Six years ago and after much deliberating, I evenutally made my first appointment at the IVF clinic at the hospital. I don't know why it took me so long to make an appointment. As my friend N said, when she gave me all the details, they don't make you come home with a baby after the first meeting. In hindsight - would that it were so easy.
Hadassah Hospital is in Jerusalem and, it being a smallish city, I was terrified of bumping into someone I know. In the event, I did bump into someone but it happened to be N who was visiting a friend. She was more than happy to take me up and introduce me. The receptionist greeted N with a big smile followed by a hug and a kiss. Then one of the nurses came out of the office and did the same. Hmm seems like a friendly place...
I was told to wait and I sat surveying the other clients lining the waiting-room. They ran the full gamut from ultra-orthadox Jews (the married ones with covered heads and the unmarried ones in the familiar modest style of dress), religious Moslems (in Arab head-covering and accompanied by their husbands), through to more modern and sometimes scantily clad women (with and without husbands and wedding rings). No one spoke or even exchanged smiles which is very unusual in Israel. Later, when we were all less scared, I started to make friends among the women I met along the journey - affectionately known as my IVF friends.
When my turn came I was shown into a small consulting room with a swarthy looking doctor. To my relief he offered to speak English. I can do Hebrew but sometimes you want to be sure you're saying exactly the right thing and understanding everything to the full. Anyway, the doctor was Israeli-Arab so neither of us had Hebrew as our mother-tongue.
Swarthy Doctor asked me for my medical history, age, etc... I was ready for the questions about why I wanted to do IVF and I had my speech prepared, and practised - a lot. But the questions never came. I was almost disappointed that I'd been done out of my performance. Instead I came out with a list of blood tests I needed to take, the phone number of the sperm bank, and a date for the next meeting.
I called N to tell her how it went. How quick and simple it had been. "I told you," she said, "they don't pry into your personal life. The initial signing up is like buying a fridge from people who care."