It’s six in the morning.
I get up in the dark, gather my last bits and pieces, and give the cats one last cuddle. Jo needs to take the train to Brussels to go to work, and I am on there too with my little red suitcase, going to London. This is it. It’s really happening!
The Eurostar takes its sweet time, so by the time I’m actually in London and near the ABC clinic that morning I am running through the pouring rain, dragging my suitcase behind me, trying to make it there on time for my appointment.
As soon as I arrive in the clinic, drenched with rain, the receptionist looks up and sternly asks me to ‘empty my bladder’. I go to the bathroom, then take a seat in the full waiting room, aware that I look like I’ve been hosed down. There’s nothing like feeling the faint shame of having forgotten to take an umbrella to London…
Until another receptionist sticks her head around the corner and shouts at me in front of the entire waiting room, “Can you confirm that you have emptied your bladder?”
After some casual medication smuggling, things finally got going for real at home.
I started prenatal vitamins. I had my very last drink. I used inhalers to start preparing my lungs for surgery.
I took Provera pills with hormones twice a day for a week, there was an excruciating wait where my period was supposed to come but didn’t, and then, when it finally did arrive… the clinic emailed to say they wanted to reschedule the IVF cycle because it could end up being too close to Christmas. I nearly fainted reading that!
I called and pleaded with them, half in tears, babbling about hotels and train costs and please, just please… To their credit, they were very understanding and they let us change clinics for the surgery to one that doesn’t close before Christmas.
And then, a few hours later, I was already sitting in the kitchen with Jo unwrapping a needle and wondering how on earth to stab myself with it.
Normally our IVF clinic works with a delivery company that delivers the medication for IVF to your home. However, they won’t deliver internationally, so we requested that we’d get the medication through our clinic at the last visit. Which seemed like a brilliant plan! …Until after our treatment appointment we’re handed a plastic shopping bag full of needles and vials.
It’s at that moment that I fully realise that this isn’t going to be a modest little bit of medication; this is a cartload of it.
And I need to take it with me back to Belgium through Eurostar security.
After spending the night in a terrible hostel and getting up ridiculously early for our anaesthesiology appointment, we’re off to the ABC clinic in Harley Street. We have a ‘treatment appointment’, which means we’re getting all the details sorted out for the IVF cycle to come.
It’s much busier this time than last time we were there. Jo and I sit in-between three other couples, the eight of us filling up the small waiting room.
I can’t help but notice that they’re all straight couples. The women meet our eyes and smile quickly. Their husbands generally look a lot shiftier sitting there, which strikes me as funny. We all know why we’re here, don’t we? I mentally wish them luck with their various scans and baby plans. I hope we’re all lucky…
Despite the crowd, we are seen with only a twenty minute delay, by the same people we saw last time.
We are happy going with the ABC fertility clinic, we have decided on a donor and the donor sperm has already arrived at the clinic, so we need to do just one final day in London with various appointments to get everything sorted.
Because our first appointment is at the crack of dawn, we stay overnight in a cheap hostel just by St Paul’s Cathedral. It smells musty inside our little room. The carpet is dirty. We have small metal bunk beds that squeak whenever we turn. There are no towels, so I dry myself after a quick foray into the disgusting shower with a bed sheet. It’s sort of funny. It’s terrible.
I can hear the bells of the cathedral ring all through night. After the early morning alarm we get ready in the dark, and when we step outside it is still dark and raining.
Our appointment is in a huge skyscraper in the City of London, smack-dab in the middle of the banking district. We take the lift down to the basement, and end up on an actual clinic recovery ward – it’s all little cubicles with treatment benches.
This is where I will be after my surgery. Read more