I am at Dr C’s before 07:30 but I am still the last of the morning’s patients to arrive. I forget how rush hour traffic backs up from my village into Umhlanga. I see a husband I recognise in the waiting room. It takes me a while to place him. He has greyed since I last saw him but then it clicks. I know through a colleague at work that his wife has been struggling to conceive which just goes to show that you can be the most beautiful (she is stunning), privileged (with rich parents) woman in the world with a good looking, successful husband living in a big house in a wealthy suburb but that doesn’t mean you have everything. No one does.
The colleague in question is four months along. She went off the pill after thirteen years and fell pregnant almost immediately. She & her husband cursed when they realised. She smokes, drinks, has a terrible diet and is on some pretty intense medication for epilepsy. There are no rules, no logic in the lottery of life.
When the wife makes her way back into the lounge I am engrossed in my magazine. I am the only woman there unaccompanied. My hair falls forward covering my face. I don’t know them well enough to want to talk about my donor. I also don’t want to be the subject of casual conversation amongst a group of people with whom I no longer socialise.
I guess my inner control freak is showing. I know it doesn’t make sense that I share my innermost thoughts on the world wide web for anyone to read and yet I don’t want to discuss it with real live people in the doctor’s waiting room but it’s different. This is my story, and I want to be the one to tell it as and when I am ready, not be a subject for second hand gossip.
Last cycle Dr H did an abdominal scan but this time Dr C wants to do an internal exam. He can see three little fellas on the left and a lone ranger on the right. I have lots of questions for him as I lie there. First off I am not sure exactly what happened to my eggs from the extraction. Were they fertilised before freezing?
With what he asks? Well my donor sperm that arrived, I say, or are they still dating, hanging out in the fridge together? Dr C laughs and says they are going about things the right way. They are still getting to know each other and there has been no consummation of the relationship. I’m pleased to hear my donor sperm are gentlemen.
He explains that we will only fertilise and freeze embryos when I have a significant number of eggs. I tell him I am not sure how many rounds of extractions I can go through. Although it didn’t hurt at all afterward, the memory of the procedure itself is unpleasant and its different when you’re going in knowing its going to hurt. He says I can always use anaesthetic and then I won’t feel a thing.
I tell him I am worried that my endometriosis is returning because I know this affects fertility but he assures me that it makes no difference the way we are doing it. I breathe a little easier after I have voiced all of my concerns.
Afterward I go to fetch my new set of meds from the nurses’ office. No Gonal F this time, just the Menopur and Femara. As I am about to take my first pill, Sister interjects and reminds me I have to wait for my blood test results, but its only one pill and I’ve already taken it out of its wrapper so I assure her it will be fine, take the pill and head to work.
But it’s not fine. My FSH levels are too high and we cannot proceed this cycle. My body is trying too hard to make eggs. I feel bad for my ovaries but I am not even really surprised. The reality is I am fully aware of the toll the last round took on my body and my emotions. There is a part of me that may even be a little relieved not sure I could handle the intensity of another round when I am still reeling from the last.
I sit down with Sister that afternoon and we talk about my options. I have given back all my medication minus the one pill I took optimistically this morning. The clinic closes over Christmas but if we time it right, by using the contraceptive pill to control my cycle, we may be able to squeeze in one more cycle before the end of the year. Sister pores over a calendar and counts days. I need to take the pill today (11/11) until the 27th. After three days I should start my period on the 1st of December and all going well we can do another extraction the last week they are open.
She tells me I must only take the white pills. I say sure. She tells me again and I say ok. Then she picks up the packet of pills and cuts off the red section and I laugh and say I won’t take her lack of trust personally. Sister says I wouldn’t believe the things she sees and I’m sure she’s right. Better safe than sorry.
I had thought about going to a movie this evening but I no longer feel like it so I drive home and go to bed early.