My initial gyno experience was a complete nightmare. As we stumbled through back-to-back Clomid cycles without any sort of monitoring, my doctors were always quick to pass the baton as to whose responsibility it was to monitor me as I shoveled the Devil’s pills down my throat, eager to do anything to make a baby.
There was never an explanation about temperature monitoring, never a mention about progesterone, timing, testing….simply “take these pills on these days” and off I went.
Shockingly, all three cycles were a bust.
When I went in for my follow-up consultation with one of the doctors to find out what went awry and what we could do moving forward, she shrilled, “You didn’t follow the instructions (there were none) Don’t you want to get pregnant as quickly as possible?!”
With that, I learned a valuable lesson.
You MUST find your voice and be your own advocate if you want to be taken seriously.
It also doesn’t hurt to have SOME sort of working knowledge about the medical shit-show you’re heading into so you’re not completely blind-sided by professionals that are supposed to be giving you guidance about your body.
I switched gyno’s and started doing A LOT of research. Turns out, there were a few more steps that were supposed to occur with these relatively simple Clomid cycles. Regardless, I was already sitting in an RE’s chair as they walked us through IUI and genetic testing.
Side note - if I ever take another Clomid pill it will be FAR too soon. Those things truly are made in Hell.
Then, as our first IUI was cancelled before take-off, our genetic results coming back as matching carriers for MCAD, and we were fast-tracked to IVF, I realized this wasn’t going to be a passive effort at baby-making.
This was becoming serious business with a seriously high price tag. If we were planning to shell out tens of thousands of dollars, I felt obligated to prepare as much as I could. To me, this meant I needed to toughen up a bit and find my voice.
If you find yourself struggling to make sense of your diagnosis, your treatment, your mental health, insurance, bills, ANYTHING….here are a few guidelines that helped me through those sticky situations.
Ask Questions - at the initial IVF consultation, when we learned about shots, when I showed up for monitoring appointments, when I was incoherent after egg retrievals, and any time a concern popped into my head - you better believe I was rattling off as many questions as I felt necessary. You don’t know what you don’t know until you ask. What works for one person and one doctor and one protocol may not work for you so you better find out all you can.
Put it in Writing - If you’re anything like me, you can’t remember what you ate for breakfast, so I always find it best to e-mail the responsible party and copy MYSELF on the email, then file it away for a rainy day. Literally writing out your questions to bring with you to any meeting with your doctor is crucial as well. This will help keep tabs on #3.
Demand Responses - You are the paying patient. The person shelling out thousands upon thousands of dollars to be poked and prodded and shuffled around like cattle. The very least the Receptionist, Nurses, Techs and your RE can do is respond in a courteous and timely manner. If not? Be sure to call again. Re-forward the email. Show up at their house (j/k…sorta) Whatever makes them fully aware YOU. MEAN. BUSINESS.
Go to the Top of the Food Chain - Have no idea what your insurance coverage is? Need help deciphering the codes on that $5,000 bill? Confused about your balance due? Can’t remember your protocol, shot schedule or follicle count? Besides the obvious of KEEP ALL THE THINGS (filed neatly in a cabinet or on your computer) I go straight to the top of the department. Not sure who that is? It’s likely one of the first people you were put in contact with when establishing your account as a new patient. Clinics tend to have the higher managers reach out first, then afterward you are left with their assistants. This goes back to #3, but if you aren’t getting the right responses from the assistants….go to the top of the food chain and get annoying. Trust me, they’ll listen.
Practice - Not sure you’re ready to ask embarrassing questions about your body to your doctor in his or her presence? Worried your face will flush, your voice will crack or you’ll forget what you planned to say? Look yourself in the mirror and practice saying each questions OUT. LOUD. Then, when you’ve mastered the mirror, practice on your spouse or partner until it becomes second nature. Rinse and repeat with any sticking point along the way.
Find Your Tribe - If there is one major missing component at the clinic, it’s any sort of community with the women and men, nervously avoiding eye-contact as the minutes tick down until their date with Wanda. But online? We feel safe behind our screens. There is an entire community of like-minded individuals walking similar infertility journeys as you. Don’t know where to start? Feel free to check out our Instagram page for sources and inspiration (@infertileAFcommunity) We have found complete strangers empower others with advice, resources and even medication!
So there you have it. Tangible tips for the person on a mission to make a baby with science.
This is the just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using your voice for good during your infertility journey. As always, we are always a quick message away if you need more guidance and support!