Reason To Write: To Let It All Out

I walked across the parking lot to my car, the folder from the fertility center tucked under my arm, the scrip for blood work inside. I was giddy, because it was beautiful, sunny and 61 on a mid-November day. I was pleased with myself, because I was Getting Shit Done. Within five minutes, I was pulling into the lot behind the commercial building that housed the lab and, after another 10 minutes in the waiting room, I was ushered into the back and set up in a chair.

My confidence wavered as I watched the lab tech collect the vials she would need for my blood. 11 of them in all. In the past, most medical professionals had struggled when faced with the task of finding a good vein on me, and I’d often teetered on the edge of blacking out. With 11 vials to fill, it seemed inevitable that I would at some point begin losing consciousness.

She tied a band around my left arm. Asked me to make a fist. Tapped my skin.

She untied the band.

She repeated these steps on my right arm. She tapped a finger against her lips.

She looked back at her screen. And then at me. “You pregnant?”

I swallowed. I had been trying to practice santosha, contentment with the things I already had. I had been trying to tell myself I would end up a mother somehow. “No,” I said, taking great care to muffle the bite in that one word. “I’m trying to figure out why I can’t get pregnant.” She nodded and turned back to the screen. She sighed.

She called another tech over.

This other woman was cranky. She complained about her work with the other lab tech. How overworked she felt. How fried. It made me nervous. I tried to concentrate on my breathing as she retied the band around my left arm.

When she slipped the needle into my arm, it didn’t hurt, and I silently cheered. But she kept snapping at me to stop tensing up, telling me I was making it harder for all of them. I hadn’t even realized I was tensing up and had, in fact, been practicing the breathing meditation I’d learned in yoga in order to calm myself down. I began to feel angry with her. This wasn’t my fault.

It reminded me of the time I was in the hospital 11 years ago, admitted with a mystery virus, unable to keep down food or water. The nurse back then struggled to get an IV into me, trying about 10 times in each arm. I worked hard to keep it together, but I was in pain. “Are you going to cry?” the nurse taunted me. “Why haven’t you had any liquids?” I carried the bruises up and down my arms for months afterward.

Back in the here and now, the only thing shattering my calm was this insensitive lab tech. After she gave up on the first vein with a huff, I suggested she try my hand, though I knew it would hurt. Previous techs had experienced success there.

But the blood flow was slow here, too, and I couldn’t stop wincing.

The lab tech berated me some more, at which point I began to feel lightheaded. She pulled the second needle out, taped a second scrap of gauze to my hand, and left me with a small paper cup of water. I felt silly and ashamed for causing so much trouble.

The original tech came back. I asked her if she’d collected enough for any of the tests. “No,” she admitted. As she went back to exploring my right arm, I suddenly felt overwhelmed.

How was I going to get pregnant if I couldn’t even get some simple tests done?

I felt a pressure behind my eyeballs, a lump in my throat.

“I’d like to go home now,” I said.

I couldn’t cry when I returned to my car, even though I wanted to. Instead, I lay back against my seat and stared at the sky. It was springtime blue, a contrast to the rust-brown leaves that shivered on the trees. It was beautiful.

I drove home. I had a piece due that day on how to solve five common couples’ arguments. I had another due the next day on why exercise was good for your sex life. I had promised my writing partner a revision on my freelance writing workbook, and I owed a coaching client a resource packet.

But all I could think about was that day’s failure.

Instead of crawling into bed and giving up on the day, I wrote about it. Because that’s what I do. And in writing it out, I find I can move past it.

At least temporarily.

So while this isn’t a how-to post on the freelance life, it is one reason for me to write.

Why do you write? If you’d like to blog about it for Freelancedom, let me know!


  1. Beautifully written.

  2. steph, thank you for sharing this. medical professionals are the last people in the world who have a right to be rude, and unfortunately i’ve dealt with a lot of similar insensitivity many times, so i can commiserate. it’s especially awful given your sincere desire to get pregnant. i hope the rest of your day/week goes better.

  3. Steph, what a nightmare! I hate having blood drawn, so I feel your pain. I’m sure these lab techs deal with this all time, so I’m surprised that she was so insensitive (probably overworked and having a bad day). Good for you for writing about this as katharsis!

  4. Steph, I know pity won’t give you want you want but I feel for you. A friend traveled a similar journey and helped me understand just how painful it is.

    I love that you close this with “why I write.” I was thinking about this yesterday as I finished a creative writing exercise. I’m learning how to take risks and write fiction. As I assigned quirky mannerisms to a character, I thought, This is IT! Writing is my outlet for all those strange and wonderful life details everyone thinks I am crazy to notice. I can take deep emotion and express it on a page. Somehow it makes more sense. Or maybe it doesn’t, but the process helped me understand the issue behind the issue.

    We are fortunate to have an artistic outlet that at once blesses us while blessing others.

    By the way, you wrote that scene beautifully. My husband has those veins and aye aye aye, it is always an ordeal. I especially love it when the doctor swoops in, all ego-driven, and figures he’ll show up the technicians, only to fail spectacularly as my husband turns all shades of green.

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