By Violet Kieu
When I transfer your embryo, I will ask you for your three points of ID – your full name, date of birth and address, please, I will disregard how made up or disheveled you are – your hair, lipstick, pubic hair (or lack thereof), remnants of progesterone pessary in your vagina, mucus at your cervix; but I will remember your socks, the lucky socks: the orange fish, the red cats, the icy poles with a bite taken out of the corner, the lack of socks, non-descript socks: white sport socks, black work socks, beige footlet socks that hide under the shoe line but don't quite blend into the skin, the toes rings, anklets, the tattoos...
(‘Can I keep my socks on?’
‘Yes – Don’t want you having cold feet,’)
I will tell you how your IVF cycle went, how many eggs were collected, how many fertilized, how many survived to the embryo stage, what the classification of today’s embryo is, critiqued like a diamond AA grade I will tell you if we have been able to freeze any embryos, or if we are culturing any, I will talk to you of chance; you are here with courage –
I will talk to you about your socks if you are nervous and/or if they spark my interest, a lateral way of breaking the ice to humanize the seriousness, the important-ness, of today small, perhaps, but what you and I can talk about calmly in this hyper-aware state; once a woman forgot her birthdate when I asked, and cried angry tears at herself – the stress frays you – I want to disarm you, but I have a quiet anxiety too: I don’t want to drop your damn fine embryo.
Violet Kieu is a fertility doctor and writer from Melbourne, Australia, who writes memoir about medicine and motherhood.