If you’ve stumbled upon this post because you want to know more about the technical definition of an HSG, I’m sorry, you won’t find it here (hell, I can’t even spell the actual procedure — or say it! — which made for a fun phone conversation with my insurance company). Rather, I’m about to detail my own experiences with this essential step in the fertility process, and why for me the HSG was such a positive thing, which I’ve gathered makes me kind of a freak.
Anyway, me & the HSG. Our history dates back to February 2008, when I spent the weekend in NYC with my three amazing girlfriends, all of whom were recent moms/pregnant at the time & all of whom didn’t get the instant results of two pink lines or whatever it is that all those fertile types say happens the minute you stop using birth control (or, my new favorite, the minute you relax). I was introduced to a lot that weekend, but the main thing that stuck with me was the idea that an HSG was a gatekeeper between me and sportsbaby.
For the next year and a half, I was repeatedly thwarted by my insurance company in my attempts to do anything fertility related, including obtaining an HSG – and not to mention my own inability to deal with the issue (see my Why I’m Here post for more on that). Through that all, the HSG became a symbol of what I wanted, and what I couldn’t get on my own.
Once we switched to our new, happy, bright insurance company in July 2009, I asked my new OB/GYN about the HSG, and she told me it’d be part of our fertility markup with Shady Grove, the clinic we’d been referred to. Finally, I was getting somewhere. I hit a small hiccup when it came time to schedule my HSG – Shady Grove was booked for my cycle, and I’d have to find a different radiology center. Fortunately, when I got my first mammogram (incidentally, MUCH more painful and awful than the HSG for me) the week before, I’d asked if they did HSGs, and the answer was yes.
On the morning my HSG, I was a little nervous for the procedure itself. I’d begun taking the doxycycline the night before to prevent potential infections, and it made me queasy. I’d been advised to pop an Advil that morning, but all we had in our house was Aleve. I couldn’t reach my nurse at Shady Grove to find out if Aleve was an accurate substitute (it was), so I ended up digging out a bottle of ibuprofen that expired in 1998.
We reached the radiology center about 20 minutes early, and I sent my DH to his mom’s house to run an errand, assuring him I was OK on my own, as long as he was back in time to drive me home. In the room itself, I had a chatty technician who helped me prepare. She asked me if I were nervous, and I told her that I wasn’t: I was looking forward to being a mom, and I believed this would help me achieve that goal.
Unfortunately, my candid nature made her comfortable, and she began to open up about her experiences with motherhood, including a truly awful and graphic story about delivering her daughter 18 years ago that ended badly for her own internal organs. She got a look on her face that said, “Oh, crap, maybe I shouldn’t be telling this to a woman who is about to have a camera shoved up into her uterus right now.”
The HSG itself basically involved me lying naked from the waist down on a table, and for me at least, it wasn’t any more painful than a typical pap smear — and it was over just as quickly. Unlike a pap smear, however, I got to look at a computer screen of my ovaries and my uterus, and it was really so very cool. They looked good! Not that I had anything to compare them with, but according to the doctor, everything was normal and there were no visible problems, and I got really excited, because this was the future first home for sportsbaby, and it was ready. Perfect even.
“That’s it?” I said to the doctor when she told me she was done.
“All that worry for that,” she joked.
“Actually, I wasn’t worried. I wanted this,” I told her. “I was excited for my HSG.”
“I’ve been doing this twenty years, and you are the first person to ever say that to me,” she replied.
I tried to explain to her the baby/gatekeeper thing, but she kept shaking her head. It’s a little more than that, too, I realized. When I moved to DC in 2003, I reconnected with my childhood best friend, who was attending med school. During those four years, she got me caught up in her excitement concerning all the cool functions of the human body she was learning about. Now she’s a resident in NYC, and I tried to text her my experiences, but I’m pretty sure those 500 character limits didn’t convey my gratitude for her informal tutorials.
When I was done, DH was waiting in the lobby, and I showed him the CD the technician had made of the images the camera had taken. I left a crazy voicemail message on my mom’s work phone squealing about seeing my insides (she, of course, listened to it on speaker with her boss in her office), and told DH how much fun it was, and how I had no cramping (those ancient Advils must have still worked). Even better, my MIL had sent $20 for him to take me to Starbucks to comfort me after my procedure.
Knowledge that sportsbaby’s home was ready, and a caramel macchiato? How could it have not been a good thing?