We’re on the train, slowly moving out of London.
The more green I see speeding past the train window, the more nervous I get. Historically I do not do well with hospitals. Or with small towns. Or with quaint little railway stations like this one.
All of this is pushing a multitude of buttons for me, and I try not to judge even before we walk into the clinic, but it’s difficult not to. I’m still wary after our previous hospital visit in Belgium, and while I am eager to note any differences being in a private clinic the UK will make, I don’t feel overly confident.
But we make it there.
In my research of London clinics and their treatments, I run into ‘egg sharing IVF’. It’s a lot cheaper than the regular kind of IVF, which is what catches my eye at first. But then when I read more… well, it sounds intriguing.
How it works is that in return for a discount, you donate half of your eggs collected in an IVF cycle to someone who cannot get pregnant with their own eggs. Often these are older women, or someone who has had cancer, or someone with other genetic or fertility issues. Egg sharing is giving someone out there a chance at a deeply wanted baby.
I‘m interested. Especially when I read on and see that the waiting lists in the UK can be years for donor eggs. Someone who has been waiting that long for this could be helped by me. And it would give us access to something that otherwise we would struggle to afford, so it seems like a win-win. Plus I already know I have a lot of eggs in reserve, and I have the right age and BMI for it, so I’m an excellent candidate.
Even though it’s been twenty years by now, I can still distinctly remember my very first period. I HATED the feeling of those plasticy, sweaty pads stuck to my underwear. I was desperate to try something else even then. My mother tried to scare me with stories of TSS and irremovable tampons, but I didn’t care, I just wanted to be comfortable.
Later, I switched to cups, and then… reusable pads. I had no idea that they would feel that much better than the disposable kind, but they absolutely do. Seriously – believe the myth. I tried one, and then ordered a dozen. I have been using the same brand for around eight years now, so I’m definitely a convert. And after one too many dashes through the rain to find Jo some pads, I was determined to make her into one as well this summer.
Cue my welcome-to-Ghent-here-are-some-menstrual-products-darling gift, cute prints, and some mild persuasion…
After reading through tons of information, reviews, and clicking on so many price lists my eyes go funny, I narrow it down to three possible clinics in London we want go visit so we can compare. I email all three of them, excited that this is actually coming together for us.
They don’t immediately reply, so I use the contact form on their website instead, thinking maybe they didn’t receive it.
They don’t reply again, so I Google various email addresses of the clinics, and email all of those.
They still don’t reply, so I go onto a fertility forum and, mildly worried, ask the other people there for help. I am reassured it’s normal, and to wait longer. Apparently some clinics take weeks or even months to email back.
I run out of patience much sooner than that though, and I task Jo with calling them (I am terrible at phone calls, especially the important ones). I sit anxiously next to her with a huge list of questions to ask them up on the computer screen.
No reply. OF COURSE. Dammit people!
I am in the sickeningly green-and-white doctor’s office in Ghent, reading him a list of what I need to be tested for – various STD’s, Rubella, thyroid levels, hormone levels.
As always with these types of appointments, I feel as if I need to be prepared for a fight. I remind myself that I need to be articulate, well informed, but smile enough so he’ll want to help me. I have practised what I am going to say in my head. Yes, we have considered our options in Belgium. Yes, we are sure. Please just do this for me because otherwise we’ll be paying out of pocket in the UK.
But then… he agrees to test me without any protest. Just like that. The doctor draws the blood, says the results will be quick, and sends me on my way.
It feels suspiciously easy.