Hi! Let me quickly introduce myself a bit, I am Amber, a 34-year-old Wife, Mother, and Emergency Room Nurse, who unfortunately had to deal with struggling to conceive, just like millions of other couples in this world. Side note: the current statistic says 1 in 8 couples struggle with some sort of infertility or difficulty conceiving, however I have an odd feeling that this number is not accurate and will be changing to1 in 6. QUICK DISCLOSURE: One thing I should mention is that I will not sugar coat this by any means. You may think I am being extremely harsh and blunt and that is simply because I am. This is the world of infertility- harsh, blunt, and never what you imagined, but I want you to know what I didn’t going into this, hoping it helps overall with the process. Maybe making it a little easier overall for you. Ok, back to the reason you are reading this… to find out more about that very first appointment at the infertility clinic, FSMG.
First, let’s start with calling to schedule your first appointment, the front desk staff was so kind, patient, and explained a little about the appointment to me over the phone. Oh, not only did they not wait to call me until Monday, it was the weekend, they contacted me as soon as the approval went through for my insurance before I even knew! SAY WHAT?!? Talk about service and not delaying anything. If you are like me, you may be thinking let’s get this show on the road to more test and waiting to figure out our plan. Because the world of infertility is anything but straightforward, easy, and simple. It is more like the craziest rollercoaster with twist and turns you never fathomed, ups and downs, loopy-to-loop, and what seems like a never-ending ride making you bleed money, hurt in ways you never thought you could, and relationship struggles in all forms. Well, let me take you back to what seems like a lifetime ago, but so still such a fresh memory. I remember being so anxious and nervous about what would be talked about at the first appointment and what would it entail? Well, lucky you, I have firsthand experience and can tell you exactly what happened at Fertility Specialist Medical Group (FSMG).
I did not have the option to choose the clinic I was referred to, but I am so happy that SHARP Health plan only has the best of the best within network. You may or may not have SHARP Health plan, but another insurance company. This does not mean that this will be covered by any means. You will find out more about that later with the amazing financial department who will sit down and cover it all the cost and logistics after you speak with your medical team. A little about FSMG, they are an all-female MD group, Dr. Morales, Dr. Shelly, and Dr. Maas. Each doctor is equally amazing in their own way and they actually will bounce ideas off each other if a plan is not going as expected. I had Dr. Maas and she was outstanding! However, I have friends that have seen the others and have nothing, but positives about each doctor. In addition, there medical staff RNs and Medical assistants are also female. They do have a couple of males working behind the scenes with your precious goods. The team they have formed is remarkable in so many ways, they listen to your concerns, ask you how you are doing overall, and become like family during this insane process. They actually get it! I have heard so many horror stories about clinics and the lack of empathy and understanding they have for their patients & their families going through this all with them during this time. So, take a breath and know you are in some of the best hands in San Diego as you embark of the treacherous trek of the infertility.
The big appointment day is here! Can you believe it? What will happen? What will it require of you and your partner? What will the tell me? Well, some of these questions may not be answered today. That is the first thing I should tell you, there will be many pending questions left to be answered to ensure they give you the best answer and complete a thorough exam overall. Walking into the clinic it seems very daunting at first, until the friendly front desk staff look up and smile at you, welcoming you. They will have you sign in, ask for your parking ticket to validate it, 30min are free after that its about $2 per car, and have you complete any needed papers to help make the overall process go as smoothly as possible. The waiting room does have coffee, tea, and water available for you while you wait, but as the patient always ask to make sure it is ok you have something to drink, however, you will usually know ahead of time if you should have been avoiding any intake before ahead of time. Once, all your papers are completed and turned in the receptionist will work on getting your file together and you will wait for a room to sit and talk with your chosen doctor.
The doctor will come in introduce herself to you and explain what the plan will look like for the 90 min consultation. She will go over both you and your partner if involved in the process, history in general medically as you have written on the questionnaires filled out prior to coming into the appointment, along with any other questions she may have. Once, they have a thorough history completed to see what they have at baseline, including any test previously performed with your OB/GYN or MD office, she will go over baseline information based off your age and what they expect to see. They have a binder full of information with pictures, diagrams, statistics, and so much more. More information then you will know what to do with. Be warned that you may be a little shocked, frazzled, and feeling like what did she say? That is ok, they will go over in details more the 2nd follow up appointment as well. They really do an amazing job explaining to you and ensuring you have the best understanding of what you are dealing with and what is going on. Plus, always ask questions! After, the binder and discussion the MD will have the medical assistant place you into a room to complete a GYN internal exam with your new friend Mr. Ultrasound and the wand. Going through infertility you will become very familiar with the WAND, giving a urine sample, and getting your blood drawn. This is all part of many different pathways to getting to answers and the end goal of a take home baby!
After completed with the MD on this day, she will most likely leave with homework so to say, of items that she will need completed prior to figuring out the best treatment process to help you achieve your goal. Oh, I forgot, know what your goal is to get out of treatment. For example, how many kids do you hope to have? This comes into play in her treatment plan for you based off your results and age. Once the to do list is explained, the RN or MA (medical assistant) will come in and explain how to complete these tasks, if there is a timeframe, and hand you lab slips and where to complete it at. Then once completed to call and schedule a follow up consultation appointment with the MD to discuss results and what she foresees as your treatment plan.
The last little piece to this appointment is the financial team will often come in and review what your insurance options look like related to coverage, if any, for infertility treatment. Now, this is often a kick in the gut to some. All this time thinking oh no I have insurance we will be ok. WOW, I knew I had decent coverage and I still was knocked out of my chair by the cost of various options. Sometimes, changing insurance plans to your partner might be helpful, but requires waiting until the open enrollment time period. Financial will explain many ways to look for help in coverage for medications as well and give all the resources they are aware of to help couples to reach their parenting goals. One thing I cannot stress enough, is to take it all in and do not make any decisions right away. Another blessing I found in this was opening up to our families about our struggles. You would be surprised sometimes your family will be able to assist in helping and our happy to. Now this is not the case always, but it can help in other ways to build your support team and with those dreaded comments, “When will you make me a Grandma?” and such, but not always unfortunately. Not everyone understands how hurtful comments can be to a couple struggling to conceive. That is a whole different post though!
What an appointment huh? Let me tell you, it is going to take time to decompress all this information and the to-do list for all parties involved. I did not want to wait and tried to complete it all as quickly as possible, which for my husband and I was about 1.5 months to complete imaging, labs for both of us, and extra fertility Urology appointments for my husband. Communicate with your partner and work together to complete your items. You got this! Once completed, you will be ready for the next step on this trek….
Want to hear more of Amber’s story? Head to her blog by clicking here!