So, the Transfer. I promised to tell you about it, didn’t I? Well I hope you’re ready, because this one’s going to get all a bit mucky…

See, after all the internal ultrasounds, close-up examinations, tests of the female parts to see if they’re working properly and just everything, I’m rather used to strangers in white coats looking at my bits these days. Hey, I’m a thirty-six year old woman with a sexual history; I’ve been having pap smears since I was a teenager. From the gynecologist to the specialists performing the Levovist test (otherwise known as professional torturers, but more on that another day), there’s a whole club of medical professionals who have had a good view. So it’s all just another-day, another-yawn territory for me when some doctor or nurse wants to get all medical with my genitals.

All of which did exactly nothing to prepare me for the Transfer.

The Transfer is when they take the embryo which looks most likely to stick around and grow when beyond the confines of its petrie dish (so for us there was the whopping choice of one) and transfer it back into its natural incubator: the insides of me. There was a nice scientist lady, in a blue coat, just to be different, who explained to me all about the Fallen Embryos (go read the last post for all the gory details) and who told me not to worry about the slower than preferred cell division of the one we had left and which would be transferred. They really are lovely down in IVFland and they all certainly know how to spin. Better than the Prime Minister’s media advisors, even, what with the positive angles they can find on any situation just to keep you from panicking, or bursting into tears in their nice, clean surgery.

She asked if I wanted to see a picture of my embryo. Trusies. It’s really quite a surreal experience, looking at a blown-up magnification of a four-cell embryo and knowing this is it, this could become your child.


Fingers crossed.

Anyway. I was taken by a young nurse into a tiny room completely dominated by a great big armchair several feet off the ground. It reclined back at a really long angle and had some very obvious stirrups at the front and the whole contraption, once I got my legs up in those stirrups, seemed designed to make me feel both entirely exposed and completely off-balance. Getting up on the chair is kind of like getting up into the cabin of a truck; it takes more effort than your usual vehicle and can only be achieved with the help of a step.

And once there, in the chair, I waited.

Now, did I happen to mention that part of this procedure is an ultrasound? Not an internal one – there’s other stuff going on down there, obviously – but a standard one. The kind where you need a full bladder.

So in other words, during all this I was ABSOLUTELY BUSTING FOR A WEE. Yeah, sorry to get all clinical details on you, but it really does need to be shouted way out loud. Drinking lots of water an hour before the procedure, then having to wait… well, it was more than discomfort I was feeling by then, it was into downright full-bladder-pain territory. All the awkwardness of the chair, the disappointment of losing all the embryos, and the fascination with what was about to happen, paled into insignificance next to my truly desperate need to urinate.

This was the position of me when Nursey and Doc came in. Nursey was a young, pretty twenty-something with a sharp intellect and Doc was an older, white-haired chap filled with friendly chatter. And it was when he sat himself down that I realised exactly how awkward this whole set-up really was. His chair was very low and right in front of my very high chair, where I’m leaning back, naked from waist down, with my legs up in stirrups.

Look, it’s all a bit hard to explain (and no, I’m not going to draw you a diagram), but just imagine you’re lying back, legs wide up in stirrups, with a stranger sitting low, right down at the naked end, precisely eye-level and only inches away from… well, let’s just say, he would have been able to see right up into my uterus, which I guess is the point, considering the procedure he was performing and all.

Yup, for the first time ever, I seem to have discovered a medical procedure which leaves me feeling just a tad exposed. Except then Nursey began the ultrasound bit and I stopped caring.

See, they let you watch. Via the ultrasound, up on a monitor. You get to see what’s happening the whole time.

Oh my, it’s fascinating!

This what happens. First, Nursey makes a phone call. No, seriously. I can’t remember what she said, I was rather preoccupied with my full bladder and the complete stranger staring between my legs. Then we all waited in awkward, fancy-meeting-you-here silence, until the phone rang again and Nursey picked it up, then gave Doc a nod. Everything was set to go.

Doc got to work. He put some kind of long instrument into my cervix. Obviously I couldn’t see what it was. It’s all a bit like the dentist, actually, and not only because of the weird chair. All the tools, implements and equipment are kept well out of the sight of the patient, maybe for fear of totally freaking her out, or something. I could have told them not to worry, but then, I didn’t see what the equipment was, so who knows, maybe they had a point.

All I know is that it felt something like a pap smear, but by that time Nursey was giving me the Guided Tour of My Insides. She pointed out everything out on the monitor, from my cervix, to my uterus and could even show me the bit of the lining of the uterus they were aiming for when shooting the embryo up in there. At that point, I forgot to care about my bladder, disappointment or the stranger down the naked end; I was totally engrossed in the action up on the screen.

Though once Doc got his instruments in place, Nursey made another phone call and then we all had to wait once again. Me with bits of metal inside, in a position most exposed, while everybody else twiddled their thumbs, dum-da-dum, play-the-hold-musak-here, oh-look-is-that-the-time, and it felt like several centuries passed though I know it was barely half a minute before Blue Coat Scientist Lady arrived. She came carrying my embryo and gave it to Doc, who began to perform his magic.

I watched, up on the monitor, as a long white line appeared inside the bit I knew was my cervix, and with the most infinite of care, the embryo was placed ever so gently into my uterus. I could actually see it happen. Every moment of it. And the only thing I really felt sad about at that moment was the fact that because I’d had to rush in at the last minute, after losing all the other embryos and all, The Partner was not able to be there to see it too.

It was incredibly awe-inspiring. And I say that as a card-carrying, fully paid-up member of The Cynical Club of Complete Cynics.

So that was The Transfer. And while I keep referring to IVF as a bizarro process – because emotionally it feels like you are on another planet sometimes, going through this intense, all-consuming experience, often without many people you know and work with even being aware of it – I also have to say it’s an amazing, astounding bit of science.

That’s it for now. More in a couple of days.

Kind Regards,

The Patient

Published in: on March 8, 2011 at 9:18 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] 19.  Transfer […]

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