flowers in the shape of a uterus

The Appointment that Finally Happened: Seeing a Reproductive Endocrinologist

One year ago I shared about my husband’s and my struggle with secondary infertility. At that point, we had been trying to have another child for about a year and a half.

Today we’re past the two year mark, right at 28 months.

28 months.

Also in my previous post, I had shared that we had been referred to see fertility specialists, but that the doctor I was needing to see had about a year-long waiting list.

Well, the year passed and the appointment finally happened – on August 26th of this year I had my initial appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist at The Center for Fertility and Reproductive Surgery at Texas Tech.

Entrance to Center for Fertility and Reproductive Surgery at Texas Tech

I had really been hoping that it wouldn’t come to this, that I would find myself pregnant before the dreaded appointment arrived. We had tried one intervention that we were hopeful would give us a better shot at getting pregnant, (a prescription medication), but still nothing had happened so far.

Usually at any kind of fertility appointment, I find myself very jittery and emotionally fragile overall. Also adding stress to the day was the fact that this appointment was three hours away (because there are no fertility specialists in Abilene, TX) and I was by myself (because the logistics of work and picking up our son from school didn’t really warrant both my husband and I being gone all day).

I didn’t really know what to expect at the appointment. I had Googled about initial fertility specialist appointments, but the not-knowing also added to the levels of anxiety I had that day.

The appointment started with me paying a $125 copay up front, which was not covered by insurance. (From what I’ve heard, most fertility services are not covered by insurance at all. So you’re potentially paying hundreds to thousands of dollars all out of pocket.)

After waiting a long time, I was finally called back so I could wait some more in the much smaller waiting room. At every appointment I always bring a book with me to read, and I never end up reading it. When I’m anxious, I find that I can’t concentrate enough to read. So I end up just staring at random objects in the room, like counting the ceiling tiles or reading the informational pamphlet about IUDs.

The two biggest concerns I had for my doctor at this appointment were:

1) the pharmacy we had previously been getting the medication from stopped providing it (and it had seemed like it was potentially increasing our odds of getting pregnant) so I wondered if they could figure out another way to get it?

2) I had major reservations about IVF, and was assuming the doctor was going to tell me that it was really the only feasible option I had left.

When my doctor finally arrived, she was great – she was so warm and kind, and it was obvious that she understood the toll that infertility takes on the patients she sees. (I had read great reviews about her, so I wasn’t surprised, and that was also why I decided to wait a year to see her – I figured if I was going to go to a reproductive endocrinologist, I wanted it to be a highly-recommended one.)

She reviewed my chart, and then proceeded to do a vaginal ultrasound (which was a new thing for me!) Honestly though, it was kind of amazing how much information the doctor could get via ultrasound. She measured how thick my uterine lining was (in millimeters) and was even able to see which ovary I had ovulated from (the ultrasound literally showed a little hole where the egg had come from!)

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our family

Secondary Infertility: Our Story of Unsuccessfully Trying for Baby #2

17 cycles.

My husband and I have been trying to have a baby for 17 consecutive cycles.

Really we have tried for longer than that – back in the summer of 2019, when my son Calvin had just turned 3, we tried a few times to get pregnant, but decided to stop because I ended up needing foot surgery. (Calvin is now 5 years old.)

About 7 months ago (March 3, 2021), I told my doctor at my annual gynecologist appointment that I was concerned about possible fertility issues. Literally yesterday (September 21, 2021 as of writing this) we had an appointment with a men’s fertility specialist, who wants to run more tests, and then possibly refer us to a different fertility specialist (for me) if we end up needing to pursue treatments like IUI or IVF. We were warned that it will most likely take between *6-12 months to get in to see this particular specialist.

At that point, it will be somewhere between 2 and 2.5 years that we will have been trying to have a baby, and we will only just be going to our initial appointment with the last specialist we need to see.

My advice for anyone who thinks they may be having fertility issues: don’t wait any longer than you have to before getting some tests done – you can always cancel the tests/appointments if you end up getting pregnant. I had no idea it could be this long of a process just to actually get the problem narrowed down and get in to the doctors I need to see. I’m not sure if that’s because there is a shortage of fertility specialists (there are none in Abilene) or if fertility problems are becoming more common, but it’s definitely been discouraging to think that we might not even be able to begin to pursue some of these treatments until Fall of 2022 (when I will be close to 36 years old.)

Honestly, I’m not totally sure if I really want to pursue treatments like IUI or IVF. Secondary infertility is a weird position to be in. If we had no children, I think perhaps I would want to try it. But we do have one, and when I think about the costs and (probably low) success rates associated with these kinds of invasive treatments, I’m just not sure it will be the right choice for us.

I feel like a lot of people don’t know how to respond when I tell them we are having trouble having a second child. Sometimes I get answers like, “at least you have one kid!” I don’t recommend saying this to anyone who is trying to get pregnant with their second. I’m very thankful we have Calvin and that we got pregnant so quickly with him. But it’s totally okay and valid for me to want a bigger family. That doesn’t make me a selfish person. I can be thankful and longing for more at the same time.

The most helpful and supportive things people have said to me, I’ve listed below:

  • “We are praying for you every day.”
  • “That is so heartbreaking to go through.”
  • “How did your appointment go? Do you want to talk about it?”
  • “Calvin is a great kid.”
  • “You’re a good mom.”

I put those last two in there because it’s nice to hear those things instead of, “when are you going to give Calvin a sibling?” or “do you guys think you’ll have any more kids?” These questions make me feel like others view my family as incomplete, or not good enough.

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Long-Awaited Moments Vs. the Unexpected

Some things you wait a long time for, and you have years and years to mentally prepare for them to happen. Other things happen in an instant, with no warning, and you have to act in the moment on instinct. I recently had both of these experiences within two days of each other. 

THURSDAY – AUGUST 19TH

My son started Kindergarten on a Thursday. 5 years ago when he was born, I knew that one day I would be dropping him off for his first day of school. But it seemed so far away. (And it was!) But as he turned 2, and then 3, it started hitting me that it was coming faster than I thought it would. When people asked me where he was going to go to school, I always just kind of shrugged my shoulders and said he’d probably go to the public school nearest us. I wasn’t really ready to wrap my mind around it yet.

Once he was 4, I admitted I really needed to begin thinking about it seriously. Did I want him to go to public school or private school? I work for a private Christian university, and they also have a K-12 private school that I could get a large discount at if I sent him there. 

My husband and I both went to public schools, so it seemed like a logical decision to have Calvin go to public school as well. And the public school near us was said to be one of the best elementary schools in Abilene. I hadn’t heard anything negative about it (except for the drop-off and pick-up lines!) 

I weighed the pros and cons of public vs. private school. I thought about class size, curriculum, teachers, demographics, and location. Ultimately, we decided that public school was going to be the right choice for our son and our family. 

My son has a summer birthday (late June), so people also began asking me if I planned to hold him back a year before sending him on to Kindergarten. I didn’t see a reason to do it unless his Pre-K teachers felt like he was really struggling or that he seemed to lack certain skills needed for Kindergarten. Since they didn’t, we were ready to send him on. Would he be one of the youngest in his class? Yes – but that is okay. I knew moving Calvin forward would be the best thing for him. He was ready to learn and go to school. 

Thursday morning arrived: the first day of school. A moment that had seemed so far off when my son was born, and yet here we were. I had played out this scenario many times in my head. Would Calvin cry? (He did not.) Would I? (Yes indeed.) Would he like his teacher? Would he make friends in his new class? 

The transition to Kindergarten felt like a big milestone. Before having a child of my own, I had always kind of rolled my eyes at things like preschool or Kindergarten graduation ceremonies. I didn’t understand why “every grade” (an exaggeration on my part) needed to have their own celebration or festivities. Well, the reason is (I have now learned) because they are actually a big deal. When Calvin dressed up in his graduation cap and outfit for Pre-K, and his class put on a little program of songs for all the parents, I got emotional. And I was so proud of him. 

Going to Kindergarten is a big deal. And the moment I knew was coming one day, had finally arrived.

SATURDAY – AUGUST 21ST

Two days later, something happened to me that I could never have imagined would even be possible. I guess if I had thought about it, I could have determined that it would technically be possible, like by the laws of physics, but the chances of it actually happening had to be miniscule. 

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