The organic home: for minimalist living

Twoodie Public Benefit Report (part 3 of 6 for 2017) October 02 2017, 0 Comments

3 - Preserve the environment

In addition to making non-toxic and safe wooden (biodegradable) toys at Twoodie we have used sustainably sourced wood from Japan and the USA. The woods were chosen to be suitable for the products end use but also sustainable and readily available because of ample supply.  We could have used cheaper woods but we chose to use special ones!

We have not used synthetic materials, except for the cloth bag.  All other components are natural, biodegrade and ALL components are tested for safety and purity.

Currently we have a new supplier able to more accurately detail the wood source. We hope to be 100% transparent about this from our next order of stock.

Twoodies as industrial design product fulfil many functions as they are long lasting and multifunctional as well as being cross generational. Their price point, packaging design and style emphasise that this is a special product and not something consumable or disposable after quick and careless use. They have been created under the Montessori umbrella with consideration of the broader context of their lifecycle and use.

We are moving towards end-to-end supply chain visibility with our new Japanese supplier.  We will be establishing environmental metrics in partnership with them and identifying any constraints they may have.

We ship directly from source to clients.  We work with DHL and postage services and hope to be able to take advantage of their innovations as the business scales. 

Shop with us!

Is BPA safe? October 01 2017, 0 Comments

A summary of what BPA is and why we are concerned about it in toys and children's products

What is BPA?

BPA is an abbreviation for Bisphenol A. It is a man made synthetic compound.

What is BPA used for?

BPA is generally used to make plastics and some resin materials. BPA plastics have a clear appearance and are cheap, strong and durable.  For this reason they are found in many common consumer goods including water bottles, tupperware, toys, sports equipment and kitchenware. BPA has been in commercial use since 1957 and is now, scarily, one of the highest volumes of chemical produced.

Why is BPA dangerous and controversial?

BPA is considered an Endocrine Disruptor.  This means it can cause disruption of the endocrine, i.e. hormone system which regulates our bodies growth and development, reproduction and fertility and many other essential functions. The UN and WHO first published a report in 2002 highlighting this and subsequently have continued to study the effects of EDCs and strengthened their position according to the data and scientific studies independently conducted.

To quote the World Health Organization on the dangers:

There is emerging evidence for adverse reproductive outcomes (infertility, cancers, malformations) from exposure to EDCs, and there is also mounting evidence for effects of these chemicals on thyroid function, brain function, obesity and metabolism, and insulin and glucose homeostasis.

Global rates of endocrine-related cancers (breast, endometrial, ovarian, prostate, testicular and thyroid) have been increasing over the past 40–50 years.”

Why is BPA especially toxic for children and babies?

The effects of Endocrine Disruptors depend on the amount and the timing of exposure. There is a window deemed ‘sensitive periods for endocrine disruptor action’ by the World Health Organization, when we are most susceptible to the adverse effects of EDCs.  This is during the body’s development i.e when in utero, infancy and during early childhood. EDCs are especially dangerous for pregnant women and growing children because of this. 

In 2008 many retailers voluntarily agreed to remove polycarbonate products from their shelves. BPA has caused ongoing controversy, together with Endocrine Disruptors, with many chemical companies denying their existence.

Is BPA regulated? Is plastic safe?

Or maybe the question should be WHY isn't BPA regulated? It seems that not all plastic is toxic, but without testing we cannot be sure. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ended its authorization of the use of BPA in baby bottles and infant formula packaging, based on market abandonment, not safety. The European Union and Canada have banned BPA use in baby bottles.  Whilst this may seem like a solution unfortunately the regulations and testing are insufficient and the Washington Post found 100% (60/60 teething items bought online and tested) positive for BPA, despite being labelled and marketed as being safe and free from this endocrine disruptor.

In February 2016, France officially stated that it intends to classify BPA as substance of very high concern (SVHC).

Where can I learn more about Endocrine disruptors?


Where can I buy safe, non-toxic and BPA/Endocrine Disruptor free toys?



Twoodie Public Benefit Report (part 2 of 6 for 2017) September 28 2017, 0 Comments

2 - Establish a professional workplace

Twoodie endeavours to do more than create all wood products that are non-toxic and finished with plant based materials made from natural oils and waxes.  We guarantee the supply chain and this includes, to the very best of our ability, our team.

Twoodie has had full time workers (founders), interns (reimbursed), contractors (paid fairly) and freelancers (ditto) amongst other people involved in building the product and company.

Those involved with Twoodie have been given the opportunity to up-skill through mentorship, conferences, coworkers and by gaining relevant business experience. Where necessary they have been provided with references, guidance and on the job skills training.

All have had contracts and clearly defined roles.

All shareholders and stakeholders of Twoodie have been kept up to date in keeping with our legal responsibilities.

All published information and research, such as the Twoodie report on Endocrine Disruptors in Toys, has been professionally and independently carried out by our team in an environment where finding the correct answer, and doing so in a professional manner, has been of the highest priority.



Twoodie Public Benefit Report (part 1 of 6 for 2017) September 25 2017, 0 Comments

We publish this in real time to be able to continue to make incremental daily progress…

These documents highlight the initiatives, challenges and goals we have been striving for and an honest analysis of where we are along the journey.

1 – Make the best products

Launched the Twoodie Gems. They are BPA and Endocrine disruptor free natural wooden stacking blocks. Non-toxic and demonstrated safe by independent specialist testing authorities.

They are durable and comply with the highest international standards.

We have also now had 18 months for them to be ‘user tested’ and we can confirm that the gems are hardy and do not degrade over time (despite significant trauma!).

We have had no returns of our toys and no complaints about quality/durability or functionality.

The Twoodie Gems are both a multifunctional stacking toy, talisman and stylish design piece. They are proven to be beloved by children and adults alike.  They encourage mindfulness and the high quality of the Japanese and American hardwoods are durable enough to grow with the child as they explore and discover new functions and ways to play with Twoodie.

We have 6 other products in development.




中国玩具市场现状,Twoodie在其中的作用与影响 September 09 2017, 0 Comments






How to avoid getting Zika August 28 2017, 0 Comments

Tips on how to avoid getting bitten by a mosquito when you are pregnant.

We recently went to Thailand on a preplanned holiday.  I was pregnant and we almost cancelled the trip but then decided to take it, which for us at this particular moment in life was the right decision.  No one got bitten, no one got food poisoning, there was lots of sun and hence vitamin D which is good for babies when their mom is deficient! The island we visited had no known reported cases of Zika and there had been only 2 documented in all of Thailand so after weighing the risks (including that of spending a holiday full of anxiety) we decided to go but to take every imaginable precaution in order not to be bitten by a mosquito and hence at theoretical risk of zika.

Here we share this first hand experience and research, including those products we felt were most safe and non toxic. At Twoodie we don't like to use chemicals or endocrine disruptors as these are especially dangerous for babies and pregnant women.  In the end its a balance of what is more risky, in context.

Just to be clear: what is Zika?

Zika is a virus that is spread by day time active mozzies.  The name comes from a forest in Uganda where the virus was first discovered in 1947. We heard about it more recently because of the outbreak in Brazil. Symptoms can include fever, red eyes, rash, joint pain, headache…

Zika and pregnancy

Zika grabbed many headlines because it has been shown to cause horrific birth defects.  This has happened in children whos mothers were infected during pregnancy.  For this reason countries like Australia strongly counsel against visiting Brazil, Thailand, Phillapines, Singapore and other countries where they consider the risk “high”…

Microcephaly, because of its physical deformity, is one of the birth defects that has been highlighted as it was recently discovered that Zika can cause it. But it can also be caused by exposure to infections, malnutrition and exposure to harmful chemicals according to the CDC. So for us looking for a preventative measure was important but also trying to find a non toxic and endocrine disruptor free natural mosquito repellant was a consideration. After all at Twoodie our primary objective is keeping moms and babies safe from toxic toys and the nasty things hiding in untested plastic.

How to avoid getting bitten by a mosquito

I read the internet and have some common sense suggestions that we followed.

These are so basic but really not worth compromising on:

  1. Don’t go out at dawn or dusk.  Regardless of what time Zika mosquitos are active (they are day mosquitos) this is just generally good advice.  There are more bugs at this time and they are harder to see so skip the sundowner and take in the view from your hotel room.
  2. Don’t stay near stagnant water.  Get an ocean not a garden view if possible and stay on as high a floor as possible. Make sure to shower inside.
  3. Check your hotel room/apartment windows and doors for openings.  We used duck tape to close a ¾cm wide gap in the door at the Sheraton. Spray around all these areas for good measure. 
  4. Close window blinds and put lights off close to windows in order not to attract mosquitos or bugs at night.
  5. Obviously, keep doors and windows closed at all times.

So these are the basics for your hotel or accommodation and securing the premises against mosquitos and zika.

The next important thing is to wear clothing that is loose fitting and bulky (hard when hot, I know) so that your skin is not exposed.  I wore a kaftan and in the evenings put the aircon on and wore a jacket and tracksuit pants.

At this point one should mention that Zika can be transmitted between sexual partners and so its not just mom but also dad who needs to take all of these precautions unfortunately.

So to recap this is really the first 4 steps to prevent ZIKA:

  1. Find a place of no/less/lesser risk of Zika/a risk level you are personally comfortable with (if you are living in Thailand a trip to Singapore doesn’t seem like a very reckless endeavour).
  2. Carefully secure your hotel room/environment so you can enjoy it
  3. Cover your body as fully as possible with clothing
  4. Avoid going out at times when there are more mosquitos or you are less likely to notice them biting you!

Then we get to the next level or deterrent: this involves lathering and surrounding yourself with any number of products and gimmicks. We show you the best since we have honestly tried them all!

Remember that places like Thailand have outdoor airports and so it is important to apply before you exit the aeroplane or make sure you are covered with protective clothing.

The best products to prevent mosquito bites

We tried the following:

  • Bushman water resistant insect repellent 80% Deet - 8/10
  • Parakito bands - 2/10
  • Aerogard spray odourless protection, low irritant spray - 6/10
  • Tweety tomatoe spray - 4/10
  • OFF! Deep woods spray from Johnson and Johnson - 9.5/10
  • Mosquito coils from Japan “Fumakilla” - 2/10
  • Mosquito coils from China “Zebra” - 1/10
  • Ars Mat 12 plug in socket (Courtesy of the Sheraton hotel) - 0/10
  • Speed Tox Plug in light - 1/10
  • Speed Tox room fumigator - 9/10
  • Bushman 40% Deet spray small can - 7/10
  • Bushman 40% Deet spray can large size - 6/10.  Also available with 20% DEET (but assume pretty similar functionality)
  • Aerogard Tropical strength 6 hours protection can spray - 7.5/10
  • Mosquito patches - 1/10

We can also comment on these also available to buy online:

  • Bushman Deet and sunscreen combo - 9/10
  • Speedtox insect spray - 7/10

We tested these products daily for over a week.


Mosquito repellent creams - brands you can buy online/instore

Bushman water resistant insect repellent 80% DEET - 8/10

The Bushman cream was sticky and left a white residue that was hard to get off, even in the shower.  I felt very protected using it but this was not a pleasureable experience and I think next time we would go for the sunscreen combo because it is also a real pain to be reapplying both sunscreen and insect repellent after every swim and shower. As an aside I find their packaging really gross.  Unlike Aerogard which kind of communicated satety in their 'bank blue' and century gothic the Bushman offering just looked amateur and toxic, especially with the lumo green!

They have different levels of DEET and we used the highest available in HK - 80%.

Bushman 80% Deet insect repellent

DEET is very effective for repelling mosquitos and was developed by the armed forces in the US for jungle warfare many years ago.  Most commercial insect repellents contain it even if not expressly advertised as such.

We applied this on top of sunscreen to hopefully mitigate any absorption of harsh chemicals. It has a gross smell - not as strong as nail varnish remover but very distinct. Helpfully you will forget about the smell after a few hours of wearing it.

Bushman precautions on back of tube of insect repellent

It says not to be used for children, and I believe them... this stuff is very strong and for adults at least it gives you confidence...

They did a pretty sweet youtube review video you can see here.

Parakito bands - 2/10

These are bands that you wear. They contain little oblong disks.  The disks smell as strong as soap, i.e. you can smell them close up but not from far away. They are supposed to use natural/essential oils to repel insects.

Parakito band in orange Parakito band on arm

We wore these but honestly I'm not sure that if your right wrist is protected it had any effect on the legs or if maybe wearing this thing just makes you extra anxious.  I wore one of the scented disks around my neck and one in the lumo velcro band on my ankle.  I didn't feel protected and to me this was an add on precaution, not something I trusted to keep me safe.  It smells ok and was one of the most expensive of all the products we bought.  Comes with 2 disks per wearable band and says they last 15 days.  Mine smelt the same after 15 days... but noticeably stronger when first out of the packet.  I would not use these again because I have no confidence that they work, especially since I bought them in a HK supermarket and not an Australian Pharmacy. I'm giving them 2/10 because I like the logo and the name only.

Mosquito repellent sprays - brands you can buy online/instore

Aerogard spray odourless protection - 6/10

Aerogard low irritation spray bottle in blue

This is Aerogard low irritant spray 

Apparently this is Australia's number 1 insect repellent, which is a big claim but as my husband tells me it is fair enough as one of the countries oldest and respected insect repellent brands. This spray was not as lung polluting as the canisters which formed a fine mist and got us all coughing (spray those outside!), but it was effective.  No white streaks and smelled like it worked.  Good coverage.

Aerogard Tropical strength 6 hours protection can spray - 7.5/10

Before I left Melbourne I went into the airport pharmacy and sat with the pharmacist who went through all her notes and all the products and suggested this (NOT the Bushmans) was the only one suitable for pregnant women.  She really did take the time checking all the creams and sprays and lotions out and so I felt most confident with this product that it was safe but also performed its function.

Aerogard insect repellent

The problem with this spray is that the fine mist really gets into your lungs and is hard to enhale.  Also hard to know what/how much has been covered and so easy to over do things. So bottom line whilst the content is obviously good the usability was troublesome. I dreaded applying this stuff. 

I've included the back so you can check out the ingredients:

Aerogard spray can back details

This can is ok for taking on the plane size and contents wise, though they did have a careful look at it. 

Tweety tomatoe spray - 4/10

Tweety mosquito spray

So I have to admit to being against this product from the start because it reminded me, the packaging that is, of a sunscreen I bought when we lived in Shanghai. I had purchased it at a fancy western supermarket because this suncreen said it was extra sensitive for babies.... then I went for a 12km run and burnt my face off under a cap.  It had ZERO functionality.  So as I looked at this tomatoe based spray what it was saying to me is "this is safe to use" but maybe also "this might not work at all and hence the reason it is safe to use, like spraying yourself with fruity perfume".  

Tweety details on back of spray

This one smelt ok and spayed similar in strength and application to the 

Aerogard spray odourless protection.  Because I had such low trust of the product (and because it looked completely harmless to me) I used it over and above on top of the Deet or Aerogard to just to spritz myself when it got hot.  Come to think of it not sure how one could relax at the beach with this much attention on mosquitos, but it was really fine.

OFF! Deep woods spray from Johnson and Johnson - 9.5/10

OFF! insect repellent

This one has the best name, obviously, but we had also used it before in Myanmar.

We bought this at the airport for Steven to use so I could use the pregnancy proof and sanctioned Aerogard but I ended up using it as well and it was the best of the products we tried.  More details below in the summary and recommendations.

Bushman 40% Deet spray small can - 7/10

Bushman canister and vase

The main issue with this spray and also the Aerogard tropical strength was that they spray so finely that its easy to inhale and that's not pleasant.  I felt it was effective and at 40% deet maybe less strong than the cream/lotion but also less easy to apply evenly.

Bushmans spray Busnmans can details on back
Bushman 40% Deet spray can large size - 6/10.  Also available with 20% DEET (but assume pretty similar functionality)

This one is identical to above but we got stopped and had to chuck it as is over 100mls.

Mosquito coils from Japan “Fumakilla” - 2/10

We used these.  You light them and then they smoke a bit and are ideal for the beach. Next to the pool you need to find a way other than sand to stand them upright. They do smell, and they smell fine, but really I'm not sure if this wasn't performing for us more of a kind of sexy placebo role... the grey smoke whafts seductively around but it didn't seem to be hugely protective of my skin.  We used them more for my emotional state and to relax than because they offer a barrier of bullet proof protection.

The smoke is barely visible and certainly outside there is no danger to your lungs unless you are literally holding and inhaling the thing.

Generally I trust things that are made in Japan.  Their understanding of quality is quite evolved.

Mosquito coils

Mosquito coils from China “Zebra” - 1/10

These coils smelt the same and cost similar to the Japanese ones.

Ars Mat 12 plug in socket (Courtesy of the Sheraton hotel) - 0/10

This was a strange contraption.  It didn't smell and didn't light and didn't smoke.  We put it on and only ever had one mosquito in our room. I don't think one can buy these commercially anyway but its worth asking at the hotel, cannot hurt to have it plugged in.

Hotel mosquito repellent appliance

Speed Tox Plug in light - 1/10

Another strange gadget.  It didn't keep one (now diseased) mosquito out of our space so I'm gonna say it doesn't work. Quite expensive, has a small green light that spooks out the room and needs to be plugged in.  Odourless. 

Speedtox light

Speedtox light and liquid inside

You can see here its a little bit of liquid that you screw into the light and then plug in... very strange and not sure how this works or is supposed to work.

Speed Tox room fumigator - 9/10

WOW! This stuff was amazing.  You put it in a little water and then leave the room... we left for breakfast but you need to leave for at least 3-4 hours and then put the aircon on and cycle the air... When we came back it was like the room was full of smoke and it was hard to breathe.  So we got out and came back later.  We found the room smelling fine, with no residue or stickiness and a HUGE cockroach on the floor who had obviously been pulled out of his hiding place by this fumigation.

This stuff totally worked and I think its ideal if when you check in you drop one and then go out to the beach. It killed every bug in that room and the one next door, I am sure. No sight of mosquitos after that.

Mosquito patches - 1/10

These things do not work! They are of the natural tomato variety.. like the Tweety spray. You are supposed to scratch them to release the scent, but they smell the same whether you scratch or not.  The smell is yuck and when on your clothes and close to you can even make you feel a little sick.  We used them (all of them) but only so I could write this article and confirm that they are just bad smelling and I'm able to tell if effective.  Certainly there is not point in 'scratching' as instructed by the packaging.

Tomatoe mosquito repellent patch

    The best non-toxic products

    Honestly all of the products that worked seemed to have some type of chemical component that was not pronounceable but I took what the very diligent Australian pharmacist said seriously and so I would go with the Aerogard tropical strength.

    Otherwise just stay away from all mosquitos or wear covering clothing 24/7. 

    The best brands to prevent against Zika - summary and recommendations

    The OFF! Deep woods spray seemed to be the least toxic to inhale and use and hence was more regularly applied.  It didn’t really smell and 8 hours is a very comforting time to achieve protection.  It means you can reapply every 4 hrs and feel confident. Next time we travel we will take the initial precautions and then enough of this insect repellent to last us the visit. It does contain Deet but our thinking was that when used on top of sunscreen and only for a short amount of time (a week) that it was safe, especially given no one in our family was prone to seizure which appear to be the main concern. 

    Johnson & Johnsons's OFF!

    OFF! spec and label

    I would not use any of these products on a regular basis as they contain enormous lists of chemicals and certainly not on children (as many of them specifically state).

    So that's our 5c worth.  Have a good trip!

    Jeanne & Steven

    Team twoodie in Thailand





    The mounting evidence for Endocrine Disruption July 14 2017, 0 Comments

    Interesting article on EDCs (Endocrine Disruptors), phthalate esters and organochlorines in scientific journal Nature:

    "Numerous natural and synthetic chemicals have been reported to disrupt the normal function of the endocrine system, and subsequently produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, cardiovascular, metabolic, and immune effects in humans. These chemicals are often classified as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which include both natural and synthetic chemicals. Examples of synthetic chemicals include pharmaceutical agents, pesticides, diethylstilbestrol (DES), dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and components of plastics such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates."

    Read the full article here:

    Wang, C. et al. The classic EDCs, phthalate esters and organochlorines, in relation to abnormal sperm quality: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Sci. Rep. 6, 19982; doi: 10.1038/srep19982 (2016).

    BPA in teethers and pacifiers July 12 2017, 0 Comments

    What is going in your babies mouth?

    Plastic or synthetic teethers, dummies and pacifiers often contain BPA. This is an uncomfortable fact for most parents.  All 59/59 teethers bought online in a 2016 study by the Washington post contained BPA despite being labelled as NOT containing this dangerous endocrine disruptor.

    Are teethers and pacifiers regulated?

    The majority of baby product manufacturers offer BPA-free pacifiers and teethers, even though U.S. and E.U. authorities still insist that the safe level of daily BPA exposure is higher than the levels of BPA found in pacifiers and teethers. You can purchase most of them from,, and but none of these sites or platforms perform third party verification of the brands or manufacturers claims. Toys R Us, Babies R Us and other similar retailers request paperwork but also do not independently verify all of their products as safe and endocrine disruptor free.

    Why is it important to have BPA free teethers or alternatives?

    Endocrine disruptors have been shown by the WHO and UN to cause many types of health issues including infertility, cancers and behavioral issues.  They are most dangerous to young and pregnant people where cells are developing.  Your child could be exposed to endocrine disruptors through sucking on a toy or teether containing these substances.  They would do this for longer periods of time than with other objects they come into contact with and so present a greater risk.

    How can I protect my baby from Endocrine Disruptors?

    We suggest avoiding any synthetic or plastic teethers where possible in preference for natural materials such as wood or letting your child use their hands or yours. Seek out brands that prove with transparency that they are the real deal and care about safety!  Like Twoodie :), but actually there are more and more companies such as Yoli and Otis that make very natural products in an ethical way and via Social Media can demonstrate their bona fides.

    We've written an entire report on Endocrine Disruptors and our wholistic suggestions for living without them around your baby and home. Check it out or send us your thoughts, we are always seeking to learn and educate ourselves better so we can share this info with the world:




    How to choose safe toys July 11 2017, 0 Comments

    Toy safety is a real problem

    Baby, toddler and Children’s toys are routinely recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  This is often because they contain obviously toxic materials. You may remember Mattel recalling 19 million toys in 2007 because they contained lead tainted paint and were unsafe. But these recalls happen every day, just in lower and less extreme quantities.

    Regulation of toys is ineffective

    The sad reality is that even baby toys that are considered “safe” by US consumer agencies (such as the CPSC) often contain materials such as PVC, phthalates, BPA, or other questionable ingredients not explicitly banned in the US.  These endocrine disruptors are prohibited in Europe and in many other developed countries. Toys made in China are only tested in batches of half a million and it is easy (as the Mattel scandal proved) for something to slip through the net when factories are being put under time and price pressure.

    Organic toys and natural materials

    Organic toys in wood or cotton are an alternative the the cheap plastic toys out there. From age 2 children are less dependent on physical toys and less likely to teeth or engage in mouthing activities where they could come into direct contact with a dangerous substance like Lead or BPA.

    Organic, natural, and eco-friendly toys such as Twoodie are great, but beware unsubstantiated marketing.  We have discovered (to our horror) so many seemingly wonderful toy brands that promote sustainability and ethical sourcing but in fact make toys with even the most basic of safety insurances missing - for instance they contain small parts!

    Twoodie PBA, Phthalate, Lead and Endocrine Disruptor free toys #nonasties!

    At Twoodie we are dedicated to making safe and efficacious products for your family. Indeed for playful minds of all ages.  This product needed to exist, even if only just for us. But we are sure there are other people (like you) that care this much too...

    Read more about this here

    How to hack IVF July 09 2017, 2 Comments

    [ This post is from Dec 18, 2015 and first appeared here... a bit has changed since then but I've chosen to publish it verbatim. - Jeanne ]

    [[ Our Endocrine Disruptor Free toys are selling ok now - thankyou! ]]

    As I write this my company is on the verge of failing.  We had such basic ambitions, but still we couldn’t reach them.  IVF is like that.  You aspire to such an easy thing - to have a baby -  something that 16 yr olds seem to manage so effortlessly, and yet you can’t… no matter how hard you try or wish it into existence.  You feel like a failure because even if you know that for you this thing you are doing is very complex, it still looks the same in terms of outcome: nothing.

    There is no single ‘Hack’ to IVF.  In fact I cannot really even personally testify that it works.  All I know about is staying sane while doing this.  For this there are many “little hacks”, things you can do along the way that will make life manageable.  I learnt these because I was doing the IVF process as well as a startup with my other half.  My husband and I did these things in tandem, and together.  Ironically our startup was around babies.  When people would ask us if we were parents I would always feel like such a phony, but try and laugh it off by saying as much.

    Really would not advise doing IVF at the same time as a new business if you have any other choice.

    In our case we didn’t get pregnant and it pushed us back so that this Christmas things ran late… and when things run late you miss windows of opportunity, which mean that you can bet those 1%ers that have to happen are much less likely to.  IVF is like this too: you need to do everything at exactly the right time so that the small probability has a chance of hitting paydirt.

    The following list is just my own thoughts, though I have asked friends who have been through it as well.  Their response was generally “yes we did this, we just didn’t realise we were” or “we should have done that, write it down pls”... so if you trust a granular sample size you can trust this too.

    1 - Have lots of separate folders for medical paperwork.  

    Keep bills apart from your doctors info so it doesn’t look you in the face.

    2 - Get a good icebox

    and mark it so no one gets confused.

    3 - Think of the process like an Architect designing a house:

    the more time you spend planning construction the less likely there is to be a problem with the build.  The initial medical testing period cannot be rushed, so try and feel like the testing is actually part of the process not just the lead up to it, else you will get very frustrated early on...

    4 - Like your doctor.  

    IVF has become very procedural and there is from my standpoint not too much that differentiates, when all being equal you have your body with your age, your issues bla bla.  If you like the person you are going to see (and give your cash to) it will make a difference to your experience so shop around for a human being that treats you like you matter, and are not just no 4 on the waiting list.

    5 - Like your nurse more than your doctor.  

    They are the ones who will help you with the practicalities of life.  Try and see the same nurse so you don’t get different thought bubbles every time you visit.

    6 - Do all the appointments together.  

    I know so many women whose husbands could not make it for this or that reason, usually work.  But honestly these meetings can be like having a cancer treatment, it’s entirely shit to go alone.  You don’t actually ever know which appointment is going to be the one that slaps you around, so just go to all of them together.

    7 - Mantras work.  

    When you are injecting yourself once or twice a day the morning is best (you don’t think about it while asleep).  You need to do it the same time of day so try and do everything else the same directly before and directly after.  I used to run and eat breakfast before and check personal emails after.  When you actually have to do a procedure it looked like this for me:

    • Wash hands, tell partner not to barge into the bathroom in the next 15 mins
    • Get everything out of fridge
    • Read the mantras “I am capable, brave and will be able to do this… bla bla bla”
    • Get injection and materials ready and place everything (spatially) exactly where it was the previous day - same order, position, direction and openings
    • Pray, on my knees.  Not for anything in particular but yes, usually for myself
    • Do the deed - inject - at this time I would sing a verse or two that I knew was about the required ten seconds before withdrawing the needle
    • Sharps away, items back in fridge, highfive for the husband and back to work…

    8 - When injecting go alternate sides.  

    Be very careful not to inject on top of where you did a few days ago as it will cause large and ugly bruising.  Best is to start beside belly button and work out towards your side, alternating LHS and RHS each day.

    9 - Diet: eat whatever you like.  

    This is not the time to be depriving yourself.  It may make you feel in control but you’re not, honestly.  I would say that for me not eating explicit sugar, alcohol and caffeine helped with controlling my moods but this was more relevant to the business than IVF. The pain medication can make you constipated so before the operation drink pear juice or eat high fibre fruit & veg to give yourself a head start.

    10 - Counseling.  

    In Australia it’s mandatory.  Don’t talk to your spouse about everything: there are times when even you know how irrational you are being.  Talk to the counselor and arrange the appointments in advance. If you feel fine that day you can bitch about any number of other things (if like me you are living at home with your parents again), but make sure it’s in the diary and you know you can open up to someone trained to listen and not take on your stress.  For me it was such a relief to have my husband go to counselling.  I knew afterwards he would be chilled out, at least until we started work again the next morning and got hit with a fresh wall of problems to solve.

    11 - Stress bust:

    I found the best was running, bathing and Movies.  The worst was hanging with inquisitive family or socialising with other people.  Note to self: Jeanne you were a rockstar doing all those user interviews with people who have babies and not being envious or dispassionate.  Go me.

    12 - Waiting room ready 

    You are going to spend a lot of time at the doctor having scans and waiting in rooms with Hello Weekly and Harpers Bazaar magazines.  I would always take a book so I felt less dirty afterwards.  Don’t answer email there - bad idea.

    13 - The third place:  

    Find a nice place (cafe/bar/park bench) where you can go routinely after you see the doctor or have any appointments and can just chat.  We used to go to an amazing cafe and have breakfast/lunch.  I looked forward to it, like a treat after giving blood or something.  Going straight home is difficult; you take all the emotions with you before you have had a chance to unpack.

    14 - Change your vocab.  

    We replaced all the horrible words in IVF with new ones.  For example we called the scan “the photoshoot”, we called the doctor “the stalk”, we called injecting “jabbing the chubb” and we called the operation “hatching”.  We called the trigger day “game day”

    Now this would have sounded stupid to me before I went through it and realised every little 1%er makes life less hard when you are doing IVF.  We had other names too but they are kind of context specific ‘in jokes’ and wouldn’t interest you.  Those will help too.

    Sure there are many more but this is what I remember.  Good luck!


    My name is Jeanne Bardin

    I wrote this only because I thought it might help someone.  Actually I’m very, very private.

    We started a vertically integrated business called selling ‘organic’ baby toys after having lived in Asia and seen what cheap plastic toys do to our health, communities and the environment.  We gave a shit, so we tried.


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    More tips:

    15 - Exercise. 

    This is very anecdotal evidence but for me it helped to stop running and do more low impact exercise.  Experts agree with this and suggest keeping your heart rate below 120. I think 30-40 mins 4-6 times a week seems to be the best balance, maybe also for life outside of the ART journey.  Of all the people I know undergoing IVF and those trying to have a baby "the free way" it seemed that swimming and walking ranked highest amongst people that had success and managed to keep themselves together in the process.