All I Want For Christmas
Last week I went to the doctor.
My husband Jason and I are still struggling to get pregnant and as the holidays approach, my emotions are right at the surface. Buying gifts for other people’s children has required all my Midwest stoicism to keep it together in the toy aisle at Target.
So I decided to make a difficult situation more difficult and sign us up to see a professional.
Nothing says happy holidays like a fertility doctor.
After the initial consultation, our doctor recommended a few tests. When I showed up at the testing facility, I was surprised to find that it was in a basement – not super reassuring but I plunged ahead.
I sat in the waiting room, wondering if the procedure was going to be painful and trying not to panic. When I was finally called I met my nurse, a Russian woman in her early sixties. She wasn’t exactly the embodiment of compassion as she handed me a robe and told me I could leave my socks on.
I pushed down my fear and did as instructed. Eventually, I found myself on a table surrounded by medical equipment, staring at beams with the insulation showing.
The nurse came back in wearing a lead vest and I immediately started filling the room with chatter. When I get nervous I’m like a tipsy socialite on the prowl for a rich husband, trying to ask all the right questions. “Where are you from? Do you have any children? What’s your favorite color? You’re so funny!”
Through this, I found out my nurse was from a small town near Siberia and that she’d come here to give her children a better life. I mentioned that I’d always wanted to visit Siberia.
“I’m from North Dakota,” I explained, “And I love wide, snowy landscapes.”
Her whole face softened and she smiled down at me.
“Yes, when snow is falling and it’s so quiet, that’s something people here don’t understand. The beauty of seeing the whole world frozen around you, there’s nothing else like it in the world. It’s the thing I miss most.”
We both looked at each other and I whispered agreement and suddenly, right there in that room full of x-ray machines and metal tables, we both started to cry.
At first, my tears were for that winter landscape that I missed so much but soon they turned into all the worry and hope and disappointment I’ve been holding on to. How much I wished I wasn’t lying there on that table. How worried I was that there was something wrong with me.
I didn’t say any of this to the nurse but she seemed to understand anyway. She moved toward me and reached for my hand. “I know, I know,” she said.
Eventually, the doctor came in, the procedure began and that nurse held my hand the entire time, reassuring me every step.
These past few weeks I’ve had trouble getting in the Christmas spirit. With concerning political developments, the horror in Syria, the loss of my father-in-law, and struggling to get pregnant, I haven’t felt my usual tingle of holiday cheer.
But leaving the clinic that day, I felt something stir awake inside me again. In my car, I turned on Christmas music and hummed along quietly.
Sometimes all we really need is for someone to be there and tell us it’s going to be okay. Even if they’re not sure. Even if they’re scared too.
I turns out that nurse – a complete stranger – in her lead apron and her thick accent, holding my hand in a basement in Santa Monica, was what I really needed for Christmas.
This piece was originally written for the Fargo Forum. You can find them (and me) here.
Photo by Jason Elias.