Doctor O said “Ok, we will need samples from both of you before you go home today so that we might have a baseline. This will allow us to compare results from future samples as well as let us know if there is something hormonally abnormal for you [Me].” My Prince and I nodded and said our good-byes with standard hand-shakes. With wide-eyes in anxiety we headed to the lab (which was actually within the same office).
I sat in the chair of torture, reminding myself of that time in High School when I passed out getting routine blood work. I smile, facetiously as I felt my heart begin to beat harder with fear of history repeating itself. I HATE needles….but I knew it was a necessary part, for US, towards becoming a family. I offered my left arm, with the good vein, and found my Husbands eyes to distract me. She poked…..
“Hum…” The plebotomist shrugged as she pulled out the needle, “I really thought I had you there.” She looked up at my face as an apology, “I am going to have to stick you again. Sorry Hun.”
My mind immediately went into a fury. Hon? What the crap is that, some kind of an apology? Does she not understand that we are here because we cannot conceive on our own? A little freekin sympathy would be nice!
AN ASIDE: What is difficult to understand about getting and going through fertility assistance of any kind, is that there is instant shame in those experiencing it. There is some kind of unexplainable embarrassment for couples who cannot do things the ‘normal’ way and it makes us extremely defensive over everything.
“Hey,” My Prince whispered as he lifted my chin back towards his gaze as a distraction. Then he silently mouthed ‘relax’ with a half-grin. I listened.
Baseline testing for fertility requires a number of very specific tests. I will try not to go into too much detail as the risk of boring you, however, I believe it is important to know some of this stuff.
FSH – Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) helps to control a woman’s menstrual cycle and more specifically the production of eggs.
Estradiol – This is an important form of estrogen and it measures a woman’s ovarian function and helps in the evaluation of the quality of eggs the woman will likely release during this cycle.
Luteinizing Hormone Level – (LH) This hormone is linked to ovarian hormone production and egg maturation. The LH test measures woman’s reserve (egg supply).
Serum Progesterone – Progesterone is a female hormone produced by the ovaries during ovulation. It causes the endometrial lining of the uterus to get thicker, making it receptive for a fertilized egg. A serum progesterone test is used to determine if ovulation is occurring.
Prolactin – The hormone prolactin is made by the pituitary gland and causes milk production. This test is done to find out why woman are not menstruating, or why they are having infertility problems.
Androgen – Testosterone is probably the most well know androgen and it affects function of both men in woman in the conception process. For woman this test is used to determine the cause of irregular periods or a low libido.
(Paraphrased from www.fertilityauthority.com)
After a third poke and 12 vials of blood, I was finished. I took a deep cleansing breath and sat up. My husband took the seat of torture. I spoke as an effort to convince myself I was not going to pass out, “Your turn for torture!” I pointed at him like a gossipy teenage girl. The plebotomist turn to us “Oh no. I am sorry they were not more clear. They do not need a blood sample from you, they need a specimen sample.” My husband and I looked at each other in confusion and then back to the now red-in-the-face young girl. “They need a Sperm sample.”
My naïve mind pictured how the heck they were going to get that and I felt my head tilt to the right as my eyebrows scrunched together. The young woman, whom we would get to know very quickly as Elizabeth, pointed down the hall from which we had just walked. “I will get someone to take you.”
My husband and I joined hands, sweaty palms and followed the Nurse Practitioner. I felt more like I was walking the Green Mile then I did a Doctors Office. She stopped in front of a door with a window, bordered by dark brown faux-wood, vinyl blinds closed. She placed a sterile cup on the counter with a brown paper bag and started her rehearsed speech as she pointed throughout the room like a seasoned flight attendant.
“There are magazines in the lower cabinet as well as videos in the upper cabinet. Please be sure to fill this form our completely so that you can turn it in with your samples today. You can turn it in at the checkout counter.” She left the dungeon without a salutation.
My Prince and I looked around the room in disbelief. There was an IKEA made brown ‘leather’ love seat in the corner of the room nestled next to a small end table with a Walmart-priced lamp. In the corner, between the ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ cabinets there was a stainless steel sink with a hospital grade paper towel dispenser. The focal point if the room however, was the chair in the center of the room…..looked like a dentist chair more than some kind of chair which would make one feel more ‘at home’ for what we were required to do in here. My eyes glanced towards the door imagining myself abandoning my husband, but my gaze caught some sort of religious statue on the table next to my escape route……I guess to pay our pennants for what we were asked to do in this dungeon of shame.
We looked at one another and just started laughing….seriously, if you cannot find the humor in all of it, then what were we going to do?
My husband and I did as asked, walked the hall of shame to drop off our brown paper bag, placed on our sunglasses and bowed our heads as we exited the lobby.
I wept in the car from sheer embarrassment…..for some reason my husband seemed very proud.
We wait for a phone call.
PS There is a lot of waiting in fertility testing and fertility treatments. Get used to it.
Upcoming Blog Post: Fertility Testing for the Ladies