In June last year, tiny helpless six-month-old baby boy Chayse Dearing’s unresponsive body was found at a unit in Victoria. After smoking Ice that morning with her partner, Dwayne Lindsay, Chayce’s mother, Michelle, had gone out shopping, leaving her baby in the care of her partner of three months, the soulless monster and Ice addict who would then go on to mercilessly take his life later that day.
There had already been reports to child services of Chayse’s squalid living conditions and the drug use in the home some months before. But by the time Police were called to the unit where they found his tiny injured body and rushed him to hospital there was little that could be done to save him. The life support was turned off on his helpless little body two days later, bruising indicating he’d been possibly strangled, beaten had old injuries to his neck and genitalia and traces of Ice were found in his urine. His mother failed him. The one person who was meant to keep this beautiful baby boy safe from harm, stood back and did nothing.
A couple of weeks back I was sitting in Dr Babies waiting room next to a lovely woman and we soon started talking about what had brought us both there. We each had stories from the battlefields – as is the case with infertility, us girls, we band together and share our battle scars often so deep and painful and ongoing, so we know we’re not alone. She was a bright and bubbly lass (though I suspect that to be a front disguising her deep-seated pain hidden beneath…I know it all too well myself).
She’d just been hooked up to an intralipid IV and was awaiting the transfer of her 14th IVF cycle. She’d been through the wringer this girl, like bad. After initially starting her path into artificial reproduction at 30, she’d first used her own eggs and her husband’s collection. Somewhere along the line she’d had a few pregnancies but lost them fairly early on.
Five years into it, they discover her husband has testicular cancer which cruelly rules him out as a contributor to their hope of a family.
Soon it became clear using her own eggs wasn’t an option either. ‘Soul sisters,’ I tell her. ‘Me too’. You can learn about a person inside 15 minutes if you just give them a gentle ear to listen. She went on to have various rounds of IVF – using donor embryos – but all had failed too.
Though I’ve no idea how, she brightly tells me ‘that’s just all part of it, hey. You do what you have to do.’ Over the past two years this incredibly generous woman and her husband have also been permanent carers to three foster children from an abused home situation. ‘They call me mum but they still refer to their birth mother as their ‘real mum’,’ she says. I bristle. These kids – all under five – still see their birth parents, despite the fact they’d been abused in their care – regularly every week, due to government laws.
‘They’re good kids,’ she says but they have social issues stemming from their upbringing. ‘We try our best with them and are hoping for permanent placement. I see them as my own kids’. It must be hella hard on her facing the emotional demands of fertility treatment as well as raising someone else’s kids and all the while lodging with the courts for a permanent safe and healthy home for them to grow up in. This chick is a circus qualified juggler with all she’s trying to balance.
‘It’s like a ready made family, so if this all doesn’t work out, we’re lucky we have these kids in our life,’. And they too are lucky for angels like yourselves who pick up the broken pieces of our society and help put them back together.
The cannula from her arm begins slowly feeding the intralipids through and she nervously awaits her transfer upstairs in a few hours time. It’s her last ditch, she tells me. No more options after this, the proverbial tank has run empty.
We talk for what seems like hours but really is only minutes learning about each other’s losses and all the different shit we’ve tried – from fertility yoga to naturopathy, acupuncture and natural remedies. We’ve both been enticed, in our vulnerability, into every single con that’s professed to ‘heal our infertile useless bodies and still ended up right the fuck back where we started, though with considerably less coins jangling in our pockets.
We laugh about how many world trips we could’ve gone on, or the sports cars we could’ve bought with all the gazillions of dosh we’ve dumped into our plight. She tells me their journey that spans a decade has had the odd break. ‘At one stage we took a year off and just travelled, tried to attempt a normal life again. Took the elusive break everyone says you should so you’ll just fall pregnant without thinking about it…But it didn’t take long for us to come back and kept trying.’
At 39, younger than me, never having had the gift of her own kids this woman is a battler like none I’ve ever met.
We’ve been talking so much neither of us has come up for air and my new fertility friend hasn’t noticed her phone ringing. ‘Shit, it’s the lab,’ she says looking at the missed call register on her phone. We both know there’s only one reason the lab would call before a transfer and it sure as shit ain’t to wish you happy fucking birthday.
I try and reassure her it could be anything, maybe they’re just checking you’re on time I say. But we both know that’s full of shit. Her husband has called too. It can’t be good news.
When she finally makes contact with the lab, cannula still hooked up to her arm, they deal her the cruel blow. The embryo didn’t survive the thaw process. Her last hope vanished into thin air. There will be no transfer it’s all been a wasted effort. Hope is gone. ‘Oh well, guess that’s it then, that’s me done,’ she says far too upbeat that I can’t help wonder if like me, she’ll get inside her car and just scream and lose her shit till the tears stop coming. ‘Now I can go home early,’ she says. But Despite her bubbly smile she will be feeling utterly crushed. ‘At least I have my three kids, let’s hope now we get to keep them forever.’
This is such a fucked up cruel destiny. For ten years she’s tried to realise her dreams but life can stand back and slap you right the fuck in the face. Unfair. Not even a word worthy of her pain but it is just all so bloody unfair.
I gently rub her arm and in a fleeting moment tell her, ‘please don’t give up…you deserve this, keep fighting, keep going. The world needs better parents like you.’ She smiles and makes her way towards the exit.
I’ll likely never cross paths with this mightily strong and kind soul again but I hope one day her wish comes true, in the meantime she’s doing her best to make a difference so there are less utterly tragic stories like that of Baby Chayce’s…may his tiny soul now be riding high with the angels… Lov’n’ hugs Lady Mama G xox