Today was the day that I had my eggs collected – or harvested – I feel slightly like a battery chicken – although I didn’t have to lay them, that would have been weird(er). Because this was my second time around, I knew what to expect – no food – just water – for six hours before sedation and then nothing at all for two hours before. I was booked in for 9.30am and so woke up at about 7am to guzzle a load of water because a nurse told me last time that you tend to recover better from the sedation if you’re well hydrated.
I blow dried my hair and put make-up on before I went – and I refused to dress in tracksuit bottoms, I wore my regular skinny jeans. I think it’s all part of me trying to normalise this – to make myself not feel like an invalid, to make it feel routine and not something that I’m doing because I’m ill or deficient in any way.
The actual process is very straight forward. You strip off and put on a gown, put your hair in one of those weird paper caps, then various people come and do things or tell you things. The nurse checks your blood pressure and oxygen levels. The anaesthetist comes to check you’re not allergic to things. (And, I got him to explain the difference between sedation – which egg collection is done under – and a general anaesthetic, because as far as I was concerned, they both knock you out. Apparently sedation is like a very deep sleep, so you’re unconscious but you breathe for yourself and if someone spoke to you loudly you might hear it, general anaesthetic they have to intubate you as you can’t breathe for yourself.) Finally the doctor comes to tell you all the risks which, although small, include perforating your bowel and other things like that. Oh, and the possibility that they might not retrieve any eggs.
I knew that all these were theoretical possibilities, but I did have a moment of thinking ‘Fuck, is it really worth risking ending up with a colostomy bag just for a marginally increased chance of having children?’ But then I just signed the consent because really what are you going to do?
Then you walk into the theatre room, lie on a bed-chair type thing, with your legs propped in stirrups and – this is weird – strapped in, as some people have involuntary reflexes when under sedation. Then they check your name and date of birth, stick a cannula in the back of your hand, a blood pressure cuff on your arm, an oxygen clip on your finger, and an oxygen mask over your face. They tell you to breathe deeply and relax, your face goes a bit tingly and the next thing you know they’re waking you up and your having some slightly fuggy conversation with the anaesthetist that goes something like ‘Was that propofol? I totally get why Michael Jackson used to use that to get to sleep.’