Since the somewhat disappointing lecture by the local RPL specialist, I was left feeling this path wouldn’t lead me to the answers and results I was looking for. Of course, I’m rational enough to admit that it’s way too early to say if this doctor can help me or not, and these feelings are probably resulting from my general distrust in doctors (caused by recent repeated bad experiences).
Wouldn’t it all be much easier if I just let go and trust that this doctor has my best interest at heart and he’ll do everything possible to help me? Yes, certainly. Unfortunately, I’ve been through enough to know I must advocate for myself; or maybe I’m just a cynic distrusting person that adds unnecessary angst to my own life. Take your pick.
After feeling miserable for some days, I decided to pursue other options. I’m going to my home country to see another reproductive immunologist (RI) for a second opinion. Yes, it’s crazy to go after a second opinion before even hearing the first opinion, but I just can’t sit on my hands, watching time pass by, hoping for the best, any longer.
Originally, our plan was to visit my family in late May. My father is turning 70 and my mom is organising a huge party. We thought of staying for a couple of weeks and seeing the RI in this time. He offers lymphocyte immune therapy (LIT), which seems to not be available here, and I was hoping I could get at least one dose during those weeks.
I contacted the doctor before booking my flight, as I wanted to make sure we would stay there for enough time to allow tests and possibly this treatment (if at all necessary). They explained that I could do the tests and have the results in one week, however the LIT treatment usually consists of 3 doses taken 3 weeks apart. Since the “medicine” is essentially my husband’s filtered blood plasma, this meant we both would have to stay for a minimum of 7 or 8 weeks. We obviously don’t have enough vacation days for that. Again, the helpless feeling was taking over.
I thought about it. Staying away for a couple of months started to look plausible. We would be staying at my parents’, so virtually expenses free, and we have enough savings that taking a 2 months non-paid leave at work wouldn’t be so strenuous financially. As long as we can arrange everything with our bosses in good time, it’s probably not a big issue. If that’s what it takes for us to achieve a healthy pregnancy, it’s certainly a small price, all considered.
Moreover, several weeks of stress free ‘vacation’ might even help me. Turning it around and taking this time to relax and maybe even travel a little with my husband just before we embark on the trying-for-a-baby train once more, might just be what I need. Or at least that’s what my counsellor keeps telling me.
A few days after the new clinic’s info meeting, I had a session with my therapist. Seeing how unwell I was, she again suggested I take a short leave of absence from work in the basis of stress. She’s been trying to convince me for a year now and I keep refusing it. I know how stupid it sounds that I’m literally paying her for her expert advice but refusing to follow it.
I don’t know why I can’t let go. I tell her it’s because being off work would only be a short term relief and as soon as I would come back, the stress would come back; unless a long-term solution for my problem (a healthy pregnancy or a decision to stop trying) presents itself in the meantime, which is very unlikely in the next few months, as we won’t probably have our FET until June. She tells me, you admit it will help you now and that’s what you should focus on, how you can get better now. We will see how it goes after it when we get there. She’s right, but not convincing enough. It sounds like palliative relief and not a solution.
Another reason for my refusal is fear of failure. Or admitting failure. I already have enough feelings of failure, thanks to RPL and infertility: failing my babies, my husband, my friends and family, etc. My job is, in a way, the only aspect of my life not (completely) falling apart; the only part I can feel (or pretend) to be my old self, before all of this. It’s hard giving that up. Even though, in all honesty, it’s nothing like 3 years ago. My relationships at work are everyday more strained, my motivation is low and although my performance is still remarkably high (or so my boss keeps telling me), it has significantly decreased (or so I notice).
Well, being ‘forced‘ to stay at my home country for 2 months for medical treatment would allow me to stay away from work for some time guilt free. I might be addressing two issues with one blow.
With this new perspective in mind, we decided it’d be OK to stay so long, but we need some time to prepare for it. So we booked a consultation and our flight to Easter week. We’ll run all the tests and it will give us enough time to compare the recommendation of this RI with the local specialist’s and make a decision, before May, if we should pursue LIT at my home country (in case the test results say we need it).
There’s, however, another source of worrying with this plan (well, more than one, considering my relationship with my parents’ and my sister being somewhat complicated and living at my parents’ for so long not an easy task). My home country, being in South America, is infested with Zika virus. I’m sure by now everyone have heard of the correlation between Zika infection and babies being born with microcephaly, encephalitis, stillborn and miscarriages. Since it’s a new discovery, there are no cures and no vaccines yet and doctors can’t even say for sure for how long after an infection it would still be dangerous to attempt pregnancy. The current advice is to wait 2 months.
March til May is the raining season in my hometown, which means mosquito season. Right when I expect to be there. Zika is transmitted by the same mosquito that transmits Dengue (a more dangerous disease than Zika, but not especially threatening to unborn babies). When thinking about how widely spread Dengue is, and how virtually everyone I know have had it at one point or another (I’m one of the lucky few to never have gotten it), it scares the hell out of me how easy it probably is to catch Zika. However I can also turn it around and realise we never got Dengue when visiting my family, even though we never used any protection against mosquitos.
We are only staying for a week at first (Easter) and I’ll cover myself top to bottom in repellent. We are also not having a FET in less than two months after we’re back, so we believe it’s a small risk.
In case we’re unlucky enough to catch Zika and it somehow impact our future child (many may have Zika during pregnancy and still have healthy babies), I’ll probably never forgive myself for taking this seemly unnecessary risk. But is it really fair? Aren’t we risking ourselves to getting hit by a car every time we walk on the streets or dying on a plane crash each time we fly? We can’t control these events any more than I can control the outcome of my pregnancies (with or without Zika), so I’ll bathe in mosquito repellent and hope for the best during that one week. A longer stay poses a higher risk, but we decided to discuss it with the doctor over there before making our final decision.
In case you’re wondering why would I trust this RI any more than I trust the local specialist, I’ll answer you sincerely: I don’t. And because of that, I’ve also booked a free 10 minutes Skype consultation with Dr. Braverman (considered by many the best RI in the world). I want to hear his opinion on my case and what are the opportunities for long-distance treatment. I’ve also started on my US Visa application, in case we decide to go to NY to be examined by him.
In short, here is where we stand now: plan A is still to pursue treatment with the local specialist, since it’s the best option from a practical and financial point-of-view; plan B is to complement with other treatments in my home country, if necessary; plan C is to go after Dr. Braverman, in case the other treatments fail.
If I seem desperate, I probably am.