“My ovulation kit is positive,” I told Linda on the phone.
“Great,” she said, “You can get the insemination tomorrow.”
I rolled my eyes to myself. “Ummmm… don’t I get an ultra sound tomorrow and then an injection to help release the follicle, if it’s big enough? Then another ultra sound the next day and then the insemination, if the ultra sound shows I’m ready?”
I was really sick of double checking everything everyone said especially because I didn’t really know what I was talking about and I was still usually right.
“Oh,” she said, “Sure. You want to come in for an ultra sound tomorrow?”
“No, I don‘t WANT to. But isn’t that what I’m supposed to do? That’s what I did last time.”
“Hold on, let me check your chart,” Linda put me on hold for a few minutes. When she returned she said, “What time do you want to do your ultra sound tomorrow?”
The next day, I went in for the ultra sound. After waiting in the lobby for almost an hour. A woman I’d never seen before brought me into the ultra sound room, where I’d been many times.
“Why are you getting an ultra sound today?” she asked.
I was so annoyed yet not surprised. What the hell? I’m a patient at one of the top fertility cilnics in the country and she’s asking me why I’m there and not looking at a chart? What if I didn’t know? What if I was’t smart? It should be all there in front of her. She should have my fucking chart with the details on it. Couldn’t she just look it up and make me feel taken care of???
I decided to make her work for it. “I don’t know,” I said, thinking she’d open my chart which must be somewhere in the room.
“Well, what day of your cycle is it?” she asked. I wanted to scream. I’m not supposed to have to work this hard. I’m going to pay almost $400 for this test so the least she could do is know why I’m there.
“Day 17,” I said. Let her figure this out.
“Oh, no no,” she said, shaking her head and putting down the plastic gloves she was holding, “You are too late.”
What the hell is she talking about. “Too late?” I repeated.
“Yes, you are too late. You should have come earlier in the cycle.” She was cold and arrogant and wrong.
“Come earlier for what???” I yelled.
She didn’t answer. She was actually packing up, like she wasn’t going to do the ultra sound!
I was really pissed, “I’m ovulating right now and I’m here to get an ultra sound to see if my follicle is ready for me to get inseminated tomorrow!”
I mean, I’m not a doctor or anything but….
She was quite surprised. “Oh,” she said and put the plastic gloves on. She didn’t say anything else.
She did the ultra sound, printed up some still captures and made a few notes.
“Where is the follicle?” I pointed to the image of my uterus still on the screen. “Does it look good?”
The tech didn’t look at me, “I’ll have to give it to the doctor and let him analyze it.”
“OK, but where is the follicle,” I pointed to the screen again. “Can you just show me where it is up there? So I can see it.”
She ignored me and took off her gloves. “You can get dressed now.”
Bitch! Seriously. $400, no insurance, you don’t know why I’m here and you can’t tell me about my own fucking fallopian tubes and shit? I fucking hate you and this place!
After waiting in the lobby, a new nurse came to tell me that I was all set for the insemination tomorrow but Dr. X wouldn’t be there. It would be another doctor.
I was fine with that. 🙂
The next day I arrived at the clinic at 8am. I had to be at my writers group at noon. I figured I’d left plenty of time because the insemination doesn’t take more than 20 minutes. I told the receptionist I was there and sat in the lobby for about ten minutes when I started to have this weird feeling that I was in an abandoned bus station instead of one of America’s Top fertility clinics. I thought maybe I should check in with the receptionist again.
“Did you let them know I’m here?” I asked.
She looked at me blankly. She was very pretty. “Who are you here to see?” she asked.
I guess she hadn’t let anyone know I was here.
“I’m getting an ultrasound and then an insemination,”I said. “I’m Dr. X’s patient.” If I hadn’t checked back in, would I have sat there unattended to all day? I think yes.
I was so sick of checking up on everything!!
“Have a seat,” she said.
After a little while I went in for the ultra sound. I was so excited that someone actually called me in, that when the tecnician asked, “What are we doing today?” I just told her.
I wanted to stay calm and relaxed to get pregnant, but I couldn’t leave everything to chance. “You are giving these ultra sound results to the doctor now?” I asked.
“Yes, It’s going to Dr. X, now,” she said.
“Um, I don’t think he’s coming in today,” I told her.
“Yes, I was told I’d have another doctor.”
She shruged and left the room with my ultra sound. She might have figured out that Dr. X wasn’t in. Or, she might have left the results for him and walked away. Who knows. This place was chaos.
I headed back to the lobby and sat down. I knew that no one would come find me or help me or know what I was doing here. I sat and gathered my strength because I knew I was going to have to make sure I got my insemination myself; here, at the top fertility clinic in the country…
After giving the clinic a little time to prove me wrong, like 30 minutes, I got up and walked down the hall to look for a familiar face. Dr. X’s wing of the clinic seemed closed, so I went the other direction. Then I saw… Barbara!
Barbara, the 3rd party donor rep was at a nurse’s station. She wasn’t wearing a Christmas sweater this time, as it was February, but she was dressed in something high collared and pearled. Well, she was a familiar face. I decided she would have to help me.
“Hi Barbara,” I said. “I’m looking for someone to check in with about my appointment today… a doctor or a nurse…”
“Oh, hi,” she said back. She recognized me. This is good. “I can help you.”
I didn’t want to be insulting, but I had to ask, “You are a donor rep, right? Not a nurse.”
“I’m a nurse too!” She said, cheerily.
That wasn’t confusing at all. “Great. My doctor isn’t here today, and I’m supposed to be getting an insemination.….”
Barbara listened to my tale. “Oh, OK, I’ll check on that,” she said, not moving from the station and not making any phone calls or cheking on anything.
“But…” I said stopping her from… her lack of movement, “I’ve just done an ultra sound that is supposed to show if I’m ready for the insemination. I need that ultra sound checked.” UGH!! Why didn’t anyone know what was happening??? How did anyone get pregnant here?? Do people spend 10 hours in the lobby every time?
“Oh. OK, who is your doctor?” Barbara asked.
I told her it was Dr. X.
“I’ll let him know,” she said.
AHHH! “He’s not here today, which is part of the problem. I don’t know who is taking care of me. I assume that another doctor will look at the ultra sound.”
“OK,” Barbara says, “I’ll find out who is seeing you today.”
“Thanks,” I said and I saw it was 9am. “And, I’m supposed to be in Hollywood at noon.”
She snickered, like I was silly for even mentioning it. Noon was forever away. “No problem.”
I sat back down in the lobby.
At 9:30, I went to find Barbara again. “Hi, just checking in on the progress.”
Barbara looked flustered, “Oh, well the doctor isn’t in yet to do the insemination.”
“OK,” I said. There are 4 or 5 doctors in this practice. “So, the ultra sound has been analyzed? I’m ready for the insemination?”
Brbara looked blank. “What?”
I repeated the question.
“Oh. The doctor isn’t here so he can’t look at the ultra sound.”
“OK,” I say, and then remembered, “Linda had mentioned that someone named Charlotte would be able to look at my ultra sound.”
“Who?” Cheryl asked.
“I don’t know, just repeating what Linda said.”
“I’ll check,” she said.
“Thanks. I have to be somewhere at noon.”
You really have to repeat stuff here. No one paid attention to me. Maybe because I was single. Maybe they pay attention to married people. I doubt it, but maybe.
I went back to the lobby to wait. At 10:15, I went to find Barbara again. “Hey, any progress?”
“The doctor still isn’t in,” she said.
“Which doctor?” I asked. “I mean, there are a lot of them here, right? There like four or 5? There must be some doctor here who can help me? Why else would they let me make an 8am appointment, right?” I try to seem light hearted and calm but I was about to rip her 50’s style bouffant out of her scalp.
She looked at me blankly.
I continued, “I know that the sperm takes an hour to be prepped, and it’s after 10, so if we just knew if I was getting the insemination today, we could tell the lab to start. Maybe we should tell the lab anyway…. Cause I have to be somewhere at noon.”
Barbara looked at me like I was an idiot, “It only takes about 15 minutes to prep the sperm,” she said.
“No, mine is frozen. Rolf once told me it takes like an hour.”
“No,” she argued, “It will only take 15 minutes.” She was scolding me like a school marm.
“Every time I’ve come, it’s taken an hour.” I said, recalling the times I had to call ahead when I was doing inseminations at my OB’s office.
“It doesn’t take an hour.” She was really mad, “Fifteen minutes tops.”
Maybe she knew something I didn’t. “OK,” I said “And, if there’s another doctor here who could help me, or this woman, Charlotte, that would be great.”
“Let me check, I’ll be right back” she said and disappeared down the hall. I stood there and waited for a while then I went back to the lobby. I don’t know why I thought I’ll be right back meant she’d be right back.
At 10:30, Barbara found me, “The doctor just got here so I’m having him look at your ultrasound.”
“Thank you!” I said. I was actually really excited that she had remembered to help me. And if I left here in an hour, I’d be on time for my meeting. “Maybe we should tell the lab to prep the sperm. Just to be safe. It’s frozen, you know.”
She gave me a ‘trust me’ look, “It won’t take long to prep the sperm. Stop worrying.”
I hate when someone tells me to relax or calm down or stop worrying. I bit my lip and waited.
I hated this place. Have I mentioned that?
I wanted to be done with this and be pregnant, mostly now so I wouldn’t have to come here again. That was the thing; I was losing sight of the prize. This was all about a baby, but it seemed more like it was about winning battles with everyone here.
I sat for another 20 minutes. At 10:50, Barbara came to find me, “The doctor says you are ready for the insemination.”
“Great,” I said.
“…And, I told the lab to prep the sperm.” She gave me a sheepish look, “It will take about an hour.”
I was livid.
I told you so I told you so I told you so I thought.
“Maybe you want to go get some breakfast or something,” she said, “and come back at noon.”
“I’m supposed to be somewhere at noon,” I said softly. “As I mentioned before.”
“I know, I’m sorry,” she said.
“It wouldn’t hurt if things were done more efficiently here. I’ve been here since 8 am.”
“I know,” she said.
“It’s just surprising,” I said, as I grabbed my purse, “This is supposed to be such a great place. But every turn is much more difficult than it needs to be.”
I left Barbara in the lobby and went to a little French bakery down the block. I desperately wanted a delicious strong coffee, but my acupuncturist had me off caffine I needed the comfort of coffee… I ordered a decaf and vowed to only drink half. I texted my writers group and told them I’d be very late. I thought about the one deposit of sperm in the lab and how Henry had told me there were four. I wondered if there was a slight chance that I’d get back and they’d tell me there was actually no frozen sperm for me after all. Sure, there was a chance. A good chance.
When I went back to the clinic at 11:45, they took me into a room. I sat waiting for a few minutes before a new doctor walked in… with Barbara! Barbara was going to be my nurse! How wonderful.
“Hello, I’m Dr. Smith,” the doctor said. He was older than my doctor, probably one of the more famous doctors here. One of the senior ones. He started prepping and chatting. “Well, your husband’s sperm looks great,” he said.
“Oh, good,” I replied as I looked at Barbara. She made no sign of remembering our horrible chat with Dan.… she just stared off.
“Does your husband have red hair, like you?” Dr. Smith asked as he kept working.
“Um, no,” I said. Oh wow, my husband. And I didn’t want to correct him for fear of getting into the whole 3rd party donor conversation, even with Barbara there.
“Well,” Dr. Smith was almost ready, “Your husband’s numbers here are phenomenal. He made a huge jump in sperm count and mobility. It’s almost like a different guy.”
“Great,” I said and then had a sudden jolt. “Wait!” I stopped him, as he started to lift the paper cloth around my lap. “Can I see that paper?”
Dr. Smith looked confused, “Sure. Isn’t this your husband?”
I looked at the paper: it said my name in pen and then Dan’s name in pencil, but it was written as Danny. “Who filled this out? Henry?” I asked.
“Yes,” Dr. Smith said, “Everything OK?”
I thought of Henry saying there were 4 samples and then one. I thought of all the craziness and inefficiency at this place and I really wasn’t sure this was Dan’s sperm.
Dr. Smith looked at me, “OK?” he asked.
It was noon. I had been there 4 hours. I had been at this place 3 months and I hated every minute. I wanted to be pregnant and done with it here. I looked at Barbara with her why don’t you just have sex comment? I thought of Rolf screaming at Dan and of Linda never calling me back or answering my questions and at everyone always asking me why I was here.
If this was someone else’s sperm, I could sue this place for a ton of money. I’m not the suing type, but they’d deserve it. My guess was there was a 40% chance it was not Dan’s sperm… but what was I going to do?
“OK, ready,” I told Dr. Smith.
As Dr. Smith was inseminating, Barbara smiled at me, “You have pretty blue eyes,” she said.
“Thanks,” I said, wondering if she was trying to kiss up for making me late.
“Have you always had blue eyes?” she asked.
I… I… huh? You are a nurse? This is the question you ask? BAT SHIT CRAZY.
“Yes, I have,” I replied.
I got to my writers group at about 1:30.
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photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/cesarastudillo/1275756668/”>cesarastudillo</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> < a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>