When Sara and I set out on our road to motherhood, we decided we would go to two different fertility centers to see which place we wanted to take this journey with. We’re two weeks in with Fertility Center 1, and didn’t have an appointment scheduled with Fertility Center 2 until the second week in May. But late yesterday, we got a call that Center 2 had a cancellation and could see us this morning. We were elated to get in earlier and took the opening.
Before we began our journey, our other non-Center doctors – specifically, our OBGYN and primary care physician, both of whom are very approachable and empathetic – had some commonsense advice for us from the beginning. They reminded us that while Sara and I were about to embark on an incredibly personal journey, there is very much a cut-and-dry business behind it all, and that we should be prepared for a potential lack of warmth from medical professionals whose job it is to perform necessary procedures, not coddle our emotions. Even with their warnings, I don’t think we were quite prepared for just how impersonally we were treated by “professionals.”
From the initial greeting by the receptionist at the first fertility center, Sara and I had a sour taste in our mouth. The woman at the front desk seemed to be confused as to who my wife was and what she was there for. While I realize these centers see dozens of women each day and that Sara could very possibly have been there for an appointment of her own, the receptionist could have delivered her inquiries with a bit more care. I don’t necessarily believe she treated us differently because we are gay; I more so believe she simply has a tacky etiquette.
Then, there was the snafu of Fertility Center 1 not ever telling us that the Day-3 ultrasound would be a transvaginal ultrasound. And the procedure itself wasn’t what we took issue with. Both my wife and I were bothered not because I was penetrated by the “dildo-cam” (as the ultrasound wand has so aptly been nicknamed), but because we were never informed about the details of the procedure – not during our consultation and not from the literature that was sent home with us.
And so it continued with Fertility Center 1… I had asked to meet the doctor during our first appointment and was told, “Probably not today, but you can check out his picture and bio on our website.” Twice, my wife and I felt the RPA lacked patience when speaking to us. The list goes on, and includes the recommendation and scheduling of a hysterosalpingogram (HSG), a procedure that injects dye into the Fallopian tubes and checks for any blockage. I found out today at Fertility Center 2 that this is completely unnecessary (not to mention incredibly invasive and more than uncomfortable) for someone with my medical history, a history that includes zero indication that my Fallopian tubes are anything but open and ready for business.
Fertility Center 1 also requires that my wife and I undergo “psychological evaluation” and take parenting workshops, both of which they claim are standard operating procedure for all couples that visit their center. When I asked about classes today at Fertility Center 2, I was told that they offer classes — support groups, meditation courses, and the like — but that it’s our decision whether we wish to go or not. And the psych evaluation? The doctor’s exact words were, “We don’t ask that of any of our patients. We think you’re more than capable of making your own decisions about becoming parents.”
That’s right. The doctor. He was the second person we met at Fertility Center 2, after the receptionist (who, by the way, knew my wife by name when we checked in for our appointment — she clearly read our file before our arrival — and who made sure that Sara was set up to have full access to our files).
Perhaps the greatest difference between the two centers is that the first one told us we wouldn’t be able to implant Sara’s eggs in me, that it would cost us close to $17,000 out-of-pocket if we did because insurance doesn’t cover it. Sounded legitimate enough to us. But today, at Fertility Center 2, we were told that not only could they do it, but that insurance would, in fact, cover it. When the Marriage Equality Bill passed in New York last year, my wife became eligible for my insurance benefits and is covered under them, so retrieving her eggs is 100 percent covered. From there, good ol’ fashioned IVF would take place, her eggs would get fertilized in a Petri dish, and implanted in me. A door we thought was closed, reopened today.
To say the difference between the two fertility centers was like night and day would be an understatement. From the waiting rooms, where 1 was playing on the TV an anxiety-inducing medical show in which someone was being operated on (blood and guts and all), and where 2 had relaxing music (no TV to be found) and the overall feel of a spa, to the level of respect and professionalism we received, the choice became a no-brainer for us.
There are so many things we’re learning on our journey, and we have so often felt like strangers in a distant land. But today we felt like we found a little piece of home with Fertility Center 2.
Read more of Aela’s writing at Two Moms Make A Right