Is It Me, Or Is My Fertility Doctor From Hell?
When I think back to my first experience with a reproductive endocrinologist (RE), “fertility doctor” for short, I can’t help but have an uncomfortable mix of feelings ranging from anger, disbelief, embarrassment, and most importantly compassion for the vulnerable and naive me that once was. Like so many starting on this journey, I had a singular, and tragically myopic, focus on “solving” the problem of my infertility. I made the mistake of thinking of my relationship with my RE as merely transactional. I give you money, you give me baby. (Stupid I know.) I didn’t think in terms of the journey I wanted to create. This left me open to hideous mistreatment by a doctor whose practices and bedside manner were nothing short of terrifying.
What’s crazy about all of this is that at the time, I was a career prosecutor who had come face to face with rapists, child molesters, drug dealers, batterers, and every flavor of scumbag you can imagine, without breaking a sweat. I rarely backed down from a fight. But, when it came to being my own advocate in the face of a bullying, callous, and apathetic doctor, I was a quivering piece of jelly.
Why? Because in my mind, this doctor was the one thing standing between me and the baby my husband and I hoped to welcome home. In retrospect, not only was it unrealistic to heap that kind of responsibility onto the doctor, in doing so, I had foolishly forfeited my voice and power. I let this doctor laugh off my concerns, totally blow off my legitimate questions, and cast aside a 100+ degree fever and signs of post procedure complications with an abrupt, “oh just take some Tylenol.” Seriously?
Be Heard, Build A Partnership
This journey has a heinous ability to make us feel powerless and weak. BUT, the last place you should feel this way is with your doctor. Communicate effectively. Be heard. Here are some courses of action to consider:
1) Take A Deep Breath
Trying to have a productive exchange in a fit of rage is silly AND you are likely to say things you may regret. Age old advice, I know, but worthy of repeating here, particularly because on this journey tensions naturally run a little high. Take a moment to chill and get your composure.
2) Get Clear About What You Believe Is Going Wrong
Instead of coming at your doctor like the Tazmanian Devil with complaints, do yourself and them a favor–make a list of what’s causing you concern and think through it. I am not suggesting that you censor yourself or delay voicing your concerns. I’m just telling you that your concerns are more likely to be addressed if they are presented in a coherent manner, hopefully with some concrete examples. While it is the doctor’s responsibility to try and rectify the situation, it is your responsibility to be reasonable and clear about what you see as the problem.
3) Talk To Your Doctor
Simple enough, right? Wrong. As illustrated above, sometimes even the most self assured among us can succumb to this notion that our doctor knows all and that if we want a baby, we better blindly take whatever they are serving! That’s ridiculous. Any caring and ethical doctor would be open to hearing the concerns of their patient. This is your treatment. Your doctor is rendering a service. You have a right to be heard. Give your doctor a chance to make things right. It’s possible that the issue can be addressed with a simple, honest, and respectful conversation. Keep good notes!
4) Keep Talking to Your Doctor
If your concerns are still not begin addressed after that initial conversation, raise the issue with your doctor again. Remind your doctor of your prior conversation and any commitments he/she made or that you made together to address the situation. Be clear that you expect the problem to be rectified and set a reasonable timeline for resolution.
5) Don’t Be Afraid To Walk Away
Sometimes issues between doctors and patients become so profound that a working relationship is no longer possible. You have to decide for yourself when that is. The last thing you need is a crappy relationship with your fertility doctor, which breeds resentment and mistrust. If you feel that way, consider your options and don’t be afraid to walk away. Find the right doctor for you. Your health, well being, and finances, are worth it.
While most of the stories I hear about doctors in my work as a fertility + adoption coach are overwhelmingly positive, there are a few out there that seem to have lost sight of what this journey is about. The goal is to have a partnership with your fertility doctor based on caring and mutual respect. Do your part. Communicate. Give respect. Expect respect. (say that phrase 3x fast!) Stay focused on the type of journey you want to create.
Join In The Conversation. Leave A Comment!
How do you keep lines of communication open with your fertility doctor? Do you have any advice to share?
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With Love + Respect,
© 2014 Rosanne Austin, From Maybe To Baby