Who would have thought that not having a penis would be such a hassle?
After a three month wait, my wife and I finally had our first consult at the fertility clinic in early January. We were so excited to finally get this process underway! I could barely sleep the night before and my mind was racing with questions. Are my hormones okay? Are my fallopian tubes blocked? Are we going to need to sell all of our earthly possessions to pay for treatment? Wouldn’t it just be easier to have a one night stand with a random guy at a bar?
My wife didn’t seem too keen on that last option, so the morning of our appointment we jumped in the car and drove 2 hours to the clinic. We checked in and filled out the standard paperwork and then…I had my weight taken. Ugh. All of a sudden, every single delicious Christmas cookie and beach cocktail from our honeymoon was staring me straight in the face! Seeing that number on the scale was the last thing I needed that day. How could I have let this happen!?
I’d like to say that my following thought pattern was one of body positivity, full of heart warming thoughts about how strong and wonderful my body was, but that would be a lie. My brain was a familiar jumble of negativity and put-downs, that never really got me anywhere and made me feel like I should just curl up into a ball with my heated blanket and eat a bowl of Chicago mix. I have struggled with my weight for most of my life and hating my body was a familiar feeling. Strangely, so was hating myself for hating my body. I think that is the part that bothers me most because my body is so capable, and yet I can’t help but berate myself for not looking like the cover of a Cosmo. I am capable of breathing and walking and yoga and weight lifting and hugging and healing and, maybe one day, creating a human being. So why do I curse my curves? Why do I lament my waistline? I am so much more than that, and in spite of my imperfections I can do amazing things! And yet standing on that scale, it was so easy to forget all of that and just simply hate my body.
Shaking off my insecurities and trying to focus on the appointment ahead, I went back to the waiting room to meet my wife. I distracted myself from my mini-breakdown with some pamphlets and started to feel my excitement growing as we were called into the office. Okay guys, this is it! The appointment we’ve all been waiting for!!!
It was actually pretty standard.
The soft-spoken doctor had a very calming presence (thank goodness) and introduced herself and the specialties of the clinic. She went through a basic health history with both of us and launched into the various fertility options. Given our relatively straightforward situation of being in a same-sex relationship (in the grand scheme of fertility issues), she recommended intrauterine insemination, or IUI. Basically, we would select a donor from an online catalogue, have it shipped to the clinic and at the next appointment it would be inserted into my uterus with a cannula (small tube). Easy peasy! Well, not actually, but I definitely was not fully processing the situation at this point…more on this later! My blood work looked great, so next up was to check my fallopian tubes and make sure everything down there was in tip-top shape. I was directed to a change room to undress from the waist down for a procedure called a sonohysterogram. Say that five times fast.
I always forget how vulnerable it is being a patient. As a nurse, it’s part of my job to ask a patient to undress for an assessment or expose a private part of their body. It’s definitely a reality check when another health care professional asks you to take your clothes off, hoist your feet into some stirrups and open your legs for everyone to see, under the blazing fluorescent office lights. Of course, I realize that this doctor has probably seen a million vaginas that day, and mine isn’t anything to write home about. As I’m casually laying back on the exam table, the lovely assistant is striking up a conversation to make everything less awkward. The doctor gels up the speculum and inserts it into my vagina, giving it a few clicks until I feel some pressure. Definitely my favourite part of any doctors appointment! She then warns me that I will feel a little bit of cramping as she injects some saline into my uterus. Normally she has patients take some ibuprofen a couple hours before, but apparently I looked tough. I felt some pressure in my uterus, which very quickly turned into a painful cramp just like Aunt Flo brings once a month. Deep breathing, I turned my attention to the ultrasound screen and tried to distract myself.
Next up was the very intrusive transvaginal ultrasound, which is basically a big ultrasound wand that goes in…you guessed it…your vagina! It was cold and covered in gooey gel, so thank goodness it only took her a few minutes to snap some pics of my bits. She said everything looked great and there was no blockages. What a relief! I hustled out of there to the bathroom to change, hoping I didn’t flash anyone from under my paper gown wrap on the way out or leak leftover saline down my leg. Feeling much more comfortable in my clothes, I rejoined my wife in the waiting room and headed out for some Indian food. Nothing like a good transvaginal ultrasound to really give you a hankering for some curry.
All in all, it was a good clinic experience. A little nerve wracking at times, simply because of my own anxieties and insecurities, but I was very impressed with the professionalism and courtesy of all of the staff. As we drove the two hours back home, I alternated between processing the reality of the appointment and napping (because of the emotional fatigue of processing the reality of the appointment). Okay, so we have to pick out a sperm donor, taking into account my blood type and my CMV status, which means I’ll need to get my blood work done to get my CMV status and then we need to figure out some criteria for picking a donor and pick which donor bank we want to use and I wonder if we get to see their pictures and wait…how much did she say a vial of sperm was? Oh right…eight hundred dollars. Each. Not including shipping. And of course there is the clinic fee and the admin fee and the storage fee and the fee fee. Not to mention getting time off of work and driving to Saskatoon once a month and potentially forever if I’m really secretly infertile and holycrapohmygodwhatishappening.
That guy at the bar was starting to look pretty good.
P.S.- Mad photo cred to my wife. xo