There are some people who come into our lives that are fairy godmothers, sisters from other misters, people who must have been something to you in a past life. For me, one of those people is Michele T. Her official name is Karen but she goes by her middle name, Michele, aka “Auntie Shell” to a lucky lot who live in a variety of countries.
Michele and I worked together at an ad agency in Chicago. We met in 2011 when we both moved from NYC for the job. She hails from New Zealand having made her way to the great city of big shoulders via London, Auckland, and [insert another cool city here]. How to describe her? She has an eclectic mix of furniture she’s collected from two decades of travel: “Asian Cottage” is how she categorizes it. Being British by culture her kitchens always brim with a plethora of tea flavors, uniquely decorative mugs and sculptural tea pots. I would describe her clothing style as hippie-sexy-mod-chic. She never ever wears flats and has a shoe collection that would rival most Hollywood celebs…not in numbers but in distinctiveness. What I am trying to say is, she is K-O-O-L.
Michele is one of my team, as they say in tennis, who encouraged me to have a baby on my own. Over the years she consistently told me I could do it and I’d be a good mother. She didn’t have kids of her own but she spoke with a sense of authority and calm. “You’ll never regret it,” she’d say and I believed her. Now I see why she is so successful in her career; she gives advice with authority and aplomb.
On Monday, March 10, my fertility doctor called me to say my blood tests were “looking really good” and I should come in Sunday morning to be inseminated. O.M.G. I immediately called Michele. “You’re coming, right? It is Sunday morning! Please tell me you’re not working!” Now normally you wouldn’t expect someone in her position to be needed at 8 am on a Sunday but you never knew with Michele. She was a work horse, flying here and there, preparing for this and that. Michele paused to look at her calendar and assured me she’d be there.
On Thursday, March 13, I was sitting at my work space when the mail guy came over with a box as big as a styrofoam cooler. Wait, it was a big white styrofoam cooler. I peaked inside to find a little syringe with a tiny amount of liquid inside. It was my “egg-dropping shot”; a medicine that encourages your eggs to drop down through your tubes so they are perfectly poised for sperm intake. I could not risk that package being left in my apartment lobby mixed up with other people’s Amazon packages or worse yet sent back to a FedEx depot in who knows where. I needed those eggs to descend!
The nurse had informed me I had to give myself the shot in my stomach at exactly 10 p.m. Roger that! Hands shaking, I rubbed some ice over an area of skin on the right side of my stomach area in between my belly button and hip bone. When it numbed, I pinched the fat and shoved the needle in as far as it would go. Surprisingly, it didn’t hurt at all. (I may have had a another shot to prep: vodka). I patted myself on the back and collapsed into bed exhausted from the emotional trauma.
For some more scientific information, here’s an excerpt from themodernbelly.com.
WHAT IS OVIDREL?
Ovidrel (a.k.a. Ovitrelle) is a syringe pre-filled with a liquid preparation of the hormone hCG called choriogonadotropin alfa (catchy name, isn’t it?). The Ovidrel shot is also known as the trigger shot, because it is used to trigger ovulation. Once your doctor determines that your follicles have sufficiently developed, the hCG injection will help induce the final maturation of the eggs and their release from the follicles. Ovulation should happen within 24-36 hours from the injection, so you should have sex during this time period. If you are undergoing an IUI cycle, your insemination will likely be scheduled for the next day, or the one after it.
WHAT ARE THE OVIDREL INJECTION INSTRUCTIONS?
The Ovidrel shot can be administered in the doctor’s office, but it is also very easy to inject at home. Start by washing your hands thoroughly to prevent infection and then select the injection site. Pick a spot about 2 inches away from your belly button, either to its side or below. Wipe the area with an alcohol swab to sterilize it, and let it air-dry. Take the syringe out of the box, remove the cap, and hold it with the needle pointing up. You will notice an air bubble on top of the fluid – push the plunger gently to remove it (so that the liquid would fill the void where the bubble once was), but be careful not to waste too much liquid, except for a small drop covering the tip of the needle. Stand or sit comfortably, pinch an inch of fat around the spot you selected, and inject the dose. Gently withdraw the needle and throw it in a safe container. This is very important – you don’t want anyone to get pricked or cut by your needle. If you don’t have a special sharps container for disposal, put the syringe in a strong plastic or metal container with a tight lid. If you’re bleeding, place a gauze or band aid over the injection spot.
DOES IT HURT?
Not really. Some women who inject at home find it a bit scary to stick a needle in their own body, and if you are one of them (I know I am), you may want to ask your significant other or someone else you trust to give you the shot. Either way, the injection itself feels like no more than a quick pinch. You may feel a dull sensation afterwards, but it should subside within a few minutes.
The next morning I was in a bit of a haze at work but it was just another day in advertising: meetings, “cawfee tawk,” strategic discussions, reviewing creative, and learning about people’s St. Paddy’s day plans. St. Patrick’s day is a big day, no week, in Chicago. I was, however, not going to be partaking this year.
Sunday morning arrived and Michele met me at the clinic at 8 a.m. as agreed. We sat in a reception area with a lot of other nervous looking women along with their Partners in Procreation (PIPs). Around 8:20 I was called in the doctor’s office. “Can I bring my friend?” I asked motioning toward Michele. “Yes, of course,” she said. I don’t know what I was expecting room-wise, but something akin to that in the final scene of War Games. Alas, it was a normal doctor’s office room. We waited.
A few minutes later a woman in a regular nurses outfit entered. She was holding a syringe that didn’t quite look like a needle but it also wasn’t as thick as a turkey baster. She smiled and asked if I was Maia. “Yes, I am.” She then showed me a piece of paper on a clipboard and asked me to confirm if “this" was my sperm. “Yes, I hope so.” If not, let the games begin.
Like any other gynecological appointment, the nurse asked me to lie back, put my legs in the stirrups and open my knees. “Just relax, dear. Nothing you haven’t done before,” she said inserting the long tube into me. After about ten seconds she pulled it out. The nurse removed her latex gloves and told me to hold my legs up to my bosom. “Stay like that for 5 minutes and then go home and rest.” “Should we at least have a cigarette?” I joked. She feigned a smile and left the room. Clearly, I wasn’t the first to offer that joke. Afterwards, Michele invited me to her apartment a few blocks away. She served me tea whilst I lay hips up on her couch.
Three months prior, Michele joined my family on vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I am a water baby whereas she loves reading books in her beach chair under an umbrella. “Come on! Let’s go swimming! It’s high tide!” I’d beg. “No thanks,” she’d say, “I’m good here.” I’d goad her even more. “Come ON! Let’s GO!” Finally, after a few days, I persuaded her to go parasailing alone off a boat. "Do it for your Dad!" Michele was petrified but she did it. Moments after, we called her Mum in Carterton, NZ straight from the beach. “Mum Thompson!” I yelled. “Guess what? Michele flew off a boat into the sky!” After a few moments of silence, Mum spoke. “Of course she did, love. She can do anything.”
On Friday March 28th I got a call from the fertility clinic while I was at work. “Maia, you’re pregnant!” I was stunned. I immediately started crying. It was only then I realized how much I wanted it. I called my Mom. I called my Dad. I called my sister. The rest is a fog.
I am not a religious person but as I reflect on March 16th, that holy Sunday in the doctor’s office, I now see I had an angel in my corner. Wearing all white, Michele was my champion, my protector, and my guardian. She told me I could do anything and I believed.
I am pretty sure it was she that got me pregnant.