Whilst defrosting the fridge-freezer yesterday, two things occurred to me. I firstly wondered whether my motivation to complete this magnanimous act was rooted hormones. To some extent, yes of course it was to do with the fact the freezer no longer really closed properly, due to the developing foetus of ice across the front of the top drawer. Nevertheless, was there a hint of the nesting mother there? My second reflection was that when I next defrosted the freezer, I might have a child. I remember the last time I set to with the scraper, two and a half years ago when we moved house, and that didn’t seem very long ago at all. But in two and a half years from now, my child could be walking and talking, and that’s a bewildering thought.
In the meantime insemination is looming. The charts pile up but the patterns are elusive. A 5am visit to the loo throws leads to wild temperature changes. A friend, staying for six weeks happens to be what I believe is known as a ‘menstrual pace-setter’, and draws all three of us into synchronous menstruation; I have one unusually short cycle followed by an unusually long one. And then we do two Atlantic flights, affecting two cycles – how do you count days when you’re 8 hours out due to the time zone? Identifying an insemination date feels a bit like trying to make an accurate accusation in a game of Cluedo before you’ve fully investigated what Miss Scarlet was up to with the candlestick: how about Miss Inseminee, in the bedroom… with the speculum?
On the subject of the speculum, one major advantage of all this charting is I did not recoil with horror on receiving an ‘invitation’ to go for a smear test. Whilst I would still generally prefer not to be naked from the waist down and prodded by a stranger (and I am aware that is something I am going to need to get used to in pregnancy), I’ve realised how these nurses have honed their technique: it’s far more painful when, daily, I insert the thing myself – mirror and torch in hand, as if I’m going on some kind of narcissistic pot-holing adventure.
After speculum, the next ‘s’ is supplements. Three times a day I gulp down three capsules: Agnus Castus (to balance hormone levels), a pre-pregnancy multi-vitamin (because pre-pregnant is what I hopefully am) and flax seed oil (there was a reason, buried deep within the immense quantity of literature we’ve read on the subject – I no longer have any conceivable notion what it might have been). I feel like a strange combination of a fertile woman and a geriatric as I fumble to release my dose from the 7-day pill organiser box. I’ve no idea what good these things might be doing but there is definitely a placebo effect of taking 5455% of the Recommended Daily Allowance of Thiamin, one of the 35 ingredients that are crammed, incredibly into a tiny – well not exactly tiny – but swallowable capsule. I have no idea what Thiamin is or what it might do, but I already feel slightly dependent on it, and its companions in that little pill.
And then there’s insemination itself. There’s a vague plan in my head and it’s all very straightforward. Donor arrives, bit of time alone, hands it over, donor leaves, inseminate. Too easy.
Can it really be that simple? To put it rather dramatically, which tends to be my way, semen has wildly opposing properties: fertile, it gives life; infected, it takes it. And I’m going to put the stuff inside me. Probably repeatedly and frustratedly, over the next year or so. Which, I have to admit, makes me feel just a little apprehensive.
But sperm and speculum issues aside, what I have realised is, that I’m ready for this. Prepared would be the wrong word. You can defrost the fridge-freezer, paint the nursery and read a parenting manual, but from watching friends who’ve done the baby thing, I don’t think you can ever really be prepared for the biggest change most people will ever experience in their lives. But you can be ready, and after thirty-four years in this world, I think for the first time, ready to get pregnant is what I am.
Article: by Lindsey, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom 11th July 2012