by DONNA DUNN
Like a lot of other Australian women I too am on the IVF bandwagon in the eternal quest to have a baby.
During this time I have been offered loads of tips, tricks, advice about what we should and shouldn’t be doing. I get that it is a sensitive issue and a lot of people don’t really understand what IVF is.
Often they are genuinely just trying to say, well, something, anything, in response to a very awkward conversation.
So I take this ‘advice’ with a large grain of salt and try to keep my sense of humour intact. Occasionally it does wear thin but mostly my husband and I just have a good chuckle and roll our eyes.
Here are some of the most common corkers we’ve heard over the last 12 months:
1.” You can always get a dog.” Awesome! Up until now we had been thinking we wouldn’t ever be able to get a dog, but now that we’re infertile we qualify as pet owners. You’re right a silky terrier is just the same as a baby. And like you say they are heaps easier to look after. And cheaper too. Problem solved!
2. Just adopt a baby from Ethiopia - a little black baby would be so cute! Yes, I will just ring the adoption agency right now and put an order in. Should be here next week. Maybe Angelina and I could be pen-pals. I’ll probably even call it Pax or Knox or something else that ends in X that makes me sound like a celebrity.
3. You just need to relax. Really? That’s where I’ve been going wrong. You’re right IVF is such a calming, relaxing experience. If only I had relaxed sooner I would have seven kids by now.
4. When you stop trying, it will happen. Um, actually when I stop trying NOTHING will happen, hence why I’m in this predicament. But thanks for your expert opinion.
5. My best friend’s uncle’s sister did IVF for seven years. Then she stopped and got pregnant naturally. That is lovely, but I, and everyone else with infertility issues are not the same as your best friend’s uncle’s sister. Nor do I have the time or money to go at it for seven years then stop so I can miraculously get pregnant naturally like your best friends uncle’s sister.
6. I don’t really get what IVF is anyway. (Cue shoulder shrug) Well if you’re any kind of friend would it kill you to a) ask what’s involved or b) cheat and Google it. How can you support someone if you can’t be bothered finding out what it is?
7. Wow, your boobs look massive, bet your husband is loving it. Yes they are. Massive. And they hurt. A lot. When you’re pumping yourself with daily injections of hormones and steroids then yes things are going to get big. So big that when you go to buy bigger bras it results in a melt down in the change rooms at Myer when the Berlei lady says, ‘We don’t have anything in that size, darl. What about we get you in a maternity bra?’ And I can assure you that even if my husband was “loving” them, he would be doing so from afar and in silence knowing that he risks death by firing squad if he were to express his “loving” of them.
8. You should be thankful for those big boobs, people pay ten grand for a set of those. This is normally said when you dare lament at your super-sized hormone induced udders. But you’re right, I should be so thankful, because like you say I am saving myself ten grand on a new set of boobs. Think of the savings, ladies!
9. You guys must be having so much sex, hubby would be loving that. Actually we’re not. Well not since Jesus was a small boy. You see had you bothered to find out what IVF is you would realise sex doesn’t actually come into the equation. Whilst my husband is having some ‘gentleman’s time’ in the store room of the fertility clinic with some 70’s porn mags (hair was big back then), I am in hospital next door having a very long needle inserted into my vagina. This needle will puncture my ovaries to try and retrieve some eggs. If the good doctor gets any eggs they are rushed over to consummate passionately in a Petri dish with my husband’s 70’s porn induced sample. So yeah, that is the extent of the sex in this household.
10. Have you tried drinking this special tea? Listen love, if I’m dropping ten grand per cycle of IVF, you can bet your bottom dollar I have tried every special tea, every herb, every acupuncturist, every diet, every positive affirmation and every other ridiculous miracle product available that promises you a baby at the end. Admittedly the powdered Patagonian tooth fish broth imported from Peru was probably going a bit too far…. but you name it and of course I’ve bloody tried it. That’s how I got to this point – the last chance dance that is IVF.
11. If you don’t have kids think of all the awesome holidays you’ll be able to go on. I’m a silly billy! I didn’t realise that once you have kids all ‘awesome’ holidays got cancelled and you have to stay at home and rot in a dungeon with your crying babies forever. I’ve been on many ‘awesome’ holidays. But I would much rather have children. Oh, and by the time I finish IVF there will be zero dollars left to go on said “awesome’ childless holidays anyway. Unless pitching a tent in your parents backyard with two minute noodles counts?
12. My husband just has to look at me and I fall pregnant.Fantastic, maybe I should invite him around so he can look at me and I too shall magically fall pregnant. Seriously how is that comment supposed to make me feel about my situation? Oh, and P.S. Maybe you should whack a blindfold on your husband occasionally.
13. Be careful, you could turn into Octo-mum. Thank you for comparing my situation to a Jerry Springer guest but the chances of that happening are virtually impossible. See, had you bothered to find out what IVF is you would realise that the transfer of numerous embryos is not only ridiculous, but more importantly not practiced here Australia. Yes, I’m desperate, but not stupid.
14. I’ve got a feeling it’s going to work out this time. Phew! It’s finally going to work because you’ve got a ‘feeling.’ Was it the same ‘feeling’ you had the last four cycles? Mmmmm and how did they turn out? I rest my case.
I know people only mean well and their intent isn’t malicious – it is truly a tricky subject to talk about. My suggestion? Talk about it. If you are sharing the fact that you are doing IVF with someone then tell them what it actually involves so their ‘helpful advice’ is kept to a minimum.
I am the only female working in an office with big burly men who blush and run a mile with regard to ‘ladytalk.’ But I found that once I was upfront about it and told them exactly what was involved and why I behaved like a mad woman occasionally, they were great and very understanding and supportive.
Once they had an idea of what I was going through – the stress, hormones, tears, fears, anxious waits, increasing girth and general nuttiness it made it so much easier. Now we joke about it and it’s not an awkward taboo subject.
Some of my colleagues can even talk the IVF lingo now. They understand how the cycles roll and why some weeks I will be crying in the corner with a packet of TimTams and other weeks I will be “just relaxing” – because that’s apparently all you need to do to get pregnant, remember??
Donna is a 32 year old detective in the NSWP. She lives in Byron Bay with her husband of six years, Kurt. She has literally had a gutful of injections.