The day of the initial consultation finally came. My therapist friend came with me. We arrived light hearted, excited and nervous. We were collected by a nurse and taken into the room ready for my ultrasound scan. Thankfully my friend, also mother of three, came in with me. I found it hard to read the pictures and make out what the doctor was showing me. I could just about make out the edge of the uterus, shaped like an aubergine, my friend helpfully explained. The scan showed a fibroid in my uterus. The doctor could not work out exactly where it was and assured me that it was not large or dangerous but there would be a problem if it was jutting into the lining of the uterus. If that was the case then it would have to be removed because it could impair the implantation of an embryo.
The doctor then went on to check my ovaries. At any time during a woman's menstrual cycle there are follicles growing in the ovaries. They are at different stages throughout the cycle and some of them produce eggs. It is the number of follicles visible in the ovaries that can give a very good indication of the amount and quality of eggs a woman has left. Thankfully I knew all this from my research even though I had problems focussing on what the monitor showed. As the doctor scanned my first ovary she could not find any follicles. I was shocked and couldn't believe it. Surely there must have been a mistake. I waited in suspense as she moved over to the other ovary which seemed to take forever. She found one follicle. Only one.
I started crying out of disbelief and shock. This couldn't be happening to me, I only came to the clinic to find a sperm donor, I wasn't here because I had low fertility. The doctor and nurse left us in the room and we were told to wait outside from where we would be called in to her office to discuss the results of the scan and to talk about my options. I couldn't stop crying, thank goodness my friend was there. I got dressed, my friend gave me a tender hug and we sat waiting to go into the room. I needed about an hour to cry and begin to get my head around what the scan had showed before I saw the doctor and could take in what she said but that wasn't possible. I don't think I heard a word the doctor said for the first 10 minutes. I gave her the results from all of my tests, they seemed superfluous now.
The doctor was lovely, as sympathetic as she could be as she told me my situation and options. Firstly I needed to have an investigation to find out if the fibroid needed to be removed or not. Once that was sorted I could start treatment. I had wanted to go for 3 rounds of IVF because I believe that you put yourself under less pressure if you give yourself more than one shot at it and I'm fortunate enough to have that option financially. Your eggs aren't then all in one basket, so to speak. But she gently told me that that really could be a waste of money and emotional energy in my case, what with the lack of follicles and eggs I will probably produce even on the drugs to boost my ovaries. She recommended starting me on one round of the drugs and just seeing how I respond. She discussed the differences between IUI and IVF, I still erred towards IVF which is more accurate but obviously more stressful and expensive.
The doctor also said that of course we could thaw my frozen eggs and use them but she was very realistic about that. There is no guarantee of the quality of the frozen eggs, eggs are incredibly fragile and can diminish in quality during the thawing. The embryologist in the lab where my eggs are kept had told me that as well. I would have appreciated being told that in 2008 when I had my eggs frozen, but no point crying over spilt ovum now I guess.
I became tearful again when the doctor mentioned I could consider donor eggs. Gradually some of her words began to hit home. This was not going to be the walk in the park I had expected and it may not even work at all. Just hearing the words “donor egg” somehow cemented the reality of my situation. My friend could see and feel how devastated I was. She asked several questions to clarify what the doctor was saying. The doctor was softly spoken and what with the traffic zooming past the window as well my friend found it difficult to hear everything she said, let alone for me to take in all of what she was saying.
I told the doctor that I saw adoption as a preferable option to donor eggs and I wasn't ready to consider either of those options yet. I wanted to see if I could produce any fresh eggs first and then I had my frozen eggs to use. She assured me that “it only takes one egg” but somehow that one egg was beginning to feel more like a needle in a haystack.
We left the room and had to wait to see the nurse about the investigations I needed before we could leave. The nurse assured me that “it only takes one egg” but I couldn't stop crying and to add insult to injury as we waited a younger new mum brought her new baby to see the doctor. As we left I couldn't bear to look at the mum or the baby, it was just too painful.
I certainly chose the perfect friend for the day. On the train home we chatted it over: my shock, my feelings and my next steps. I came home to an empty flat and became a recluse for the weekend. Not wanting to talk to anyone or see anyone. I dwelt long and hard on how life is just so unfair sometimes. I'd waited all this time for a baby and now it looked like I could have waited too long. I began to look back at my life, regretting the relationships I'd finished because they weren't right. Telling myself I should have married one of at least two ex partners because yes I'd be divorced but at least I'd have children. Realising that I'd thought my frozen eggs were my back up for my second child and now it looks like they will have to be used for my first child, which will definitely be my only child and I may not even manage to have an only child. Aaargh, there was so much to get my head around....
A long walk on the beach the next day was about all I could manage all weekend. By Sunday I could talk to a couple of trusted people and by Monday I was ready to get on the phone to arrange the investigations for the next week if possible.