THE LONG ROAD TO TRUSTING MY INTUITION
It’s hard to distinguish between intuition and paranoia. While intuition is often a soft gentle guiding nudge, paranoia is riddled with internal conspiracy. Yet, when I was a few months into trying to conceive, I couldn’t make out the difference between the two.
My intuition was nudging at me, hard and abrasively, that something was wrong, but my response to this constant intuitive poking was cloaked in daily colossal fear, anxiety, and a deep knowing that I would have to figure out the answers on my own—or at least that’s what every doctors’ visit confirmed.
I made my first appointment with an OBGYN four months into trying. It would take six weeks to see this highly recommended doctor, and during the intake process, I lied about how long we had been trying (a recommended six months). My appointment with the doctor felt lukewarm. She wasn’t overly nice or concerned with my inability to conceive. “You’re so young; I really wouldn’t worry about it,” she said nonchalantly. I pressed about doing blood work and a sperm checkup and six weeks later, I was sitting in her office again, anxiously awaiting the results.
It’s hard to distinguish between intuition and paranoia. While intuition is often a soft gentle guiding nudge, paranoia is riddled with internal conspiracy.
“You have old eggs,” she said, this time colder than the first time, and continued to speak in medical terms I had never heard before. She then told me my husband’s sperm was “off.” I couldn’t comprehend much of what she was telling me because my brain could only compute one thing: What if I never have kids? In shock, I asked a million questions while holding back tears, and with one foot quite literally half way out the door, she made it clear she had other places to be, “I would try for a year, and if you’re still not pregnant, look into IVF.”
I left feeling broken, alone, confused, and also weirdly happy knowing that I was right, that something was indeed wrong. A few months later, after another defeating blow of a negative pregnancy test, I found myself Googling fertility specialists. I felt a strong nudge that my OBGYN could be wrong, and my search results included a specialist two hours away called “the egg whisperer.” Optimism and hope flooded my body.
A month later, I was nervously sitting in her office with my husband. The egg whisperer was warm and caring, and took a deep interest in our “situation.” She told us to “walk her through everything,” as her assistant handed us cups of tea. For the first time in ten months of trying, I finally felt seen and heard.
It’s deeply uncomfortable to have a rectal exam performed in a sterile environment, let alone being with a doctor who gives you the creeps.
As she looked over my bloodwork, she expressed anger over the fact that I was told I had old eggs. “It’s dangerous to tell a woman something that isn’t true because it can plant deep seeds into her subconscious and cause immense, unnecessary stress,” she said frustrated. She scanned my husband’s sperm count, and laughed when I said we were told his sperm is “off.”
“He is five points below what we consider normal, but things like stress and lifestyle can impact these results on a daily basis. I’m not concerned about it. At all,” she said.
I left her office that day tearfully happy. We had a plan. We were going to check if my fallopian tubes were blocked, and I scheduled an internal and external ultrasound to check on fibroids, the quality of my eggs, and any other issues that may be detected. She also referred me to another specialist to perform a rectal exam to ensure I didn’t have endometriosis.
Four weeks later I went to my rectal exam, and upon immediate glance of the doctor, I felt uneasy. He winked at my husband as he explained the procedure, and then asked my husband to leave the room. I reminded myself that the egg whisperer told me that he was “the best of the best,” and suppressed my dismay.
It’s deeply uncomfortable to have a rectal exam performed in a sterile environment, let alone being with a doctor who gives you the creeps. “It looks like you work out,” he said as he pointed to my stomach, often staring for too long. I don’t know what the standard of ethics for doctors is exactly, but I would hope complimenting someone’s body while their finger is up their patient’s fucking ass is at the top of the list of big no no’s.
Once I got dressed, he said I might have endometriosis. “I feel a couple of bumps, but the only way to find out is through a laparoscopy,” he said confidently. “But I actually advise against it because it can really interfere with your reproductive system. The only thing I would recommend is birth control, which of course makes no sense since you’re trying to have a baby.”
What a waste of a thousand dollars, I thought. “That guy was a fucking creep,” my husband said as we walked back to our car. It would take months for me to tell him about the deep discomfort I felt during the exam, the intuition I ignored.
A month later, my husband and I were sitting in our car awaiting the call from the egg whisperer to provide our final results. “Everything looks fine!” she said happily. Confused, we asked her about the endometriosis. “There’s really no way of knowing, but my professional guess is that you’re fine,” she continued. My husband asked a few more questions as I tried to decipher if I was feeling relieved or angry. Finally, the egg whisperer parted ways with these final words, “I would try for another six months, and if you’re still not pregnant, come back and we can try IVF.”
Three doctors and a year later, and I still had no real answers other than suggestions I was both fine and yet needing IVF.
In between each visit, there were hours, days, and weeks spent in dark places on the internet, scarrowing through fertility forums from 2004, yo-yoing between feeling optimistic and utterly defeated. Your friends say things like “the moment you relax, it will happen!”, which both indirectly and unknowingly blames you for your inability to conceive.
These highlights of my fertility journey are important because they are moments no one really talks about. And certainly, no one talks about how this anxiety-rousing waiting process impacts your mental health. In between each visit, there were hours, days, and weeks spent in dark places on the internet, scarrowing through fertility forums from 2004, yo-yoing between feeling optimistic and utterly defeated. Your friends say things like “the moment you relax, it will happen!”, which both indirectly and unknowingly blames you for your inability to conceive.
I ended 2018 feeling emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausted; spent the first six months of 2019 recuperating from the toll my fertility journey had taken on my body and my spirit; and while we continued having sex, we weren’t actively trying. I desperately needed a break.
It wasn’t until June 2019, that we decided to try again. I’m not sure why, but again, I felt a nudge to book an appointment. But this time, with a naturopath. During our first appointment, she spent over an hour understanding our history. “I know everyone keeps saying I’m fine, but I just feel like something is wrong,” I pleaded with her. Never once did she make us feel rushed, and she understood my urgency.
Some of my friends were on their second kid, and here I was, still trying to figure out what the fuck was wrong with my body and urging someone to believe me.
She immediately ordered extensive blood work, and three weeks later, we were sitting in her office again. “I can’t believe no one ever checked your hormone levels,” she said stunned. “You’re estrogen dominant. Your levels are three times what they should be.” The doctors I’d seen never once mentioned my hormones or tried to educate me on their function.
“Don’t worry; you’ll get pregnant,” she said firmly. “We just need to sort out your hormonal imbalances first.”
When I left her office that day I should have felt elated but I was fuming. It could have been so simple, had someone taken the time to listen to me when I urged for further testing. While I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason, I felt like I had wasted two years and thousands of dollars for nothing. Some of my friends were on their second kid, and here I was, still trying to figure out what the fuck was wrong with my body and urging someone to believe me.
While I have no personal qualms with the egg whisperer, my experience with her proved to me that the fertility industry is indeed a business—a very profitable and expanding one. By 2027, the fertility industry is estimated to be worth 37.7 billion dollars. I don’t want to discredit the amazing things IVF has provided to so many families, some of my friends included, but I have to be aware of the fact that IVF is incredibly lucrative. It was suggested to me several times, and while we may eventually need to go that route, my hormonal levels should’ve been checked before suggesting a $14,000-$18,000 investment. When profits are weighed against women’s health, women’s needs will never be the first priority.
At the very least, I wish western doctors took me seriously when I said something was wrong. I wish they wouldn’t have rushed me when I asked questions. I wish they would’ve looked at my case as an individual, and not started sentences with “Well, for most women….” I wish they spent less time guessing and more time investigating. Less time promoting the only “cure” for infertility, IVF, and more time getting to the root cause.
When profits are weighed against women’s health, women’s needs will never be the first priority.
Over the last four months, I’ve been healing my hormonal imbalances through an intense supplement plan and a complete lifestyle change. I’ve also been working closely with a pelvic floor therapist, acupuncturist, and yoni steam gal, and they have all been working closely together to ensure everyone is on the same page. I have a team of women around me, all dedicated to helping me and nurturing me whenever I collapse in their offices. And while I’m still not pregnant, just last week my naturopath shared the good news that my estrogen levels almost halved.
Plus that nagging, constant voice in my head has been slowly dissipating too. For the first time in a really long time, I feel good in my body. I recently told my husband that I actually believe I’m going to get pregnant this year—not because of some wishful thinking or “stay positive” BS, but because that soft, gentle guide—my intuition—is telling me I will be. And after two and a half years of trying, and endless conversations with dozens of women who have felt failed by their doctors too, what I trust more than anything, more than any doctor, is my own damn intuition.