Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Testing, Testing



“Avoid the internet.” That’s what the instruction sheet for the HSG (Hysterosalpingography) said. Whoops. Too late. I’d already over-Googled and everything I read predicted this would be painful. On the plus side, there were message board murmurings that it was easier to get pregnant post-HSG because it cleaned the reproductive organs out.

A lot was riding on this procedure, which tests whether the fallopian tubes (where sperm travel en route to fertilize an egg) are open. If the tubes were blocked, we’d have to cancel my husband’s vasectomy reversal and drop thousands of dollars on IVF. If the tubes were open, we could, um, plow ahead with our plan to try to conceive naturally for six months.

At a radiology office, I changed into a scratchy gown and placed my belongings in a locker. Dr. Baby-Maker led me to a treatment room, which was brightly lit and packed with high-tech equipment. In other words: terrifying. 

I climbed onto the exam table and was about to assume “the position” when Dr. Baby-Maker realized one of the stirrups was broken. 

“We’ll just have to make do,” she said.

Make do indeed. She instructed me to press my heels into the table pad (easier said than done) and then inserted the speculum. She was unusually silent as she dug around deep inside me.

“Your uterus is really tucked back in there!” she said.

“Yeah,” I thought, “It’s hiding!”

She inserted a catheter with a tiny balloon on the end through my cervix.

“You might feel cramping, “ she said. “Or you might feel nothing.”

I felt nothing, and mentally congratulated myself on being such a trooper. Then the balloon inflated. Holy shit.

“All set!” Dr. Baby-Maker said. She called in the radiologist. I couldn’t see him enter the room from my position but his baritone voice announced his arrival.

Dr. Baby-Maker injected dye into the catheter. I felt more pressure in my womb. We all watched on a black-and-white screen as my uterus filled up. Then we waited. And waited. There was no movement in the tubes, which were thin and delicate, like tiny ribbons.

“There’s a lot of fluid just spilling out here,” Dr. Baby-Maker remarked from between my legs.

“Try adjusting your balloon,” the radiologist instructed.

She did, and all of a sudden, I felt like I got kicked in the uterus by a horse. My vision went black. A guttural groan escaped my mouth. My legs trembled. I felt like I was in labor.

“Are you going to faint?” Dr. Baby-Maker asked. That would be a first for me, but no, I was not going to faint. 

She encouraged me to breathe. I gulped down some air. I hadn’t realized I’d been holding my breath. Then again, who can relax in a situation like that?

“There goes the right!” the radiologist cheered. “That’s the left!” 
  
With confirmation that both of my tubes were open, the radiologist departed and Dr. Baby-Maker removed the speculum. A huge gush of dark fluid flowed from between my legs and onto an absorbent pad on the table.

“The cramps should be going away now,” Dr. Baby-Maker said. “Cramps” felt like the wrong term for the excruciating throbbing in my sacral chakra.

Dr. Baby-Maker chattered away excitedly about my open tubes and my husband’s vasectomy reversal. She offered to do IUI if we wanted to speed things up.

She held out her hand and helped me down from the table. I was still stunned silent.

A thought which I’d had many times ran again through my head: I wish we could just adopt. (Though as I’d learned, there was no such thing as “just” adopting. That process was simply a different kind of grueling.) Getting pregnant and giving birth was the “easiest” way to grow our family, but it was also a pain in the...uterus.

“Good luck with everything! I look forward to seeing you for your pregnancy!” Dr. Baby-Maker trilled. I wished I could be as excited as she was about our prospects.

I stepped out into the sunny spring afternoon and texted my husband to tell him my baby canals were still open for swimmers. Now all he had to do was set them free

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