Fertility After Loss Journey: The Beginning

February 12, 2019

By Sanda Rathamone

“Take care of your body as if you were going to live forever; and take care of your soul as if you were going to die tomorrow.” - Saint Augustine

I hadn't visited my health clinic aside from three appointments made by my doctor after Elijah died, which was nearly three years ago. The last few appointments: 6-week postpartum check-up, a session with a social worker to talk about grief, and a final visit at the WIC center to discontinue my vouchers because I was no longer expecting.

Since Elijah died, I have been in denial about needing to seek a doctor about my struggle to conceive after loss. I never needed a doctor to diagnose and label me with infertility. It was already apparent long before we got pregnant with Elijah and obvious that it has continued after he died.

For years, I put off making the decision to find out why I wasn't getting pregnant. Most likely because I feared the worst: hearing a doctor say that I will never have children of my own

Another reason was that I didn't want doctors to suggest medications that were not natural to the body for conception, nor did I want to pursue options like IVF or adoption - not that I could afford any of the two. Finding a doctor that truly cares about your health and take into account your personal boundaries (not just your insurance) is rare. These days, in America, you really have to advocate for your health and body, and do your own research - doctors don't tell you everything. 

Despite my rambles about doctors, I had no choice but to seek one earlier this morning. I had a horrible ear infection that returned from last week, and was close to freaking out and crying if more ear drops didn't work. I was in a lot of pain (since 3 a.m.) and haven't gotten enough sleep. 

I went to that very same health clinic because it was the only place that was familiar. I used to go there years ago for birth control. Now, I am going there to find out why I can't get pregnant (I'll explain more later). I ended up seeing a nurse practitioner instead. But for some strange reason, I hoped to see the same doctor I had when I was pregnant with Elijah. 

After the nurse checked my ears, explained what was happening, and prescribed some antibiotics, she asked me if there was anything else she could do for me. My voice said, No, but my heart said, Yes. I stayed silent for a minute. She then asked some routine questions: 

Nurse: "When was your last period?"
Me: "January 5th."
Nurse: "Are you sexually active these days?"
Me: "Yes."
Nurse: "Are you using any contraceptives?"
Me: "No."
Nurse: "Do you want to have a baby?"
Me: "Yes."
Nurse: "Well then, let's get you started on some prenatals."

She made it so easy... so I decided to bring it up. 

Me: "I sorta, kinda wanted to talk about... infertility?"
Nurse: "Oh, okay. How long have you been trying?"
Me: "Since I had a stillbirth, almost three years ago."

In that moment, I felt like I should have been sorry for her. She looked and sounded more sad than I was. Honestly, I never really know what to say when someone says, "I'm sorry," even though I would say the same thing to address someone else's loss. I usually reply with, "Thank you" or "Yeah, it's okay." When really, I have zero idea of why I am saying "Thank you" or what exactly is "okay." It's always awkward right after I tell someone I had a stillbirth. 

Yet, when someone tells me of their loss (any kind of loss), I often find myself hugging them because "I'm sorry" just isn't enough. I don't care if you don't personally know me, you deserve a hug.

The nurse asked me about my periods, noted my hormonal acne, and asked if I was growing any hair on my chin or chest. (Just to clarify, I have started growing one or two hairs on my chin every month or so, which had only began some months ago.) I knew what she was going for; I did my research. Before she had a chance to say it, I asked her if I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). 

She told me from what she had heard and observed, it was a good chance I did have PCOS, but just to be sure, she wanted me to see a gynecologist. So, in the next two weeks, I will be back at the clinic with an OB/GYN for some tests to find out! 

With love,

Photo: pinterest

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