I think it is time to write about how important your fertility appointments are. They are a big deal and can significantly impact the way you feel about your journey. Also, I cannot overstate the importance of having the right doctor to see during those appointments. On your road towards motherhood it is vitally important that you have adequate support. You will need it! There are many ups and downs and twists and turns in the road and being taken care of is a must. Support can mean so many different things: from friends you can have a good cry with, to your wonderful spouse or significant other. But your support network should also include your doctor. Having the right doctor seems like a no-brainer but when you are dealing with infertility sometimes you forget that not all doctors are the best doctor for YOU. This oversight is due to two things:
1: We feel so isolated because we are being labeled as infertile that we stop seeing our bodies as an extension of ourselves. We instead begin to view it as an outsider. It is like some strange thing that isn’t working properly, it needs to be checked out and fixed. Because of the general detachment you may be feeling, when you finally get to the reproductive endocrinologists desk it seems normal to just sort of go with the flow. “Why not? They have MD behind their names. And I apparently don’t know anything about my body or I would have figured this out by now.” So you are less concerned with ensuring a perfect fit than you might have been if you were discussing any other medical issue.
2. Also, you have to wait FOREVER to get in to see the freaking person to begin with! This is partly because infertility in booming and the clinics are in high demand. But it is also because not every OBGYN goes through the extra four to six years it takes to become a Reproductive Endocrinologist! So once you get the referral from your regular doctor you are staring down the barrel of a 4 month-1 year waiting period. And that is BEFORE YOU EVEN START TESTING! AHH! After finally getting the appointment and meeting with your respected fertility guru, you are so ready to get this show on the road that pausing for even a split second to evaluate the relationship seems ludicrous. “Where the hell are the needles? Just stick me up already!”
While both of these reasons make sense I would encourage you to slow down, take a breath, and really allow yourself to feel the situation out. Of all of the support you need in this journey your doctor should be one of them. You are likely to spend months or years dealing with different hormones and treatments and will basically be at the mercy of this individual. When you are all hopped up on hormones or dealing with yet another failed cycle you want to know that the person on the other side of the desk has your back. And I truly can say that this matters, from experience.
My first experience with the fertility program was underwhelming at best. Heart wrenching at worst. After a fairly short 5 month wait period my husband and I took time off of work and trekked to the clinic with high hopes. We were a bundle of nerves! I was practically vibrating and on the verge of tears just walking through the doors. It was not set up for a great first impression, but I was doing my best to rein it back in. Our first fertility guru was a rushed and dismissive bitch, if I’m being perfectly honest.
Our first appointment she spent all of 5 minuets with us. She totally dismissed my concerns about my spotting and my shortened luteal phase saying she “just wasn’t concerned about that”. She also told me that temping to determine when I had ovulated is flawed and that I needed to stop doing it all together. After that she quickly rattled off the five hundred odd tests I’d have to do in the next cycle and then… she left. Without asking if we had questions, and without saying goodbye. I was so shocked and hurt by this that my nerves got the better of me and I barely made it to my car before bursting into tears. I sobbed in my car for half an hour, leaving me looking blotchy and streaky for my trip back to work. Great!
But I really wanted to get pregnant and so I diligently did all the invasive testing she ordered and religiously did not temp. I hid my thermometer so that I wouldn’t even be tempted. Then we went back to the clinic for appointment two. This time I was better prepared. I brought in a steely resolve and a list of questions, so that I would not get steam rolled again. This time it went better. She was still rushed and cold but I was ready and we got the answers that we needed. We were given a treatment protocol to follow for the next few months. I was told that my eggs are in decline and that we would have to be quite aggressive with treatment. We were told to try Clomid for four months and then move on, probably to I.V.F. I was shell shocked and upset but ready to start treatment.
Fast forward two months… I hated Clomid. I was bleeding really early after ovulation and my period was super long. Screw this! So, I pulled myself off of it and decide to move on. I was crushed, as our doctor had so far led us to believe that I.V.F. was our next step. I felt angry and betrayed by my body and didn’t really know what to do. So, I booked my next appointment to get the ball rolling. I arrived to my appointment a little disgruntled. My husband wound up on a business trip that had been extended by a week, meaning that he wasn’t going to be here for this. A last minute meeting meant that he wouldn’t be available by phone either…deep breaths …I walk in.
“Hi I’m here to see Dr. *** ”…blank look from the receptionist…
“Dr. *** doesn’t work today…”
“Hmmm, you called to confirm the appointment with me last week. I am sure that this is the right day.”
Oh… I have been booked in with the wrong Dr.
After hating the pants off my other Dr. I am none too thrilled with having to meet yet another Reproductive Endocrinologist. But I either see the new random dude or I reschedule to see Dr. Bitch. Pass. I’m already here, let’s get on with it. So I settle into the room and wait.
Pretty quickly a man enters. He is in his mid-fifties, I’d say, but he still has hair on his head. And he has bright, green eyes. That’s the first thing I notice because, unlike the previous Dr., he is making eye contact. He warmly shakes my hand and introduces himself. And then… he makes a joke. It’s as if the heavens part and angels are singing! Me and the new fertility guru click right away, we have the same wry sense of humour. He is easy to talk to and he appreciates that I know my shit. He doesn’t hesitate to give me a lot of medical facts and uses all the really big words. He disagrees with the severity of my condition and assures me we do not need to jump straight to I.V.F. He also believes me when I say that my luteal phase seems short and has gotten worse on Clomid. He says he wants to try I.U.I. with Clomid and will put me on progesterone to keep the bleeding at bay. No need to skip right to I.V.F. He’s amazing, a breath of fresh air! For the first time in months I feel like the clinic may be able to help us. Maybe I can actually conceive a baby! I leave this time all smiles and happily inform the receptionist that I want the new guy to become my primary Dr. A few clicks on her key board and it’s all set.
When I get home I am elated and dazed by the difference. I decide to Google the reviews for the clinic. Something I had not thought to do before. I, like many of you, arrived to the clinic shell shocked and ready to take whoever they could get me in with. I wanted anyone who could figure my shit out. It never occurred to me to Google my Doctor, or the clinic, or any of that. But I did now… And I found that my experience is unfortunately common with Dr. Bitch. Most people who saw her felt rushed and dismissed and unhappy. If I had stopped to consider the way I had been treated by her I would have known that she was not right for me. Now that I have changed Dr.s I decide to look him up to make sure that I like what I see. There are almost no complaints about Dr. Green-Eyes. The only negative comments seem to center around… wait for it… his sense of humour! Guffaw! Perfect. If the only issue I am going to run into with him is his humour I’m all set! Also, I discover, he is the head of the clinic and has the most experience out of the entire team.
I feel very supported by this new guru and have every confidence in his ability to give me treatments that will work. He will describe everything to me if I want to know it and he will really listen and take my concerns to heart. But here’s the kicker…If the girls at the front desk hadn’t messed up and booked me on the wrong day I wouldn’t have gotten in to see Dr. Green-Eyes. In all likelihood I would be waiting for I.V.F. right now. Your happiness in this process shouldn’t come down to chance like that. You should ensure that you are a happy customer from the get go.
Please understand that you have choices, you want to honour yourself in this journey. Just like you would for any other medical treatment! You NEED to be adequately supported by your doctor, as they make up a crucial component of your treatment team! if you don’t feel respected, supported and heard you need to speak up. Say something! Stand up for yourself! Having had both positive and negative experiences I can say that it makes a huge difference! Not just to the treatment plan but to your overall well being. When you leave the clinic happy and hopeful it makes a huge difference to how you handle the coming months. Save yourself some headaches and ensure that you like and trust your doctor. If you don’t, then evaluate the other options! Your sanity and future happiness will thank you.