Yesterday afternoon Nurse Brittany instructed me via voicemail to come in the next day– today. My LH levels were rising, and it would either be today or “very, very soon”. She also suggested that I come as early in their cycle monitoring hours as possible, so that they could get me out of there as soon as possible.
Despite the frantic pace of Clinic One, a short appointment somehow still takes an hour; I suspected that I would be there for a very, very long time if anything beyond the usual poking and prodding was going to be happening. I came prepared with my laptop, a pile of work, and my best patient expression. The appointment began with the routine bloodwork and ultrasound, though I knew from Nurse Brittany’s call that I would be waiting in the clinic for the results instead of making a quick exit. As the ultrasound technician stood next to my open legs, she wondered outloud “Is Dr. Text even in today?”
Fantastic. Great. Today might be IUI day and we’re not even sure if Dr. Text has shown up to work.
I was sent back to the waiting room to, well, wait. They wouldn’t know if it was IUI day until my bloodwork came back. I called Sea, who was coming for the IUI and needed to know if she had to leave work. “I don’t know”, I explained, “I haven’t seen Dr. Text yet. Like I actually haven’t laid eyes on him.” A few seconds later Dr. Text rushed by the front desk, cell phone in hand. At least he was there!
Minutes later Dr. Text called me in to tell me that my main follicle was now 20.5mm, with the second follicle having seemingly shrunk or disappeared. Ovulation was going to be soon, IUI was going to be soon, they just wouldn’t know how soon until my bloodwork came back. So I went back out into the waiting area to, well, wait some more.
I was in the midst of a fairly productive work morning, that just happened to be taking place with the aid of my laptop and Clinic One’s complementary wifi access, when Dr. Text called my name again. He didn’t even bother to bring me into a room this time but instead told me in a near whisper, as we stood by the front desk, that today was the day. What? Today? I had known that there was a good chance of today being the day, but I was somehow caught offguard. I had to call Sea! I had to go to the takeout window to thaw sperm! I had to be inseminated!
Dr. Text told me that the sperm, in his words “the sample”, would take 40 minutes to thaw and then he would do the insemination. Having a fairly good sense of how Clinic One works by now, I called Sea and told her that she should try to be there in an hour. I then did what Dr. Left had instructed me to do days ago, I went to the other side of the elevator– to the window that looks like a takeout window but isn’t– and asked them to thaw the sample. Of course there were a few glitches– it wouldn’t be Clinic One without them. My name originally wasn’t on the procedure list, which meant that Sperm Thawer (I don’t know his actual title, and didn’t spend enough time with him to come up with anything more personalized) had to chase down Dr. Text to make sure I wasn’t lying and just thawing sperm for fun. When he returned, with confirmation that I was thawing sperm with legitimate purpose, he felt the need to pause and ask, “So you’re the patient?” This is the third or fourth time this question has been asked by various staff at Clinic One, and I find it infinitely annoying. They may just want to know how a couple with two uteri and no sperm decide on how to have a baby: a coin toss? Rock, paper, scissors? But I can’t help but read it as a comment on gender. Really? You? Yes. Me. As Sperm Thawer and two others tried to figure out the computer system they were using– pulling an instruction manual from a drawer– I took in the scene around me. In addition to the usual office supplies, Sperm Thawer’s desk held a bright yellow baseball and a piggy bank in the shape of a sperm. He was clearly a big fan of baseball– about 20 game tickets were taped to the partition on his desk, and a bobblehead doll of a local player stood on the ledge of the takeout window. The doll’s head wobbled slightly as they handed me a receipt for the procedure. Ouch.
With 40-60 minutes to wait until Sea arrived and the sperm was thawed, I went back to sit in the waiting room. I watched as people came and went, and Dr. Text ran back and forth: often with cellphone in hand. I did more work and watched the fishtank. Sea is never late, so she arrived two minutes before the one hour mark I had given her. Dr. Text doesn’t share this punctual nature however, and so Sea and I sat for the next 30 odd minutes until finally Dr. Text appeared and called my name.
Sea and I followed him down the hallway, Sea pushing at my back in an attempt to keep up with him. We were led into a room that I had never been in before, identified by a sign on the door as the Insemination Room. It looked like any other clinic room. Similar to the one, in fact, where Dr. Text and I had spoken the day before. The bright lights lit up pale blue walls and linoleum floors, and the long counter against the back wall was covered with gowns, papers, gloves. The only differences were the small blue door over the counter on the back wall and the oven mitts inexplicably covering the stirrups on the exam table.
Dr. Text left almost as soon as he had entered the room. As I took my clothes off from the waist down, Sea took advantage of the moment by snapping photos on my phone. I sat on the exam table, and Sea sat in a chair in the corner near my head. Dr. Text reappeared and then, ready, opened the small blue door on the wall. I don’t know what I had expected to see on the other side of this door, but I was surprised to see a woman’s face. Dr. Text asked her for the sample, it was transferred from her gloved hand to his, and in a moment the door was closed again.
From there it happened very quickly. Dr. Text noted that there were “19.8 million of the little swimmers”, which he seemed to be happy about. I watched him draw the freshly washed sperm into a syringe through a long, thin catheter and registered quickly how very little of it there actually was. As Dr. Text inserted the speculum and then the catheter, I turned my head to face Sea. We made faces at each other, sticking out our tongues and wiggling our eyebrows. It was silly, but exactly what I wanted to be focussed on.
Then it was done. I was in direct contact with sperm for the first time in my life. And it felt like nothing had happened. Dr. Text told us that we could stay there for as long as we wanted, and left. I wasn’t sure how long we should stay or what we should do, but Sea had read online that 15 minutes was a good amount of time. So for 15 minutes I lay on the exam table and we talked, slightly giddy. Sea, who has a disturbing fondness for Hanson, suggested that we name the potential child MMM Bop. I complained about the lack of mood lighting, and Sea flipped a couple of light switches sending us into complete darkness. And then, as I got ready to stand up, Sea pulled out her iPod and played Hey, Mickey.
I put on my pants, high fived the oven mitt and we left.
We walked down the street together for a few minutes. I stopped with Sea as she picked up her lunch to take back to work– having spent her lunch break in the Insemination Room– and she harassed me about the fact that I wasn’t hungry: “You need to promise me you’ll eat lunch! Don’t forget that you’re eating for 19.8 million now!” We parted ways, heading in opposite directions towards our respective offices. I’ve spent the rest of the day feeling both totally ordinary and very, very strange. Today might be nothing more than the first of a series of procedures, or it might be the beginning of the start.
We’re officially in our first every two week wait.
Total Ultrasound Count: 9