“I’m surprised there are any tears left to come out, with all the crying you’ve done this year.”
That’s what Dave said to me as he cuddled me whilst I sobbed into his shoulder this morning, after coming back from a disastrous appointment with the doctor.
I have a severe phobia of going to the doctors. My white coat syndrome began when I was around 13 or 14 when a particularly insensitive doctor made a thoughtless comment about my weight (I was maybe 7 pounds overweight and developing into a woman pretty damn fast). From that moment on, I hated going to the doctor because I was fearful of being criticised, judged, not understood. In my late teens and early 20s, having to go to the doctor or nurse was a catch 22 situation because I was so worked up in the waiting room my blood pressure rose, which meant trying to get a repeat prescription for the pill was tough because they were reluctant to award it with high blood pressure. I found a sympathetic nurse practitioner who understood and would wait till the very end of our appointment before she took my blood pressure, after she chatted to me about normal things and put me at ease, and it was always within ‘normal range’ with her. Even being forced to go to the doctors for something like an ear infection would mean heart palpitations, sweaty palms, a racing pulse and a bad tummy. I’ve learned to get there in plenty of time and do breathing exercises for 10 minutes before my appointment.
And that’s what I did this morning. It was quiet. I felt reasonably calm. I breathed in through my nose for 7, held for 3 and out through my mouth for 5. Getting to this stage was bad enough – I made this appointment online spur of the moment over a week ago. Trying to make an appointment is ridiculous as it is, let alone when you’re a teacher working 25 miles away from the surgery, so holiday times are the only appropriate time to try and book an appointment. This was the ONLY slot available with a doctor I had seen once before and didn’t particularly have a relationship with, but beggars couldn’t be choosers.
I managed to say one sentence (“My husband and I have been trying for a baby for a year this month”) before I burst into tears. Of course. At every appointment I’ve ever had, tears have appeared at some point. But other practitioners have at least read my notes and seen that I have an issue with doctors and they’ve given me a reassuring smile and been patient with me. This lady was confused as to why I was crying. I’d just told her we had been actively trying for a baby for a year, but had been having unprotected sex for much longer than that, and we were desperate for a baby. What the fuck couldn’t she understand?! She dismissed my chemical pregnancy as “not a proper loss” and told me 30 is still young and she didn’t have her first child until she was 31. We’ll that’s YOU, not ME. She then had the audacity to say I should stop stressing about it or overthinking it. “Just relax more, when you stop trying so hard it will happen.” EVERYTHING YOU SHOULDN’T SAY TO A WOMAN TRYING TO CONCEIVE! I couldn’t speak. I was so dumbstruck by her ignorance and lack of empathy. I literally had to beg her for tests to be run as I didn’t want to waste any more time. She reluctantly agreed and told me to book myself in for a blood test (I’d need 3 months’ worth before they would take any next steps) for my Progesterone 21. This basically meant your 21st day in the cycle for a ‘normal’ woman that ovulates on day 14. Well in my case that would be day 24 roughly, but my cycles can be between 30 and 33 days long so to work out my day 7 of the TWW for the progesterone check (again, assuming you have a 14 day LP) would be 7 days from ovulation. Well guess what, I still haven’t ovulated this cycle yet (wtf body?!) but assuming it is today and I get my spike tomorrow, I would need a blood test on NYE. Which is a Saturday. When the doctors are closed. And Monday is a bank holiday. So I asked the receptionist for an appointment on the Friday (30th) instead. And (you guessed it) THERE ARE NO FUCKING FREE APPOINTMENTS. The next available one is 6th January. By which point I’ll be either well into my period, or just finished it. I can’t explain how frustrating this is. So now my tests are delayed for another cycle. Then 3 months of tests takes me to the end of March. We won’t be able to get any outside help until April. And this is assuming I can even get appointments on the right day of my cycle. It’s a fucking joke.
Anyway, what Dave said to me about crying struck a nerve. Not because he was being insensitive or unkind. But he has a point.
I’ve done a lot of crying this year. And all of it has been to do with trying for a baby. In fact, I struggle to remember what I used to cry about before the start of this year. Adverts, sad films, arguments with Dave, stress at work I think.
Now, I cry about getting my period, the fear of my parents not getting to be grandparents in their lifetime, the pressure it puts of my marriage, the dread that I might never make Dave a dad, my panic at the rate that time is passing and I’m still not a mum, seeing people I know announce their pregnancies. Hell, seeing people I DON’T know announce their pregnancies makes me cry.
I live my life like a reservoir, bottling up all the sadness over a period of time, until one day the dam can’t take the pressure of a million tears behind it and it cracks. The tears come rushing and I can’t make them stop.
Like today. I sat in my car in the doctor’s car park and sobbed. I cried for a good ten minutes with no tissues and then had to drive straight to Tesco with red puffy eyes and all my mascara had worn off. I distracted myself with the last bits of the Christmas food shop but every now and then I felt the prickle of tears behind my eyes again. I made it home and unloaded the car, before subsequently breaking down in the kitchen as I relived the appointment with Dave. Then he disappeared to get his hair cut and left me to sit alone in the kitchen with a cup of tea, silent tears streaming down my cheeks. After 15 minutes I pulled myself together again and started cleaning the house in a frenzy. Then my mother turned up with some parcels. I promptly burst into tears again and filled her in on the situation. My heart disintegrated even more when she said she wished she had a magic wand to make it all better for me.
I wish you did too, mum.
Maybe I’m feeling particularly sensitive because this month marks a year of trying. This month would have been the month our baby would have been born if our chemical pregnancy stuck. This month is a time for family and love, and let’s face it, the magic of Christmas is for children.
So I’ve spent the day letting that reservoir fill up again. No doubt some time in the future the cracks will show and the dam will break once more.
Have you ever had that feeling where you’re so sad that your teeth actually hurt? That your heart is so heavy there is a permanent lump in your throat? That your eyes have shed all the tears they have to give, so that you’re left with a dull pain behind them? That’s how I feel.
I’m so fucking tired of this shit.