Shawnee Barton
The doctor who told me why I can’t have a baby blocks off time at the end of each week to deliver bad news. This Friday, we are his last appointment. He is behind schedule, and before it is our turn, we watch the waiting room clear. One by one, normal looking women and men go in his office and come out deflated. Almost two hours after our scheduled appointment time, the nurse finally leads us into the doctor’s office.

The bowl of peanut-butter cups that usually sits on the doctor’s conference table has been replaced with a box of Kleenex. A dry-erase board is set up in the corner of his office, and Outlook has accidentally been left open on his computer. On the screen, we see an emailed receipt from My husband, Mike, jokingly whispers to me, “I can’t believe he plays with old balls that some guy has fished out of a pond. If I was as rich as he is, I’d spring for new ones.” I chuckle, and a small bit of the tension inside of me is released. Ten more minutes go by, and we are still waiting. We can hear the doctor in hall complaining to a colleague about one of his other patients. He describes her emotional reaction as “ridiculous.”

The Kleenex, the board, the email, and his overheard words tell me that the doctor doesn’t care about me or the crying women I saw parading through the waiting room. We are just the last items on his weekly to do list. I am disgusted by his lack of professionalism and by the props meant to make his job of dealing with upset women like me easier. I vow that no matter what this man says, I will not let him see me cry. I am not a cliché, and he does not deserve to know that he can hurt me.

Five minutes later, the doctor tells us that based on a measurement of a hormone known as FSH, my 30-year-old eggs are only as good as those of a 40-year-old woman. Coldly, he says that the likelihood of us conceiving naturally is around 5%. The results don’t explain why my supply is depleted or tainted, but that doesn’t really matter. What is important is that we finally know why we haven’t been able to get pregnant.

Then, as if I am a hysterical and ignorant woman incapable of understanding what he just said, the doctor draws a picture on his whiteboard. “This is a normal ovary,” he says, as he points to a circle containing a cluster of bright red X’s representing good eggs. Then he says, “This is you,” as he draws another circle, full of deformed looking black dots representing bad eggs. Lastly, as if there hasn't been enough overkill, he writes an “S” over the circle with the black dots and says, “Here, The ‘S’ is for Shawnee.” “Thanks,” I respond, “I got it.”

Clenching my jaw through the entire appointment allows me to hold it together through the toughest conversation of my life, but as soon as I make it to the parking lot, I start heaving. His insensitivity and brashness crush me as much as our situation does. A month later, we request our medical records and start looking for another doctor.

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