Monday 6th September 2010
One year ago.
Suse visits the toilet four more times over the next thirty-three minutes. Each time, she returns saying, “I just let a little bit out. That was so unsatisfying.” Every time as she sits, she winces like she just sat on a pin.
By the time we are finally ushered through to the seats outside the procedure room, Suse has beads of sweat on her brow.
“Have a seat,” someone offers, drawing curtains to hide us away. Suse tries to sit down, before standing again straight away.
“I can’t,” she pleads. “If I sit, I’ll pee.”
“So go to the toilet again,” I say.
“I don’t know where the loos are from here!” She looks panicked. Another member of theatre staff appears around the curtain, and Suse grabs her by the arm.
“I really need the toilet,” she begs.
“Just hold on. We’ll be done in no time.”
A third person peers around the curtain. It’s like a pantomime. “Hi, I’m Emma. I’m the embryologist.”
“I really need to pee,” Suse repeats.
“If I don’t, I’m afraid I might pee on the table.”
“Oh, that’s fine. It’s good luck pee on the doctor,” she jokes.
“Does that mean I can go?”
“Doris will escort you.”
Suse runs off, while I sit and flick through another trashy mag. She returns once more.
“Don’t even ask,” she says. “Unsatisfying is my word of the day.”
Emma pops her head around, keen to keep the show moving.
“So, I just thought I’d give you an update on your embryos if you’d like?”
“That’d be great,” I say. Suse looks around distractedly, her legs crossed.
“As you know, we got three eggs on Friday, and all of them fertilised. The one that is going back in today is an eight-cell embryo. It has no fragmentation, and no unevenness.”
“So that’s good?” Suse sighs, fidgeting like she’s missed her dose of Ritalin.
“That’s very good. We’ve got a picture if you’d like to see?”
She flips the page, and we see ‘Brock #93486’. In the middle of the page is a sphere, overlapping cells sitting within. It looks like a bowl filled with eight clear pebbles. Below it sits a ruler, labelled 100mm.
Our kid is currently a tenth of a millimetre wide.
“He’s very handsome, isn’t he?”
“Absolutely,” Emma says. Suse looks at the ground, blinking hard.
“And the other two?”
“Well, one of them is ten cells, and the other is six cells. The ten-cell embryo looks good, but the six-cell one has a little bit of fragmentation.”
“Okay. But the ten-cell one is okay?”
“Is there a reason that one isn’t being transferred today?”
“We like for the Day Three embryos to be transferred when they’re between six and ten cells, so they’re all suitable. But the eight-celled one cleaved first. It’s the dominant embryo. We tend to go with this one.”
“Great. Sounds great.”
“When do I get to go to the toilet?” Suse asks without looking up.
With that, a fourth person bundles in, ushering all three of us through the swinging doors and into theatre. I stand for a moment while people swirl around, waiting to be told where to go. No one does, so eventually I just take the swivel chair by the bed.
Suse climbs up into the stirrups without assistance, like she truly has become the kid with ADHD. Emma goes to the corner and stands next to a very fancy looking microscope, two other women stand over by the ultrasound machine, and James Crawley sits on the stool in between.
“Just ease your legs apart,” says one of the nursing assistants, and we’ll put the probe over your bladder.”
“Please don’t press too hard, I have…”
“…My goodness, that is a very full bladder!” she pronounces.
Everyone stops for a moment to look at the screen. Even Emma looks up from her viewfinder. There, directly above Suse’s uterus, we see a cavernous black hole, a bladder filled with pee.
“You weren’t joking,” Dr Crawley says. I look at Suse. Her eyes are shut tightly, trying desperately to not piss on his head. “If you can Doris, just hold the probe there for a moment, and we’ll place the introducer.”
I watch on the screen while a few white dots float among the grey haze on the screen. Someone really needs to put up an antenna for this thing.
“There’s the uterus,” says one of the nurses pointing, “and you can see the introducer in the centre.”
“Okay,” I say.
“Doesn’t she want to see?” she asks.
“I think she’s busy,” I answer quietly. I look at Suse, and her eyes remain firmly shut.
I watch as Emma walks carefully from her microscope over to Dr Crawley, like she’s transferring a tray of muffins out of the oven. But what she’s holding is a slender piece of plastic, like something she found in a game of pick-up-sticks. He takes it from her, where it disappears from view between Suse’s legs. Again, we see a few dots bounce around on the screen, imitating the placement of the embryo.
“All done?” Suse asks.
“She’s keen, isn’t she?” Dr Crawley says. “We’ve just got to check and see if it was a Garfield embryo. Trying to hold on,” he says, lifting his hands up by his sides, like they are the suction cups from those fluffy toys from the eighties.
Suse lets out a little laugh. It’s all she can manage. Emma takes the pick-up-stick and walks over to the microscope, peering through it for a moment.
“I’m done?” Suse asks, sitting up.
“That’s it,” Dr Crawley says.
“Can someone please get me to the loo?”
“I’m sure we can.”
Suse is out of the stirrups, in a wheelchair and out of the theatre before I manage to stand.
“There’s nothing else we need to do here?” I ask.
“Other than catch up with your wife? No.”
I run down the hall after Suse, speeding along in her wheelchair, laughing hysterically.
“Oh, Jesus Christ, this is surreal. Can’t believe I didn’t piss myself. That was the worst thing in this whole IVF process.”
“Absolutely. Put that in your book, honey. At least they knock you out for the other ones.”
“Wasn’t quite what you expected?”
“But you got your silence.”
“And it was memorable.”
“Well, I’ll never forget it, that’s for sure. But I didn’t expect that to be because my legs were being splayed in front of an old dude while I tried not to pee on him,” she yells, her voice echoing as she slams through the door of the toilet.
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