I have just been over in the RE clinic, where seaweed was placed in my hoo-ha. It wasn't great, but it wasn't too bad, either. (One recommendation: take four ibuprofen (800 mg total) an hour beforehand.) Normally, I would go into deep detail about the procedure, perhaps including ruminations as to how someone first discovered that seaweed could dilate a cervix (snorkeling accident?), but today I'm keeping it brief. Here's the process of getting a laminaria put in: (1) the RE inserts a speculum, then cranks it open as if it were a cartoon dental instrument, (2) the ultrasound tech presses painfully on your full bladder to get an image of your freakish uterus, at which point she marvels at its zany appearance, (3) the RE injects local anesthetic into four places on your cervix, asking you to cough each time to distract yourself from the prick (not too bad), (4) for fun, the RE decides to thread a catheter through, just to see if it'll work, even though it hasn't worked before without a stylet, (5) it doesn't work, and the RE and ultrasound tech observe that the cervix isn't really the problem; it's the place where the cervix and uterus meet, and you notice that this anatomical feature recalls the cliffs of Big Sur, plunging into the ocean, (6) the overly emotive nurse rubs your arm, even though you just want to grip your t-shirt and think negative thoughts, (7) the RE remembers the task at hand and sticks the laminaria in, warning you that (a) it might hurt and (b) your freakish anatomy probably won't let the laminaria all the way through, and thus this whole little adventure may or may not even work in terms of making transfer easier, (8) it doesn't really hurt, given that you have ingested a narcotic amount of ibuprofen, (9) the overly emotive nurse points out that this will be good practice for labor, to which you reply: "Ha!" (10) the RE removes the speculum, packs your hoo-ha full of spongy stuff, and tells you to return in five hours so that they can remove the laminaria. (They said I could also remove it myself. I declined.) All in all, not so bad. Really! Also, they promised that the dilation would last until transfer (barring complications), and that the embryos would not fall through the hole and into my threadbare underpants.
But that's not what I want to talk about. You may recall that Hopeful Mother recently posted on the topic of her RE's real-life existence. Various stalker-ish readers (like me) replied, betraying something of an obsession with our REs. The truth is, I don't think much about most of my REs (I go to a clinic where there are five main REs and some Fellows, and you see whoever is on duty). But, as I replied to HM's post, there is one RE who is about my age on whom I totally have a girl-crush - or perhaps it's just that I wish I were her. She's tall, thin, pretty, smart, athletic, calm, and nice, and she exudes competence. I call her Dr., and not by her first name (for a survey of how people refer to their doctors, see DoctorMama's recent post on the subject) - I think this is because I am in awe of her. I wish we could be friends, but (a) she's seen my nether regions too many times for a casual friendship to blossom, and (b) I would probably vomit from anxiety regarding hanging out with her.
Anyway, to make a really long post only slightly less long, I hadn't seen her since the demise of my first IVF. I think I saw her the day I got the official negative and had to discuss next steps - this would have been mid-April or so. I didn't see her at all during IVF#2, to my disappointment. So I showed up today to get the laminaria inserted, and I saw that her name was on the whiteboard that shows which doctors are on duty. Imagine my joy! I practically skipped into the ultrasound room, and I would have added a mirthful hip-shake had there been more room between the side chairs and the ultrasound table. Apparently, I believe that every time I see her, it might be the time that I at last say something so witty or incisive that she cannot help but demand to be friends with me.
But then she walked in. Wearing a hip, tunic-style maternity shirt, which somehow both hid and displayed her cute little pregnant belly on her tall, thin frame. I am not kidding when I say that my heart plunged through the floor of the ultrasound room and into the Employee Health Clinic downstairs. I almost started crying. And, I mean, for what? Because she got pregnant? Because she didn't send out a personal email to each of her patients informing us of the news? Because she was now even more decisively better than me? Probably all of these things. As I talked with her about the laminaria procedure, I felt as if I were dissolving into the ultrasound table, just fading away in the face of so much effectiveness.
And of course this is all ridiculous. She's a great RE and an asset to the clinic. What's she supposed to do - never have a baby? At the same time, though, it made me think of the Raymond Carver story "Cathedral" - or, rather, what someone I knew thought about the Raymond Carver story "Cathedral." For those of you who haven't read it, it's a short story narrated by man whose wife has invited a blind man whom she's friends with to come visit the couple. The narrator is, in short, irritated. Well, the blind man shows up and various quiet, minimalist events ensue. But I used to know someone who loved a particular line from the story, and it has always stayed with me. When the blind man shows up at the house, the narrator, being irritated, finds fault with him, including with the fact that the blind man wears a full beard. This is the line that my classmate loved: "A blind man with a beard? Too much, I say!"
And that's how I felt today. A pregnant RE? Too much, I say!