So eight weeks of bleeding y’all. Eight weeks on my period was what it took to get me into a doctor. I had talked to my naturopath about it and she had recommended I start on Vitex, to help regulate it, but I knew deep down that whatever’s going on with my body is beyond herbal supplements. When I first started going through DEIVF, my fertility doctor told me that I had a 2-cm fibroid in my uterus. He said it “wasn’t in an area that would affect implantation” but six failed cycles and 9 lost embryos including miscarriage, sometimes you wonder. But that’s neither here nor there. After IVF my cycle was never the same. Thus far I’ve attributed it to perimenopause, as one of the first things that happens is you get your period more often before it decides to just stop for good. But eventually I had to have a conversation with Dr. Google on the topic of “abnormal bleeding” because almost a solid 8 weeks of being on my period, minus a day or two here are there for good behavior, is just bullshit.
The last OBGYN I went to was a complete fucking waste of time, where I had to educate her on fertility treatment and when I was experiencing pain, she not only prescribed me something not covered by insurance that was ridiculously expensive (and wouldn’t come up with an alternative when I mentioned that), every time I tried to get a hold of her personally I would be ignored, as if I was trying to have a conversation with the Queen of England. The nerve! Oh and did I mention the last one before her have the cojones to tell me about how when you stop fertility treatments or when you adopt is when you get pregnant? An actual MD told me that who I guess decided that science is bullshit and my body would be the Immaculate Conception considerate I don’t ovulate and she knew it. What a fucking cunt. So needless to say I’ve been a little gun-shy about returning to an OBGYN, but my bleeding necessitated it.
So naturally I chose to go to Planned Parenthood. My therapist immediately noted the irony, but I chose to go there because not only do I support their mission in every way, but it was also down the street and I knew if there was any organization I could count on for emotional support as a woman, this would be the one.
Well I hadn’t been to Planned Parenthood since I was in my twenties for a UTI, so first of all I forgot about the wait times… Even when you have an appointment. Arrive on time for 10:20 appointment, wait in line 15 minutes just to be called to give them your initial paperwork. Wait a half an hour longer to be called to an exam room where the PA tries to get me to take a pregnancy test and I tell him that I am infertile so that’s not going to happen. Go into the exam room and wait a half an hour and the PA comes back in and I’m forced to go over my medical history including infertility treatment history with a young man who is nice enough but who clearly has no clue. He comes back 15 minutes later and says that he asked the doctor and she really wants me to take a pregnancy test and I said again, absolutely not, you heard what I said about having gone through IVF 6 times with donor eggs. 15 minutes later she finally comes in and apologizes profusely for him asking me that as he didn’t bother showing her my file or telling her about my infertility. We talked about everything and she said that she wants to do an exam and an endometrial biopsy and refer me out for an ultrasound as they don’t have sophisticated enough equipment there for the kind of ultrasound I’ll need.
So if any of my infertile friends are reading this, you might start to get where my PTSD kicked off in this conversation. Anyone who has had an endometrial biopsy or scratch knows this procedure sucks. And anyone who has an especially tiny cervix like mine and has to have it manually dilated just to fit the tool in there to do it (not to mention every time an embryo transfer was performed)? You know that it’s not just a minor discomfort. And the worst part about it was that I was alone, without my husband who was always with me at every single fertility appointment where I had these painful things going on and I could at least know he was holding my hand and look in his eyes for comfort.
The OBGYN was really nice, and so even when she said her nurse was out and so I couldn’t get a shot of painkiller to help relax me before the procedure, I still agree to do it at that moment (the alternative was to make another appointment to come back to do it, and like hell was I going to schedule another 2 to 3 hours just to do this). The exam part of course was easy, nothing we haven’t had as women since our early years, but as soon as it was time for the biopsy, my brain went absolutely insane and I could not stop the tears from flowing. I tried my hardest to practice deep breathing but when your cervix is being manually dilated with a speculum inside you already and then they pass that evil thing through it and rip a piece of tissue out, there is no normal. It was as if my brain wanted to remind me of every horrific memory of 3 years of failed infertility treatments and losing our baby in a period of 5 minutes, and my heart just started to race and I started to cry out loud. I also involuntarily told her I hated her when she was doing it and after the tools were gone and I lay there with tears streaming out of my eyes trying to be brave, she came over and reminded me why I had gone to Planned Parenthood in the first place. She put her hand on my arm and squeezed it and said, “you are in a safe place now, you can let your emotions out”.
I don’t remember my fertility doctor ever saying anything remotely like this. When we lost our baby he simply left the room. Beyond a follow-up call to express sympathies and see if we wanted to do another round of IVF, there was nothing. When we had six failures with them after they had all but guaranteed success, there was nothing. As far as they’re concerned, we no longer exist. Same goes for the fertility acupuncturist. If you’re not bringing in business, you don’t exist.
So I cried a bit more and told her about our failed adoption in Ethiopia and how we’ve been waiting almost a year for domestic and how nobody has chosen us. And she was kind and sympathetic. Yes I admit that for a brief second in time I wanted to ask her to keep an eye out for a pregnant teenager who is considering adoption, but I did not. My heart was heavy and I was cramping up in that oh so special way you do after an endometrial biopsy.
I haven’t had my ultrasound yet though because I can’t seem to get anybody to call me back from the hospital where they supposedly faxed it. Yeah nothing like trying to actively pursue getting a transvaginal ultrasound, AKA more PTSD (at least these are just awkward rather than painful).
As I was riding it I saw a post coming in from another CNBC (the acronym I just learned, childless not by choice) talking about the one step forward two steps back way things are when you are infertile and treatments have failed, and it’s so true. I am still triggered by massive bellies and still angry when I see light-hearted pregnant women and no longer look across the street at the house in fear that I will see the happy couple with their newly adopted little boy. And while I can talk about my infertility freely and without shame, it doesn’t mean I’m Healed.
Healed. I don’t know what that looks like. And quite honestly I don’t expect to ever be truly healed. But damn I hope it’s better than this.
My biopsy results come back in a week and hopefully I can find a way to get in for the ultrasound this week as the anxiety is too much. I need to know what the hell’s going on. I need something to fucking resolve itself.
Oh and did I mention that Planned Parenthood requires that you take a pregnancy test in order to do an endometrial biopsy, so I still ended up having to give them my urine (I stopped arguing against it since I knew the biopsy was going to fuck me in the head as it is).
Guess what, I’m not pregnant. Shocking isn’t it?