Archives For Timeline Events

Life keeps getting in the way of blogging!  But I decided to start making some time.  Like a pre-new years resolution.  So to start off I’m getting back to my timeline.  I have many many months to get through.

In November of last year, after seeing the fertility doc and completing the obligatory visits to the lab vampires I was scheduled for the dreaded hysterosalpingogram a.k.a the HSG.  Recently a friend of mine had to go through one as well – she asked me how bad it was and I didn’t have the heart to tell her it was a painful and humiliating procedure and she should consider running the other direction… so instead I told her: “it’s not so bad!”.  She wasn’t shy about calling me out on my lie after her procedure.

Way back then, last Novembr when the good doctor told me what was involved I immediately started plotting a panic attack in my head.  I would have to go to the hospital where they would stick a long skinny catheter up my cervix and into my uterus.  After this they would inject a bunch of dye and take pictures of my innards to make sure everything was open and normal in appearance.  This sounded God awful.

Despite the fact that I am a doctor, I will admit I am every gynecologist’s worst nightmare.  I believe speculums were made as instruments of torture by a sadistic male gynecologist who truly hated women.  I believe he twisted his mustache and cackled as he created this torture device.  Yes, I am aware speculum exams and pap smears have reduced the incidence of cervical cancer in the modern world but can’t we find a better way to do that with all this technology we have now?  The HSG was like someone telling me I was going to have the supersized version of a PAP smear. Panic, panic, panic.

Lucky for me, God and a good pharmacist created something that would help me survive the HSG and many other uncomfortable things in life – Valium.  Good old reliable valium – my trusty friend, the crutch I could lean on, my happy happy pill.

We arrived at the hospital the day of the procedure and took the elevator all the way down to the lower basement – same direction as hell.  How appropriate. I put on my pretty blue hospital gown and did the death march towards a makeshift waiting room where my husband was waiting for me.  It was there I gulped down the valium and waiting with anticipation.

About 30 minutes of waiting later (the doc was running late) – I didn’t have a care in the world.  And suddenly…timber!  My head crashed onto my husband’s shoulder.  That valium – it’s like magic.  I tried to convince him with slurred speech that I was still extremely anxious and that I needed more valium.  Good thing he had his wits about him, another dose of valium and I would have been snoring on the floor.

My name was finally called and there started the death march anthem in my head again.  Dead girl walking (a kind of crooked walk thanks to my buddy Valium), down the dark hall towards for my not-so lethal injection of dye into my uterus.  Once in the room my feelings about the procedure were not made any more comforting.  There was a metal slab of a table I was told to lie on.  This really was like death!!  I kept thinking – more valium. Need more valium.

The procedure itself was fast but hateful and I was a hot squirmy mess.  Bright side:  it was normal.  So my husband dragged my sleepy ass home and I slept the afternoon away.

Surely the next procedure would be less painful… right?   I should know I am always wrong about these things.

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It was early winter 2012 when I walked into this sterile looking clinic and boy was I feeling like a reject.  I had a dysfunctional reproductive cycle.  How embarrassing.  None of my family members had this problem – they wished a baby and got a baby.  Or at least that’s the way it went for them in my head.  At least for this first appointment my husband was able to come with me for some moral support.

The moment we got in I was handed some papers, normal operating procedure for a new patient of course.  I kept flipping the pages over and over again.  Following my “new patient” forms was a TEN PAGE questionnaire delving into the deep recesses of my medical and sexual history that would assist my doctor to finding the reason for my inability to get knocked up.  It was called the “American Society for Reproductive Medicine – Infertility History Form”.  Appropriately long name for a long form.

For those of you who have been to a similar office of shame you may know this form and all it’s glory.

They start you off easy –  “What’s your name? What’s your date of birth? When was your last period?”.  I could handle that.

Page two began with a genius question:  “What are your expectations for this visit?”  I was tempted to answer this question with one word:  Seriously?!!!  What the hell do you think my expectations are?  To come here for shits and giggles?  For God’s sakes it doesn’t take a genius to know my expectations are for you people to get me a baby in my belly stat stat.

Soon came the next section that had me squirming around in my seat.  Several questions about our sex life came up and stared up at me waiting to be answered.

How many times a week do you have sex?  Do you use lubricant?  Does it hurt you to have sex?

Wasn’t this kind of personal?  I’m a pseudo-prude and questions on my sexual escapades made the sweat glands in my armpits flare up.

After several more questions regarding my health and the health of every family member who shares genes with me, came my consolation prize.   Two pages of the “male medical history”.  These questions were fun and it was my hubby’s turn to squirm.

Do you have retrograde ejaculation of sperm into the bladder?  I don’t know how the hell that would happen but apparently it’s a thing.  And it’s a thing that sounds incredibly gross.

Did you have mumps after puberty?  Mumps?  Who the hell gets mumps these days? That’s not in fashion anymore.

Are you exposed to prolonged heat in the workplace?  Do you use hot tubs regularly?  Who knew the hot tub myth was true!!!  No more hot tubs for the hubby.  And I decided we were going to turn on the air conditioner all year long.

After 30 minutes of filling out forms we still weren’t done. So the first thing my doctor could see from our form filling out all those forms – was that we were not good at filling out forms quickly.  Good thing that’s not an absolute requirement for being pregnant or raising a kid.

That’s it for now!  To the next update….

Love Author M

Heart Healthy IVF drugs… sort of

Yes I know… it’s been a while.  But we are finally back after a crazy few weeks.  Thought I’d kick it off by getting back to my timeline….

The only reality show I will indulge in is the Kardashians – this is my dirty little secret.   The show is like a train wreck you can’t look away from.  Last fall, I found myself catching up on an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians where I learned with America that Khloe Kardashian’s hormone levels were off and consequently she didn’t ovulate every month.  For a moment, I felt bad for Khloe.  Poor Khloe – she had to get poked and prodded and got stuck with needles.  But then during a commercial break I changed my mind.  Ok you don’t ovulate you rich bitch – so pay a doctor to fix you because if anyone in America can afford it you can.  In fact, Khloe could probably afford to buy a brand new uterus and ovaries if the stuff she’s got didn’t function the way she pleased.   I stopped feeling bad for her at that moment.

About a month after I watched that riveting episode, I got a call from the nurse at my OB’s office to “discuss my results”.  We had been trying for almost 6 months, my had drawn some blood work to check my hormone levels.  Apparently my progesterone levels were “on the low side”.  What that meant I didn’t know.  As an ER doctor I stopped caring about hormones the minute I finished medical school.  She proceeded to explain that generally during ovulation my progesterone levels should rise.  At the level they measured it was not at all clear whether I was ovulating every month.

She then proceeded to refer me to her partner who specialized in “reproductive medicine”.  You mean a lady doctor who helps the childless to become un-barren?  This I hadn’t expected.   When I had initially decided to get a check up, part of me had convinced myself everything would be normal and we would sit around and all throw our heads back and laugh that I had been dramatic as usual and had overreacted.  And then I would get pregnant shortly thereafter and feel silly that I had gotten the blood work done in the first place.

The episode came on as a rerun.  Suddenly I started feeling bad for Khloe again.  She and I were bound by a common thread – our dysfunctional ability to ovulate.  We were kindred spirits.  Watching this the second time, I cried as she got her ultrasounds, as she bared her soul for the camera talking about the tragedy of her broken ovaries.  The heartbreak when she told Lamar about her fucked up hormones.  I thought – I am with you Khloe.  I get you.  We should be friends and talk about this as we sip champagne and you buy me new Gucci shoes.  Me and Khloe – BFFs.

I had a Kardashian connection.

Love Author M

It’s been a while since I’ve gone back to my timeline.  Since Author S took the first brave step and told part of her story I thought it was time for me to buck up and do the same.   Can’t be the wuss in this duo of bloggers.  So it’s my turn to suck it up and open up.

So remember my grand plan?  To do the deed once or twice during days 10-20 using the trusty ovulation strips to have our planned oops??  Well if that worked this website would not exist.

We did our do diligence –

Day 1:  get period.

Day 2:  Drink through the disappointment.

Day 10:  Start peeing on ovulation sticks.

Day 10-20:  Do the deed whenever possible.

Day 28:  Pee on pregnancy test…. and cry.  Go back to the beginning.

Day 1:  Get Period.

Those damn Day 1’s kept on coming.  And by early November it had been 10 months since we pulled the goalie and our strategy for an empty net had failed to help us score.  I was 3 weeks away from that big scary age of 35.  And another month gone by that our oops never happened.

Sometimes you just know yourself and your body and I knew my oops wasn’t coming.  No other way to explain it – I just knew I needed an “evaluation”.  I’m no gynecologist but I’m a doctor with access to doctor type materials so I read the guidelines:  the fancy instructions tell you that if you’re less than 35 you should see a fertility specialist after a year of trying.  If you’re over 35 you get some help after 6 months of trying.  Well I was 34.9 years of age so I figured 10 months was ok to at least talk to my Gyne about seeing a specialist and asking some questions.

So one day, as we lay in bed last November I nervously started a conversation with my husband.  Maybe It was time to stop closing our eyes and crossing our fingers hoping and/or planning for that oops.  What if something was wrong?  Usually I’m a spaz and his job is to tell me I’m overreacting.  Except this time he agreed I was right.  I called my OB – time to get the netherlands checked.

Stay tuned – this story is just beginning.

Love Author M

Ok, I know I took a little hiatus from my posts. I’ve been trying to figure out how to tell the last part of the story. I promise, this is the last post for April 2012.

After my friend and I spent several minutes squinting at the ultrasound screen, trying to look for that little blip that would indicate a life form, and finding ourselves unsuccessful, I went back to finish my shift. Believe me, I spent most of that night shift distracted by what was going on in my nether region. The pieces of the puzzle were falling into place, but I wasn’t ready to accept the big picture.

My birthday falls at the end of April. On the day of my birthday, my husband had planned dinner for the two of us at a great Chicago restaurant, knowing that I’m a foodie. We got dressed up and went out for our “date”. I started to feel a little uncomfortable, a strange heaviness in my pelvis. Maybe this was a new, I-need-to-pee sensation in pregnancy, so I excused myself and went to the ladies room. As soon as I sat down on the toilet, I looked down to find a dark, brown spot on my underwear. WTF??!! I went a little numb. My mind tried to make sense of what I was seeing and tried to come up with a reasonable explanation that would not include the terrible thing I was worried about, the worst case scenario. This was my fucking birthday! How could this brown spot show up to ruin it??!!

I did what any rational woman would do…I decided to ignore it. Maybe it would just go away. I went back to the table, smiled at my husband as I sat down, and resumed our dinner. He can read me like a book, and at one point asked me if something was wrong. I just shook my head, determined to have a good time, dammit.

Shockingly, the spot did not go away and only continued to get worse. Very slowly, at first. I told myself not to panic as I went to bed that night and decided to deal with the situation in the morning. Somehow, I fell asleep that night. In the morning, reality really began to set in. I had to deal with the situation at hand because it was not going away and was most likely going to get worse. So, I decided to call my Ob. I had barely established care with them; my first appointment would not have been for another week or two. The woman on the phone was very polite and asked me a few questions about the bleeding and then directed me to the nurse practitioner (NP). The NP was also very polite but the tone of her voice made it sound like this was all very routine and not a big deal. My irritation only grew when she directed me to go to the E.R. instead of having me come into the office. They couldn’t possibly fit me in that day but she was sure the E.R. would be able to check me out. Right. Like I have 8 hours to waste sitting in a waiting room. I know what E.R.’s are for – EMERGENCIES. I wasn’t having a life ending emergency. I was just on the verge of having a panic attack because I didn’t know what was happening. How was going to the cold, clinical environment of an E.R. going to make that better?

After mulling over my options (there really weren’t that many), I headed to the E.R., where I was eventually whisked off for an ultrasound. I stared at the screen as the ultrasound tech moved the probe around. The space that was supposed to be nice and round with an embryo inside was empty and looked like a sac that was about to collapse on itself. It looked like a uterus that had given up. To see it on the big screen was so final, and left no doubt in my mind that I was having a miscarriage. Had anything even existed inside of me? Had I even managed to start life within me, or had the egg gone AWOL right from the get go? Why had I even been given this false hope? How long had I been walking around thinking that I was pregnant (fantasizing about, planning for it, talking about it) when, in fact, I actually wasn’t?

It was this last question that bothered me the most. My uterus had deceived me. How could I ever trust it again?

Author S

April 2012 (continued)

In my previous post, I left off describing how confident I was in my ability to single-handedly populate the world with my fertile hips. My positive pregnancy test was like a middle-finger to my husband’s cynicism. Yeah – take that!

The first few days following the test, I started to notice some morning sickness and food aversions. Suddenly, I wasn’t so interested in my usual morning and afternoon meals. The thought of drinking my typical constant infusion of coffee all day (to function like a normal person) made my stomach turn. That was probably a good thing, because otherwise I was ready to send the American College of Obstetricians a nasty-gram about how less that 200mg of caffeine a day was absolutely out of the question. I mean, I needed at least that much intravenously just to get out of bed in the morning.

“Project pregnancy” was coming along nicely. It was all I could think about and all I wanted to talk about. Unfortunately, I had to try really, really, really hard to keep my mouth shut and not shout out to the world that I was with child. Thankfully, my husband is really good at sitting and pretending to listen to me, so I would give him detailed, mostly unnecessary updates on a daily basis about how I was feeling, whether or not I was pooping, and what my new food aversion for the day was.

About a week later, I woke up one morning really hungry for cereal. Hmmm…strange. I hadn’t had an appetite for cereal since the morning sickness started. Oh well, a good breakfast is the best way to start the day, I told myself. Over the course of the next few days, I noticed my appetite was fantastic. I mean, I could eat six times a day, if given the opportunity, and my stomach was reminding me that it was back from its hiatus. A little nagging voice started to tell me that this was not quite right, but I comforted myself with the thought that I was still exhausted ALL the time, and this was maybe just MY normal for this pregnancy.

As weeks number 5 and 6 arrived, I continued my prenatal vitamins, made my first prenatal appointment, and even told my family the good news. Even as I continued to scour the internet for information about pregnancy and my change in symptoms, I couldn’t get rid of this feeling that something wasn’t right. My concern worsened when I started to feel a heaviness in my pelvis, almost as if my period was about to come on. I would dash to the bathroom every hour while at work to check if I was bleeding, only to be relieved that it was just my imagination.

One night I came into work to find that a really good friend of mine who works part time with us was finishing up her shift. I couldn’t take it anymore, I had to talk to someone about my doubts and concerns. Was this normal, not to feel sick and nauseous anymore? She was initially elated that I was pregnant, but then got a cautiously concerned look on her face when I told her that my initial morning sickness had gone away. She saw me look over at the ultrasound machine that we keep near us at work and her eyes lit up. Admittedly, I was secretly hoping she would offer to ultrasound me, since my Ob appointment wasn’t for another 3 weeks and I was dying to know what was going on in my pelvis! I like to think we were discreet, dragging the clunky and noisy ultrasound machine down the hallway and over to the doctor’s room that, by the way, does not lock from the inside. We pushed a large bin against the door so that no one would walk in to find me flat on my back with only sheets covering my lower half.

We both stared at the screen as she moved the probe around. Nothing. “Maybe you’re earlier than you think and you got your dates wrong,” she said. But there was no way I got my dates wrong, I thought as I tried to fight the tears. Any woman who monitors her cycles like I did knows her dates. This wasn’t a matter of being too early for anything to show up on the ultrasound. I was definitely six weeks at this point and we should’ve been seeing a little blip of white-gray in that zone of black. My gut was right, something was very wrong.

-Author S-

My Crazy OB

May 14, 2013 — Leave a comment

July 2012

Once our “waiting for an oops” method of conception failed miserably, I decided to have a candid conversation with my “lady doctor” about babymaking.  I figured no harm in gathering some advice on how we could increase our chances for success.  (Just FYI –  for a prude like me, such a conversation was extremely uncomfortable.  I would say it made me even more uncomfortable than watching people sing and dance on TV, or even worse watching a sex scene in a movie in front of my grandma).

My doctor’s first crazy idea was that I start taking my basal temperature every morning to figure out when I was ovulating.  As many of you know your basal temperature supposedly goes up about a degree during ovulation time.  So in the beginning of June I had my husband buy me an expensive pink thermometer and I got to work.  This supposedly special thermometer even came with a fancy chart to track my readings!  (Insert oooo’s and aaah’s here).

Except after about a week I realized there was a problem – my basal temperatures were seriously all over the place.  Basically, if I went by the results on my fancy chart – well, I was an ovulating machine and popping out an egg every other day. I wish.

So, I spoke with my OB again and expressed my perplexion about how this apparently reliable method was failing me. She reminded me that for this method to be accurate I should be checking every morning at the same time when I woke up and before I got out of the bed.

I about lost it – this lady knew my profession.  I work in an ER, I never wake up at the same time every morning.  I have obnoxious hours. Sometimes the alarm goes off at 7am for work like a normal person and other days I am going to bed at 7am after coming home from a night shift.  So basically this shit wasn’t going to work is what she was telling me.  So the fancy pink thermometer got thrown angrily into the junk drawer next to my bed, never to be seen again.  The chart got recycled and is probably a brown paper bag out there somewhere… although would be way more appropriate it if it had been turned into a box for tampons.

My crazy OB then suggested that maybe we should just try to have intercourse every day from days 10 through 20 of my cycle.  This lady told some great jokes.  My husband and I BOTH work in an ER which  means two sets of obscene and odd hours.  I am aware some couples have sex several times a week but depending on our schedules we were lucky some days to kiss each other good morning or good night.  In fact there are days we don’t see each other.  Or my favorite are those days where if we do get the pleasure of seeing each other it is for a 2 hour window when he gets home at 3am and I’m dead asleep before I have to wake up at 430am to get to an early morning shift.  I dare anyone to try and “get in the mood” when you’ve hard 3 hours of sleep and your significant other is exhausted from working 12 hours and smells like blood and other people’s B.O.

So in short her suggested methods of planning for us were hilarity!  Obviously my doc was a delusional nimphomaniac.   She thinks we all have time for sex all day long every day like a bunch of starved teenagers.  Silly lady.

But no matter I had a back up plan.  I had heard in a magical section of drugstores they sold these strips that tell you exactly when you’re ovulating.  These would surely be our fail safe method of babymaking right?

Here’s where future me inserts an evil laugh.  But that’s a story for another post so stay tuned.

Love Author M

June 2012

This was the plan:  In fact I had it mapped out in my head since I was a naive 25 year old.  I was going to be one of those lucky girls who got rid of all the uterine defense mechanisms at the exact moment I was ready for a baby and… Oopsy! I’m pregnant!

I got my IUD removed in early February 2012 and actually was pretty lucky to start getting regular periods the next month – just as I had planned.  It had to be my uterus giving me the thumbs up, a sign even, saying to me – I’m ready, let’s get a baby in here stat!

The hubby and I first decided that we would not “try to get pregnant” – we would just not not try.  We would just go along our daily business, have some fun in the sack and simply “see what happens”.  And of course I would walk the same path of my friends (as I had also always planned).  So many of my girlfriends stopped their birth control pills, got funky under the sheets for fun after a great night of wine consumption and got rewarded with a cute little baby for their drunken debotchery.  Surely that would be the case for me as well right?

February, March, April, May and June all rolled by without any oops.  I was shocked.  This is how I had it planned out in my head for years – no more birth control, baby growing in belly in 1, 2 or maybe 3 months max.  I’m a planner and when things don’t go as planned I get very upset.  Our rolls in the hay hadn’t decreased any so it made no sense that I was not pregnant by now!  So finally in June when our hopes for an accidental pregnancy seemed to fail, my husband suggested maybe our grand idea of waiting for an oops was not the way to go.  I hate when he’s right.

Love Author M 

January 2012

Oh, is your teddy bear sick? What’s wrong with him? Does he need to see a doctor?”

Yes, he has a booboo on his arm.”

Well, then, you’re in the right place. Walk right into my office here and I’ll see what I can do for him.”

The Teddy Bear Clinic happens once or twice a year at our hospital, and I happened to have volunteered this year to minister to various bears, dinosaurs, barbie dolls, GI Joes, etc. that had suffered random (and often creative) mishaps. Children from the neighborhood bring their inanimate friends in for “booboos”, coughs, runny noses, tumors, amputations (I’m not kidding)…you know, typical emergencies that might befall a stuffed animal. In any case, it was a good cause: trying to get children to feel more comfortable in the hospital. I think those kids are actually too smart to fall for the charade. In reality, they’re just playing along with us idiot adults. But, hey, I’m not about to point this out to Admin.

That day, I tried to keep a straight face as these kids directed my attention to the assorted ailments I needed to address. At the back of my mind, however, was the nagging thought that my period was late. Also at the back of my mind, but perhaps less farther back, was the realization that I was kind of hoping that I was pregnant. Was it the room full of kids? The adorable (and occasionally maimed) stuffed animals? Hormones? Lack of caffeine? I’m not sure. The husband and I had sort of, kind of started trying a month ago, with no realistic expectation of getting pregnant right away. We had read the statistics and whatnot and knew it could take 3-4, maybe even 6 months. Not to mention I’m in my mid-30s, so there are some stale eggs in here. However, I like to pride myself on the very fertile women from which I descend. No one has ever had any difficulty conceiving in my extended family. And I’ve got the same wide, “please-fertilize-me” hips they all have/had. So…this should be a piece of cake, right?

-Author S-