Round 1

October 2008

The amount of literature you get to read about the process of IVF is so daunting, I did what any self-respecting woman about to embark on a life changing experience would do – I didn’t read any of it. It was just too much to take in, so I decided to just go with the flow and wait for each instruction, like some covert spy.

After collecting my drug of choice (don’t ask me what it was called, all I remember is it was over $400 for a little vial) I then tried to decide whether it was going to be better to get my husband to stab me or to do it myself. It’s quite hard to inject yourself in the butt, but it’s better than the alternative. The sperm donor (that’s all he was at this stage as I was still annoyed at his level of participation) had a couple of goes before I thumped him. He stuck the needle in and when I said Ow, he took the bloody thing out without injecting the drug!

I was told, in my spy briefing, that I had to inject at the same time every morning. Of course I took this literally and would bound out of bed to make sure I was right on time. I am not a morning person, so trying to put the correct amount of drug into the syringe through bleary eyes was quite a task. I had a trip to Adelaide booked and when I realised I’d be mid-flight at precisely the time I was to inject, I got into a bit of a lather. A phone call to IVF HQ calmed me down and I managed to inject in the airport carpark once I’d landed. Oh, I had also learned by this stage that I could inject into my stomach instead of my backside if that was easier. If only I’d read those pamphlets….

After a few days of injecting, I was horrified to learn I had to go for blood tests and scans every 2nd day. It wasn’t the tests that were the issue, it was getting up at some ungodly hour and battling peak hour traffic to get into the city on time to have the tests done! I repeat – I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON!!!

Here’s a couple of things you may not know. Not everyone who works in fertility clinics is kind, caring and compassionate. Not everyone who is employed to take blood can find a freaking vein. When you arrive at the clinic, you write your name on a list and the blood takers come out and call the next on the list. There was one particular girl who hurt like hell, so I would pretend I hadn’t heard my name called and wait for the next one, leaving some unsuspecting victim to be left with a dead arm for the day. Then you go upstairs (or was it downstairs? I was always getting confused in that building and visited every floor on a daily basis) for your scan. This was an internal scan to check the size of all the follicles that were growing thanks to the drugs you were injecting. The women working in this particular clinic were not homely and comforting like I’d had before. They didn’t care that this was my first scan and I didn’t know what the paper and pencil were for! (It’s for writing your numbers down…What numbers?…cue loud sigh…The numbers I tell you to write down). They didn’t ask how I was feeling or if I had any concerns. They didn’t even laugh at my jokes! One morning I slept in and then got caught in horrendous Sydney traffic. The cut-off time was 8.15 (yes, A.M.) and I rang the clinic to let them know that I was on the way. They receptionist told me to go straight up for my scan. 3 floor checks later I arrived at the clinic, smiled at the receptionist (she must surely have been expecting me) and wrote my name on the list. I was the only one there. I sat, and I sat, and I sat. One by one the scanning staff were coming out, ordering tea and coffee, and discussing the latest content of Woman’s Day. One of them even smiled at me as she shared a laugh with the girls. And still, I sat. Finally the receptionist glared at me and said “What are you doing here?” I told her I was there for my scan. “Scanning has finished for the day” she snapped. Two can play this game, I thought. Well, I’ve been sitting here for ages. You saw me come in. You know that feeling you get when you complain about food in a restaurant and send it back? Then you’re not sure whether you’ve offended the chef and shouldn’t eat the food? With the same sense of foreboding, I followed a very grumpy young woman into a room for my internal scan.

Once enough follicles have reached a good size, about 20-22mm, it’s time to go in for collection. Apparently you can choose to have this done under a general anaesthetic, but Dr Baby-Maker said that wouldn’t be necessary. She didn’t go into detail as to why not. Perhaps she assumed I had read the literature…

No need to fear. It wasn’t too bad. A bit of pushing on the abdomen and a needle suctioned out the eggs into a petrie dish. I discovered that some women will have 15-20 eggs to collect. I had 6. Not much pain, but should I feel inadequate? Had I failed? Was it due to that day I did my injection upstairs in the bedroom with no airconditioning and then left the vial on the bedside table all day as temperatures soared to 43C? Maybe, but I wasn’t going to openly admit to that. I’ll just stick with the “quality over quantity” line and see what happens.

The embryologist came in to let me know how things were looking. I didn’t understand a word she said, so I just smiled and nodded and took in the fact that she would call me in the morning. Meanwhile, I had a nap while the sperm donor went off to have a beer and watch a dirty movie in the little private room downstairs.

The next day the embryologist rang to let me know that only 4 made it through the night. That bitch! Don’t let her look after your fully formed kids, whatever you do.

On day 3, I had a call to come in straight away as it was time to implant. Only 1 was looking good (hmmm…does that mean brown hair, brown eyes and straight teeth) so best not to wait til day 5. There’s nothing you can do but drop everything and high-tail it back into the city. Sperm donor was away of course. Nothing works completely to plan! This procedure didn’t involve him anyway. Dr Baby-Maker simply got the fertilised egg and catapulted it up into the fallopian tube. I could see it all happening on a big screen TV on the wall. Fascinating stuff.

And now? We wait. Wait a couple of weeks until you either have your period or miss your period.

I got my period.