I had read all that I could. I came up with my list of questions…that every physician hates…and I prepared myself for success. I scheduled my hysteroscopy and determined that I didn’t need a hand to hold; well, because I wouldn’t have one. As a surgical resident, my husband wasn’t given much leniency in time off. According to his residency program nothing could be more important than work-not his wife, and certainly not a baby…what a distraction! I prided myself on being tough. I was a fighter. This wouldn’t be too bad. Besides, all they had to do was take a quick peek with a tiny camera inside of my uterus.
The woman who took me back to the exam room was indifferent. Was my infertility story less intriguing that other women’s? Less dramatic? Less heartfelt? Or, was she numb from years of rooming infertility patients? I excused her insensitive air by deciding that it was early, and she was simply having an “off” day. She must care, right?
My scrutiny of her cold behavior was interrupted by the white sheet that she thrust at my waist. “Undress from the waist down, and cover up with the sheet,” were her parting words. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “from the waist down” over the subsequent year! It was as though I didn’t have anything above my waist.
I sat in the room for what seemed like an eternity. I’m not complaining considering that I have made patients wait much longer in the past. However, I have gained an appreciation for what it feels like to wait…to wait for good news…to wait for bad news…to wait for a cycle…to wait for a test…to wait for a doctor…to wait for a procedure. Life seemed to turn into a big waiting game; with the main objective being to wait for a baby.
My biological clock was ticking. I was 30 years old. I had done everything right. I had gone to college, gone to med school, finished residency. I was working on my MPH from the most prestigious school of public health in the nation. I had done all of these things first instead of having a baby because this was the “right” way to do things. I now felt each click on the clock. With each stroke I felt my egg supply diminishing and my already limited fertility ticking away.
Were these the things I was thinking about while waiting for the hysteroscopy? Probably, but to be honest I don’t remember. All I remember is that I was having a pity party-and rightfully so! Who wants to have a camera stuck into their uterus on a Monday morning before heading into work?
I had taken my Motrin prior to arriving, as recommended. The speculum was in, and the camera was inserted through my cervix. “Okay, this is not supposed to be painful,” I told myself. I took a deep breath and tried to relax. The physician’s assessment that, “You might feel a little bit of cramping,” was highly understated. I held my breath and started counting the seconds. My mind was like a record stuck on repeat. “This is almost over. This is almost over!” It was as though by reciting this phrase I thought I would miraculously speed up the procedure. The cramping felt like labor, and the duration of the procedure felt like a full term pregnancy. At that moment, I not only would have appreciated a hand to hold, I would have preferred one to crush!
The good news was that I was given good news. Everything looked beautiful, and my uterus was the perfect place to grow a baby. I was excited and relieved. At least one thing was going our way. I quickly dressed and then waited once again to speak with the doctor. She told me that we could proceed with IVF as soon as I was ready. Who knows if and when they are ready for IVF? How can you ever know if you are ready for something so intense and unnatural? I didn’t know if I was ready for IVF, but I did know that I was over-ready for a baby!
As I headed to the check out counter, my goal was to leave as quickly and stealthily as possible. If I haven’t mentioned it yet, this was the med center where I had completed my residency. I knew a lot of people here! Because I had moved onto a different medical center after residency, any and every acquaintance I ran into always wanted to find out why I was there and what was new in my life. When someone sees you in an OB/GYN office, and you are in your 20’s and 30’s, their automatic assumption is that you are pregnant. Not only do they assume this…they feel that they must confirm their assumption by coyly asking, “So, umm do you have some news?” I decided on this particular day that my answer would be, “Yes, I’m pleased to say that I have a uterus!” Clearly, avoidance was a better tactic.
Without fail, on the several recent occasions that I had been to the gyn office, I happened to run into the same physician assistant each time. He was dutifully accompanying his wife to her prenatal visits. Of course, he assumed that pregnancy was my purpose as well. I began to wonder how many times I could get away with “routine gyn exam” as my excuse. Hmm, those are usually done yearly; I had now said this to him three times in 2 months! He thought I simply wasn’t ready to share my exciting pregnancy news. In response to my, “No, I’m not pregnant,” he actually teased and said, “What’s wrong with Dave! Do we need to check his sperm?”
I tried not to cringe, but my body wanted to physically revolt and recoil. I felt every word of his insensitive statement. It was like a line drive into my chest, my stomach, and my heart. I wanted to sarcastically retort, “No, that has already been done. And, yes, I would like to have a baby more than anything in this world, but unlike you…we can’t get pregnant.” Instead, I smiled and mustered up a little laugh. “Good one. Maybe we should get him checked.” Again, what a way to start a Monday morning.
From The Mom in Me, MD