Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Tale of Two Doctors

I’m officially in my mid-thirties. And I ushered in this auspicious era with My first Migraine. Of course, I didn’t think it was a migraine: I was certain it was an aneurysm and I needed to go to the ER right away. My head was throbbing, and just on the left side. It hurt to blink. Nicole insisted I wait it out (isn’t that how people die?!) and blamed lack of sleep, lack of drinking water, and lack of food as the culprit. So I spent a chunk of my birthday (a rainy-ish, dreary day) laying in bed with a washcloth over my eyes.

Nicole was right and it did subside. But still an ER trip wouldn’t have been so bad? Why take chances? I don’t want to come this far in life and then succumb to an exploding blood vessel in my brain. OK, enough of the drama.

Now: For the commenter who asked about why we switched doctors, here is the story. It is worth repeating.

I had no idea that it would take me so long to get pregnant. Like most women, I thought I was in charge of my own fertility (Ha!) and that when I wanted to get pregnant, I would (double Ha!). We started the journey with my ob/gyn, who did four IUIs with no success. We thought we better move onto a full-fledge fertility clinic so we signed up with one of the top clinics in the city even though we would be paying out of pocket because they didn’t accept my insurance. I got pregnant on my second IUI (money justified!) but then I had a m/c.

It occurred to us that we might be in this fertility race for the long haul, so we looked around for another clinic. We picked a clinic that not only accepted our insurance, but also had excellent success rates: In fact, they had slightly BETTER success rates than the fancy top clinic. I was certain that I would get pregnant because, according to all of the doctors I had been to, there was no reason why I couldn’t get and stay pregnant (lovely unexplained infertility, fertility’s cop-out). And I did get pregnant, on my second IUI there. And then I had another m/c. Our doctor said our best chances for success would be IVF. We did two IVFs with this clinic: With the first, we transferred three blasts and with the second we transferred four blasts. And we got nothing.

I went in for follow-up blood work after the second failed IVF and, sad and desperate, I asked the nurse if she had ever seen anyone with my history (two m/c’s, two failed IVFs, tons of IUIs) get and stay pregnant. I told her after the in total seven live embryos that my uterus rejected. She asked me, kind of nonchalantly but not non chalantly enough, who did my transfers. I told her it was Doctor X, and she sighed.

Thus ensued the greatest test of my journalism interviewing skills. Why the sigh? I asked her if she thought that Dr. X didn’t do transfers well, and she blanched. She wasn’t going to say anything too blasphemous. I asked her what Dr. X’s success rate was, and she didn’t answer. I kept fishing till I found the magic questions: I asked her if some doctors have better success rates than others when it comes to transfers and she said yes. Then I asked her if I made the best choice of doctors for my transfers and she said “I think Dr. Y is great.” Dr. Y was not my doctor. We randomly chose Dr. X.

Dr. Y is apparently the superstar. I did a little google work and it turns out that I am not the only person to have discovered this. I immediately called the practice and said I wanted to switch doctors but the practice refused to let me do that. So I switched practices. Their stupid policy cost them 15K.

We went back to the fancy top clinic, knowing we would pay out of pocket, and embarked on IVF number three. They put three embryos in me and I got pregnant—and stayed pregnant—with the twins. This is why I am a firm believer in switching practices. If you have had a couple of failed IVFs or IUIs I think it s worth trying another doctor/practice/approach. There are so many variables to IVF and IUI, especially, I’ve learned, in creating embryos. And you really want a top-notch embryologist.

There is something to be said for staying with one doctor and trying different strategies, but that becomes less important since medical records are transferable (though Dr. X charged me a dollar a page (!) for my medical records, which amounted to over a hundred dollars!)

Pictured above: The two little princesses. In the first picture, Avery looks like a Volcan or Klingon or whatever those Star Trek people are. She looks more like herself in the bottom picture (with the white milk tongue!) Madeline looks nonplused. She isn’t sure what to make of this creature who lives with her. They continue to be ambivalent toward each other.


K J and the kids said...

I think they look a lot like each other. Just ones darker. How cute are they !!!!!
Sorry your birthday didn't go well. I hope you are feeling better.
I hadn't heard the doctor switch story. WOW !! I had NO idea.
SO happy you talked to that nurse.

Anonymous said...

I can see a mirror story in here -- keep changing doctors/methods until you find something/someone that works for you and your family. And now, you're going through the same process to figure out how to breastfeed and then deal with the gas. The truth is, all of this is a long process and asking the right questions is more than half the battle. Hearing about your perseverance is awesome though - you have those mama gut instincts all the way....

How is your hand, by the way? Any reappearance of the giant totem pole on your hand?

bri said...

They are too cute. Happy Belated Birthday and sorry it kind of sucked. Your doctor story is upsetting. I have started dreaming doctors lately. Odd.

Shelli said...

Avery Sure has a good poop face going on in picture #1! ;)

I'd be curious (off list, if you like) to compare some NYC RE stories - I'm curious which clinic, etc. "You show me yours, and I'll show you mine,etc."

If you care to post anonymously, you can also post the "research" you've done to - good new fertility wiki site!

Amy said...

My partner (tracerhawk) has been filling me on how things are going. You're doing great. I know everyone keeps telling you it will get better but I also know you want it to happen yesterday. Would be awesome if there was a miracle cure for gas. When my partner suggested to me to have the twins sleep in their carseats I thought she was nuts. I thought, what kind of parents would do that? The answer was ones that wanted and needed sleep. They slept so much better that we did that for at least a month, maybe longer. So, if you haven't tried it, it is worth a shot. The worst about all this advice is that no two babies, even twins, are alike. What might work for ours might not work for yours. Hell, what might work for one of yours might not work for the other. Hang in there, it does get better.