I am not a patient person by nature. It’s a virtue I struggle with each and every day. Surprisingly, when it came to my own infertility journey and the aspects of it that I had control over, I became the most patient person in the world. Rather, the more appropriate word would be apprehensive. I believe I delayed the inevitable (making appointments for required testing) because I was afraid the results would be too final.
The first, and easiest, of tests were the blood tests. I recall needing 6 vials of blood drawn for the various tests they would run. The primary test our specialist needed was an HIV test or he couldn’t continue to work with us. I know it’s just one of those standard tests but everything within me rejected the idea of it. I had never had a blood transfusion. I was not, nor had I ever been, a drug user. I had saved myself for marriage so there were no other questionable partners in my past. I knew the result of the test would be negative but I was on the defensive because of it was required of me.
The second test that we had agreed to was the sperm count test. I can’t speak directly as to how my husband dealt with this, but I felt embarrassed for him that he even had to subject himself to such a test. We simply just pushed ahead knowing that answers had to come from somewhere and this test played a part in that.
The final test was all on my shoulders. My fallopian tube dye test was scheduled in the hospital where our specialist’s office was located and he would be conducting the test. It was the test that left me feeling the most fearful. Throughout the more than three years of trying to conceive, I had always believed that I was the one to blame for our childlessness. I had cycles that were all over the place. They ranged in frequency, anywhere from 21-55 days. With such an unknown variable in my cycle, I was impressed that I was even able to go ahead with the test.
Ray and I sat in the chilly waiting room. I had been given a gown to put on and told to remove the appropriate clothing for the test to be conducted. We had prayed specifically for a relaxing experience for me. The test would require me to endure many minutes with a speculum inside of me so that the doctor could inject dye into my fallopian tubes and watch on a screen, for any blockages that might be revealed.
After changing into the required gown, I re-joined Ray in the waiting room and continued my pleas with God for any nervousness to be removed. I was feeling as calm as could be expected until the woman who had the appointment before me returned to her husband in the waiting room sobbing. Deep, soul-wrenching, loud cries. My heart dropped. All the calmness that I had prayed to experience disappeared. I looked at Ray and before I could speak, my name was called for my appointment.
The nurse that guided me to the exam room was quite pleasant. She was trying to calm my nerves and explained the entire procedure to me. She answered my questions and even held my hand. I don’t know what her name was, but she was a lovely woman sent by God to be with me at that time.
My doctor entered the room and immediately the atmosphere changed to all business. He asked if I understood the test I was about to undergo and I said that I did. He proceeded to attempt to insert the speculum but I was simply not relaxed enough. He began to get upset with me and acted very impatient. He wasn’t creating an opportunity for me to feel relaxed. He didn’t wait very long until he tried again, and again. His final attempt left me unable to catch my breath and tears flowing down my cheeks. In his impatience, he had opened the speculum quite roughly and pinched a significant amount of my most tender flesh within it. I must have gripped the nurse’s hand while she heard me take a very quick breath and not release it.
“Doctor, I think she’s in pain.” I will never forget those words. That wonderful nurse was my advocate. She spoke for me when I could not. The doctor looked up from his work station in disgust before closing the speculum and removing it from my body. I was able to breathe again but the tears had already been formed. I prayed for strength to get through the next few minutes but I had no idea how I could continue with the test.
My specialist grumbled something about not being able to do the test with someone like me. He needed me to relax and I finally relented and told him that I didn’t think I would be able to on that day. He quickly pushed me aside and told me to reschedule my appointment. He looked at the nurse as if to say, ‘Bring the next one in” and with a sympathetic smile, the nurse walked me out of the exam room and back to where Ray was waiting for me.
I was more stunned than hurt. Well, I was physically hurt in the tenderest of places in my body but I was emotionless. Ray asked me how the test went and I just said, “It didn’t.” I went to the change room and put my clothes back on and then we left the hospital. I had reservations about our specialist from the first moment we met and they were confirmed during my attempted test. He was not the man we wanted to have walk us through what we hoped to be the end stretch of our infertility journey.
With the three tests attempted/complete and results waiting in the wings, all we could do was pray for direction. We were not settled in our spirits with this doctor but the results would be sent to his office so we had to go back at some point and receive whatever answers they may have gleaned from the few tests they conducted.
And there I was asking, yet again, “Why?”. Why did God not enable my body to relax enough to have the test conducted? Why did He allow the woman from the appointment before mine to come away with an obviously negative result? It was increasingly more difficult to not ask why in these circumstances. Was I never to know the answer to why my cycles were not consistent? Were my fallopian tubes blocked and I’ll never know? The early stages of infertility treatments are laced with many questions, and I was asking them all.
My one comfort in this pain was the fact that I was still praying, still asking God to work a miracle in my body. I never lost hope that He was in the midst of it all with us. I may have struggled with the slow timing of the answers but I always knew He was there sustaining me through it all. We would certainly need Him to sustain us for the answers that were to come.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens; a time to be born and a time to die.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2a
“Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63:7-8