Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Plan

"You'll take these pills for five days, starting tomorrow. Then on the 12th through 17th day of your cycle..." he glances at the calendar, then pulls out a small credit card size calendar and starts counting. He scrawls numbers down on the sheet of paper in front of him. "December 5...10...." More scrawling.

Meanwhile I sit, watching, not sure what to think. I watched his pen move on the paper. The paper is a part of a file. A thin file in comparison to the thick ones stacked in four piles on his desk. Some were very thick, some were just slightly thick. Were the thinner ones new patients or ones who were successful on the first try? I counted the thicker ones and felt a tug of sympathy for their owners. We were all here for the same reason, but the goal wasn't to make the files thicker.

I sat alone. Gareth had stepped outside before my ultrasound. Said he had to make some calls, but I know the idea of the ultrasound had been a bit disconcerting for him, since it wasn't the type you normally think of when you hear the word ultrasound. Let's just say it wasn't an abdominal one. The ultrasound had taken all of 10 minutes, but he hadn't come back in yet. I don't know, I think he would've found the pictures of my full bladder and cystic ovaries interesting.

It was late. We'd been in the doctor's office since 3 p.m. and after sitting in the waiting room for 40 minutes, we met with Dr. C, an embryologoist who took down my medical history. Moon-faced, soft-spoken Chinese man with a hesitant but pleasant smile. He asked a few uncomfortable questions, but his gentle demeanor was encouraging. He told me that my case looked pretty straight-forward and it looked like all I needed was a little help ovulating.

It was supposed to be just a consultation meeting where Gareth and I would learn more about our options. We wanted to start family, you see, but since my miscarriage in 2005, I haven't been able to get pregnant. My plan had been "Kids by 35 or never." There was something wrong with that plan, apparently. I think the biggest problem was that it was my plan. There is a supreme being who controls our destinies having a good chuckle over that.

Dr. M came in almost a half-hour after Dr. C's interview was done. He's the obstetrician. Where Dr. C had shaken both our hands when he met us, Dr. M hurried in, made the hand-shaking gesture in the air before settling behind his desk. I found it amusing, as I did his other idiosyncracies like asking me how to pronounce my name, then proceeding to make accent marks on my file label, after dividing my name in 3 syllables with slash marks. Gareth and I glanced at each and shared a worried smile as he did this.

Where Dr. C was round, Dr. M was angular. Classically Italian, hawk nose, a hint of New York Italia in his speech, sharp eyes, complete with pomade styled hair. As he counseled us, you could just see his mind working, and with all the degrees on his wall, it was a very intelligent mind. He's one of those people who are so smart, their mouths can't keep up with their brains, and he has to pause every once in a while to catch up. In some people, it's would appear socially awkward and over-anxious. But when you MD & Ph. D. attached to your name, it's becomes a mark of high intelligence.

He's encouraged that since we've gotten pregnant before, and began writing out a prescription for me to induce my cycle. When I mention I just started a couple days ago, he rips up the prescription and says, "Let's get you in the exam room and do an ultrasound." When the nurse came to take me to the exam room, Gareth made his exit. Chicken.

As Dr. M continued to scrawl notes in my file, I glanced at the clock. 5:15 p.m. We aren't going to make to puppy training. Mahal & Prada will miss their 3rd class. Again. They missed the 3rd class when they first registered for obedience school, so I had rescheduled them to a different course, and here we were missing the same 3rd class.

"So here's the plan," Dr. M announces, taking me out of my reverie. "Take these pills for 5 days starting tomorrow. You're a big girl, so 100mg a day to start." Big girl, more milligrams. Got it.

"On Dec. 5, you take an ovulation test in the morning. This is my favorite brand." He holds up a Clear Blue Easy Ovulation Test kit like he's doing a commercial for it. "Do that through the 10th. When you get a positive sign, you need to have sex. With your husband." Aha, doctor's got a sense of humor. As if on cue, Gareth walks in.

"Got me something to eat - I didn't have anything for lunch," he explains sheepishly.

"Did you bring something for your wife?" Dr. M asks.

"Oh, yes, it's in the car," Gareth sounds almost defensive.

"Good! Good! It's almost dinner time, I'm sure she's hungry, too!" I notice the more Dr. M talks, the more he sounds like Al Pacino. He turns back to me and continues with "The Plan."

"Call me when you get a positive sign and tell me. I'll say, 'Genevieve, that's wonderful! Now what's the plan? Because I probably won't have your file in front of me, so you have to remind me what the plan is." He's writing "The Plan" on a yellow Post-It note as he talks. "You'll need to call me if you get all negative. But when you get a positive sign, have sex -"

"Woohoo!" mumbles Gareth.

"Then come in and see me and we'll do a post-coital exam to make sure things are moving along."

Post-coital exam? Eww. But okay. We do have a mission here. I take the yellow Post-It from Dr. M. It's almost unreal that a little 3x3 piece of paper could hold the key to the future for us. "So this the plan?"

"That's the plan."

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