On the day of my I.U.I. (intra-uterine insemination) I called the sperm bank at Hadassah Hospital to tell the bank manager that I needed to collect today. She told me to come at 11 am and that it costs 350 shekels. Before that I have to do one last blood-test and ultrasound as a final check. I went through all the steps in a relaxed state and as slowly as possible as I had two hours to kill until 11am. Everything was in the right place, the right size or the right thickness. We were on!
I made some phone calls, went to the cafetaria for breakfast, tried to read my book... anything to stop watching the clock work its way round, second by second, to 11am. At precisely 11am I knocked on the door of the sperm bank with my 350 shekels in cash in an envelope. She didn't want the money. "You pay downstairs at the reception and bring me the receipt."
I return to Reception. I take a number, swipe my card, get a print-out, wait for my turn, see the same woman I saw the first time I did this two hours previously. Of course I could have paid my 350 shekels then, but who knew?
Back upstairs with the receipt and we do the switch. I get the smallest galss vial I've ever seen with less than 1cm of transparent pink liquid in the bottom. This is what it's reduced to? I wonder how many sperm are in there and I make a mental note to ask. I can't help smiling when I think of al the extra stuff you get when you do it naturally. The bank manager laughs at my bemused expression. She knows exactly what I'm thinking.
I take my vial of sperm back to the IVF clininc, trying to hide it behind the piece of paper I am still carrying and trying to look nonchallent in the lift with half a dozen other people. I go to the nurse's station and hold up the vial proudly to show them. One of the nurses quickly takes it and presses it into the palm of my hand, closingmy fingers around it. Apparently I was supposed to keep it warm.
I sit down to wait thinking: they've probably all died of exposure by now. I hold the vial very tightly, perhaps I can heat it up again in my sweaty palm and revive the little fellows.
There are other women waiting for the same thing. You can tell by the way they or their husbands have one fist tightly clenched. I am about fourth on the list. The woman next to me tells me that the procedure only takes about five minutes but then you have to lie still for twenty minutes until your cervix closes. I see that she must be right as the doctor is in and out of each treatment room in a very short time and the woman only emerges much later.
The waiting area is lined with doors. I know what is behind some of them and I try to calculate how many treatment rooms there are. I hope there are more than four or I will be waiting for more than half an hour for my turn. My hand is beginning to cramp. I try not to think of the sperm shrivelling up from exposure, cold, or from boredom maybe.
At 12.10 I was called in. I had to prize my fingers open from an hour's worth of gripping. I undressed my lower half and lay on the bed with my feet in the stirrups. The doctor inserted a metal clamp and opened it to create an unobstructed passage through my vagina. This hurt and I braced myself for more pain. Then he prepared the catheter and slowly inserted it. There was a small twinge of pain as it passed through my cervix and entered the uterus. And then it was all over. On his way out the door, the doctor passed me my book and my phone, told me to wait at least 20 minutes, and wished me good luck.
Half an hour later I emerged. "Come back in two weeks time for a blood-test," said the nurse. "Good Luck."