When you have fertility issues, and have to use modern medicine to help you to get pregnant, you spend a lot of time in doctors offices, and even more time getting "tested" at hospitals. During either an IUI or an IVF cycle, you are monitored with ultrasounds and blood draws anywhere from 2 to 7 times a week.
Now you can't just go to the hospital at any time during the day to do all this. You have to go to a special office in the basement of the hospital (at least at BWH this is how it works) between the hours of 7-9 AM. You are seen on a first come first serve basis, so the earlier you get there the quicker you will be seen. I like to arrive between 6:30 and 6:45, and I am never the first one there. By 7:15 almost every one of the 25 or so seats are taken.
The walls are stark white, there is a tiny television in the corner (circa 1990) that plays local news, and to add insult to injury, there is a stack of old magazines for you to read - and most of them are Parenting magazine!
When you arrive you have to sign in, fill out a "call back sheet" (for your nurse), drop off your ultrasound order forms in one bin, attach your "blue card" to your bloodwork paperwork, and put that in yet another bin. And then you wait to be called...
Women sit there clutching either their red (IVF) or yellow (IUI) folders, waiting to be taken back into the exam rooms where they will have a giant ultrasound wand shoved up their hoo hah to have their inter-workings of their lady lands examined, as well as get poked by a needle, in the same place of your arm, for the 100th time.
They sit there so quietly, thinking about how they never thought they would have to go through all of this, how much of a pain in the ass it all is, but how wonderful the reward will be...if it works. They ask themselves all the same questions...
What did I do to deserve this?
What if this doesn't work?
And as they all sit there, subtly eyeing the woman across from them, they wonder, "I wonder what her story is?"
Three years ago when I was sitting in the waiting room going through all this for the first time, I was very curious about the women around me. Some I would see daily, and we had an unspoken bond where we would smile at each other when our eyes met. Both of us worn out from the early morning exams, and constant blood being taken from our bodies. And then one day I wouldn't see them again, and I would feel the horrible pangs of jealousy, knowing that the treatment worked for them, but here I was still waiting for my turn.
You get to know the ladies that work in the office, and the people that give you the exams and draw the blood. They don't talk much, and I have a feeling they are told not to be too personal, because women during this time are very fragile and emotional. They know when things don't work out, and you are back yet again for another round of treatment...and they give you that knowing smile that ensures you they are rooting for you...and they wish they could help.
This time around, I am not as aware of the women around me, as I have had to bring M with me each time I have been tested. And while I don't have the time to think about their stories, I am aware of the looks and glances I get while I am tending to M. And I totally understand why, because 3 years ago I would have been giving the same "evil eye" to my current self. I used to see women bringing in their children and think "who the hell do they think they are, bringing in a baby or child to a place where women are struggling to be pregnant?" I would see the occasional child in the waiting room, and it would make me so mad that this mother thought it was ok to bring a child to this kind of place. But now I know that some women just don't have the choice.
I would love to stand up and say something to everyone in the waiting room - to let them know that it will work out for them, as it did in my case, but in reality that isn't the truth. For a good portion of these women it won't work out. Their dreams of having children might never come true. And when you are going through all this, the last thing you want to hear is "Don't worry, it will work eventually!" because it might not. What you really want to hear is "I am so sorry you have to go through all this. It totally sucks and you have every right to be miserable and sad." Maybe I should stand up and say that next time...probably wouldn't go over very well. :)
For the first time I actually ended up chatting with another woman while I was waiting to be called a few weeks ago. She saw M behaving so well, and came over and talked to me about her son, that was M's age, and we got to talking about our struggles and ended up exchanging information. As I mentioned women going through all of this have a common bond, and the more support you have from someone that understands your troubles, the better.
On Friday I will wake M up before the sun comes up, and toss her in the car to travel to the hospital to get probed and poked for what feels like the 100th time. I will chat about the weather with the girl that takes my blood every time, and I will talk about the traffic with the young intern that assist the technician that gives me my ultrasound. I will go about my day with my phone by my side waiting for the call from my nurse, who will probably greet me with her sad "Hi Jess...how you holding up" and then tell me things aren't where they need to be...but deep down inside I am hoping that I will get some good news and I can get this party in my uterus started. We shall see...