March 21st- the best infertility day I’ve had yet…the day I went to my first RE appointment. I opted to go by myself. My husband doesn’t get tons of days off and I didn’t want him to use one on this visit when I knew I might need him with me for future appointments.
I didn’t realize how nervous I really was until I was waiting in the room for the doctor. My legs started jiggling and just wouldn’t stop. I read every poster in the room at least twice. I was practically rocking in my chair. A nurse popped her head in to say the doctor would be a little longer because someone just came in for an ultrasound. I asked her if I could get a magazine to distract myself. It turns out reading month old entertainment gossip isn’t all that distracting.
When the RE arrived, he reviewed all of my paperwork, examined my charts, explained the basics of both fertility and infertility and made a tentative plan with me right there on the spot. Then, he did my first ultrasound and before I left I had bloodwork done. I accomplished more in one hour then I had in the previous 8 months.
The ultrasound was interesting. Having what amounts to a sex toy with a condom on it put inside you by someone you’ve known for 45 minutes is an experience. He looked at my left ovary and said, “There’s a cyst. It looks like you very well may be ovulating.” He looked at my right ovary and said, “There are more cysts.”…….pause…….in my mind, the pause means I think he thinks polycystic ovarian syndrome.
“And…?” I ask. He mentioned the possibility of PCOS and said we’d talk more in his office. Then he was quiet again.
There’s such power in silence. So many muted words rushing through the air. Oh nos! were zipping back and forth across the room while the What ifs? circled lazily above my head. I stared at a ceiling tile as they all came to rest on the sheet draped across my legs.
We went back to the office and the doctor said that for now PCOS was probable and we’d be more certain when all my lab work was back. And, you know what? It was oddly comforting to know that something was wrong, even if it was just probable. Something with a name, that other women also dealt with and that had treatment options. Somehow it was reassuring. It had crossed my mind a few times in the prior weeks that the label (or non-label) of unexplained infertility made me uncomfortable. I'd had visions of a doctor shrugging his shoulders apologetically and announcing that he didn't know what the hell was wrong with me. That diagnosis wasn't tangible enough for me. PCOS felt more certain...something my inner control freak could address and make plans for.
As I left, the doctor told me I no longer had to temp. For a moment, I felt panic. No temping? How will I know if I ovulate? He reassured me that now it was his job to monitor and worry about that, and then he said,
"Every morning when you take your temperature, it's a reminder that your body is not doing what it should be. You start your day off with that message. You don't have to put yourself through that anymore." His tone was gentle, yet matter of fact. I loved him. A stranger, a man, understood what it was like to be in my shoes.
As I went to leave the office, I stopped at a bulletin board. Every possible inch of it was covered in birth announcements. Beautiful, tiny babies created with the help of the very office I was standing in. I was flooded with hope. Tears filled my eyes and I forced myself to walk away before I embarrassed myself by being that girl bawling in the hallway.
I was, and continue to be, overwhelmed that people take on the job of reproductive endocrinologist. This includes the nurses and office staff. I am in awe of them. I try to imagine being in their shoes, giving the news to a hopeful couple that a procedure has failed, taking the call from a pregnant woman who has begun bleeding, holding the hand of a woman trying again after yet another miscarriage. I bear the weight of only my own story while they shoulder the burden of so many women's heartbreaking journeys.
Without a doubt, they are doing God's work.