Friday, April 25, 2014

Faces of Infertility: Tara's Story

In celebration of "National Infertility Awareness Week", I am featuring stories of infertility this week. These are all guest posts that I hope will put a real face on this devastating disease. Please spread the word and share these stories!
After a failed attempt to adopt a foster child I couldn’t go through the drama of falling in love then losing a child again. It was time to try to get assistance to get pregnant. I had gone through great lengths including three Reproductive Endocrynologists, about four Clomid cycles and six trials (I lost count, really) of IUI, and peed on a metric ton of EPTs with a big fat NO each time over four years. I think I was at my lowest emotional point ever. I found a new hatred of any women with obvious physical signs of PCOS, as I knew sitting across from them in the RE waiting room that they would be pregnant long before I would. My office shared a wall with Pediatrics, and I could hear babies crying throughout the day, leading to random outbursts of tears. I refused to shop at Walmart or the grocery store before 11 pm since that is where the parents who don’t know what a gift their kids really are do their shopping, and I couldn’t bear to hear one more parent scream at a child for simply acting like a child. I fought the urge to kidnap and raise about 3,000 of those kids throughout the years. I had researched the heck out of every Endocrynologist within a reasonable drive from Lompoc, CA, and had picked the doc with the best outcome overall. I submitted for an appointment, and they rejected me as a patient. I now understand, he only had the best numbers because he turned away any challenging cases that could bring his numbers down. I was on a 2-3 year wait list for an initial evaluation at Wilford Hall. I was distraught. I finally made contact with a clinic that touted great success rates in Beverly Hills. We made the drive. They reviewed my hand-carried volume of records, then ordered the same labs I had already handed him to review. They booked me straight away for an IVF cycle, and this elation clouded my judgment/intuition that would typically have sent me running from the repeated lab work. Just $15K out of pocket later I sat in the office filling out my informed consent forms for my IVF cycle. One page I refused to sign. I did not believe in the Inter-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection process was really the best option. For a first round of IVF, I wanted to have some level of natural selection in place, and after my questions about the risks of killing an oovum with the needle for injection went unanswered, not only did I NOT consent, but I wrote in big red letters, diagonally across the page “Does NOT consent”. The doc told me that this is a procedure that the lab decides upon when needed, and no one ever refused consent before. I asked him to put a note on the front of my record too, in that case. The clinic called me on Thanksgiving morning at 0800 to cancel my embryo transfer for the next day because all of the harvested eggs had stopped splitting the day before. My cycle failed. To throw salt on the wound (after they already ruined Thanksgiving as a holiday for me), I received a bill in the mail the following week for $1100 for ICSI procedure by the lab. When I asked for a records review, I found out that they ignored my denial of consent and went forward with ICSI. Tears…. Blame… Regret took over. I called and asked them to remove the fee. They said a procedure was done, and they can’t undo it, so I needed to pay for it. Anger set in. I wrote a letter of intent to sue for assault, as my eggs are cells belonging to my body, and I denied a procedure, after which they punctured my cells anyway. I sent the bill in with my letter, and received back a check for $15K. No apology, just a check. I had seen enough, and was done with RE for a while. If one more person told me I’d get pregnant if/when it was God’s will, or when it was meant to be, I’m pretty sure I’d have asked them that if my car ran them over right then and there, if it was God’s will for them to die, and their family shouldn’t miss them because it was just meant to be. I couldn’t take fly-by advice, and I couldn’t stand false-hope cheer. I was the walking illustration of depression. Almost year later, I was sitting in my chief’s office in-processing Osan when we started talking about kids. He had six. My tears were contagious, and he had no clue why he was crying. We chatted a few minutes about my dismal history with RE, and I returned to work. A week later, he came to my office with a business card for Dr. Park at CHA women’s hospital in Seoul. He wouldn’t accept that I had taken an assignment in Korea as part of a break from that chain of disappointment in my life. Instead, he pulled out a calendar with my return date from Korea circled, counted back 6 months, circled it and labeled it “First possible date for IVF”, and two months earlier wrote “CHA consult”. I called and booked it. Talk about culture shock. I went to my consult with my unabridged dictionary-sized stack of records, and Dr. Park slid them to the side of the desk and said, “we do it my way here.” I was disappointed, but at the cost of $1200 for a complete cycle, I figured it was worth a try even though my intuition told me any doc who doesn’t want to know what worked or didn’t work in the past isn’t going to be able to move me any closer to becoming a mom. At least I could take his protocol back the next year to the US doc, and let him know what didn’t work, so they could create a new and improved plan for me. Wrong. I did my two months of prep meds, had only one ultrasound, and did my HCG shot at home. I showed up for my retrieval, and they had twice the number of eggs retrieved as my Beverly Hills cycle. I tried so hard not to get excited. Three days later we returned to a doc telling us there were two grade “A” embryos, and one “B+”. He said he wouldn’t freeze a “B+” and typically only freezes if there are at least three “As” remaining. My husband refused the inference. “We will NOT put in more than two”. Dr. Park, a foot lower in stature, but from the authoritative side of the desk, replied, “You want a baby. Three gives you a better chance of getting one, but I only put in two, and they don’t implant, you will regret throwing one chance away.” There was some kind of a quip about “If we end up with triplets…” but I was quickly whisked away for my triple implantation. I am so glad I’m OCD about on-line research about procedures before I undergo them. I seriously would NEVER have known what was going on with my body when the OHSS hit. Cramp is not the word for it. I think the best description was getting run over by a MAC truck, then it parking with its wheel on my abdomen for a week. I knew to expect the pain to last 1-2 days if it hit, and longer if there was actually an implantation. I never was so excited to feel so much pain. Day three… yeah I was in pain, but was I pregnant? Day four I had to check into the in-patient unit to have the pain mitigated, but I had to be, right? I was in severe pain, and elated about it. They ran a quantitative HCG that day and the next. It had doubled in one day. Not only was I pregnant, but I was pretty sure I had at least twins. The pain subsided the day before my scheduled day 10 follow-up ultrasound. I sat in the cattle-call room with women on each side of me, without my husband. I thought maybe the Korean ultrasound tech didn’t know much English when she pointed to a shadow and said “Baby A”. I thought she meant “a baby” with her level of excitement when she found the white blip. Then she said “Baby B”. <3 data-blogger-escaped-a="" data-blogger-escaped-again.="" data-blogger-escaped-and="" data-blogger-escaped-are="" data-blogger-escaped-as="" data-blogger-escaped-be="" data-blogger-escaped-before="" data-blogger-escaped-break="" data-blogger-escaped-but="" data-blogger-escaped-can="" data-blogger-escaped-cancel="" data-blogger-escaped-could="" data-blogger-escaped-dr.="" data-blogger-escaped-follow="" data-blogger-escaped-fourth="" data-blogger-escaped-going="" data-blogger-escaped-good="" data-blogger-escaped-h="" data-blogger-escaped-had="" data-blogger-escaped-happy="" data-blogger-escaped-having="" data-blogger-escaped-he="" data-blogger-escaped-him="" data-blogger-escaped-home="" data-blogger-escaped-husband="" data-blogger-escaped-i="" data-blogger-escaped-in="" data-blogger-escaped-it="" data-blogger-escaped-join="" data-blogger-escaped-let="" data-blogger-escaped-me="" data-blogger-escaped-meeting="" data-blogger-escaped-my="" data-blogger-escaped-of="" data-blogger-escaped-only="" data-blogger-escaped-our="" data-blogger-escaped-p="" data-blogger-escaped-park="" data-blogger-escaped-rather="" data-blogger-escaped-relief="" data-blogger-escaped-right="" data-blogger-escaped-room="" data-blogger-escaped-saw="" data-blogger-escaped-security="" data-blogger-escaped-see="" data-blogger-escaped-seeing="" data-blogger-escaped-sigh="" data-blogger-escaped-smile="" data-blogger-escaped-spite.="" data-blogger-escaped-than="" data-blogger-escaped-that="" data-blogger-escaped-the="" data-blogger-escaped-they="" data-blogger-escaped-this="" data-blogger-escaped-time="" data-blogger-escaped-to="" data-blogger-escaped-told="" data-blogger-escaped-tonight.="" data-blogger-escaped-twins.="" data-blogger-escaped-twins="" data-blogger-escaped-waiting="" data-blogger-escaped-was="" data-blogger-escaped-we="" data-blogger-escaped-were="" data-blogger-escaped-with="" data-blogger-escaped-would="" data-blogger-escaped-you=""> Although health care in Korea is completely different than in the US, it was worth every dehumanizing moment. Sitting in a room nude with no drape, no curtains between beds… oh well. Showing for cattle call appointments, and getting to see the doc when he was ready for me rather than at pre-scheduled appointment times… I learned to take a book with me. My name on a computer screen with the type of procedure and the current status in the waiting room… forget HIPAA, my husband knew what was up, and that was just nice. The inability for my husband to be in the exam rooms or present for ultrasounds… well, they were happy to print pictures for him. I was pregnant, and all the conveniences of American medicine no longer mattered to me. My twins can tout “Made in Korea, and Born in the USA” and I am a new person since they joined my life seven years ago. Bryson and Dakodah are my built-in resiliency tools. No matter what happens in my life, I have them, I can take it, and I can thrive. When I hear anyone talk about God’s will, or what is meant to be, my only follow-on advice is “Don’t take that from anyone. Fight like hell for what you know you need, and never give up.”
,(Please note that all parts of this article are the opinion of the guest writer and not necessarily viewpoints that I personally share)

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