Recently, I was sorting through some clothes. I was after something I could get dirty as I was heading out on a dog walk. I was, at the time, so happy to find the item I was looking for. I hadn’t been able to wear it for a few years, not helped by the huge amount of chocolate I seem to have consumed recently.
When I set out walking I started thinking of some of the occasions I had worn the wraparound dress and really happy memories came back to me of a time in my life when I was a volunteer reading helper in a primary school. As I thought about the children I had worked with and wondered what they were up to now, I was suddenly floored by a memory of the very last time I wore the dress and at that point I couldn’t get home fast enough to get changed.
The last time I wore it was at the first ultrasound appointment I had when we started on our fertility journey. When I say ‘wore’ I actually mean, ‘threw on the floor of a cubicle’ as I anxiously changed into a hospital gown. I was by myself.
So, I’m alone, standing in a cubicle sporting an open back hospital gown, suddenly realising I’ve got really hairy legs and have a ‘nervous patient’ whiff about me. Deep breaths. It’s OK I tell myself, no one will notice, everyone here’s for the same reason.
Everything’s going OK(ish). Until I step out of the cubicle and into the waiting room. And what do I see? Pregnant women. Bumps. Everyday clothes. Partners. The waiting room is full of pregnant women with their partners, showing off their bumps, wearing their maternity clothes. And me. Alone. With fuzzy legs, hospital gown, bare bum. And now, now I really stink. Oh, and there’s the small yet significant reason why I am here. I am bumpless. I think it’s fair to say that despite their best efforts EVERYONE in the waiting room has noticed me. And then, because they’re not quite sure what to do with themselves and where to put their eyes everyone has now noticed me notice the small wooden ‘feedback’ box hiding in the corner…
Several weeks later I am not alone. Instead, my partner and I find ourselves on our way to an appointment at the reproductive medicine unit within the hospital. Having never been there before we had to ask for directions and follow the signs. Any guesses where it was located? Next to the antenatal unit. The hospital staff were so helpful. Delighted to tell us to ‘follow signs to the antenatal unit and then turn left for your bit’. Thanks for that.
These kinds of reminders are not what people who desperately long to be parents want or need while they are having investigations and treatment. Nor is seeing children (even if they are miracle babies themselves) in waiting rooms at fertility clinics. These are all constant reminders of the children we don’t have. And we have enough of those reminders in everyday life, let alone in the places where we are seeking help.
It’s obvious to me that some things need to change. Some thought, sensitivity and planning could have a dramatic positive impact on people’s experiences in just getting to the often dreaded appointment.
Have you experienced anything similar to this? If so, what, if anything, did you do about it? What would you like to see changed that would make fertility investigations and treatments easier for you?