So Brenton and I have been trying to conceive, as of January 2015.
We went to see a fertility specialist last week. We’d been trying to get in for literally around two months. Originally I had booked an appointment, but the night prior I was experiencing insane chest pain, which progressed to vomiting. After waiting it out until 4am I finally woke Brenton and asked him to drive me to emergency. I was puking, writhing in pain – the Fentanyl did nothing – and was there all morning as they monitored my heart, performed x-rays and blood tests, and gave me all kinds of meds I immediately vomited back up. They never did figure it out, but at around 8am the pain was gone and I was fit to go home. By then we’d missed out on the appointment. It took me well over a month to finally reschedule it (I called them around twelve times, they never answered or called back in response to messages I left every single time. Eventually I sent them a strongly worded email and they called me back the next day. I called yesterday to book our follow-up – what a surprise, no answer, no call-back.)
Anyway… the appointment last week.
The specialist took our histories, asking us both about our general health and lifestyle, and me a lot of gruesome questions about my periods all the way back to adolescence, my ovarian torsion, and previous uterine shenanigans. I was then treated to a pap smear, a vaginal
groping – probing – examination, and a vaginal ultrasound. Brenton was allowed in for the latter.
He showed us my uterus, which looked good. He showed us my remaining ovary. There was a follicle ready to burst, meaning I was about to ovulate, that day or the next. I already knew this as I chart my cycles, and it was good to have my charting skills validated.
This ovary though, contrary to what my last ultrasound tech told me, had another dermoid cyst. While it was quite tiny, at around 13mm (compared to the 300mm one which cost me my left ovary), this was not the loveliest of news. The specialist reassured us that the cyst is not presently affecting my fertility, however it will continue to grow, which means it needs to be removed. Removing the cyst will mean removing part of the ovary itself and thus some of the eggs within, but thankfully it needn’t be removed urgently, so this isn’t something I need to worry about until after we’ve “completed our family” (what a phrase).
I was given time to re-pant myself and we resumed our positions before the specialist’s specialised specialist desk. He sighed, frowned, and communicated his general concern regarding my fertility. Age 35, ex-smoker, only one ovary, family history of infertility, etc etc etc forever, things are looking grim.
He began yodeling about IVF almost immediately. No time to lose! You’re withering away as we speak! Ever naive and positive, I asked if we could perhaps please have some tests done before cannon-balling directly into the Mariana Trench based on assumptions tyvm. So we got sent off for a long list of tests (well, I did. Of course Brenton’s list of tests was a list containing one item – how strong’re your lil swimmers?)
Brenton and I left that session on different planets.
I don’t think that sentence makes a whole lot of sense. We walked out of the same session but into different dimensions! We were aliens. To each other. Emotionally, I mean. No, this isn’t working.
How about this: I walked out thinking, “Well, that’s about what I expected to hear.”
Brenton walked out thinking: “Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. We are doomed. Fuck.”
Like, I went in knowing how old I was and that I haven’t had the healthiest lifestyle in the world. I know Brenton knew these things too, but I think hearing what an impact nicotine has on fertility was a bit of a blow for him, and the fervor with which the doctor was pushing immediate action made our situation seem quite dire. Brenton took this as “It’s urgent and really not looking good for us!” Whereas I have to admit I took it as.. well, as a salesman trying to convince us that we really did want the largest most expensive model with all the features we would never actually use.
I mean, honestly, I think the reality was somewhere in between those two extremes, but the reality of the situation isn’t relevant to his particular story – how we felt at the time is.
So on the way home, sitting in the passenger seat completely unaware of Brenton’s level of distress, I made some inane comment (I think it was about stopping at Coles). Brenton did not respond. I looked over and noticed his stony slate face, realised how upset he was, and asked him what was going on for him.
“Well, I’m upset because that was really bad news and I really wish you hadn’t fucked around so much booking us that appointment. We could have learned all this months ago.”
Oh dear 🙁 VERY upset-town. Of course my level of stressed-outedness immediately skyrocketed, and, for me, when my upset meter goes up, my ability to communicate goes wayyyyyyyyyyy down.
I was upset that he was upset, and upset also that he was blaming me for our present predicament. But when I get upset with Brenton for something he says or does to me I immediately start second guessing myself and wondering if it’s just that I am actually crazy and wrong. I mean, yes, I could have booked the appointment earlier, and all the reasons I didn’t felt like excuses. OK, fine, yes, right, this is my fault.
Like, he asked me, “Am I wrong?” and I could only say “No.” No, you’re not wrong, but bringing this up now and in this way because you’re upset doesn’t seem right, either.
I get that he was anxious and frustrated. We’re both worried we might not get to have a baby. Wanting someone or something to blame would have it all make sense. So I got angry at myself too, which didn’t help.
Anyway, I wanted him to not feel so anxious about this anymore, so in my naive positiveness I indicated my 95% faith that everything would turn out fine.
I don’t know why, but if there is a future outcome on which I can’t have an immediate impact, I tend to assume it will be fine. Is it positivity? Or is it under-rug-sweeping? Faith? Obtuseness? Or indifference, laziness, a lack of care?
Brenton thought it was that last one.
Well I got really hurt then, and unfortunately I think that must have affected my memory, because I can’t remember at all what happened next or how we resolved things. What an excellent story, yes?
But looking back on it now, I’m thinking, like, the specialist hadn’t told us anything. We didn’t have any new information (besides the cyst, which was having no impact on our ability to conceive). The specialist had given us questions, and referrals for tests to find out the answers, and concerns about what those answers might be – but not answers yet. So why get upset about concerns that aren’t answers? Why not just wait till we get the answers?
So off I headed to the path lab to have five vials of blood drawn. Hooray! I am very lucky to not be an intravenous substance user because my veins are very pathetic and bashful. Eventually she found one and I was allowed to leave. Except for the bit where she called me back because she hadn’t noticed she actually needed six vials! HOORAY!
Back to the specialist with the test results. We sat down, backs straight, fists clenched, very nervous given our last experience. The dang specialist seemed utterly oblivious to our tense expectation as he casually leaned back and opened our file.
“I was actually quite surprised by your results, quite surprised,” he commented.
“Yes. Your results were actually very good. Very good egg quality, very good egg quantity also. Very good for your age and history.”
HA! Suck it, age! Suck it, women’s magazines. Suck it judgmental young mothers! I’M FINE.
I KNEW I’d be fine.
Suck it, Brenton.
(omg jokes ilu)