If you’re reading this, I'm guessing that's not you. You’re like me. You’re going to dig until you DO find the answer.
After I got over the shock of our reproductive endocrinologist saying that they couldn’t help us, I decided NOT to accept that this diagnosis would stop us from creating a family. I got to work researching. I got a copy of my bloodwork and reviewed it. I made an appointment for another more aggressive surgery. I started asking around to friends about a possible second opinion. I started fertility acupuncture (which no matter how expensive is still waaaay cheaper than IVF). I took control over my own body and health (which included mental health).
In the United States if you’ve been diagnosed with unexplained infertility you have already lost between six months a year (depending on your age) in other countries it can be longer. I know that I don't have to tell you that’s precious time that you’ll never recover.
What I wish I had fully understood is that delay is your enemy. Waiting is your enemy. Overthinking is your enemy. Allowing yourself to be taken hostage to a medical agenda is your enemy. Taking more action swifter could have allowed us to have another child. Your doctor has already told you that they can't help you. Believe them. But please realize that just because they can't help you doesn't mean that you can't be helped. I know you’re afraid that the surgery they're suggesting will make it impossible to conceive. But they've already told you they believe it's impossible to conceive. I know that you’re afraid of scar tissue and the pain of surgery. But, what are your options? Before you jump up to raise your hand for IVF, consider -what if it wasn't an option? Because it wasn't for us.... We had an UEI diagnosis and were also told we could NOT do IVF.
So, what about surgery? After two exploratory hysteroscopies didn't reveal any sizeable fibroids, we decided to go ahead with the saline ultrasound surgery. This was to rule out the that fibroids were there that could not be seen any other way. The surgeon did in fact find, not just a couple of fibroids, but so many that it looked like he picked up a handful of aquarium gravel. I truly believe without this and other aggressive surgeries our children wouldn't be here.
The last thing that I wish I had known was to take better care of my mental health. Going through Infertility is hard on you personally and your marriage. I was already seeing a talk therapist for past trauma which was helpful but not fully healing in the way that I needed it to be. I didn't just need to heal, I needed tools to take with me into my parenthood journey. I wish I had known to address the physical ways that trauma scars you (like infertility) and addressed them sooner through neurofeedback, reiki or other forms of trauma release. I wish I had learned to prioritize my whole self as a woman, not just as a reproductive success story.
Regardless of your success in becoming a parent, I want you to know most of all that you are worthy of the life of your dreams with or without children. That you are worthy of taking time for yourself for no reason at all.
Most of all I want you to know that you are not your diagnosis.
The first tip might seem pretty basic, but it’s oh so important. Ask yourself, how do you respond to doctors in general? Do you lose your train of thought? Do you feel intimidated? Can you easily voice concerns or ask questions? It’s good to know ahead of time what emotions may come up for you and mentally rehearse or prepare how you want to see the appointment playing out.
There’s nothing more frustrating than taking time out of your day to visit a Doctor Who has not received your bloodwork or not reviewed your bloodwork (this happens more than you might think) That’s why it’s SO important to take responsibility as a patient and understand to the best of your ability what your testing levels are. Most blood work reports give a range so that you can tell if your results fall in that range. If you have any questions or concerns flag those on the report or make a note to discuss this with your doctor. If you’ve been taking supplements to improve a certain vitamin store and it has not improved be sure to ask why that might be. Ask questions about test that fall in the “low normal” category to see if your doctor recommends supplements to help or a change in medication.
I can’t recommend the next point enough! Write down any questions that you have a head of time so that you can participate and direct the conversation towards things that are on your mind and you can leave having the answers that you want. There’s a saying in the medical community about if you hear hoofbeats assume it’s a horse, not a zebra. All that to say that you might in FACT be a zebra. Nowadays it’s harder than ever to give personalized care so doing your own detective work and advocating for yourself might be the only way to get to the end goal of a successful pregnancy.
In the weeks leading up your appointment take an inventory of how you’re feeling, sleeping, and your overall emotional state. How is the condition of your hair, skin and nails? Dry hair and brittle nails can be significant health markers. Be sure to discuss these with your doctor as these can be symptoms of other things going on in your body that you might not be aware of. In the end, no one knows your body better than you. Finding a doctor that you feel a collaborative relationship with might just be the key to unlocking your unexplained infertility or other health condition.
All these suggestions are based on my personal experienced as a breastfeeding mom
and thus geared toward being more “breastfeeding friendly” by eliminating common digestive triggers for you and baby.