1. I like annoying my husband by singing, “Someone Left the Clomid in the Rain”.
2. I’ve gotten some funk back in my life.
Who am I kidding? It’s both.
This past week, we went to see a new doctor for what would be our third opinion. Whenever I think of the word “opinion”, I always think of the quote, “Opinions are like assholes. Everybody's got one and everyone thinks everyone else's stinks."
I love and hate this quote. I love it because it reminds us that an opinion is just that: a judgment call by one person that you can either accept as truth or reject as subjective. I hate it because it makes me think of people’s assholes and that’s an image I could do without.
Just as a brief recap for those who are new followers of my blog: I’m a writer and sometimes stand-up comic who has been trying to get pregnant for exactly two years. We have no clear reason for our fertility issues (other than the universe is entertained by our torment). In addition to unprotected sex & Barry White music, we’ve tried three inseminations using Clomid. All three of these inseminations somehow were around national holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas and the last one was on Valentine’s Day. They all failed. So much for having a Christmas miracle. Feliz Big Fat Negative.
Then, we did my first invitro last April with the same doctor who did all of our inseminations. I produced 5 eggs and 3 embryos. Not only did the IVF not work, but after everything was said and done, we found out that A) this doctor was probably not our best option to go with and B) I had a uterine polyp (a.k.a. “Jackson Polyp”). It became clear that both Doctor #1 and the polyp needed to be removed from our lives and my uterus.
Most recently, I just did my second IVF (a.k.a. “IVF 2 – Electric Boogaloo”) with Doctor #2 through a clinical trial. That produced 11 eggs, 10 mature (the 11th egg apparently wanted to play video games while crashing on his dad’s couch), but we only had one embryo to transfer. We lovingly referred to it as “Rudy” after the football player, Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger who is famous for wanting to play for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team. Needless to say, Rudy fumbled big time and failed to score a touchdown and I got my period. When we had our WTF Meeting with Doctor #2 after the clinical trial, we were given no explanation as to what went wrong other than, “Wow. It sucks to be you!”
Ok, not his exact words but close enough.
So, with one polyp, two years of trying, three inseminations and two failed IVF’s behind us, we were left with no answers, explanations or suggestions other than we should try another invitro. This time though, we would be paying for it entirely ourselves and the thought of spending money on something that hasn’t worked for us so far just felt wrong. It was nagging at me so much that despite the fact that I still think that Doctor #2 has done nothing horribly wrong, I decided to seek out yet another opinion.
A few people thought this was overkill as how many opinions can you get? Still, when it comes to my uterus, I’m interested in almost everyone’s opinion. You never know what a pair of fresh eyes can bring to your case and frankly, if I’m using my entire savings account to fund something, I want to feel good about it. The main thing that was haunting me was when I asked Doctor #2 after the clinical trial, “What would you do differently with IVF #3?” and he answered with, “I would do my standard protocol.” Standard? Really? We haven’t learned absolutely anything from the past two years that we would do differently? Really?????
Look – I’m no doctor. I’ve never even played one on television but one thing I do know is I’m not standard. No one is. One size does NOT fit all when it comes to fertility. I want my invitros like I want my mouthguard: designed specifically with me in mind.
So last Tuesday, we went to Doctor #3 thinking we would keep an open mind and see what she has to say but ultimately, we weren’t expecting much in the way of explanations. We told her our history and she went through all our records. As my husband put it, it’s not that she gave us answers, but she gave us ideas. Because my follicles grow at different rates, she suggested I start an estrogen patch (of some sort) before we even begin our next invitro as this would make things grow at the same speed. This would hopefully give us more eggs for IVF #3. She also said that because I’m thirty-seven, she’d highly recommend I use Menopur (another infertility themed Disco song: “It’s Raining Menopur”). She said that it doesn’t seem to help much if you’re under 35 but if you’re over 35, it can do wonders. I’m not sure how or why... nor do I care. If it helps a woman at my age, then I’ll do it.
She also felt that my husband’s sperm was an issue. Even though it’s considered normal, it’s still on the low side. She confirmed that in putting all of this together, another invitro was definitely the way to go. The last two suggestions she had was for both of us to lose more weight (which I’ve been doing anyway) and that I get a specific test that takes measurements of my uterus so that they will better know where to place future embryos.
Now THIS was a plan. These were all things no one had suggested before and these suggestions were specifically for us based on our history. It didn’t explain why we hadn’t gotten pregnant but it tweaked what we had one in the past, added ways we could do things better in the future and it just seemed more personalized to us. And just like that, we decided to switch doctors.
As I took a shower that night, I thought about the money we’re going to spending on this. It still sucks and we’re still several thousand short but I feel so much better about spending my money on this plan than the “standard protocol”.
As I rinsed the conditioner out of my hair, I realized something else: I was proud of myself for getting another opinion. After our experience with the Doctor #1, I was glad that I learned from it. I don’t want to ever look back again and think, “I should have done more.” It’s true that this new plan and new doctor comes with no guarantees but at least I feel like we’re using what has happened in the past and applying it to the future. Dammit – I need to feel like we’re moving forward and not just doing the same ol’ shit over and over again! With the addition of a new test, an estrogen patch, Menopur and even progesterone oil shots (I’ve only ever done suppositories before), this is different and in the words of Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, “Anything different is good.”
And speaking of praise, I thought about how I was after our latest invitro failed. The clinical trial was all consuming. It entailed daily blood work, sonograms, injections with mystery hormones and the extreme disappointment of not only producing one embryo but that the one embryo didn’t implant. It occurred to me recently that the day after we found out that we were not pregnant, I got up, got dressed and went to work. That week, I made lunch plans with friends, I did several stand-up shows, I got back on Weight Watchers, I went to social events and I got on with my life. Those who read my blog regularly know I don’t say this often but I’m proud of myself for that. It hurt tremendously, I still complained and I definitely had a few, “I’m going to stay in bed and cry” moments but overall, I didn’t lie down and die… even though I wanted to.
I don’t deserve a medal or anything like that but we all need to take a moment and acknowledge when we show some serious strength. When it comes to infertility, we focus so much on what went wrong, or how we wish we could do this, that or the other thing better, that we forget what we did right, you know?
Since so many of you have been regular readers of my blog and have always been so beyond incredibly supportive, I want to thank you by suggesting two things:
1. If you’re struggling with any medical issues (fertility or non-fertility related), please, PLEASE get another opinion if you’re not happy with what you’ve heard so far. Don’t settle when it comes to your health especially if you have insurance and get a consultation covered. You never know who will shed some light on your situation and it’s so important for you to be your own advocate.
And 2. Please take a moment after reading this entry and give yourself credit for something you did recently that you’re proud of. I don’t care what it’s related to or what it is. Even if it’s, “I managed not to strangle my mother-in-law today”. Find something that you know you did a good job with or that you showed courage in. Please even feel free to post it here in my comments. Be proud and post loud!
I leave you with two Disco songs that already have appropriately named titles: Gloria Gaynor’s, “I Will Survive” and Michael Jackson’s, “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough”.
There’s also “Boogie Oogie Oogie” by A Taste Of Honey but other than a funky baseline, I’m not sure how motivational it is.