My whole life, I never felt different, less capable, or “handicapped” because I was a woman. However, once I got married, I did feel “different.” Not only did I have to go through all the name change drama while my sweet husband’s only changes were a title change to “husband” and a new ring on his finger, but I also quickly discovered how little I knew about fertility and my body.
My Type A personality felt that if I did not get pregnant on or soon after my honeymoon, especially since my family is unbelievably fertile (my grandmother has 14 kids!), there was a problem. Also, because I was 36 years old, I was quite aware of the “once you pass 35 years old” adage that my friends, doctors and various articles discussed. When I did not get pregnant, I decided to call my OB/GYN, who ran blood work and based on the results, immediately recommended me to a fertility specialist. On the one hand, I was elated that I did not wait months and months of trying and not succeeding knowing some medical miracle could have helped. On the other hand, I was frustrated that once again, life dealt me another challenge. I had to accept that anything I want badly is something I will have to fight for rather than have easily. I stood up, put my shoulders back, focused, and put myself on a mission: find out what was wrong and fix it!
During my search for answers, I chose to speak with friends. I was going to keep all of this a secret, but for whatever reason, I felt comfortable asking questions and quickly realized how little I actually knew about my body and all the options available to me. I also was surprised to learn just how many women were facing the same issues I was. How in the world have I spent 36 years in my own skin and never learned how my body works beyond my monthly cycle and the basics of how to make or avoid making a baby!?
A friend referred me to a wonderful book called Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. (Yes, my aggressive self was drawn to the title.) In this book, I learned about what happens to my body each day of the cycle and how cervical fluid consistency and basal temperature can tell you so much! These can tell you when you may ovulate, when you will get your period, etc. The information is unbelievable exact and scientific. Tracking this information during each of your cycles along with other information like whether you feel stressed, have traveled, worked out, or took a certain medication can tell you so much as each can impact what is happening with your body.
I did not start reading the book and learning this information, though, until after my husband and I met with the fertility specialist. I just did not want to know, but soon realized I would be better equipped with knowledge than fear. With this knowledge, I felt I had more control over what was happening. However, months and months of ovulation kits, pregnancy tests, basal temperature monitoring, and cervical fluid readings, I was overwhelmed, overworked, and feeling over-informed!
I was also frustrated with my experience at the fertility clinic. My husband and I met with the doctor once and then were whisked away to the nurses, who I saw every month for blood work. Each month, they would say, “OK. We are starting IVF.” What!? I did not recall the doctor mentioning IVF so soon. In fact, he said, “Let’s wait a few months and see what happens. Then we can decide what to do.” I was scared. So I went in every month to get the blood work thinking, “I will do IVF this time.” However, once I arrived, my gut said, “NO!” Finally, after 6 months of this back and forth in my head and with the nurses, I decided to meet with the doctor for a second consult.
My second meeting with Doctor #1 made my husband and I so angry. He shared with us information that would have been helpful to know from the beginning. However, we had hope – I told my OB/GYN that I wanted another recommendation – this time for a new doctor who did not treat me like a factory or science experiment. She gave me a new name, and we had the appointment just after this second meeting with Doctor #1.
I am happy to report that Doctor #2 is amazing. I don’t feel like I am in a factory. He actually asked about all the information I was tracking with my body using the Fertility Awareness Method described in Taking Charge of your Fertility. He also conducted basic tests the previous doctor never even thought to do. While I am not yet pregnant, I feel informed and taken care of. Whatever this journey brings, I am sure it will be worth it in the end.
My message to each of you is to know your body. If you are seeking medical advice for fertility, love your doctor. If you have any doubts, get a second opinion. It is your right!
NOTE: I wanted to let you know there are online tools you can download to your SmartPhones which can track your cycle and ovulation. Please know that if you are using this, make sure it associates your temperature and cervical fluid with ovulation rather than just using a formula. Everyone’s body is different and if you are trying to get pregnant or avoid it, you want to be sure you are getting the outcome you want!