Sunday, 3 February 2013

A big ask

The NHS has, generally, been pretty good in emergencies. I'm grateful for treatment that's available without a charge at the point of need. But it's internal bureaucracy sometimes means I'm slightly frustrated.

I've got a reminder for my cervical smear test. The joy.

The thing that's slightly off-putting is that I know, when I go, I'm going to have to go through a  questionnaire about my fertility history with a nurse. There's a question where you're meant to write down the number of pregnancies and the number of children you have, and just a small space next to each question.

Once, when I did this during the IF years, I ended up absolutely bawling my eyes out. It was not my finest hour. But I just found it enormously upsetting to have to explain the situation I found myself in, all the agony that spilled out from those two little spaces.

I've moved beyond this now, and just find it all a bit tiresome. My abbreviated fertility history would fill at least a page of A4 if I include IVFs, ectopics, drug regimes and all the rest. It fills pages and pages and pages in my detailed notes.

They don't need me to go through it all again, but I know they're going to ask. Because the NHS has no bureaucratic procedure for recognising someone is infertile and has no facility for sneaking in a pregnancy when they're not looking.

And then there's the "what contraception are you using?" I got asked this by every nurse, doctor, community midwife and health visitor I met in the Boy's early days, until about the 8th one finally wrote something in my notes to stop the constant quizzing. I'd tried to pre-empt this by writing in my birth plan that there was no point asking; in fact, it was one of the few reason I'd bothered with a birth plan (I asked a midwife if there was any point in them and was told they were considered a "very valuable document". I didn't really believe her, which was just as well or I'd have been in for a rude shock).

 I was actually finding it quite amusing by the end - perhaps I am slightly twisted, but I was enjoying watching the surprise and squirming embarrassment when I matter-of-factly explained why it is impossible for me to get pregnant naturally.

Maybe the nurse who does the questionnaire will be the same one as the last time, and remember me. Maybe I should tell her my method of contraception is spending all my money on wine and avoiding fertility clinics. Or maybe I should just change my name to "Mrs No Fallopian Tubes And Read My File Before Asking About Previous Pregnancies" on my notes, so everyone gets the message.


  1. Dreaded questions indeed. And a twisted sense of humour helps when thinking up possible answers.
    I haven't decided yet between 'Oh, I'll never have sex again' and 'but I want to get pregnant asap'
    But I think the name change might work....

    (Hopefully they have changed the questionnaire and added a box to tick for infertility or something)
    Wishing it'll be over quickly.

  2. I really like your second last paragraph. The more that our health professionals get uncomfortable at asking questions like this, the more likely that they might actually suggest a change or at least a more sensitive way of handling this issue.