Tuesday, 11 June 2013
Perhaps, not so invisible...
When Co-worker and I were both trying to conceive, we were both aware of how awkward it could be if one of us became pregnant while the other was still struggling with the process. She has been very respectful and tactful toward me, but it's inevitable that the spotlight follows her while I fade into the background. As I've mentioned before, I don't necessarily want the attention, but the focus on her just sometimes reminds me of my loss.
The other day, I announced that I was walking over to the hospital. "Wait up!" called our lead physician, "I'll come with you." I paused at the top of the stairs. I figured she probably wanted to discuss a recent situation with a difficult patient; but to my surprise, she asked, "How are you doing? I have been thinking of you. I know it can be hard not only dealing with Co-worker's pregnancy, but also caring for pregnant patients." I was completely touched. Suddenly, I didn't feel so transparent and it was comforting to learn that I was in her thoughts. Interestingly, I had never intended to share any of our procreation plans or subsequent problems with her. I did so in a fleeting moment when I couldn't come up with a plausible excuse to explain my absence for an important meeting. Once again, I was reminded that emotional support can come from unexpected sources.
She shared her frustrations from when she experienced being an infertile gynaecologist and barren obstetrician, "I felt that I would deliver everyone else's babies, but never one of my own." I always knew that I wasn't alone, as there probably are a fair number of infertile women's health care providers, but it was still surprising to learn that I was in such close proximity to another comrade. I expressed that I feel incompetent and inadequate when patients present for fertility consultations. It doesn't bother me too much to care for pregnant patients, but at times I'm reminded of how privileged I am to have this connection with these women and their families and I'll wonder if this is the extent of my exposure to this human experience. She detailed that during their first year of TTC, multiple sister-in-laws and college friends quickly became pregnant. Eventually, she began to anticipate someone else's pregnancy announcement with every negative test she had. Finally, after one year and at the point when she thought it would never happen, she received a BFP and went to to deliver a healthy baby girl. So, you didn't actually have a diagnosis...at times I just can't turn off the clinician in my brain.
"You'll get there. I know you will." She said emphatically and repeated it over and over as we talked. You haven't seen our numbers; you don't have any evidence... I needed to remind myself that she was speaking to me as a friend and not as a doctor. I struggle so much to accept the proclamations of "it will happen," as it strikes me as being so fallible. As someone who does not hold spiritual faith, I rely on science; but I accept that science is not without limitations and imperfections. Despite models calculated to predict success, the element of the unknown is still an influential variable. The unexplained nature of infertility still baffles the greatest scientific minds. As a core element, every pregnancy requires follicular development, ovulation, fertilisation and implantation; so while the science is always accurate, unfortunately, it is not always predictable. Truthfully, no one knows if it will happen or not, which makes it hard to hear the presumptions.
Recently, Co-worker shared with me that when she was hyperstimulated and thought there was no possibility of pregnancy, she went to one of our primary care providers to evaluate her abdominal pains. The medical assistant who did her intake recognised the significance of the medication Clomid, as she shared her own experience with infertility. She was now in her early 40's and struggled to conceive on her own for seven years. By the time she sought evaluation by a specialist she had no ovarian reserve and was experiencing menopausal symptoms. Co-worker commented that it was just recently (when she was 26 weeks) that the medical assistant approached her and said, "So, ...I never actually asked you what you are having..." which was her way of addressing the fact that it took her this long to acknowledge Co-worker's pregnancy.
I don't know this woman very well as she works in a different department, but immediately I had empathy for her. Should I ever have a viable pregnancy, it will be one more announcement for her to endure. I know that I can't say anything to her, as not to betray the trust and confidence between her and Co-worker. I just wish I could let her know that she is not invisible -and that someone is thinking about her.