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.
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.
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