update Ends*
I need to write some things down. Feedback is welcome.

Item One

Eleven days til beta, and it looks like I'm getting my period. That's right - 5 days post 3 day transfer. This happened last time. Yes, I've tried to call the clinic - no-one is in at this time on a Sunday. If I leave it alone, the progesterone/hCG injections will keep things down to a light spotting for the next eleven days, and then we'll get our negative. I don't have time for this shit. I am going in tomorrow.

These embryos - crappy and excellent alike - are not even getting a chance. What's wrong with me?

Item Two

Yesterday was the official opening of the Adoption Talks. Mr Bea thinks we're being premature, but the fact is we're planning a move to Singapore. We currently live in the anti-adoption capital of the world. Expressions of interest open intermittently each few years, and from there it takes another three or so years for baby to arrive - providing you go with the faster inter-country option. Couples have been told (I read it in the newspaper) by the relevant state department, that if they're serious about adoption they should consider relocating outside Queensland.

We're moving to Singapore. There we have the opportunity to adopt within 6-12 months. I have announced my resolution to return home (to live, visits don't count) with a child. One way or the other.

Item Three

Mr Bea has just started trying to work through the ethical issues associated with adoption. In contrast to his opinion of eight months ago, he no longer sees this as "option two" above sperm donation. He talks about his sperm quality in tones of acceptance. It's beautiful.

I don't expect to commence any adoption procedings until at least 2008. Talks about embryo/sperm donation are scheduled, but have not yet begun.

Item Four

We ended with another game of hypotheticals. I asked Mr Bea if he'd donate his sperm. He said yes immediately, in a tone which suggested he hadn't thought very seriously about it because he wasn't really expecting anyone to ask.

But the fact is, he does have sperm. And donors are so rare, people are using IVF anyway. Ok, so you'd have to add ISCI, and there's the whole issue of passing on male infertility. On the other hand, he has many outstanding qualities, and a clean medical bill otherwise. Heck, I find his sperm not only acceptable, but actually desirable.

The hypothetical finished there, unresolved. I'd given myself a hCG injection and fell asleep pretty much mid-sentence on the couch. When I woke up, I was bleeding, and I couldn't contact the clinic.

But then I read Richard's latest post and the question re-emerged... is an infertile donor better than none? Or not?

Hypothetically speaking?

It's the start of The Crazy.

Here's how it goes...

Inside my head, I am putting my feet up. All of me. There's Logical Bea, and Inner Therapist Bea, and Bea The Tiny Child Who Just Can't Take Things On The Chin, and - well, you get the idea. We're knitting, or dozing, or reading, or just plain staring into the fire. After all, the work's done now. Nothing to do but wait.

Then, all of a sudden, there's Bitchface.

"Move," she says, going over to Hopeful Bea, who is snuggling with the dog.

"I don't see why she should have to," says Inner Therapist. "She's been sitting there for a while now."

"Yeah, I know. I'm not sure why," Bitchface says icily, and stares Hopeful hard in the face til she bursts into tears and runs from the room.

"Why don't you run after her?" she asks Maternal Bea, pointedly nonchalant and settling herself in.

"Now look here, young lady-" Maternal begins, but Bitchface cuts her off.

"Where's Logical Bea?" she demands, looking around. There is a brief pause with much looking backwards and forwards whilst Logical tries to disappear behind a book. "There you are. You're with me, aren't you?"

"Well, er... it's um..."

"Of course you are! Our best embryo this time is our worst embryo yet. It's worse than the one they said was too crappy to worry about in the first transfer. The nurses were biting their tongues to keep from spitting out a cheery, 'See you next time!' as we walked out along the corridor.

"And as for her!" Bitchface swings to glare at Hopeful, who is timidly trying to re-enter the room. "Little Miss 'I'm not going to buy feminine hygiene products - no!' I saw everyone gather round, cheering, 'Good for you!' when the reality is we'll have a full two days' warning between pessaries and period. Oh yeah - that's bravery! We stare menstruation in the face and laugh! You're all pathetic."

"That's enough!" Inner Therapist stands to her full height.

"I knew we hadn't heard the last from you. What will you do? Mount an intervention?"

Inner Therapist and Maternal Instinct exchange the briefest of looks before springing into simultaneous action. There's a flurry of arms and legs, and Bitchface is hurled bodily from the room. They drag Hopeful inside and slam shut the door.

There is silence.

"I didn't know you could do kung fu," ventures Bea The Tiny Child Who Just Can't Take Things On The Chin.

"Well, I guess we've got tough," says Therapist.

Everyone stands, awkward. Logical clears her throat, and hesitates.

"Well, what is it?" asks Maternal.

"Oh, nothing. Just... well, she wasn't entirely wrong about everything."

"Come now," says Therapist. "I know you can do better than that. Work on it."

"Yes, absolutely. What about that definition of best I came up with?"


So, gradually, we return to our previous occupations.

And we all pretend we can't hear the scratching and the sniggering at the door.

And no-one looks at anyone else when the voice comes through the keyhole.

"I know you can still hear me..."


Bedtime now, sweet.

But I want a story.

What about the three little pigs?

No - you know which story.

Again? Alright then.

Once upon a time there were lots of little embryos. There were big ones and strong ones, fat ones and fast ones, and embryos so beautiful everyone in the lab would stop and swoon as they went by under the microscope.

And they all had one dream. To become a beautiful, healthy baby who would be loved and cherished by doting parents.

You mean you and Daddy.

Yes, I mean me and Daddy. Anyway. The time for transfer would come around, and all the embryos would hold their breath, waiting to see who would be chosen and who would be left behind. And the scientists would look carefully, and they would say, "Let's choose this one - it has the most cells," or, "Let's choose this one - see how plump and symmetrical it is?" And they would choose one and thaw it out.

But even though these embryos were bigger, and faster, and stronger, and more beautiful, they didn't survive. They would die in the thaw, or shortly afterwards. And Mummy and Daddy would cry, but the other embryos would be both sad and happy - sad for their brothers and sisters, but happy their turn was coming closer.

Then, one day... well, guess what happened.

The scientist picked me!

Yes, he picked you. And as they transferred you, the specialist looked at me, and his brow was furrowed, and he seemed sad. "It's not the best embryo," he said.

But do you know what?


He was wrong. Because best doesn't mean faster, or smarter, or stronger, or better looking. In fact, sometimes best simply means being the one who made it in the end.

So that's the end. You're the best, sweet. Goodnight now.

Night night.

***Note for people subscribed to this feed***
This is an update of an old post, to clarify a few things for googlers. Feel free to just skip it!

Ok, well. First of all - at some point I urge you to scroll down and read "For Your Thirteenth" - the post I wrote last night and popped up this morning just before Everything happened. I spent a bit of time on it. It's a shame to see it severely overshadowed.

Now - on with the overshadowing.

Let me say from the outset, I think it's absolutely great that Mr Bea has won his dream job in Singapore (which, for those catching up, starts in one month). Also, having had complete veto, should I have wished to exercise it, over his decision to apply, I do not resent the latest turn of events in the slightest. Ok, well, the infertility I still resent. No control, see? Not my decision, that one.

Like I keep saying: the job is perfectly timed. It's just the family-starting bit that's gone out of whack*.

So this is in no way a post bemoaning anything, or anyone. Except maybe the infertility (keep coming back to that, don't I?) This is a post about solutions**.

Give me solutions, people.

QUESTION: What the hell am I going to do?


1. Move to Singapore, get a job. Discontinue IVF. Slit wrists and/or die old, alone and bitter.

2. Move to Singapore, get a job. Continue IVF in Australia. Get fired from job for having to take off at short notice for long periods. Slit wrists and/or die old, alone and bitter.

3. Move to Singapore, get a job. Sell kidney to do IVF through Singapore clinic without insurance coverage. Go through stim cycle again even through I was hospitalised for ten days last time with the worst case of OHSS my FS has had in over 20 years of being a FS, plus I have a family history of breast cancer and damn but those drugs are not good for that***. Get fired from job for having to take off at short notice. Succumb to feelings of guilt and despair at having abandoned frozen embryos. Slit wrists and/or die old, alone and bitter.

4. Move to Singapore, become lady of "leisure"****. Sell kidney to do IVF in Singapore and/or fly to and fro to Australia to do IVF. Get depressed at having nothing in my life, including family and friends, except failing to conceive whilst draining my bank account/surplus organ supply. Slit wrists and/or die old, alone and bitter.

5. Move to Singapore, get a job. Discontinue IVF, commence adoption with dodgy for-profit agencies who trade babies for around 30k apiece. Battle with personal issues including premature moving on from idea of having pregnancy and/or biological child, and ethical issues such as... well, baby trading for profit*****. Lose battle, slit wrists and/or die old, alone and bitter.

6. Don't move to Singapore. Continue IVF and current job. Have personal and/or marital crisis due to absence of Mr Bea, slit wrists and/or die old, alone and bitter.

7. Guys? There must be something I haven't thought of. Doesn't matter if it's a bad idea - this is a brainstorming session - just give me any old idea/question/comment you have.

Also - and thanks for reading this far, really - how easy is it to rent a dog-friendly place in Singapore? Anyone know? Because I am not leaving my dog in Oz on top of everything. Unless I'm out of kidneys by then.

*Actually, I usually say, "Fucked Up," except in front of my parents.

**Plus or minus a little bit of support - your call. But my bed, fully prepared to lie in it, etc. I guess the Singapore thing adds complications, but it's hard to believe anything could add pain.

***There is NO scientific link between breast cancer and IVF. In fact, your risk is lower if you fall pregnant through IVF, compared to not falling pregnant at all (either by choice or after infertility). And most people in any of those groups don't get breast cancer anyway. Just wanted to reassure my fellow fertility-challenged friends that no-one here is giving themselves breast cancer and that's not what I meant.

However, it is my personal opinion and you should note here that I'm not a doctor - that if I'm at risk for breast cancer I should avoid unecessarily pumping myself full of hormones. I mean - that just seems like common sense, right? So. Not keen to stim again when frozen embryos available.

****Well, IVF is kind of fun.

*****Please note I do not have a problem with adoption. I do have a problem with baby trading. Plus I'm not sure we're ready. Also, I've noticed I'm getting a few hits for "adoption in singapore" and suchlike, so I wanted to point out my baby-trading comments were made in a fit of confusion and panic. I have been assured by many that Singaporean adoption practices are just fine. In fact, Australia will automatically recognise adoptions legalised in Singapore, since the ethical standards are up to scratch.

Well, as you all know today is X's 13th birthday, although I should say it was two days ago, but that was a Thursday and not really a good day for a party, but anyway today is the celebration of X's thirteenth, and insofar as you can ever mark the passage of one life stage to another, well, that time might as well be now. X - so far you have been a child. Now you are coming of age. You are an adolescent. And for making it this far - congratulations. Although it was a pretty close-run thing last week I can tell you, but that's another story.

Now, way back before you were born, I learnt a very important lesson about parenthood, and it's this: I can't make my children turn out the way I want.

I learnt that lesson through all the embryos we lost before X came into our lives. I wanted each and every one of them to develop into healthy, lively babies, but they didn't. They just didn't. No-one could explain why.

Eventually, there was X. Now, you can call it fate. You can call it God's Will. You can call it the collective wills of all the individuals involved, working, miraculously enough, towards a common goal. I mean, I don't really care what you call it, I'm just glad we got this far. And I'm glad that X has turned out to be everything I hoped for, more or less. Just kidding - you're perfect, of course.

But, although I'd like to take as much credit as I can, I know I haven't made it happen, and I know I can't make things happen from here on in, either. So when you're throwing your teenage tantrum and talking about how I'm ruining your life by not letting you "be your own person" I want you to remember this, X. Mummy knows she can't make you turn out the way she wants. She does.

But here's the bad news. That's never stopped me doing everything I can. And I will keep doing everything I can to help you be the person I always wanted you to be.

So what's that person like? Well, that person is healthy and takes good care of themselves. They are kind, and thoughtful, and patient. Adventurous, yet prudent. Full of a sense of life's possibilities, and a willingness to go beyond the everyday to expand those possibilities. That person is prepared to work hard to achieve great goals, able to face setbacks and keep going, or make tactical retreats where necessary, but come back with renewed vigor along a different path. That person is not only knowledgable, but also capable of wisdom and imagination. Able to keep believing, beyond the point where others have lost their hope. And the desire to become that person - well, that's the gift I want to give today. Although we also got you a new bike.

X, at some point it's up to you. We can't make you become anything. But we'll be here. We'll be here doing everything we can.

I've been here before, in this secret little garden. I remember this tree, and its cool, stone bench. It's lovely, the way the ivy creeps shyly over that wall whilst the moss meditates patiently in the damp under my feet. And ah, yes - the sunlight. Dappled, discrete. Shining though the canopy of leaves and branches. Quiet. Draped in peaceful neglect.

("You've done this before, haven't you?" she says, and hands me my drugs without explanation. Am I a veteran so soon? I thought there'd be a tickertape parade, or at least an earnest ceremony attended by non-functional dignitaries.)

Soon, I will dawdle down the path. My feet will move slowly; my body spilling through space like refridgerated honey. There's no going faster here. Something about the air. At least I think I know how to avoid the nettles now, though I can still absent-mindedly forget.

I know they will be there. Right near the deadly nightshade. Maybe I will kick a piece of lichen-soaked wood from my path, as I make my way towards the stream.

There the field opens out, and I will squint into the shadows, trying to identify the shapes. Somewhere there is a bridge, and as I find it and mount it, I will drop a small twig into the water. I know the stream will look the same, but have I really crossed it twice? Perhaps I will reflect for a moment on the nature of time. But I think it more likely I'll watch, vacantly, as my twig is carried out of sight. Then I will move on.

Next will come the part where I always lose my way. I think I know what I'll be looking for - I'm sure I glimpsed it once. There are tales of rare flowers which grow from cacti. But the one I saw was withering away. It should have been beautiful, but it wasn't. And then it was gone. Will I find that part of the garden again, or will I get sidetracked, as usual, onto the grey, dirty street?

(The come-down's the worst. Bruised and abused, my body submits gladly to the synthetic hormones - flesh and mind bowing meakly, thankful for mercy. They have lost the desire to control their own destiny. When the tyrant withdraws, they are abandoned and without direction.)

Before long, I will near the end of the garden. I will strain to hear the noises of traffic. Is that a shout? Or a sparrow? My ears playing tricks? I will cast about for a signpost; a track through the undergrowth; a sequence of bent grass showing the passage of feet. Anyone who can tell me where I have taken myself.

At some point I will reach it. The door. It's heavy, and the bottom is always stuck in the mud, but I'll heave it gratefully towards me and step through.

To where? I don't know. A rare oasis? Or an ocean of grief, whose waves dash themselves melodramatically onto the shore, before retreating, spent, with a whisper: "Next time... next time..."? For now, I'm finding it hard to care.

For now, all I can think about is my secret garden. So I breathe the dappled sunlight and wait quietly on the cool, stone bench.

FET#3 is scheduled for Tuesday. We have been using a different protocol, involving more injections and blood tests than ever before. So far, so good. Eighteen days, I guess, til we know if it's all been worthwhile.

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