It’s NIAW (National Infertility Awareness Week), and this year’s blog topic from Resolve.org is “Join the Movement”.
I’d like to talk about advocating for yourself. It’s essential and empowering to find your voice and stand up for yourself. It’s probably one of THE most important things you can do for YOU! Living with infertility is a confusing and sometimes lonely road. It’s overwhelming to absorb your diagnoses (or lack of diagnoses), find the right doctor or treatment protocol, and get the support you need to navigate the journey. I am now on “the other side”. I’m pregnant, but I will never forget the struggles we went through to get here. I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone, and there is hope.
Advocating for myself was the most challenging, yet rewarding task. It’s difficult because often times, no one will listen. It’s important to keep trying though. If you feel that something is “off” and your doctor won’t listen, do your research and find another doctor who will. Over the years, I’ve been treated by or consulted with about 7 doctors, including OBGYNs, Reproductive Endocrinologists, and Reproductive Immunologists. That doesn’t include the Naturopaths, Acupuncturists, Massage Therapists, and other non-traditional professionals I’ve seen.
Like many of you, I didn’t know what to do, so I did it all. I’ve had just about every blood test and procedure a person can get. I’ve taken multitudes of fertility drugs, as well as various vitamins and supplements. We did 6 IUI (Intrauterine Inseminations) cycles and 2 IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) cycles. I’ve tried every silly trick in the book to get pregnant. I’ve fought with doctors, nurses, pharmacies, and insurance companies. I was always on a quest for knowledge. Sometimes I thought I was a crazy hypochondriac. I know some of my doctors thought so, too. I just knew there were issues we hadn’t discovered. I had to trust my gut, and I couldn’t leave any stone unturned.
Second opinions (and 3rd, 4th, etc) are extremely important! Had I taken the advice from my last 3 doctors, I would not be pregnant right now. They would not truly listen to my concerns or take the time to look for the root cause of my infertility, which ended up as autoimmune disorder. Not many doctors believe there is a correlation between autoimmune and infertility, so they won’t bother testing for it. It’s so frustrating!
I was told I needed donor eggs or a surrogate. They said I would never get pregnant. They told me I’d never have a successful, healthy pregnancy, even if I did get pregnant. I left most appointments in tears. Even so, we kept trying the same old recommended treatment protocols and hoping for the best – only to continue having early miscarriages or failed cycles. I constantly felt like door after door was being shut in my face. I felt brushed off, like they had given up on me. It should not be that way!!
I was at the end of my rope, but I had to try one last route. I did my research on immune disorders, and I ventured off to see a Reproductive Immunologist out of state – not knowing if it was even worth it or not. But boy, was it ever worth it!! Thankfully, doctor # 7 was the one who had hope for me! She was the only one to look at EVERYTHING as a whole. For the first time ever, I felt like I was in good hands! It’s so important to have confidence and trust in your doctor!
I found out I wasn’t crazy – there were several diagnoses (autoimmune and blood clotting disorders) that had never been discovered by my previous doctors. What she found was not only treatable, but it was a pretty easy treatment protocol for me! I didn’t need donor eggs, a surrogate, or even IUI or IVF! After about 6 months on my new medications, I got pregnant! 6 months is just a drop in the bucket, compared to all the other years of trying.
I couldn’t believe it, and sometimes I still don’t believe it! I’m 23 weeks along, with a healthy baby boy. Part of it is luck and a gift from God. The other part is hard work and persistence. If it’s still in your heart to keep going, don’t give up! Find a new doctor (or just meet with one to see if they will treat you the way you deserve), do your research, and trust your gut!