I attend infertility support group meetings with an inspiring group of women, and it struck me as a little funny when the conversation on several occasions turned to the role we often assume as educators. In other words, I found myself in the midst of a troop of health activists who use their experiences with an invisible battle to educate people around them, begin to remove the stigma, and let other people with these hidden challenges know they are not alone. Funny how life works, isn't it?
In our self-assigned role as awareness activists, we are finding some joy and purpose in the chance to share what this journey is really like - both the good and the grotesque - and when possible to do so with humor and hope. So I want to share some of my experiences with you. I'm sure the things I describe will be quite familiar to more of you than we'd like to admit, and for others it will expose you to the world where 1 in 8 couples will find themselves for a time.
|Generally not a fan of seeing all the equipment laid out...maybe that's just me.|
The mock transfer was performed first I was instructed to drink 32 oz of water one hour before my appointment to ensure a full bladder (insert panicked "are you serious" face here, because that's what I made when I got these instructions). It seems for this test they use a long catheter through the cervix as if they were placing an embryo guided by an abdominal ultrasound, and they need your bladder to be full so they can distinguish it from your uterus. Not being a fan of any test that involves a speculum, my primary concern was how I could relax one set of sphincters to allow the speculum while keeping another set engaged to prevent a urinary blowout on the table. I promised you an honest recount and a brutally honest one you shall have, people. This was the test I dreaded more, and to be honest it wasn't nearly as bad as I had anticipated. Perhaps the suggestion I read online was true, that focusing on not peeing during the procedure helped distract me from the activities themselves. I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth, especially since this was a test-run for a real transfer so I will obviously have to go through this again. I do have a theory, though, that this test is really to see if you're prepared for all the bladder pressure you'd face during pregnancy because holding a full bladder while having things inserted vaginally AND someone applying external pressure with an ultrasound wand was a bit tricky.
Then came the saline sono.
To be fair, I should qualify my description of the experience a bit: I did not scream or cry, and I wouldn't even describe this as the most painful experience of my life. Also, once the procedure was over the pain subsided fairly quickly (yes I had taken ibuprofen prior to the appointment as suggested and yes, I took a little more afterward). My biggest issue was that I had quite a bit of adrenaline flowing through my system between the pain and my anxiety about the whole visit, and I started shaking. The NP and the medical assistant were cool about everything, they had me stay lying down for a bit after we finished, took my blood pressure, and got me some water. It took a couple minutes but eventually the shaking subsided. That's when the MA commented that my color was returning and after she stepped out again my husband informed me I had blanched to an unnatural shade of Clorox white even for my usual pasty-assed self. While sitting up now sipping water, I asked when exactly I went so pale and he answered, "when they inflated the balloon". I guess that struck me as funny because I laughed...and when my abdominals contracted it forced out some of the remaining saline. Before I could stop myself I turned to him and blurted "YOU MADE ME SQUIRT"! I must say, I hadn't seen him laugh that hard all day.
And that was my evening of IVF work-up tests. I told you - shocking, funny, and more than a little ridiculous!