Monday, June 28, 2004

one in six

It's a little less than a month until our appointment with Dr. Hope (not his real name, of course, though wouldn't that be a good omen. Even better would be Dr. Baby or Dr. Getpregnantonthefirsttry, Dr. Bestsuccessratesinthecountry- but I digress ). So, we meet our Dr. Hope in a little less than a month, but already the anxiety dreams have started.

Last night I dreamt that my husband and I went to our 5 am appointment at the clinic, only to be shuffled into a dark room half full of women sitting in those chairs with desks attached to the arms, with a couple men lurking in the back. A video was playing on a small TV towards the front- a video of women who were, I think, telling about their experiences with IVF, except the picture was bad and the sound was even worse. And I felt guilty for dragging my husband along since husbands were clearly in the minority in the room.

When the movie was over, we all went into a lounge to mingle. And it felt like the first day at a new school or summer camp all over again. The women seemed to know each other and were sharing stories about their follicles, their egg retrievals, their embryo transfers. They were chummy among themselves, but pretty much ignored me.

But it was in the lounge that I ran into an old friend from college. I vaguely remembered him telling me at reunion that he and his wife were having infertility problems. But suddenly, I wasn't anonymous anymore, suddenly someone knew me and I made small talk with this old friend, avoiding the topic of why we were both there. Though later, I pointed him out to my husband as someone I had gone to school with and guessed that he had a low sperm count. Why else would he be there among all of those women?

Later in the dream, in another location that I can't really remember now that I'm awake, I ran into another old college friend and his wife and knew somehow that they had been to the clinic too. That they were experiencing infertilty and that this time, it was a problem on her side. He invited my husband and I to come visit them in Oklahoma and I said maybe we'd make it there, but if not, we'd see them at the doctor's office- once again carefully avoiding the reason that we'd be at the doctor's office.

Dr. Hope himself never appeared in the dream. And there was no medical exam for me, none for my husband. All we really did was watch the bad video and drink coffee in the lounge among all of those women who had been through it before. I don't remember feeling disappointed, though, that we had come all that way for nothing. I just remember feeling surprised that infertility had touched the lives of two old friends and their wives.

In real life, infertility touches affects 1 in 6 couples (or 1 in 5, depending on the source). And so, while I may not know the ramifications for my real-life friends, it does not surprise me at all that there are so many women in infertilty support chat rooms online. Or that there are so many other blogs written about the trials and tribulations of trying to get pregnant by women like me.

In fact, I'm reminded of a late night chat that really did happen while I was back on campus for my reunion. I was talking to a guy who had totally intimidated me during the days that we were in school. Back then, he had dated a good friend of mine and we had some other mutual friends, but besides asking him for a light for my cigarette once or twice, we never actually spoke. When I first saw him at reunion, I wasn't even sure that he remembered me, or if he even knew who I was way back when, but he did and late nights after the official activities of the day had ended, we found ourselves in the lounge together drinking and chatting about things we never knew we had in common. One of those things was my good friend that he had dated. I lost touch with her years ago, but knew that he had attended her wedding from the picture she sent in to the alumni magazine. I asked him about her, where she is, what's she's doing now. And he told me that she was happy, except for one little hiccup. Her husband was sterile. He was hesitant about telling me, and I didn't push him. Hadn't told him about the little hiccup in my own happy life. And I didn't ask more questions about it, didn't ask what steps they were taking. I didn't want to reveal just how much I knew about the issue. I just said how sorry I was to hear that. And then we moved on to another topic of conversation.

This old friend of mine, who I'll call Julia, has been on my mind a lot over the past few years. When I work on a short story, she inevitably comes up as one of the characters. I've written letters to her that she'll never receive, I dream about her. And while I'm not sure that Julia and I will ever really be in touch again, there's just something (comforting isn't quite the word) about knowing that she's out there, 3000 miles away, going through what I imagine is very similar to what I'm going through right now. I really hope she's doing okay.


Blogger Monique said...

I have a friend who is going through infertility along with me. The sad thing is that it is all so raw that she and I rarely discuss it. Having decided to go through adoption, I hesistate to share the news with her because I don't want to hurt her feelings.

Our relationship was a lot more stable and happier before we discovered this common ground.

10:08 AM  
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