Tuesday, 18 June 2013

It's Not a Race (although it feels like one)

As our friends in England started procreating like rabbits, Husband often fretted that we were "falling behind". With every birth announcement, I would remind him that it wasn't a race. Oh, it was so easy for me to make that statement when we weren't TTC or dealing with infertility. I know it still holds true even in our present situation -every couple has their own path to parenthood and you cannot compete in this manner. I think what gets to me at times, is the fact that many of my friends consulted me during their pregnancies. I was the among the first to know before their formal announcements and I was the resource for their questions. It feels strange that I may be the last to actually become pregnant and may receive advice from my friends' experiences.

Recently, I visited with an old friend from University. She married in October 2010 and started TTC a few months later. She had a BFP in April, which unfortunately resulted in an early miscarriage. During her evaluation, it was noted that she had a large dermoid cyst on her left ovary. After spending a few months debating her decision, she was scheduled to have a laparoscopic cystectomy on 24 October 2011, but her case was cancelled when she had a positive pregnancy test that morning. It was the same day that I removed my IUD. Her baby was born almost a year ago, and she had her entire left ovary removed at the time of her Caesarean delivery. She shared with me that they were planning to start trying to conceive just after the baby's first birthday, as their goal is to achieve a pregnancy by the end of the year. Just be prepared...I warned myself...she is going to become pregnant before you... I truly hope she conceives quickly, especially as she has the challenge of a lone ovary. It just stings a bit when your journey can be measured by the second (or more) pregnancies among your friends.

Last summer, Co-worker and I were chatting in the break room, discussing our upcoming infertility consultations. We quickly changed the subject of the conversation when the 30 year old ENT doctor entered the room. Once she left, I informed Co-worker, "you know she will be pregnant before both of us." Sure enough, on the Friday before Labour Day weekend, I did her new OB visit after hours and confirmed her intrauterine pregnancy at six weeks gestation. Patient confidentiality prevented me from giving Co-worker any heads up toward her announcement. Once it was revealed, Co-worker approached me and acknowledged, "you were right." What I also couldn't share with Co-worker, is that she stopped her Nuva Ring in April, had irregular cycles and inaccurate results with ovulation predictor tests, but conceived on the night of her husband's birthday shag.

Fast forward to the present time. Co-worker and I were discussing the events of our weekend before patient appointments started. We took note that one of the primary care physicians walked into office of the practice manager and shut the door behind her. A minute or two later, we heard a shriek from the office manager. The doctor walked out with a look on her face like the cat who swallowed a canary. "I'm pretty sure she just announced that she's pregnant" Co-worker commented.

I can't say it was a complete surprise. In October 2011, she sent me an email, noting that she had a patient who was in her early 40s who wished to pursue IVF, and she wanted to know who refer to and what work up needed to be done. Immediately, I suspected she was asking for herself. Firstly, the personal characteristics fit, but if it were a real patient, she just would have referred her to Ob/gyn and made us do the workup and referral. I also wondered why she had contacted me and not one of our more senior providers. When I needed a primary care referral to my RE, (my insurance is an HMO) I confided in her and asked her to submit it herself, rather than have a medical assistant process the paperwork. "Believe me, I understand the need to maintain confidentiality" she assured me with words that I thought were a bit telling.        

Co-worker did a little recognisance work and received confirmation. "It's still totally secret. She's only four weeks and two days" Whoa! Way, way too early to tell anyone, I thought. "You know she totally did IVF. Probably with donor eggs." Co-worker speculated. So? I thought to myself. There wasn't any asterisk associated with her pregnancy. It didn't matter how the pregnancy was achieved. The results were the same. She was pregnant and I wasn't. I thought I could have been the next pregnant woman in our office. At least the situation is a little easier than it has been with Co-worker. She's in a different department and only works part time. At most, I only briefly encounter her while passing in the hall maybe once a week, if that, and I don't think she'll seek care with our OB department. I now really feel for the infertile medical assistant that I referenced in Perhaps, not so invisable, as she is primarily assigned to this doctor.

This marked a new milestone in my infertility journey; the first time I've been preemptively warned of a pending pregnancy announcement. I think it's easier to accept when you've mentally budgeted for a predictable pregnancy. At the very least, you are granted the satisfaction of having an accurate forecast. It's a little harder to swallow when some one less suspecting blind sides with a surprise announcement. Setting aside my petty, envious feelings; I wish the best for her, and I'm a little nervous as she is so early. I know I'll have pangs of jealousy every time I see her expanding bump, but my heart will break for her if a bump never develops.

No, it's not a race; although it seems like one at times. Especially if it feels like you are losing.                    


  1. Thanks for the reminder! It's not a race. Just found out last weekend two of my best friends were pregnant, after the first try! Stung a little bit but remembering that everyones timing is different!

  2. True, it's not a race against others. But it sure as hell feels like a race against time and your own body a lot of the time. Having others' milestones to measure against is just an unwelcome bonus.

  3. It's so hard not to feel like it is a race. I know what you mean...if it doesn't happen for a friend...your heart hurts for them. If it does happen for them, your heart hurts for you. Pain either way!

  4. In full agreement about trying to avoid the blind side. After the last blind side, one of HBs closest friends, we verbally went through our friends list and just shouted out all of the names of the friends who would most likely be next. It was an odd experiement...but very therapeutic...so much so that for a few friends I've had to think "are they really pregnant or did we just say they are?". LOL

  5. It's true....it's not a race. But it certainly feels like one- especially when you are competitive like I am and are getting "lapped" by friends and family.

  6. Yikes, that is SUPER early to be telling anyone... but I hope it works out for her. And yeah, the race analogy is just sadly true. I think it's also because you feel like, by the time you finally get pregnant, nobody will really care anymore because so many others have already been there, done that. I was kind of looking forward to being "the first" in my group of friends to get pregnant and all the excitement that would bring, and now I'm just one of many who are currently expecting. But in the long run, I have to say: "It's probably better this way, our kids will all grow up together, etc. etc." Hard, though.

  7. It's easy to think it is not a race when you aren't "losing". I couldn't understand why my friend who is 3 years older than me and had been dating her bf for 10 years was a little touchy after I got engaged to Andino only 6 months after dating him. Now that she's gotten pregnant only 4 months after her wedding and I'm still trying more than 3 years later, I understand her feelings all too well.

    Even in the infertility world, sometimes I feel like I'm losing when it comes to ART as I've done so many treatments and not had success whereas others get pregnant on their first medicated cycle. I just have to try not to compare...

    I hope we aren't in this non-race much longer ;)

  8. My co-worker is about to celebrate her daughter's 1st birthday. Our baby would have been 2 weeks younger. I am starting to get concerned that they will give her a sibling soon and I will have to endure another close-proximity pregnancy! Once was more than enough.

  9. It's not a race. A mantra that we all have to try to remember. If it were a race, I lost a long time ago, as my younger sister is currently pregnan with her 4th and all of my married cousins (who are also younger) have kids. Oh well, at this point, I'll gladly come in last place, as long as I still get the reward for finishing.