The Unknowns

“As we know, there are known knowns; there are things that we know that we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” -Donald Rumsfeld*

My first consultation with a “real” RE is just a week away. I’m not exactly sure what I should expect. When I got my period last time, it was on a Sunday morning. I crawled back into bed and cried a little bit. Mr. Ostrich dutifully spooned me, and tried to comfort me.

ME: I’m just scared. This advance reproductive bullshit terrifies me.

MR. O: Are you sure you still want to do this?

ME: Yeah, but I’m still scared.

I’ve thought about this since it flew out of my mouth. I’m not one who gets scared that often. Typically, I research the crap out of something until I understand it. (Knowing is half the battle.) But all the “understanding” in the world isn’t making this any less intimidating. There is a lot I don’t know. So there is a lot I can obsessively worry about.

This is a brief summary.

1) I’m almost convinced that after reviewing all my tests, my RE will discover something so obvious like I don’t have a uterus. That’s been the problem all along!

2) I’m worried she’ll order a whole bunch more tests. Some of them are a year old at this point, but I still don’t want to have to do them again. Let’s get this show on the road, damnit.

3) What if I have to stop running? Being able to be outside alone, following the rhythm of my feet, feeling my heart get stronger with every stride… this shit has sustained me through the absolute worst year of my life (thus far.) If I can’t do that because of any treatments, I will lose my frickin’ mind.

4) I have to keep track of things. There are the injections, the sticks to pee on, the showing up for doctor’s appointments on time. You ladies make this look so easy. “I took .75 ml of Magical Baby Powder, and now my KLM levels are at 45.” I have no idea what this shit really means. This seems to require a level of organization that I do not have the skills for.

5) Actual pain. Let’s be real. None of this sounds like a massage for your lady parts.

6) The money. My insurance covers some of it, but there is a lifetime max. I have to get this done before the money runs out.

7) The disappointment. Sure, I’ve dealt with the monthly disappointment, but I worry that I’ll have a higher level of emotional investment in the ARTs. What if the sadness I experience at the end of each cycle now is worse?

8) What if, at the end of all this, it doesn’t work? I’ve got a few more stops along the TTC train, but the end is in sight. All this time, I held out ARTs as the backup plan. But my backup plan has no backup plan.

Yes, I am worrying about this prematurely. I haven’t even had the damn appointment yet. One of the hardest things I’ve had to confront during this past year is that I have no idea how anything in this life will pan out. I have to honor my crazy-lady anxiety, but then learn to let it go.

Nothing is guaranteed, the good or the bad.


*Yes, I just made a vague comparison between infertility and terrorism. And yes, this is the first and last time I will ever quote Donald Rumsfeld. I promise.



  1. lucy50 · July 31, 2014

    Entering into the realm of REs is super overwhelming. It’s a step process, and it can be very frustrating. For me, before I went, I was like, this sucks that I even need to be doing this step. The “work” I was doing with my GYN–clomid, zero monitoring–is super basic stuff and when I did finally end up with an RE (my first one–I’ve had three for various reasons), she looked at my numbers and said the things my GYN was telling me were wrong. Great. Thanks. Anyway, when I finally ended up with a great RE, he was very helpful, very knowledgeable, and very reassuring. That’s what you need to look for–someone who is reassuring and calm and confident.
    The monitoring and the extra meds kind of suck but all of it means you’re one step closer to either finding an answer or becoming pregnant. At this point, I bet the only injections you’ll have to do is a trigger shot.
    I don’t know the extent of the tests you’ve had, but most likely (if you haven’t already), you’ll do an HSG (which is where they inject dye into your lady bits and you see everything light up on a screen. mine didn’t hurt at all) or an SHG (which is where they inject saline into your lady bits to check for polyps and fibroids. also did not hurt). The good news is that you’ll be getting things injected into your lady bits no matter what! Hooray! It’s a fun game! I don’t recall anything being super painful, just awkward.
    I also went through this process without the help of insurance.
    Everyone is here for you to help you with questions along the way.

    • thecommonostrich · July 31, 2014

      Thanks! There just seems to be SO MUCH to know, but I don’t even know what I’m supposed to know (or even ask about.) Hence, the Rumsfeld quote.

      I’m sure I’ll have a ton more questions as this whole thing ramps up. Thanks for the advice, decoding, and suggestions!

  2. My Perfect Breakdown · July 31, 2014

    First, I recommend not stressing about the appointment, if at all possible. Its just your first appointment. You will likely be given some options on how to proceed, and they will give you lots to think about. I suspect, your stress will come in the next few months as you make decisions. So, I suggest going to this appointment as a sponge, ready to soak up as much info as possible.
    I strongly recommend having a long list of questions prepared for your appointment with the RE. I know for me, the information appointments are hard to get in the first place, and then its hard to remember everything I want to ask. List help me.
    Also, I strongly recommend pushing for every possible test now. Get them over with, there is no point on delaying. I never found any of the ones Lucy50 mentioned painful, but apparently some women do.
    As for all the lingo and numbers and stuff, you’ll get to understand it. Reading other blogs will probably help you figure it out, because tonnes of women live and breath the numbers. And, just ask someone if you need help (although, probably not me, because I don’t really understand it all since I’m not a candidate for any ART as our situation is recurrent pregnancy loss, but I will help if I can). That’s why we are all here. 🙂
    Best of luck!!

    • thecommonostrich · August 4, 2014

      Oh my goodness, YES. I’ve been under some general idea that I have to know EVERYTHING before I go in, but really this is more of a fact finding mission. And I’m definitely getting started on that list. Thanks for the great advice!

  3. julieann081 · July 31, 2014

    I worry a lot too. Sometimes we just have to keep the hope alive. Wishing you all the best! ❤

    • thecommonostrich · August 4, 2014

      Thanks! I’m trying to keep the hope to obsessive anxiety ratio in check.

  4. conceptionallychallenged · August 1, 2014

    I thought that quote was very appropriate, maybe even for most of medicine.
    We all worry before such big new appointments, but I hope that you’ll leave feeling reassured or at least in good hands. On #1, obvious problems can be a good thing, because then there is a straightforward approach to treatment. I imagine that unexplained infertility must be very frustrating. (Not having a uterus is rather rare, and you’d have found out by now…)

    • thecommonostrich · August 4, 2014

      Ha! Yes, I am pretty sure I have a uterus. It would just be so fitting if after all this time, it turned out to be something “face palm” obvious. I don’t know this doctor (she was referred by my PCP, who I like very much.) Once I have the consult, I think I’ll feel a little more at ease.

  5. Haisla · August 3, 2014

    Your list sounds very familiar. I think it’s good to get it on paper rather than let it float around in your head. I find that that helps me a lot. Finding nice solid words for my vague anxieties. Hope your appt. goes well and that it’ll reassure you on the next leg of your journey!x

    • thecommonostrich · August 4, 2014

      YES. I’m going to write down all of these, and make sure I get answers. I was limiting my list to the purely medical side (like which tests for which of my many concerns.) But I should also ask about some of the not so technical ones too.

  6. Pingback: Your Input, Please | the common ostrich

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