My Wife Said The Worst Part Of IVF Was Trying Not To Wee On The Doctor

It was wee-ly funny.
“Can someone please get me to the loo?”
“Can someone please get me to the loo?”

We sit here in the waiting room once more. The only difference is that this time my wife Suse holds a bottle of water in her hands. She sucks on it fervently, the obedient patient, filling her bladder just as she was told.

It's a cracker, this IVF thing. As someone who works with kids all day, it's a bit twisted that I am struggling to have my own. And that I keep making appointments with specialists, to give me the medical answers I don't have.

This time, we're here for the embryo transfer. In a few minutes, they will take our fertilised embryo and put it in place, inside Suse's womb. In order to help the obstetrician's view on ultrasound, she needs a full bladder. Hence, the water bottle.

Suse leans in.

"When we're in there, can you not ask a whole bunch of questions?"


"I just want to have a moment of silence. You know, I just want it to be a bit special."

"Okay." I pause. "I am going to want to ask some things, though. Like how many of our embryos made it to day three."

"Sure. But can we just try to avoid it being a whole medical lecture?"

"I'll do my best," I say.

A second later a tall man with a cropped moustache appears. "Hi there, I'm Doctor Crawley," he says smoothly. "I'll be doing the transfer today. Can you tell me your name?"

"Susan Brock."

"Just checking you know as well. You've had this done before?"


"First time lucky, eh?"

"Let's hope." She laughs nervously. "Is it going to be soon? I really need to pee."

"In about 15 minutes. If you hold on, he'll buy you a present," he says, pointing at me.

We sit for a while longer, again looking around at the others in the holding bay. Women look on tensely, trying to concentrate on anything other than their filling bladders. Male partners look through tea ring-stained newspapers, reading and re-reading sections they'd usually use to line a rabbit cage. Everyone looks either bored or tense. Nothing in between.

Nineteen minutes later, Suse blurts out: "I really need to go to the toilet."

"Then go."

"What'll happen if I let out too much?"

"Then they'll put in a catheter to fill your bladder."

"Will that hurt?"

"Just go and let a little bit out."

"Will I get in trouble?"

"Just do it, Suse," I say, sighing.

As she leaves, Dr Crawley appears from behind.

"She didn't want her present?" he asks.

"Right now, the toilet is her present," I say.

Each time she returns, saying: "I just let a little bit out. That was so unsatisfying."

This happens four more times over the next 33 minutes. Each time she returns, saying: "I just let a little bit out. That was so unsatisfying." Each time she sits, she winces like she just sat on broken glass.

By the time we are finally ushered through to the seats outside the procedure room, Suse has beads of sweat on her brow.

"Have a seat," someone offers, drawing curtains to hide us away. Suse tries to sit before standing again straight away.

"I can't," she pleads. "If I sit, I'll pee."

"So go to the toilet again," I say.

"I don't know where the loos are from here." Another member of theatre staff appears around the curtain, and Suse grabs her by the arm.

"I really need the toilet," Suse begs.

"Just hold on. We'll be done in no time."

A third person peers around the curtain. It's like a pantomime. "Hi, I'm Emma. I'm the embryologist."

"I really need to pee," Suse repeats.

"Right now?"

"If I don't, I'm afraid I might pee on the table."

"Oh, that's fine. It's good luck to pee on the doctor," she jokes.

"Does that mean I can go?"

"Danielle will escort you."

Suse runs off, while I sit and flick through another trashy mag. She returns once more.

"Don't even ask," she says. "Unsatisfying is my word of the day."

Emma pops her head around, keen to keep the show moving. Suse climbs up into the stirrups without assistance. Emma goes to the corner and stands next to a very fancy looking microscope, two other women stand over by the ultrasound machine, and Dr. Crawley sits on the stool in between.

"Just ease your legs apart," says one of the nursing assistants, "and we'll put the probe over your bladder."

"Please don't press too hard, I have..."

"... My goodness, that is a very full bladder!" she pronounces.

Everyone stops for a moment to look at the screen. Even Emma looks up from her viewfinder. There, directly above Suse's uterus, we see a cavernous black hole, a bladder filled with pee.

"You weren't joking," Dr. Crawley says. I look at Suse. Her eyes are shut tightly, trying desperately to not piss on his head. "If you can Danielle, just hold the probe there for a moment, and we'll place the introducer."

I watch on the screen while a few white dots float among the grey haze on the screen. Someone really needs to buy an antenna for this thing.

"There's the uterus," says one of the nurses pointing. "And you can see the introducer in the centre."

"Okay," I say.

"Doesn't she want to see?" she asks.

"I think she's busy," I answer quietly. I look at Suse, and her eyes remain squeezed shut.

I watch as Emma walks carefully from her microscope over to Dr. Crawley, like she's transferring a tray of muffins out of the oven. But what she's holding is a slender piece of plastic. He takes it from her, where it disappears from view between Suse's legs. Again, we see a few dots bounce around on the screen, imitating the placement of the embryo.

"All done?" Suse asks.

"She's keen, isn't she?" Dr. Crawley says. "We've just got to check and see if it was a Garfield embryo. Try to hold on."

Suse lets out a little laugh. Emma takes the stick and walks over to the microscope, peering through it for a moment.

"It's in."

"I'm done?" Suse asks, sitting up.

"That's it," Dr. Crawley says.

"Can someone please get me to the loo?"

"I'm sure we can."

Suse is out of the stirrups, in a wheelchair and out of the theatre before I manage to stand.

Suse is out of the stirrups, in a wheelchair and out of the theatre before I manage to stand.

"There's nothing else we need to do here?" I ask.

"Other than catch up with your wife? No."

I run down the hall after Suse, speeding along in her wheelchair, laughing hysterically.

"Oh, Jesus Christ, this is surreal. Can't believe I didn't piss myself. That was the worst thing in this whole IVF process."


"Absolutely. At least they knock you out for the other ones."

"Wasn't quite what you expected?"


"But you got your silence."

"Very funny."

"And it was memorable."

"Well, I'll never forget it, that's for sure. But I didn't expect that to be because my legs were being splayed in front of an old dude while I tried not to pee on him," she yells, her voice echoing as she slams through the door of the toilet.


This is an edited extract of Mark's book, A Time For Grace, a story of love, loss and the miracle of IVF.

Throughout 2017, The Huffington Post Australia is running a series called No Two Women. The series will cover everything women, and men, need to know about what women deal with thanks to their hormones.

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