The three weeks until my next appointment went much faster than the previous two of the 2WW (the two week wait). This time I saw Dr B who explained that doing IUI without any intervention had a success rate of about 2% whereas IVF for a woman my age (42) was about 25%.
"I feel I want to give it one more go before I start having operations." I told him, "It seems hastey to rush into the operating theatre just because it didn't work the first time."
"There is another option," he said, "a sort of in-between stage. We do IUI but you take hormones to stimulate your ovaries. There will be more eggs thereby raising your chances of success."
"What does the success rate rise to with that procedure?"
"For a woman your age [I wished he would stop saying that] about 5%."
"Better but not much."
"Or you could go straight to IVF?"
In other words - stop wasting everyone's time - is what he meant. When I look back on it now, six years later, my optimism was laughable. However, I hated the idea of messing up my system with drugs - I'd never even taken birth-control pills before. I was the customer and though Dr B wasn't convinced, he agreed to let me try one more IUI without intervention.
I was told to come in for the blood test and ultrasound on the fifth day of my cycle. As I was already on day 10 this meant waiting another month. However, the fifth day rolled around again, and again I started the process of early morning visits every few days. On day 15 I was ready for the IUI and this time there were two eggs. This time around I knew more about the system and had paid my 350 shekels and done all the paperwork before knocking on the door of the Sperm Bank at 11am precisely.
This time I knew to hold the tiny vial of sperm suspended in about 3ml of pink solution, tight in my hot little fist. I returned to IVF and went to add my name to the treatment list. I was horrified to see about 10 people already listed. I looked round the waiting room and there they all were, one hand fisted, sat in order on the row of plastic chairs, each fiercly guarding her place in the queue.
I realized that I had been too British. When I was told 11am, I should have turned up at 10.30. It was a repeat performance of the last time. Except that instead of four women ahead of me waiting for four treatment rooms, there were 10 women. And of course, you can have 104 treatment rooms but if you only have two doctors working...
Then one doctor was called away to do an emergency ceasarian. If I were needing an emergency ceasarian I'd also want the doctor to drop everything, I reasoned. But I'd been there for over an hour and my fist was numb from trying to keep the sperm warm. The receptionist said she'd call another doctor to come and it would only take a few minutes. A few minutes can be a surprisingly ambiguous length of time. When the new doctor arrived he saw the next two women on the list. And suddenly, I was the only one left. The doctor was willing but we had to wait for a treatment room to become available.
I'd been waiting over two hours when Professor H arrived for the daily staff meeting. He was the Head of Department, the most experienced, the Professor, the one who told all the other doctors what to do, the one who made all the big decisions. But it doesn't matter how important or brilliant you are, if sperm cannot survive for two hours in an aching fist you cannot make a baby.
Prof. H seemd surprised to see me still sitting there looking dejected but resigned to the fact that I'd probably wasted my time. He quicky found a free room and hurried me in. He was kind enough to make encouraging noises but I was already thinking about the next time when I would be banging on the door of the Sperm bank at 10am.
It may be that spern can survive for hours in their little pink bath but I didn't want to ask. What was I going to do if he told me there was no chance. Make a fuss? Demand my 350 shekels back? Go somewhere else next time? No, better not to know. And anyway, there's not much difference between 2% and 0% is there?
Two weeks later, during which time I desperately tried to feel something but didn't, my non-pregnancy was confirmed.