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Special Me; Bragging, Bravery and Doing Better

If one ever thinks the eight plus months it takes to complete a book is tough, then prepare yourself for the wake-up, being the first five weeks following its online launch.  It’s a wonderful feeling creating best IVF stories for children but I know I’m getting rather impatient towards moving onto the next project, and whilst they are not going anywhere for now, I’m not sure I was prepared for the time a book takes following its release.  This being said, I’m very proud of the project and I’mwilling to let the rest go, as the time right now, is all about Special Me – for IVF Families.

The past five weeks have been somewhat of a horse and cart ride; rather steady with lots of bumps.  The bumps tend to be worked through relatively fast, though I find I’m always unprepared and they take seem to take up a lot of time.  Then occasionally you’ll get a positive jolt from somewhere that’ll make it all worthwhile.  I’m going to take a moment and some bragging rights to write these down before I forget . . . memory of a mum now.

The biggest jolt for us to date came in the form of a Facebook review from the “Queen of Common Sense” famous author and educator Maggie Dent.

Some time back I bought her book “Building Children’s Resilience” online and since having kids, also enjoyed following her Facebook feed.  I’m not sure if I willed it into my universe or not, but it’ll go down as a career highlight as far as this project goes.  I’ve since learned she doesn’t give reviews away lightly – which makes it more precious.

Another jolt came from Mum,Blogger and Educator Kate Russell who I just so happened to get talking to one day at my kids swim class about nothing relating to IVF, and neither of us aware of each other’s secret professions, hers not so secret as I found out after that she’s famous around these parts, with good reason; she promotes peaceful parenting for kids to grow confidently.

She was 34 weeks pregnant and suffering placenta previa (as I had) and I was in shock that she was walking around taking her kids to swim lessons . . . I could say, under the circumstances of our chance meeting, she’s the peaceful to my crazy.  Either way, she graciously added it to her Facebook feed and list of resources for IVF parents.

In the past week a third jolt arrived in the form of Cath Hakanson, who just so happens to be an x-Charleville girl who asked if we’d like to be added to her books for children (hell yes!!).  Cath runs for parents wanting to better educate their kids about the subject matter – which I think is fantastic and a great business concept to dedicate your life too.  She’s also well versed on the subject matter, being a nurse, counsellor, clinician and author already.  Cath also highlighted the fact that we made it on another booklist, which I had to admit as a first time author of such, I was not aware.

This would make our fourth jolt; landing on the reading and resource list of USA librarian and blogger Ms Patricia MSarles  who I’ve since thanked.  Turns out she likes our book.  Whilst I don’t get hung up on personal opinions of the book it feels pretty awesome when a librarian dedicated to such books, likes your book!

Special Me – for IVF Families,has made its way out, now available at the Toowoomba Library and a number of supporting organisations locally; Qld Fertility Clinic, Cosmetic Elegance Clinic, Women’s Health Only Clinic, Saint Vincent’s Hospital Toowoomba to name a few;copies we gifted for their role in taking care of my little people.

We’ve been asked when it’s going to be available elsewhere, but I still can’t give any answers on that, other than there is a request in the hands of the Queensland Health Minister.

We’ve also had a couple of interviews in the past weeks, the first with Toowoomba Chronicle Newspaper that made Saturday’s edition, Page 19 .

The second was an interview by ABC Radio Tropical with Tegan Philpott giving us 10 minutes on her “Mornings” show.

We were grateful for their time and they are good at what they do, and it is certainly not a criticism, but as we’ve found interviews seem more directed at the personal story than the actual book itself.  I don’t think this was ever the intention for Joy Holt and I, but given we are proud of the project, it’s gone beyond trying to keep the two separate.

In the interviews there has been on occasion a couple of questions that I’ve been asked by reporters, and none of which I feel I’ve answered or been edited adequately.

“Do you think there needs to be such a book for IVF parents; that kids need to be told?”

I blundered through this question relating to some negativity that I had heard and experienced, and that is readily available online and in social stigma; not saying what I really wanted to say.

What I really wanted to say is I’m not about to tell another parent what they should do, or how they should raise their own kids.  Our book is something beautiful that we created and I think it has the potential to help people, beyond itself.  But I’ll leave that to the individual to decide.If you are chasing a book for your IVF child, as you want them to be safely introduced and proud of how they came about- then our book is for you.

I also wanted to make the point that where there is an element of embarrassment or shame or failing felt by people relatable to IVF, than we need to cast it aside and be proud of our IVF journeys – whatever the outcome.  Fruitless words I know, for someone facing their tenth unsuccessful round.  But you are going after what you want in life, at a huge cost to every element of your existence – that’s called being brave!  Don’t forget that!The outcome doesn’t change the fact.  We try, we fail, we get back up. We humans!

Lastly in my own experience, I think that having kidswhilst scares the life out of you, also makes you a new type of brave.  Parents always want better for their kids; confidence, resilience, freedom and love – most of all you want them to enjoy being a kid.  This takes bravery in various forms and some honesty.I think if you are experiencing any negative emotion about where or how your IVF kid/s came about, then you owe it to them andyourself, to cast it aside and embrace the beauty and reality that is what you went through to achieve them.  So when the time comes and they ask, you can be honest, free and proud in telling them.  They deserve that; they deserve better.

The last page of “Special Me” sums it up I think “I’m happy and proud to be part of the team known as an In Vitro (IVF) Family”. Absolutely!

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Expletives, IVF, Needles, Justice & Equality

“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do – it comes from overcoming the things you once thought you never could” – unknown

I was physically shaking.  Now, aside from my howling session in the nurse’s office prior, I would consider myself to be a pretty tough Aussie shiela.  I may have written an IVF baby memory book but I’ve also worked some long hard hours in diverse environments, I’ve endured physical labor in tough climates, I’ve given blood, I’ve been hospitalized with broken limbs, and various other injuries; stitches, and medical procedures.  I’ve killed livestock for consumption, I’ve even lived in a flat next to a triple murder, and also in a hut invaded with spiders and rodents.  Of my own account; I ain’t no pussy!  However, then there is the self-administering of the IVF needles . . .

{Extract; Persistence, Patience & Potty Mouths by Tara Mitchell}

I took the needle cap off, over inspecting these utensils that should not be seen anywhere else other than a hospital, or so I thought.  The nurse had explained it well, but it was different when left to one’s own devices, and actually doing it yourself.  Especially in this moment, looking down on that evidently sharp syringe that you are required to stab into your guts!

It didn’t help that I was also constantly double guessing myself.  Basically stuffing around and making myself more anxious.  I attached the syringe to the device, which was approximately two centimeters.  Check – I didn’t faint!  It is here my potty mouth went full throttle “Oh {EXPLETIVE} this”.  Swearing is an awesome relaxant, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, just try and keep in indoors and out of range of young ears.

I set the needle to the prescription dosage (450) and set the dose as the instructions stated and with another relaxing “be {EXPLETIVE}”!  We were along way from any neighborly earshot.  I stood up, pinched some luscious flab below the belly button, took a deep breath and slowly inserted the syringe into my flesh, swearing the syringe had grown three centimeters since I’d first attached it to the device.  With one eye open, I commenced applying pressure to the end of the needle, counting to ten seconds until finally the full dose in the needle clicked complete.

A moment later, relief.  It was a piece of cake and rather painless after all. “Okay – I can do this shit” was my worldly affirmation.

It is fair to mention the “ball and chain” as I like to refer to him, was extremely supportive whilst all this was going on.  We were down a vehicle, and mine was getting fixed.  So he was hurrying me to “get in the bloody car”.  Lucky I didn’t stab him!  But yes relatively supportive . . . well that was the case, at least until the needles came out of the bag.  At this point his reaction went from impatient man harassing wife (nothing new) to shock, horror and complete supportive male ignoramus.

When his eyes first took view of the needles about to go into my flesh, you could see the blood drain from his complexion and nothing by fear on his face.   His words reaffirmed his emotions with this exact expression “Oh {EXPLETIVE} that! . . . Oh love you are so brave . . . I’m just going out (hesitation) out here – I can’t watch that” . . . and the rest of the conversation was lost as he faded off into the distance, as fast as he could get away, not to breath a word again until I surfaced from the hut.

Years later, the “ball and chain” would participate in a fundraiser for Bravehearts Organisation; who fight & educate against child sexual assault; a justice and charity organisation that fights for the safety of kids, when governments and legal systems fail them.  Bravehearts aim is to make Australia the safest place in the world to raise a child.

Part of the fundraiser was to complete the Kokoda Trek; 96kms in 96 hours, led by experienced Kokoda man Brian Freeman.  The team completed the trek successfully coming in around 85 hours, raising more than anticipated for the Bravehearts cause, and having a hard but rewarding experience.

Part of the requirement of the trip prior to take-off was getting the relevant needles for the Papua New Guinea environment.  To this day, the “ball and chain” refers to the day of his needles as “worse than child birth”.  It is since this day I am fairly certain I now know why god or universe made women the child bearers.

That was until about a week ago, when my education on the topic expanded.  I was talking to a lovely bank lender and we got chatting about “Special Me – for IVF Families” and my friendly lender just so happens to be an IVF mum too – fantastic!

But the awakening joy of this story actually comes in the form of a four letter word PESA!  And also possibly referred to, I believe as TESA!  I was not aware of this procedure previously but it is quite common in IVF given 40% of IVF cases are as a result of male infertility, and if you haven’t heard of PESA/TESA before, than I’d be honored if you would let me give you a visual . . .

A PESA/TESA is when one extracts the sperm (yes of a male!) using a needle direct from – and into the testicle! . . . YES!   There is justice in the world!  And that there is what I like to now call IVF equality my friends!