04 June, 2016

Looking Back: The First Infertility Appointment

The cancer thing was not terrible. It was terrible, but not as bad as it could have been. Lounging in the hospital's OR waiting room as the cancer was removed proved to be more fun than expected with my sister and newest brother-in-law bringing a picnic dinner that we rearranged the furniture slightly to eat. Exactly a week later, my baby brother returned from a two year LDS mission to Mexico and provided some distracting. Christmas came shortly thereafter and I loved the break from school so I could enjoy my family and steal peaks at my husband's newest scar on his neck.
The same day as husband's surgery, we scheduled an infertility appointment at my obgyn's office as a starting point. A quick review of my file was completed as well as a fast physical. We were sent to the hospital for lab work (8 vials-my record for one day) and they said they would refer us to an infertility clinic.
A week later, the results for the labs came back. Everything looked great except for my anticardiolipin level. It was slightly elevated, not enough for a formal diagnosis, but definitely on the wrong side of the borderline.
As December progressed, we arrived closer to the date of the radiation. You see, with my husband's thyroid cancer, chemo does not do any good. A nice dose of radiation is what patients are given. It's enough to set off radiation detectors and not surprisingly, they do not allow their patients to try to have kids for 4-6 months after the radiation is administered.
As the radiation date loomed closer, I fretted increasingly. Not just because my husband was on an irritating no iodine diet (look up everything that has iodine in it) or because I was worried about how he would react to the treatment, but because I was exasperating at the 4-6 months that were too follow.
I did, however, feel extremely selfish about these feelings. In the back of my mind, I decided I had to put those thoughts aside. This was not time to focus on me.
As if he could read my thoughts, husband approached me the Sunday prior to his Friday radiation date. He offered to do a sperm bank so that we could continue our quest for offspring during that time.

We had to spring into action quickly.

Monday he called the infertility clinic and was told they could definitely help us out, but they needed a referral from his endocrinologist. The endocrinologist's office was slow to comply and did not get the referral to the clinic until Tuesday Between Tuesday and Thursday, we were able to freeze four vials of sperm. (Like the one in the form of a stuffed animal in one of the clinic's doctor's office pictured below.) I felt relieved as he went in Friday morning for his radiation appointment.
I wasn't able to get in for my initial appointment for another month. A week before the appointment, we printed off the large amount of paperwork and started writing down our medical histories. Filling in medical papers takes no time at all for me. It takes a bit longer for the husband. I dutifully finished in one night, excited and curious for what was to come.
The morning of the appointment arrived and I enjoyed sleeping in slightly. Husband and I took separate vehicles to the clinic. I recently commented to him that we had passed the building several times in our relationship (It's on the way to my in-laws) and I always wondered what was in it. Who were the types of people that went inside. I was not even entirely clear on the purpose of the facility. Now it was clear; we were the types of people that belonged there. Our story was sad, but we looked normal from the outside.
I took in the waiting room once we pulled the door open. Televisions were playing the morning news and a drink bar with snacks sat to one side. (It's a rare appointment that the husband doesn't grab a cookie or two.)
We handed our novel of paperwork to the receptionist and did the usual first-time patient stuff. My picture was taken, we handed over the insurance card, and a few clarifying questions were asked. Then, we sat down. I took in the news, and the husband probably pulled out his phone for entertainment.
Finally, we were called back. A nurse directed us out of the waiting room and into our doctor's office. I love our doctor. She is a short woman with strait blonde hair. She is always smiling and makes sure we are clear on everything. (During the last visit, she even okayed checking husband's thyroid levels because his doctor would not do it.)
We had a great chat the first time around. The endocrinologist talked us through what goes into an IUI and what the sperm levels looked like. We asked dozens of questions and she calmed us down with answers for all of them.Before leaving, she gave me instructions for the first IUI and then repeated my cardiolipin test.
The entire process was so hopeful. She gave us no reason to think that we wouldn't be able to take a baby home. For the first time in over a year, I was excited about this process instead of feeling pessimistic.

You have to have a good sense of humor to be a reproductive endocrinologist. One tip is to keep a sperm pillow in your office.

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