There’s no easy way to say it: Infertility sucks. I have been down that road WAY further than I wish I had gone. Sometimes I convince myself that it was a “necessary” journey I needed to travel in order to arrive at my pre-determined destination of mothering my daughter, but it was still a totally rough, shitty journey. That’s why I’m going to write today about the lighter side of my journey (the heavy stuff will come one day, don’t worry). In 2008, as one of our numerous attempts to impregnate me, Huzbo and I found ourselves travelling all the way to Eastern Europe to do our 3rd IVF cycle that year.
Why would we go all the way OVER THERE, you ask? We had decided to use donor embryos, after hearing our fertility specialist inform us that our own ingredients were “the shits” (yes, he actually said that). Donor embryos are hard to come by in my own country. It is illegal to pay for human eggs, and while men may be fine with providing the outcome of a few moments of self-enjoyment at no cost, women must endure far worse in order to donate eggs and not many of them are willing to do that without some sort of compensation. I don’t blame them.
So, off we trotted to this country that shall remain nameless, because really, overall it wasn’t a bad experience and I don’t want my attempt at humorous memoir-writing here to offend, hurt or put off anyone.
Our first visit to the clinic was interesting. The drive up a small mountain to a building perched at the top reminded me of a mental institute in a movie (I’m sure there are many very pleasant mental institutes, but this one seemed intimidating). The old, heavy metal door that I could barely open led to an all-metal elevator that some might refuse to trust, complete with clanging metal cage grill closure and noises that left me wondering if we’d even make it to the 3rd floor.
Stepping off the elevator, I had to cover my mouth with my hand. We had read on the clinic’s website prior to departure that the nurses had recently gotten new uniforms. There had been a small picture with the website piece, but the picture did not provide the 1,000 words that came to mind when we first saw the nurses.
Uh-huh. Like it wasn’t bad enough that this quaint Eastern European town had model-quality female eye candy strutting about for Huzbo to stare at (yet NARY any MALE eye candy for me, of course. In fact, all the men I saw looked like they had a serious drinking problem with all their red, bulbous noses) but we had to visit this medical clinic for a daily dose of these nurses? Perhaps they were trying to assist the men with their *cough* donations, but it just irritated me. Did I mention the multiple daily hormone injections?
On our first visit, I was to receive a pelvic/uterine examination. Now, here at home, we are given a nice paper “sheet” to cover our lady bits whilst waiting for the doctor to come and discreetly lift it from the bottom end and do what needs to be done. Well, I guess that infamous European bodily “openness” extends to their fertility clinics. I was asked to remove my clothes from the waist down and lie on the exam table. Just like at home. Except that I was told to disrobe in a little privacy corner of the room. On the OTHER side of the room. While the doctor (male), nurse and of course a student doctor (also male), waited for me beside the exam table. Oh, and my husband. Who has obviously seen me strut my nekked stuff across a room numerous times. Just not in a medical exam room with an audience of 3.
I just want to say at this point – GOD LOVE AND BLESS the woman who posted online about her experience with this situation prior to my leaving for this fertility vacation and therefore gave me the idea ahead of time to wear a LONG shirt. Very long. As in – a DRESS. Thankfully my bits did not perform the cha-cha across the room that day.
Fast forward to the day our “textbook quality” embryos (according to the embryologist) were to be inserted. For those who have no experience or knowledge of in-vitro fertilization, this is done through a tube, inserted through your vagina, to your cervix, where they are then gently swooshed into your uterus with a simple request that they will be so kind as to burrow a den into your uterine lining and stick around for 9 months.
So, it’s a big day. I was given the standard hospital gown. One. No extra to use as a robe to cover the junk in my trunk. And of course with all those stick-thin model type women living there, the damned thing doesn’t fit all the way around. Ok, big deal – everyone is medical personnel here, right? Wrong. Not all the other patients in the waiting room that I had to cross in front of to get from the change room to the procedure room. Lovely. Just because the nurses wanted everyone to see their ass cheeks didn’t mean I wanted to join their club.
I scooted across that hallway and jumped up on the procedure table. That was cold. Because it was metal. With no cover. I tried to relax, and then noticed there were no stirrups. (For your FEET, fellas). My gyno covers his with cute oven mitts, but they’re still there. To help us. Hold up our legs in a bent/spread position. There were no stirrups on this table. In fact, there was a whole lot LESS table than I was used to in gyno-world back home. I was then asked to line up my butt with the edge of the table and “rest” (HA!HA!HA!) my heels on either side of my hips.
ARE YOU F@%&+!G KIDDING ME???
That is not a comfortable position under ANY circumstance. Unless of course you are Nadia Comaneci. Whom clearly, I am not. Perhaps that’s why Eastern European women kick ass at gymnastics – they learn it at their gyno’s office. Anyhooo, here is me, Ms. Whole Lotta Junk in the Trunk perched on her trunk at the edge of a cold metal slab desperately trying to hold my heels on the table beside my hips (and using my hands to do so) while the doctor is inserting a tube into my vajayjay and telling me to relax. I honestly contemplated kicking him and saying my foot slipped out of the bizarre medical Twister game they had me playing.
And then I noticed the BEST part. The part that made me forget my thighs, glutes and gut were all cramping up with the strain of my posture and my efforts to not topple off that metal slab.
It was a warm July day. The window was open. A large casement window. And there were no screens people. None.
AND A FLY JUST ENTERED THE ROOM THROUGH THAT WINDOW.
Are you getting this mental image? Ok, good. Hyperventilation was just a breath or two away.
And then it was over and the fly and my bits avoided confrontation, thankfully.
I was asked to lie in a “calm state” for an hour to help the embryo “find it’s mark”. I always envision a big “THIS WAY–>” sign on my cervix when I think about those instructions. For the literate embryos.
So I was lying on a bed in a pleasant yellow room that resembled a hospital room (6 beds, 3 on each side of the room) and Huzbo was actually starting to doze in his chair beside me. I was trying to meditate, think calm thoughts, think happy thoughts, when I noticed that there was ALSO a huge window in this room.
ALSO without a screen. ALSO open.
And a huge buzzing bee had just flown through that window.
Pretty sure you won’t be shocked to hear that neither of those textbook quality embryos found a warm nesting place in my uterus that day…
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