I knew which fertility clinic to call because I had already looked up the ones in my area and chosen which one I liked best. I looked at SART information, considered the location with regard to traffic patterns, and explored whether or not the clinics were affiliated with other clinics or a bigger system. Fortunately, the one closest to me had the best data and was affiliated with a nationally known, high quality fertility clinic. At least I had all that going for me...
I had already been to my gynecologist several times. When we decided to start trying, I went and saw her for a preconception checkup. After we had been trying for six months, she did my HSG. Then when things still weren't happening, she did some bloodwork and checked all of my hormones. That's when I learned my AMH was low and I had a diminished ovarian reserve (DOR).
Honestly, the day I got those results was probably the hardest day throughout the whole process. This may sound weird, but I've always worried about my fertility. Even as a child. I wanted to be a mom SO BAD but knew it was out of my control. In college, I confessed my worry to my best friend and she assured me that it would be okay. So when I learned that I had DOR, something in me just knew. I knew that it hadn't been easy and it wasn't going to get any easier. A big part of me lost all hope that it would ever happen. I literally collapsed in heaving sobs on the floor of our office. Out of everything I've been through, that was the hardest moment.
My husband had already been to a urologist that specialized in fertility. Well, first he gave a sperm sample for some random doctor that my gynecologist suggested. Then I asked him to go ahead and have a full physical. My husband, who absolutely hates doctors and never goes to see them, went without question. I will be forever grateful about his attitude. So he went. Had a physical exam, bloodwork, ultrasound, gave another sample. The results were fine. No physical problems. Low counts but nothing impossible.
So I felt we had checked everything out that we could. So, after dragging my feet for a year, we proceeded to the fertility clinic I picked out.
Our first appointment was nerve wracking. The waiting room was gorgeous. But weird. I'm not used to doctors' waiting rooms being chatty, but this one was even more different. People seemed to actively avoid eye contact. Everyone sat strategically, where they would not be near anyone else. Of course, I looked at all the baby pictures and read the photo album full of thank you notes. I started to get excited, that maybe this would actually happen.
We went in to meet the doctor. Like the waiting room, she was also gorgeous. And warm. And friendly. I instantly felt at ease. She looked through our extensive file, praising me on all the steps we had already taken. After talking to us, reviewing all of our information, and answering my extremely LONG list of questions, she told us it could happen. Our numbers weren't telling her it was impossible. She said, "We get women like you pregnant all the time." A glimmer of hope.
She suggested, with our numbers, to go straight to IVF. But, she also said, if we wanted to try IUI first, we could do that. I asked if it would be a waste of time and money to do IUI first and she said no, just that our chances were higher with IVF. I asked about Clomid, since I thought that was always the first thing women tried. She said Clomid wouldn't be appropriate for me. So I chose to try IUI first. I couldn't handle the ideas of injections yet. Then she told me that I would be doing injections with my IUI. That's when I started crying. And shaking. And she was so calm and gentle and sensitive. She really assured me that it was going to be okay, that they wouldn't hurt much and that I could do this. She never pressured me; she emboldened me.
I did not know it then, but I was in for much bigger disappointments than having to do injections. But what I also did not know then was how lucky I was to be at a fertility clinic where I felt listened to and so well taken care of.
We all know how my story ends: surprise, no baby. But my husband and I would spend the next seven months with my doctor and her team of nurses and phlebotomists, and we all tried our best.