I think it’s time to catch up a little more about my attempts to become a mom. After all, I have been on this journey for almost two years now and a lot happened at first, so I thought I would get them down while I still remembered them. So, once again we find ourselves time traveling to the past. Far away back to the time when I thought it was easy to get pregnant. I didn’t know how wrong I was.
Many times I have wondered, “Where have all the good men gone?” But, I didn’t think I would be wondering in a fertility clinic waiting room.
Getting ready to go to my consultation appointment at Shady Grove was weird. Even though a lot of the SMC women had gone there and recommended it, I still wondered and worried about what people would think when I walked in. I even worried about what to wear so I would look confident. As I opened the door I felt like back in high school and I was going to be left out of the “cool kids/ married couples club”. But a glance at a wall mirror showed that the scarlet S I was feeling was invisible to others, so I signed in, collected volumes one and two of my new patient paperwork and sat down.
When I looked around, I was surprised to see that there were only women. Were they all single like me? None of them seemed to be sitting or talking together, so they weren’t couples.
I know now that most of the women were there for daily ovulation monitoring, which is quick and no partner has to be there. Later, when I began my daily monitoring, I would also come in early every morning. But for now, I just sat in the waiting room getting more and more nervous. I knew it was stupid to be; after all I wasn’t leaving the office pregnant that morning. But now that all my hopes were being pulled closer into reality it was making me weird out a little.
The nurse had handed me a lot of paperwork to get started and there at the top of the page for “male’s information” was a box that said “check here if using donor” and suddenly I wasn’t as nervous. Why would I be? My status as a donor user was treated simply as a matter of fact. I began to feel more relaxed and less judged.
Half an hour later I was sitting across an office desk of one of Shady Grove’s finest fertility specialists, feeling just as normal, if not a little worried. There was a major issue we were dealing with. Or rather a major number. 40.
Without medical intervention, a 40 year old woman has only around a 10% percent chance of conceiving each cycle. It is a little improved with medical help, how much depending on what fertility treatment is chosen.
But first my doctor talked about giving me an all over checkup. I was immediately scheduled for a mammogram, since I have a family history of breast cancer, and a blood test for just about everything under the sun, an HSG test (Hysterosalpingogram for those who like medical tongue twisters) to check for ovarian cysts and possible blockage of my fallopian tubes, and a full DNA workup. Apparently, since I am an Ashkenazi Jew, I am prone to a lot more genetic problems than the general population. Oh, joy. I needed to be tested for Tay-Sachs, Gaucher, Cystic Fibrosis, Bloom syndrome and several other exotic diseases I had never heard of.
But the first step could be done right away, right there in the office. Just a simple ultrasound to check my uterine general health. Ok, that sounded simple enough. Then I learned what they meant when they call it an invasive ultrasound. I think my ex would have been jealous.
They had a little screen so I could see the images too, and although a lot of it looked like squiggles, some did slightly resemble images I remembered from biology books. But something seemed a little off. Although the general shape of my uterus looked the same as in the books, it also looked a little …swollen. Oh great, I thought, it’s just as fat as the rest of me.
The doctor was looking closely too. “I think”, he said slowly. “I think you may have a fibroid, you need to see your gynecologist and have an HSG before we do anything else.”
When I got home, I was typing Uterine Fibroid into Google before the door closed. I was relieved to find out most were small and easily removed and were rarely malignant.
A few days later, I was preparing to have my whole reproductive system flooded with dye for the HSG x-ray test. I wasn’t sure that subjecting my uterus with radioactivity would help the whole fertility issue, but they seemed to know what they were doing. The whole point was that they needed to see clearly what was blocking my uterus and how big it was. They were also going to be able to see if there was any blockage in my tubes. Apparently this can become common in older women. (Since when was I an older woman?) It’s just one of the many things to look for to explain why a 40 year old woman had never been able to become pregnant. Never mind that for the last 20 years I had been actively trying to prevent pregnancy and now I wasn’t, but once again there was a whole time issue they were dealing with, and it was better to do all the tests first than wait to test after the first few tries failed. At the time this was explained, I thought this was a waste, after all I felt healthy and my cycles were regular. It turns out this was a great idea, since this fibroid thing threw me for a loop.
A couple of days after the test, my doctor was extremely cheerful as he pointed to some images and explained that while most fibroids were small, mine wasn’t. It was the size of a, well, I never did find out exactly how big it was, but I know it was so big, it not only filled my whole uterus, it actually was stretching it out of shape.
I had to wonder why didn’t I know? Didn’t I have any of the symptoms? Bad cramps? Nope. Irregular cycles? Nuh-uh. And the sad fact is, I had been very lax in my annual trips to the doctor. There is a possibility it might have been there for years, starting small and slowly growing. If I hadn’t made this decision, it might still be there. I wondered if I had really needed to be careful with my college boyfriend. I remember once my cousin holding my hand as I waited for the results of a ‘scare’ test. Did I never need her or the test? I couldn’t think about it because now what mattered is that my fibroid had to come out right away. Because as long as it was in there, I was infertile. Period. No pun intended.