Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Entering the IVF System or On the Fifth Day I Waited

I had done all the blood tests and acertained that I didn't have HIV, hepatitus C, diabetes, and various other conditions. My donated sperm was waiting for me at the Sperm Bank and my FSH count was high (basically the number of eggs you have left). I was very optimistic. I'd opted for IUI without any intervention. This is, to put it simply, the proverbial turkey-baster method. They take the sperm and squirt it into the uterus with a catheter. No drugs. No procedures. I just had to come to the IVF department five days into my cycle for a blood test and an ultrasound. In this way they would start monitering my ovulation. "And start taking 5mg of folic acid a day." No problem.

On the fifth day I set the alarm at 6am. I got up and showered (I was going for an ultrasound) and was out of the house by 6.45. On the bus at 6.55 and at Hadassah Hospital at 7.25. Smug? You bet! The unit opens at 7.30 and N had told me to get there early or I'd be waiting around all morning. By 7.30 the queue was already starting to form.

I waited, with my notes from the blood tests and my letter from the Sperm Bank, to see the nurse. She told me that I had to get my papers stamped at reception and then go up to the fourth floor where I would give a blood sample in haematology.

I went to reception and took a number. I waited. At last my number came up and I went to the vacant window. "Where's your printout from your health fund?" asked the clerk.
"What printout?"
"You have to swipe your card through the machine on the wall and you will get a printout."

I went to swipe but I had lost my place. I took another number and waited again. Meanwhile, I read the printout. It seemed that I owed Maccabi (my health fund) some money. This was confirmed when I reached the window again. "You have to go to Maccabi and sort it out. If it comes up again we won't be able to give you treatment."

My notes were stamped and I went to haematology. There was a corridor full of women ahead of me. I took a number and waited, again.

When it was my turn I went in and sat down. I'm not nervous of needles but apparently I have very narrow veins. I once tried to donate blood and they couldn't find any. They eventually took it out through the back of my hand. Not pleasant. I explained about my narrow veins. The nurse wasn't interested. She took blood from a hundred people a day and she certainly didn't need my help in finding it.

The needle touched my inner elbow and I winced in anticipation. Then I felt it go in. Actually it didn't hurt at all. "Interesting," said the nurse, "you do have narrow veins. I'll try again over here." She tried again. "Maybe give me your other arm?" This time it worked. I took my blood and returned to IVF.

"What have you got there?" asked the nurse.
"My blood sample. Where should I put it?"
"You were supposed to take it to the lab in haematology."

I went back upstairs. And it's not just back upstairs. It's downstairs, along two corridors, across the reception area, past the coffee kiosks, up two flights of stairs, and along another corridor. I deposited my test-tube of blood and returned along the corridor, down the stairs (two flights), past the coffee kiosks, through reception, along the corridors (two) and up the stairs.

I was ready for the ultrasound. I retrieved my file from the nurses' station and added my name to the list. I was number 33 and she was only just seeing number 15! I looked around the waiting room. There were only six women waiting. Where were the other 12?

Slowly other women began arriving. I recognised some of them from the queue in haematology. They sat down without signing up for ultrasound. One of them was called in and her name was crossed off the list. She was number 16 for ultrasound and yet she'd been after me for the blood test. The penny dropped. What an idiot I was. Of course you sign up as soon as you arrive - before you get your notes stamped, before you go to haematology, and you're already on the list!

I went in for my ultrasound at 10.45am. It took five minutes. "Call us at 1pm and we'll tell you what to do," said the nurse when I returned my file.

At 11am I was waiting for the bus to go to work. 3 1/2 hours. Three years later and after about a hundred of these early morning sessions, I'd got it down to half an hour. One time I was back at the bus stop by 7.50am. But back in February 2005, I wasn't planning to become a regular fixture in IVF. I was planning to be pregnant in about two weeks time.


  1. Hey, I really appreciated hearing about the difficulties you went through...I will send this to a friend!

  2. Thanks Ilene and yes, please do send it to anyone you think it might interest or help. If my experience can help someone else I will be delighted.