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.