I wrote this for another blog, but figured to share it here with all of you. It’s a summary of my story, and where we stand now. It’s written with love, and a few tears scattered in.
My name is Carly. I am 30 years old, and have been married for two and a half years. My husband is 33, and I’m convinced is the most wonderful man on the planet. He’s smart, funny, loving, kind, caring, and, may I add, devilishly handsome. Our life together is perfect, except for one thing: we’ve been struggling with infertility for about a year and a half now. And to make matters worse? I’m a pediatrician. All I do, all day, everyday, is see babies and families and new moms and congratulate them on their babies, all while wishing for my own.
Here’s our story:
We decided after about a year of marriage to start trying for a family. I had an IUD, which I had removed in June 2017. I had no period after that for several months, thwarting any attempt to track my ovulation. I saw a doctor several months later, who trialed me on Clomid to induce ovulation. I did one course of Clomid without success of ovulation, and still no period. I tried another cycle a few months later, and at the same time my doctor also decided to order some bloodwork which showed that all of my hormone levels were low. Like, nonexistent they were so low. I was sent to a fertility specialist (reproductive endocrinology and infertility aka REI) at that point.
It was February 2018 by time I made it to the specialist, who diagnosed me with hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA) and recommended hormone injections. Instead, I did some research on my own and realized that years of severe undereating and overexercising probably led to my HA diagnosis, so I took matters into my own hands. I tried what no woman wants to try – I purposely gained weight. 10 pounds, to be exact, which is quite a bit on my small five-foot frame. This took time and patience in and of itself. I went from one hour of working out 5-6 times a week to nearly nothing but walking and yoga, all while doubling my calorie intake. And as shallow as it sounds, this was hard. It was hard to change my body so drastically, but I just kept telling myself it’d be worth it. A couple months later – May 2018 – I got my period. My first real period since my IUD removal. I called my REI and he prescribed another course of clomid. And BAM. 4 weeks later I had my first positive pregnancy test.
We were so excited. So many happy tears. 1 year of trying with difficulty, and so many lifestyle changes, and it worked. We had two ultrasounds (one at 5 weeks, and one at 6 weeks, the latter showing a heartbeat).
And then, August 7, our happiness ended. I went in for a routine 12 week ultrasound, only to discover I had miscarriaged. Actually, I had a missed miscarriage. I had had no bleeding, no symptoms, no cramping. Nothing. But my ultrasound showed a 6 week fetus with no heartbeat. We were devastated. I did a round of cytotec medication to induce miscarriage, and then miscarried at home with my husband and mother at my side for support.
This was almost 5 months ago. And we’re still dealing with it. My serial hcg checks STILL have not returned to zero. So, on top of all of the waiting to get pregnant, then losing our pregnancy, now we have to wait to even start trying again. These months really just feel like wasted time. Like we’re sitting here twiddling our thumbs waiting for my body to figure it out to let us try again.
Even harder still, and maybe what sets our story apart from others, is that I am a pediatrician and work so closely with newborns and infants all the time. This experience has truly made me appreciate what people go through to have families. But, I will say that working in this environment can be a constant reminder of what I don’t have, and what I want. And sometimes it can be hard to not let jealousy creep in. My brother and his wife had a baby last week. We were pregnant together, and looked so forward to having our kids only a few months apart. It’s been hard to love my niece and be open to her arrival, without being plagues with jealousy.
But setting aside my jealousy and my difficulty with being a pediatrician who is struggling with fertility, this has given me an even deeper appreciation for what it means to be a patient. I’ve been immensely unhappy with the care I’ve received from my doctors, which has made this experience even harder than it already is. There has been multiple lapses in communication, indifference to our feelings as a couple who lost a baby. It seems that infertility, and miscarriage in particular, is so routine for our providers, that it can be forgotten how completely individualized it is to the couple going through it.
And What I’ve Learned:
While our infertility struggle is nowhere near to over, and in fact we may still be in the early stages, I have hopes that we’ll get back on track, and that it’ll happen for us at some point. While I wouldn’t wish this experience on even my worst enemies, I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned it’s O.K. to not be O.K. These months have been hard. Incredibly hard. I’ve always thought myself a strong person, but have learned that infertility is not for the weak of heart. I have reached depths of sadness I didn’t know existed, and have slowly worked my way out, only to sink again every so often. I’ve learned how to be a better pediatrician. I’ve learned how to listen more. I’ve learned to be patient. I’ve learned to be open about my situation, as I’ve learned that sharing my story and hearing others’ stories is what has helped me to wake up each morning, and tackle each day for itself. And until we can try again, we wait, and hope for the best.
Thinking of you all, and wishing you all the best,