By Jamie Schenk DeWitt
I was overwhelmed with stress and anxiety. I didn’t know if I could have a baby. And so my way of dealing with the uncertainty of not knowing was to take immediate action. I would find a doctor who could treat me, fix the problem, help me get pregnant and allow me to put this all behind me.
The first doctor I met with was Dr. Y. We had a phone consultation.
“You should not waste any time. Go right to IVF. That is my best recommendation.”
“Wow!,” I thought. “We can’t even try an IUI?”
Nope. Her recommendation was that for a woman my age with my FSH numbers she wouldn’t wait and risk missing the fertility window. Can you say “Biological time bomb?”
I really liked Dr. Y, but if there was one thing that my friends who had gone through fertility told me over and over, it was: “You want to find a doctor who is close to your home because you will be going to see him/her ALL the time.” Dr. Y was geographically undesirable.
My next appointment was with Dr. X. Thankfully his office was close to my house and I didn’t have to wait weeks to get an appointment. I hoped it would be the perfect fit between doctor and patient, and that I could start my fertility treatments right away.
On the drive to Dr. X’s office everything felt quiet. The air was crisp just like newly pressed sheets. And the sky was blue –without a cloud in sight. It was surreal. Not only because I was driving to see a fertility doctor, which I never thought I would have to do, but because the streets were empty, the air was clean and the sky was, well, barren. Was this all one big metaphor for my womb? (Okay, too heavy. Back to my doctor’s appointment...)
My husband Mike and I walked back to Dr. X’s office and sat down, side by side in front of his desk. Dr X grabbed a paper plate off of his bookshelf and sat down.
“I am just going to eat my cold scrambled eggs while we go over your chart. It has been a crazy morning and I haven’t had time to eat.”
“Okay—are you kidding me,” I think to myself as I realize that there was a breakfast buffet spread across his bookshelf. Did his office double for an Old Country Buffet? And how about the fact that Dr. X was eating old eggs. Old eggs! The signs were everywhere! Could this turn out to be any more David-Lynch-meets-Judd-Apatow?
Next thing I know there was a knock at the door. One of the receptionists walked into the room with her son. They wanted to get some of the breakfast buffet before it was cleared away.
They each took a plate of food and quietly left the room. Dr. X looked at Mike and I and said, ”On Saturdays everyone in the office takes turns bringing in breakfast for the other staff members. It makes it a more enjoyable work day.”
Mike and I turned to each other and gave each other the “what the f**k” look that only married couples can give each other without ever speaking a word.
Now, at this point you would be absolutely right to think that we should have gotten up and walked out of the office –right?
I was thinking it and I know Mike was thinking it, based on the post-mortem we had afterwards, but it was like when you’re checking out at the grocery store and you see the cover of OK Magazine with the headline, “Brad Pitt is REALLY going to leave Angelina once and for all.” You know that this is nonsense and a waste of precious minutes of your life, but you pick up the magazine and read it anyway.
After he finished eating his cold eggs, Dr. X went on to ask me and Mike questions about our personal histories. Things were looking up between Dr. X and us! After the strange comments and the egg incident, Dr. X was very thorough and seemed to know what he was talking about.
Next we moved on to the exam room. Dr. X told me to get undressed from the waist down, so he could do an ultrasound exam of my ovaries. He wanted to see how many follicles I had, since I was twelve days into my cycle. He left the room and said he would be back in a minute. Mike stared at me as I unbuttoned my pants and asked, “Do you want me to leave the room while you get undressed?”
My first reaction was: yes. I hadn’t gotten undressed at a doctor’s office with anyone else in the room except my mom when I was kid. But I told him he could stay. After all, Mike knew what I looked like naked. I took my pants and underwear off and handed them to him, then I climbed up on the exam chair, put my feet in the harnesses and draped the paper cloth over my waist.
Mike looked on in complete awe. I stared out into space. I was sad. I had always imagined that the first time he and and I experienced an ultrasound it would be to see the little embryo growing inside me that we had created --and not to go searching for healthy eggs.
A few minutes later Dr. X came back into the room and prepped the ultrasound machine. I felt a pinch of coldness between my legs and then within seconds Dr. X was giving Mike and me a guided tour of my anatomy.
“This is your uterus and right over there,” he started -- then paused and laughed out loud. “That is a very full bladder young lady!” He continued to laugh.
I was mortified. It seemed to me that there are certain things that my husband didn’t need to see or know about me. My full bladder was one of them.
Next, Dr. X moved on to my ovaries and gave us the play-by-play color commentary. My right ovary didn’t have any eggs, he said, but thankfully my left ovary had two follicles that were fairly large and ready to discharge. Dr. X confirmed that I was about to ovulate and suggested that I go home and have sex for the next three days.
“With me?” Mike chimed in. That’s my honey, finding comic relief in every situation. I let out a huge laugh.
Dr. X continued. “But if you don’t get pregnant this month, then I suggest you come back to see me and we start immediately with IVF. I can get you pregnant.”
And there they were…those five powerful words. “I can get you pregnant.” That’s what I wanted wasn’t it? But here’s the thing (and it had nothing to do with Dr. X. He was a good doctor who had gotten other women pregnant): all my life I had always been the person who knew how to get from point A to point B efficiently and effectively, but I was always so focused on where I was going that I often failed to experience the process. Not this time. This time I wanted a doctor who would help me experience this overwhelming and life-altering journey and not rush me to the destination.
I was Goldilocks. I wanted to taste all the porridge and lie in every bed until I found the doctor that was just right for Mike and me. I was all in and that meant allowing myself to feel every emotion and be a part of the process of trying to create a baby.
Two weeks later, Mike and I sat in Dr. XY’s office. His office was calm. He reviewed my medical history and went through it with us page by page. He wore a white lab coat and had the most serene and gentle demeanor. He suggested that we try a round or two of assisted IUI’s with hormones, and then go to IVF if the IUI’s weren’t successful. He also talked about the types of hormones that he would put me on, based on my medical history, age and FSH. He said, “I treat my patients specifically based on their medical needs. If something doesn’t work, then we try something else. We find the right treatment for you.”
It was just right. That was all it took. I knew that Dr. XY was the one for us in our attempt to have a baby.