For reasons unknown, whenever our home phone rings we are about as far away from it as you can be in our fairly small house. Not only that, we are usually both otherwise occupied. My hands will be in a sink of dirty dishes, suds slopping up my forearms, while Sea will be cooking an elaborate meal. And then the phone will ring. So it only made sense that we were in the middle of a home renovation project when the phone rang on Sunday afternoon. I ran across the house, bare feet covered with drywall dust, simultaneously trying to wipe the paint off my hands onto a cleanish corner of my shirt and answer the phone before voicemail intercepted. My urgent “Hello?!” as I grabbed for the phone at the last minute was met by Nurse Brittany’s cheerful greeting, followed by, “Congratulations! Your blood test results show a surge! Your IUI will be tomorrow.”
I’m not sure if the moment deserved congratulations. It wasn’t as if I had done anything good or bad to influence the surge of hormones in my body, unless I was unknowingly reaping the karmic rewards of a past lifetime. Nevertheless, I was happy to have confirmation that my body seems to be returning to a somewhat normal schedule after two months of rollercoaster cycles. I was just as happy to have notice of the impending IUI, after the “maybe today, maybe not” routine of October and November. It was a strange experience to walk into Clinic One early on Monday morning, knowing that the IUI was going to happen. In fact, when I first exited the elevator I headed straight to the clinic, even though Nurse Brittany had told me to go to the takeout window to thaw the sperm first. I remembered as I approached the reception and quickly backtracked, going to the takeout window with its baseball memorabilia and bobblehead doll to sign the forms giving them permission to thaw the third and final vial of our first choice donor.
My favourite blood drawing miracle worker was on shift, and I sat in the waiting area hoping that she would be the one to call me in. Instead the other technician on staff read out my name, then struggled to find a vein in my hand. The blood drawing miracle worker came in partway through this fiasco and, seeing the needle in the back of my hand, made faces at me over her colleague’s shoulder. The ultrasound technician was also somebody different—a somewhat brusque woman who I didn’t remember having seen before. She seemed uncertain about how the ultrasound was supposed to proceed, walking the short length of the room several times before reaching for a box of condoms. The box slipped from her hands and Lifestyles (non-lubricated) fell over the ultrasound machine and down to the ground. I watched her scramble for the condoms, and wondered if maybe she wasn’t an ultrasound technician at all. Maybe she was just some patient who had gotten bored of the interminable wait and decided to try performing an ultrasound or two for a little variety. Condoms recovered, she began the ultrasound and I asked her the same question that I had asked the previous days’ technician: how she had become an ultrasound technician. Like both Diana and the gynecologist, this ultrasound technician had been a doctor prior to immigration. While I appreciate the stellar qualifications of the people who have performed my two dozen ultrasounds, I also find it profoundly depressing that people aren’t able to work in the career they cared about, worked towards, and achieved because they’ve moved to a country that claims their qualifications are insufficient.
Ultrasound completed, I went back to the clinic waiting room and sat down next to the forlorn Christmas tree. I assumed that things would proceed in the same way that they usually did: Dr. Text would call me in, look through my file, send me back to the waiting room and later perform my IUI. So when he called my name and I rushed down the hallway after him, I was shocked to hear him say (over his shoulder, maintaining the speed walk) that the sperm was ready and we would do the procedure now. Now? What did he mean now? It was only 8:45 in the morning, and Sea was still sitting obliviously in her office. I stopped him and told him that I would have to wait until Sea arrived– I am still conventional enough to want my partner there for the possible moment of conception.
So I was sent back to the waiting room, where Sea and I exchanged frantic texts about how quickly she would be able to get to Clinic One. There were delays: a coworker to make excuses to, a traffic jam, but she made it to Clinic One by 9:15. Having missed the brief window of opportunity with Dr. Text, I fully expected to be sitting between Sea and the Christmas tree for another several hours. Instead, seeing him running down a hallway, I chased after him and announced that Sea had arrived. He only paused for a second before saying, “Okay, then let’s do this now!”
Dr Text chatted for a minute, before suddenly falling quiet. He stood in the center of the room, brow furrowed, staring at my chart. “What’s wrong?” I asked, “You look confused.” He didn’t reply but, after a moment’s pause, resumed action. He stuck his head through the small shuttered window in the wall, calling for our sample. As Sea and I sat– Sea in a chair next to the table, me with my feet in the stirrups– and Dr. Text prepared the sperm, we joked about Mickey’s retirement at the age of 24 and the sparse selection of other donors meeting our criteria. Finally the sperm, all 20 million of them, were ready. The IUI was fast, performed to Katy Perry’s, “Lost”. As the song ended and the radio station hosts began to chatter, Dr Text removed the speculum, and then himself from the room. Sea pulled out her breakfast from her bag, munching on a bagel with garlic cream cheese as I lay waiting for the sperm to do their thing.
About ten minutes later Sea headed back to work while I went to get progesterone suppositories from Heterosexist Receptionist. The progesterone, new this cycle, was prescribed by Dr. Text after I casually mentioned my short luteal phase. Heterosexist Receptionist briefly explained the suppositories’ use: “You put them up your vagina.” Vagina was said in an exaggerated whisper, tone hushed and syllables lengthened. I stared at her, wondering why she was treating this as a bad word or a secret… I’m told that fertility clinics deal in vaginas quite a bit.
With the IUI completed and the progesterone tucked away, I said goodbye to Heterosexist Receptionist and Clinic One for the next two weeks. I wonder if the Christmas tree will still be there when I return?
Total Ultrasound Count: 24