Aggressive Approach

I have been going to my OB-GYN for almost ten years now.  So have my girlfriends.

I know it’s weird, that a goodly number of my girlfriends and I have the same OB-GYN, but I see it this way: I don’t go to a restaurant without fully researching it and checking out the reviews. My approach to the person who annually inspects my inner and outer parts for problems probably shouldn’t be less methodical. And so it was that upon the advice of some of the women who have been my friends since I was 14 that I started making annual appointments with the woman who, yesterday, gave me a tight, yet somehow compassionate, grimace when I told her that my husband and I have been trying to have a baby since June.

One of the biggest reasons I chose my doctor was that, well, she was/is a she and she was/is young. I found comfort in knowing that whatever I was going through, chances are, she was, too, and I didn’t have to be inhibited by any problems I might be having, or at least worry about scorn. My friends confirmed this. Plus, she took the time to actually get to know you, to talk with you. In my early 20s, when I was still smoking, egads, an average of a pack-and-a-half a day, she didn’t scold me as much as she did educate me. She remains happy and proud to this day that I don’t smoke anymore, especially since she still has the notes from that one time I came in and people in the examination room over could hear my lungs gasping for air. These days, she’s in a larger, fancier practice, but she’s no less attentive.

“Weeellll, you’re getting to that time…”

That time, in fertility speak, is the year mark, the point for women under 35 where you start to bring in the big guns, should that be your choice.

“I know, I know…”

She stood up straight, and calmly began to rattle off a series of questions pertaining to my cycle, all of which I could answer with precision since I now pay attention to such things, and a few admonishments about temperature taking and cervical mucus monitoring.

“That stuff will just drive you crazy,” she says. “It drives everyone crazy.”

I told her that I wasn’t even sure if I am ovulating, and, she surmised, with my Hashimoto’s it’s entirely possible that I’m not. There are tests, some that are invasive, catheter-involving tests that require me to take several Advil beforehand, that will help to determine if my aforementioned parts are in working order. Several are tests I’ve never even heard of, though what they’re testing for I certainly have.

I tell her that in December we gave ourselves permission to stop trying so hard, and we just let this current cycle walk on by. We talk about stress, and how I’m inclined to believe that the massive amounts of stress I’ve been feeling have contributed to not only the extra 15 pounds of emotional eating on my body, but also our inability to get pregnant.

“I work for, well, until Friday I’ll be working for…”

I tell the doctor that I’ve quit my job, and accepted an offer made to me by a  fantastic company here in Chicago, one that, as has been assured to me by many, is family focused, and places an emphasis on the work/life balance. I start next Monday, I’m taking a week off in between to eat a lot of vegetables and do a lot of yoga. And read. And sleep. And hang out with the dogs at my sister’s house while the kitchen remodel chugs along.

“Stress really can play a role,” she says.

My boobs are fine, as is the rest of me. I get dressed and she comes back with a prescription for two blood tests and a worksheet that breaks down exactly what we’re supposed to do, come Day One of my next cycle. It’s difficult, apparently, to get in for one of these tests. Others are very time-sensitive so there’s no fooling around. I keep wondering if I should start acupuncture and switch to a vegan diet. I don’t know why this has come into my brain, other than I like to give Eastern Medicine a fighting chance. Just the same, we’re simply talking about tests that will probably, she says, reveal that we have unexplained infertility.

“But at your age, we have to be a little aggressive,” she says. At my age. I’ll be 34 in April. It’s not that I don’t think she’s right, it’s just that, well, I am of an age where I am of at your age conversation. Over the hill before I even got up it.

“You’re every fertility doctor’s dream, though,” she says. I’m healthy, and except for the thyroid, in good shape. I guess this means I’m the sort who they can easily get pregnant, without much additional fanfare. There is, of course, my husband’s parts to think about, but in terms of the breeding ground that is my body, I’m just the kind of candidate that only serves to boost a doctor’s success rate.

My doctor talks about the different styles of the fertility doctors she’s recommending, who is more hands-on, who is not. All of them “get you pregnant,” which I don’t think will ever not be a string of words I don’t find oddly itchy. After that, I come back to her, she says, smiling.

I exhale. I don’t think I noticed I wasn’t breathing. Not very yoga of me to do. Clearly I’m a slow learner.

I thank her, I am glad for information. I am always glad for information. I like knowing stuff. It feels comforting to have a plan, and we all know how much I love those. I put my tights and dress back on, zip up my boots and head to the front of the office, head swarming with all of this. I get the numbers and cards for the fertility doctors.

I really don’t know what the fuck I’m doing.

Admittedly I feel side-swiped. It wasn’t my doctor, she of the kind, earnest, frank demeanor. She didn’t give me anything I wasn’t looking for, but it’s at least obvious that I wasn’t ready for what she gave me. I wasn’t planning on leaving there with more than a few helpful tips and a request to come back this summer. I suppose if you’re my age, and healthy, and doing everything they tell you to do, the prescription is not helpful tips but a run-down of what’s next, if you want that.

And here is the truth: I do. I would like to know what’s going on. But let’s be honest. Once you open that box, you don’t get to shut it. I’m still unclear as to whether or not I’m ready to handle what comes out.

On Saturday, we volunteered to watch our nephew, Elliot, so his parents could enjoy an evening out. For reasons that are unclear, Elliot would eat and then promptly pass out on my chest. That was the routine, he accepted nothing less. And for people who want a baby, nothing is probably as intoxicating and ego-boosting as a three-month-old refusing to be soothed by anything but you and your sheer existence. We both fell asleep at one point, resting in the chair, after me wanting to watch Goodfellas for the umpteenth time, and Scott admonishing my choice because of “the yelling,” only to come to an quiet impasse after finding Chris Rock on Comedy Central. I kissed his soft head, over and over, until his parents came home, and we walked out into the cold, into our car.

This, I thought, might have to be enough, as we made our way back to Chicago, to our dog, to our home.