A “Sister” Looks for Answers


answersWe’ve all been there. Lost and eager for answers — or at a minimum some guidance on those “where do I turn?” days. When things aren’t what they seem. When you have only bits and pieces of information. When doctor visits and tests are both necessary and nerve wracking for what they might or might not tell us…

The following email came from a new reader today and took me right back to my frantic earlier days. I asked if it would be okay to post the questions here and she agreed. I know the collective wisdom in our community can bring great perspective and support.


I recently came across your website. I hope you don’t mind me emailing you. First of all, I would like to tell you that after reading your blogs I truly think you are an amazing and strong women. That goes for your husband too. It’s nice to have someone stand beside you through all the ups and downs you encounter through life. He sounds like a great guy. I am 27 years old and my husband is 37. We have been trying to conceive for 3 years and it is so hard on me. My mom and dad are in their late 60s and have no grandchildren. My mom says there is nothing she wants from me but a grandbaby. There is nothing more I would like to do then to give them a grandbaby. I had an ectopic pregnancy when I was 20. I was young and foolish. My right tube could not be saved and was removed. So I am left with 1 tube.

To make a long story short, I have an appointment this Thursday to get a hysterosalpinography done. I am so scared and nervous. To top it off, my husband is leaving out of town the same morning of my appointment. I don’t want to seem like a cry baby but damn it, I need him to be here for me. If not physically then mentally. I try to talk to him about the appointment and I’m not getting much comfort from him. He really wants a baby too and this is something we have been trying for so long. It seems like his mind is on the trip he is going on.

I feel so alone and scared. I want to cancel the appointment and just give up. I was so excited about getting the test done and now I just feel like crap. Should I be feeling this way? Is this the right guy for me? Am I just realizing this after all these years? How could he seem so excited about having a baby and now that I need his support he is not there for me? Should I just cancel the appointment. I have a big fear that I will get bad news after the appointment. I get these really bad cramps. They hurt so bad I can’t walk or anything. My doctor says I could have endometriosis. I am a total wreck. I’m sorry to have taken so much of your time. You don’t have to respond to this e-mail if you don’t want to. I understand. Thank you for your time.

I’m going to provide my thoughts in the comments section and encourage you to do the same. There’s nothing like reassurance in a stressful, scary time is there?

See also  How Did We Know We Were Done?

28 Responses

  1. Pamela

    December 8, 2008 10:00 pm

    First, you’re not alone and it can be very unnerving to face a new diagnostic test. I had two hysterosalpinographs done. One of the advantages (let’s find the silver lining here) is that the test can act as a mini-roto rooter and help clear the tube of any minor blockages inhibiting fertilization. If I were you I’d keep the appointment. Better to know what you face than to live in the scarier land of  “what if…”

    As for your husband…men and women process these doctor visit/tests differently. He may be scared, too, and not know the right thing to say or do. Sometimes it’s easier to say nothing than to risk saying or doing the wrong thing. Marriages and family relationships are strained and face many challenges when there’s conception trouble. We learn new things about ourselves and those closest to us. Keep talking and be sure that you’re giving him the room and space he needs, too.

  2. Kelly D

    December 9, 2008 12:27 am

    As Pamela said, don’t cancel the appointment. These tests are so important to discover what could be the reasons you haven’t been able to conceive.

    The tougher part is really the marriage (and your other relationships too). My husband seemed to be disconnected from the idea of having kids when we found out we couldn’t get pregnant naturally due to male factor infertility. We didn’t communicate well on this topic and, as such, created our own expectations of the other without checking to make sure they could live up to our expectations.

    Let him know you need his support and that you are bummed he won’t be able to make the appointment with you. Is there anyway he’d be available for you to call him after the test? A small way to keep him involved even if he’ll be out of town.

    My husband and I almost divorced during our infertility journey. We managed to rebuild our relationship even though it probably would have been easier to give up on each other. Stick with it. Communication is the key.

  3. Kami

    December 9, 2008 1:02 am

    I agree with PJ. It is so damn hard and scary to deal with infertility, but I think that first step is the hardest. The good news is that you will survive it even if you get news you don’t want. At the very least you will have a new direction to go in.

    If the appointment is too scary to face alone then either reschedule it to a time when your husband can be there or ask an understanding friend or family member to come. If you don’t have confidence that a third person can be understanding, then you are better off going alone. Even the kindest people can just say the wrong things when it comes to infertility.

    Finally, I really recommend online or in real life support groups. Check resolve.org to see if there is a support group near you.

    Good luck on your journey. I hope it will be short.

  4. VA Blondie

    December 9, 2008 1:12 am

    I would have to agree with the previous comments. Do not cancel the appointment. The tests are important, and in the grand scheme of things, the tests are really only the beginning of the journey. It does suck that he is not able to be there, especially if his presence is important to you.

    Men and women process IF stuff differently. My hubby retreated to his cave for a while after we started dealing with IF. He was unable to talk about IF much at first. After we had been dealing with IF for a while, he opened up about it more. Try to be patient with him. He will get there.

  5. B Mom

    December 9, 2008 1:39 am

    Hi. I agree with other posters who gave you some great advice. Stick to the appointment. It’s best to know what you’re dealing with and in this day and age, we can tackle all sorts of difficulties that they may find. Just to let you know, I had an HSG and they discovered I have a submucosal fibroid. I’m having surgery to remove it on Thursday and the doc is optimistic that we’ll be able to carry a pregnancy to term thereafter (I had two MCs which prompted us to do the HSG). Should you discover you have a fibroid, feel free to email me or check out my blog if you have any questions. Please keep us posted on how you are doing.

    • Jay

      December 9, 2008 2:49 am

      Thank you all so much for your responses and support. Thank you for all the good advice and wisdom. I will keep my appointment Thursday. The only support that I have is my husband. That was by choice because I decided I am not ready to discuss my infertility issues with my family. When my mother first told me about a year ago that she really wants to have a grandbaby before her and my father passes away I could not bear to burden or break her heart by telling her I may not be able to have children. So I decided to keep my infertility troubles a secret. I hope and pray that I will receive good news after the tests. Thank you all again and I will be praying for all of you gals.

  6. Mel

    December 9, 2008 2:04 am

    Hey PJ’s reader:

    Definitely don’t cancel the appointment. And don’t mistake a different reaction for a lack of care. Your husband may care very very much but may not understand (1) how scared you are or how this appointment is more than about physical pain or (2) may be going through his own emotional process and fearful that you have male factor. You just never know. I was going to write, “you just never know until you ask” but even after you ask, you may not have the whole answer.

    I would go to the appointment and ask your doctor to prescribe a relaxant such as valium beforehand. Not only will it calm your nerves; it will also calm the uterus which can spasm when the catheter enters causing the cramps.

    And know there is a world of people standing virtually with you in the exam room.

    • brig

      December 17, 2008 9:03 pm

      hello there- This is my first time reading this blog, but I would like PJ’s reader to know that, from my own experience, I entirely agree with Mel- I will be thinking of you tomorrow.

      Unlike you, I wasn’t at all worried about my first HSG, but it turned into one of the worst medical experiences I have had. I was told to go to the wrong floor so I was late; the doctor was booked up all day so he was pissed to be starting 20 mins. late. He poked around a bunch to show me how inconvenienced he was, and I cramped up. The results showed one blocked tube. I was beginning to intuit that I might have problems, but I had a feeling blocked tubes was not one of them.

      I don’t want to worry you any more than you already are, but if your doctor has not told you to (at least!) take ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) beforehand, you MUST take it. Valium would definitely work, but the muscle relaxant in ibuprofen will have the same effect, if you are skitzy about medications, or driving yourself to the appointment. I NEVER want anyone to have the experience I did, lying there cramping up on the cold table and the nurse saying, “didn’t the doctor tell you that it would be a good idea…” I subsequently lost 6 (insured) months trying to re-schedule the test with my own too-busy doctor (his partner was covering surgery on the exact day I needed the HSG done).

      Take 2 Advil tomorrow morning, PJ’s reader, wear your comfiest, homiest sweater, put on some kickin’ lipstick, and bring along a comfort object: Granma’s jewelery, your teddy bear, whatever works best to make you strong. And most importantly, before and while the catheter is being inserted: BREATHE!! Breathe deep, breathe big, breathe into your belly, breathe into your pelvis, breathe into your perineum. Practice a little tonight, and you’ll feel better. You’ll be great.

  7. Jay

    December 9, 2008 2:37 am

    Thank you for your support. I just wanted to say good luck on Thursday. I will be praying for you that all your dreams will come true for you after your surgery.

  8. Denver Laura

    December 9, 2008 2:40 am

    This is going to sound redundant…

    Keep the appointment. I had an HSG and it wasn’t that bad. My husband wasn’t there at my appt and I did it over my lunch break. Of course I went back to work and couldn’t concentrate on anything else for the rest of the day. You can take Motrin, or if you have a good Dr. something stronger. Plus f you cancel the appt, you have to wait until the next cycle. That’s the frustrating part. Waiting.

    My DH is very upset we haven’t gotten pregnant yet. He just isn’t able to vocalize it like I can as a woman.

    I do go to group (found through Resolve.org) and I have the online outlet. Talking about somehow helps me get control over IF.

    I can totally relate to everything you wrote. You are NOT ALONE.

  9. annacyclopedia

    December 9, 2008 3:49 am

    Lots of great responses here, and I don’t have too much to add other than another voice to say that you are not alone in questioning your marriage through all you’re going through. This journey has brought with it some very dark moments for me in terms of wondering whether I picked the right man, and that has been very painful. I would totally reiterate what other commenters have said about men and women processing this stuff very differently. That was totally my experience, and it took a long time for me to really get it. My experience is that my husband just didn’t know what to say, and it is very hard for him to just be present and support me when I’m in pain (physical or emotional, but especially the latter) – it’s just something that is pretty difficult for a lot of men, I think. For a long time I mistook his silence and retreat as indifference, and it took a lot of work on both our parts to get to a place of acceptance of how we each deal with stuff.

    All that is a long winded way of saying that you are not alone in any of this, even though I know it often feels that way. I encourage you to keep the appointment – as the other have said, it’s better to take the first step out of all the “what if” stuff as soon as possible. One other thing I would add is that you will find you are stronger than you ever thought possible – you have already gone through so much, and you are brave enough to handle this test and whatever comes next. I will be thinking of you and keeping you in my prayers, wishing you peace on the next part of your journey.

  10. nycphoenix

    December 9, 2008 4:00 am

    I agree with the previous posters about the test. Go forward with it. My partner and I were different people and we processed and grieved our infertility in different ways. I was the researcher and relied on blogs, boards and therapy to get through it. She was silent and withdrawn. It took a commitment to our relationship, a lot of communication and in the end even couple’s therapy to get to a better place.

  11. luna

    December 9, 2008 4:45 am

    excellent comments here already. just wanted to wish you well with your appointment. just remember to BREATHE. and know you are not alone.

  12. Christina

    December 9, 2008 3:51 pm

    Reading your post — I got the sense that you’re feeling devalued — all your Mom wants is a grandbaby. Your husband — who is older than you — is thinking more about the potential baby than you.

    In my experience, these tests — I’ve had the HSG and many other invasive things — are just an ordeal to get through if you’re feeling relatively healthy. But you’re doubled over in physical pain, to say nothing of the emotional stuff.

    I’d move the process along and get the test if you feel up to it. But is there a girlfriend — someone not invested in this outcome — who could help? Your mother or husband don’t seem to be thinking of you, but your body as baby factory.

    PS — I just had an ordeal of a doctor visit yesterday — not IF related — turned out to be worse than I thought, I got nauseous and almost passed out twice — and I’m usually a pack mule about these things — it took me completely by surprise. So I understand your fear of going it alone. I’d bring a person who values you as you along. And definitely seek support group and counseling for yourself and your husband and Mom. They need to know that this baby pressure on you is just plain wrong. It’s hard enough to feel that frustration yourself, without having to carry it for others.

  13. Me

    December 9, 2008 5:17 pm

    My husband was totally disconnected from our IF treatments most of the time that we were doing them. He only attended a FEW appointments and was not at my HSG. The more that time wore on the more this bothered me. Eventually I was able to get it through his thick skull that I needed him to be there for me emotionally and physically. Eventually.

    IMO, men just don’t feel this as emotionally as women do. And therefore they don’t realize the emotional mountains we scale in this journey. And sometimes even when we tell them they think we’re being silly. It took a LOT for me to get my husband to begin to understand.

    Good luck to you.

  14. shinejil

    December 9, 2008 5:50 pm

    Lots of good advice on the medical and marital front from the other sisters, but I want to add my warmest support for what you’re going through. I found one of the most difficult things to deal with was the unexpected ups and downs–the exciting encouraging hope followed by the crushing despair that nothing will ever change.

    But it will. It won’t be easy, but you’ve got a whole army of other women out there, who know what it’s like.

  15. Jay

    December 9, 2008 6:50 pm

    This is a great place to come to for support and words of wisdom. This is only the beginning of my journey through this. After reading many blogs on this site I have learned that I am truly not alone. Everyone here is so inspiring. Thank you.

  16. Deathstar

    December 9, 2008 7:37 pm

    Take a girlfriend with you. And then do something special after the appointment. A nice lunch or go see a movie or even go home and watch TV with a special treat. You can do this.

    I often thought my husband had no idea of all the pain and discomfort that these sort of tests involved – more emotionally than physically. Husbands do tend to process these things differently, it’s not that they don’t care, they see it as just a simple task to accomplish, whereas with us women we personalize everything. But we are here for you and we get it and we can listen to you. Please continue to communicate your feelings with your husband and encourage him to share his feelings.

  17. Summer

    December 9, 2008 9:39 pm

    I’m glad to read that you are keeping the appointment. I can understand how anxious you must be feeling about it. No one wants to put themselves in a situation where they will be hearing more bad news. But, in the long run it’s better to know what you are dealing with even if the news is bad than not knowing at all.

    I’m sorry you will have to be going to the appointment alone since the people around you do not know of your infertility. Perhaps you can set things up with your husband so that you can talk to each other on the phone after you are done with the HSG? It’s not the same as him being there, but it sounds like you could use the support and it might help just to hear his voice.

  18. Jodi

    December 9, 2008 10:44 pm

    All the appointments and blood tests really stink but they are so important. The more information you and your doctors find out about your health and fertility, the more you can move onto diagnosis and treatment.

    I have had 2 hsgs – first one was painful and second one was a breeze. Definitely get pain meds to take beforehand if you can, I wished I had the first time. It will be done before you know it. Hang in there and best of luck.

  19. Jenny

    December 9, 2008 11:14 pm

    Jay, I’m glad you’re keeping your appointment.

    One insight that I have is that my husband, while equally upset by our infertility, sometimes got overwhelmed by my emotions (in addition to his own) & couldn’t support me the way he wanted. So, the SINGLE BEST THING that I did during my journey was to find a support group. When I first went to my group, I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder — for some reason, I thought I might not have anything in common with these women. And now, years later, they are all so special to me — and they are friends that I would count on for almost anything. Since you cannot tell your family now, I strongly urge you to find a support group — I really think it will be so helpful to you. Hang in there!

  20. jaymee

    December 10, 2008 4:36 am

    Keep the appointment, no need to have more stress.

    My husband is also very detached from the whole process, he always just leaves everything up to me.

    A little story that might help. My parents have been married for 30 years and are so in love that it is sickening. Three years ago my mother found a lump in her breast. The doctor wanted to take it out ASAP. They were sitting in the doctor’s office and trying to figure out the best time to do the surgery. “Well, I have a golf tournament that day, can we move it to the next week?” That is a direct quote from my father. It was not that he did not care, it was that he was scared to death and had no way of expressing that to my mother. She was scared and a complete mess, and in his eyes telling her that he was scared too was just adding to the stress and pain.

    Best wishes on the test.

  21. Brandygirl

    December 10, 2008 7:24 am

    I would have to agree with everybody else. Keep the appointment. I did all the tests alone, coupled with the fact that I had to arrange all the movers to move interstate cuz my husband had just started a new job in another state.

    It was a scary time for me but if I hadn’t done it, I wouldn’t have found out that I had bips and bops in me.

    Lots of luck and love…

  22. fatty

    December 10, 2008 10:24 am

    There’s a lot of good advice up there.

    First of all do take pain meds before hand. I won’t lie, mine HURT. But it was fairly quick.

    I wouldn’t cancel the appointment either. Its important to get done not only so your dr. knows what to do next, but for your own peace of mind. If you are scared to go alone you can ask a friend to go with you. Depending on where you are having it he might not even be allowed into the room. My husband was not allowed to come back to the room here I had mine done.

    Oy and the husbands can be a pain can’t they! There’s not enough room to really talk about that here, but men deal with infertility differently than we do. Just tell him you need support and be very specific about what you need. I hope all goes well….let us know what happens.

  23. loribeth

    December 10, 2008 3:56 pm

    There’s lots & lots of good advice here. I’m glad you’re keeping the appointment. I know some women find it painful, but I experienced nothing more than mild cramping (I went by myself, by the way — but it was not the first — or last — infertility-related test I’d been to — I’d definitely want my dh with me for the first go-round or two). Take a couple of ibuprofen an hour ahead (or a valium, if you think you’ll need it), and wear a pantiliner or light pad (they might offer you one, but it’s nice to come prepared!).

    As for your dh, everyone else has already put it well. Men do process these things differently. If he really can’t be there with you for the appointment, there are other ways he can make you feel supported. Let him know that’s important to you — it’s not so much that you need his physical presence, but you need to feel that he’s WITH you in the other sense of the word as you begin this journey. Good luck!

  24. Irish Girl

    December 11, 2008 12:41 am

    I echo all the great advice and support you’ve gotten so far. And I also want to add that it’s ok to be nervous (we all were!), scared (yup, we’ve all been scared), and it’s even ok to question the process (done that, too!). Many guys aren’t entirely “present” for every procedure, step, feeling we have along the way. I think infertility impacts men in a different way than it does women, in many relationships. Please know that you’re FAR from alone in this though! You have found an excellent resource online! Look around, reach out, ask questions, find support! We are here for you 🙂 Wishing you everything you hope for and more!

  25. Tania

    December 11, 2008 2:31 pm

    Ladies already said everything.

    When I schedule my HSG, my husband just realized I was scared when I told him I ask a girl friend to go with me. Then he said if it was important, he goes with me. And he did.

  26. Renwich

    December 16, 2008 11:25 pm

    Like many others, I too am glad you did not cancel your appointment. Always better to know, then not know.

    As for your family. When I told him my doctor recommended definitive treatment for my multiple, symptomatic fibroids, then told him what definitive treatment was, he withdrew for a bit. He’d seen my health deteriorate rapidly for the past six months, and was scared. He didn’t quite get what was going on, until he spoke to my mom who really spelled everything out for him, both as a former gyn nurse and as a fibroid sufferer herself. He’s been to some of my appointments since then. I consider myself fortunate that he has decided to get involved.

    Your parents… I have been there on this one. In my case it was my mother-in-law who would drop none-too-subtle hints like I want a grandchild for Christmas, or asking when we were going to have kids, etc. etc. I think I was more nervous telling her than anyone else, as she was the one with the expectations. My husband and I told his parents together, and you know what? it was fine. I think you need to tell your parents what’s going on. Keeping this private is one thing, but it sounds to me like this is a secret that’s hurting you.

    You need to take care of yourself, physically and emotionally. Find a therapist, a support group, something so you can lighten this burden once in a while. Take comfort, you’re not alone. When all is said and done, the only one you have to answer to is you.

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