The Reality Of A RE Office

{I don’t typically put disclaimers at the top of my posts. But, as my readership is continuing to grow and more people are reading my content, I felt that I should add a brief disclaimer. This is MY story{and a few close friends}. This has been my experience and I share it to inform and educate others and also to help  foster healing within myself by writing. If this wasn’t your experience? Super. If it was, I’m sorry and I hope you’ll feel comfortable enough to share your story in the comments. That being said, please respect my situation and the old adage, if you don’t have anything nice to say- don’t say anything at all}

Jim and I have been dealing with secondary infertility since August of 2011. Well, “technically” before then even. If you want to get really personal with us and the status of our child bearing, Abigail was born in November of 2010 and nothing was done to stop any siblings from being produced after that point. Which brings us to August 2011. The day she turned 9 months old was the day we decided to “actively” try and grow our family.

I followed all of the TTC “rules”. Charting, temping, OPK sticks, tracking other feminine things. Nothing happened for us. I attributed things to nursing….then weaning…then more months passed and nothing happened. I saw my OB/GYN that following April. We ran blood work, Jim had his test done, and everything came back clear. I had my hsg in June and that also came back clear. We were told to try for another few months{because lots of women get pregnant after their HSG’s! Yippee!!} and then we could have a referral to a RE{reproductive endocrinologist}. More months passed and we finally got that referral.

Which brings us up to speed to our very first RE visit. September of 2012 the day after my 24th birthday. We saw this Dr. until July 2013.

I have had this post brewing in the back of my mind for a very long time. It is something that feels very heavy and deeply personal, to me. It is baggage that I have been carrying around for months. My internal sense of justice has been crying out to tell people what it is *really* like to go see a RE. And in this post, I’m going to attempt to do that.  

Let’s just start with first things first. FINDING a Dr. Did you know that there aren’t any RE’s in my area? Did you know that the closest RE office to me is 1.5 hours away? I had to select a Dr. that was far away, to give exorbitant amounts of money to, to attempt to help us grow our family, to see multiple times a month{eventually week}, to trust with my health.

Secondly, did you know that most RE’s aren’t covered by insurance? We have amazing insurance through Jim’s office. We really do. But, infertility? Not covered. Some of our preliminary testing was covered, but after that? Zip. Zilch. Nada. ALL out of pocket.

What I expected:

I expected them to have a HUGE respect and grasp on the miracle and dignity of life
{Not even close.}
 I expected to have contoured, specialized, and specific treatment
I expected them to know me by name
{Nope again}.
I expected them to be familiar with my story
{Having to remind them every single time that I already had a child and was experiencing SECONDARY infertility? So weird and annoying. Shouldn’t that have been written on my chart? Having to explain that I had just driven 2.5 hours from Joplin to come to their office in Kansas City every.single.time I came in? Also, why not in my chart??} 
I expected them to treat me as more than just a patient in an office being treated for an illness{so cold and clinical}.
I expected to get pregnant.

What I didn’t prepare for:

Pictures of babies all over their walls. I know this probably sounds really stupid{uh, hello. You already have a kid AND you’re at an office that makes babies} but seriously, think about this for a second. What is the one thing that I wanted more than anything and couldn’t seem to make happen? Oh, that’s right. A BABY. And there they are, while I’m sitting in the office trying to read a crappy magazine, they’re all there. Staring at me.
Clients bringing in their babies to meet the staff. Oh yeah, the days when you’re in the lobby waiting to have something shoved up your personal business to stare at an empty uterus is really your lucky day when a successful patient brings in their new bundle of joy for everyone to “ooh” and “ahh” over right in front of you.

Hearing a patients heartbeat through the paper thin walls. I mentioned this before, in my OHSS post{from our IVF cycle} that while I was waiting to be checked out, I could hear my Dr. performing an ultrasound and overheard a couple hearing their not one, but TWO babies heartbeats whoosh whoosh whooshing away through the wall next door to me.

{Obviously, I want everyone to hear their baby’s heartbeat, have everyone ooh and ahh over their new child, and show off their pictures. I included all three of the above points to explain how I feel that RE’s should be particularly sensitive to their patients and perhaps have some sort of segregation for their success stories and their current patients.}

How you are treated.  I didn’t expect a red carpet to be rolled out for me. I’m not a diva. But, I came to learn in the RE environment that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” you know what I’m saying? I was a boring patient with a boring dx who was a boring statistic. I didn’t get special care. And you know, at first I was okay with that. I kind of liked how “laid back” it felt. Unfortunately, the further and further we got into treatment- the more time I was there, the more invasive my procedures were, the more money I spent- the care didn’t change. I felt the same walking in to my very first appointment as I did leaving for the last time after my IVF cycle. {Well, let me rephrase. I felt infinitely worse and horrible and terrible after my IVF cycle- I felt the same about my level of care} 

How often they interact with you. Which is to say, almost never. {caveat. There was ONE nurse who really seemed invested in me. I always hoped and prayed she was the nurse who would call me and the one who would take care of me at the office. Every once in a while I would get her and she would stay after to talk to me, just because. Even about things besides treatment. She was really special and I wish every nurse could have been like her.}

How often you see the Dr. Even less. I saw my Dr. at my first consultation. That was it. Then he left the practice. I saw my next Dr. at my IVF consult. Then 2 more times? That was it. Everything is taken care of by the nurses.

Your relationship with the staff. Do you want to take a guess at which person in the office I had the best interaction with? Also, the most? Also, the one person I felt actually knew who I was?

The receptionist at the front desk. Which, to be fair, she had my name in front of her at all times and took all of my money. So. There’s that.

The amount of time it consumes. You probably can’t even begin to fathom how much time being treated by a RE takes. Particularly one that you have to travel to. I’m lucky enough to be a stay at home mama. I’m also lucky enough that I have zero discretion and everyone knew I was going to a RE and had offers for babysitters.

If I had a job? If I was trying to keep it a secret? I don’t know how it would be possible.

In one cycle, you have to have 1-3 ultrasounds{with a day or two in between}, wait a few days more and then have your IUI{which takes an entire morning/afternoon}, then schedule out time with your spouse{which means no traveling or nights away for anybody!}, blood work a few days later to check your progesterone levels, and then blood work again to confirm whether you are pregnant or not. Rinse and repeat for months on end. {And that’s not even talking about the level you advance to for IVF. That’s an ungodly level of time commitment that I don’t understand how anyone can make happen.}

How they explain your treatment. This one always boggles my mind. When you have your consultation to talk about your treatment plan, they ask you what you want to do. “Which treatment do you think sounds best?” UM, DOCTOR. I would like the treatment that is cheapest, fastest, and with the highest success rates. You let me know what that is, since ya know, you are the Dr.

Messed up medication and misdiagnosis. I have been blessed that this hasn’t happened to me personally{well, sort of}. I have friends who were supposed to be put on medicine at specific times and then never got a call and missed an entire cycle because of it. OR, were put on the same level of meds that they had been the month before and hadn’t responded enough only to rediscover surprise! nothing different this month. Another month wasted. OR, suffered through multiple months of treatment only to discover oh! we’d been noticing this cyst, but now we realize that you have endometriosis. Let’s do surgery and then you will probably get pregnant! {why wouldn’t this have been discovered and the surgery done before any treatment??} I hear stories like this all of the time. It is mind boggling and so frustrating.

False sense of hope. As far as my own diagnosis, there was no way for them to know “for sure” what issue was keeping me from getting pregnant. But, I certainly feel like it was downplayed. Absolutely. I was told because of my FSH numbers that my issue was either egg quality or quantity. But there was no way to really know for sure which it was. Until we did our IVF cycle. Then we found out pretty dang fast that it was a quality issue, which, oops! can’t be fixed by anything at all. The statistics were always given, but only the positive side. “This treatment will get you to a normal, healthy couple’s success rates!” Which is 20%. Which means, hey! There is an 80% chance that this treatment will not work. But, that aspect of it is never mentioned. {Of course, with my dx even with IUI, Letrozole, and Ovidrel our chances of success were around 12%}

When they did my internal ultrasounds they would talk about my baby/babies and what my pregnancy would be like. Which, while I understand optimisim and positive thinking, and do appreciate the sentiment behind it, I really felt that I was deluded into believing that this absolutely would work at some point. And not the reality that there is a very, very high chance that you will walk this road and still leave with empty arms.

I suppose this post probably sounds like one big rant/vent/whine session, but I want people who are considering going to a RE to REALLY stop and consider what their experience will be like. I know I certainly didn’t. And, as I’ve been reliving my own experience with friends who are currently going through their own versions of infertility treatment at an office, with situations that sound just like mine, I couldn’t help myself but write this all out so that people can know and be informed.

Also, it wouldn’t hurt for people who have never gone through infertility treatment to learn a bit more about what it is actually like, simply to ramp up the sympathy for us infertiles a bit.

 Infertility is so, so hard. It hurts so much. A bit of extra “I’m so sorry you had to go through all of that” always helps.


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  1. Thank you for being so open and honest about this! It really makes me want to share more in detail about my experience an where I am today with dealing with IF. The whole thing totally consumes you regardless if you are seeing a doctor or not. I feel ya sister!

    1. You really should share more about your experience, Ashley. You have a lot of wisdom and information you could share.

      Even though we aren't going through medical treatment anymore, you are right, it absolutely consumes you. It is a condition I have to deal with daily. There are constant reminders of it and I still have to wrestle with it.

  2. While I haven't had to see an RE yet, one of my good friends has. From what she has told me, her experience has been very similar to yours. Thank you for sharing so others going through the same thing can know they are not alone in this!

    1. Absolutely! That is the whole point! Hopefully, it can help anyone at whatever stage they are in. Pre-infertility, current-infertility, or post-treatment. Please feel free to pass along to your friend if you think it would be beneficial to her 🙂

      Thanks for commenting! It's nice to see your face pop up!

  3. holy crap! Your clinic sucked balls. I have to agree about the nurses part but my doc was in on everything & even had his email which he woud promptly answer my questons. I still send him pics of the kids to thank him for being such a great person and doc. He has amazing success rates. I agree that it is a part time job at the least. All the blood draws continue at least 10-14 weeks in as well. I also figured out early that you have to be your on advocate. I hate to read this but love your honesty & your openness as it will open people hearts.

    1. My office had an email system set up instead of having to deal with back and forth phone calls all the time. While it was convenient for quick answers, it made it so I never really talked to any of the nurses. Someone random would always answer my questions and it was never anything but very to the point and clinical.

      As far as success rates, it's not that I really fault them for not getting me pregnant. I don't believe we could have done anything differently and ended with a different result. It was just all of the surrounding stuff in the office that bothered me a lot.

      I discovered too late that I needed to be my own advocate. I{wrongly} assumed the more invasive my treatment became the more attention I would receive. By the time I was in the IVF boat, I felt it was too late to switch clinics. Jim and I seriously talked about it after my first IVF cycle was canceled. But the thought of waiting for another referral, another consult, more waiting with a Dr. who hadn't been working with us….all of it persuaded me not to switch. But maybe we should have. Hindsight is 20/20.

  4. This sounds so rough, Courtney, and I am genuinely sorry about all of it that you've had to deal with. It's funny… different people struggle with different things, and they can look at the other person's life and think, "I wish I lived like them/looked like them/WERE them," etc., but they probably don't see the whole picture of what's really happening. Thank you for allowing me to see a bit more of your life. I appreciate that. 🙂

  5. Though I can't completely relate to what you have/are going through, I have seen it first hand. (I think I told you a little about my sisters infertility journey). And I so much appreciate your willingness to be so open about things. And you're right… more people need to spend time learning and hearing about these experiences. People dealing with infertility go through so much heartache and definitely have all of my compassion and sympathies. xoxo

  6. Oh girl, we need to meet up next time I'm home…we could talk for HOURS. I got the red carpet treatment the first time around, but this time has been different and they've let a lot of things slip. Two weeks ago my nurse gave me the wrong directions while my doctor was out of the country–so yay, cancel that cycle! I know to them it's a job, but it's a LOT more to us…it's our lives…and our potential children!

    I truly am so sorry you're going through this, Courtney. I'll be praying for you–I mean it!!! XOXO

    1. Yes we should!! Ha, I could definitely talk about this for hours. As I'm sure you can tell, I'm a total open book haha.

      I wonder if there is a difference with secondary infertility treatment as opposed to primary. I hate to think that there could be, but it's something I've pondered.

      As far as it being their job, I get that. I totally do. But, I feel like there are certain medical professions that require extra sensitivity and care. Like, a dentist doesn't need to be as sensitive as say, an oncologist. Ya know? And yes! We are dealing with LIFE. With our babies. It's not flippant and it's not a job. It's a huge, huge, huge, deal.

      Praying for you too. I didn't realize you were dealing with this as well. Thank you for sharing with me. xo

  7. Just spent some time catching up wth a dear friend who has gone through a very similar experience. I was so thankful to have had the honest information and feelings you've shared to better relate to her and empathize. Thank You Courtney for sharing!

  8. all I can say is "MMMMHHHHHMMM"

    my story is different, but doctors when dealing with infertility has not been great! I feel for you! I relate (in a totally different infertility story, if that makes sense! 🙂 )

  9. Hey Courtney! New follower. 🙂 I'm so sorry that you've had to experience this. I appreciate your openness & honesty so much. I truly do.

  10. I have been going to an RE for 4 months now and I couldn't agree more with everything you said. I haven't told many people about our struggle, including my employer, which makes it really difficult to make excuses for the tons of appointments. I love your last couple of sentences. I really don't think people understand just how difficult infertility is. I have friends who have recently gotten pregnant by accident and are complaining about how they don't have enough time or money for another kid. I want to punch them! While I don't wish this problem on anyone, I do with people would be more sensitive. Thank you for sharing your story. It is nice to know I'm not alone. #sitsblogging

  11. Hi Courtney, your Kindred sprit Clarissa (from Munchkins and Moms) commenting here 😉 So glad you shared your story. Matt and I never could see an RE. It was not covered by insurance and neither was IVF. Our journey ended after a year of Clomid. But God is good and His plan was perfect! We were lead by Him to adoption and we are blessed by the choice. Thanks for your courage to share. I've posted and deleted a similar post about my experience of infertility. I think it is time I revisit the issue though. On another note- my family has taken several missions trips to Joplin to help with rebuilding. Are you from there?

  12. I am so sorry to hear that your experience was so stressful & negative (like trying to deal with infertility isn't hard enough). My husband & I just completed our 2nd IVF cycle, and our first attempt (in 2010), while not nearly as impersonal as your experience, was not what we expected. However, our clinic (in St. Louis) hired a new medicalll director, and this time around has been incedible. Our interaction and 24/7 access to the staff and doctor made a huge difference & our doctor was present for every test and procedure. I don't know where you & your husband are in your journey, but if you are considering continued treatment, I would highly recommend our doctor. Feel free to email me if interested (

  13. Thank you so much for sharing this. I found your blog via Pintrest. I just started my second cycle with the RE clinic, and I am glad to hear that my experience is not abnormal. Thankfully, my RE clinic is only ten min away. I cannot imagine driving 1.5 hours three times a week!

  14. Thank you! I just found your blog via pinterest and am so relived. I thought I was the only one who felt like just another statistic at my REs office. And while I'm not happy to hear someone else has experienced this as well, I am happy that I'm not alone! Thank you and I look forward to following your blog more. Hang in there – this process is not the best, but all we can do is keep faith that it'll happen some day!

  15. Just spent quite a bit of time reading through your posts. Thank you for sharing!!! I for sure have high expectations for my RE appointment and now know to tone it down because it likely won't be all that I've imagined it to be in my head. What a crappy thing to go through. I'll be praying for you and thank you for being so open!

  16. This post about your RE experience, along with others is true. But, not as bad as it sounds. It seems like you were in a very bad place with infertility, and that is understandable. It is good to shed light on the realities, but it's not really all that bad. My RE hits on pretty much all of the same that yours does, but my outlook isn't nearly as dreary. Sure, it sucks. Sure, it can be frustrating. But, it's IVF, not the prom with your high school sweetheart. Did you really think it would be all sunshine and butterflies? The above experience still beats ANY regular Dr's appointment I have ever had. I never wait for my BW or US appts, but my primary and reg OBGYN leave me sitting for over an hour. Everything is always spelled out for us to choose for with treatment, because it's our bodies and our choice and our money. And the LAP procedure is a last ditch effort for a reason. I chose to go ahead with it before my IVF, but it's because I spent the time researching the reasons for it, and I asked for it. It's important to take control of your own journey. The RE does the best they can with what they know about science and how your body will react, but other than that they can only guess. My mother and aunts NEVER even had the option to do IVF. So some of them just went childless. THAT is awful! At least we have this option, and it is worth every cent and ever minute of pain and time. I also don't sit here and say this with a child of my own either. I have primary infertility and it is unexplained. I don't know if my IVF cycles will work, but I do know I went into this with the reality that it may not. And I can't blame everyone else for that. I usually love reading all the down and dirty to help me prepare for various stages in this journey, but your post is not doing much to inform, but more to complain. As I mentioned first, that is totally understandable. IF sucks. But, please don't scare others who may just be beginning this journey. For some. it's worth it. For others, it's not. Both are OK.

  17. Thank you for sharing. I am considering calling an RE tomorrow actually and this helps me somehow to feel more empowered in the midst of a whirlwind of things where I feel completely out of control.

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