I remember going to my first appointment with my R.E. (Reproductive Endocrinologist) It was a cold winter day in September of 2008. I was 32 years old, married for a year and felt it was time to JUST CHECK if everything was ok.
Here is what I did know:
- My cycles came like clockwork
- I ovulated on the halachically appropriate day (and if I did ovulate a day or two earlier, I had a psak from a Rabbi on how to handle the clean days vs. bleeding days)
- My mom had no trouble conceiving (granted she was about 23 when she got married and was done having kids by 28.)
My husband took the morning off of work since we BOTH needed to be present. Our appointment was around 11am. We took a cab from our apartment on the Upper West Side cross town to Cornell Reproductive to see a doctor who was very successful with helping people I knew. I was nervous, I looked over at my husband who didn’t say anything and was stoic.
I realized something. I knew we both wanted to have a family, but I didn’t really ASK him if he was ok that WE, yes, BOTH of us were going to get checked out. You see, I am a “take the bull by the horns” type of person. If I have a thought in my head, I move heaven and earth until that thought is settled in my mind. I knew I wanted us to get checked out, so I called, made an appointment and THEN told him he was coming with me so we could find answers. I think my “take control” attitude was one of the things he loved about me, so his silence meant he was “in for the ride ahead.”
We sat in the long waiting room and saw tons of chasidish looking couples and a sprinkling of secular and non-Jews coming out of doors and leaving. Lots of people coming in and out. I kept looking at the doors, when will they call MY name?
Finally, I was greeted by the administrative assistant who handed me a THICK booklet of questions to fill out, and I filled them out while my husband read a sports magazine. We were here at my insistence, so why make him fill things out?
Once the paperwork was done, we went to meet the doc. He took a medical history of me, and then took one of my husband. He explained we would then take blood from me, do an ultrasound of my ovaries and also require a “sample” from my husband. I assumed since I was the older one in our relationship that there would be nothing wrong with him.
They took our blood and my husband’s sample and took me to a room for my ultrasound. I was in shock that they asked me to remove everything from the waist down. Weren’t ultrasounds done through the abdomen? When there is no baby inside they want to check your uterine lining and ovaries and do so with a “trans-vaginal ultrasound wand.” Basically, a phallic looking wand that they insert into your vaginal cavity.
I was tense from the meeting and now even more tense from this “wand.” When they looked on the screen, and I looked as well, I had no clue what I was looking at. (Remember that Friends episode where Rachel and Ross get to see their baby and she says “I don’t see it!” It was like that.)
So, I asked “what are we looking at, and what are we looking for?” They were looking to see if I had any ovarian cysts and if my endometrial lining was at the right thickness for that time in my cycle. He reassured me it looked great.
We came back a week later when the blood work and semen analysis results were ready. Bloodwork was perfect on both of us, my reproductive organs were great, my levels showed I would make an abundance of eggs, all seemed GREAT. There was one small issue, but the doctor didn’t seem nervous. My husband had a few abnormal heads and tails in his “sample” but the volume he produced was so large that those wouldn’t cause a problem with us.
Our diagnosis? They can’t put their finger on anything wrong so its “Unexplained Infertility.”
Great, there is nothing wrong with me.
What the future would teach me is that sometimes I would hope for a specific problem because with unexplained, they try different protocols out on you and see what works. If you have a specific issue they know how to resolve, the road is much smoother. But I would only learn that later on after 2 miscarriages under my belt.