The last time I wrote I was in the depths, no, the bowels of infertile uncertainty and sadness. I had finally realised that maybe mine wasn't going to be the story people told to buoy other infertiles up when their cycles failed.
That I was going to be the mother of one on the playground, wistfully looking at the cherubic faces of fat little babies and trying not to feel bitter.
It was at this time I left my old fertility clinic and had a two week wait (oh, look, irony) for an appointment with my new doctor. This particular fertility expert (FS) has such a good reputation that I think he may have seen the private parts of nearly every woman in my corner of the world. Every time I mention his name there is someone going, "Oh! I went to him, he is lovely! He helped me get [insert child name here]."I decided to stop trying, stop thinking, stop even considering babies while I waited for my appointment. I wasn't sure I could carry on. The hormones have left my body a shambles. In spite of being careful with food and exercising regularly I've put on a lot of weight and feeling fat just makes things worse. I don't know about you, but when putting on my jeans suddenly becomes a practise session for the job of circus contortionist I have a tendency to sulk. And throw my jeans at the wall. Stupid washing machine must have shrunk them.
When the day arrived to see my new FS I showed up with butterflies in my stomach, an extraordinarily bad hair day (my vermilion hair had faded into a mad patchwork of grey, brown, blonde and pink) and overtight jeans. There was a very real possibility that he would think he was being attacked by an angry sausage and call the police on me.
I tried to convince myself that it was a test (I had actually been chasing deadlines all day). You see, my last clinic treated me as if I had accidentally fallen off someone's Jimmy Choo . I always staggered in wearing whatever I could find in the dark (my family was still asleep when I left) and clutching a cup of coffee. If this doctor judged me by my dishevelled appearance, then the relationship would not work.
I'm a little tired of being judged, if I am honest. Most of the doctors I've seen over the past three years have been male and dismissive. Not of the glossy women who slide into the clinics as if made of marble and magic, but of the ones who are in jeans and t-shirts and scruffy shoes. I don't care if I look like I've just been tumble dried. My life is not the one for the sensitive Prada or high-maintenance Manolo. I just don't care. I'm more worried about punctuation and poor spelling on Facebook.
When the nurse called me through at the new clinic a pleasant man greeted me by grasping my hand with both of his and saying, "I am so sorry you've had such a tough time, let's see what we can do to make this gentler on you." And I burst into tears. My new FS is Warm and Fuzzy.
He was appalled at my previous experiences, he genuinely cared that I felt miserable and fat and freaked out and he put my nerves to rest. I wasn't rushed out the door or made to feel like he had better things to do. Short and Intense spent a lot of time glancing at his watch while I was talking, Warm and Fuzzy doesn't even wear one.
My last cycle had been driven by 100mg of Clomid a day. That was 50 in the morning and 50 in the evening and while it had provided me with three eggs – a massively improved percentage for pregnancy – it had also left me really ill. Headaches, exhaustion, irritability and stomach aches.
My previous doctor never once asked me what reactions I was having to the hormones he pumped into my system. This doctor, when I told him of my reaction, made it quite clear that Clomid was now off my menu for a while, if not forever. Some people react negatively and are more prone to the unpleasant side effects and these include some nasties like blindness, strokes and hyper ovarian syndrome. Apparently I could be one of those people. What on Earth would have happened if I'd stayed with the last place?
It's really important that women going through infertility treatments feel comfortable with their doctors. Now I have a two hour drive to see my new FS, but the difference in how I feel and how I've relaxed is astonishing. I also blamed myself for the negative ending with Short and Intense, but after speaking to Warm and Fuzzy and my GP, I have realised that the fault lies entirely with him.
He had a complete lack of respect for the women walking in and out of the clinic. They were just chequebooks and bank accounts. I wasn't judged because I wore shabby clothes, I was judged because they didn't think my wallet was big enough. Every time I went there I was told how old I was, how I was running out of time, how desperate my situation.I usually left feeling drained and hopeless, as if my ovaries were so withered they needed a rest home rather than a hormone injection.
I was asked at least twice a week when I was going to start doing IVF and I was advised to expect maybe one healthy egg from that process. Hope was sucked up and thrown away like a used tissue.
In contrast my appointment with Warm and Fuzzy was calm, considered and kind. He answered all my questions and he gave me solid advice. Not once did he try to sell me IVF or put pressure on me to leap onto that train. Quite the opposite, in fact. Short and Intense never told me that I have superb egg reserves, as many as a 35 year old. They're still 42, but there are lots of them.
I had time. I could take a break to emotionally recuperate and relax and that is precisely what my doctor ordered me to do. I am to de-stress, unwind, sleep, forget about babies and have fun. I return to the merry-go-round near the end of this month and I am, for the first time in a very long time, excited.
You can read Tamsin's previous columns here.