“Mr. and Mrs. Horton?”
The door opened and an older woman with a friendly smile walked into the waiting room. I felt nerves shoot up in my stomach and my throat, making me feel like I had to throw up. If I thought waiting for the doctor to call us was torture, this moment was even worse.
“Come on,” Phil said softly, pulling me up by my hand. He’d tried to maintain a strong face for me, but I could see that he was getting nervous now, too. In a way that made me even more scared. Usually Phil was there to calm me down when I was overthinking things. The fact that he wasn’t able to calm me down right now made me feel like there was no reason to be calm.
We sat down in the chairs opposite her desk. I wished I could’ve sat closer to Phil, held his hands. I felt like I wanted to cry. Dr. Soukakis’ office was simple and fancy, with an expensive rug and ominously closed drapes. I looked over at Phil and saw that he was picking his nails, an obvious sign that he was as uncomfortable as I was.
“So, I understand that you two have recently married?” Dr. Soukakis asked, still smiling.
Phil answered, covering up my silence. “Three months.”
“And you’ve been trying for a baby since before then?”
“We started when we got engaged. That was nearly a year ago.”
Dr. Soukakis nodded. “Well, it’s not strange for couples to take a while before conceiving, but in your case it is a bit worrying. You’re both young, healthy people with relatively low-stress lifestyles.”
You call crying on a toilet seat every month for the past year low-stress?
“That’s why we ran some tests on you and we have the results in for you now.”
She sighed and shuffled through some papers. “Well, what were the results?” I snapped, annoyed and scared.
She adjusted her glasses and looked at me. “They’re not good.”
A stone dropped in my stomach. I felt like I was about to puke. Next to me, Phil inhaled audibly. “Why?” he asked, his voice barely above a whisper.
Dr. Soukakis kept talking. It was me. My fault. I had a hormone imbalance. Irregular cycle. Often skipping periods, egg cells that weren’t ready for fertilization, something like that. Probably also the reason for my weird bouts of adult acne, my hair thinning a bit at the sides, blah blah blah. Eventually I was barely registering what she was saying. All I could think about was the fact that I was the reason we didn’t have a baby yet.
“But we can do something about it.” Phil’s voice was suddenly fierce. “There has to be something we can do.”
Dr. Soukakis nodded carefully. “There is. You can take medications, Allie, to try and balance out your hormones, which should regulate your cycle more. But we can’t be completely certain that it will regulate it entirely.”
“But can we have a baby?”
“There’s no reason why you wouldn’t be able to have a healthy pregnancy. It just might take longer for you to get there. A lot longer. Then again, you might get lucky. If the hormone treatment works well, and the timing is perfect one month, it could happen relatively soon.” She shrugged. “There’s really no way to tell for sure what will happen.”
I felt anger fire up inside me. No way to tell, might catch on, luck or no luck… This wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair. If anyone deserved a child, if there was anyone who would give anything to become parents and love and care for a baby, it would be us. So why did it have to be so difficult? Why did we have to deal with so much uncertainty?
And suddenly, I started crying as Dr. Soukakis was explaining side effects of the medication. Real, loud, hysterical sobs that I couldn’t hold back.
Phil quickly got up and wrapped his strong arms around me, stroking my hair and murmuring soothing sounds in my ear. I felt his tears wetting my ear. But even his arms couldn’t make me feel safe.
I couldn’t hide from the problem anymore. The problem was me.
The weeks after our visit with Dr. Soukakis, things were pretty rough. Allie immediately started the medications, determined to ‘fix herself’, but it made her tired, moody and unlike the Allie I knew and loved. Then again, maybe it was just the diagnosis that spurred the change in her behavior. No matter how hard I tried to convince otherwise, she insisted that it was her fault and she was the guilty one.
Even Matt and Evelynne were very worried about her, but couldn’t cheer her up. She kept insisting that she was fine and that she’d be able to fix it.
I ate most of my meals alone, since Allie lost some of her appetite and often was so tired when she came home from work that she took a nap before eating. Every meal eaten without my wife made me more and sad and worried. I’d always been able to cheer her up, to make her feel better, to fix what was bothering her. And this time, I couldn’t. There was only one thing that could. A baby.