Sunday, December 11, 2005

Plagued

Bogong moths live in caves in the mountains for most of the year. They’re small and dark brown and apparently are chock full of protein with a delicate nutty flavour. Now and then you see them braving it in the big city and dashing themselves against car headlights or street lamps.

One year they all went absolutely apeshit and every single Bogong Moth in the Known Universe came to Sydney.

Like some sort of evil entomological Schoolies’ Week, they came, they fucked themselves stupid and they made a big bloody pest of themselves.

One particular evening they started flying in through the window of my flat.

I closed the windows and they started crawling in through the ventilation shafts. There were hundreds of them.

At first I tried to scoop them up and throw them out the back door but soon the whirring noises and the furry wings and the way their feelers poked through the slats first closely followed by their brown Bogongish head began to freak me out and I turned on the vacuum cleaner and started sucking them straight off the wall.

Vaccuuming up live Bogong Moths is not something I’m proud of and would never have happened if C had been home because he is like St Francis of Assissi to invertebrates and what he can’t catch with an empty yoghurt pot and a piece of cardboard isn’t worth catching. In fact it’s probably not an insect at all, it’s probably a piece of cheese or a raisin or something.

The joy at learning that I had finally been struck over the head with the Preggers Stick lasted for 48 hours and then the Niggling Doubts started creeping in.

I tried to shut them out, I tried to say to myself…feel the queasiness….witness the extreme fatigue… but eventually they won.
Why should you be pregnant? The beta was wrong. It’s like last time when you were pregnant for a minute and a half. This time you’ll be pregnant for an hour and a half but it’ll still end the same way...ooh, what's that? Your period??

On the weekend I gave in and called the House Of Groovy IVF Love.

I’d like to come in for another blood test, I told them. I got my beta last week and it all sounded very good but now…

The Fertility Sister was calm. Of course, she said, you want to make sure it’s all progressing the right way.

That’s it, I said. Because the thing is I have Niggling Doubts.

Mmmm.
I could hear the scratch of her pen as she wrote Nutter Incoming beside my name, but her voice was soothing.

If you want to come in and check that’s fine, she said, we understand. You want to put your mind at rest.

The problem with vacuuming up Bogong Moths is of course that you don’t actually kill them. Instead they rustle about inside the vacuum cleaner. Eventually you start to catch one or two, horribly mutilated, crawling out the nozzle.

Niggling Doubts are much harder to kill. Another beta will help, for now, but there’s no vacuum cleaner on Earth big enough to suck them all up.

And it’s not as if I could fry them up and eat them. Unlike Bogongs, Niggling Doubts have zero nutritional value.

And of course, as everyone knows, Niggling Doubts taste like shit.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Things You Might Do During A Two Week Wait

You might make a list of Jobs That Need Doing Before Christmas.

Sadly you will only make this list in your head and you will only ever recall the entire list once when you are lying in bed and can’t be arsed getting up to write it down.

For the rest of the Waiting Period you will be haunted by vague memories of The List as you determine to put things on and cross things off.


You might decide to get a haircut.

This is because you are attending a wedding on the weekend and you are sick of pulling your hair back into a boring ponytail and exposing your spotty forehead to the world.

But on the morning of the wedding you may wake up and go: oh fuck, I forgot to book that appointment. But then, genius may strike you!

Look, here in the shopping centre is one of those very cheap, very nasty, no booking places! All the hair cutters are standing about waiting for hair to cut. And here I am, practically standing in the doorway and I’VE GOT HAIR.

And one of them, Svetlana say, from an unnamed Eastern bloc country, will draw you gently inside. When she asks you how you would like your hair cut today you will start to explain your dilemma and then realize she is wearing her hair pulled back in a ponytail and she has a spotty forehead just like you.

Later you will emerge with your hair strangely layered and your fringe reshaped and a lurking suspicion that it’s not really a very good cut at all. You will attend the wedding with your hair pulled back in a boring ponytail.

This will be a lesson learned.


You might tell your sister in law that you intend making an entire nativity set using paper mache and roll on deodorant bottles.

To your surprise she may hand you a bag of washed empty roll on deodorant bottles which she has collected because she is a mother of three children and they Do Craft. Now you are stuck with this task because you will look like a wally if you hand the bag of washed empty roll on deodorant bottles back and you would feel guilty if you just shoved them into a recycling bin.

During your Waiting Period you might choose to start the Roll On Deodorant Nativity Set. You might sculpt your Christmas artworks on newspaper so as to avoid mess.

But then a breeze may blow through your flat and in a panic you may be forced to grab precious ornaments to weigh the newspaper down.

This will lead to precious ornaments being streaked with flour and water which dries with a cement like consistency. This will be irritating because it will be another job to add to The List.

A quick and clever fix however will be to put the Precious Ornaments somewhere people won’t see them like in that spot behind the bookcase.


You might start reading Messages From The Cosmos in word verification thingys when you go to comment on other people’s blogs.

This will be unsettling. The messages are very firmly one way or the other so as soon as you see the previously unreadable jumble of letters you will be struck with either joy or grief. They will also be spelt very badly.


You might have a mental blank and worry about whether ‘spelt’ actually is the past tense of spell or a primitive grain used to make tasty breads suitable for people with wheat intolerance.

Then you will cunningly incorporate your ignorance into your post in an amusing manner.


You might spend long periods of time staring at your nipples in the mirror.

This is a natural thing to do as you are wondering if they are changing in any way to indicate pregnancy.

Then you might decide your boobs are sagging. Then you might start holding a breast in each hand and wiggle them up and down, pretending your nipples are eyes and your bellybutton is a mouth and it can talk to you. Then you will stop because this is not natural it's just stupid.


You might read on somebody’s blog that pineapple is good for implantation.

Immediately you will dash out to the fruitshop. However there will be two kinds of pineapple available and you will spend half an hour weighing them up in each hand and wondering which is best for the embryos.

Unluckily a fruitshop man will hear you muttering to yourself about pineapple and embryos but on the bright side the sheer embarrassment will encourage you to make an immediate choice.

Your sister might ring from New Zealand and chat while you both wait for the phone call from the clinic.

As you chat together she will mention that pregnant women have higher body temperatures. Inspired, you may get your digital thermometer and shove it in your mouth. Similarly inspired your sister will get her thermometer and shove it in her ear.

Strangely your conversation will flow unimpaired.


When you go in for your blood test you might feel a shock when the Fertility Sister asks if this is your “final” blood test.

You may wonder if she means your credit card is declined or if all the sisters got together and decided they hate you and your husband with his rice pudding scented head and they never want to take your blood again.


On your way home you and your husband might feel moved to hug and embrace a large piece of public art because it reminds you of a pair of enormous ovaries and hence it could be lucky.

You will need to do this surreptitiously because the artwork is in a public space surrounded by offices. This will make you feel like Harry Potter trying to run through the wall at Kings Cross station without anyone noticing except of course you will not be carrying an owl.


If you get the phone call that says your beta was 490 and you are “definitely pregnant” you will cry/shriek/attempt to speak calmly/scrawl notes in your diary that will later prove to be unreadable.

For 48 hours you will float on a bubble of happiness and sheer joy. You will share that joy and be delighted and encouraged by the enormous wave of love and support you receive both online and in person.





With a great screech of brakes and clunking of gears The Great Big Fertility Ride pulls in at the station. C and I gingerly step out of the carriage. Hope’s already brushed off the vomit and darted off to climb into someone else’s carriage and start the ride all over again. She’s such a roller coaster tart.

We feel exhausted.
We feel incredulous.
We feel very very lucky.

It’s the earliest of early days but to get to this point, for us who have never ever been pregnant, it seems an incredible achievement.

(In fact, even writing this down seems ridiculous. As if the phone will ring again and an apologetic Fertility Sister will say… oh dear there’s been a computer error…)

C and I stagger shakily past the ticket booth and make our way towards the exit.

In the background I can hear the crazy music start up again, the gears clunk into place, the doors on the carriages slam shut, the babble of excited voices.

I’d like to watch, wave them on their way, maybe buy a Cheese-On-A-Stick for old time’s sake but then I remember that Roll On Deodorant Nativity Scene isn’t going to paper mache itself and so we hurry on home.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Letter From Two Bunches Of Cells (11 days Past Transfer)

dear ovagirl




got your letter.


have decided to stay.


please find enclosed beta of 490...as little thankyou present. more forthcoming.



love us.




ps
when we say 'us', that might mean just 'me'.
in which case i'll love you twice as much.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Letter To Two Bunches Of Cells (7 Days Past Transfer)

Dear Embryos

I’ve been thinking about you both quite a lot and wondering how it’s all going in there.

It’s been a few days now. I think you’re both 12 days old now which is nothing to sneeze at, in anyone’s test tube.

You probably noticed that you’re not the first to occupy the place. Maybe you even had a little bitch amongst yourselves about being given a used uterus.

The truth is, one of your little mates was in there a couple of months ago. I haven’t been in to look myself and nothing’s shown up on the dildocam but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did a bit of tagging round the cervix, graffiti by the fallopian tubes...
Embryo Was ‘Ere... that sort of thing.

Frankly, I think he was that kind of blastocyst.

But let me assure you both, THE LINING HAS NEVER BEEN USED. I grew that one specially for you. (And you. )

And the other thing is, it really wasn’t occupied for long.

Embryo 1 decided not to stay. Not immediately. There was a little pfaffing in the womb, a little lounging around the Pink Palace before he finally jumped the fence.

It was enough to leave the faintest hopeful glimmer of a maybe possibility of a pregnancy.

(You embryos can be a little cruel, anyone ever tell you that in the Petri dish?)

I’m not going to come down all heavy even though I want nothing more than to grab you both in a headlock and staple you to the wall of my uterus. It’s important to let you embryos make up your own little minds (or whatever rudimentary cellular brain smudges you’ve formed) about whether you’re going to hang on.

And I’m not going to bag on about keeping away from the fence because look what a fat lot of good it did with Embryo 1 (known in certain circles as Julian).

Instead I thought I’d encourage you by telling you that a big exciting bonus about sticking around and actually being born is…meeting your dad. I’m pretty sure you’ll think he’s the best thing since…well since that new jello stuff the House Of Groovy IVF Love developed to grow you little guys in…and you all know how good that stuff is, right?

He’s gorgeous and talented and caring and he’s such good fun to play with, ask your cousins the Naughty Nephews.

And I love him more than anybody else in this whole world…for now.

Here’s a little something that no one else knows about your dad.

His head smells like rice pudding with cinnamon on top. True.

And sometimes, like apricots.

And very very occasionally like parmesan cheese but mostly it’s rice pudding and that’s one of my favourite smells in all the world.

And if you come into the world, and I really hope you do, he’ll let you smell his head whenever you like. I think I can speak for him on that one. I’m not sure about the rules on watching tv or spitting from the top floor of posh hotels but the rice pudding head smelling I think we can say is in the bag.

It might even be genetic, so along with his blue eyes and my brown skin, you could get a scalp that smells like a classic English nursery dessert.

It’s your dad’s birthday today. The very first present I ever gave him was a stovetop coffee pot. Wouldn’t it be cool if this year we gave him the biggest present ever…

So just mull it over okay? Think about your gorgeous dad with his blue eyes and his rice pudding head who can’t wait to hold you and love you and play cricket with you.

That’s all I ask.

Well that, and keep away from the fence.

Yours, with ridiculous amounts of love as always



OvaGirl
xxxxxxxxxxxx

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Transfer

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an OvaGirl in possession of a good embryo must be in want of an effective shortcut through the city.

On the day of transfer, also known as Squirty Up The Clacker Day, this effective shortcut was not forthcoming.

Many coarse and unpleasant words were spoken during this stressful and painfully slow journey and many calming and soothing noises were made by C in a vain attempt to calm me down.

At one point of complete stasis I opened the car door and stepped onto the road to try and see just what the fuck was holding up traffic and if I could use the laser burning powers of my Furiously Unimpressed Stare to melt a pathway through. I never did see what the holdup was but the staring seemed to work because finally we were on our way.

The first part of our transfer actually started with the Chinese Fertility Goddess. Last time this happened she was gallivanting on a holiday somewhere so I was determined to take full advantage of her presence. This meant acupuncture both before and after transfer.

As soon as I arrived I was ushered straight up the stairs and onto a bed, no appointment, no waiting. I realised that this must be what it was like to be famous or else to have private hospital insurance.

The CFG was lovely and as if sensing the horrors of the previous half hour she rammed a pair of needles straight into my fists to calm me down.

Did it work? Well I suppose so.

I do know that by the time I walked out I had stopped obsessively muttering “out of our way, cunts” and that can only be a good thing.

C dropped me at the House Of Groovy IVF Love, a mere three minutes late, and went to park the car. And soon, very soon, my pants were off, my backless gown and terry toweling dressing gown were on and my blue disposable booties were in place.


The doctor who would be doing the squirty business was not our actual doctor, Doctor Who, but perhaps this was best. We have seen Dr Who for a grand total of twenty minutes, during our initial consultation. Was he overloaded with patients? Was he taking The Tardis for a spin? Whatever. If he had actually materialized now I may have fainted with shock.

Instead, this time we had Dr Lovely Accent who was actually the CFG’s Top Tip for best Sydney IVF doctor.

Unfortunately, at the time, I had already got a referral to see Dr Who and felt it was “rude” to try and get one for a different doctor. Much hysterical mocking laughter at this thought.

When I spoke to a Fertility Sister last week and she told me that I would be having Dr Lovely Accent instead of Dr Who I said Oh Goody, I hear great things about him.
Yes, said the sister, and it’s all true.

With C back from parking the car I was soon in the chair, legs up and waiting to go.

It began with a quick visit from the dildocam – we exchanged some pleasantries, I asked how business was going, he said he was looking forward to the Christmas break and by the way my lining was looking good.

Dr Lovely Accent measured my cervix which he said would assist him in knowing where to place the embryos. And, speak of the devil, up they popped on the screen before us. C and I clutched hands and became ridiculously moist eyed.

It turns out that in the process of thawing “tiltoo” one embryo curled up its cells that might one day be toes and bit the dust. Of the two that made it, one was starting to do whatever that thing is that non frozen embryos do and the other was obviously still feeling the cold because it was miserably hunched over itself and telling anyone who would listen to turn the bloody heater up.

Speculum in place, catheter whizzed in, syringe carrying embryos brought over and all too soon Squirty Up The Clacker Day was officially over for me, specifically the part that involves squirting and clackers.

Back we went to the Chinese Fertility Goddess. Mercifully the traffic had eased. This time, not only did I get to go straight upstairs and lie on a bed, the CFG came out of the consultation she was doing to swiftly apply pins and offer bowls of m&ms with all the brown ones taken out. I slept for an hour and then C drove me home and I slept some more.

Just before he finished, Dr Lovely Accent popped the dildocam back in. Look, he said, there are your two embryos. Or at least the airbubbles beside them.

There they were, two bright stars in the dark skies of my uterus. C squeezed my hand and my eyes filled with tears. Go little guys, I muttered.

And so we begin again. The waiting time. The hoping time. The dreaming time.

I drink my Horrid Teas and swallow my folic acid and slide my progesterone pessaries in and try not to dwell on what may or may not be.

Black thoughts pop up, negative words sound in my ears, fear and grief and depression raise their ugly heads. I grit my teeth and floor the accelerator and shout as we bravely hurtle towards them.

Out of our way, cunts.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Why Sometimes Being An Aunty Is Almost Enough

It was bathtime and Naughty Nephew the 3rd, aged 3, he of the blue saucer eyes and the baby chicken fluff hair, insisted he was perfectly capable of undressing himself.

Alrighty, we said.

He took off his teeshirt the conventional way but then decided that he would remove his pants by running from the lounge to the front door and back to try and make them fall down around his ankles.

When this method seemed a little slow he decided it would be better to jump up and down on the spot.

He was right, but it was even better when he decided to pop some Jumping Up And Down Till My Pants Drop music on the electric keyboard. This turned out to be the junior piano classic Fur Elise.

NN3 adjusted the tempo till it sounded like it was being played by The Chipmunks on speed and then he jumped and jumped like all the chickens in hell were pecking at his heels.

And then those pants came down!

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Great Big Fertility Ride continues

One of my friends tells the story of taking her niece on a rollercoaster ride at the Newcastle Show fairly soon after eating a steak sandwich.

The niece held up well but my friend didn’t.

Half way up (or down) she felt the imminent return of the steak sandwich which she captured neatly in her new leather handbag.

I was impressed at her sense of civic responsibility. She was willing to sacrifice the handbag rather than spray her niece and various passers by with her stomach contents.

As CD1 rolls round it’s time for C and I to step back onto The Great Big Fertility Ride.

This time we’re not riding up front in the shiny IVF carriage. We’re strapping ourselves into the Frozen Embryo Transfer carriage. It’s slightly dented, the paintwork’s scratched and there’s the unmistakeable whiff of previous failure in the air but hey, at least we got a seat.

This time round, it’s a “natural” cycle (which makes me laugh hysterically because when was the last time any of this felt “natural”?) so I am spared the evils of the Lucrin syringe or the Puregon pen.

I will however be inserting progesterone pessaries.

Obviously I’m looking forward to these.

As a child I was always told not to stick things up my nose (baked bean anyone?) or in my ears and certainly not up my botty. No longer! Infertility is like revenge for the Sticking Things In Your Body Is Bad brigade.

We are the Girl Guides to the AssChest Scouts – those unfortunate folk (mainly fellows I have to say) who have a variety of items removed daily from their rectums. I have been told that this delightful collection is apparently kept at the nurses’ station in the “Ass Chest” for those times when someone might be caught short and need a pen.

Or a vacuum cleaner attachment.

Or as a nurse once told me…a tomato sauce bottle. We almost believed his story of an unfortunate fall whilst making dinner naked, she said.

Until we removed the bottle and saw the condom rolled over the shaft.

Today, one of the Fertility Sisters from the House Of Groovy IVF Love scheduled me in for our FET and handed me our ticket to ride. Ultrasound and bloodtest in ten days time to check that I have a Dominant Follicle. More bloodtests until we determine that I have ovulated and the transfer can take place.

It seems weird to be hopping aboard once more. The crushing disappointment from our IVF cycle is still with me, shimmering below the surface. I'm trying to ignore the fearful voices that whisper to me, telling me our embryos are crap and my womb is a toxic cesspit.

Just before our ride takes off, the door opens again and a familiar figure squeezes in. It’s Hope. She’s got a big cheesy smile as she tells us This Could Be The One!

We nod and smile, warily. The mechanism starts up and our carriage starts to move. Hope gives an excited belch. Steak sandwich.

As we start our first dip, I grip my leather handbag.

If Hope hurls I know who’s going to have to catch every drop.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Fierce Creatures

The first attack happened when I was four and my sister AJ was 3.

My memories are hazy of course but my parents were both there as was my third sister T who was only a baby.

In Penang, circa 1972, one of the big attractions was the Botanic Gardens. Tribes (Mobs? Schools? Flocks?) of smallish hairy grey monkeys with thin red hands and beady eyes roamed openly around this pleasant expanse of parklands.

They were free to chitter and play and caper in the trees and simply do what small grey monkeys do best which is to steal food, masturbate and spread disease.

How we clapped and laughed at their antics.

On this day, as part of the family outing, our parents had endowed us with little bags of hard dry peanuts with which to tempt our hairy playfellows into providing still more simian tricks.

My four year old fist stuffed with peanuts, I felt heady with the power of largesse.
I have the peanut bag. All monkeys must love and adore me.
I dispensed them sparingly, not wanting to over value their talents and spoil them for the future.

Was that a cartwheel?
Here have a peanut.

Pulling your mate’s tail and causing an earpiercing screech?
Two peanuts for you my friend.

Leaping five feet towards me and baring your fangs in an unpleasant manner?
Take the bag, I want my Mummy.

My sister AJ was not so fast. A second monkey followed in the wake of the first and jumped up, biting her on the face. That was the end of that little outing. My mother, with T in her arms, was furious. She complained bitterly to the gatekeepers on our way to the hospital. They were stoic.

These are the Monkey Gardens. Those are the Monkeys.
Can you identify the Monkey who bit your child?

She could not.

Eight years later we were back in the Monkey Gardens. This time, there was a new babe-in-pram, K. As we walked, we remembered the attack on AJ years ago. We laughed gaily as we described how terrifying it had been.

Actually I didn’t laugh quite as gaily as all that – those monkeys really were scary.

As a girl guide I had experienced the unique trauma of a “Monkey raid” during a camping holiday. Along with reef knots, splints and square lashings we were taught that there is no negotiation with monkeys. If they were brazen enough to enter our tents we were to let them take whatever took their fancy. There would be no heroes. Many a can of Impulse Body Spray and jar of instant coffee were lost on that camp.

AJ was holding a bag of peanuts and walking in the midst of our family group when the inevitable happened. A large grey monkey came swooping out of the trees to our left and heading straight for AJ it leapt up and bit her hand, causing her to scream and drop the peanut bag.

This time my mother was not so slow.

Dropping the handles of the stroller she rushed at the monkey, armed with her batik handbag and shouting like a maniac, she walloped it hard across the head. Stunned, the monkey turned a backward somersault and then disappeared back into the trees.

At the time I was full of admiration for my mother’s courage and jealous that it wasn’t me who caused her outburst. Now I realize of course that it was simply another illustration of Nature at work. Just as the monkey saw food in the peanut bag clutched in my sister’s sweaty palm and attacked for it, my mother saw her offspring under threat and attacked in response.

Mothers can be fierce creatures.

This week I learned that the last of my friends in the tight knit uni group has had her baby boy. Looking back through my blog I found where I had written about discovering she was pregnant, the irony of her saying to me a year or so earlier: Let’s you and I not have babies for a few years. Let’s wait until we’re 39. Meanwhile AJ has let my family know about Impending Number 4 and another friend is home from hospital with her baby girl.

Infertility also has many fierce creatures, so many scrabbling chittering reasons why my transfer didn’t work, why maybe the Frozen Embryo Transfer we’ll attempt in November won’t work, why maybe none of this crap, Chinese Fertility Goddess included, will ever work.

Can you identify the Monkey who bit your child?

No.

Time seems to flow effortlessly around us, our friends and family grow and procreate and produce.

Somewhere in that fuzzy grey crowd of beady eyes and reddened hands, there might be the reason why C and I aren’t parents. But we can’t pick it out.

Instead we stand side by side, getting older, getting tireder. We're chucking peanuts while the rest of our life seems to walk on by.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Falling

When Pandora and her playmates find a box and are told not to look inside, they’re naturally very curious. They live in Paradise, things are beautiful and amiable and benign and probably a tad boring and more than anything they want to look in the damn box.

When Pandora finally opens the lid, all the evils of our world are released into the air: war, hate, violence, disaster, pestilence, anger, comment spam...

Pandora manages to slam the lid shut, trapping the last occupant who begs to be let free. Pandora is scared but when she does open the lid again, she lets out Hope. Hope was originally imprisoned with the other beasties as a sort of divine insurance policy. Without Hope, the human race could not survive the despair that comes from living in this world.

The spotting started on Tuesday night. Very faint, very pink, very gentle.

A sort of apology from my uterus for what was to come.

Within a couple of hours it was definitely over.

C and I curled up together on the carpet and hugged each other and wept and hugged some more. I cried into C’s hair and snot ran down his neck. We made ourselves into a little two person space pod and closed the hatch on the rest of the world and whispered secret things that made us sigh and nod and squeeze ourselves even tighter.

We were so ridiculously proud of this embryo. Our embryo. Eleven years after our bodies first met, our genetic signatures had finally come together. It was the closest we had ever come to being pregnant. For a few days it had made us Pretend Parents. We wore cheesy grins. We played spot the Bugaboo.

I was almost numb with despair. With the unfairness. With the why-does-it-have-to-be-so-difficult? And with the waste. Along with everything else, I suddenly felt that I had spent all this year working and focusing and yes, obsessing, on trying to fall pregnant. The IVF cycle had wound this thread still tighter and tighter with each injection, each unit of Lucrin or Puregon, each day post transfer until finally it came crashing down with that first drop of blood on a cotton pad.

It was as if this was all I was, a woman trying to fall pregnant, and I had failed. I had lost not just a pregnancy but a year of my life and part of all the years of my life where I had wondered will this be the year?

Did it hurt more, I wondered, than all the other cycles where we didn’t use IVF, where we simply used temperature charts or Yoda’s split ejaculation method or the Chinese Fertility Goddess’s Horrid Teas?

I picked at the thought, like a scab. Yes, the answer flowed.
Because we saw the embryo. Because we were told how well it was all going.
Because we knew people who fell pregnant first IVF cycle. Because we thought we were special and we deserved it. Because we were closer, we felt the possibility before us; we believed we simply had to reach out and grab it. Because we heard the voice of Hope, and we chose to release her from our personal Pandora’s Box. And yes, it hurt more than the rest.

Today I spoke to a Fertility Sister. It wasn’t you, she said.
I had asked her if there was something wrong with my uterus.
You had the scans, we would have picked something up, she said. It’s more likely there was something genetically wrong with the embryo.

But it was a good embryo, I said. They told us it was…hatching.

I know. She was sympathetic. But they only go on how the embryo looks. How pretty it is. They don’t test the embryo genetically. It might look like a great embryo but not be able to sustain. Whereas an embryo that doesn’t look as good might go onto become a successful pregnancy.

All being well, and tomorrow’s test will help determine that, we can start another cycle at my next period. One, or maybe two, of the frozen embryos.

But that’s twenty eight days away so we’re putting Hope back in her box for now.

We could all do with a rest.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Letter To A Bunch of Cells (6 Days Past Transfer)



Dear Embryo

I’m currently in two week waiting hell while you make up your cells about whether you want to hang around or not.

It’s a little stressful, I have to admit.

As part of my 2ww I’ve been doing a lot of surfing the net and I can’t help being jealous over how many people get to write these nice little regular newsletters to their babies. It’s kind of a cute way of noting the milestones. A progress update if you will, first steps, how many teeth have appeared, all that sort of thing.

You’re not actually a baby as such but I feel you have some very fine potential. So I thought I might write a newsletter to you anyway.

Ok, so you’ve been in my uterus for 6 days now which means you are nearly 11 days old!


Woo! How cool is that?



It seems like years ago that you got to whoosh through the Catheter Of Great Excitement from your Petri dish right through my cervix and into the amusement park that is my uterus.

That was a one way ticket by the way, you don’t get to ride again, and if you leave the park, a big scary man rips you apart and gobbles you up.

No, just kidding, but you know….stay behind the fence.

Ok, so you’re here, you’re eleven days old, you’re doing that cell dividing thing you embryos are so damn good at. (I tried just now but you know, we lose so much flexibility after about 12. I used to be cool at cartwheels too.)

Now about those milestones.

I can’t actually see you but as far as I know you have no teeth. Or maybe just the one which you used to hatch out of your little shell. Like baby chickens!
You’re probably too young to remember this but your aunties and I had chickens when we were kids! They were so cute! We loved those chickens! And then we ate them, but we loved them first, and my point is that they hatched. And they had teeth.

Or at least a tooth apiece.

Sensibly, I know you don’t have feet either. However I feel you may have done a little rolling. Am I wrong?
I don’t think so.

You’ve felt the rush of speed from the Catheter ride, that’s gonna take a little while for the adrenaline to wear off, and you’re going to be attached to the wall of my uterus for, oh nine months (hint hint) so roll little embryo to your heart’s content (or at least the cells that will eventually merge to create your heart) but just be sure to end up on the back wall by my spine (I hear that’s best) and STAY BEHIND THE FENCE.

From today on, I believe, you will think about attaching yourself.

I say don’t think, do.

I’m always one for procrastinating and I can tell you it leads to disappointment. There are no prizes for futzing about, it’s not cool or smart to hang back and I assure you there are no other uteri to compare with.

Don’t go thinking: I’ll wait for that Catheter to whoosh me into another one and check out the d├ęcor, there are NO MORE CATHETER RIDES, I don’t know how many more times I have to tell you.

Don’t worry about the whole attaching thing either. I know you don’t have fingers to cling with but some sort of cellular stickiness will occur; your cells will mix it up with my cells and there will be a cool bonding experience. Trust me it will work.

Or I guess you could always hang on with that tooth.

Meanwhile I’m drinking my Horrid Teas and squirting progesterone gel up my lala like there’s no tomorrow. These will give you a helping hand (since you have none). I apologise if you’re getting any nasty smells in there; it could be the gel backing up around my cervix, or the tea (I’m used to it, but it always freaks other people out) or maybe that asparagus we ate last night.

Currently, I have moles that are bigger than you.

I have skin pores that are bigger than you (but frankly in this weather that’s no biggie).

One day, if you stick around, and you grow and get born and survive your childhood where I nearly love you to death and those angsty teenage years where we have screaming matches and sulk-offs and then you become a big strapping ADULT (which means your genes will have come straight from your great grandparents because your father and I are dwarves), well then…. I will be able to say to you….I knew you when you were smaller than this .

And oh, oh how I wanted you.



So please stay.



Please stay and grow and keep away from the fence (and that's the third time I've told you now, so that might have to be time on the naughty chair) and let me write more of these stupid milestone newsletters. Please.



Love (and you would not believe the absurdly enormous amount I have for you even though you're tiny and fickle)


Your very own Ova Girl


xxxxxxxxxxxx

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Egg Retrieval Originally Described As Merely Uncomfortable. Hilarity Ensues.

Going into Egg Retrieval, I was calm, I was chilled out, I was relaxed.

I knew what was going to happen and I was prepared. “Pushing” was something I would experience, I knew. Also “discomfort”. There would be some “short stinging” first as the butterfly needle was slid into the back of my hand and later as the local anaesthetic was injected into the wall of the vagina. Then there would be “strange sensations” as the footlongneedle was introduced to my ovaries. Follicles would be drained and eggs removed. Later there would be some “cramping” and continued “tenderness” in the area.

Ha bloody ha.

As C and I approached The Room, a nurse was standing at the doorway, smiling. Inside was a scientist, also standing by, also smiling.

It was almost as if we were British royalty and about to examine a new country retreat, except of course the queen wouldn’t do this with her undies rolled into a ball and shoved in her dressing gown pocket.

Dr Clown helped me into the Big Chair and I popped my woolly socked feet into the stirrups. C sat beside me. So far so good.

As Dr Clown leaned in towards my lala, speculum in hand, I felt a stab of sympathy. Poor Dr Clown, I thought. Spends all his days with his head between womens’ knees hoovering up their eggs. Can’t be very nice.

This was to be the last warm and pleasant feeling I would have towards him.

Perhaps it was because I was so bloated and pumped full of follicles but every fucking thing he did hurt. The speculum? Yowsa. The swabbing of the vaginal wall? Ouchy ouchy ouch. He leaned in and pumped some of the anaesthetic into my hand and for an all too brief moment I floated around joyously on jungle juice but came back with a jolt as he shoved in the dildocam.

Dildocam and I have had our moments, our tiffs, our strong words, our little silent treatment games. But during retrieval he was an absolute cunt. Owwwww I winced and Dr Clown withdrew the dildocam.

Your bladder needs emptying he announced.

Oh, I said, I thought I did that before I came in here but nevermind I can go…

That’s fine he said cheerfully. I’m going to use a catheter.

I nearly jumped out of my chair. My hands came up in the international symbol for “stop right fucking now”.

Catheter?! Sweet mother of god.

For the past two months I have been hearing all about catheters via my grumpy grandad. Ever since his recent fall, our phone calls always begin with Catheter News where I get to hear about whether it’s “playing up” or “affecting me old feller” or on a couple of sad occasions “sprung a bloody leak”. The last call I made to Grandis began with him saying… "HOLD THE PHONE LOVE, I’VE JUST GOTTA PULL UP ME PANTS. I’M ON THE TOILET.”

Now here was Dr Clown brandishing said catheter and telling me to move my hands out of the way.

But can’t I just use a toilet? I begged. I really don’t like the catheter.

It’s alright he said, pumping a little more jungle juice into my willing veins, just imagine I’m standing in a river, doing some fly fishing and I’m about to catch some lovely trout…

And before I could say…what the fuck are you talking about? it was in and draining away like Niagra Falls into his little green tray.

Right then, he said, let’s get on with it.

Exit catheter and enter dildocam. Cue more howling and shrieking from me. Also sobbing. Also crying. There was some more pumping of the jungle juice which seemed to do NAFF ALL.

Egg on one! The scientist did her best, encouraging us to behold the sight of my ova before it was sucked up into the needle. The nurse hovered helpfully at C's shoulder.
Would you like to see the egg on monitor one?
C glanced up quickly but turned back at my pathetic sobbing. Perhaps in nine months.

There were some appeals from Dr Clown to look at the screen and see my lovely follicles. Beside me, poor C was stroking my hair and whispering sweet comforting but ultimately useless words into my ear.

At one point I did open my eyes, but through my tears I could see that fucking footlongneedle shining away and I lay back and howled.

Do you want me to stop? Dr Clown paused a second. Because you can always ask me to stop…

No, I gulped, keep goooooiiiinggggg….

Alright, he said. But you need to calm down a bit. Stop breathing like that. Stop curling your legs up like that. Look at C. Look at the monitor. Just RELAX.

Even in my agony I was aware that it was pointless kicking him in the face. The best I could do was dislodge his glasses with my woolly socks. Next time…steel capped boots.

It wasn’t the needle part that hurt. Sure there was a slight stinging and the unpleasant pushing but frankly I would have had a ten foot needle rather than that scumsucking dildocam because THAT was what was doing the damage.

It is so totally OVER between me and dildocam. I'm not responding to his semi literate text messages or passing on his chain letter emails. We are THROUGH. I felt as if my pelvis was being crushed. Oddly, it was only on the right side, when Dr Clown switched ovaries the pressure miraculously disappeared.

Now I simply cried in relief and punctuated my sobs with I’m so sorry I’m such a wuss…

You’re not a wuss, Dr Clown called out brightly, I wouldn’t go through this for quids….

And very soon, I was wheeled into recovery where finally the jungle juice kicked in and I could truly relax. Dr Clown came in to see me a few times and ended up having long kindly conversations with C about the magic of IVF, ICSI and trout fishing.

And to be fair, a surprising number of egg retrieval gals actually walked out of their room.

So that’s just me then with the pain threshold of a blubbering wussypants gnat.

Later, when I discussed the day’s proceedings with my sister AJ she pointed out that she always needs the full monty of anaesthetic and morever she always had to ask for a bit of extra time so it can take effect. And then I remembered that when we arrived at the surgery Dr Clown was running late…

While I was sleeping off my trip to hell C was summoned to the Little Room Of Pleasure to provide his half of the bargain.

Obviously, having seen me arched up in front of him howling like a banshee the last thing he felt like doing was wanking into a little jar but duty calls.

Sadly, so did the alarm on his mobile phone warning him that the parking meter was about to run out. Quickly he zipped, whipped off his little blue surgical overshoes and ran out to exchange parking ticket, had to run to three other meters because all of them seemed to be jammed, and finally returned, reshoed, to his room.

There was apparantly some problems with the towel dispenser, necessitating firm manly tugging before a satisfactory hand wash and dry could be finished. This obviously only added to stress levels. Bypassing the free scotch, C flicked perfunctorily through a couple of magazines and fastfowarded the video.

He tells me that he thought of me and I’m sure he did because as he finished the job he fell against the offending towel dispenser and the whole fucking thing broke and collapsed off the wall with a resounding crash.

Despite this, the boys/girls were good and a little while after this we were given the lucky number 7 and we went home.

As Dr Clown was finishing up, mopping away the blood from my lala, he said “reckon you’d like to do this all again tomorrow?” This was a little joke and no one in the room responded, treating it with the contempt it deserved, but in my mind I wondered, would I do it again?

And I knew, even then, the answer was yes. Not tomorrow maybe. But next week. Definitely.

But maybe I won’t have to. That’s what I’m hoping.

Today, Moonbeam from the House Of Groovy IVF Love called to tell me that of the seven eggs, five had fertilised.

Five embryos.

C and I clutched at each other, in awe at the possibility of having an entire family in one petri dish.

And the thing is, I confessed to him, I want them all.

C looked at me. So do I, he said.


That’s just greeeeedy, I said in a stupid voice.


Transfer is on Thursday and I know there are a myriad of things that could go wrong between now and then. And after.


But just for now. Just for this moment.


We were happy and hopeful.


And laughing.





eggy picture from here

Friday, September 23, 2005

Me In Mid Air

It was 1979 and the chickens lived in a small house, built by my father, between the banana and the custard apple tree. There were five of them, small, black and cheeping incessantly. My sisters and I had never seen anything as cute and we included our newly born sister K in our wideranging experience.

Baby K lost points early with me after an unfortunate incident in our loungeroom. With two friends from highschool standing by I had confidentally jiggled her on my lap, demonstrating my easy and intuitive mothering technique. The friends were impressed at my handling skills but even more impressed when I lifted K high above my head and called her name and she vomited straight into my open mouth.

The baby chickens encouraged our nurturing instincts and gave us unusual fluffy dolls to dress in miniature clothes. We fed them and watered them and hosed out their stinky skanky coop. They grew quickly and soon lost their fluffy down coinciding with our own loss of interest in their well being.

We hoped for eggs, planned for eggs, considered ourselves deserving of eggs but it became obvious very early on that they were all roosters. At times we would spot them running hastily around the coconut trees and one of us would be moved to throw a handful of feed their way.

Yesterday I spent four hours trying not to clock watch as I waited for my call from the IVF clinic. I was expecting them to haul me in again this morning for another bloodtest and ultrasound. I knew I had some follicles at 19mm - my self inserted dildocam adventure had revealed as much.

Finally I rang the Fertility Sisters' House Of Groovy Love at 10 past 4. I was not feeling particularly groovy nor loving. I was worried about losing my Chinese Fertility Goddess on Tuesday, I was worried that I had been handed over to a new doctor for my egg retrieval, I was worried that I couldn't seem to think or work on anything past my ovaries.

Hello! said a cheery voice on the other end of the line. It was Rainbow. Or Harmony. Or Patchouli Oil.

So, OvaGirl are you all ready to trigger tonight?

Ah...no, I said, aware that my voice was starting to wobble suspiciously. I don't know anything about the trigger shot, no one's told me that's happening tonight...

Okay...well tonight at 8.15 you need to have your trigger shot. You've got the pack? And you know how to administer it?

Nooooo.... I seemed to be having trouble stopping my bottom lip from jutting out. I could feel that distantly familiar kindergarton "I want to go home" emotion welling up inside.

Apparantly this was all told to us at our first meeting at the House Of Groovy Love. This would probably be the meeting where I zoned out, hypnotised by a combination of no food, sheer terror at the word "injection," and the Fertility Sister's jingly jangly earrings.

Never mind, we can go through it now and it will be fine. Patchouli Oil was obviously adept at dealing with on-the-edge-about-to-trigger IVF patients. After I had taken a page of notes on how to break the little vials, draw up the solution, mix it with the powder and inject the lot into my stomach (or butt or leg) she mentioned that I wouldn't be having Dr Who at the retrieval. Did I know that?

Yes, this was something I did know. I shall be having Dr 70's Rock Star, I said confidently.
There was a pause.
No...you will be having somebody else. (The doctor she named conjured up a name horribly close to Sideshow Bob. I cannot have someone called Sideshow Bob administering the foot long needle to my nether regions. He shall be simply Dr Clown.)

And at this point, my inner kindergarten student fought her way to the front of my consciousness, pig tails flapping, shoelace untied, dirty grazed knee..... and I began to cry.

Oh dear, said Patchouli Oil. Are you alright OvaGirl?

No... (sob) First I had Dr Who and then I was told I had to have (sob)Dr 70's Rock Star and now I'm having Dr Clown... I just ...feel....like....I'm...being....SHUNTED AROUND.(snuffle, snort, weep)

I didn't add that I had lost my Chinese Fertility Goddess too but that was in there.

Patchouli Oil was reassuring and very nice. She said Dr Who doesn't do retrievals on the weekend, Dr Clown always does them so I would never have had Dr Who on a Saturday anyway. And, I would not have had Dr 70's Rock Star because he's actually an obstetrician. Who told me I was going to be having him?

I had learned my lesson about naming names from the dreaded Time Share Apartments experience.

Someone... I said vaguely.

I also rang the CFG quickly to let her know where I was up to and to ask about referrals for the transfer date. She was doubtful about this but I am seeing her on Monday for final accupuncture and to discuss more.

It seemed fitting that my final injection of this phase should be administered by my sister in law N. All that nursing experience paid off well as she flicked and whirled the little vials and popped off the glass tops like an old pro.

It was a quick needle which was good as the stuff inside was thick and viscous and rather like shooting up a syringeful of snot.

In 1979 my parents were 33 years old. They were enjoying their second stint of living in Penang and making the most of the tropical lifestyle. This meant free yearly holidays to places like Singapore and Thailand, having authentic curries in dubious eating establishments and a lot of parties.

The party vibe started early at our house with our father unfurling roll after roll of aluminium foil and taping it up on the wall behind his reel to reel tape recorder. When the heavy metallic lever was slotted into place, the pulsing disco rhythms of Boney M’s Brown Girl in The Ring would cause his home made disco light set to flash in time to the music.

In an opposite corner, the glowing yellow lava lamp was set to Groovy, in another, the fibre optic fantasia lamp cast its ever changing multicoloured spell.

Throughout the day, local vendors would speed up to the house, in their battered cars or on their scooters, balancing trays of curry puffs or bags of chipped ice.

Mary the Egg Lady was a regular visitor in her cheerful blue van and we were always pleased to see her. This day, along with bringing a carton of eggs she also took away our five chickens. Our mother had offered us money and we pocketed our thirty pieces of silver with glee. No more guilty feeding! No more stinky skanky chook house! In those days our pocket money was a pathetic dollar a week and we leapt at the chance for more.

That night, my sisters and I sat on the stairway in our pyjamas, peering through the banisters, mesmerized by the lights, the music and the eye popping range of batik fabrics. Pointy collared shirts, boob tubes, wrap around skirts or flared trousers, it seemed there wasn’t a garment yet invented that could not be improved by dripping it with wax and dipping it in garishly coloured dyes.

We were not just there for the dancing, our hope of course was that some kindly adult would take pity on our wan, gaunt faces and hand us a few curry puffs.

And so it was that Aunty Janet, seeing us staring forlornly through the bars of the stairway handed us each a miniature chicken drumstick. As we put them to our lips, Aunty Janet remarked on how generous we were to donate our chickens for the party . There was a horrified silence as we stared at the tiny skinny legs and wings. Only a few hours earlier the entire tray had been happily scurrying and flapping around the coconut palms. My sister AJ dissolved into loud hysterical tears.

This would never have happened, she sobbed, if they could lay eggs.

My own eggs are yet to appear.

Lining was 13, estrogen was 11677 (phwoar!) and follicles...well... despite feeling like a broody hen for the last few days, it seems there were only four around the 19 and 18 mm mark with a couple of 16s bringing up the rear. Contrary to popular belief there were no 20cm whoppers rattling round inside which was surprising really because God knows that's what it felt like.

So roll on Saturday. And roll out eggs.

Could it really all be over soon?

I'm balancing on a seesaw of emotions here.

And juggling hope with my fear of disappointment.

Send in the clowns.

Friday, September 16, 2005

here be dragons

This night, eleven years ago, C and I first stood on the edge of a century old wading pool cut into the rocks at Newcastle Beach.

The moon shimmered in the water around us and somewhere at our feet, buried under the sand, was rumoured to be a mosaic map of the world.

If someone had tapped me on the shoulder and said: in eleven years time the man sticking his tongue in your mouth now will also be sticking a needle in the fatty tissue round your bellybutton, I would have laughed and laughed because it seemed so perfect a moment I scarcely dared hope it could last beyond that one night. And then of course I would have screamed like a girl.

There may be nothing more.

No small version of ourselves, no combination of blue eyes and dark hair, anglo and asian, blind optimism and fearful reluctance, hot lust and cold wet tears. A family of two.

But what we hold between us, if not our dream children, are countless shining moments.
Like tiny fish slipping through the tide, bright as the full moon on water or the thrill of a first kiss or the thin flash of steel as it enters my skin.

In the map of our lives there is the unknown and the unknowable. Here be fear and heartache and all the grey islands of grief.


But here? And here? And all of this here?



Here be love.





map pic

Friday, January 21, 2005

The Fertility Ride starts HERE

The Great Big Fertility Ride begins the day I am talking with my GP about how my partner and I can’t seem to fall pregnant. He seems casual about this, we haven’t been trying consistently, my partner goes away a fair bit blah blah. But then I mention that we have been together for ten years and that our chief form of contraception in all that time has been the withdrawal method. And that I’m 35. His face clouds, over he sucks in oxygen, great big red lights start flashing around the room, an alarm goes off and a large neon clock descends from the ceiling and begins to monster me with its incessant tick. Ah, says Dr GP. In that case I think you better see someone and have some….Tests.

Before I even make the appointment, I ring a nursing friend and ask about the actual pronunciation of my test. I do this because I know from experience that if you display any weakness or uncertainty you get messed around right from the get go.

Hysterosalpingogram I say over and over about fifty times before I ring a hospital which shall remain nameless. Ok so it probably makes doodlysquat difference but it does makes me feel all ‘I know what I’m doing, don’t blow me off and book me in 6 months bitch’ and she doesn’t, she books me in three which is, just by the way, a week after my 36th birthday.

So three months later I’m in the ward and I’m legs up and laughing. The hysterosalpingogram(now one of my favourite words the way it trips lightly off the tongue and up your fallopian tubes) involves pumping dye up your lala and seeing if there are any blocks. One of my friends recently described it to me as the most painful thing she had ever experienced. When I pointed out that I was going for the exact same test she tried to explain that her periods were so erratic she never had normal period pains and thus if I experienced normal period pain I would not feel anywhere near the level of pain that she did. Yeah, right. Whatever.

Having swapped my responsible would-be-parent clothes for backless gown and no knickers I begin my new experience by having my genitals swabbed. This is done by a dour nurse with a lump of wet gauze clutched in plastic tweezers. As she dabs away around my clitoris it occurs to me that it’s almost pleasurable. Yes, almost. Like those weird pervy guys who play babies and mummies and get their bottoms powdered and big nappies wrapped round them. Oddly as soon as this thought enters my brain it’s as if a warning light has gone off in hers because I swear in one lightning fast move she drops the gauze and picks up the brillo pad and gives all my bits a good hard scrub. And that’s not pleasurable at all.

Next, freshly lathered I am introduced to my doctor. His name is a perfectly reasonable Dr (*coughs* to ensure anonymity) Ahem but the nurses all press me to refer to him by his casual nickname Dicky. I’m sorry. That’s not going to do. Bad enough Dr Ahem is going to introduce all manner of appliances to my cervix, I’m not also going to call him Dicky like he’s got some right to be rooting around in there. I make a point of only referring to him by his professional name.

Dr Ahem then calmly explains to me the procedure. It will take only a few minutes (good) some women (like my tactful friend) experience excruciating pain(bad) others experience only “period like cramping” (sort of good). Afterwards I may experience cramping for a week(bad) and bleeding for a week(bad) and if the pain becomes unbearable or if the blood is excessive I should go straight to my GP (very very bad). As Dr Ahem gets the speculum ready he delivers the kicker…if at any time the pain is so bad I need to stop the procedure I should just call out. They’ll stop immediately and then I can simply reschedule for another time WITH SEDATION. Wtf? Dear God, I think to myself. What kind of scary ass procedure is this that I may have to beg Dr Ahem to let me come back and be knocked out. I’m a total wuss let me say. It’s taken a lot of positive thinking and biological clock ticking to get me here. I reflect on the length of time required to even get this appointment today and I decide that short of having my uterus torn out I will grit my teeth and take the pain because I don’t want to come back here again.

Anyway, in goes the speculum and being plastic it feels like it’s ripping the inside of your vagina out. Why this is so I don’t know but it’s always the way. I’ve experienced the plastic speculum many a time so I’m familiar with that Velcro Vagina feeling. Next, a thin tube is fed through my cervix. At this point I start to take long controlled deep breaths. These sound like I am already in labour and I make loud woooo hooooo noises. This is meant to dull any pain and also drown out any nasty noises. Next the dye begins to wend its way in. I know this because Dr Ahem is giving me frequent updates. He tells me he is “introducing the dye with a tiny catheter” but this is just medical mumbo jumbo for “grab your ankles girly I’m pumping in the juice.”

I wooo hooo and begin to feel like my uterus is blowing up like a balloon. It’s not pain, but I can sense pain is there, waiting to impinge. I think at this point Dr Ahem is worrying a little about my breathing. He senses that I am probably going to hyperventilate and pass out so he asks if I am ok. Yes, I think to myself, I’m just concentrating on my breathing, but because I don’t want to interrupt the flow it simply comes out as a barked “yup.”

Dr Ahem then cranks up the xray machine and it starts taking photos of my repro bits full of dye. Even in my state of near hyperventilated unconsciousness I note that the head of the xray machine is protected from any of my foul female discharges by what appears to be a shower cap. Tee hee.

Dr Ahem calls out again… “are you in pain.” No I think, not really but I certainly am feeling those period cramps. Again I don’t want to interrupt the breathing and I also don’t want any more fart-arsing around so I grunt “yup.”

Perhaps it’s my alarming breathing, perhaps it’s the natural speed and efficiency of Dr Ahem but soon it all stops and I am allowed to relax my legs which interestingly have begun to wobble like silicon implants on a plate. I feel like crying and vomiting all at once. I get up and go and put on my underwear complete with large wad of cotton padding to soak up leaking dye (no sanitary napkins available here, it being a public hospital and all) to have a few more happy snaps taken for the family album and then it’s done. I’m free to go and I’ll get my results back in about ooh four months. Well the actual results are available that afternoon but of course I can’t get into see the specialist until then.

Apparantly the best case scenario will be that my plumbing is blocked and a further procedure will be required to drill out my tubes. That’s right, drill. Any child I might possibly bear had better be a fucking angel. I’m talking breathtaking physical beauty and slavish obedience.

A few weeks later I get called up by an old friend (male) who is also having fertility issues. He starts to tell me about the horrors of having his sperm tested. I can’t get a word in edgewise let alone ‘hysterosalpingagram’. Instead I have to listen to him whining about the humiliation of being put in a room (a private room let me add) and told to wank in a jar and then have to…get this…hand the jar to a nurse who knows full well that you’ve just had a wank. Into said jar. I mean call the fucking UN because some kind of human rights violation has obviously taken place here. Boo fucking hoo, you had to jerk off in a jar, in a room full of pornography and comfy seats with no other bastard round. I felt like punching him very hard in the face. Even when I tried to point out that his wife would have to go through a lot worse he could only partly agree because the “humiliation” of his experience was so intense.
In the end I give up trying.
Wanker.
And he was drunk and ringing me from a wedding reception at around midnight. So…loser also.