Fertility After Loss Journey: The OBGYN

March 6, 2019

By Sanda Rathamone

"We must try not to sink beneath our anguish, but battle on." - JK Rowling

In continuation of my Fertility After Loss Journey, I went to my first OB/GYN visit a week ago on Tuesday, February 26th. I somehow forgot that the appointment was on the same day of the third year anniversary of the BFP (Big Fat Positive), a.k.a. when I found out that I was pregnant with Elijah. This might be strange to admit, but every year on that day, I hope to find out that I am pregnant.

As if a BFP on that very same day years later could mean that I am pregnant with Elijah's very soul again. 

I took my last HPT on February 18th because I was "late," which turned out negative - as expected. I wanted to "check to make sure," even though there were no early pregnancy symptoms. It's hard not to get my hopes up when I'm "late," yet, "late" usually meant a skipped period/a very long cycle ("late" in quotations because it is normal to not be normal). 

I knew that before any doctor would see me, a nurse would ask to provide a urine sample for a pregnancy test. I couldn't swipe away my expectations. My mind came up with a stupid scenario that would go something like this:

Dr. C: Knocks three times on the door. "Helloooo!"
Me: Shyly says, "Hiiiiiiiiiiii." 
Dr. C: While grabbing the stool and scooting closer to me, "How are you feeling?" 
Me: "Okay."
Dr. C: "That's good."
Me: "Yeah..."
Dr. C: "Before we get started, there is something I have to tell you." 
Me: "Is it bad?"
Dr. C: "Oh, no. I wouldn't say 'bad.' More like a surprise."
Me: "Oh. Okay."
Dr. C: "The urine sample that you provided earlier turned out positive. But just to be sure, I want you to come back in a few days to take another test."

Me: With eyes wide, "Does that mean I'm pregnant?!"
Dr. C: "Not necessarily. That is why I want you to come back. For now, I would say that there is a high chance that you are."
Me: My mouth slightly opens, my head slowly nods in approval. ".......Okay....So....I'm pregnant, but not pregnant?"
Dr. C: "You could say that. We're unable to do an ultrasound today - it's too early - but I'll make sure that we set you up with another visit in a few days. If the test is positive again, we can start prenatal appointments."
Me: Unsure of how to feel, "...Okay..." 
Dr. C: "You did want to get pregnant, right?"
Me: "Yeah... I'm just... surprised, that's all."
Dr. C: "Oh, I understand. Well, I will see you again in a few days, okay? Make sure to keep taking your prenatals."
Me: "Okay..."

Dr. C leaves the room. I hop off the patient's table, do a little dance, throw a Yes! fist pump, and start praying to God that I am indeed pregnant. Unfortunately, the appointment wasn't anything like that.

Unlike the visit a few weeks ago, a nurse placed me in a room on the women's health section of the clinic, instead of those usual smaller rooms for quick check-ups. It felt like a special privilege to enter one of those "women only" rooms. Only, I wished that I was going in there for a prenatal check-up instead of a "check to see why my body avoids pregnancy" visit.

The door happened to be wide open and the first thing I saw before entering the room was that familiar poster titled 'Pregnancy and Birth.' The poster showed the fertilization process, size changes of the uterus throughout pregnancy, the birthing process, and most importantly, the enlarged image of a woman with engorged breasts and a baby inside of her belly. Part of me was envious of her, another part was wishful, a third of me was sad to be seeing this very same poster that I saw while I was pregnant. I was sad to see that Elijah had never reached the same size of that baby.

Right under the poster was another poster about fetal development. I couldn't stop eyeing the 5 week mark, which was the timing of the first prenatal appointment I had with Elijah and the 20 week mark (when Elijah died). I don't know if I loved or hated that poster, but it made me feel some sort of way that I can't describe.

On the other side of the wall was yet another poster (there were plenty of posters to keep me entertained) of different methods of birth control. There was the IUD, the Ring, the Patch, the Injection, the "Snip," the Pill, the Condom, etc. I always laugh at "the crossed fingers," a.k.a. "the pull-out" method. For me, instead of "crossing my fingers to not get pregnant," I cross them for the opposite reason! However, I laugh because here is a poster on how not to get pregnant, yet, my husband and I have had unprotected sex for years and the only time we got pregnant was with Elijah. It took awhile for me to realize that we did not and never needed birth control.

After at least 10 minutes of waiting and reading posters, Dr. C knocked on the door. Here's what actually happened:

Dr. C: Knocks three times on the door. "Helloooo!"
Me: Shyly says, "Hiiiiiiiiiiii." 
Dr. C: While grabbing the stool and scooting closer to me, "How are you feeling?" 
Me: "Okay."
Dr. C: "That's good."
Me: "Yeah..."
Dr. C: "Before we get started, I heard about the complication you had with your previous pregnancy. I am so sorry."
Me: Wanting to skip this part and get on with this visit, "Yes, thank you."
Dr. C: "Were you somewhere when it happened or at home?"
Me: "At home..."
Dr. C: "So, did you lose the baby automatically, or...?"
Me: Wishing I saw Dr. R who was my previous doctor, "My water broke when I was 20 weeks pregnant and then I was induced a few days later, and then --" 
Dr. C: Cuts me off, "And then you miscarried. I see."

Me: Wanting to correct her, my mind screams, "I didn't miscarry! I had a stillbirth!" But instead, I say, "Uh, yeah..."
Dr. C: Asks questions about my period.
Me: Shows her my period app. "Do you think I have PCOS?"
Dr. C: "Well, PCOS is a complicated diagnosis. There are different kinds of... levels... that women have with PCOS. Sometimes, it's a hormone thing. Sometimes, it's a cyst thing. We can't make a diagnosis until we run some tests... lots of tests."
Me: "Oh, so it's too early to know.... Do you know if I could have a period without ovulation?”
Dr. C: "Yes, and no. Since your cycles are long, it could just be that ovulation day is hard to pinpoint - it’s actually a VERY small window. And you HAVE gotten pregnant before, so you JUST have to make sure that you and your partner have - you know - intercourse on THAT day. Have you done any charting?”
Me: “No, but I have tried following the app. It doesn’t work.”

Honestly, I don't think charting, apps, and ovulation predictor kits will work. First of all, that is way too much work. Secondly, way too much work adds high levels of stress if it doesn't work. 

Dr. C starts making suggestions on how to plan sex on ovulation day, but I am already shutting her out. Years of unprotected sex before we were pregnant with Elijah and then adding three more years (of unexplained infertility after loss) doesn't explain how planning sex could help. We could have sex every night, up until the day of my expected period, and I still wouldn't get pregnant! I just wanted to know if it was possible that I wasn't ovulating at all. Also, Dr. C never mentioned the urine sample, so it's safe to assume that I am not pregnant. 

To wrap things up, I asked for a pap smear. Dr. C seemed to be surprised of my request - I just wanted to know if there was anything abnormal (I would get a phone call if there were. So far, no bad news). After the pap smear, she performed a physical exam of my uterus and said that things seemed to be in place and felt perfect; no lumps or bumps.

However, the best way to determine if there weren't any cysts or growths was to have an ultrasound exam. I was then sent to get some blood work done for hormone and thyroid tests. I am now waiting for a phone call to set an appointment for the ultrasound, which will take some time to get to me. This is exactly why I am frustrated with seeing Western doctors: nothing, but tests, long waits, phone calls, confusion, hidden information, and carelessness. 

My next steps: get that ultrasound exam done, and learn about the blood work results. 

I have to add that I did not want to plan a pregnancy. I wanted to make sure that my body was healthy and properly functioning for pregnancy, and if there was something amiss (which there most likely is), then I needed to find out the why's and "fix" it. I am considering a much needed visit to an acupuncturist. Perhaps, a little TCM could provide a different perspective, or at the least, a better understanding of my current state.

Currently, I am two months "late" and have yet to find out what is going on. Thank you for being a part of my journey and stay tuned!

Read more on my Fertility After Loss Journey:

With love,

Photo: pinterest

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