Friday, July 15, 2016

Guest post: Tampon Travesty

Another cycle. It's here. The anxious two week wait is over, and it's time for tampons. I got my period.

There are many blog posts and stories about struggling with conception. But these people aren't in medicine, they aren't in sync with the uterus, right?? They didn't have to memorize hormones and fun facts?? Right? Apparently not.

Well, we started struggling, and the foreign stories became relatable. Our trials have been so much more confusing in light of our son who grows older with every month we are unable to provide him the brother or sister I have longed for since the moment he was born. I guess they call this secondary infertility - I call it a giant, expensive, heart-breaking pain in the ass, which makes me cry on a regular basis, well by regular basis I guess I mean... approximately every 28 days.

We have been trying since our son was first born. We both want a big family, and that requires trying to have children, even during our simultaneous medical training, and what some would say are not ideal times. So, I gave up breastfeeding my son cold turkey (with ample frozen milk) to expedite my cycles returning. Well, they returned... and have been returning for close to a year now. I could have had my baby by now. I could be back to breastfeeding and snuggling, but instead I'm changing my own maxi-pads. I'm a strong woman, but this was not my plan, and I cannot will it away, or rely on our shared medical knowledge to fix the problem.

I know you're supposed to wait to see a reproductive specialist until a year, but waiting is not my strong point. We went a few months early, and are actively seeking care. It is hard to seek care as medicine folk. We are knowledgeable, but vulnerable. We want that second child so badly. So, we shall let the medicated IUIs begin.

I'm not sure why I'm writing this, but it sure feels wonderful. Partially, for my own sake and partially to break the silence of infertility. Here's a shout out to all my medical mommas trying to grow their family. A wish of wellness and fertility to all those trying and especially those struggling.

May the second pink line be with you.

MD/PhD Student Mom + Anesthesiologist Husband + One Son


  1. Love this post, sorry for your pain. One of my good doc friends struggled with infertility on first kid. Went to doc after 6 months of trying.Had an unsuccessful attempt with the shots/retrieval then success!!! Got naturally pregnant with number two not long after number 1. I'm hoping a little help will get you kick started again. Good luck:)

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  3. I very much feel for you; you are not alone! Please read my posts on MIM about REI/IVF (under PracticeBalance), and also search my blog for even more posts about my 3-year struggle to have a child. I also wpuld recommend the Beat Infertility podcast. Knowing that you are not alone even as a medical professional will help. And it can be a marathon process, so hang in there!

  4. Have to second PracticeBalance that infertility is SO COMMON, especially amongst female surgeons (like me). My husband and I are starting IVF soon (just transitioned from residency to fellowship; have to get new insurance card = delay. Ugh.). One of my former co-residents in also looking into IVF and two other couples in my close friend group are working with REIs actively. Plus, another good friend just had a second child via gestational carrier. So, please, please know this is a common problem and there are many sympathetic ears out there.

  5. Hugs to you. This journey is so painful and frustrating. Thanks for helping to break the silence on it! I can relate to so much of what you have said...especially the crying (and immense disappointment) approximately every 28 days. I think playing into some of my emotions (and perhaps other physicians or highly successful women) is that I am used to being successful in pretty much all other areas of my life...and if there is a problem, I generally feel capable and able to fix it...but not secondary infertility. Sigh. Although not getting pregnant is hardly "my fault" it still kind of feels that way...even though from my medical training I know better. My husband and I had been trying for #4 for nearly a year; experienced an early miscarriage (my 2nd) last October and finally decided to give up or at least take a break a couple months ago as I could honestly no longer handle the monthly emotional rollercoaster. Definitely taking a toll on marriage and enjoyment of other things in life, most importantly my other kids. The hardest times have been holding my newborn nephew the week after I miscarried, holding my good friend's newborn whose due date was right around the time mine was...and realizing that nearly nine months later I still was not pregnant, and every time my girls ask me, "mommy why did the baby in your tummy die?/mommy, when will you have another baby?" I have learned through this experience to never make assumptions about other women's family planning decisions- most friends had no idea we were even trying for a fourth (because who would be that crazy especially after having both genders of children) and a few months after the miscarriage and no announcement of pregnancy assumed (verbally even) that we were "done". To those who have never experienced it, miscarriage is painful no matter how far along the pregnancy was and no matter how many children you have. Infertility is also painful, no matter the other circumstances and both are incredibly difficult to talk about. Anyway, I wish you a healthy pregnancy again soon!


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