Dear Fertility Doctor,
Here are some things I wish you knew, that I couldn’t say when we met three years ago:
1. I do not actually want to be here, which is weird, because I just put $15,000 on my credit card to do so.
2. Any calm and charm I exude is a façade. My super-crazy side is reserved for my husband and anonymous infertility friends online. Anything casual you say about my chances of conception will be parsed for hours and days.
3. I respect you, but I also see an acupuncturist, a hypnotist and a psychic.
4. Though my FSH levels are “data” to you, that high number feels to me like it’s a low SAT score, like I’m branded and doomed. No matter how much you explain it, I don’t understand why you can’t be happy if it goes down.
5. I look at the Internet. A LOT.
6. Infertility hurts so far beyond the baby. It’s about my marriage, my friendships and my ability to picture a future. It’s about my body, and whether everything I’ve been told about personal power is true.
7. My period feels like a miscarriage every month.
8. I want to feel important to you, even as I know you are successful no matter what happens in my case.
9. It’s really weird that we have to do a rectal exam ten minutes after meeting, though I understand the social contract demands we both act cool about it. I never thought that district of my anatomy would be part of getting pregnant.
10. Part of me thinks I can solve this with wheatgrass.
11. I know you want me to grasp statistical reality, but I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could beat the odds.
12. Probably you were that straight-A pre-med student while I leisurely pursued my English major. I’m intimidated by you, even though I used to pity you for having to toil in organic chemistry when literature seemed much more relevant.
13. I try to act cool about the ultrasound wand, but I’m pretty sure I have PTSD.
14. I don’t understand why I have to wait for you without my underwear. I feel everything is skewed that I have to be half-naked while you get a crisp lab coat. OK, I understand, but I hate it.
15. The waiting room is a quiet, tense, darty-eyed purgatory where every minute feels like an hour.
16. It’s not the shots that are hard. I would inject myself in the eyeball to get news two weeks earlier.
17. I appreciate when you quote that study saying infertility is as stressful as cancer. I’ve never had cancer, but I do sometimes feel like I’m dying.
18. Bless you for not telling me to “relax.”
19. Despite all these things I just said, I entrust you with my hopes, dreams, ovaries, husband’s sperm and maybe even our embryos. Please don’t mess with any of these things.
20. Thank you, forever, for helping us along, and finally off, this dark, rocky path.