Why I Couldn’t Wouldn’t Shouldn’t Be an IVF Nurse

Not only don’t I think all nurses are created equal, I don’t think all nurses’ jobs are created equal. Even if I could pass all of the medical, scientific stuff (which is highly unlikely), I’d fail miserably at the “bedside manner” stuff. Maybe I could slide by as an emergency room nurse where you see the person, then they leave. Or at a doctor’s office where you take blood pressure and temperature, ship them off to the doctor, then they leave. But never an IVF nurse. You take their blood and they leave. Then a few days later they come back. Then a few days later, they come back. Then a few days later, they come back. You’ve surely heard the expression: “Familiarity breeds contempt”. I can’t think of a place that contempt would breed faster for me than at a fertility clinic. I was a fertility clinic patient for a year. I would have no patience for those patients. It was hard enough to be me, now I’d have to deal with me?

The IVF nurse, in my humble opinion, is the heart and soul of the fertility clinic. I went to two different clinics over my infertility “career/stint/nightmare”, and in each of them, the nurses talked me down off of my hysterical ledges, answered my questions that I asked over and over like a savantless idiot, and showed me repeatedly how to give myself the stomach shots because I kept zoning out at the word “subcutaneous”. They escorted me from the waiting room every time during the day, and then called me every evening to give me my new instructions. And when I called the doctor and left a message, I can count on zero fingers how many times it was the doctor who called me back.

I really appreciate all the doctors do, but ninety percent of the time, it was the nurses I was dealing with. In fact, sometimes I’d be assuming the position on the table and the doctor would float in and out. Later, the nurse would ask me: “Which doctor did you see today?” To which I’d respond:

“I have no idea. I don’t have any eyes where he or she was looking.”

(A few times, I felt like a car with the hood up. You don’t see the mechanic’s face, you just feel their fingers tinkering.)

Dealing with emotionally wrecked, hormonally challenged patients day in and day out? Not for me, Sista. The first time a patient acted like I did, that would be it. I’d search the appointment schedule every day for her name.

“Oh Debbie Johnson is coming in Tuesday at 10:15? Good to know. Can I have Tuesday off? Oh. Then, can I at least take an early lunch?”

After I got to know each patient intimately, as an IVF nurse, I would be highly efficient if not highly compassionate:  “Okay, I’m getting ready to take some blood here. ‘Whiner’, you’re up. ‘Irritating Neurotic’, you’re next and ‘Asks-a-question-and-then-talks-over-me-while-I’m-answering’, you’re after her. When I call your label, come in, sit down, put your arm out and don’t say a word. I’m interested if your vein moves, not your mouth.”

Yeah, I missed my calling alright.

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6 thoughts on “Why I Couldn’t Wouldn’t Shouldn’t Be an IVF Nurse

  1. Nursing would be a very hard profession, I think, and being an IVF nurse would be really rewarding, but also let you see people at their most devastated when things hadn’t worked…. again. Challenging to say the least. Thank goodness for those who do it.

    1. I actually dedicated my book to the IVF nurses. I like to think if was 100% out of appreciation and not 90% appreciation 10% apology for something I may have inadvertently said to one of them while in a hormonal fog.

    1. Seriously, occasionally I had a doctor and someone learning down there. I’d hear voices and I didn’t know if anyone was talking to me. Then I had one doctor stumble into the examination room 10 minutes late with a Styrofoam cup of coffee in his hand and his eyes half-closed. He said: “Sorry, I’m not really a morning person.” Just what you want to hear when the soles of your feet facing the ceiling.

  2. I was an IVF nurse for 30 years and I’m still laughing at this. My sides hurt and I’m snorting. So glad someone gets it. Bravo !

    1. Hi Maryanne,
      “Sides hurting” and “snorting” –those are like the best diagnoses to a comedy writer! Like I wrote, I have enormous respect for people who choose your profession. 30 years woman?! I can only think of 2 things to say to you: 1) On behalf of the hundreds if not thousands of IVF patients you’ve seen over those years: Thank you soooo much for your dedication, and 2) What the hell were you thinking? You probably still have a few of their annoying complainy voices stuck in your head… like a really bad case of Tinnitus.

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