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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thank you card

Excessive Peace

In the book of Philippians, it mentions a “peace that surpasses all understanding…” It’s in the context of praying to God as an alternative to worrying about things. This is in the even larger context of being thankful and full of joy in the Lord.

I am often a worrier. In a less negative connotation, I like to plan ahead and be prepared. This is to avoid unnecessary surprises, which can cause me anxiety. I am great at thinking ahead and preparing for the worst.

But all the worrying and planning in the world doesn’t always change things – it simply gives us this false sense that we are in control when we’re not.

In a recent post, I described how my husband and I have been trying unsuccessfully to have a second child for about a year and a half. At the time of writing it, I felt very hopeless, sad, and even somewhat angry. Achieving pregnancy consumed my thoughts a lot of the time.

Since writing it, we got back some test results that were not ideal. Basically what they revealed was that any quick or “easy” fixes (like surgery to correct a problem, for example) were off the table. Our doctor offered us one last option before referring us to try IVF/IUI – but to me, it felt like a last-ditch effort.

After that appointment, I felt like the answer from God as to whether I would ever get pregnant again was a resounding, “no.” And yes, I know logically that there is still a chance, and we’re still trying this last option, but my mind literally began to process it as if it would never happen. I felt myself for the next few days beginning to go through the process of grieving. It was surprising because my husband and I haven’t totally given up yet, but it’s like my mind and body decided it was time to move on. Maybe this was my body’s way of trying to protect myself.

I didn’t fight what my body wanted to do, I just tried to be mindful of my feelings. For a week or two, it was emotional as I processed the fact that I probably wouldn’t have any more children. But what was even more surprising, was the day when it suddenly didn’t feel that hard anymore.

I found myself feeling more and more content with my life. I started paying more attention to Calvin and found myself becoming more appreciative of everything he has added to our lives. I just began to feel really blessed to be a family of 3 – period, full stop.

It felt like the grief was just gone, as was the painful obsession of longing to be pregnant again. (That’s not to say we wouldn’t be thrilled if I did get pregnant, but that intense pain seemed to be gone.)

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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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