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How I Chose My Fertility Doctor
The patient recounted recent care she had received at a different physician practice “horrible!" My own case was similar to hers. It was not clear-cut, and it had confused several OB/GYNs, most of whom referred me on.
My Infertility Story
We had tried for several years to have a baby, only to be met with multiple early pregnancy losses (miscarriages). I did not work as an reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI) nurse practitioner at that time, so I did not have the advantage that I do today of the power of being informed. (I think the power of community — intentionally creating relationships with those who are affected by infertility — is bested only by having a fantastic physician — one who understands the emotional wounding that can accompany infertility.)
I had been the recipient of really great nursing care (you rock, Kate, wherever you are!) and really abysmal care (one nurse told me to throw away, “the products of your conception,” even though I knew that they should be examined for karyotypes.) I simply knew that after all we had been through, there had to be someone who could help me in a kind, professional manner — someone who would risk being fully human and present with me.
Finding the Right Fertility Doctor
It wasn't easy, but I found him. I found my fertility doctor, who is now retired, by persevering and calling local OB/GYN offices and asking who they recommended. During one phone call, I actually spoke with a doctor who said in no uncertain terms said that she recommended this particular fertility doctor for all of her emotionally bereft patients. We were sold during the first appointment, not so much by what he said, but by what he didn’t. He didn’t brag; he didn’t sit under a wall of fame; and most of all, he didn’t talk badly about other practices.
Reproductive endocrinology is comprised of many different types of personalities, as are most professions. For me, I was so emotionally drained by the time I found my fertility doctor that I realized I didn’t just want anyone who could do IVF or inseminations. I needed someone who would take the time to care for all of me — mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically. This is not always easy in a field that is driven by numbers and populated by overachievers.
Beyond the Success Rates
I did not choose the doctor with the best numbers; I chose the one that actually hugged us after our first visit and offered to see us at the drop of a tear — of which I had many. He didn’t push to choose IVF or inseminations. He said simply, “I am here to serve you both. Let me know how I can best do that.”
It worked, even though there were many times — even weeks after our final positive pregnancy test — that I doubted the process. Today, I encourage everyone to ask friends for referrals, examine Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies (SART) data with the eye of an actuary and interview registered nurses or nurse practitioners to obtain the fertility care that best fits your particular needs.
Remember, numbers don’t tell the whole story — people do. Search until you have found a practice that honors your needs.