Late in the afternoon, on the day before my initial REI consultation, I received a call from their office. I didn't answer the phone, as I figured it was just a courtesy reminder, but when I listened to the voicemail I learned that my appointment needed to be rescheduled. Not only did I feel disappointed as I had been looking forward to this consultation, but I didn't know what to do about the time I had blocked off for my 'dentist' appointment. "Just leave for a few hours," Co-worker suggested, "go to the mall..." I shook my head. I would feel too guilty and with my luck I would run into a patient that I had cancelled. I decided that dentists could have last minute emergencies too; besides I would need to re-use that excuse later in the week. Additionally, I had received abnormal genetic screening results for a patient and had been trying to find a segment of time when I could inform her. Without concerns for potential interruptions, I spent 45 minutes explaining her results, discussing her next steps and answering her questions.
Just as soon as I had finished my notes and prepared her referral, there was a knock on the door. It was our front desk receptionist, "Hi. I know you're not really here, but there's a new patient who just came in. She has a new OB appointment on Friday, but she started bleeding..." I informed her that I would see this patient. She already had one child and her family was in the process of moving. They were planning to start trying once they were settled, so this pregnancy was sooner than expected. Unfortunately, her exam and ultrasound findings confirmed that she was miscarrying. They took the news rather well, and were grateful to be evaluated that day. I felt guilty that it was a little self-serving. I re-scheduled my RE consult for the same time as her previously scheduled new OB appointment, which made it easy for me to leave the office.
The morning of my appointment, I received emails from both patients, thanking me for my time. I was touched, but didn't feel that it was necessary as I hadn't done anything extraordinary. Any clinician worth his or her salt could have provided such services. I just happened to be there. I was available as I wasn't at a meeting to pursue my own procreation.
Today is Co-worker's last day before starting her maternity leave. When we discovered that we were pregnant together, we giddily laughed about what would happen in the office with both of us out at the same time. Now that it's no longer a concern, I can appreciate that it really would have placed a heavy imposition on our colleagues. A physician left our group a few months ago and his replacement isn't starting until the middle of August. In the days and weeks following my miscarriage, when I was still fueled on the 'at least you can get pregnant' optimism, I thought it would suck if I were to be absorbing her work while preparing for my own sabbatical. However, I had the foresight then to know that it would suck more not to be pregnant as I watched her depart.
It's not just about jealousy, it's the anticipation of loneliness. When we first met, I knew right away that we would collaborate really well together; but as we got to know each other, I knew we would become good friends. She is so strong in her role and she is such an asset to the practice, and I am going to feel lost without her professional contributions, but I'm mostly going to miss my friend. She's been my source of support for everything, not just infertility issues. I'll miss discussing which patients have hot husbands, re-capping the latest episode of Girls and sharing hysterical youtube clips. The vibe at the office just won't be the same, and even when she returns, it may not go back to the way it was.
As the Universe always seems to find ways to rub salt in my wounds, I had to complete an expense request for the 2014 budget. The first question: Do you anticipate taking any extended time off or applying for FMLA? I responded, 'No'. I can understand the rationale for the question, but still felt it was an encroachment on my privacy. (I did catch a look at the completed responses from our 30 year old family practice doctor and saw that she answered 'maybe :)' I also heard her discuss that she'll be ready to start TTC after her marathon in October. I'm already preparing myself that while I'm stimming at that time, she'll probably conceive on her first try) I decided to look at the vacation calendar to see how much time my colleagues were taking off in the remainder of the year. I noted that one is off during the entire week that would have led up to my due date, and the other two are off on the actual day and for a few more days following that date.
I had long accepted the reality that my pregnancy just wasn't meant to be, but it really resonated at that moment. My presence will be required to provide patient care, as there wouldn't be anyone there to care for me if I were a patient. I will be holding down the fort. It's where I belong...for now anyway...