“Eugene and Katrina’s lives are forever changed when they are given some shocking and deeply upsetting news.”
Eugene and Katrina had been sitting in a waiting room for almost half an hour. A long black vinyl couch with a stainless steel sled base and several chairs were situated throughout the room. In front of the couch was a stainless steel coffee table on top of which an array of magazines were spread across. A split-leaf philodendron planted in a white ceramic planter was located next to the window through which you could see parts of the city and Lake Michigan. Pieces of abstract art were hung along some of the walls which were all covered with white shiplap panels. The floor of the room was luxury vinyl planks that looked like dark hardwood to anyone who saw them. Directly across from the couch was the receptionist’s desk. To the left of the desk was a door leading to the rest of the practice including exam rooms and the doctor’s office.
Eugene shifted in his chair and briefly glanced at the clock tacked on the wall. He then turned toward Katrina. He could tell she was nervous, as she had not said her word since they arrived. Truth be told he was anxious as well but he tried not to dwell on those feelings. After all, worry would not do any good.
“Don’t worry Katrina,” Eugene began in his efforts to reassure his wife. “I’m sure it’ll be fine. Studies have shown that about one in eight couples deals with infertility and nearly ninety percent of infertility cases are medically treatable.”
Katrina gave a soft smile. “You’re probably right. It’s just difficult not to assume the worst when…” Katrina took a breath, “when you’re faced with a situation like this.”
“I understand,” Eugene said gently. He then wrapped his arm around her and Katrina laid her head on his shoulder.
From an early age, Katrina knew she wanted to be a mother. She had grown up with two younger brothers and cherished fond memories of helping to feed them, rock them to sleep, and read them stories. During her college years, her desire to be a mother had only deepened as she had worked as a tutor for kids to support herself through school. Now she worked as a substitute teacher and loved every moment she was able to spend with her students. It warmed her heart to see their joy, curiosity, and unconditional love. Katrina was a natural with children and there was no doubt in Eugene’s mind that she would make the best mom anyone could ask for.
As for Eugene, his path to wanting children had significantly deviated from Katrina’s. In his earlier years, he never wanted to have a family. He was content to spend his days with his microscope and computer. A man of science and technology rather than a father and husband was all he aspired and desired to be. Eventually, through his work at Whit’s End and his relationship with Katrina, the desires of his heart changed. On a nearly daily basis, he was surrounded by children. He witnessed firsthand their innocence, inquisitiveness, and wonderment. The look of amazement on children’s faces when viewing one of Whit’s new inventions to the sound of their laughter resounding through the halls of Whit’s End brightened his days and brought unspeakable joy into his life. And he hoped that joy would become a permanent part of his and Katrina’s lives. How ironic it was that the one thing he never wanted before had become his greatest dream.
Upon getting married they decided that while having children was something they definitely wanted to do, due to their present situation, it would be best if they waited for the time being. By the time they had celebrated three years of marriage, they knew the time was right. They were no longer on the run from Andromeda. They were established financially. Dalton Kearn was safely behind bars and Eugene had united with his father and brother. They had grown in their relationship and as individuals, and now they felt ready to become parents. There was nothing more they wanted than to start a family.
Eugene and Katrina knew it would take time so for the first few months, they weren’t concerned when the tests came back negative. But before they knew it nine months had passed and still the answer remained the same. For the first time, a sense of worry and doubt began to creep into their minds. What if there was something wrong?
The day that Janice, Katrina’s old roommate, announced her pregnancy, had been hard for them, but especially Katrina, as they had been trying to conceive for over a year and it took Janice and Steven only two months.
Eugene remembered seeing the look on his wife’s face as she embraced her longtime friend. Behind her happiness and infectious smile were the feelings of pain, disappointment, frustration, and sadness that were only known to him. He knew that she wanted a baby more than anything and just didn’t understand why it wasn’t happening for them. As much as he hated to admit they needed help. For his and Katrina’s sake, he knew they needed to consult someone, at least to let them know if anything was wrong.
After two more negative pregnancy tests, they arranged an appointment at a fertility clinic in Chicago with the help of a referral from Dr. Lily Graham. The clinic was administered by Dr. Amanda Field, a renowned reproductive endocrinologist, who was one of the best in the country.
The first appointment consisted of lab work, answering medical and personal questions, and looking over their family history. Several tests and examinations such as a laparoscopy, hysteroscopy, hysterosalpingography, semen analysis, and a pelvic exam were also conducted.
A week later, Dr. Field called them and asked if they could travel back down to her office for her to deliver their results in person. Now here they were anxiously waiting to be called in to see the doctor.
At that moment the door across from them opened and the medical assistant, Anna, walked out. “Mr. and Mrs. Meltsner, Dr. Field will see you now.”
Eugene and Katrina rose from their seats and walked over to where Anna stood who then led them to Dr. Field’s office who was waiting there for them. The room had a certain air of professionalism to it but also elements of sophistication. Blown-glass wall sconces hung on the wall. A gold-rimmed mirror was placed on the wall opposite the door. And a heavy mahogany desk and an accompanying sterling leather executive chair were set in the center of the room. Behind the desk was a built-in bookcase filled with books that spanned the entire wall. Sitting atop the desk was a box of tissues. Through the large combination windows, one could see the grey clouds that covered the sky and threatened rain, casting a dark shadow over the room.
“Please have a seat,” Dr. Field motioned to the two chairs in front of her desk. Katrina and Eugene walked across the room and took a seat. “Thank you both for coming in today.”
“Of course, Dr. Field,” Eugene said.
“We’ve been anxiously awaiting the results,” Katrina added.
“I know from years of experience just how hard the waiting period can be for my patients.” Dr. Field rested her hands atop the two folders on her desk which contained Eugene and Katrina’s medical records. “I’ve had the opportunity to look over both of your test results and for you Mr. Meltsner,” she looked at Eugene. “None of your tests revealed anything abnormal. Everything’s fine.” Dr. Field sighed, clasped her hands, and looked at Katrina.
“Mrs. Meltsner, you have what is known as endometriosis. A condition where endometrial-like tissue grows on the outside of the uterus. It also can form on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, intestines, and other pelvic organs. These areas of endometrial-like tissue can cause ovarian cysts, superficial lesions, and scar tissue within your body. Common symptoms include excessive menstrual cramps, abnormal or heavy menstrual flow, and pain during intercourse.”
Katrina began to feel a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, though she kept growing fear and anxiety hidden behind her attempts to keep a composed expression for Dr. Field’s benefit. The various symptoms the Doctor had mentioned were all too familiar. She was an intelligent and accomplished woman. After all, her college studies had begun at an early age. How hadn’t she seen the signs?
Dr. Field continued, “Endometriosis alone can make it increasingly difficult to get pregnant, especially in severe cases such as yours.”
“Wait, alone? Are you saying the tests revealed something else?” Eugene asked, his concern and apprehension growing as well.
“Yes. Due to your endometriosis, both of your fallopian tubes are blocked due to a build-up of endometrial-like tissue. In some cases, surgical intervention is an option. However, in your case, due to the excessive scarring and the location of your scar tissue at the end of the fallopian tubes, surgery is not possible.”
“In that case are there other options we can pursue such as IVF?”
“Yes, is that a possibility?” Katrina followed after her husband.
Dr. Field dreaded having to inform Eugene and Katrina, just like any couple in their position, of the sad reality of their situation, but knew that as difficult as it might be, it was her responsibility to do so.
“Unfortunately, IVF isn’t a viable option,” Dr. Field began. “Because of your endometriosis you also have developed a condition known as Asherman’s syndrome, a rare condition where scar tissue builds up inside your uterus, and the scarring is so extensive it is not able to be repaired via surgery. This means that you have absolute uterine factor infertility and the possibility of you being able to conceive is virtually nonexistent. I’m sorry.”
“So…are you saying that Katrina and I are unable to have children?” Eugene asked. He and Katrina both knew the answer to his question but still hoped against hope the answer would be different.
“Yes, I’m afraid so.”
Eugene and Katrina sat without saying anything for a few moments, trying to fully process what they had just heard. It felt as though they had just been hit by a ton of bricks. As though their hearts, along with so many hopes and dreams, had just been shattered. Eugene took Katrina’s hand in his, trying to offer her his support and comfort.
“Are you sure there’s nothing…” Katrina trailed off. Her voice was so weak, so small. Completely lost in the space between her and Dr. Field. “Nothing we can do to have children of our own?” Katrina knew she was practically torturing herself at this point but she didn’t want to have to accept the truth — that she would never be a mother to a child of her own.
“I can tell how much you two want a family of your own. I wish there was something in my power I could do but there isn’t. There are other options such as surrogacy and adoption which you could pursue. Both options take quite a bit of time as well as also require an extensive legal process and a good deal of money. My advice would be for you both not to rush into any decisions about what to do next. Take your time to grieve and process this information, and then after all that you can decide where to go from here. Once more I am truly sorry.”
Eugene climbed into the driver’s seat and locked the car doors while Katrina sat in the front passenger seat looking aimlessly through the front windshield. Through the glass, one could see the building which housed Dr. Field’s office that they had just exited moments before as well as the dark clouds which covered the sky that had begun releasing a torrent of rain. Her eyes followed the rain droplets streaming along the glass.
Katrina felt like a failure. Thoughts of worthlessness and pain rang through her mind. We can’t have children. I can’t give my husband the one thing I should be able to give him. I can’t give him children of his own.
Deep down she knew she was wrong for thinking such things. She was more than enough for Eugene and he was more than enough for her. The wholeness of any person or marriage did not rest on biological children. But still, those voices cried out over and over again in her head.
It was too much.
Eugene’s mind was also racing with thoughts. Why would God let this happen? Why can’t we have children of their own? Especially considering all we have been through? How is this fair? But none of that mattered now. Right now regardless of whatever he was feeling he kept telling himself to be strong. To hold it together. To push his own sadness and pain to the back of his mind so he could be there for Katrina during this time. So that he could be the husband she needed him to be.
Eugene turned his head in Katrina’s direction. She sat silently in her seat with tears quietly rolling down her cheeks — completely withdrawn from the world around her. The sight broke Eugene’s heart. How he wished he could take away her pain. Protect her from all of this.
He longed to say something that would ease her suffering, but for one of the few times in his life, Eugene was at a loss for words. What words would be adequate enough to comfort his wife on one of the worst days of their lives?
He prayed that God would show him a way and that he would heal their broken hearts.
Eugene knew that one day they would find their way out of this darkness — one day.