10 August 2016

Two Percent

"So, really you only have about a two percent chance of conceiving a baby each month. And if we look here...."

I had already stopped listening. I was staring at the little "2%" she'd squiggled on the pamphlet in front of her; my mouth fell slightly open in horror and tears burned the back of my eyes.

Two percent.

I was at the doctor's office for a post-op checkin several weeks after my surgery. We were talking about next options when she slipped the statistic in, sandwiched between two completely innocuous sentences, like a misshelved library book.

She finally realised I was upset. "Now dear, what's wrong?" She reached out, stroked my hand and smiled.

"Two percent?" I whispered, "I only have a two percent chance of having a baby?"

"No, no... see here if you get IVF it goes up to 30% or even 40%!" She circled the IVF option on her paper with gusto, but I only saw the $7,000 price written right next to it.

I looked at her smiling face, then promptly burst into tears.

It wasn't my finest moment, I'll say that. It was an overflowing slurry of emotion compounded by the fact that I had just realised that I will be facing many months alone, as Jon goes back to finish his assignment. He'll be in Australia, and I'll be in London for school. It feels like an never-ending dark tunnel.

That being said, I got my first spot of sunshine this morning as we landed back in the UK. Jon will be here with me for the next week or two while his new Australian visa gets sorted and it feels so good to be home again. It feels amazing to be in a physical space that feels emotionally secure.

I don't know how I'll get a baby. I don't know when. If it didn't cost a small fortune to adopt as expats, we'd have done it already. So, all that is left now is to save our pennies for IVF and pray that it works. It is massively discouraging, but I'm holding on to this little flicker inside that says it is going to happen. Two percent isn't zero. There is still hope.

16 July 2016


So, I had my very first surgery yesterday. All went well, and despite being twice the expected price, the service and care were fantastic. 

That said, I basically cried the whole way home. 

As Jon and I have been trying to get pregnant for the past three years, we've spent an enormous amount of time and money on supplements, acupuncture and diagnostic testing. Finally, last month, the doctor said there wasn't anything else they could do without performing a laparoscopy, a surgery where they cut into your abdomen and stick a camera inside. 

The doctor was expecting to get in and find cysts, fibroids, or endometrial tissue, all of which would have to be removed. However, it would FINALLY provide the answers as to why we have remained infertile for so long. 

It isn't often where you hope the doctors find a problem, but this was one of them. 

Unfortunately, when the doctor came back after surgery she said, "We didn't find anything... everything is perfectly clean and healthy. In fact, your AMH levels [from a previous blood test] came back and they are quite high. That means you have lots of eggs!"

You'd think that was the kind of news that would make you jump for joy, but instead it just made me want to scream and weep and bury my face in a bowl of cream puffs. 

Right now we are back to zero. Everything is perfect, except it's not. We still have no baby, and still have to reason why... 

I know it is about timing, I get it, but it sucks. 

Boy, it really sucks. 

09 July 2016

Michael Brotato II - Byron Bay

Yesterday we just look this little nugget to the airport to send him back home. Missing the kid already, so I've been going through photos of his trip and finally have had a chance to get them up online. It was a fun-filled rest of his trip. With plenty of koala cuddling, kangaroo petting, and even an epic roadtrip down the coast.

First order of business: the koalas. We took the bus up to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and feasted on fish and chips before snuggling up to some koalas. We then went and fed some kangaroos, afterwhich Michael decided to try and dance with an Emu.

Michael is a big fan of Jazz, and we happen to live along a street with some great live music. We snuck the little booger in while the door bouncer was away, and got to see this really fun R&B/funk group. The bonus to the whole night was that the bartended gave us our (non-alcoholic) drinks for free!

Having Michael here also gave us an excuse to get out of town and go down the Gold Coast to Byron Bay. We meandered down, stopping in Coolangatta for lunch and walking along the beach.

While on this epic roadtrip, we we passed a giant avacado on the side of the road with a sign that said "Tropical Fruit World." Well, THAT seemed too magical to pass up, so, much to Michael's chagrin, we pulled off. Twenty minutes later, after several resounding editions of Jon's and my made-up fruit world song (and at least half a dozen broody sighs from the kid in the back seat), we finally made it.

Basically, it was a farm that cost $45 a person to get a golf cart tour. No thanks. However, the giftshop/cafe had a little treasure that made the whole trip worth it: a tropical ice cream custom flavor machine. Basically, you choose any tropical fruits you want, and they blend it into a bespoke icecream cone just for you! It was magical.

Jon chose a black sapote (which is a fruit that literally tastes like CHOCOLATE!) and banana, I chose a raspberry, passionfruit and macadamia nut blend, and Michael got something sad.... just what I can't remember, but it wasn't quite up to scratch. Still, Michael was a good sport, and I have to give him credit for that.

Adding to the randomness of the journey, we found a sofa sitting on the side of the road and a random vacuum cleaner. We took mandatory photos with both.

At long last we reached Byron Bay. We got an Airbnb place our on the coast which is about half way down the beach in this photo.

Check out this cool ceiling treatment!

After a failed attempt to meet up with some friends at an outdoor movie, we got dinner and then went to the beach. The tree of us layed out on the sand and look up to the most incredible sky I've ever seen in my life. I've NEVER seen the milky way so clealy before. It was also odd realising that, because we were in the southern hemisphere, I didn't recognise any of the constellations.

We had several deep, cosmic conversations, made wishes on a half dozen shooting starts, then went home and watched Interstellar.

The next morning we went out to spend the day on the beach and take Michael's senior portraits. Michael spent most of the day surfing, until a helicopter flew over and turned the siren for everyone to get out because they'd spotted sharks.

Afterwards we went into town (Byron Bay), which is this awesome hippy beach community and got burgers and went shopping. In the end we got icecream and listened to street performs by the beach.

It was a fantastic couple of weeks with this kid and I'm pretty sure he fell in love with the place. He had a ton of fun and made some great friendships, so I'm pretty sure he'll be back one day. Love you kiddo!

27 June 2016

Michael Brotato

My seventeen year old brother Michael has come to visit us! Whoo-hoo!

But first, before I chat about our adventures, some important news:

1) I'm a finalist in a scholarship competition! YAY!

2) We've started a new round of fertility diagnosis. This new clinic is much fancier than the ones with NHS (not surprisingly), and I even got to see my little eggs on a big ol' screen in real time. I'll be going under the knife next month for a laparoscopy as the doctor thinks I have endometriosis. Prayers, positive vibes and good will are much appreciated :)

Anyway, having the little brotato here has been lots of fun. We've toured the town, played on the beach and gone surfing all in just a couple of days. More photos on that later, but isn't he just cutest? We've really enjoyed having him around. He's the perfect house guest.

Yup, that's Michael holding a beer bottle opener made from Kangaroo testicles. These Aussies think of everything.

And just a reminder to vote! I am in sore need of clicks! https://ldsbookstore.com/scholarship-contestants  Thanks a million :)

16 June 2016

Feeling In Control

I'd like to introduce you to Alice. That's what I've decided to name this little succulent plant, and she is about to go live at my acupuncturist's office.

I bought Alice as a gratitude/apology gift to Jess because I spent all of my last session sobbing, like a little sprinkler. Jess was very very sweet. I don't feel so bad about the tears-- a bit of self-pity is healthy if you can mourn and move on-- but I do feel bad she had to be there for it. 

I should say I am 100% ok. I just finally realised that I have zero control over my life right now... not in where I live, if I can work, whether I get scholarships for grad school, whether I can have a baby, or whether I can afford IVF when we get back to London, and, when it hit me, I realised how much it sucks to feel trapped.

It is hard not to feel powerless in the world right now. With the Orlando shooting this past weekend, a devolving US presidential election, the possibility of a Brexit, and major crisis' like the Syrian refugees or the suicide rate of native american teens (I've linked both these last two with really impactful documentaries in case you want to have a look). Sometimes it can be really overwhelming. 

Something that has helped me is that Jon and I started investing with an organisation called Kiva a little over a month ago. We've been meaning to for months now, and now that we've finally got it rolling I'm a little bit obsessed! I worked with these guys a bit during my undergrad and have been so very impressed with the work they are doing with microloans.

Let me tell you how it works: 

Basically, Kiva is an organisation that helps people in the developing world get loans so they can grow and develop their businesses. The Kiva employees travel to a country, give entrepreneurship classes and help the people in the villages write loan proposals. They look at their finances and make sure that the loan can be repaid (usually over year or two). These loans are called micro-loans because they are relatively small (usually under $5000). That amount goes a really long way in a third world country.

Once Kiva puts the loan online, they you can search through them and decide what you want to fund.

I feel really passionately about helping women, especially single mamas. Jon feels really strongly about helping with education and clean water. You can search through and read their stories and decide which ones you like. The great thing is that it is crowdfunded so you can invest as little as $25, but then you GET YOUR MONEY BACK + INTEREST!!

Because these people make so little money, it takes a little while to get it back, but in the end you will have the opportunity to reinvest that money into someone else. However, if you want to close your Kiva account (after the loan has been repaid), than you will get the money you invested + interest back in your Paypal account. 

It's a pretty sweet deal and everyone benefits. In my experience, I'd recommend sticking with female loans as they are very, very good about repaying them. In fact some micro-lenders will only lend to women. The men tend to default more (although the amount that that happens is still pretty low). 

If you join, I'd love to have you join our Young Rubbish group. I've only recently started it, so most of our loans will not appear in it, but I'd love to see how much of an impact those reading this blog can make! This kind of thing makes me feel more in control of life-- knowing even with a small amount of money, I can make a huge difference to someone who has things even more difficult. 

So, go forth and give! Let's make the world a little brighter.