New month, new protocol, new hope.
Our new protocol brought a new set of drugs. The drug Follistim; one shot in the stomach each day for a week followed by a trigger shot to induce ovulation when the time came. Following the first week of the cycle, lab work and monitoring began. I would go to the lab in the morning for blood work and then to the RE office down the hall for a trans-vaginal ultrasound. The ultrasounds were used to confirm that my follicles (eggs) were maturing, and when I would trigger ovulation. The ultrasounds also ensured that I did not have too many mature follicles (eggs). Too many follicles would mean that the risk of several babies was too high and the cycle would be cancelled. As much as I wanted to be a mother, Octomom was not that mother.
My first morning at the lab seemed to take forever. I was being seen at a military hospital in Fayetteville and everyone on post (including retired personnel) used this lab, so there was ALWAYS a long line. In addition to the line, this being a military hospital also meant the lab would have several pregnant women and many with small children in tow. Turns out, soldiers seem to love making babies. It basically seems to be the first order of business when they return from a deployment. No matter the reason, being anywhere surrounded by pregnant women and children while unable to conceive, is a special type of personal hell.
As I mentioned earlier, the RE and the OB/GYN offices shared a wall between the two, each with their own check in. For obvious reasons, the RE side was generally much quieter. Most mornings the RE office was filled with about 10 women and maybe a spouse or two. Other days, women from maternity with small children would decide to come to the RE side, lured in by the quiet. Those bitches!
These women didn't mean to be inconsiderate twats but, as with many people that have not dealt with fertility issues, they tend to be completely oblivious to the eye daggers being thrown their way. Granted, they are usually clueless on what an RE even is, let alone that what we were there for. No matter the reason, bringing an infant into a room full of women who want a child more than anything in the world, forcing them to once more be confronted by the fact that others do it so easily, is basically one of the worst things a person can do. This isn’t to say that all couples facing infertility distance themselves from babies and pregnant women all the time. This also does not mean that couples with fertility issues just sadly walk through life baby crazy and ready to break down at the mere sight of a baby. This is just to point out there are few childless spaces that exist, and when you are in an office to have someone pump you full of your spouse's or purchased jizz, the last thing a couple wants to be confronted by is a child they can't have themselves. The point is - be aware of your surroundings, you fertile jerks.
Once you are called back to the small exam room filled with models and posters of male and female reproductive systems, the real fun of the day begins. In addition to having issues conceiving combined with a lifetime of painful cramping when not on the pill, I was also blessed with an inverted uterus. The inversion made follicle checks particularly uncomfortable. The exam starts much like the act of conception really, naked from the waist down, with your legs spread. That’s about where the similarities end. The nurse inserts a wand-like ultrasound device and begins to take measurements of the uterine lining and the number and size of maturing follicles. This portion of the exam was usually done by pulling up on the wand until it eventually hit my hip bone and then she would pull some more until finally finding my ovary and getting an accurate measurement. Once the exam was over, you were given the wipes to “clean up” the lube from the wand (or Wanda as I like to refer to ultrasound). I imagine this part is similar to a call girl's experience after being paid by a high power executive following an afternoon “meeting”.
Later that day, after examining the results of the lab work, the nurse would call to make medication adjustments or to inform you it was time to trigger. The trigger shot is a large shot that must be taken at a specific time and was injected directly into the muscle, usually the butt or thigh. Once triggering, the clock started. During an IUI, washed semen is pushed through a long tube directly into your uterus.
Washed semen, you ask? Yes, washed semen. This is semen that was spun and separated from the fluid, so that only sperm remain. The hospital and the clinic that housed my husband’s semen was about 30 mins away. The procedure must occur within an hour and must remain at body temperature or the sperm will begin to die. So, how does it get to the clinic? I’m glad you asked.
Turns out there are a few methods for this. Your husband can go to the clinic and give a “fresh” sample. The sample is then washed, or you can have a frozen sample thawed and then washed. Either way, the next part is the same. The nurse, surprisingly casually, comes out holding a small vile full of millions of your husband’s little swimmers. The vile must remain warm and it is advised to keep the vile in your bra. Who knew that the very method used to avoid pregnancy was now a necessity? You then have to drive to the RE’s office and they inject the washed semen directly into you.
Then it's on to the two week wait. Let the over-analysis, non stop googling of all conceivable "symptoms" and peeing on sticks like a crazy woman officially begin!