When I started infertility treatments, there was one moment where I almost gave up before I even started and detonated my chances of having a baby.
Recalling that moment is very painful, because I was seconds away from running away and giving up before I even gave infertility treatments a chance.
I never liked pap smears or invasive procedures. I’ve done then before, reluctantly, but I can’t say I ever felt entirely comfortable with them.
The first time I had to do an ultrasound at the clinic, I was hit with a wave of fear. I never had a vaginal ultrasound before, and suddenly, surrounded by medical personnel, I felt overwhelmed
“I can’t do this. I need to leave,” I told Christine, one of the ultrasound technicians.
My fight-or-flight response had kicked into high gear: I wanted to run, escape, get out of there.
My mind was on one track and that was: I want out of here. All the appointments, the driving, it was too much.
All I kept thinking as I lay on that table was: ‘I can’t do this. I just can’t do this. Maybe it was a mistake coming here. I’ll find another way to get pregnant.’
Everything in me wanted to jump up from that table and run, and if it wasn’t for the patience of Christine, the ultrasound technician, I probably would have left the clinic that day, and maybe blown my opportunity to get help getting pregnant.
“I need to leave,” I told repeated. “I can’t do this.”
“Yes, you can,” she said gently, never making me feel pressured or forced in any way to continue with the procedure. “You can do this.”
She tenderly talked me into feeling more comfortable, and with her
patient loving support, I didn’t runaway. I started to calm down and despite feeling scared, I was able to get through the ultrasound. Christine looked and spoke to me with such compassion and gentleness, that the hammering fear inside my brain stopped, and I regained a measure of safety.
There were many, many more ultrasounds after that. Many IUIs and other procedures that were invasive and painful, but with the help of Christine and other technicians, I successfully did each one and became more and more comfortable, to the point that eventually doing a vaginal ultrasound or any other test almost felt like nothing at all.
I shudder to think of what might had happened had Christine not chosen to be so kind and patient with me that day. Would I have continued at the clinic if Christine had lost her patience, or been more concerned with rushing to the next patient, and not taken the time and care to help me stay put and get that much needed ultrasound?
What if I had run out due to my overwhelming fear, would I have ever gone back to that clinic–or any clinic for that matter? Would I have given up on having children, thinking I wasn’t strong enough or brave enough to go through infertility treatments?
I shudder at the possibility that maybe that day,my fear could have resulted in a life changing decision. Had I run out, because some fight-or-flight trigger had gone off inside me, maybe that would have been my last attempt to go through infertility treatments. Maybe I would have resigned myself to defeat, never knowing I had it in me to endure the many painful tests infertility treatment requires. I did not realize that proving I could go through this first test would pave the way for my successfully going through dozens and dozens of painful tests later on.
That day, Christine wasn’t just an ultrasound technician, she also became my infertility hero. She didn’t have to give so much or try so hard to help me.
She could have said to herself: this woman is way too scared and too paranoid to endure the trauma of all the tests she will have to endure. Why should I give myself so much extra work in trying to keep her here? Let her go. Let her deal with her problems somewhere else. She seems like a paranoid person and I have a long list of patients waiting for their ultrasounds who won’t take so much time and won’t be so slow. Instead, she cared enough to slow down and gently coach me. She didn’t make me feel like a freak or flawed in any way. She didn’t shame or embarrass me for my fear, or insinuate I was weak, ill, or crazy. She was respectful and kind, and gave me exactly what I needed to endure this first test.
That would not be the last time Christine helped me and it would begin a very special friendship that continued for the next four years.
I beg infertility clinics across the country to look closely at their support staff, assistants and technicians. Is their staff truly understanding and are they trained to deal with the anxieties that patients may experience during treatments? Does the support staff take the extra time when needed to help a fearful patient?
Are they taught that it is important to treat clients with patience because certain tests and procedures can ignite complex emotions in infertility patients? Does the staff actually care about the person enduring these tests–or are they just consumed with their own work load and agenda? Do they slow things down, if it means getting a woman over the first rough initial stages of infertility testing? When hiring, do they not only look at the technicial qualifications of their support staff, but also the emotional qualifications? Is the staff truly kind? Compassionate? Empathetic to what infertility can cause a woman to feel?
To work in this field, you not only have to be medically and technically astute, you need tolerance, patience and understanding of the emotional hurdles patients like me must conquer to walk down this path.
Throughout the years I dealt with Christine, she was always kind and never once did she make me feel like a fool for being so afraid. With her, I never felt judged or put down. She didn’t dismiss me, pity me, or treat me like I was odd or overly flawed.
She never showed anger at me for creating more work for her. She was caring enough to take the extra time to go very slowly with me.
Do you know how much I respect and completely admire this woman? She is one of the bright and shining stars of the medical profession. She talked me through that first day, which allowed me to continue my infertility process. That first day, it could have all ended. I never again after that felt a desire to runaway and escape the clinic.
That day, I might have allowed my fear to halt the whole process, but thanks to Christine, I kept going and didn’t give up.
If it had not been for Christine’s extraordinary patience, understanding, and kindness, I don’t know where I’d be today.
Thank God Christine was doing my ultrasound that day. Thank God the clinic I went to had the insight to hire someone like Christine.
Thank you Christine.