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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Membership to the Infertility Club

My period started today.

That makes 12 months in a row of being acutely aware of each time my period begins.

My husband and I have hit the “one-year-of-trying-to-conceive” milestone, which also means we get the consolation prize of getting to join the infertility club.

Infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying (depending on your age, the timeframe for qualifying as “infertile” may differ a bit.)

I never imagined I would be here. With my first child, we got pregnant in the second month of trying. Afterwards I literally said out loud, “I can’t imagine having to try over and over, month after month…”

Maybe I jinxed myself.

It’s weird to hit the point where you’ve been trying to have a baby longer than it actually takes to have a baby.

Around the 10-month mark of trying for a second child, I went to my annual gynecologist appointment. I mentioned that I wanted to start looking into why we weren’t getting pregnant. This meant doing some testing on my husband and I, and coming back in a month to have the doctor review the results.

A month later we found out there was a reason why it wasn’t happening quickly. We also found out it was something that (at this point) we couldn’t really do much about (we have some more follow up appointments, so we will see). Basically we were told we were doing everything right, but that there was an extenuating circumstance that made our chances of conceiving much less.

In some ways this was validating – I had been doing stuff right. The timing of intercourse, the charting of my cycles… I understood how my body worked, and in *most couples, it probably would have meant a pregnancy by now.

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