Good because it was genuinely useful and not overly emotional or too touchy-feely. She, the counsellor, seemed just like a really nice, straight-forward, eminently practical woman.
She started by asking us to tell her where we were in the process and how we'd ended up coming to see her. I explained, as succinctly as I could, about the initial year of trying, the referral and then the last year of tests, confusing diagnosises, delays, more tests. And how the resulting farce left me upset not by by the whole inability to have a baby thing but because I was confused and having to deal with really, really poor communication. But the Doctor couldn't accept responsibility for upsetting me so decided that I needed to see a counsellor. And here I was.
Just being able to say all of that to someone within the clinic was fantastic. I wanted someone there to know how frustrating it was and to be able to pour it all out to at least a colleague was very satisfying.
She asked if we hadn't requested the referral, why we had come. Honestly, it was partly my up-bringing you get an official letter telling you to be somewhere on a certain date. You go. But I didn't say that. Instead I gave the other reason, I wanted to talk to someone in the hospital to actually find out what was going to happen next year, because all I knew was that I have an appointment to "start treatment" on the 19 of Feb and that, thanks to a letter, I'm due to have interuterine insemination (IUI) sometime. But how, when, where, what's the waiting list like?
She seemed gratifyingly shocked at the minimal information we had been given and the general fuck-ups we'd had to contend with.
And then she was brilliant. I knew the basics of what IUI involved through web research but each fertility clinic in the UK has slightly different proceedures. I wanted to know what would happen to us, how long the waiting list was, how many 'chances' we'd have. It looks like, assuming the provera worked (and I'm not making that assumption), we can actually start treatment in February.
In this clinic, and for my other UK readers I really have to stress it does vary across the country so don't take this as gospel, I get three goes at IUI, usually with a month between each failed go. If that doesn't work my case will get reviewed and she certainly knew of several couples who have gone on to one funded cycle of IVF. Which was a massive relief as I had read it was one strike of either IUI or IVF and you had to start pulling the cheque book out.
Obviously I hope I never have to take the full entitlement of treatment but it is comforting to know. All this the French Doc could have told us, but she was such a whirlwind of efficiency we'd be in and out before we had a chance even to formulate the questions.
She asked one really pertinent question that I have been mulling over ever since. "Did I feel I could move on from the past year when I start the next round of treatment". Dunno. Have to think about that one a bit more. I trust the science, but not the system.
But it wasn't all good. It was bad, because there wasn't a lot of material for humorous anecdotalage.
- There wasn't a whiff of hemp about her
- Her feet were suitably clad, no sock and sandal combo
- And a worrying lack of ethnic beads bought whilst discovering hereself in Goa/ the Himalyas/Amazon (delete as applicable).
- She didn't repeat the last three words I said turning it into a question.
Oh, there was one point. I was saying how I didn't feel over-whelmed by the whole thing because I had outlets and people to talk to. At which point the husband says, "Yeah and you write about it a lot." Turning to the counsellor, "she writes a lot" (just in case she didn't hear the first time). I'm cringing repeating in my head the mantra 'don't mention the blog, don't mention the blog'. The counsellor looks concerned - "How does that make you feel?" She asks the husband. The husband looks surprised she even asked. "Good." So that's a relief I'm not going to have to choose between you and the husband just yet.
We haven't got any plans to go back just yet. We don't think it is necessary. But if things go wrong and it gets harder I can call her and make an appointment. Which is good to know.
And anyone who is thinking about it I would say, judging from my own experience, give it a whirl it might help, its not an admission of failure, its not scarey, and in the immortal words of Bob Hoskins "It's good to talk".