Yesterday was egg collection day so we decided that we would each write a section of this post going through both sides of the experience. We also decided that we would delay posting it until we had the fertilisation result which you can find at the end.
So here we go,
I have to say that this is a very bizarre process for the man and I was unprepared for the conflict of emotions and the procedure in general. All along, whenever the egg collection day is spoken about, the sperm sample is often mentioned as an after thought and usually turned into a bit of a joke.
You will get used to hearing the following sentences:
“You’ve got the easy bit!”
“All you have to do is wank/jizz/cum in a cup!”
“At least your bit is fun.”
The reality is far from simple. All you are told is abstain from ejaculating for three to five days before giving the sample. I wish I had been told a bit more about the specifics, so here it is, a balls out account of what happens… literally.
On arrival you have to fill out a form with things like date of last ejaculation, any medication or illness and time of sample. You fill everything in except the time of sample. With the form is a cup with all your and your partners details on. When it is time you are collected by a nurse who leads you away. As I was being shown through the corridors the nurse turned to me and said
“Is this your first time?”
“Have you seen “The Hatch”?”
I had no idea what she meant and was wondering if it was a popular TV show or something.
“I will show you “The Hatch””
It was like being in a spy movie where I had stumbled into a coded conversation. I will come back to “The Hatch” in due course. I could tell you now but who doesn’t love a bit of mystery hatch action.
Eventually you get to the room and nurse shows you a list of instructions for the procedure and how to work the DVD player in the room. It amused me that both of these fact sheets were laminated. You are also told about the DVDs and magazines at your disposal but I’ll get back to that later. Let me tell you about the procedure. It is very clinical and important that it is all done properly. First you have to wash thoroughly as instructed. There is special soap you have to use and you have to wash your hands and gentlemen parts at least three times. Now washing a man sausage thoroughly without a shower is rather awkward but they have a rather unique solution. There is a sink to wash your hands in and a sort of bidet for your chap. You sit on it backwards facing the wall and rather than a jet it has a standard mixer tap. It is worth spending some time playing with the temperature and getting it right before you start as boiled bellend is not going to help anyone. Once you have washed you need to get your pot and remove the lid.
The rules for the pot are very strict.
You must not touch the inside of the pot with any part of your body, that includes your todger.
If you miss you miss the pot but hit your hand you are not allowed to scrape that into the pot.
If you miss you must inform the embryologists.
You must write down the exact time of ejaculation on your form.
So you’ve washed your John Thomas and you’ve prepped your pot, you are good to go. Except this whole process is the least sexy, most unerotic lead up to a wank you will ever experience.
To help with this situation you are provided with magazines and DVDs.
The selection was varied from soft to extreme and appeared to cater for most tastes as far as I could tell. To be honest though it just didn’t feel right to use pornography in this situation. Especially when your partner is about to endure being stabbed repeatedly in the ovary. It makes the whole idea of “pleasuring” yourself rather unappealing.
You really have to work hard to put everything out of your mind and concentrate literally on the job in hand. If I have to do this again I think I would plan in advance and make sure I had something that I knew would make the arousal process easier. To be honest I would rather that side of things involved Nic as she is my soulmate and we are doing this together. I would prefer that any potential child was created with our love in mind and not some random porn DVD.
As for the act itself it can be quite nerve-wracking as it really is a one shot deal. I am a pretty reasonable marksman with a nerf gun but this really matters and requires a particular skill set. After weeks of injections and mood swings and pain and scans I can’t screw this up by missing the pot. Even though I have had to give a sample before and it was in a similar pot it was never under the same pressure. My advice is before you have to abstain, practice. Find a pot of similar size and get a technique down.
Thankfully all went to plan and I hit the bullseye with no issues. The sense of relief was huge in all respects!
Once you are done and have written down the time on the form you take your sample and paperwork to “The Hatch”. This is a hole in the wall with a sliding door and a doorbell. You open it, place your sample inside, close it and ring the bell.
That is it. You are done.
You go back to your partner and wait for them to finish.
So, everything I’ve done so far is to get to this point. Everything. From the day we decided to start trying. The continuous tests, the weight loss, the hurdles, the injections, all of it. Last night I felt anxious. What if there’s no eggs? Are they gong to sedate me or give me General Anesthetic? Is it going to hurt? Will Tom’s sample be ok? What if our eggs and sperm won’t mix? Will we need ICSI? All these things kept running through my mind. At the same time, I didn’t want be negative; I wanted to be positive like everyone kept telling me to be. On an almost never-ending basis!
I woke fairly early and showered with sanex. The advice suggests to keep things as unperfumed and chemical free as possible. No make up, no deodorant and no perfume! I wanted to follow all the “rules” as much as i could. My tummy felt heavy and sore.
At Bourn Hall we had a bit of a wait for a bed. Tom found a photography magazine to read but I couldn’t concentrate on anything. The nerves were increasing. And I was hungry and thirsty! Last food was 11pm and last drink 1am.
We were shown to our little booth on the ward which was really comfortable. The nurse was great and I had my blood pressure & temperature done, pre-op questionnaire and given some leaflets on recovery etc. I got changed into my huge robe and got snug in my dressing gown.
It wasn’t long before Tom was carted off with his little pot to do his duty!
There were some other ladies on the ward. One of them had a young child with them. I found this a bit insensitive. Of course, it gives hope that IVF works and I don’t begrudge anyone having children, but on the ward for egg collection, feeling nervous and emotional as it is, I found it a little distressing and uncomfortable.
Another nurse came and gave me a temazepan and a diclofenac suppository. I was hoping they’d work, but neither of them did. The doctor then came round to ask and answer questions. It turned out I was having IV sedation not GA (which i’d have preferred). This made me a bit more nervous. I’d heard egg collection was painful and also hurt quite a few stories of sedation not working for people.
Next appeared the theatre sister to collect me in a wheelchair. We went through the pre-op questions again and she checked I was who I said I was! She asked if I felt woozy from the temazepam – sadly not I said! Then we were off. I really wish Tom could’ve been with me. It’s such an important procedure, it would’ve been so much of a comfort if he’d been there to hold my hand.
In the theatre there were 3 other staff. 2 other nurses and the doctor. After getting comfy on the table and reconfirming who I was again, they got to work. The nurse had a go at trying to cannulate my left hand; my left arm/hand are notoriously difficult to get needles into! The poor nurse had 2 goes and gave up and switched to the left which played ball first time. The first bit of sedation went in. No effect. The doctor started by washing my lady garden with some cold alcohol type stuff and then put the speculum in which was also pretty cold and uncomfortable. Some antibiotics went into the cannula but no more sedation and I was still wide awake and aware of everything. Then the doc hit my cervix with the local anaesthetic. Ouch that really hurt. Then the other side of cervix. Still ouch! I made this known to the nurse and she hit me up with some more sedation. Still nothing. This wasn’t working, but I realised there wasn’t much I could do about it now. Lets just get through this!
The probe was passed inside me and the eggs were collected. It seemed very quick, which I was thankful for as it hurt a lot. But I was also worried it was over so quick that they hadn’t collected many eggs. I was right. 4 eggs had been collected. I felt devastated. All this waiting, all these injections, all this anticipation, all those follicles and 4 eggs. I felt a failure and that I’d let us down. I got myself up off the table and there was a lot of blood and I felt in a lot of pain.
I was wheeled back to Tom and told him the news. He didn’t seem disappointed at all, but I got really upset. I was hoping for at least 6.
I was given some paracetamol for the pain, which didn’t touch it really. They gave me a nice croissant and some jam and Tom had some biscuits.
I just wanted to go home now, so went to the loo and there was still a lot of blood and it really stung! We got ready and left. All I could keep thinking all the way home was what could I have done differently to give us more eggs? I should’ve eaten better. I shouldn’t have had any coffee. I blamed myself. Why is my body so shit, I was thinking?
I announced the news through social media and to family. The usual response; keep positive. I’m trying, I really am, but tonight I just feel petrified that none will have fertilised and we’ll have to start again from the beginning.
I slept for about 4 hours when I got home and then had to do my first application of Crinone – the progesterone gel that helps the lining of the womb. The last thing I wanted to do was put anything else into my poor bits, but it had to be done! After application, its necessary to walk around for 20 minutes, so I paced round the house. The pain was still pretty full on, so I kept my hot water bottle close by!
So that is the egg collection process from both sides We had completed the hard part… or so we thought.
Nic and I had spent so long getting to that point we hadn’t really considered what came next. Everyone had said the two week wait was really difficult because of all the anxiety but no one had mentioned the wait between egg collection and fertilisation confirmation. We tried to distract ourselves by watching films and doing creative projects but at 3am we were still wide awake. We both did manage to get some sleep but it wasn’t great.
Finally this morning the phone rang.
Nic answered it and I watched on.
“What happens next?”
That was it. One short phone call and our world came crashing down, our journey has come to a screeching halt.
None of the four eggs fertilised.
I cannot describe how we feel right now. I don’t know what we will do next. This will probably be the last blog for a while.
Thank you, everyone for your support and thank you for reading,
Tom and Nic.