Teri & the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad first IUI experience
Recap: In case you missed the last post (read it here) about prepping for an intrauterine insemination (IUI), here's a quick summary: My at-home ovulation kit didn't show an LH surge, so I had a transvaginal ultrasound February 5 to measure my follicles and see if I am getting ready to ovulate. The nurse determined that the next day, Saturday, February 6, would be the best day for my IUI.
OK, now that you're all caught up, let's get to it.
It's 3:37 the morning of February 6 and I just Googled: "Should you drink wine (like, a LOT of wine) the night before your IUI?"
I don't typically have nights like this (hello, I'm in my 30s and can't handle these mid-life hangovers). But here's what happened: my brother and sister-in-law stopped at our house after work to have a drink to help distract from the impending anxiety of what the next day held. This one glass of wine turned into about three hours worth of glasses of wine.
On the bright side, I was completely distracted and NOT worrying about my IUI!
So anyway, in between throwing up (forgot to eat dinner!), chugging water (so dehydrated!) and freaking out (wouldn't you be?!), I was so remorseful and felt so bad about drinking a little (lot) too much the night before a very important appointment.
I was lying next to my husband and as he eloquently puts it, "You would not shut up." Here's a little sampling of what Brian had to endure in the middle of the night.
"Should I go run on the treadmill and try to sweat it all out?"
"Did I already hurt our baby even though it's not even in there yet?"
"I am never ever ever drinking again."
"Will the sperm be injected into a big puddle of wine and just left to die?"
"Should we cancel?"
"Did I just ruin $1,030 worth of sperm (plus $300 shipping)?"
I finally calmed down and fell back asleep after Brian reassured me by saying,
"Babe. Do you know how many babies are conceived after a night of drinking? Think of all the people who go out to a bar, get drunk and end up pregnant."
My hubby is so wise. Maybe getting drunk would actually help me get pregnant 😜🤷♀️
My IUI was scheduled for 9:30 Saturday morning. Ovaries don't take breaks on the weekends, so the fertility clinic doesn't either.
It was snowing and I needed to stop for a yellow Gatorade beforehand so we left in plenty of time. Due to this global pandemic we're in, Brian was not allowed in the clinic. The procedure should only take about 5 minutes (remember this part for later), so he sat out in the parking lot like he normally does when we go to the clinic.
Before I went in, he grabbed my hand and said a little prayer. I took a deep breath and headed through those doors.
Before we go any further, I suppose I should define IUI. In simple terms, an intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a fertility treatment that involves placing sperm inside a woman's uterus to facilitate fertilization. The goal is to increase the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes to increase the chance of fertilization. I included a diagram further down in this post.
The waiting room is completely empty. The one nurse on duty calls me back, shows me the vial of sperm and has me initial a sheet of paper confirming that it's the right donor. I never thought about this before, but it's very comforting to know they verify the sperm––can you imagine getting inseminated with the wrong sperm?!
The nurse explains how everything will work and tells me to undress from the waist down (I wish I had started keeping track of how many times I've heard this phrase). She says I can FaceTime Brian so he can "be" there.
To be honest, it made me pretty sad that our baby might be conceived when my husband is not even in the room.
Damn you, COVID–taking yet another thing from us.
I took my pants off and covered myself up with that horrid paper sheet thing (you know what I'm talking about). While we were waiting for the nurse to come back in, we made a joke that at least Louis the II (the cherished handbag I got at Waikiki Beach) got to come in and have a prime seat. We try to look for humor in these types of situations anytime we can. 🤣
Fun Sperm Fact: Prior to IUI, the sperm goes through a process called a "sperm wash." The sperm wash process allows dead or inactive sperm and debris to float to the top to be removed. This leaves an improved and more active sperm sample.
Now, I know you guys have gotten used to the realness, vulnerability, and transparency of this blog, so I definitely could NOT leave my wonderful readers hanging without a photo of what a vial of donor sperm looks like! Before the nurse came back in, I snuck a photo.
Warning: It's about to get a little rough and very descriptive. But don't be squeamish and x out of the window–this is the human body we're talking about. It's my unique body, and it is going to be OK. We all have one.
All right, so the nurse does her little knock on the door and comes back into the room. We get my booty scooted down to the edge of the table and my feet in the stirrups. I'm lying on my back with Brian above my head on FaceTime.
The nurse explains what she is going to do next––insert the speculum into my vagina so she can get the catheter through my cervix and into my uterus where she will inject the sperm. It should take 2 minutes tops. Here is a diagram in case you're a visual learner like me.
Sounds easy enough, right?
Well guys, it wasn't.
Let me explain. To get to my cervix, the nurse had to insert a vaginal speculum. A vaginal speculum is a hinged tool that looks like a duck bill. It's used to hold open your vaginal walls. If you are a woman and you've ever had a PAP smear, you are likely familiar with a speculum. It's not the most comfortable thing, but it's also not terrible and the exam usually goes pretty quickly.
But apparently (in my very unique human body), my cervix (the thing the catheter has to go through) sits much further back than the average woman and is very difficult to get to.
I asked the nurse if it's something I did or if there's anything I can do so it's not so difficult to get to and she said, "No, my dear. You were born this way."
Of course I was. Of course my cervix sits back far and makes this much more difficult. Nothing–NOTHING–on this journey has been easy, so OF COURSE this is happening.
Anyway, here I am.
Lying on this thin paper that is probably now sticking to my butt because of how much I'm sweating.
Waiting for the speculum to open me up enough so the catheter can get through.
Husband on FaceTime.
So hot with this mask on.
Waiting for speculum #2 to work.
Trying to relax my muscles.
Waiting for speculum #3 to work.
Trying to take deep breaths through my mask.
Listening to the nurse apologize over and over.
Waiting for speculum #4 to work.
Trying not to cry.
Waiting for the nurse to come back into the room with speculum #5.
Wishing my husband was there so I could squeeze his hand.
Wishing my husband was there so he could distract me.
Wishing this could just be over already.
Speculum #5 was our winner. The catheter finally went in with a little pinch and the sperm was now inside me. The nurse apologized (it wasn't her fault) and told me to make sure that if I have to do this again to tell the nurse what kind of speculum to use. I was officially inseminated. After all that, I was definitely hoping I'd never have to go through this again.
I put on my pants, walked through the deserted clinic to the parking lot, got into Brian's warm truck and sobbed in his arms.