Friday, December 6, 2019

My Infertile Pharmacist

I have good news! I am really close to getting a job for what I went back to school for and graduated from last year, what I studied for and passed my national board exam for last spring. It is part-time because I am committed to my teaching contract this school year, but the job market in this area is pretty competitive (especially once you leave the city) so I am more than eager to get work experience in the field. If all goes well, I will be employed (on weekends, holidays, and summer vacation) in my new career next week!

As part of the hospital requirements where I'll be working, I am required to get a flu shot. I was kind of dreading it so I went to the pharmacy at the grocery store this week to get it done and over with.

I was sitting in the chair while the pharmacist was getting the antiseptic swab and needle ready. I was really nervous so I told her that and asked her to please not tell me when she was going to give me the shot so that I didn't flinch in anticipation. Then I off-handedly added, "You'd think I could handle a flu shot. I mean, I've been through IVF."

And to my surprise she said, "Me too."

What? This is not your typical casual conversation. But I jumped right in. I said, "Yeah, I had three medicated IUIs and two IVFs." And she shared, "I did IVF three times."

There was a pause.

And then I asked, "Did you have a baby?" She said, "No." And I said, "Me neither."

There was another pause as we just stared at each other, knowing that we had a connection that we didn't share with hardly anyone else.

I asked her why they didn't publicize that it didn't work about 75% of the time, she said she didn't know, and then we totally admitted how depressing and isolating the whole process is. She shared with me how mad she got at her husband during the process and I shared with her that I was now divorced, that since having kids didn't work out for us our visions for the future didn't line up together anymore.

Oh wow. We probably talked for ten minutes and we covered So Much. She said she had a great support group at the clinic where she was going, but she eventually had to stop going because everyone else got pregnant except her. I told her all of my friends who got pregnant were moving on in life and all of my friends who didn't want to get pregnant couldn't understand my sadness. She said she worries about every customer that buys a pregnancy test. I told her I'm concerned about my younger co-workers in their late 20s who are still waiting before trying to conceive. We both said we keep these thoughts to ourselves. We don't share them with unsuspecting customers and co-workers.

We were long lost sisters in that moment, so sorry for what the other had endured but so grateful to be able to talk in person to another woman who understood.

We almost forgot about my flu shot, but we eventually came back to the present moment.

It turns out we were both going through fertility treatments at the same time. She now has a three-year old daughter that she adopted (and she shared that that process was even harder on her than the fertility treatments), and we both shared that we are happy again.

We now like our lives again, but we both acknowledged that we would never ever want to relive those years ever, ever again. They quite literally almost killed us.


Wow. Just a couple of years ago, hell, just last year, I don't think I would've said such a thing to a total stranger. But this week I did. And it led to an incredible conversation with another Survivor.


  1. I love meaningful conversations like this. They are so rare!

  2. Dear Phoenix, it must have been an incredible moment to be able to share so much with this woman. And it is comforting to see that we are not alone and are from time to time able to connect with peers in real life.
    I'm glad you found the part-time job, congratulations :-)

    1. It was so comforting... For both of us! Even though we were total strangers, we could speak so freely with each other. Invaluable.

  3. How wonderful. What a connection you both had. I'm sure it meant as much to her as it did to you.

    It's worth opening up, isn't it? But ONLY when we feel read to do so. I'm glad you were ready.

    AND - fingers crossed for the new job! Though it sounds like a lot of work on top of your normal job.

    1. Agreed!! It is worth opening up but only when we are ready to do so.

      Yes, I think the next couple of months are going to be very demanding, but I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to get work experience in acute care at a hospital. I'm planning on just basically working and sleeping Dec. - Feb. while I learn this new job and work my old one, but I am so excited!!

  4. I started crying when reading this and didn't really know why. Then it came to me: it's about connection. I guess in the darkest times of grief there was a lack of it. I felt very lonely and I know many others have felt the same. So whenever we are understood it does something. It is huge. I am so glad you were able to connect with this woman.

    1. Connection!! It's what I craved when I was enduring my darkest times. But connection can never come too late. I'm considering inviting her out for coffee or something next time I pick up a refill. Or even a play date just me, her, and her daughter. I'm at the point in my recovery where I can enjoy children again (although I still prefer to not be around annoying parents) and I am very thankful for that. <3

  5. What a wonderful story of connection and sisterhood... It's so late to find someone who went through IVF and came out babyless in real life, I feel. So many miracle stories, that just make the survivors feel more lonely. So this is a gem!

    Holy Moses, you're going to teach and work part time in a hospital? I hope you can carve out time to care for yourself, too. Two helping professions at once sounds like a lot. But, it also totally makes sense to snag the in while it's available and it's admirable that you're finishing out the school year. Best of luck to you!

    1. It felt like it was a miracle for this woman and I to connect. We had never knowingly met someone like ourselves before. <3

      And thank you. Part of me thinks I'm crazy to take this on, but I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to get work experience on an acute floor in a busy hospital. I plan on sleeping a lot to restore. And eating good food. And making time to quilt (I hope!).

  6. Aw I love this story. How nice to have made a connection that day with someone who gets it.