Doctor’s Orders

I’m sorry to say that, again, we ran into resistance with the medical establishment. In case anyone is reading this trying to figure out if they have something wrong with them or if there could be a reason they’re not getting or staying pregnant, take heed when I say, do not listen if a doctor tells you you’re fine or overreacting when you really feel like you’re onto something or justified in having tests done. You’d be surprised at the angles they don’t consider or the assumptions they make that get in the way of you getting what you need.

Doctors are great, I think most of them try very hard to do their jobs well, but they often have to make snap decisions knowing little or nothing about you – and not all of those snap judgments are right.

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After telling the doctor at the hospital that I needed to have my progesterone levels tested, I saw his eyes narrow a little when I mentioned that I had already miscarried once this year. I wasn’t too surprised when his response was that I should take it easy, relax and enjoy being pregnant again and above all stop worrying that everything would go wrong again. Besides, he said, statistically a woman will miscarry up to three times without anything necessarily being wrong. (Sound familiar?)

I thought I’d stated everything calmly and matter-of-factly enough, but clearly he was thinking, “once bitten twice shy overly hysterical woman”.

Oliver chimed in at this point and reminded him that we were seeing a fertility doctor and this was a test that he’d said I would have to have again as soon as I found out if I was pregnant to determine if I needed supplements. The doctor’s face made me wonder if he’d ever even heard of this before. He did say that he thought the whole thing was nonsense and that we were overreacting. But, he agreed to give us the test since we were insisting.

That was on a Monday. What he didn’t bother to mention was that the hospital only normally did these kinds of tests on Fridays.

My fertility doctor’s receptionist had instructed me to start taking a large dose of progesterone right away just in case my levels turned out to be really low. Once the test came back he’d adjust or discontinue the dosage. Calling on Tuesday we were told by the hospital to call back “later”, the tests weren’t ready yet. On Wednesday we were pretty much told the same thing. Thursday, after some insisting and ‘let me talk to your boss’ conversations, we found out that the tests wouldn’t even be run until Friday. Nice.

It was bit weird. I was trying to enjoy getting pregnant again. But my focus was more on staying that way, than really enjoying it plus I was trying to keep things under wraps until we could be sure this would work out. I was running through pills like crazy and we were making daily trips down to the pharmacy for more because each pharmacist would only give us so much at a time. Each time the pharmacist would find out what it was for and how much I was taking they would react in alarm. These reactions were so sincerely concerned that I made several follow-up calls to my doctor to be sure I’d understood them right. The only explanation I can come up with is that in Austria this is not a possible cause they normally look at when dealing with fertility problems. When we’d asked at the hospital if there was someone else we could see in order to have the progesterone test done faster – on our own dime – they told us there was only one other doctor who did such a thing and he was in Vienna, four hours’ drive away.

The whole thing doesn’t really make sense to me. In Germany I know several women who took progesterone during pregnancy or while trying in order to improve their chances. When I was back in Germany and told my fertility doc what had happened he too was puzzled.

Either way, it took so long to get the test results back from the Austrian hospital, that we’d already returned to Germany and I’d been to my doctor and had another test taken before the first results finally arrived. What they found out was yes, my levels were very low, and even with the pills they weren’t extra-ordinarily high. Again my silver tongued fertility doc used words like “amazed” when he describing his reaction to the fact that I was pregnant at all.

But, he said, he wasn’t at all sure that I would manage to stay that way. I was to keep taking the high dosage of progesterone three times a day until I reached 12 weeks.

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