“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.