Former patient, Julie Pelc Adler, wrote in her own words about her journey to motherhood with Fertility Centers of Illinois. She wanted to share her experiences so that they could help anyone who might be going through the same struggles, pain and worry. Read on to experience her journey through her eyes.
It was December 2011 and we were still months away from what would become the date of our son’s conception. My husband and I were frustrated with our unexplained infertility and the years of fruitless attempts to conceive a child. I was beginning to lose hope.
I glanced around the office of our new doctor, searching for an object upon which to fix my ever-shifting gaze. Then I saw the stuffed animal stork nestled on the doctor’s bookshelf.
“Really?” I asked him, rhetorically.
“Really.” He replied.
And then he smiled. I felt the smile rise up from his lips into the creases around his eyes, where the recognition of the unspoken was shared and acknowledged. The idea of a stork seemed ludicrous: how could a bird magically deliver a human baby into empty and waiting arms? And, sitting there in a fertility clinic felt ludicrous: how did this come to be my reality?
There were no clichés uttered, no empty promises made, no polite small-talk needed: just one generous and thoughtful doctor sharing an honest moment with two aching hearts on a journey.
At the end of the meeting, I wished him “Happy Holidays”, imagining our conversation to be over, as we’d composed a treatment plan and no more medical advise was required just yet. I reached for the door knob and prepared to leave his office, but Dr. Rapisarda had another surprise for me. Instead of closing our file and moving swiftly on to the next patients in his schedule, he held open the door for a few precious moments longer, allowing us to know just a little bit about the man behind the white coat, the owner of the stork stuffed animal. Knowing that both my husband and I are rabbis, he shared with us a bit about his journey of faith around the confluence of Hanukkah and Christmas, thanking us for acknowledging both faith traditions by offering a “Holiday” greeting.
In this seemingly small gesture, he equalized our relationship, reminding us that he, too, was a person engaged in complicated and sometimes difficult struggles. And in that moment, his offering was the best holiday gift I could imagine. I trusted him. I knew that he would do his best to help us. And that we were more than a file-folder or a name in his schedule to him.
This December I brought my now one-year old son to meet the staff at FCI in Glenview. As I waited for Dr. Rapisarda to emerge from his office, I thought back to the stuffed animal stork nestled on those bookshelves and my own journey through infertility, bringing me to this moment. And I quietly offered a prayer of thanksgiving to the dear ones who helped me arrive to this moment.
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