PLEASE NOTE: If you are struggling with infertility or are currently trying to conceive and you DON'T want to read about my pregnancy (which I totally understand), I recommend starting at the beginning of the blog (March 2010) and reading from there. I find out I'm pregnant in June 2011 so there is a lot of trying to conceive posts in between that you might find funny, helpful or relatable. Wishing you all the luck in the world!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Disco Infertile

I’ve spent most of the morning thinking of titles of infertility themed Disco songs. Why, you may ask? It could be one of two reasons:

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.


Christina said...

As for 2) - I sent my SIL an email today about her impending baby shower and my attendance of it (I blogged the email). I almost wavered before hitting the send button, but didn't. Go me!

I'm very glad you went and got a 3rd opinion. It sounds like she put a lot of thought behind it and tried to tailor it to you and your situation. I hope it brings good luck to you!

cgd said...

I am so proud of you for both (1) taking charge of your medical care and getting the treatment you need ansd deserve and (2) for not curling all up in a ball after your last cycle. Although I would still love you if you were in a ball, it is no small feat to just keep moving on, it is hard work and you deserve credit for that. Here with you every step of the way as you move forward. sending lots of love to you...

Josey said...

Wow - it sounds like Door/Doc#3 is the door to go through!! I love that she is actually making suggestions based on YOUR particular history. Awesomeness.

I'm proud of myself for finally getting back to regular workouts to get myself out of this IF depression funk I've been in for months. It feels good to be doing something healthy for my body finally! My hubby wanted me to go drink beer with him and father-in-law this afternoon, but instead I'm home, finishing up blogging and working out. If you know how much I love beer, you'd know how big of a decision that was for me. :)

lady pumpkin said...

Jay, what you have done is so awesome and so very important. Sure, it doesn't hurt that I also really like Doctor #3, but your willingness to do what you need to do to make sure your needs are acknowledged and taken care of--well, it's inspiring is what it is. We should all be so relentless in pursuit of the right answer for us. Let this be yours! Also, I lovelovelurrrve that your funk is back! You must have missed it even more than we did, which is saying something. Sending you love and gratitude for the friendship and support you have shown me. Bring on the babies!!!

Kate said...

Good for you for not settling. I'm glad to read Doctor #3 has offered up something different.

I'm proud of myself for getting out and being creative today - that was a big step after a long, gray winter. Thanks for reminding me it is important to remember those little things.

Liz said...

Being your own advocate is extremely important. The first endocrinologist I went to was TERRIBLE and I knew I would never return. Seeking out someone different was a much better experience for me and I will never regret it. Some people may say I advocate for myself to a fault, but is that really possible? I just know what I want, thats all!

Glad to hear you have a plan for your next IVF cycle. It sounds like the standard protocol is a bunch of bull and I would pass on that one as well. Looking forward to hearing how it all goes.

Secret Sloper said...

You're switching to her???? YAAAAAY!!!! I love that all of blog-land is now visiting my favoritest doctor ever. I don't know if she's a miracle worker, but I do know I never for one moment felt like she gave me less than 100% of her efforts and attention and considerable smarts, and that means so much in this process.

I'm proud of myself for deciding to give up worrying for Lent. I have my doubts about whether or not I'll succeed, but at least I'm making the attempt.

Finally: 1) Thanks for getting some awesome music in my head, and 2) LG quoted the same Groundhog Day line a week or two into this pregnancy and told me that's been his motto with this. Anything different is good. It's working so far (knock wood/fingers crossed), and I hope it does for you, too.

(PS: My captcha word: aisholsa. You've even got the computer thinking about assholes).

AL said...

I'm lovin' doctor #3's ideas for your next IVF cycle. It sounds like she has a fresh new perspective and yes, when things haven't worked, anything different is good.

hopeful for you, Jay!

China Doll said...

Definitely agree.. I've had so many opinions,I can't even remember. I'd recommend it if there's anything you're not sure of or if the answers you're getting don't seem right... even if it's just for piece of mind. xx

Summastarlet said...

Happy ICLW!

Great to hear you are feeling more confident with Doctor #3! I was actually really pleased to read your post as I am waiting for a 2nd opinion from a new doctor..the first appointment is this Friday. I have been wondering if I am doing the right thing by seeking a second opinion, so it's really nice to read about someone else's choices.

Wishing you lots of luck.

Lisa Marsh said...

You're amazing. You have developed an admirable degree of resilience, you have an inner voice that you listen to, you obviously have some great people in your support network judging by the other comments here and you give yourself credit when credit is due. Not to mention, you are a great writer, conveying experiences and emotions in a way that captures and holds the reader right where you want them.

I too believe that you don't stop asking for new opinions until you have the feeling that the person handing it out is coming from the right place. Good for Dr #3 and I hope that everything you try with her gives you the confidence that you are doing all you can.

Lisa (ICLW #112)
P.S. I'm speaking about fertility support today at the Fertility Focus Telesummit, which is free. I would love you to listen in, either live or to the recording after. You can reister through my blog:

KristelKlear said...

I'm so happy you got a third's good to know that someone is doing their best to make sure you get pregnant...not the same old formula over and over again. It's the most obvious thing in the world: if your way of doing something isn't working, change up the way you do it! (HUGS)

kkasun said...

Wow that Dr. sounds like she knows what the hell she is doing!!!!!!
It sounds like a great plan, custom made for you two!
I hope that this is what gets you your BFP!!!!

TeeJay said...

You have a really great plan laid out for you. I wish that we had the option to get another opinion. We don't have insurance but my insurance allows us a discount on fertility treatments and they only participate with one clinic in our area. sounds like you are on the right track and I really hope that you get that BFP that you seek...and deserve.

Alex said...

I love this post! First, who doesn't love disco? Second, I'm so happy that you found a doc that will do something different and actually use your previous experiences to tailor your future IVF!!! I'm so proud of you for taking charge and doing this! I have so much hope for you - you are such a huge inspiration with your attitude!!!

Kerrik said...

Great post Lady Jay, and congrats on making such great progress.

hopeisafourletterword said...

Good for you for advocating for yourself. In the medical field I see so many people just trust what one doctor says and go with that and that is not always the case, I hope the third doctor is the charm!

Willow said...

I love the disco infertility song titles! I also love that you found a doc who's actually working with you on an individualized basis. That makes such a difference! I didn't find an RE who would do that for me till my third one either (well, actually my 5th due to lots of turnover at my first clinic--so my third clinic, anyway), and it helped so much to know he wasn't trying to shove me and my high FSH into some standard treatment box. Excited for you & your new plan!

Anonymous said...

You totally deserve a medal. A medal of AWESOME. When you finally get your baby he/she will be just floating in awesomeness. That is MY opinion.

Busted Kate said...

I've been reading you forever, but I think this is the first summary post I've read of yours, and I love it. Not your situation, though I can empathize, but the way you tell your story. I'm crossing my fingers for #3.

Happy ICLW :-)

Blooming Woman said...

happy iclw!!

i must say, it is reading entries like this that makes me feel so much better about leaving my RE for no other reason than he didn't seem invested enough in our success. i didn't really trust him. although he never screwed anything up, i would rather lose a cycle setting up another RE (booking an appointment and switching our referral) than constantly wondering if i was just being neurotic or would later wish i had listened to my gut all along.

i love you blog, btw :)

Lavonne said...

Good for you standing up for yourself and getting another opinion. Here's to hoping the very best for you!

Lavonne @ *Our Wish*

Esperanza said...

First of all, I love your blog. You are really funny! I appreciate that very much. And B) I think you did the right thing wanting a third opinion. What is that saying? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I remember thinking that many times when I was TTC, which is why I was always adding things to the mix, like royal jelly or Vitex. I NEEDED to be trying something different. You're new protocol sounds promising. I hope it works! Good luck!

Happy ICLW! (#95)

Jess Jetson said...

You are amazing. Thank you for reminding me that we are all heroes, and that it's ok to question the man in the white coat.

Shorty said...

I'm a big fan of three opinions, we too went to three different doctors. Doctor #3 (finally) diagnosed my thyroid and now we're expecting. I hope 3's a charm for you too! :)

(from ICLW)

Rebecca said...

Happy ICLW! Sounds like a great third opinion to have gotten! Wishing you lots of luck!

As for something I'm proud of -- getting a second opinion. Like you, I don't know if it will be the "one" that makes it all work. But, I finally felt like I was taking charge and moving forward.

My So-Called (TTC) Life said...

I had a feeling Doc #3 was Sloper's RE :). And in my mind, this is a great thing b/c she gave Sloper so much hope and I feel she can with you, too!

I loved this post, J. Loved it. Esp. the end. You're right--we do need to give ourselves pats on the backs sometimes when we've gotten through something extremely taxing emotionally and physically like infertility or infertility treatments.

I applaud you for getting a 3rd opinion. I was too scared--stupid, I know--and I can't even say why. I'm a creature of habit and was too scared, I guess, to hear that something else might be wrong and it was all my fault for not getting a 2nd opinion sooner. Stupid, stupid, I know.

I'm so excited for you, J. Sending good vibes your way! xoxo

Anonymous said...

Hoping for the best with doctor #3. Fingers crossed!!

Natalie said...

Good job for getting a third opinion! It is so hard to stand up to the medical community, but it really is important to take charge of your own health! I hope this new doctor can help you achieve that pregnancy!

SLESE1014 said...

So glad you found a positive in all this IF crap!

I'm on the menopur antagonist protocol....and my RE has been so awesome. She is my second opinion. I walked away from the top RE in my area because I didn't like how I was treated. It was the best decision I could have made.

I hope this is your "3rd times a charm" RE and experience. Best of luck!!

Marianne said...

I think you are a Dancing Queen for getting the third opinion. May they hear that song when you walk through the door at Doctor #3's clinic.

As for something that I have done recently that I am proud of, I went down an insane waterslide last week with my hubby and little dude. And that's something I wouldn't have done if I was pregnant.

Liz said...

Go you for finding another doctor! I think no matter what your medical issues, shopping around for a doctor is important.

And I'm proud of myself for not yelling at anyone today. It sounds kind of awful to be proud of myself for that, but trust me: for where I'm at right now, it's kind of a big accomplishment.

Anonymous said...

If they weren't going to change anything and you weren't comfortable you did the right thing! We stayed with the same clinic for #2 but I went in and had many questions and wanted a plan and an explanation of what they were going to change. Their suggestions all sounded reasonable and we were successful. Still 1/3 but hey, I'm not complaining (most days).

I'm proud of myself for trying to be positive, I've really been in a funk.

Anonymous said...

Here from ICLW. I learned early in the world of IF that doctors rarely have just my best interests at heart. They are more worried about the "interesting" cases, or the "easy" cases, or the next patient. So far, I've been lucky to have a pretty amazing medical team.

And today I am proud that I am taking time for myself. No dishes. No making the bed. No putting away laundry. Today is for me. Bring on the Law and Order and my knitting!

ICLW #154

Heather said...

Jay, good for you! I am 38 and just finished my first IVF cycle after going through undiagnoses polyp hell + switching REs (the IVF ended in a chemical preg. alas)-antagonist- and used a lot of Menopur. I had zero side effects from the protocol, actually I felt great and my skin looked amazing for some crazy reason. We got great quality embryos (4 of 7 fertilized, 3 got to blastocyst stage on day 5) and we have one left over for next cycle. Hope this next cycle is the charm. Crossing my fingers for you.

Katie said...

Popping over from ICLW and am so glad that I found your blog. Good for you for seeking a third opinion! If we don't fight for ourselves, who will?!? Thank you for the motivation and reminder :)

Heidi Smith Luedtke -- LeadingMama said...

Infertility makes you feel totally out of control -- I'm so glad you grabbed the reigns and got another opinion! Hope your next cycle is the magic cycle. :-) Visiting from ICLW!

Krystal said...

Sorry I haven't checked in lately, I'm glad you did get the third opinion because it definitely sounded like someone was thinking of you and trying to help. I'm glad she gave you suggestions and I've got my fingers crossed for you.

Anonymous said...

Wow! We're so in the same boat. I'm 37, had 4 failed IUI's, 2 failed IVF's and after the second one I finally went to see other docs. I went to 4 new doctors and they all basically concluded that the "standard protocol" my clinic had been using made zero sense for me. I quickly said goodbye to my old clinic and I feel so relieved!!

I'm going to be doing the estrogen patch too (which I was also told would help my eggs grow at the same rate so that I'd have more mature eggs at retrieval).

FYI: The menopur is supposed to help with maturity. You should still have more gonal-f (or follistim) than Menopur but definitely menopur should help (I'll be taking 2 vials a day).

In case you're curious, my protocol for #3 is: estrogen patch before I start my cycle, then a combo of menopur and gonal-f from day 2 forward, throw in some ganirelix a few days later then the novarel injection and then the retrieval.

Good luck this time!!

Ordinary Girl said...

Hi there. Stopping by for ICLW. This is my first visit to your blog and I love your style. You had my attention from the very beginning. And you're so right about getting another opinion. You have to be your own advocate these days and if you don't feel like you're being heard, you should find someone who will listen. Good luck to you, I can't wait to hear about the next step!

Natalie said...

I found you via ICLW, and I think I love you. Good for you for standing up for yourself and finding a doctor who will listen and treat YOU.

Damita said...

Totally agree, get a second doctor if your not happy :)

Meg Coldwells said...

Sorry to be late getting on the bandwagon here but your post really spoke to me and I pray others will take your advice.
Ironically, the "infertility specialist" who did an outpatient surgery on me that left me with a raging infection that went septic and claimed an ovary and fallopian tube and nearly my life HAD BEEN the author of a book on getting a second opinion!!! (the joke was on me, she WAS my second opinion and I didn't like her from the time I met her) I WISH I had gotten a 3rd and/or 4th opinion! So ladies and gentlemen the lesson here is continue seeking out medical help and do your homework about these doctors until YOU feel comfortable and TRUST the person who is supposed to be helping you. Listen to that little voice inside you! *I wish I had* ALSO: no matter what medical situation you are facing, find someone (friend/sister/husband) who can be your Advocate. Someone to take notes, record meetings with Drs., ask the hard questions that you might forget if you are the patient...this is a 'must' these days!
~ as to what I am proud of today:
helping my brother emotionally through his 6 months of rehab and his next steps. I talk to him every day by phone and yesterday he told me he had to get up and 'tell his story' in front of 100 plus people...he told me that in his speech he said "if it weren't for my sister Meg, I would not be here today" (Heavy stuff! but it made me feel good that I have had a positive influence)
As always Jay, sending you lots of love, hugs and white light of fertility from the Fertility Angels! xoxoxo

Anonymous said...

I am really proud of you for getting another opinion. I went through several opinions before I found out I had PCOS. At 24 my gyn wanted to give me a hysterectomy. I also get several opinions before finally conceiving my son and I am on my 2nd RE while trying for #2.

I am proud of myself for keeping my cool recently when my FIL screamed at my crying 2 year old to SHUT UP. I told him not to speak that way to my son and he yelled FUCK YOU at me in front of my child and then ran away. I kept my mouth shut because I knew nothing nice would come out and I feel really proud of and good about myself.

CS said...

You live in NYC, right? You are lucky - Go see Dr David Sami! King of figuring out what's wrong with you before you do another IVF cycle.

Woman Warrior said...

I completely agree. We've just started on this journey and I got a 2nd opinion when my first doctor couldn't explain the endometriosis. I loved this 2nd doctor but the minute he mentioned Lupron I went to see doctor's 3 and 4. I'm completely like you: it's better to get too many opinions and then we can weed out the ones we think dont't make sense for us.

Really amazed by your strength and courage. It's really inspiring to someone who just got on this path and has a lot of struggles awaiting in the near future. Thank you for writing so candidly about your strengths and your fears.

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