Fertility Nurses – The Unsung Heroes

by
5
Oct
picture of fertility nurses

The face of CNY Fertility is Dr. Kiltz. After all, his vision, expertise, and innovation are why so many of us have or will have children. I think of CNY’s doctors as the soul of CNY—from the initial meeting to the important procedures to the impromptu conversations, they are present for all the make-or-break moments. However, as crucial as the doctors are, the nurses set the tone for your experience. Appointment after appointment after appointment, they are your day-to-day contact. They’re the ones who do your ultrasounds, stick you with needles, answer your questions, and explain your instructions. They are the ones who help you wade through your emotions and layout your options for the next step. They are your reality check and your source of hope. They are the heart of CNY.

My husband Chuck and I spent about fourteen months at CNY (December 2014-October 2015 and July 2017-October 2017). During that time, we crossed the paths of countless nurses. After both our pregnancies, we brought our boys back to CNY and seeing the joy on the nurses’ faces over meeting the babies they helped create was priceless. Without the nurses, I may have given up long before those babies were tiny embryos. So, for my tribute to the nurses, let me tell you some of my favorite stories.

The Greeting

The greeting—being called for your appointment—is a great moment, not just because you get to leave the waiting room. The receptionist is the sunny hello, the waiting room is the limbo zone, and that nurse, the one who calls your name, is the guardian of your next step. The small talk as you walk down the hall and the instructions when you get into the room are both part of the ritual that puts you in the right mindset for your appointment. No matter why you’re there, your attitude can’t help but move toward a positive place after spending those few moments with the greeting nurse.

I always had to do super early appointments (like before 7 AM) for minor things, like blood draws and monitoring, so I could get to work semi-on time. During our first pregnancy quest at CNY, I always felt extra happy when a particular nurse opened the waiting room door and said, “Ashley.” She was positive and upbeat, and our conversations were natural. She made non-morning person, needle-phobic me feel good, no matter my mood. I’ve experienced the greeting in two difference offices—Buffalo and Syracuse—and to me, it is one of the most important parts of CNY’s atmosphere.

Simple Yet Poignant

I can’t say that the nurses were my friends, even though we had plenty of off-topic conversations. The better word is confidante. I could say any thought or question without worrying about judgement. More importantly, I knew I would get an honest answer. My best example of this was when I decided to try a natural IVF cycle when we wanted baby #2. I’d never met the nurse before, and I sat in the exam room and listened to her tell me that the cycle wasn’t going well. I needed to decide whether to continue and asked her for advice. I could see her hesitation. In true CNY fashion, she did not want to make the decision for me. After a moment, she said something like, “If you were my sister, I would tell you to stop and try a regular cycle next month.” The part that stuck out was “if you were my sister..” So simple, yet so poignant. And exactly what I needed to hear.

My Nurse

At the beginning of my journey with CNY, while we were doing Letrozole cycles, I was frustrated. I hate being in the dark, and I felt like I was floating along, going through a predetermined routine and had no idea why I was doing certain things or what to expect as we moved forward. I stood crying at the receptionist’s desk while she, a nurse, and Dr. Kiltz comforted me. Their solution? Assign me a nurse. From that point forward, she did probably 65% of my appointments (and honestly, after the first few with her, I started feeling comfortable with my path and didn’t mind if she didn’t do the appointments).

My nurse got me through all the hard parts of conceiving my first son. She walked me through my options as each cycle failed. She told me about her own experiences. She made suggestions, but let Chuck and I choose how to move forward, which was impressive since it took me months to decide to take the clear next step: IVF. She was my reality check, my Dear Abby, and my fountain of answers. Even though I met and connected with several nurses on the journey to have our miracle, she was the one who got me through the tough moments from failed cycles to yet another approach adjustment to the possibility that our first pregnancy wasn’t viable.

A couple months after our bundle of joy was born, my nurse called for my follow-up. It was so reassuring and exciting to hear her voice as she celebrated the birth of my son. We arranged that Chuck and I would bring him to CNY on a day when she would be working. Showing him to her was as amazing as watching him meet Dr. Kiltz. When we went back to CNY to pursue baby #2, she saw my little man in the hallway and said, “That one’s mine.” And he is. He truly is.

Passion and Enthusiasm

Remember, my favorite greeter nurse? Well, when we were on the road to baby #2, her role had changed to the intralipid nurse. I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to see she was still at CNY when we went back.

Confession: intralipids are not my favorite. First, needles. Second, I hate the cold feeling when IV liquids go into your arm. But, with her in charge, they were a whole lot better. Her passion and enthusiasm were contagious and inspiring, even in the early morning. I looked forward to our small talk and left the office feeling uplifted after every session. When I think of that second journey at CNY, she is the definition of my experience.

After our twin boys were born, we went back to donate our embryos, and she took the time to do all of our bloodwork herself. Almost a year after my last intralipid infusion, she remembered me and spent a good chunk of that morning fussing over us. I am so thankful that she was able to share in our last little experience at CNY.

The Motherly Presence

I think I could write forever about the nurses, but I’ll stop myself after two more. The first is a nurse who, in my mind, is a motherly presence—steadfast, calm, nurturing, and honest. She was always straight with me, no sugar-coating or hesitating to say the hard things. Beyond that, she had a way of instilling hope even when the situation was beyond frustrating.

When we took our boys in to donate our embryos, she was there, and she spent time snuggling each of my babies and playing with my toddler as we went through the paperwork and procedures (somehow, the office was slow that day). She wasn’t a nurse that I expected to see that day, but I am so glad she was there.

Empathy

The last is a nurse from our second journey who did quite a few of my appointments as well as my pregnancy verification ultrasound. I remember being glad it was her because I was comfortable with her (after all, the possibility of bad news is always there). She started the ultrasound and found a sac. I could see the happiness on her face. That’s one thing I love about the nurses: their capacity for empathy, no matter the circumstance, is incredible.

Anyway, after finding that first sac, she moved the wand and another sac appeared. Again, joy crossed her face then she said, “Are you okay with twins?” In that moment, I knew if I was unsure, she would help me deal, but all I felt was overwhelming happiness. I left that day completely elated and forever grateful to that nurse, who would have stuck with me, no matter my feelings during and after that ultrasound.

Wrap-Up

The CNY nurses are a huge reason why Dr. Kiltz’s vision works. They are the confidantes, the mood-lifters, the advice-givers, the procedure masters, the empathizers, the sympathizers, and the celebrators. Walking into CNY was life-changing and walking out was incredibly difficult, but moving on is another essential part of the CNY journey. I am so grateful for each and every person that defined my time at CNY, from the doctors and nurses to the anesthesiologists, embryologists, spa workers, and receptionists. But it is the nurses, truly, who will always hold a place in my heart.

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