The Fertility Clinic
The first rule of the fertility clinic is that you do not talk about the fertility clinic. The second rule of the fertility clinic is that you DO NOT TALK ABOUT THE FERTILITY CLINIC!
One would think that these rules, like Fight Club, would be posted somewhere in or around the clinic but they are not. They are the unspoken rules that cloud fertility. Not only do you not talk about the fertility clinic but another rule is there is no talking to other people inside the clinic. We’ll get to that.
In early January my husband and I went to the fertility doctor together. He took our medical and family history. He also explained to me what the heck PCOS was and gave us our options.
PCOS stands for Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. It’s kind of a good thing because it means I have a ton of eggs, like a farm’s worth of eggs. But it’s also bad because that means that no one egg can grow to become dominant and then release to float down the fallopian tube and into the uterus to be fertilized by my husband’s amazing totally nothing wrong with them sperm. (I actually wrote that sentence on my own, not solicited by him at all, you’re welcome honey.)
Are we all remembering back to that bizarre talk in fifth grade and then later in high school biology? It took me a while too. What? Ovaries? Tubes? Eggs? Sperm? PCOS also comes with some other fun symptoms like loss of hair on your head but growth of hair on your face (shout out to Sue at European Wax Center for keeping that shit in check).
The doctor gave me a pelvic exam, feet in stirrups, vagina feeling the nice air on her lips. It turns out my uterus is also tipped back, which is normal but abnormal. He showed me my ovaries which to me looked like cookies and cream ice cream. The black chunks of “cookie” were the cysts that were covering each ovary. It was nuts, all I could see were black chunks. The doctor, who we will call Dr. Lombardo (that’s not his name, that’s the name of the pizza place down the street from me, but sure, just go with it) told me that I had three options. Correction, he told us, US. My husband was there too and had a voice in this too, but he and I both knew that after my emotional trauma of thinking that I was never going to get pregnant that I was really calling the shots of which line of treatment we did first.
My options were the following: Clomid and just fuck like bunnies at home, Clomid and IUI (Inter Uterine Insemination) or IVF (InVitro Fertilization).
Dr. Lombardo recommended either tier one or tier two, he didn’t think we needed to rush into IVF and neither did we. So it was either Clomid and intercourse or Clomid and IUI. My husband left it to me. I chose Clomid and IUI. Remember I still think I’m never going to get pregnant on my own and that we’re never going to have children. Maybe that’s why I went into teaching in the first place because my body knew that I was never going to have kids. Seriously, that’s how crazy your head gets when you go through this. If you’re going through this right now I’m sure you’re nodding your head because you know I’m right. Infertility mind-fucks you and it is not cool.
I started on the Clomid right away. Since I wasn’t ovulating it didn’t really matter when I started. The following week my doctor scheduled me for an HSG (hysterosalpingogram) at the radiology department at the hospital. I scheduled it for first thing in the morning because I am a school teacher. We only get a certain number of sick and personal days and I didn’t want to take a whole day off, I was just going to take half the day. Dumb decision.
**Cut to Pretty Woman: Julia Roberts’ character in the fancy store talking to the sales clerk who wouldn’t sell to her the day before “Big Mistake. Big. Huge.”**
Second pearl of wisdom I will bestow to you, if you’re having a HSG take the whole freaking day off, you might not need it, but you’ll feel better you took it.
I arrived at the radiology department on time. I had followed all the directions for what to do prior to the procedure except taking Advil. I didn’t think I would need it; I have a high pain tolerance and I thought that’s for pussys. I got changed in my little room. I could hear Dr. Lombardo and another patient who was getting what I can only imagine is the same thing done to her. When she was done they let me into the room. I laid down on this massive cold metal table. There were x-ray machines all around. He gave me a sponge-like thing to squeeze if the pain got too much. That’s when I realized that maybe I should have taken the Advil. The nurse was holding my hand. Once again, (and I say once again because during fertility treatment you are constantly in this position) my legs were up and the doctor was neck deep in my vag. Yes, please, everyone this is my vagina. Vagina, this is the entire f-ing world and their mother and sister and med student and whoever else wants to take a trip down my va-jay-jay avenue.
Dr. Lombardo inserted the tube into my vagina, he then started pushing in the dye. The dye is what they use to see your fallopian tubes, the dye comes up on the x-ray and tells them if you have any blockages or not. When he inserted the dye I thought I was going to scream and pass out. I had tremendous cramping and discomfort. He looked on the x-ray and saw no blockages. All done. I went to get up and felt very dizzy. I remember almost saying out loud I’m sorry for being such a pussy but I substituted 'pussy' for 'wimp' because I didn’t think my esteemed fertility doctor would appreciate me dropping the pussy bomb at nine-thirty in the morning.
This SUCKED, and now I had to go to work and teach first graders how to do word problems on a second grade level, when I felt like my uterus was about to have a unionized strike and walk out of my body. I eventually got dressed and went outside. I was sitting on a brick wall bench on First Avenue on a cold Thursday morning in January crying. Crying because all this fertility stuff was too much to handle. I tried to handle it with jokes, because that’s what I do. I tried to handle it with strength. I tried to handle it with logic, but really just handling it at all was plenty. Did the procedure really hurt that badly or was I just overwhelmed by my new reality? I didn’t know. I walked to Second Avenue, got a taxi to take me down to my parking garage near where I lived, got in my car, smiled at my parking attendants and drove to school to teach. When I got home that evening I got in pajamas, got in bed, spooned Brady, cried and slept.