27 July 2012, by Tan Yi Lin
So where were we…. ah yes: BEING AN EGG FARMER
13 July (Lucrin Day 10)(Period Day 1): My period arrived on my tenth day on Lucrin. I had completely forgotten to expect my period to come as per normal. I was caught unaware when it came, while I was seated at my office desk, with a most unceremonious gush. Ugh. Thankfully, I was in jeans otherwise it would have been a scene from the horror show Friday the 13th (which it was, by the way.) I prayed fervently for this period to be the last period to come for the next 10 months or so…
18 July (Lucrin Day 15): I arrived at KKH for my blood test and ultrasound scan.
I looked around the crowded waiting area. Patients seeking fertility treatment suffer from a stigma of being old, unhealthy and abnormal. It’s like brandishing a house as “unliveable” simply because the plumbing doesn’t work well. Or writing off an electronic device as “broken” or “useless” because there’s something wrong with the wiring.
But nobody in the room looked old. NOBODY. NOT A SINGLE PERSON. The couples in the room were mainly in their 30s — the men looked fit and healthy; the women were slim and many of them, pretty. It’s scary that IVF has become so common; and yet it’s a GOOD sign that young couples have the access to medical technology sooner rather than later. Most importantly, it’s encouraging that they are not afraid to step up and take advantage of the precious opportunity that lies before them.
While I was at KKH from 8.30am to 10am, I joined a total of five queues. I was impressed by how quickly the queues moved. Since my first visit to the IVF clinic in 2010, the waiting times have shortened considerably. The IVF clinic now dedicates the early morning, 8am to 10am, to attending to patients with appointments for tests, scans and teaching sessions on how to self-administer injections. This is why the information pamphlets request that patients who have queries on IVF-related issues to phone the IVF hotline only after 10am.
Queue 1: A nurse took my blood. This was to ascertain whether the Lucrin had taken effect and if my hormones were under control. She commented that I appeared very calm and confident of what all this testing entailed. I wonder whether this is because I came across as a supreme yoga goddess projecting an aura of peace — or a tired, hardened war veteran wearing my battle scars on the outside. I thought the only visible scars I was wearing were from Coco, who has been incredibly thrilled at the recent arrival of her two upper front teeth — and has been gleefully experimenting with the reactions that her sharp nips can provoke.
Queue 2: I entered another room to have my beautiful insides scanned via ultrasound. Follicles present; womb sitting nice and pretty. Yay!
Queue 3: I collected the prescription for Puregon and signed a form to instruct the CPF Board to allow KKH to start drawing down from my Medisave account as co-payment for the new IVF cycle (to a maximum of $5,000). The other 50% will be paid through the Government grant for ART. I felt a tad emotional when filing in the form – when I was asked to indicate the number of children I have. The highlight of my day was being able to firmly scribe the number ‘1’ in the blank provided *heart swell*
A reminder to fellow IVF patients: if you are using both yours and your husband’s Medisave funds to co-fund your IVF, your husband has to be present to co-sign the Medisave form. The form has to be submitted at this juncture when Puregon is administered.
Queue 4: I presented my prescription at the KKH pharmacy and was attended to almost immediately. Just like before, in addition to Puregon, I was given some VERY green and very evil-looking antibiotics for my husband to prep his body to produce only very healthy and very handsome sperm to create our star quality babies. Hopefully they won’t turn out green though.
The pharmacy presented me with the bill (which I don’t have to fork out cash for): Guess whose meds cost a puny $1.40 and whose was a whopping $823?! Plus the $100+ spent on Lucrin, that’s almost $1,000 for just the drugs alone. Whoever said that children don’t need your money, only love and care was just plain WRONG. Thank god (and the Government) for the grant.
Queue 5: Back at the IVF clinic, a nurse called me into a room to teach me how to administer Puregon using a pen (not quite your regular Stabilo and Kilometrico stationery, yah?) As I would only be given the go-ahead to start Puregon when my blood test results were out later that day, it was just a practice session using a dummy pen, cartridge and needle.
Later that afternoon, KKH called to confirm that I could proceed with Puregon the following day. YES! Cheers to PROGRESS!
The instructions were simple:
- Continue Lucrin (10 units) daily from 19 July to 25 July (7 days)
- Inject Puregon (200 units) daily from 19 July to 25 July (7 days) on the opposite side of the tummy
- Return to KKH on 26 July for an ultrasound scan.
And oh yes: REFRIGERATE THE ($1,000) DRUGS!!!!!
On good days, both injections can be almost painless, which catches me by surprise because I expect it to at least sting a little when the needle punctures my skin. The husband, however, can be such a killjoy.
Me: Oh wow. It didn’t hurt at all today.
Dan: Does that mean that you are getting fat?
Humph. Some people are just jealous that I’m slimmer now than I was before my first pregnancy and HE ISN’T.
Still, there are bound to be days when I make mistakes in judgement and simply pick the wrong spot, which hurts more than usual and brings a crimson bead of blood to the surface. But the resulting bruise serves as a useful reminder of where not to poke subsequent needles.
Dan somehow always finds ways to inject (pun not intended) humour into the situation, even after a rough night where he gave up his half of the bed to sleep on the couch, so that Coco could sleep beside me. She was having a stuffed nose and a cough, and so was sleeping poorly.
Me: “Poor thing, you. Had to sleep on the couch last night.”
Him: “Not as ‘poor thing’ as you.”
Me: “Huh? Why?”
Him: “You need to inject yourself with urine every day.”
Me: “I inject myself with lucrin. Lucrin. Not urine. Injecting oneself with urine is pretty gross.”
Him: “OHHHHHHHH” (feigning realisation, of course. He KNOWS it’s not urine.)
Once again, the IVF drugs have been pretty kind to me. Other than feeling like a solitary space cadet, in my bubble helmet, floating around in a muffled world. Even then, I can’t tell if my zombie state is due to the cocktail of IVF drugs and cough mixture (yes, still coughing), the legendary mummy’s brain syndrome or that I’m just distracted in general. Though I swear that the high dosage of Puregon is making me sliiiiggghhtly irritable.
Example: I was on a crowded MRT heading home after work. The train operator kept announcing over the PA system, “Train doors is closing! Train doors is closing! Please keep clear!”
I felt like yelling into the speaker: “Train doors ARE closing! Train doors ARE closing! By the way, this is Puregon talking. Thanks. Over.”
Uh-huh. Like I said. Just sliiiggghhtly irritable.
At the end of this stage, I just hope that I’ll be serving up some grade A eggs to make us some gorgeous babies. AND THAT IS ENOUGH TO MAKE THIS ALL WORTH IT. Not that gorgeousness is a requirement but hey, these babies are going to have my and Dan’s gorgeous genes by default, right? Heh.
Now come on, fabulous ovaries: serve up some beautiful sunny-side-up babies and not scrambled eggs okay?