...and now back to the program.
I spent the night with seven vials of blood in my refrigerator, which the nurse promised was just like having it at the lab. Except, you know, it was in your house. Next to a head of lettuce. And an open jar of mustard. And it's seven vials of your blood.
I should explain that they gave me my blood to take with me because it was unlikely that they would be able to get another seven vials of blood from me the next day. I have only one good vein for drawing blood and it's in my left arm. They've never been able to draw blood from my right arm without collapsing the vein. They've tried the back of my hand and once suggested a vein in my forehead. Regardless, once you draw blood from me, you best use it because you're not getting another seven vials for quite a bit of time.
This is certainly not the most heartbreaking thing that happened on our journey, nor was it the most painful, or even the most bizarre. But it was this surreal turning point for me where our journey no longer resembled anything I ever imagined it to be. I thought we'd have this great conception story that involved a romantic trip to a bed and breakfast. And we were getting farther and farther from that image.
And I was freaking out.
The next morning, I gathered up my bag of blood and took it a few miles away to an HMO-approved lab. I walked in and tried to speak to the receptionist, but she told me to sign in and refused to listen to me. A few times I stood up again and tried to speak, but she cut me off and told me to sit down. I was getting extremely anxious because the blood had been out of the refrigerator for a long time. I finally pushed my way back to the front and tried to speak to her again. She snapped at me: "What part don't you understand? You show up without an appointment and expect that you can push your way to the front of the line? Every person in here wants lab work. You need to wait your turn."
"But I don't need an appointment. I need to drop off blood."
We went around like this several times with me repeating that I needed to drop off blood and she insisting that everyone in the room needed to drop off blood and I was now looking at a two hour wait.
I finally burst into tears, in front of the entire waiting room and held up my bag of McBlood. "But this has been out of the refrigerator for an hour and it will go bad if I keep sitting here."
Can we say horrified? She finally realized that the bag I was carrying contained my own blood. I don't know what she thought in that moment. That I stuck a butterfly needle in my own arm back at home?
She opened the bag and told me the blood was unusable. And even though I could clearly see that it no longer even looked like blood--it had separated into a watery substance and black clumps--I told her that she was wrong. She was wrong and the OB nurse was wrong and my insurance company was wrong and everyone waiting in the waiting room that morning was wrong and the fact that I had to go to work after dropping off seven vials of unusable blood was wrong and the fact that I couldn't conceive was wrong.
I would probably still be back in that waiting room delivering my long list of what was wrong when an elderly lab technican from Sierra Leone came into the waiting room and put his arm around me saying, "please stop. I'll redraw the blood. I can't stand seeing you cry." Which was--by far--the kindest thing that had happened in the last 24 hours.
He couldn't draw blood, nor could the other technican who gave it a whirl. Five needle sticks and several yellowing bruises later and I wasn't leaving until they drew this blood and ran those tests and told me if there was anything else I could possibly pass along to this child I couldn't conceive. On the sixth try, they drew the blood and I left, crying the entire ride to work.
And the lab botched the tests. But we wouldn't know that until after we had gone through the first two week wait. And then there was the second two week wait. And then there was the repeated tests when I finally reached OB #3.
Will her Jewish panel come back showing even more genetic illnesses she can pass along? Will OB #3 finally take her fertility seriously? Stay tuned for the conclusion of All My Not-Yet Children as well as the question at the end of this tunnel-like story.