My parents revered doctors, and so I grew up feeling the same way. Up until I started having kids, I was lucky enough to usually only see a doctor once a year for a check-up.
When I started dating Greg, his refusal to see a doctor mystified me. A cough that nearly brought up his internal organs? A pain in his hip that nearly crippled him? He’d suffer through. For me, doctors solved problems. You go in, wait a little too long, and then walk out with instructions to drink a lot of liquids or take some medication for a week. And even better, you leave with the reassurance that you will be OK.
After my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage, a few people asked me what had caused it. Doctors rarely find the cause of a miscarriage and generally don’t run tests until a woman has had three miscarriages, unless they are pushed to do so. I was pregnant with Eleanor shortly after that, so we didn’t spend too long pondering it. After Genevieve’s death, my doctors ran every test possible. Her chromosomes were tested, and my DNA was analyzed, and at the end of it all, we had no answers.
We started again. We’ve slogged through nearly a year of trying to have another baby. (I love my husband very much, but I think he’d agree with me here: slogged.) My doctor started running tests. I hadn’t experienced infertility before, but I had read the miracle stories. Doctors had this stuff figured out!
Actually, they didn’t and don’t. (Perhaps I should pause here to tell you that I adore my doctor. I switched doctors after having Genevieve, and the one I see now specializes in high-risk pregnancies and is devoted to understanding my whack-a-doo reproductive system.)
With infertility, even if the doctors can identify a problem, and sometimes they can’t, the treatment is nearly always the same. Doctors aren’t so much treating your particular problem as trying to work around it with fertility drugs and eventually IUI and IVF. I know several women who have dealt with infertility, and though we’ve all had different problems, the treatment plan was the same. I still respect doctors, but this debacle has taught me that they are often just making highly educated guesses.
I’m sure someday medicine will be more precise, but for now, going through fertility treatments is like volunteering to be a walking, talking science experiment. Bizarre side effects are possible. Nearly constant tests and doctor’s appointments are certain. I’d like to plan a vacation, but I don’t want to miss some key test that must come on a particular day of the month. One missed appointment can mean another month of waiting.
If I were rational, I would either quit or adopt. Both of those options have been discussed. Adoption is a possibility but is very expensive. And quitting, well, I just can’t. There is this broken place inside of me that I have tried to patch over with work, with friends, with therapy, with volunteering. Only a baby is going to heal that place. I know that by now, and so I persevere.