Whilst defrosting the fridge-freezer yesterday, two things occurred to me. I firstly wondered whether my motivation to complete this magnanimous act wasrooted hormones. To some extent, yes of course it was to do with the fact thefreezer no longer really closed properly, due to the developing foetus of iceacross the front of the top drawer. Nevertheless, was there a hint of thenesting mother there? My second reflection was that when I next defrosted thefreezer, I might have a child. I remember the last time I set to with the scraper,two and a half years ago when we moved house, and that didn’t seem very longago at all. But in two and a half years from now, my child could be walking andtalking, and that’s a bewildering thought.
In the meantime insemination is looming. The charts pile up but thepatterns are elusive. A 5am visit to the loo throws leads to wild temperaturechanges. A friend, staying for six weeks happens to be what I believe is knownas a ‘menstrual pace-setter’, and draws all three of us into synchronousmenstruation; I have one unusually short cycle followed by an unusually longone. And then we do two Atlantic flights, affecting two cycles – how do youcount days when you’re 8 hours out due to the time zone? Identifying aninsemination date feels a bit like trying to make an accurate accusation in agame of Cluedo before you’ve fully investigated what Miss Scarlet was up towith the candlestick: how about Miss Inseminee, in the bedroom… with thespeculum?
On the subject of the speculum, one major advantage of all this chartingis I did not recoil with horror on receiving an ‘invitation’ to go for a smeartest. Whilst I would still generally prefer not to be naked from the waist downand prodded by a stranger (and I am aware that is something I am going to needto get used to in pregnancy), I’ve realised how these nurses have honed theirtechnique: it’s far more painful when, daily, I insert the thing myself –mirror and torch in hand, as if I’m going on some kind of narcissisticpot-holing adventure.
After speculum, the next ‘s’ is supplements. Three times a day I gulp downthree capsules: Agnus Castus (to balance hormone levels), a pre-pregnancymulti-vitamin (because pre-pregnant is what I hopefully am) and flax seed oil(there was a reason, buried deep within the immense quantity of literaturewe’ve read on the subject – I no longer have any conceivable notion what itmight have been). I feel like a strange combination of a fertile woman and ageriatric as I fumble to release my dose from the 7-day pill organiser box.I’ve no idea what good these things might be doing but there is definitely aplacebo effect of taking 5455% of the Recommended Daily Allowance of Thiamin,one of the 35 ingredients that are crammed, incredibly into a tiny – well notexactly tiny – but swallowable capsule. I have no idea what Thiamin is or whatit might do, but I already feel slightly dependent on it, and its companions inthat little pill.
And then there’s insemination itself. There’s a vague plan in my head andit’s all very straightforward. Donor arrives, bit of time alone, hands it over,donor leaves, inseminate. Too easy.
Can it really be that simple? To put it rather dramatically, which tendsto be my way, semen has wildly opposing properties: fertile, it gives life;infected, it takes it. And I’m going to put the stuff inside me. Probablyrepeatedly and frustratedly, over the next year or so. Which, I have to admit,makes me feel just a little apprehensive.
But sperm and speculum issues aside, what I have realised is, that I’mready for this. Prepared would be the wrong word. You can defrost thefridge-freezer, paint the nursery and read a parenting manual, but fromwatching friends who’ve done the baby thing, I don’t think you can ever reallybe prepared for the biggest change most people will ever experience in theirlives. But you can be ready, and after thirty-four years in this world, I thinkfor the first time, ready to get pregnant is what I am.