You Must Have a Game Plan For The First Meeting with Your Fertility Doctor
I can hear it already, "Are you serious? What do I have to prepare for? Isn't the doctor supposed to do all the talkin'?"
What separates couples who are successful in defining their fertility journey from those who just float along like hapless plankton, is having a clear vision for their journey. Once that plan is in place, you've narrowed your list of candidates running for "perfect fertility doctor" (for you), it is imperative that you prep for your first meeting.
Remember, if you are serious about having the perfect fertility doctor (as defined by YOU) this first meeting is still part of the interview process. You are not obligated to choose anyone just because you had a meeting with them. If you get the hard sell or the heebeegeebees, run!
Things to Think About For YOUR Plan:
1) Know Your Medical History
More often than not, prior to your first meeting, the doctor will ask for a copy of your pertinent medical records and have you complete a thorough health questionnaire. If they don't, be concerned about whether or not you and the doctor have the same expectations for the purpose of the meeting--the point is to get a feel for the practice and to have an understanding of any proposed treatment plans. How can they propose options for treatment if they know nothing about you?
BUT, this isn't a one way street. Defining your journey means that you have vision of how you want your journey to look and feel. One of the ways that you bring that vision to fruition is to know what you are bringing to the table. Educate yourself about you! It's a safe bet that if you have been trying to conceive for some time, you have become intimately aware of certain facts about your body--great! Be prepared to talk about those things. Indeed, you may have answered these questions on a questionnaire, but your meeting is a conversation. Be prepared to talk about details. Your partner will have to do the same (if you have one.)
Knowing your medical history and the perfect imperfection of your own body enables you to be your own advocate and ask intelligent questions during the meeting. You've known your body for decades. There is power in that!
2) Write Down A List of Questions--and bring it!
Whether you are paralyzed with fear or are chomping at the bit to see the doc, your brain is undoubtedly in overdrive. Do yourself a favor and try and organize your thoughts--it will take the pressure off. If this is the first meeting you've ever had with a fertility doctor, you may not know where to begin, and that's ok. Just write down what comes to mind. Don't be afraid to ask!
If the meeting you have is just one of several you have planned (Bravo! You are on the way to finding your perfect doc) then consider writing down some questions that may have been sparked by other meetings, or be prepared to ask how this doc's approach is different. If you have researched the clinic's "success rates," ask the doctor to explain what those really mean and where you may (or may not) fit into that spectrum.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, don't be afraid to ask the doctor why you and your partner should choose his/her practice to be part of your fertility journey. The answer will be telling.
3) Make a List of the "Dream" Qualities Your Ideal Doctor Will Have
Relish in the opportunity to make your wish list! No need for full sentences, just words. Here are a few examples to get you started: Compassionate, competent, patient, knowledgable, funny, gentle, doesn't talk down to me, makes me feel at ease, not pushy, cares about what I say, isn't always looking at the clock, and honest.
Reread your list before you go into the meeting. When the meeting is over, ask yourself, did the doc fit the bill?
4) Be Clear About How Much You Are Willing to Spend
When you are desperate to have a child, you may be willing to spend "whatever it takes," but when you see the bills adding up and your bank account getting dangerously anemic, what may have sounded reasonable can get down right scary fast. Be honest with yourselves and be honest with the doctor. Your treatment options will of course vary based on how much you are willing to spend. Having a baseline, doesn't mean you can't adjust it later if your budget allows and you feel comfortable. Deal with the issue of money head on!
5) Sit Down With Your Partner the Night Before
Look, I am sure that you two have talked about this baby business more than either of you really care to, but the lines of communication need to be open. Whether this is your first meeting or your third, your partner may have apprehensions or concerns they have not shared. You must give them a safe forum to discuss them. Your partner may have a brilliant set of questions to ask, or may have even noticed something that will be critical in your decision making process. Get those lips moving and talk!
Discuss what your game plan is going to be. What if you end up talking to a quack or just plain get a weird feeling? What are you going to do if you get the hard sell? Which one of you is going to be the lion tamer if that happens?
Remember, you are in this together and your success in defining your journey depends on it.
6) Commit to Being Present
I am shouting this at the top of my lungs. Seriously. Tune in during the meeting. Listen closely. Take in every detail that you can, not just what the doctor is saying, but how you are feeling. As I said in How to Choose the Perfect Fertility Doctor, ask yourself, can I really see myself being treated here?
7) Know Exactly What Your "Next Steps" Response Will Be
The natural ending to a meeting with the doc is a discussion of next steps. Whether you think you are just a number helping to pay for the doc's vacation home in St. Barth's, or you are sure he or she is "the one," you must come up with a "next steps" response. This will safeguard you from anyone who tries to hard sell you on a treatment plan and will give you and your partner time to regroup. Remember, your head may be spinning either from too much information, or the ecstasy of finding your perfect doctor. In that situation, you must, you must, you must have a way to hit the pause button.
This may be obvious, but the fertility journey is one laden with anxiety, confusion, and sadly enough, desperation. A simple response such as, "Thank you Doctor. You have given us a lot to think about. We appreciate your time and will get back to you once we have made a decision," could do the trick to give you the time you deserve to make one of the most important decisions in your life.
No Matter What, You Are In Control
It is up to you and your partner to define your journey, no one else. You must be your own advocates and protect each other by making the right choices about who to include on this journey and exactly where you are willing to go--have a plan! Set the tone with your treatment team early--it's key to managing expectations and building trust, both of which are critical on this journey. If something feels freaky, run!
Leave Me a Comment And Tell Me How You Plan To Prep For Your Meeting? I'd love to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly about your experiences with fertility clinics and docs!
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