On 6/22, I had to head back to the doctor for a follow up appointment for our recent miscarriage--this felt like the last step to be able to "move on". (Really, how do you move on from all of this....I think it's more like acceptance and coping, than moving on.) As I walked in, my OB's nurse told me that he was running behind, so it would be a little wait. I was grateful to sit down in the empty waiting room, a follow up appointment to a miscarriage isn't exactly where I want to be surrounded by pregnant bellies. I grabbed a Parents magazine and thought to myself that they should have some reading material that didn't revolve around being pregnant or being a parent. Just think of all of the women battling infertility sitting next to other women with swollen bellies and another reminder of their struggle sitting on the end tables. Soon a pregnant woman showed up, then another and another. My nurse popped her head out of the door to the examine rooms and said, "Heather it's going to be a while, but I don't want you to have to wait out here." Wow, how thoughtful. I knew I'd be fine, but it's nice to have a little TLC. She asked if we were able to start our adoption again, so I gave her the good news that we scheduled our home study. Again, how thoughtful.
So, I had my exam, and my doctor left the room. When he came back, I expected to tell him that I'd see him in the office in a year for my annual appointment. Closure....I didn't anticipate heading back for a pregnancy appointment anytime soon. Instead, he walked in the room with a big binder and said that he attended a reproductive conference last week. (I secretly always hoped something like this would happen...that one of our doctors would find out why we couldn't have more children--other than the obvious things we've been diagnosed with and could remedy.) He started talking about telomere shortening and showed me PowerPoint slides. To sum it up in simple terms, it's premature aging of your eggs. He spoke with another doctor that has worked with us and they agree that this could be the reason for our miscarriages, it's possible that my eggs carry short telomeres, which leads to poor embryo health. What he said makes sense. I produced about 25 eggs each time we did IVF (for those of you that don't know--that's A LOT). Five days later, when it was time to transfer, I had 2 left one time and 3 left another time. Obviously not good odds. But, they weren't sure if it was a male or female factor issue. He went on to say that this is in the research stage and that at this point there doesn't seem to be anything we could do about it. He commented that one company sells a protein that they claim helps, but it's a small fortune and my doctor thinks they are simply out to make money. So, maybe this is the case. But, maybe not.
I was caught off guard and thought of a ton of questions after I left. I couldn't get in touch with Jamie, and started to cry on the way home. I thought about the great husband and father he was, and it made me feel so much guilt and pain that my body may be preventing him from having the joy of more children. I gt home and filled Jamie in and, of course, he calmed me down. He said that even if he knew that I could never have children, he would have married me anyway. And, that we will have more children someday, and, I believe him.
I spent some time googling telomere shortening and got some articles from other women in my online infertility support group. I have lots more questions for my doctors, and am not sure when I will be ready to ask them. And, I know I should see if I can get tested for this--I was able to find a lab in Texas that tested telomere length. At the same time I don't want to find out I am aging prematurely. As a mom with so much to look forward to, that scares me.
So, the simple doctor's visit wasn't so simple.