Pop Quiz: How many people does it take to make a baby?
Answer: For the fertile people out there who may miss out on reading blogs such as this, the answer would be two — one man and one woman having sex together. (If you’re into something else here then more power to you – but only two are required).
Let’s ask the question again for those going through IVF or similar ART procedures. Turns out more than two people are required. Why not compare this experience to a film? Yes, you and your partner will be the main characters but now you have the pleasure of having co-stars in each scene.
For those going through IVF, forget thinking that your baby making session will be some sexy and private moment. Replace the romantic candles that allow some semblance of modesty with the non-flattering overhead halogen lights and side lamps that expose you in all your glory. Next, forget about wearing your favorite Victoria Secret outfit. Instead, try on the paper gown and shower cap. You like music? Sure, who doesn’t set the mood with Marvin Gaye or Barry White? Wrong answer. Maybe if you’re lucky you’ll get some muzak (or even worse, complete silence which just invites more awkward conversation with your co-stars).
Let’s fast forward and assume that you’ve had your levels checked; hormones injected and more ultrasounds than you thought were humanly possible. Now you’re ready to make a baby the IVF way and proceed with the retrieval, the procedure in which the doctor collects your eggs.
First off, for the actual retrieval procedure you and your partner aren’t even in the same room anymore let alone floor. You, the woman, are out cold under anesthesia while the doctor retrieves your eggs. So that means there is one doctor, one anesthesiologist and one nurse. Also don’t forget the embryologist who watches through the window in her sterile/clean room. (For the scorekeepers, 5 people present and/or watching.)
Then there’s the husband/donor/man in a separate room filled with “stimulating supplies.” Now, I wasn’t there for my husband’s “private” time, but I pray that he didn’t enjoy it as much as Leslie Nielsen did here. (Scorekeeper: 1 + 5 = 6).
For the scorekeepers, now comes the twist … you counted the man, woman, doctors, nurses, etc. Forgetting anyone? If you come from a family like mine, then yes. You see, during one of my IVF cycles’ retrieval day, we had my mother, father and mother-in-law in the waiting room (for those counting, we’re now up to ten people present for this blessed event! Ten people!!!). To me this actually made no difference. But to my poor husband, he had the unfortunate experience of having a nurse announce to everyone in the waiting room (strangers included) that it was his turn to “contribute.”
And then it got worse. Before heading up, a handshake by our parents would have been sufficient – preferably just a nod with zero contact. Nope. My mother-in-law took her son by his hand and gave him a warm and long embrace. While he was pulling away as quickly as humanly possible she said good luck and have fun. Insert awkward face here. He probably tried to avoid his mom knowing about these, umm activities, his whole life and here they were together in this very uncomfortable setting. Perhaps this was a bit much, but certainly not intentionally weird.
Staying with the film analogy, now that everyone’s roles were played, we fast forward to a few days later (depending on your doctor’s orders, could be 3-5 days) which is when you will have a transfer in which you the doctor will implant the embryo you just romantically conceived. Again, there is a roll call (woman, man, doctor, nurse, etc). But this time, from her window, the embryologist hands the doctor the embryo(s) in a straw-like device (actually it’s a catheter) that he then proceeds to hold up like he’s Rafiki presenting Simba in “The Lion King”. Cue the clip.
And that, is how babies are made … at least that is version I’ll have to tell my kids when they are old enough to ask how they came to be. My family couldn’t quite believe or ever imagine that we’d all be together for this occasion. How many people can say that their parents were there for the conception of their own child? Ummm … I think my husband and I might be it. LUCKY US.