Blog about having premature ovarian failure and trying donor IVF with my sister's eggs

Posts tagged ‘Australia’

Protecting my pregnancy from my boss

My current manager of four years is very tough and I am now finding myself having to protect my pregnancy from her.

In the past she refused to give me time off work as sick leave to do IVF, comparing it to plastic surgery.

And since I’ve been pregnant, she has given me no extra support or help. Even as my pregnancy has progressed and I have got bigger and more tired, she has shown me no leniency.

Up until two weeks ago, I was working 12 and 13-hour days to get all my work done. This is because the team of five that I manage has, over the past year, inherited several projects but we have been given no extra resourcing. I have pushed back to protect my team but she hasn’t listened to me. The projects we have inherited are very public, both within the organisation and outside, so we do not have the option of not doing them.

When I told my obstetrician I was working such long hours two weeks ago, he instructed me to tell her that I would only be working seven hours a day from now until my maternity leave begins in January. Today she said something about it that has left me feeling so upset and heartsick. She said she would be docking my salary accordingly as I am no longer working a full day.

I looked at her incredulously and said that that would be very unfair, given that I have never worked less than a ten-hour day for her and that over the four years, my overtime worked equates to literally hundreds of hours. I said I would be very upset if she went ahead with her plan.

I have now come home feeling so broken hearted. I have tried to protect my team over the years, as well as myself. I have built up the function that I manage in our organisation from nothing to a fully fledged, professional and operating department. I have supported her and been loyal to her and this is what I get in the end. Our team has barely been holding it together and now that I am going on maternity leave, two have resigned saying that they no longer want to work there given the intense work levels.

The most upsetting thing for me is that she doesn’t respect or support this very precious pregnancy. How dare she?  I can feel an anger brewing that is going to replace this sorrow very shortly.

Can I ask what others have done in this situation? I know that many other women reduce their hours in the latter stages of their pregnancy and would like to know how their workplaces have handled it and if anyone knows of any legal, if not moral obligations of employers towards their pregnant employees.


An extra special dinner and a tribute to all egg donors

I bet that the dinner I went to on Saturday night in Melbourne was the only one of its kind happening at that time – in the world.

It’s not that the food we were eating was unusual or that the venue was strange – it was the people who made it unique.

We were all (nine of us) either egg donors, people looking to match up with a donor, or people pregnant with a donor egg.  Unfortunately, I was the only one in the latter group. It made me realise how lucky my husband and I are to be pregnant with my sister’s donor egg; it doesn’t happen for everyone.

Our group met for the first time having traded recent stories on a forum called ‘Egg Donation Australia’. This is an extra special forum.  It was established by women who are donors. Women needing donor eggs can go onto the forum and get to know potential donors and vice versa. Close relationships are formed, especially between those who decide to team up, and sometimes a baby is conceived.

At the risk of sounding cheesy, I think the women who set up the forum are angels.  They established it voluntarily to help other women – strangers – in need of a donor.  I still can’t get over how altruistic these women – and egg donors everywhere – are.

So to be eating dinner with some donors in Melbourne on Saturday night was fantastic. It was equally fantastic to be able to talk to others in the same boat as me: women who have tried and tried to have babies in every which way possible. These women and their partners are all so brave as they just keep getting back on that horse even though it keeps bucking them off – often with horrible, painful bumps.

And then there are the women who are doing it on their own. There were two at the dinner.  To do it with a partner’s support and love is tough but I imagine doing it solo takes true grit.

So this is why I think Saturday’s dinner was so unique. I challenge anyone to tell me of a similar dinner that was happening at the same time. In fact, I would love to be proved wrong.

To have or not to have an amniocentesis

Wow, amniocentesis is one hard word to spell!  Although it hasn’t been too hard deciding whether to have one or not, following our 12 week ultrasound yesterday.

Maybe we’re being irresponsible and turning a blind eye, but I don’t really want to risk miscarrying the baby we have taken five years to conceive with an amniocentesis, which apparently carries a 1 in 150 chance of causing a miscarriage.

Yesterday’s ultrasound married with last week’s blood tests show we have about a 1 in 428 chance of having a baby with Down Syndrome. That’s if the results are compared with a large database in London. But if compared with a database here in Victoria, Australia, it jump ups to about 1 in 130 – that’s quite high odds.

But the Victorian database is much smaller and doesn’t include the existence of a nasal bone, which the London database does. And the scan shows this little baby has a nasal bone which is apparently of good length. In Downs babies, sometimes the nasal bone isn’t there or it is very short.

So having an amnio would put our baby at more risk (1 in 150) than the odds that it is a Downs baby (1 in 428). We therefore easily came to our decision not to have an amnio.

But you know what? If the nasal bone hadn’t been there, or the odds had been higher, I really don’t think we would have gone near an amnio. This little baby is moving and kicking in my womb, and if it is a Downs baby, then so what? We wouldn’t abort it. These days many Downs people grow up happy and healthy, to live long and fulfilling lives. A healthy happy baby, child and adult would be a wonderful thing, whether it had Downs or not.


I didn’t want to find out the results of my pregnancy test while I was at work last Friday, so my husband said he would take the call from the fertility clinic.

I asked him not to call me either way once he knew, so I wouldn’t know if it was negative or positive until I got to the safety of home that night. We didn’t have any contact that day, apart from me calling him in the morning to let him know I’d had the blood test.  Then just before I left work that night, I called him again, to let him know I was on my way.

I tried to guage from the tone of his voice if the result was positive or not. But I couldn’t tell. Because of that I presumed the test was negative. I then cried and cried and cried all the way home. There was some music on the radio by a band I had never heard of before called the ‘The Unthanks’ who recently played at the Sydney Folk Festival. They are a northern UK folk band and their music was so sweet it made me cry even more. I cried for my husband and me and everyone who so badly wants a baby and has so many problems conceiving.

By the time I got home my eyes were red and puffy and stinging from the salt of my tears. My husband met me at the door and led me into the bedroom and sat me down on the bed where there was a bunch of flowers. I thought the flowers were out of commiseration. Then he told me the test was positive! I couldn’t believe it!

I had my follow up blood test today which confirmed I am definitely pregnant. So we are over the moon. But cautiously so, given that we lost our first pregnancy. But for the time being, I am treasuring this feeling, this wonderful feeling.

Sick leave or holiday leave for IVF treatment?

If we fall pregnant with one of our eight embryos, our baby will most likely be born next year, in the Year of the Dragon. But in the process I am using up all my annual leave and wonder if I should have been taking time off work as sick leave instead?

I was born in the year of the Rooster and my husband is a Snake according to Chinese astrology. And this year is our Year of the Baby.

We began the process in February when my darling sister came to Australia from New Zealand to donate her eggs. Since then we have tried to get pregnant with the resulting eight embryos.  In the process I have used up all my annual leave for days when I have had embryo transfers, appointments at the hospital etc.

It suddenly dawned on me the other day that I have been a bit dimwitted in my approach to taking leave over the ‘trying to conceive’ process.

Surely I should have taken my leave as sick leave? On the days I have had off, I have spent them at the hospital and then gone home to bed. I have had a ‘medical procedure’ and had to pay for a hospital bed (even though I didn’t lie on it but that’s another story I’ll bore you about another time). I haven’t exactly been jet setting around the globe having a fab time, much less a holiday.

So I broached the subject with my boss and asked her if she would consider converting some of my annual leave taken into sick leave. She looked at me astonished, saying she couldn’t believe I was asking the question. She said that if she wanted to get some plastic surgery, she wouldn’t expect to be able to take it as sick leave. I said that trying to have a baby was a bit different to having plastic surgery, to which she replied: “Well you’re not dying of cancer are you? So your treatment is elective so therefore it’s not appropriate to claim time of work as sick leave.”

I was equally astonished at her reaction and asked her if she knew that infertility was classified as a disease? I also said that I had to follow this course of treatment to be able to have a baby and that while my life isn’t threatened, it is my ONLY option to have a baby. I finally said that I had been honest with her about my need to have IVF and could instead have kept it quiet, and claimed the sick leave, saying that I was having a medical procedure each time.

We eyeballed each other a bit and then she visibly softened (probably because she could see I had tears in my eyes).  She admitted it was something she hadn’t thought about before (granting sick leave for IVF treatment). She is the head of HR at our company, at which only 2% of employees are women. She said would consult with other managers and get their views on it before drafting up some kind of position/policy for all our employees, including me.

I’m interested to know what others do on the days you have your embryo transfers/hospital appointments/etc. Do you take your leave from work as sick or annual leave? Am I being unreasonable to want this?

Infertility journey finally ends via surrogacy

Many of us travel a long road before we realise our dream to have a baby. Some of us never make it, while others pull out all stops to get there. The following outlines what can happen if you are persistent and have the resources to be able to make it happen.

My husband’s workmate in Melbourne, Australia has just had her own biological child  – to a surrogate in California, USA.

Ann-Lee and her husband left Melbourne last week for the birth of their biological child in California. By now their baby will have been born. I keep imagining how amazing and exciting it must be for them.

Using a surrogate followed six years of unsuccessful IVF which included 17+ embryo transfers for the couple.

Finally coming to terms with the fact they could not carry a baby themselves, they travelled to the US to find a surrogate as the practice is a common there and is legislated for, to protect the surrogate, the child and the parents.

They decided not to try it in Australia.  A surrogate cannot be paid, so surrogates carry babies out the goodness of their hearts. When the baby is born, the parents have to adopt the child, even if the embryo was biologically theirs’.  There is also the chance that a surrogate could change her mind and not want to part with the baby, causing horrible distress for all parties.

Recent developments in Australia are threatening to confound things further.  The NSW state government is about to pass a law which will prevent Australian couples being able to travel overseas to use surrogates. Apparently it is to protect vulnerable third-world women. But in listening to a recent radio program (link below), it appears that most surrogates are educated, well informed and wealthy women acting out of altruism.

I really wish that the NSW Government was a little more forward thinking, as passing this law will hamper the dreams of NSW infertiles wishing to use surrogacy. I really hope it doesn’t set a precedent for other states to follow suit.

Making the process illegal also casts a shadow over the way surrogate babies to date have been conceived. Anne-Lee and her husband’s baby was conceived out of love and determination. My view is that the baby’s conception is unique and something to be proud of – not something to be mired in covert illicitness.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this and what the arrangements are in your country, if you know.

If you want to read a bit more about Anne-Lee and her husband, there is an online article below:

If you want to listen to the radio show I mentioned earlier, which includes an interview with an American attorney specialising in this area of family law, go to the link below:

Transfer one or two embryos?

We’re heading towards a new embryo transfer. On Wednesday a scan will hopefully show that my womb lining is nice and thick and ready to receive another embryo. I’ve been building it up with daily doses of oestrogen pills so hopefully it will be ripe for the sticking.

We have six embryos left. Deciding on whether to give two a shot in one go has been playing on our minds. Do we try two and risk conceiving twins? Or do we play it slow and steady by transferring one embryo at a time?

We are missing our family and friends in New Zealand and think we would like to move there soon. But our little cache of embryos is keeping us here in Australia. Getting through them as fast as possible would release us to be able to move on with the next phase of our lives – whether as parents or not.  It is tempting to speed things up by toying with two.

But I know from experience that twins are hard work and that I would prefer to conceive one if possible. When I was nine, my Mum had my twin brother and sister (naturally conceived), taking our family of three kids to five overnight. We had so much fun as a family but it took its toll. My poor Mum says she doesn’t remember anything about the first five years of my siblings’ lives as it was all too stressful. If I can, I would prefer not to have twins.

I’ve also read up on the topic and notice that recent research leans heavily on the side of one at a time. My doctor says he would be happy to transfer a duo and thinks it would be safe but I think we’ll just go the one next time.

Anyone out there got any gems to share about their experience?

IVF more successful with one embryo transfer than two, Herald Sun, Dec 23, 2010

IVF Study: Two embryos no better than one, TIME, Mar 30, 2009

IVF – one or two embryos?, The Lancet, 13 Sept, 2008