i survived my HSG

It turned out to be not too bad.

I had heard such a range of stories and experiences of the HSG, ranging from the worst pain imaginable, to it was no big deal. I definitely felt jitters not knowing what to expect or which side I would fall on. I also read that if you are too anxious or tense your tubes could spasm causing severe pain, and making it look like your tubes were blocked when they weren’t. I had no idea if that was true, but nevertheless I then became anxious about being anxious.

But it turned out to be ok. I spent the entire procedure focusing on breathing, staring at the weird floral lighting on the ceiling, and relaxing as many muscles as I could under the conditions. The nurse’s last name was the same as my maiden name, so we joked about that, and the doctor proceeded to call us half-sisters for the rest of the exam. It helped to keep me relaxed.

I definitely felt cramping, but the cramping was tolerable. The whole procedure was similar to my saline ultrasound, but with the cramps turned up a notch. The doctor was not my regular RE, which made me nervous, but was personable and gentle. He told me that everything looked good – my tubes were clear and there was no sign of scarring. “She did a great job,” he said once the procedure was done. I just looked at him, not knowing did he mean me? The nurse? “Your doctor,” he clarified, “She did a great job with your surgery. No signs of your septum at all.” He sounded impressed, and that gave me comfort.

I feel so relieved to have done this and have it over with. The peace of mind has helped me feel so much calmer this cycle. Everything is looking good, and now I just need to work on that elusive thing called patience.

As the doctor was leaving, he said to me, “Your story is mighty familiar…my daughter had the same surgery and I’m now the grandfather to an adorable redhead. I know it will happen for you too.”

I thanked him as my eyes filled with tears. I know he’s right. I hope he’s right. 

To read more about the gritty details of the procedure, click here.

the first doctor i could trust

“You’ve been through a lot,” were the first words she said to us. Despite hearing over and over from respected Los Angeles doctors that all we needed to do was just try again, I had decided to see a fertility specialist. Her response to us was soothing. She understood, as opposed to the shrug we received from the perinatologist, followed by his telling us there was nothing else we could do. Making us feel silly for even asking.

We went over all the testing that we should do. My regular OBGYN had tested us for basic chromosomal problems and blood clotting disorders, but our fertility doctor would fill in all the holes and do a full fertility workup. She decided I needed a saline ultrasound, so she could check for uterine abnormalities. I had asked my OBGYN just a few weeks prior if I should have something like that done. She told me no. The likelihood was low that we would find anything wrong. I had hesitantly believed her. But when my fertility doctor suggested it I eagerly agreed. I wanted to test everything.

While performing the saline ultrasound she discovered I had a uterine septum. A uterine septum causes infertility and miscarriage, she explained. An embryo has trouble implanting on a septum, and if it does, it will not get proper blood supply and you will miscarry. And even if you don’t miscarry and the pregnancy progresses, the fetus is likely to run out of room to grow, and in that case you will have preterm labor. In other words, it needed to be out, and I needed surgery to make that happen.

When she gave me the news I felt an overwhelming urge to cry. Not because I needed surgery. I didn’t care. I knew it was a good thing that they found a likely culprit. No, I wanted to cry because I had been told by 4 doctors already to just try again. Told not to see a fertility specialist. Told that there was no more testing we needed to do. Had I listened, I realized in that moment, we would have been staring straight in the face of loss #3.

I had felt so alone after my second loss. Alone in the research I was trying to do, alone in trying to solve the medical mysteries that so often define recurrent pregnancy loss. I could never trust my doctors, feeling like they were basing their recommendations on probabilities and likelihoods, rather than the thorough, thoughtful approach I was hoping for. Antiquated medical advice based on limited research. I was looking for someone to help me do everything in my power to avoid another loss. But I was constantly skeptical of every doctor, and the generic advice I constantly received.

In working with my fertility doctor, for the first time I stopped feeling alone. I started to trust. I knew she couldn’t predict the future, and I knew there was always a chance of more losses, but she was my advocate. She wanted me to succeed. I finally felt like I could put down Google.