Sunday, March 29, 2009

Rounding up March

Ola happy people, happy clock changing day :-). For those of us in the UK this that this morning we had 1 less hour to sleep in this morning, but a little more light to enjoy at the end of the day. If, like us, you have small children, this can be a bit tricky (one of the boys has been lying moaning in his bed for about 30 minutes because he doesn't want to sleep). Anyway, roll on spring and summer, let's hope that this year it is a decent one!

March has been a fairly satisfying month all round. I revived my blog, raised some money for charity, moved a couple of steps closer to finishing the egg donation cycle, attending a conference on behalf of a charity, discovered loads of new and exciting bloggers through ICLW and rekindled a friendship after nearly 2 decades!

A few of you may remember that I posted a few years ago about making a new friend (if you're that interested you can go here) because I have found it quite difficult to make close friends with people in the UK so when I do feel a connection with someone I feel quietly hopeful. So a few weeks ago when, through the joy of Facebook, I got in touch with an old school friend it was wonderful to find out that she lives in London with her family. I knew that I was attended the Vitality Show this week-end and she very kindly offered to put me up for the night so that we could catch up.

I won't go into the details of her life (I don't want her thinking I will reveal all to the lovely blogosphere) but what I will say is that she has become everything that I expected her to be, poised, beautiful, funny and an incredible mother. We had such a great evening and I could not have felt more comfortable if I was in my own home surrounded by my own stuff. Much wine and champagne was consumed so forgive me the rambling post, recovery isn't as swift as it was in my earlier years.

The conference was very tiring but I think that we raised the profile of the Give Hope, Give Life campaign and we had around 30 woman give us contact details as they would like to know more about whether it is something that they could do. If you want to read a bit more about it please do, the website is here) but also my next personal post about the process will follow shortly.

All being said, March has been a great one and if today's weather is an indicator (it probably isn't but a gal can hope) them April will be smashing too.


p.s. thank you to ALL the lovely ICLW commenters, I hope that I have returned the favour for all of you, if I haven't got to you yet I will! For the record, Incy Wincy was real and I took that photo when we were on holiday in the US. Although freaky looking and quite big, they're actually harmless.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

So you think you want to be an Egg Donor (part 2)

Part 2 begins with a referral letter and appointment at a local hospital which specialises in infertility. I am lucky in that I live fairly close to one of the leading institutes for reproductive medicine but most major cities and large towns should be able to cater to all the requirements. Before reaching this stage though, you will be required to attend at least 1 session with a counsellor and in some instances a psychologist this is for your own good so please make the most of it. Below I will describe my session as best I can recall it so that you know what to expect.

I arrived at my hospital and was met by a lovely and warm lady and I was made to feel very welcome. The aim of the session was for both parties to cover any questions/issues and to discuss the general aspects of being an egg donor. Many of the questions centred around the logistics of the process and as these may differ from place to place, I am not going to describe them in detail but suffice to say that it is almost exactly the same as the first half of IVF. The remaining questions were far more personal and I hope that by sharing my views and answers I may be able to allay some of the fears which some of you may have.

(Please note that these are not the exact questions and aren't in any particular order :-))

Question 1:
What does Egg Donation mean to you and what has drawn you to it?
For me, it is an opportunity to do something tangible that I can be proud of and which may help someone else achieve parenthood. I have always wanted to do something and have always felt that I should do something for those less fortunate for me. Unfortunately, when I had the chance to I spent my time being frivolous which was fun but left me with a lingering feeling that I had somehow failed to fulfil an ambition. This feeling, coupled with the overwhelming sadness I felt towards woman who had been less fortunate than I was and who couldn't fall pregnant easily and without help led me to investigate what, if anything, I could do. I was initially going to fly back to South Africa as I knew people and places which specialised in this process back home but when I discovered that the UK was desperate for donors I decided to get involved here instead.

Question 2:
How do you feel about the idea that your eggs may result in a child?
The honest answer is that I can't imagine a feeling about this because pregnancy was such a horrible experience for me that I do not associate my eggs or pregnancy with being maternal. I wish I had the glowing stories that so many woman do about how they bonded with their babies in the womb and so were instantly in love with the newborns because that is the fairy tale. The reality for me was so different and it took me a while to realise that the 2 infants in NICU were more than just my responsibility. As an extension of this, I feel no connection to my eggs and I don't mourn when they pass, unused from my body every month. Much like donating blood, I would prefer to give what I don't need away in the hope that someone else finds a better use for it.

Question 3: (the BIGGIE)
How do you feel about the removal of anonymity from the process?
Obviously the change in the act means that I need to consider the possibility that in 16 years time one or more children may knock on my door wanting to know more about their genetic identity. Although potentially an issue for others, my husband and I have come to the conclusion that this possibility is not in itself that scary a prospect as long as we ensure that we are always honest with our children and our family about it. We feel that the very worst thing that could happen would be to keep it from everyone, only to have them faced with a genetic sibling somewhere down the line. Instead we will include this in the discussion (in a basic sort of way) when our children start asking about where babies come from. Both the RO and I are adamant that our children need to understand from an early age that babies are made in a number of ways and that all of them are equally important.

The above question is the one which I have been asked the most whenever I have discussed this outside of my family. I am often surprised by the number of misconceptions that seemingly educated people have about the changes in the act and how often their emotions cloud their judgement. The biggest misconception is that children born from my eggs would have a financial claim to my estate and this is completely untrue. If you're struggling with the lack of anonymity, try and think about how similar changes have positively affected children who were adopted because ultimately it is their right to know their genetic connections if that will help them to form a complete identity.

The counsellor and I spent well over 2 hours talking through these areas and she was really amazing at illustrating all the small things which I hadn't even considered. For me there never was any doubt that I would do it but there were some things which she touched on which helped me to formulate how I felt about the process and the impact it could have on the people who I love.

Before I left, she gave me a large pack of documentation to take away with me so that I could refer back if there was anything which I later became unsure of. I was also given the forms to complete to enter into the program. Right at the back of the form was a special section which was by far, the hardest part to complete and also one of the most important but I'll get into that in part 3 of this riveting saga ;-)


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Jade Cerisa Lorraine Goody (1981-2009)

There are many amongst you who will not know who I am referring to and for others the name will invoke reactions more extreme than should be possible about a person that you have never known personally.

At just after 3am this morning Jade succumbed to the cervical cancer having only been diagnosed last year. At 27 years old Jade had lived a very colourful and public life for which she received a great deal of criticism, most visible from the snobbish middle class who despised her loud mouthed garish ways. For me it is the last months of her life which have illustrated the true nature of this remarkeable woman as she chose to use the terrible disease and her fame to ensure that her boys have the best possible opportunities in their future. Her reality show which followed her as she fought to overcome the cancer has raised the profile of this socially under acknowledged killer will save thousands of young woman from a similar fate and for this alone she should be admired.

I cannot begin to imagine how difficult this time has been and will be for her family but I hope that they know that she is a modern heroine of the most admirable kind.

Happy Mothers Day Jade.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Welcome ICLW commentors, please make yourself at home...

I am ICLW No. 104 - Double Delight

I am so proud of myself, I did it, I managed to get myself included despite having some weird mental block when it comes to anything related to this blog (I am usually quite tech savvy honest, I dunno why I struggle here???)

Anyway, enough punctuation abuse, let me introduce myself for those of you kind enough to stop by for the first time.

I am the Villagepig (VP) and just so that you don't think I am being harsh on myself, it is the English translation of our house name. I live in a little village in North Wales, England with my husband (the RO or Respective Other) and twin boys who turn 3 this year.

I am South African born and bred but moved to the UK nearly 6 years ago for a change. Little did I know at the time that the change would arrive in the form of bearded geek from the North East of England. We met 3 months after I arrived and were living together 10 months later. We married after 18 months and the twins arrived (early) 7 months later. I have gone through the details leading up the birth of my boys in an earlier blog which you can find here if you have the time and inclination.

Pregnancy was an awful experience for me which wasn't helped by a particularly complicated twin pregnancy. Full details are in the other blog but the short of it is that anything that could go wrong did and we developed twin to twin transfer syndrome. Tom & Nate were born by c-section on 06 June 2006 (that's 06-06-06 for the observant among you) and we were proud to have reached 31 weeks gestation. They spent 3 weeks in NICU and we were really lucky that we had no complications other than jaundice. I wish someone had told me how physically easy that part was because what followed seriously kicked my 'normally pretty in control' ass!

9 months of weight issues complicated by terrible reflux and shocking sleep deprivation resulted in a diagnosis of post natal depression. Happily the right medication sorted that all out and I am now happily pill free (well except for the ones I take for all those other ailments).

Good crap, this is proving to be a loooong post, I hope that you're following, especially those of you in the back because we're nearly done ;-)...

I disappeared from here for a while last year while I gathered up the reins of my new identity as a full-time mother/wife/employee and have returned because I missed my outlet and because I feel that the time is right because I have at least 7 free minutes a day to spare so why shouldn't I fill them with something? :-)

I have a new passion, one bourne out of the courage and drive that so many of my blogging friends have shown as they struggled with infertility. Before joining the blogging community, my experience of infertility was fairly pedestrian in that I knew people who had experienced it but the realities were hidden behing the social graces. The first story that I read which brought home the true scale of the impact infertility has on lives was from another South African blogger, Tertia and her story literally made me cry for days. There are so many more which have touched me over the years, not the least of which being Trish who has also been my BFOL (best friend on-line) that I realised that it was within my power to do something proactive to support the cause. This step is egg donation and I am about halfway through my first cycle and I have decided to make it my mission to get people talking about what they can do too. I have written about it here and more posts will follow.

I hope that I haven't alienated any of you by now, please come back, I don't usually go on for so long and I will make up for it by being suitably cheeky by back reading all your archives (which I do even if it means I give up precious sleep hours). I shall leave you with a photograph of my lovely boys and please tell me a little about yourself when you leave a comment ;-)


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Good old sickness...

I am all set to write the next step in the path to donation but reality is being a little bit, well.... real :-)

On Friday we had a very successful day of fundraising, accumulating a total of £211 which is pretty good considering that I work with a bunch of cynics :-). Unfortunately, somewhere during the course of the day, I strained a muscle or pinched a nerve in my back. The doc thinks that it may be sciatica but will only know for certain if it doesn't improve so that in itself has made me grumpy.

On Monday, I fetched the boys from their CM and dear old Tommy had an explosive episode seconds after announcing that his tummy was sore. Later in the evening he threw up again but then it seemed to settle down. My RO then started throwing up in the middle of the night and has been down with gastro ever since.

I am now hoping that Nate and I manage to avoid it because I am sick of the sickness ;-)

So stick it out, new post is pending and will be up very soon. In the meantime, Trish you're a hunny and Caro, you're a star - just by being on the other end you're giving me a reason to commit!


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Red Nose Day 2009

Tomorrow is Comic Relief in the UK which is basically a national fundraising day and I take it very seriously. Every year I take it upon myself to beg, cajole, entice and generally annoy all my colleagues at work in an attempt to raise as much as I can.

This year is no different and since 1pm this afternoon (6 hours ago) I have:
* Baked a Victoria Sponge cake
* Baked a HUGE carrot cake with marscapone icing
* Baked 12 butterfly cakes
* Cooked 2 large pots of Chilli
* Made up several bags of sweets
* Made several bags of popcorn (some sweet and some salty)

Tomorrow I am selling all of this to the people at work for crazy prices so that I can feel good about doing something charitable. My hubby says it is all about the Catholic guilt (which seems to linger despite ditching the religion itself).

Also, my lovely hubby has drummed up sponsorship and so this evening he is shaving off his beard, in weird stages and we're photographing each stage. I will post the pictures if they're funny. Hopefully the boys don't freak out too much tomorrow when they come back from the grandparents but I guess we'll only know that tomorrow :-).


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

So you think that you might want to be an Egg Donor?

I guess that for most people this thought doesn't even enter their minds, I mean it isn't exactly dinner party conversation and it isn't something that crosses our paths all that often.

We all know about surrogacy and adoption as both get a fair amount of publicity and most of us know at least 1 person who has been through IVF in their journey to motherhood. For some woman, the problem starts earlier than that and for them IVF is a pipe dream because without the egg, the sperm is redundant and no amount of stimulation will provide the building blocks to create the baby which they dream of. This is where egg donation comes in and so I am going to try and describe the process, give some information and encourage as many people as I can to consider whether this is something that they can imagine themselves doing.

I guess the first step would be to ask why you even consider doing this and the answer to this question will be completely unique and personal. I want to do this because I have come to realise that giving makes me happy. Sure there are many other things which make me just as (and sometimes more) happy but giving is the one little thing that I can do which makes me feel that I am helping to make the world outside my own a little bit better for someone. It started small through donations, charities and recycling kids stuff to those less fortunate and now I am ready to move onto something more personal. The truth is, I hated being pregnant, it was long and difficult and not something that I want to do again. Thankfully I had my boys and so our family is complete so I'm thinking that if someone else can make use of the remaining eggs then that's what I want to do with them.

Step two should be about educating yourself and there are loads of places to look including:
United Kingdom: National Gamete Donation Trust
United States: Having Babies
Australia: MIVF
South Africa: Nurture

The American and Australian ones I have taken from a Google search so I would suggest that you research the options there carefully but no doubt these sites would be a good starting point. Nurture in South Africa is run by the lovely Tertia who will take very good care of you and the National Gamete Donation trust in the UK is run by the lovely Pippa who is fabulous in every possible way given that she almost single handedly runs such a fantastic operation.

In the first instance you should read, read and then read some more. Get a feel for the experiences and try and come to grips with the process. Although many people deal with this differently, I have found that being well read on a subject means that speaking to my GP is a much for fulfilling process.

Which leads me to step three which is speak to your family doctor. Admittedly I am lucky in that I have a wonderful doctor who takes the time to talk things through with me and when I brought this up with her she was compeltely supportive. In the UK you will need to get a referral letter from your GP and they will know who to send it to. It was around this time that I broached the subject with my husband because I wanted to understand all the ramifications upfront. Luckily my RO is fantastic and he supports me completely.

It is a lot to take on, and it will probably take you a fair amount of time to get through steps 1 - 3, but I really hope that you'll consider it and take the time to research the process because even if you decide it isn't for you, if the topic comes up you can be a great ambassador which is just as important really.


p.s. If you're in the UK, I will be working on a stand at the The Vitality Show on Saturday the 28th March at Earls Court in London. Tickets are £14.50 and there will be loads of things going on so if you decide to visit (it is on from the 26th-29th) please come and say hello!!

Friday, March 06, 2009

OK so the story goes....

Just after the boys were born I had a moment wherein I felt an immense amount of grief for all the wonderful, fantastic and awesome woman whose stories I followed but who had yet to fullfil the dream of motherhood. In the months that followed their birth when I struggled with the reality that I wasn't the mother I had always expected I would be (cool, calm, competant) but rather frazzled and surviving from one moment to the next I sometimes felt that maybe those were the lucky ones but as the PND passed and the boys grew, I realised that it really is the thing which makes us complete even if it isn't in the way that we expected.

All this thinking (a rarity for me I can assure you) coupled with the information that it was possible for me to try and do something about it led to a conversation with my hubby about the possibility of egg donation. As always he was (and is) tremendously supportive and with his blessing I began to investigate the options. Initially I was going to return to my home nation of South Africa where a blogging friend was in the midst of setting up an egg donation charity but it was then brought to my attention that the UK is has a serious shortage of egg donors and that the average woman can wait up to 10 years so it seemed that there was just as pressing a need close to home.

In November last year I started the process and attended an appointment with a psychologist to discuss the many aspects which can affect a person. Thankfully, through reading all the amazing stories that all of you write daily I had already thought about many of the supposed pitfalls and potential issues and so this session was actually more of a chat ;-).

In December I met with the embrologist at St Mary's Hospital in Manchester and had several blood tests done to ensure that I was free of HIV, Hepatitis and other incurable diseases (I was). Last week I had my follow up meeting and so the leg work is almost done. All going according to plan, I will start the medical side toward the end of March and by the end of April it will all be done.

I have resurrected my blog because I want to document the steps (I will dedicate a post to each stage, including the early ones) in the hope that more woman will be encouraged to follow suit.

I hope that you will find it interesting and informative and that you will encourage your sisters and friends to at least consider the possibility because I can't imagine what my life would be like without the boys and I really want every woman to have the choice, even if it means sharing a little part of myself.

I know that this is a brief post and that it doesn't begin to address the true depth of all the elements to thhis proces but rest assured that I will get there and I hope that you'll join me in creating wider discussion.

All the best :-)


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Resurrection

It has been a while and I make no promises that I will be better at maintaining the commitment required but here I am, with the very best of intentions.

The year has been eventfull, the boys are older (I am older), the world has changed and the winter has been COLD but I am still standing and intend to keep it that way.

I guess the main reason for resurrecting the blog is that I have something coming up which I would like to keep a record of and since I have written about my issues here before I figured it was as good a place as any to record the new happenings.

In the meantime, I hope that you're all well (actually I have still been following all of you so I am up to date) and pop back later for the details.