On the precipice of the big day

Tomorrow’s the big day. UNC Fertility just called to confirm. I will officially become a patient of a Reproductive Endocrinologist and Infertility Specialist. I have worried and fretted about this day since Dr. S (my OBGYN) mentioned the possibility at my first infertility consult in September. Just ask Jeremy. He’ll tell you the looming infertility specialist has made me (more of) a nutcase.

I am fortunate enough to live close enough to make a little drive to some amazing universities and private fertility practices. I have researched all of them, in great detail, and discussed the pros and cons of each with Dr. S. Ultimately, I went with his recommendation to see doctors Dr. S knew and trusted at UNC-Chapel Hill. (Lest you think I leave Jeremy out, I did consult with him. He gave me the requisite “Whatever you want, Beck.” Dr. S got a long phone call from me after that. See why I think he is great?) The doctor I am assigned to is actually a friend of Dr. S’s. Dr. S says I will like the new doc (Dr. M from here on out). But, meeting a new doctor is one of those tough things. I have an excellent rapport with Dr. S, developed over the last nine months of frequent visits and phone calls. He handed me tissue after tissue when I sobbed during my initial “well-patient” visit (oxymoron, anyone?). I let him cut me open, and he put me back together with minimal wear and tear. He knows I crack jokes when I am nervous (just like my mother did). He gained my trust and my respect. I’m afraid to have to start all over again, figuring out that balance, and beginning to really trust the new doc. This is all very emotional, so starting with a new doctor is making an emotional investment with someone new.

Dr. S is incredibly empathetic, moreso than I imagined a male OBGYN (or, really any OBGYN) could be in this circumstance. I have needed that as I have faced failure and heartbreak over the last few months. I’ve heard horror stories about REIs being cold and unfeeling, turning patients away because of their weight, their age or some other factor. I worry about being treated like a number instead if a person, when I head to a major university medical center. That’s never happened with my OB. He remembers Jeremy (and he’s only met him twice), promptly returns my phone calls, and never makes me feel like I am crazy (even though I am certain I have been, at least a couple times). Will Dr. M judge me as unfit to even try to be a mother as soon as I walk in the door? Will he forget who I am as soon as I leave his office? Will I pay him thousands of dollars, only to have no human connection?

I’m also scared to death of the expense. Walking in the door will cost me close to $100. That’s before meds, treatments or anything else. My insurance covers infertility diagnostics and treatments before ART, so I will have some help. I know I am lucky there. But, looking at the clinic’s website, I see prices that start at $500 and go up to $15,000 for one cycle. That includes none of the meds, which are between $10 -$3000 per cycle. We’re teachers, for goodness sake. Suffice it to say that one cycle of some of these therapies costs more than Jeremy and I make in a couple of months. As I have said time and again, I’m still in the shallow end of the fertility pool. But, with prices like that, who can afford the deep end?

On the other hand, I am pretty excited. Dr. M is at a major, research university, so I know he has the best techniques and knowledge at his disposal. I know he has options available through him that I haven’t yet been able to access. I’ve had lots and lots of tests (both of us have, really) and I am hoping I don’t have to repeat most of them. Trust me, these tests ran the gambit from annoying to downright painful.

I’m also afraid how far he’s going to try to push us into the deep end, before I’ve had time to get used to swimming in this pool. Dr. S tells me I can call him to discuss things if I need further clarification after my appointment, or if I just want another opinion. I know I’ve already done things I didn’t think I could, so I know I’ll be ok.... eventually. I guess it’s just the fear of the unknown. This time tomorrow, I’ll probably feel silly for working myself up over this. So goes the life of a Type A dealing with infertility. Don’t you feel for my husband, living with this nutcase?


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