Lab Rat

It’s a Tuesday night and I’ve had a long day teaching. I’ve taken the next day off to travel for some fertility testing. I have to take a heavy-duty antibiotic to ward off any infection (basically a seven-day Z-pack all at once). Seeing as how I am the world’s worst patient, I politely ignore the package directions that say “TAKE WITH FOOD.” I do not. I spend the next better part of  two hours trying not to vomit back up this pill, because I know if I don’t keep it down, I can’t go through with tomorrow. I use all of my will power, crackers, a very stern lecture from my husband and I do it…cut to next day.

Hi there, I’m nurse Jackie. “Here, pee in this cup.”

“Okay, I’m going to put this transvaginal probe into you now to see how many eggs you have.”

“I’m now going to put this camera in you so I can see if you have any fibroids, polyps or endometrial cancer.”

HOLY SWEET MOTHER OF JESUS! WHAT IS JACKIE AND THE REST OF THE TEAM DOING DOWN THERE? We just met for goodness sake and you haven’t even bought me a drink yet!?!?! And I’m sorry, did the word ‘cancer’ come up? I’m already freaking out; I already have endometriosis, and now I have to play this fun waiting game for the “C” word. Lord help me…now I’m wishing I didn’t keep that stupid pill down…

There’s another nurse in the room, her name escapes me, because let’s face it, my mind was somewhere else at the moment, and she’s telling me I’m doing great. I don’t know how, I was just lying there trying not to cry or pee on Nurse Jackie and the doctor. They count my follicles and I had 17 — a good number. I’ll go with 17; “We can work with that they said.” I’m looking at the screen next to me and it looked like something out of a Magic Eye book, but cool, 17 is my new lucky number.

My poor husband’s hand is blue because I’m squeezing it so hard, and then in about 10 minutes, Jackie and team, in their cute little pink scrubs, say to us, “Okay all done, see that wasn’t so bad.” Uh…yes it was. I feel violated. Oh and now I’m being told through the haze of pain that I need to go downstairs in the hospital where all of our fertility endeavors take place to give blood. Okay, I’m fine with this. Blood doesn’t bother me, I’m a teacher, I have seen my fair share of nose bleeds, cuts, scrapes, you name it…my husband on the other hand is, shall we say a sympathetic vomiter…even though I don’t vomit.

We take the elevator down stairs because I am not walking…not after Nurse Jackie…and I hand the phlebotomist my lab slip. I’m thinking one to two vials, no biggie. Oh how silly of me, today these people wanted ALL OF ME! They took about 11 vials of blood. That even made me woozy; Steffan was about to fall down and he was standing 20 feet away from any needle in sight…turd.

We had one more stop…back upstairs to meet with the financial planner for the hospital. She walked us through packets of papers and payment plans. She said everything looked good. I am a state employee and have great benefits! I heard from her, “Let’s just get you pregnant!” Granted, the cost was still high and not free like other couples, but it was doable. We left feeling pretty good (mentally, I did not feel good physically).

At this point, our journey is done for the day and Steffan helps me out to the car, because let’s face it, I’m not getting there on my own.

Our car rides home from the hospital are never short ones; typically an hour and a half. We always have time for pause and reflection. The happiness I felt earlier in the day started to fade as I replayed the phone call from my one doctor in my head, that Steffan had zero sperm and I thought how are we going to do this? We’re going to need a miracle, and after so many needles, trips to the hospital, two oblation surgeries, and a plethora of other poking and prodding, it’s still not looking good in my mind.

Steffan and  I were quiet for a lot of that ride home. I don’t know if we were just exhausted from all of the procedures and running from appointment to appointment, or the thought that we might actually be able to have our own child made us tired. Until now, that possibility had been completely wiped off of the table. When we did talk, it was to make sure the other one was alright.

While we played the waiting game, it stated to consume us. We were constantly online reading about our condition. We were constantly talking about it to each other, but not really to anyone else. It was too private still and too embarrassing. We began isolating ourselves and that was a bad sign. We had no idea what to talk about unless it was this: baby, baby, baby. What else could we do? Should we get second opinions (mind you, the first ones weren’t fully in yet), should we try Eastern medicine, the list goes on and on. If we weren’t talking about it, we weren’t talking. Finally, the one bit of research we did do that actually helped was the 20 minute rule. It was hard at first, but with the help of some counseling, we forced ourselves to only talk about: infertility, babies, adoption, etc. for 20 minutes a day and then be done. It was a part of our lives, but it would not consume our lives. Once we did that, it seemed like a tiny weight was lifted and that for a moment we could breathe.

After about two weeks of waiting we got a call from our doctor that said I had viable eggs; but they weren’t sure of the quality…something they wouldn’t know until they did the extraction. At this point, my happiness began to return! All we had to do was get one…one little dude from Steffan and IVF was in our future.

Our next step was all about him and it wasn’t going to be an easy one. Surgery was in his future and that’s one thing he does not do well with.




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