(Or: Seeing things through other people’s eyes)
We had a kind of exhausting weekend, full of the kind of social butterfly activities which remind you that you are too old for this shiz. I always thought of myself as the young one, mainly because all my friends were a few years to a lot of years older, and now I realise I really have no claim on that title given my advanced age and general overall desire to sleep.
On Friday night we went out for dinner with friends so we could celebrate Dog’s birthday in advance and hand him over for the weekend. It’s very comforting to have friends who are almost as crazy about Dog as we are! We went to a really nice pub and had a very civilised meal and Dog actually behaved… Although that was possibly more to do with the fact that he had four humans feeding him burger and fries under the table. Still, it was his birthday weekend so was good to be spoiled!
For the first time in this IVF round I had to do an off-site injection (where I bring all the injection paraphernalia with me). I was kind of keeping my eye on the clock and when it was due, I just headed off to the bathroom and injected my Menopur. Not too bad! Although obviously no sharps bins in pub bathrooms so I had to repackage the syringe and take it with me. Progress!
We were dropping Dog off with our friends as we were away for the weekend doing a birthday celebration overload. First of all we had T’s aunt’s 70th birthday party. This was about 2.5 hours away which meant we hired a car, which is exciting as we don’t have a car and meant we could pretend to be proper grown ups and whatnot. We had to be at a small village in the middle of nowhere by lunchtime on Saturday, and it being family and “old” people, we couldn’t be late.
Unfortunately for T, he happened to mention that it was sort of near-ish to an outlet shopping centre I really like, and he wondered if I would like to go en route… Is the pope a Catholic?! So we ended up taking a slight detour to the outlet and eyeing up all the merchandise. Fortunately for T, I am still on austerity until we buy the house, although I did have my eye on handbags in Coach and Kate Spade. I decided not to go for them given we are trying to get this house sorted, which means our bank accounts need to be nicely under control and it makes no sense to spend hundreds of pounds on handbags anyway. (But… They’re so pretty!) It was fun to walk about though and a pleasant detour ahead of a busy birthday weekend.
The 70th party was really nice. It was all of T’s extended family, some of whom I’d met before and some I hadn’t. I don’t know if this is a personal thing or an adoptee thing but for some reason I always find it fun to meet people’s families. I love big family get togethers. I guess maybe as we lived overseas when we were younger, we didn’t get to see our extended families very often so it sort of felt like a treat. Also, this is probably definitely an adoptee thing, but I find it fascinating when I meet people’s families and can see the family resemblances. It’s like… If you never had that yourself, it’s sort of mesmerising to see it with other people’s families.
It just so turns out that in T’s family, the family resemblance is really strong between the females. Firstly his mum and aunt look really similar. And then one of the aunt’s bio daughters looks the spitting image of them when they were younger. And it struck me that whilst there is probably far less focus on T himself having been adopted – because he’s white, adopted into a white family – it’s still visible that he doesn’t look “the spitting image” of his parents like his cousins do. It made me wonder how that made his mum feel when she looked at her nieces who looked so like her and her sister. It’s just one of those adoptee things that you wonder about.
In the end we had a fab time. They put on a great lunch party and everyone was really friendly, including those I hadn’t met before. I think you can sort of see where T’s kindness and friendliness comes from, as his family is very like that. Strangely it also reminded me of my ex’s family, who were sort of my surrogate family as we lived a lot closer to them than to my family. (It’s strange when people split up how you don’t just lose that relationship, but the entire extended family.)
Being slightly detached too it means that you are reminded how other people see things. Like people are still sort of interested (generally in a kindly way) that I don’t “look” British, and yet I speak “very good English”. Depending on the age of the person I’m usually more or less tolerant of comments like that. To be honest, I see people of my own race and I’m moderately surprised when they speak perfect English. I think it’s a sort of cognitive dissonance that you get as a transracial adoptee – you look one thing but you act like another.
Following that very genteel and civilised 70th birthday, we then had to drive another couple of hours to get to a surprise 30-something party. This was the one I was worried about as it was for T’s friend who I’ve never met! We’ve been together a good few years and I’ve met lots of his friends but this was for one from his hometown. When they meet up, it tends to be on boys’ nights out and so I just never met this bunch before. They were all 30-something couples and we surprised the birthday boy by turning up when he thought he was going for a night out with his wife.
The whole evening was weird for a number of reasons – not unenjoyable, but a bit strange. The first is that all the others knew each other. They were long time couples who were married with kids and so the mums knew each other as a result of the dads being old friends (of which T is one, but he moved away). It was sort of strange firstly because I wasn’t drinking, and everyone else was. T and I had discussed tactics and we thought I would order a drink but he would drink most of it and I could just take sips. (The things he does for love!) I think a lot of British culture depends on drinking, so it’s really weird not to drink, as social occasions revolve around it. Because of this, it’s easier just to order and drink and take a few sips than it is to not drink – as soon as you don’t drink, people start asking questions and I really don’t want to have to deal with questions about pregnancy when I’m going through IVF.
Secondly, as a result of going through IVF I think my hormones are probably all over the place. I actually didn’t mind the idea of having a drink or two (I’m in the stims phase) but I don’t think it mixes well with the meds. For the first week or so of stims I’ve had really bad headaches, and now I feel not that bad but the alcohol made me feel sick. We started off in a pub and then went for a meal (the type of meal people assume I like because of my ethnicity… I don’t like that sort of food at all, haha!) and I just sort of spent most of the evening feeling a low level of nausea. I was also very conscious of needing to remember to take my injection and the stress (mild!) of having to get away from the group and inject in the toilet (like a druggie!).
Thirdly, all of the people in the group – there were three other couples – were parents. And literally the main topic of conversation with the females was about children. They were sort of beside themselves at being on a night out because they don’t get to do it very often. So they wanted to get completely drunk and let their hair down, and they didn’t really have many other topics of conversation than their kids.
I guess I just felt a bit of an odd (wo)man out, not having kids and not really wanting to get drunk. Really I feel like I am past that stage – I like a drink or two, and I like going out for cocktails with my girlfriends or having wine with T over dinner, or going to the pub – but it’s not a big thing. Most nights I could do it if I wanted to – I just don’t want to. I have Dog to get home to, and I’m tired and old (!) and it just doesn’t seem the draw that it was in my twenties. And it always feels a bit weird if you are the sober one in among all the drinkers!
What I also found was that the men spoke to me a lot more than the women did. I think the women realised that I wasn’t in their gang and didn’t have kids, and I just think based on previous experience that men tend to be a bit less standoffish when deciding whether to be friendly or not. They weren’t unfriendly, the women – they were polite, and nice. But I could tell that we didn’t have many topics in common. At least one of them was a full time mum whereas I am a full time worker (for my dog!). So it was a bit weird I guess. They kept bringing up kids and asking the awkward questions (where they assume we don’t have kids because we don’t want them) and talking about whether they wanted any more, and I just thought wow, it must be nice to have the luxury of assuming you’ll be able to have another child if you want to.
The other thing is, I was the oldest out of all of them. And I probably started trying to have kids around the age that they had theirs… I just didn’t have any due to infertility. If everything had gone according to plan, I would have the two or three that they had. The youngest person there was early 30s and I’m late 30s. And the funny thing is, I really didn’t look like the oldest. T said “That’s what having kids does to you!” – I was sort of in shock! And the way that people moan on about kids, sometimes I do think that they possibly aren’t as great an addition as we think when we are going through fertility treatments!
It probably sounds like I’m being really negative but it wasn’t bad at all – it was fine. But I’d sort of rate it as less enjoyable than the family lunch – chances are, the only time I’d ever see them again would be if T and I got married. Or maybe they’d get more interested in me if I had a kid!
In the end, after a Sunday lunch with T’s parents we got home and we picked up Dog and it was his birthday. Every time I’m away from him I’m super excited to see him! It’s probably a bit pathetic but I really do miss him when he’s away. It always seems very quiet at night when he isn’t snoring his little head off!
The IVF update:
Stims: I’m finishing up Week 1 of stims with 250 of Menopur with the Buserelin down to 0.25. Over the week I have had a few headaches but they seem to be calming down. My boobs are now swelling up like gigantic humungaboobs, which T is very happy about. On the plus side they aren’t sore any more like they were during my period and down regulation, but they do make me feel self conscious and fat. It took me ages to find something to wear for the weekend parties as both my boobs and stomach are all swollen. My belly feels like it’s all swollen too, and I can sort of feel what I imagine to be my ovaries, but I feel generally better than I did earlier in the week.
Next scan: My first scan is on Wednesday instead of today (Monday) based on the fact that I was a slow responder last time and they think it would be pointless to scan me today. I don’t feel like I’m in any danger of OHSS as I have swollen up but I feel sort of okay. It actually worries me as it makes me think maybe I’m not responding to the stims. We will have to see on Wednesday.
Immune stuff: I’m still taking the supplements (baby aspirin, Omega 3, Pregnacare, Vitamin D) that Dr S recommended. Once they have an idea when my transfer will be, based on when egg collection is likely to be, he wants me to go get an intralipids infusion and also start heparin injections and prednisolone for the NK reaction. I won’t really have much of an idea until Wednesday as to whether my ovaries are responding. In the first scan I only had 6 + 3 follicles, which sounds a bit rubbish. I’m hoping there will be more than that.
Head stuff: Aside from the constant reminders of childlessness (which I’ve sort of gotten used to), I’m feeling generally okay. From memory, Gonal F seemed worse than Menopur is now, but it is probably a result of being very chilled out at work due to working my notice! I have some work to do for a guy I like working for, but there’s really not much pressure so it’s quite enjoyable. I’m due to start my new job in June which will mean more money and a bit of a change, which I think is positive!
IVF makes you think. I’ve already been pondering adoption stuff a lot, I suppose as a result of this process because you have to face up to the fact that you may never have a biological child. One of the things I’ve had to try and wrap my head around is the sheer number of people who seem to be pregnant, both at work and in my personal life. Not to mention blogspace where many of my fellow bloggers are now pregnant. I’m happy for them and it gives me hope that it will one day be me, but I still have days where I feel like everyone else is moving ahead whilst I’m still in the trenches. I have to keep reminding myself that infertility and loss is painful whether it’s 1 year or 3 (or in my case, over 10). But generally I’m sort of philosophical about it because there’s not much I can change about it.
T and I are getting on well and he is super supportive which is great. We talk a lot about our future child, who already has a name, and we’re also planning to move into our new place in the next month or so, which is really exciting. I thank my lucky stars every day that I have such a great partner – he is just the best human I’ve ever met, and I always feel happy that we don’t appear to be sick of each other so far! We have a vague Plan B if this doesn’t work, and we will probably try and focus on doing some nice things like getting the house nice and going on holiday before paying for a private cycle. I kind of think that I’ve lucked out with T and Dog and that maybe that is as much luck as anyone can have.
So hopefully this will be our lucky cycle, but otherwise, I keep reminding myself… Everything will be okay.