Aunt Flo, that time of the month, the crimson tide. No matter what you call it, under usual circumstances, menstruation is not a welcome monthly visitor for most women. And normally I would agree, but this month was different, and these aren’t usual circumstances. I actually waited in anticipation for my monthly cycle to start. Why on earth would I be excited or anticipate it? Well, it means that I could get this baby-making wagon back on the road and start fertility treatment!
KB and I started this journey ages ago, but we’ve had to put it on hold for various reasons. Finally, it looks like we are in a good place to go ahead with our plans to have a baby. To recap, KB and I can’t conceive naturally, because he had a vasectomy many years ago, so we’ve opted to go the route of fertility treatment to negate reversing the vasectomy. You can read more about it here.
My cycle started earlier this week and I followed the process as instructed by Dr Thabo Matsaseng on our previous visit (when KB had the Testes Biopsy) and sent him an SMS to say I was on Day 1! Dr M gave me an appointment for Thursday at 12:30pm (this worked out to be Day 3 of my cycle).
A little bit awks
I didn’t really know what to expect at the appointment. I thought I was going for a verbal consult and to get a script. But that wasn’t the case – I was a bit unprepared when Dr asked me to disrobe from the waist down. Next was an exam of my uterus with a magic (phallic-looking) wand. Honestly, I had to stop myself from giggling when I saw it – probably from anxiety. Dr M is such a professional and has such an easy manner, but I must admit, I did feel a bit awkward at first. Dr M was very careful to explain what he was pointing out to me on the screen and told me what he was hoping to see. As I lay back in the archaic-looking chair (Tygerberg Hospital is not known for being the newest kid on the block), I realised that this is probably the point at which many women actually see how good or bad their fertility situation is. Fortunately for me, turns out what he saw was good and he told me that I have great ovaries – which made me beam with pride for some bizarre reason (blame it on the awkwad situation). I mean I can’t take any credit for my ovaries, they are what they are – but I am eternally grateful that they are deemed to be good ovaries and won’t be the cause of any fertility issues for us. Honestly, I have never doubted that I was fertile, but it was nice to hear that things were looking good. And a small part of me had been concerned, because “What if?”
Dr M showed me how big the follicles in each of my ovaries are and counted them as he showed me. He measured one and told me it was at 7mm, but after the hormone treatment they will get to 18mm! I have roughly 4 or 5 decent sized follicles in the right ovary and roughly 6 or 7 in the left ovary. Because my follicles look really good, he wrote me a script for the standard hormone therapy. There is a more intensive hormone therapy for people do require it.
Side note: I read up a bit more about follicles and what the deal is with them. I found this article to be quite informative.
Up to this point everything was great, I left Tygerberg Hospital feeling pretty happy and optimistic about the whole process. Then I tried to get my script filled at one of the biggest pharmacies in my home town… No one had stock of the hormone I need to administer by injection. They could order it, but it could take a day or 2. Ordering it wasn’t really an option, as I had to start the injections on the following day. Eventually (after much anxious phoning around) a pharmacy in Tygervalley confirmed that they had stock and would keep it for me. They also had to order the last important injection to be administered before the egg harvesting takes place. Dr M advised that I should keep this injection in the fridge (in his words, “Keep it next to the milk.” Haha!) and that he would instruct me when to use it.
Self administering injections
I am not good with needles, but the needle used to inject the hormone therapy is small, short needle (roughly 12mm) – not fun, but definitely less overwhelming than I thought it would be. I wasn’t given needles with the script, and ended up at a little pharmacy in Stellenbosch Square with a clinic. The sister was so sweet, because by the time I made it into her office I was a frustrated, tearful wreck (I am a super anxious person and it had been a long and frustrating morning). She was so kind and really made my day. I left her little room feeling much better! She showed me how to mix the injection contents and how to administer it. Nothing to it really: measure a 3-finger space to the left or right of the navel, use your forefinger and thumb to gently pinch the tummy fat together and inject into this area.
So far, I have no side effects or any unusual pain or feeling and it seems we are (finally!) on our way to what will hopefully result in a healthy pregnancy! I have a scan with Dr M at Tygerberg Hospital in the middle of next week to see the progress of the fertility treatment and to check the follicle growth. So exciting!
Header image by Kate Remmer.