Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The secret sisterhood

Work is hell right now, so I shouldn't even be posting right now, but wanted to take a quick sec to get this down before I forget. Had my renal ultrasound yesterday--two kidneys, one on each side! Woohoo! But that's not what I wanted to write about.

For the US, I had to go to a special radiology center I had never been to before. The ultrasound tech, making polite conversation I imagine, asked me how I was initially diagnosed with unicornuate uterus, and I said I'd had an HSG because I was starting fertility treatments. Turns out she herself was an IF veteran--she'd had 3 rounds of IVF to conceive her first son, one fresh IVF and one FET to conceive her second, and is currently pregnant with an "oops"--"They told me it was impossible!" she said--due in May.

We ended up having a long conversation (as she probed my kidneys*) about IVF and clinics here in Big City. I asked her where she'd had her IVFs--she did the first few in the city, but went to a suburban clinic for the last few because her insurance wouldn't cover it anymore and the suburban clinic was a lot cheaper (but had similar or better success rates than city clinics). We commiserated about the difficulty of comparing clinics, even with the CDC data ("It's three years old!" she said) and she said she'd heard good things about the Top Clinic I'm considering going to if I end up getting to IVF. (She agreed with my assessment that if my insurance is only going to pay for one round, I should do it at the best place possible to maximize my chances.) "The thing is, there's so much to IVF that isn't science," she said. "With my second, we transferred two perfect embryos and didn't get pregnant. Then we had three medicre ones frozen, and only one of them survived the thaw. But that was the one that implanted and became my son. You just never know." At the end she took a quick peek at my ovaries, just for fun, and told me they looked great (I resisted the urge to ask her to count my antral follicles) and wished me luck. "Hopefully the next time we see you you'll be pregnant," she said.

I left there feeling strangely hopeful. It reminded me again of how big this secret sisterhood of the reproductively challenged really is, and how there are so many people walking around who have faced or are facing the same struggles. That woman passing you on the street? Maybe her head is down because she just got bad news on her bloodwork. The beaming couple with the adorable baby that it practically kills you to see sitting next to you at a restaurant? Maybe it took them 10 years to finally find their happiness; maybe they lost many children-to-be along the way. You'd never know, because we never ask, and we never talk about these things. But I'm glad to have discovered a portion of this sisterhood online, if only to remind myself that I am never alone, and that there is humor, and grace, and fellowship, even in the worst of circumstances.

*BTW, I actually had to take my shirt off for this US and leave my pants on! I was so surprised, I asked her a couple times, "My shirt? You're sure?"

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