Single Mum By Choice: IUI Insemination Day

So today is the day. Or is it? I’m sat here waiting for the bus to work (cycling was a bit much after yesterday and the joys I have in store for me today). Anyway, here I am, worrying that I’ve got the day wrong, maybe they meant yesterday at 1.30pm. I checked my email and today’s date at least five times before I was convinced there’s no mistake. I started to google ovulation test results. As with all things medical, it was a bad idea. Whilst the doctor had told me to measure my urine first thing in the morning Google informed me you should take the tests in the afternoon, or at least after 10am. I’m trying to remind myself there is nothing I can do now. I put my phone down and tried to stop thinking about it all.

Work was uncharacteristically slow until about half an hour before I planned to leave. Suddenly everyone wanted a piece of me. Finally, I got out of the office and started walking. I didn’t get very far before the nerves insisted I go and use the nearest loo I could find. After making use of the nearest bar’s toilet I started to get slightly lost and realised that arriving stressed and flustered might not be the best move. Luckily I found a bus heading the right way and hopped on. I looked out of the window trying to calm myself and not worry about arriving late. As I looked out I couldn’t help but smile at every bump and baby I saw. For the past two years such sites have been a constant reminder of what I thought I’d never be able to have, now I’m on my way to try and join them; I may have my own little bump in a few months time.

I’m not sure if it’s irony, or a subconscious fear, that I’ve arrived early for every appointment apart from today when it really matters. There was someone ahead of me in the queue for the receptionist, someone who was taking a very long time. I mentally started preparing explanations of how I wasn’t really late, just stuck behind others in the queue, for fear they may say I’d missed my chance. I tried to calm myself down. Surely a bit of breathlessness is a good thing? I’m recreating the ‘traditional’ impregnation process. I asked how long the appointment would take. Twenty minutes. Only twenty minutes I thought, but then again most traditional pregnancies probably take a lot less than that!

As I sat there in the waiting room I began to wish I hadn’t worn such tight jeans. I kept feeling pains in my side. I was paranoid the pains were the egg already making its way out of my body. I was worried that the tightness would squash my womb and not allow the sperm and egg to embrace. As I sat there patiently waiting for my name to be called I started thinking that I might miss this waiting room in the coming weeks. I’m certainly hoping I will. I somehow managed not to get more and more nervous, in fact I was quite relaxed about the whole thing. Parenting has taught me (some) patience. What’s a few more hours I thought? And, if this doesn’t work, what’s a few more months? I believe now that one day I’ll have my baby in my arms and whenever that is it will be the most perfect moment, surely that’s worth waiting for? Of course I’m hoping there isn’t too much stress and heartache before that moment but unlike when I was carrying my son, I felt a sense of calmness and surety that eventually it will work out fine. In that moment, sitting there alone in a waiting room it felt like an essential thought if I was going to get through this alone.
Where the deed would be done

By the time I was called through it was over 32 hours since my positive ovulation test. I told the nurse I was worried, shouldn’t it have been done within 24 hours I asked? Can I have a scan to check I haven’t ovulated? She went out to speak with a colleague. As she did, the embryologist picked something off the table, “I’ll just take this back to the incubator” she said. I looked over and there it was. A small test tube with a clear liquid in it. The seed for my child to be. Or at least hopefully it was. I suddenly panicked. What if everything goes wrong? What if the sperm dies because it’s been out too long before they inseminate me? What if the delay of the scan ruins it? Even if the scan shows I’ve ovulated they can’t refreeze the sperm surely. Oh God it’s all going to fail.

The nurse came back. She assured me that it was OK, they didn’t need to scan me. It was still within 36 hours of the test result and that was the main thing. I started getting emotional, welling up. I was hypersensitive to every twinge around my womb, I told her. I thought I was ovulating. The nurse said it didn’t matter, better than that, she said if I was ovulating it was good news because it meant it was the right time to do it. Exactly the right time. “Now, are we going to do this?” she asked. “Yes” I said, wiping away the tears.
The embryologist came back and I got on the chair. The nurse had to raise me to eye height so she could put the dry speculum inside me. Oh the dignity. It bloody hurt, especially when she had to reposition it. Then she cleaned away some mucus with a wipe. She warned me it might feel cold, I didn’t feel anything through my gritted teeth, I was too busy dealing with the pain to notice the temperature of anything going on inside me. The embryologist meanwhile was preparing the sperm in a sort of very long, thin syringe. I asked nervously, “you’re sure it’s the right sperm aren’t you?”, “yes”, she said. I started questioning more; “but I was told you had three vials and I only ordered one so how can that be right? Do you really have three?” She didn’t know, “I wasn’t the one who received the sperm”. “But you washed it”, I asked. The nurse laughed, “you’re a bit paranoid aren’t you”, she joked. I was sure they must have seen worse. I thought I wasn’t being very nervous all things considered. “Well, I’m a single mum,” I said joking trying not to come across as a total lunatic, “it doesn’t really matter who’s sperm you use so long as it works”. They both laughed. “It’s good sperm” the embryologist assured me. “1.3 million in there”. I knew this was good. The doctor had told me they like to have 1 million active sperm for IUI, this guy was blasting that out of the park. It was strange, but I felt some sort of bond to him at that point, a moment of pride and an appreciation that this guy had handed over his goods so willingly (well, and for a bit of cash I guess) to give me the chance at becoming a mother again.
The embryologist brought the syringe over. The nurse placed it inside me and then slowly pushed it in further. It started to hurt a little, it was a strange feeling having something right inside you. Then the nurse said, “right it’s going in now, good luck”. I felt like I should do something to mark the moment, like this could be the start of a new life, for me, my son and the child to be. Nothing I could think of felt profound enough. I think I mumbled some words in my head but it all felt a bit rushed, like I couldn’t take the moment in properly. Like I hadn’t quite been prepared for what a monumental, non-event moment this would be. It hurt as she pushed the sperm into me. “All done she said, and there was no backwash” she happily informed me. “You can expect some later though, just like after sex”. Oh yeah I thought, I can vaguely remember that backwash thing about unprotected sex, I always hated that. I lay there for a minute or two while she cleaned up. I was nervous to get up and leave but she insisted that it was fine, “you don’t need to lie with your legs in the air” she joked. I was kind of hoping I could.
I dressed and went back to the waiting room. I wasn’t ready to rush out and sat there for a good while. I didn’t feel like rushing anywhere anymore it seemed. As I walked towards the bus stop, I saw one coming but for the first time in my life I decided not to run for it. I didn’t want to risk anything even if officially it wasn’t a risk. As I sat at the bus stop I coughed. I felt something come out. Then I felt twinges in my stomach/ womb area. Oh God this was going to be a long two weeks to wait I thought, probably the longest in my life.
As I boarded the bus I decided not to go upstairs, instead I found a seat downstairs and stayed put for the rest of the journey home. While I was sat there I started to feel uncomfortable ‘down below’. I’m saying ‘down below’ not to be polite, but because, if I’m honest, I couldn’t really describe where the discomfort was coming from. It seemed to be everywhere, my vagina, cervix, womb, stomach – you name it. I was scared to cough again and spent most of the bus ride trying to ignore the incessant tickle on the back of my throat. When I arrived home I was shattered even though it was only 5pm. I thought back to the times I was pregnant before and how exhausted I felt in the first few months, hopefully this feeling was a reminder of how the next three months might feel.

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