Fertility clinic: Dr Rogers to the rescue!

Jane had her appointment at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh today, at the fertility clinic. It all went well, seemingly. Unfortunately, because I was being dosed up with antibiotics on the other side of town, I couldn’t be there, so the part of ‘Concerned Husband’ was this morning played by Mrs Dorothy Neilson, Jane’s mother and Enneagram Scotland business-partner.

After the usual clinic procedures of bloods, height and weight, Jane saw one of the fertility experts, a female doctor, whose name was, rather amusingly, Dr Rogers, who discussed her medical history (Jane’s medical history, that is, not her own) and what they knew about mine; the usual things: do I have any hereditary diseases (yes), am I on medication (no), have I ever had sex with a Russian prisoner (no), that sort of thing.

Then Jane was treated to some kind of internal scan to make sure her inside-ladies’-bits (as they are professionally known) looked as though they were working okay. And they were. Now, something I didn’t know is that women’s ovulation alternates month about between the left and right ovaries, like the pendulum of an amazing biological clock.

[Adopts Newcastle accent] Day 17 in the Big Brother womb and it looks like Egg has just left his room on the left-hand side of the house, and is making his way into the corridor to be greeted by …

Yeah, that’s another thing. Jane asked for clarification about my sperm test results from yay back (Thursday 27 January). Dr Rogers was far more helpful in her analysis of the test results.

It appears that we really have nothing to worry about on that front. The results showed that I have around 107 million sperm/ml, while the average is (according to Jane, according to Dr Rogers) around 30 million sperm/ml. Yay for me! Her only comment was that at times they were a little slow.

A little slow?! No wonder, have you seen how many there are?! Has she ever been on the London Tube at rush hour?! You turn up during the day, when there are an average number of people trying to get on the escalators down to the platforms and you’ve got plenty of room to move, plenty of opportunity to scoot on ahead, you can go as fast or as slow as you like. But as soon as you increase that number of people by a factor of, say three or a little more … you see what I’m saying?

The next step is a laparoscopy for Jane … in September. Seemingly, trying to co-ordinate theatre-time with consultants’ holiday diaries isn’t as easy as it might first appear.

But it all feels quite positive, we’re in the system, and the tests are (so far) coming back positive, in that there doesn’t appear to be any immediate and obvious reason why we’re not conceiving. You know, like “I’m sorry, but it appears that the reason you’re not conceiving is that Jane’s womb appears to be made from Lego!” or “I’m sorry but it appears that Gareth’s sperm is 50% lava!” We just keep trying …

On a holiday … of sorts

We’re on holiday this week. Though you wouldn’t believe it from either the weather or my health!

We’ve been in Cellardyke since Sunday evening, but have now returned home for a couple of medical appointments. I have a GP appointment at 9am, while on the other side of town, at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh Jane has an appointment at the fertility clinic. I wish I could have been there for her, but the last thing that she (or anyone else there) needs is me coughing and spluttering and spreading germs. I’ll post an update from that visit when I can.

I’m a real boy

I am not Pinnochio, I am a real boy!

The waiting is over: Jane and I visited our GP this morning to discover the test results for my semen sample. Here is a little tip for any GPs reading this: before you divulge the test results why not read them over first and then summarize them for the anxious couple sitting opposite. Alteratively, you could — as ours did — begin to read them and suddenly exclaim, “Oh! that’s not very much … that’s a tiny sample! 0.9 ml .. that’s hardly anything!”

“I did the best I could,” I defended myself. And, you know, they do say good things come in small portions. It seems that I do too!

Despite the initial less-than-pastorally-sensitive approach, the doctor went on to say that my sperm were fairly active and in good concentration for the small sample that was analysed (Look! she brought it up again!). In fact, I think she enjoyed breaking that news to us so much that she sent me away with another pot, another form and a plastic bag to pop the two into, and told me to try again. I told her that if it didn’t look much the second time I’d just top it up with milk. “Don’t do that!!” she exclaimed. I assured her that I wouldn’t.

Maybe I wouldn’t have to. Funnily enough, when I got home this evening and picked up email there were at least two spam emails in my Junk folder offering pharmaceutical solutions for increasing the volume of my ejaculations. Who says that all spam is useless …?!

Do you come here often?

What an odd experience this morning. There’s nothing like a bit of pressure to perform sexually for the medical laboratories, is there! Into a small clinical pot. My word, these doctors certainly know how to make a man feel sexy!

Anyway, I managed it. With my semen sample safely captured, my medical form duly filled in: date, time, date of last ejaculation and an odd question that asked if my sample was complete!? I wrapped the whole sorry lot up in a (comedy) Virgin megastore plastic bag and tucked it away under my oxter (that’s armpit) to keep it at body temperature, and Jane sped us both down the A720 Edinburgh bypass towards the Royal Infirmary.

There’s nothing like the added pressure of leaving home just that bit too late to be sure that you’ll arrive at the hospital well on time. It seems that semen samples are collected on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 08:15 and 09:30 — you get turned away if you come late, if you’ll excuse the expression, and told to come again next week, as it were. (I was doing so well, too, on the innuendo front!)

Jane dropped me off at the Human Fertility department at 09:27. I strode in through the automatic doors — whoosh! — turned left and arrived at a sign saying “Laboratory Reception”, and on the counter was a large polystyrene container: Semen Samples.

I now wish I’d said one of the following, as I handed over the Virgin bag of magic man’s milk:

  • “Excuse me, erm… I found this in the corridor, I think it belongs here…”
  • “Right… I read that I was to keep this at body temperature, so I just topped it up with boiling water, I hope that’s okay…”
  • Look what I made…!”

But I didn’t. I simply told the kind lady behind the counter that my GP had asked me to bring in a semen sample (and not a ‘sermon sample’, which is what I first typed there) and here it was. I did make mention of my ‘comedy’ Virgin bag. Once the lady had checked that the accompanying form was indeed accompanying it, I handed over my tub of genetic material and returned to the street to search for Jane, who’d nipped off to fill the car with petrol (just the petrol tank, actually).

It felt rather weird, that whole experience. But there you go. My semen is now in the hands of some anonymous laboratory assistant. I’ll find out in about ten days time whether I have stupid sperm that is not getting my wife pregnant, or not. (Of course, as I’ve pointed out to Jane, one way I could find out is just sleep with someone else!! Yeah… not a great idea, is it.) I’ll just wait…

Maybe baby…

Some of you may know that Jane and I have been trying for a baby for a good few years now — since we were snuggly holed up in the Highlands of Scotland, in fact. But so far nothing. Not a hint of a pregnancy.

A few months ago (probably more than I would like to admit) Jane and I went to see one of the GPs at our local practice to enquire about what steps we could take to get ourselves checked out in the baby-making depts. Of course, the process had to begin with me and we left — after our 30 minutes consultation with the doctor — clutching a small, clear plastic pot and an A4 sheet of instructions.

The intructions were as clear as the pot: wait 3 days, deposit a semen sample in the pot (!) and run like the wind to the Royal Infirmary while keeping the pot at body temperature (like HOW!?). Needless to say, I’ve not been yet. (Was ‘been’ the right tense to use there?) For a couple of reasons: first, the last few months haven’t exactly been characterised by perfect health, and second, well, it’s a rather daunting prospect. Having children is something that I always imagined would just happen. Having them, I reckoned would be the easy bit; bringing them up and coping with that I always thought would be where the challenges would lie. I appear to be wrong.

Anyway, tomorrow is Thursday and therefore one of the days that I can take my sample into the hospital (I do hope they are open again after the holidays), and Jane is also on holiday so she is going with me, for moral support and to help me feel a little less self-conscious.

I’m not entirely sure what the process is once we get the results of the sperm sample… my sperm sample. As Jane said to me the other day, it is more likely that the problems lie with her as there is more there to go wrong. But once we start on this path it will be, I imagine, not always be an easy one. Here goes though…