Saturday, October 31, 2015

Story of our infertility journey – From pause to play


We are a couple hailing from Bangalore and married for 7 years now.  We never planned for a family assuming that it will happen normally. Reality hit us somewhere around our 4th year of marriage when the ‘good news’ question was persistently thrown at us. After trying for couple of months, we thought its time to see doctors. This was the beginning of our rounds of fertility clinics, medicines and doctors. When we started with our first doctor (who is supposedly running Karnataka’s leading fertility chain), we were very hopeful with the treatment. Not once we questioned the medicines or line of treatment despite the measly attention given to us. There was absolutely no information on what medicines were given or chosen. IUI was done because the doctor felt like giving it one try before IVF. With ICSI, we got 9 A Grade embryos out of 16 eggs with 2 of them being blastocysts. It was an assembly line procedure – Be on the pill, routine scans done by junior doctors, take some mumbo – jumbo medicines and date of procedure will be announced. The only time when we get to meet the main doctor (who is the main doctor apparently) is only during result time. In 2 years which we spent at the awful ‘leading’ clinic, not once the doctor had the decency to discuss our case in detail. A maximum 10 minutes was spared at the start of the procedure and result time. According to her, the time when she announces our details just before entering the OR for the procedure is transparent enough for the patient. Maybe she has no clue that the patient she is treating is a living human being with basic intelligence and emotions. She even had the audacity of transferring an arrested embryo and proclaiming that I will definitely get pregnant without any doubt.

After wasting 2 years of our precious time and money, we were just stuck in a rut not knowing which path to choose. Constant questioning from friends and family were not helping instead either. Before I know it, I was avoiding family functions, friends who were moving on with their families, go off social networking sites – basically putting life on pause button. Every time I got a negative BHCG test, all hopes would crumble down and it would take enormous amount of strength to pull back and start again. At the end of our IVF cycle (end of 2013), I went to meet our so called fertility expert doctor for final analysis. It was the same day I had to get my 3rd BHCG test report from her. After making me wait for hours, she finally announced that it is negative and that I have something called unexplained infertility’. No logical explanation was given and after 15 minutes, she was not even interested in listening to me. She tried to sell me her latest acquisition – embryoscope and do a PGD analysis which comes with a cost. That’s the day I decided that she is no longer qualified to be my doctor and I am going to find a way on my own. Internet called and I was googling all possible options. Having a baby was almost turning into an obsession. Every waking minute was spent in thinking and researching.

I stumbled upon a blog of an old patient of Dr Malpani – Her writing spoke to me and addressed all of my issues which my doctor was ‘supposed ‘to. Through her blog, I got to know about Dr Malpani and his work and writings. Though I was impressed initially with the vast amount of information, I was cautious because of all the bad experiences in the past. We were also worried that travelling to a different city was a huge financial burden and we weren’t sure of the results. After lot of thinking, we took a plunge deciding it’s now or never. We were sure that if it doesn’t work with Dr Malpani, we will look at alternatives. IVF was draining us emotionally, physically and straining our marriage. I stepped into Dr Malpani’s clinic with my reports and a bag full of questions. It took one meeting to get convinced that if this man can’t help me, then no one can and here is why – Dr Malpani took time to read all the reports including my first ultrasound taken years ago, making notes and asking me questions on every single medical report. Most of the times the only answer I had was – I don’t know or my doctor asked me to. He was also the one to point out that in one of our embryo transfer – an arrested embryo was used. I verified this information with 2 other doctors and they agreed with Dr Malpani. This was very upsetting and I just wanted to cry my lungs out for the trauma we had to endure.

He was clear on how he wanted to deal with me and gave me a customized treatment plan. For the first time in 3 years, a doctor took almost an hour to understand me and my history. Though my husband was skeptical, we kicked off the treatment. One cycle later I got diagnosed with a sub mucous fibroid in my uterus which was impairing my pregnancy chances. This never came up in my previous scans and IVF cycle making things crystal clear on gross negligence of my so called ‘Fertility expert’ doctor. Though I never had PCOD, I had a lot of fibroids (adenomyosis) resulting in painful periods. Dr Malpani explained the situation and after removal of my fibroid, we started our ICSI cycle. During the egg retrieval stage, my husband was extremely worried on me getting OHSS. Since we don’t live in Mumbai, we weren’t sure whom to turn into during emergency. Things went well and we got 9 blastocysts which means we had 5 shots at getting pregnant.  Before every transfer, we were shown the embryos inside the lab and my husband was present inside the OT during the transfer. Dr Malpani was a phone call or email away and I had all my doubts answered – even the silliest ones. When the second transfer failed, we found ourselves again at cross roads. Though there was no doubt on Dr Malpani’s competence, we were trying to make peace with fact that we will never have any biological children or maybe time to search alternative options again. But fate smiled on us and we got lucky on our 3rd attempt. If all goes well – fingers crossed, we will be parents to our twin babies in April.

To the person reading our story – Few facts to compare between your clinic and Dr Malpani (which we did)

1)    Not many fertility clinic / doctors take time out to know the patient personally or understanding their case history. Dr Malpani does the opposite. This is important because as the doctor treating you should treat you like a human being and not a patient / case file.

2)    Medicines are not explained before hand and neither the procedure. At Dr Malpani’s clinic, every medicine and every procedure is explained on its effectiveness, useful ness and why it is required including the side – effects.

3)    Patients are treated as dumb human beings, not intelligent enough to understand the fertility science so that doctors can play God. You almost think twice before asking a doubt forget expressing displeasure. Dr Malpani provides various avenues to educate his patients and the reason I know so much about my body, medical treatment and IVF is all because of him. Had he not made this effort to write relentlessly, I would have never known about him or IVF at all.

4)    I was asked to take anesthesia for embryo transfer which is a simple outpatient procedure. I was made to falsely think that the transfer is going to be very painful and to avoid pain, I insisted on going under each time. In 3 years I took anesthesia 7-8 times. It took a lot of convincing from Dr Malpani to get my consent for a no anesthesia transfer. His whole team including him made sure that I am comfortable at every step during the transfer. This kind of personal attention is extremely rare. The nurses were extremely cautious about me and not once they pulled away from me. I will be always grateful to all of them for the genuine care they gave me. Only an IVF patient can understand what it is for someone to boost your confidence during the procedure.

5)    Fertility clinics give a picture of the embryos once the transfer is done as part of their discharge summary. Dr Sai who is the embryologist at Dr Malpani will show and explain your embryos before the procedure inside his laboratory. I have never seen this level of transparency with even best of the hospitals. This shows the level of expertise and technical competence of Dr Malpani’s team.

6)    Husbands are allowed inside OT which is a boon for women undergoing the procedure. I for one cannot thank Dr Malpani enough for thinking about his patients comfort. Having your husband or any known person beside during the procedure will be comforting and relaxing and you tend to feel less threatened by all the other activities.

7)    Fertility clinics have a very stereo typical clinical approach for transfers but Dr Malpani ensures to talk to you during the procedure. He does not make it look all serious but constantly checks on you while doing his work. You are made to feel like you are a part of the whole process and everything happens with your consent.

8)    Fertility clinics run offers like pay for one cycle and get another free. Packages will be discussed first. For middle class people like us – it does sound attractive but you get what you pay for. IVF is expensive so you have to make sure that you are getting your money’s worth. No doctor can guarantee a 100 % success rate, hence do not fall prey to such bogus money making schemes!

We continue to share our experience with almost every other similar couple we come across because we genuinely believe that Dr Malpani gives a 100 % to each and every patient. Thank you Dr Aniruddha and Dr Anjali  Malpani for pressing the play button of our lives. We will always be grateful for everything you did for us.

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