We have wandered down the road of infertility for nearly three years.
The stages of our path mimicked those of grief and we have emerged from those dark early days with hope. I’ve learned to be more open when folks ask those once painful questions.
Plus, we see ourselves as future foster/ adoptive parents, with a particular organization in mind. We just need a schedule to coincide with the classes.
But sometimes, I still get a gentle shoulder pat or a look of pity. But it rarely bothers me anymore. I know mostly what others struggle with in knowing we’re childless has more to do with them than me.
When I quit my job at the County of San Diego a few months back, Brian added me to his Navy health care plan which allowed me to keep my dentist and optometrist (woohoo!), but lose my longtime family doctor, Dr. Roth (boo!).
The process of finding a new doctor gives me hives.
It’s one more person who knows all about my medical history; truly, the most intimate nonsexual relationship we have. I had the same family doctor until I was 23 when I moved to California 10 years ago. Since then, I’ve had three.
But what I found behind doctor door number four has been a pleasant surprise so far.
“You’re 33, healthy and no babies,” Dr. Deckert began. “Let’s talk about that.”
I thought back to my early dark days struggling with depression at discussing this very topic.
“I wish my therapist had been this warm,” I thought.
She asked about all the testing I had been through, which had all come back suggesting on paper I was a Fertile Myrtle. One test, somehow, had escaped me and she wanted to eliminate that factor straight away.
I was game. My heart and mind was ready for whatever this final progesterone test revealed.
Over drinks with two of my close girlfriends, I told them I was going through another test. Their mouths dropped open.
“I thought this was all done,” one said.
Yep, me too.
The morning of my lab appointment, Brian sent me a text message: “Good luck, this morning, Pica.”
I’m notoriously bad at giving blood. The American Red Cross would not take me in a million years; I’m a faint risk. But I find if I tell the nurse I’m a baby upfront, breath slowly and pay no attention to what’s going on, I can get through it fine.
I sat in the chair while the nurse reviewed all the testing my doctor ordered for me. I felt fine and calm until I saw her pull five tubes.
“A lot of testing this morning, huh?” she asked. “Don’t worry. I have a gift from God; I’m the best at this.”
Turns out, God was off-duty during my visit.
First, I nearly fainted followed by an embarrassing bout of shock. She pinned me back in the chair until help arrived. By the time she and another nurse virtually dragged me to a table to elevate my legs, I had sweat through my clothes, my pupils looked like pin tips and all the blood drained from my face.
Eventually, all five tubes were filled while I lay limp and soggy on the table. I sat up very slowly to find three nurses peering in at me from the hall. Like a good little girl, my nurse rewarded me with a chocolate chip cookie and a can of Pepsi.
The next day, I was driving to meet Brian for dinner when my cell phone rang. I answered my silly earbuds headset and it was my cheerful doctor.
“So, I like to see a 10 or better for progesterone levels,” she said, getting right down to business. I took a deep breath. “You’re at 18.5. You have the fertility of a 20-year-old girl.”
I was silent.
“I’m here,” I said, and smiled. “Thank you for calling.”
She was right. It was good to know. And amazingly, I felt not one ounce of regret at how it all played out over the years.
I called Brian, emailed my girlfriends and then talked to my mom, who had her youngest child at 42.
Later at dinner, a cloud came across Brian’s face. He had been through his share of testing too and this meant more was likely on his horizon.
“So, it’s definitely me,” he said, sounding resigned. My heart broke.
I could see his wheels turning the information over in his mind. Then, the eternal optimist smiled.
“Well, if it has to be one of us, I’m glad it’s me,” he said.
“Oh? And why is that?”
“Well, for one, I can handle needles.”