Philip and I are an infertile couple. We have been dealing with this for the past 3 years, almost 4. Philip and I have tried to keep our struggles to ourselves, and we have only shared our troubles with close friends and family. I have taken fertility drugs like Clomid from my RE, to help me ovulate better. I pee on a stick, daily, to check for either conception or ovulation. I chart my temperature first thing in the mornings and count down the 2ww of hell every month. (2ww: Means the 2 week wait between Ovulation and Shark Week, aka Aunt Flo.)
All of this mixed with my hormone induced rages have left us, (me), rather stressed at home when we get questioned about our unknown future. (For those who don’t know, an RE is a reproductive endocrinologist. I hope you never have to see one and we wish you baby dust.)
Questions and comments come in all forms from our ‘support system’, including out friends and my family. Things like “When are you guys going to start a family?” or being told “It will happen when it’s supposed to”, or “it will happen when we relax”. Suggestions, we have heard them all, and believe us when we tell you, it’s not that simple.
Sometimes friends who don’t even mean to hurt us, end up hurting us with their words of ‘wisdom’. Comments like “If it’s not meant to be, then it’s not meant to be” and “If you guys are so great, why haven’t you guys had a baby yet?” stab like knives, but we strive to not show our frustration or the daily pain that comes with waiting.
We have even been told that this is Gods way of punishing us and that we don’t deserve kids, but I suppose closed minds tend to make those hurtful judgments. We don’t show our pain until we are home with each other, and we can face the harsh words together with a good cry (for me) or talk with one another.
Each month we time our baby making sessions and we try not to discuss the “what ifs” but focus on just being happy. We wait patiently for Aunt Flo to come knocking, and each month, without avail, she shows up like clockwork. For the average couple trying to conceive, this is normal, but after 3 years of trying, we have what is considered Primary Infertility; this is described as couples who have unprotected sex for a year without pregnancy. That’s us, x 3.
Now, imagine going to the doctor’s office for a completely unrelated issue; it was November 2015 and I was having a colonoscopy for stomach issues, which requires another dreaded pee-on-a-stick pregnancy test before receiving the anesthesia and procedure.
I get sent to a hospital bathroom, pee into the cup, submit it to the lab and wait, saying a little wish for a positive, and fingers crossed, just in case. Before I even take the test, I knew in the back of my mind that it was negative, due to our current new record of 36 months pregnancy-free. (Sarcastic Woo-Hoo!) My husband, I’m sure, knew it would be negative too; after this long, we always expect a negative, so as to not get our hopes up. We are pretty positive that it will be a negative, as we like to say.
While I was waiting on my results, I was prepped with my IV fluids, and a nice air tube at my nose, to go with my stylish parachute gown provided at the veterans hospital. (It is even branded “Govt. Property”.) While the nurse hooked up the equipment, we discussed my medical history, including everything from my stomach issues to our current infertility issue. She had no opinion and listened to me rant on and on (as I sometimes tend to do when frustrated). As we were discussing the colonoscopy procedure and what to expect, another nurse came in to inform us of the pending pregnancy test results so we could complete my prep.
When I go for these procedures, the ‘normal’ nurses usually tell me the test came up negative, I am cleared for anesthesia, and we move on with the process. This particular nurse, although she did not know my history or the power behind her words, had a very opinionated and hurtful approach to revealing the pregnancy test results to us.
She entered the room to give us the news, she wiped her brow with her palm in a ‘wiping away the worry’ style gesture, and she told us very cheerfully “Shew, the test was negative! Thank goodness, right!?!” And she looked to me for approval, as I stared through her, my blood boiling and everyone speechless.
Now, before I criticize this nurse, how could she have known that I would find offense to these words or her excitement? How could she know that we had just celebrated our 3rd year wedding anniversary and our 3rd year anniversary of not having a child or pregnancy? How could she know that some couples, like us, are actually TRYING for that positive, not worried of a potential pregnancy ‘scare’? How could she know how much money and time that has been invested into pee sticks, thermometers, doctor’s visits, and, prescriptions? How could she know how many sleepless nights we are tormented at our lack of ability to build our family? How could she know, right?
The first nurse who prepped me, I know she felt my pain and was embarrassed for the other nurse’s lack of bedside manner and concern. She looked at me and then to the nurse with bad news, and no one said a word. I couldn’t even breathe, I could feel my heart breaking and my mind was racing. I knew the test would be negative, I knew it. I felt another Clomid induced hot flash and I had to bite my tongue. The approach taken by this nurse had me in a fluster that I had never experienced, I was at a loss for words (a rarity for me).
Thoughts and pain ran through my mind, and I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs that she couldn’t be more wrong. We were not some teenage couple who may have pregnancy accidents, we are a couple who have dealt with this for YEARS. YEARS that felt like decades.
In my opinion, this nurse, who was unaware of my feelings and lifestyle, should have kept her thoughtless comments to herself and should not have shown emotion regarding my pregnancy status. Period.
Not all of us are avoiding unplanned pregnancies each month, not all of us are ‘Fertile Myrtle’s’, and not all of us are hoping for that negative after an unplanned evening or two.
Her job at that time was to express test results, not form an opinion on my pregnancy status as if I was a girlfriend of hers who had a pregnancy ‘scare’. She did not know me, and I did not know her. Even if we did know each other, it’s a rather personal subject to be showing enthusiasm for.
Her job was to be the third-party, the gopher, the informant, but instead, she became the opinionated, cheerful and overly delighted nurse who was very pleased at the negative pregnancy test results, at our expense.
Before forming an opinion, or sharing my results so coldly, maybe she should have thought about her ‘bedside manner’ (or lack thereof) beforehand, and maybe she should have thought about how her words could further hurt those who are already in pain.
This reminds me of April Fools day, and how people choose to share fake positive pregnancy tests on their Facebook or media site. This ‘joke’ is hurtful, this ‘joke’ is selfish, this ‘joke’ doesn’t think about those who suffer from infertility, or worse, those who suffered a loss. Maybe for some women, the only memory they get is of that positive test. Maybe some women, like me, have never seen one.
Thanks to her enthusiasm, my husband got to spend his night with me in a frenzy. I was in a state of depression and heartbreak, dwelling on how “broken” we are and venting all evening. Dwelling on how broken I am.
We shall try again next month, and again the next, all the while fingers crossed.
And to that cheerful nurse, I hope you never experience infertility or the heartbreak of waiting for a miracle that never comes, but I do hope you felt my death-stare burning a hole into you that day. I finally have another appointment coming in May (thanks to the VA Healthcare system, an appointment can take months to get). This coming November, along with our 4 year anniversary, Philip and I will sadly celebrate our 4th year of infertility. But, things could be worse.
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Also Found: Huffington Post