In the UK, if you’re in your mid thirties and have been trying for more than 12 months without success, they call you into the Department for Reproductive Medicine for tests.

Being of the eager middle classes, DH and I have – of our own volition – already undergone two sets of sperm analyses (which, after a drastic change of regime, eventually declared his swimmers fine), a vaginal scan (which ruled out PCOS and endometriosis) and several sets of blood tests, all punctuated with a bank breaking amount of specialist multivitamins, ovulation tests, acupuncture and organic spinach. None of these premature investigations have helped; we’d have a baby by now if they had.

So last week we found ourselves clicking heels and drumming fingers in an office at the RM unit. Of all the hopeful couples that had sat in our seats, their dreams hanging in the balance, I found it disquieting to see only half a dozen photographs of babies pinned to an otherwise empty notice board. If I was ever put in charge of decorating RM offices I would either cover the walls in children or not at all – somewhere in between just makes you think you’d have a better chance of conception by breeding your own stork and asking it to deliver a human being at some point in the future.

Our consultant was a tall and red-headed Pole who ricocheted so quickly up and down the emotional spectrum it was all I could do to keep up what she was feeling, let alone what information she was imparting. First there was the hand-wringing disbelief that we could have paid so much for private sperm analysis, then the kindly interest in what we both did for a living, followed quickly by the strict admonishment that DH’s kindly chat was taking up too much of an appointment strictly designed for the woman. Then there was the outrage at her not being able to understand the results of the sperm analysis set up by another hospital and the telling off I got for suggesting I might have been pregnant last August. Then there was the reassurance that things seemed to be ok and the promise that they’d carry out tests in the coming months just to make sure, followed by a further promise that if I wasn’t pregnant by the end of the year that we’d look at IVF.

We said our goodbyes, with handshakes so firm and emotional I thought my finer bones might crack, and by the time I’d got to the second floor for another set of blood tests, I was in tears. Only they weren’t the kind of tears that gush forth from a concentrated point in your tummy where the thing that’s really been bothering you has been gathering force, they came from nowhere and everywhere at the same time. I couldn’t tell you whether the tears were born of frustration at this process continuing its painful journey without an end in sight, the prospect of several invasive procedures over the coming months, the relief that someone had a plan for us or the emotional exhaustion at having spent 20 minutes in the company of our consultant.

I suspect it was all of the above, and more.

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