The Actual Consult

My husband is an amazing man who always seems to know exactly what I need. I didn’t tell him about my morning cry/spiritual awakening, but he knew I needed to enter the clinic that afternoon with him. He arrived at the hospital parking lot before I did (as usual) and waited for me to walk in together. We interlocked our arms and looked at each other with a “Let’s Do This” smile and nod. He actually said, “Let’s do this. Leroy Jenkins!” as he chooses to do adding humor to even the darkest of moments. (If you don’t know that reference, you should definitely google it for a laugh). We found our way down the winding hallway and outside a large wooden door. There was nothing special about the door- it didn’t even have the name of the clinic on it, just the suite number on the side.

The waiting room looked like any other waiting room: chairs, sofas, a TV, and a receptionist behind a glass-sliding window. “Put your name and time on the log, please.” She could probably tell that we were new the way we looked like deer in headlights, observing and taking in the new surroundings. We sat down facing the other wooden door- the one where the nurse comes to take you to your magical destination. I glanced around the room. There were a couple other couples there, and even what appeared to be an older mom and her daughter waiting with us. One lady, sitting by herself, had a binder. I wondered to myself, “Should I have brought a notebook for notes?”

My husband was talking about something… whatever was on the TV or in the magazine he was perusing. I only half listened, as I was too deep inside my head at that moment not knowing what to expect. There weren’t any pictures of babies or families hanging on the walls- like you’d see at most OB offices. A woman in scrubs showed up at the door and called my name. I didn’t hear her, but my husband tapped my lap and looked at the door. As I stood up, he grabbed my hand and gave it a small squeeze to say, “Let’s Do This!”

We were seated in a consult room. It was a room just big enough for the round table and 3 chairs, and had a window. The sunlight was refreshing. The insurance guru for the clinic came in with a large binder. “A nurse and doctor will be in to talk about all of the medical stuff. I’m just here to talk about what your insurance covers and the legal forms.” There were A LOT of forms. We had already filled out our medical history and other questions online before the visit, so I didn’t think there’d be this many actual forms to fill out and sign. Turns out, they like to make sure you know 100% that they cannot guarantee you a baby. It doesn’t matter how many treatments you go through. Even if it works, it could take years, and unfortunately for some, it doesn’t seem to work. I could feel a pit in my stomach. After what seemed like an hour of review forms and signing, she left and the nurse came in. We did a basic review of what we’d been through- miscarriage, trying for a year, not being successful, semen analysis, family history- basically a rundown of our combined medical record. She let us know the protocol for all new couples to the clinic and tests that had to be done before choosing a treatment program. There was a gambit of tests to choose from. I HAD to do the genetic testing to rule out being a carrier for certain diseases, as well as a screening test for all of the major diseases (including HIV/AIDS), and then lots of abbreviations that stood for specific tests for my uterus. I don’t think I’d ever really thought of tests for my uterus before, but man, were there a bunch to choose from. We basically agreed to all of the necessary tests, and declined the tests my husband could optionally do. She left after more form signing and told us the doctor would be in shortly.

Now we were about 2 hours into our consult when the doctor arrived. Instantly, after she walked into the room, she greeted us with a smile on her face. Her happiness made me calm. We did a brief review of our situation (again) and she told us all of the treatment options that we would most likely have to choose from. She reiterated what we’d heard from the 2 people before her: we, however, cannot guarantee you a baby. My husband started crying. I have seldom seen him cry. She stopped mid sentence and comforted him asking if he needed a minute. He said, “I keep hearing that we will not have a baby. I’m not seeing any hope.” She looked at him and said, “Listen, you’re both relatively young, and your tests don’t show me any reason why you can’t have a baby.” That was what he and I both needed to hear. I had come in thinking “I can’t have a baby.” Now it changed to, “There is no reason you can’t have a baby.” I don’t know if she knew it, but her words were life changing.   She continued to discuss possible options for treatment, and left after we felt incredibly comfortable with the entire process.

The insurance guru came back in letting us know that she couldn’t get an answer from my insurance company about if they would cover even the basic diagnostic tests. She said my husband’s would, if that was an option to switch at all. However, she worked out the costs for the tests and initial treatments without any coverage. We were still feeling positive- we had learned that there really wasn’t any reason to fear the darkest extreme. We signed more forms, basically saying we would pay for any care received, and she left. We were now 3 hours in.

After a while, the nurse came back in and took me to a separate exam room. While inspecting my uterus with her magical trans-vaginal probe (this will become a common thing to expect at all future visits), she exclaimed, “Oh wow! There’s a lot of eggs getting ready in there.” She made a mention that I had some similarities to PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), without actually having the syndrome. I, for a slight moment, had a sense of relief with thinking that we could have found the reason- and therefore could fix it. Alas, we would learn later that my tests would reveal I didn’t have PCOS, and I became categorized as “infertile- reason unknown.”  I felt like it had taken us a year to get here, and I was looking for immediate answers. Little did I know, our journey was only now beginning- our infertility journey.

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