It Makes Me Bitter

We were driving one day and started talking about our medical history. I have no idea how we ended up on the topic, but somehow we fell into an old conversation. It’s a conversation that we used to have a lot more frequently, when we were living in the throes of miscarriage after miscarriage. It’s a conversation that makes me sad for us, and what we’ve been through. A conversation that makes me sad for what other women may have experienced or may be experiencing still.

We began talking about how we feel that our local medical treatment was unfair and inadequate when compared to international standards, and even just other provinces within Canada. Sometimes this was the result of what we believe is poor provincial policy and other times in part due to the medical advice we received from our medical professionals. Which in the end is really just the opinion of one medical professional (who although has many years of experience, it is just an opinion not a fact, because really doctors are not gods).

We found ourselves reminiscing about how we chose to terminate for medical reasons in part on the recommendation of an OB, and we were forced to go to an abortion clinic. Even the OB was upset about the situation, but this type of a policy was well out of her sphere of influence. I firmly believe that in a unique situation like ours, no-one should be forced to go to an abortion clinic.  I must state that I am strongly pro-choice and believe abortion clinics are a necessity; however, I also believe in a situation like ours we should not have been sent to a sit in a room with individuals making their choice for very different reasons then we were.  And yes, by all accounts our baby still had a heart rate and therefore was alive, but I am adamant that we were not typical abortion patients and should not have been forced to endure that experience in that way.

And then there was the ultrasound we had the morning of our abortion. It was so horrific that I actually submitted a complaint to the hospital over it the following week. It was both horrific and traumatizing. So much so that I have never written about the experience and I essentially never even think about it – I will share that story one day when I have the emotional capacity to write though it. For now, I’ll assure you that it was probably one of, if not the absolute worst, experience we had through all of our losses. The calamity of errors simply should never have happened, and both the abortion clinic and the hospital administration even agreed with me.

Then we began talking about how our local RE did not do basic testing on us for months. How we had to push for a simple progesterone blood test and medication for future cycles – both of which are considered basic diagnosis tools and treatment in other provinces and countries. Or how we had to wait weeks before we could even get a follow appointment for results. Or how our system does not allow for a Doppler ultrasound to be conducted prior to 20 weeks gestation so no one had no idea that I had reversed blood flow to my uterus which was likely the primary cause of our babies’ deaths. Or how our medical professional was less than enthusiastic when we decided to exercise our right to seek a second opinion. Or how there was no support for the use of intralipids or IVIG for pregnancy in our province. Or how we had to fight for the possibility of using a low dose blood thinner to try to help sustain a pregnancy. Or how there was no “belief” in my silent endometriosis diagnosis and no support for the surgery required to possibly fix it. Or how…

Ultimately, the conversation ended just as quickly as it started:

Me: Can we not talk about this? It just makes me so bitter sometimes. And I really don’t like feeling this bitter.

Mr. MPB: Okay.

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46 Comments on “It Makes Me Bitter

  1. I think you would probably run into the same issues in the U.S. It took so long for them to even do a basic work up. The majority of people get pregnant with no problem and even a miscarriage is considered common. You really have to be your own advocate.

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  2. I so very sorry. It breaks my heart you had to go through all of that. You are right that a lot of that is typical next step protocol And it shouldn’t have been so hard. I had my fair share of ridiculousness with my doctors too. It’s crazy how the professionals absolutely flounder with any abnormal pregnancy. Ironically, my husband and I brought up our losses and family planning experience yesterday and it weighed heavily on us too. I just wish the sadness was something we could leave behind but, like you, at some point we just have to look away from it all because it doesn’t really get better. Life just keeps moving. I can’t wait for us both to have our little ones from far off lands soon! 🙂

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    • I am also so sorry that you have had such a similar experience with less then ideal doctors. I’m sorry that we share in the weight that comes along with the poor care we’ve both received. I hope we are both able to keep moving forward because life isn’t going to wait for us! 🙂

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  3. I am so sorry. I agree the treatment you were given is sub-par. This is so brutal, and such an eff-up by doctors sometimes. Hugs hon. Dont go to that dark spot, just keep building postive energy around the adoption process.

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    • Thank you so much for your compassion. You are right about focusing on building positive energy and moving forward with our chosen path to build our family through adoption. 🙂

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  4. I can totally understand how this conversation makes you so bitter, I think you were right to move on and talk about something else. Ultimately things are now moving in a good direction for you guys, but when you’ve had such a traumatic journey to get there its very difficult to forget about that when you remember the past. I hope you’re feeling a bit better now xx

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    • Thank you so much for understanding. You are right for reminding me that things are going so well right now with our adoption and we need to focus on that. Our history, our experiences, they will always be there and be part of who we are now, but for the sake of our sanity we just cannot live in the hurt all the time.

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  5. Oh, yes, I am absolutely there with you. What happened to you sounds unexcusable. My husband and I had a similar (short) conversation with a slightly different spin this weekend. Maybe it’ll help if I give you the condensed version: with this new information that my tubes are scarred from an infection after the birth of our daughter, we were talking back over the medical “care” we received after our 18-week pregnancy loss. I had told the midwife I was experiencing signs of an infection (pain and foul-smelling discharge, to be precise), and she told me it was probably no big deal and that I didn’t need antibiotics. Now, 8 months later, we find out that not only was it a big deal, but it has probably effectively sterilized me, or at least made any future natural pregnancies dangerous to my health and life due to the risk of ectopic pregnancy. This is just the most recent example of many ways in which I received sub-par care during and after our loss. My mother, a women’s health nurse practitioner, told me that if I were a different sort of person, I’d have grounds for quite a lawsuit. So yes, I know this bitterness of which you speak. But then my husband turned it around into a compliment: he said “You’re more on top of this than any other woman I know. Imagine if you hadn’t been advocating for us all along — where would we be now?” And he’s right — if I hadn’t pushed for testing, or for the visit to the perinatologist, we wouldn’t have found out about my clotting disorder and developed a plan, and might have lost the next baby to the same cause even if we managed to get pregnant again. If I hadn’t pushed to go back to the RE when I did, and asked specifically about repeating the HSG, we might have waited a year or more before finding out about the scarring.

    All of this is to say: unfortunately, you can’t control the poor medical care you’ve received in the past. It sucks, but there’s nothing you or anyone else can do about it now. What you can feel good about is that you’ve done an amazing job since then of educating yourself, advocating for yourself, and making decisions that are paving the way for you and your husband to grow your family in the way that makes sense for you. You’ve written letters to the hospital to try to prevent it from happening to other women. Yes, I too feel angry and bitter when I think of the ways the medical system has failed you, and the ways that it has failed me and my husband. But it’s out of our control, and you’re absolutely right that wallowing in bitterness isn’t going to change things or make you feel better about it. But you’re moving forward, and dealing with it constructively, and that’s all you can do.

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    • Thank you for sharing your experience – I always find it so hard to read this type of thing, because none of us should ever have to experience such neglect and the ultimate consequences to our bodies and our long term health. It’s simply just not right and/or fair!
      As you say, I think the one good thing for both you and I is that we became very strong advocates for our own health and I have no doubt we will both carry this hard lesson with us throughout our lives and whatever we may face.
      Love to you my friend, I hope together we can help each move beyond the bitterness related to circumstances we cannot control.

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  6. I think each and every one of us has some complaints about our medical treatment throughout infertility and pregnancy loss. It’s a shame we can’t agreed on certain (logical, reasonable, necessary) standards within our country. I know many of the decisions you have to make and the corners that our medical system backed you into has made you feel more alone on this journey than you should have. Much love to both of you.

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    • I believe you are right about each and every one of us having complaints about the medical system. I also speculate that it’s not a situation related just to IF/RPL. I think anyone who has spent expensive time within the medical system is probably not always happy because at the end of the day no doctor or nurse is perfect and mistake are made.

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  7. I feel so bad for you. And I completely know what it’s like feeling bitter. I feel bitter a lot of the time (maybe not so much bitter as jealous and wanting to poke people’s eyes out every time they squealingly announce their latest effortless pregnancy – JOKE btw… I wouldn’t *actually* poke anyone’s eyes out!) but I totally get what you mean about not wanting to feel that way all the time. You have far more reason than I have… What you’ve been through sounds absolutely horrific. I have to say that most docs and medical care we’ve received in the UK has veered from ambivalent (the worst) to really really nice and sympathetic (the best) and I guess that’s partly because it’s provided by a public service, the NHS, and we get it for free (well, we pay taxes towards it) so the kind of people it attracts is people who are really on the whole very nice and who want to help people rather than doing it for the money.

    That said, I’m still bitter, jealous and downhearted every time ANOTHER friend announces a pregnancy. I mean, it happens every day. I also feel completely irritated half the time at having to “Like” people’s posts about their kids. I am just pure and simply jealous and feel mean about it and make myself “Like” them because let’s face it, they can’t help being fertile just as much as I can’t help being infertile.

    But. I do know what you mean (I think) and I don’t know what to say really helps it, apart from time and getting used to it and hopefully getting a little bit immune to those feelings. It still happens, though. I think the best thing we can do is surround ourselves with amazing people, loving partners and good friends. And dogs. I pretty much believe there’d be world peace if everyone had their own immortal dog!

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    • As a Canadian with a similar public medical system, I think I have a decent understanding of what you mean about your medical system. 🙂 That said, I think in every system you will have not so good doctors and good/great doctors. Just like you will have not so good lawyers/social workers and good/great lawyers/social workers.
      We have 5 babies expected by friends in family in the next 4 months, so I also hear you about wanting to poke eyes out! Like you I wouldn’t actually do it, but I absolutely have a jelous streak in me becuase of it – I’m bitter at those who aren’t spending their lives savings just to try to have a child, I hate that our path forward is so complicated and no-one understands. I wish it were different, but, alas it never will be. I do find the sting and hurt of announcements is less now then it was when we were still going through our losses, but the jealousy is not, that’s still a part of me, for better or worse.
      Oh, and yes, everyone should have their very own immortal dog! I think you just came up with the perfect recipe to world peace. 🙂

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      • Oh gosh, I’ve just had another load of announcements and it makes me want to scream! But of course I’m super nice about it. It’s just SO annoying when it’s usually some drunk person who wasn’t even trying. But it’s not they’re fault they’re fertile. I do resent having to go through an invasive process – actively try – rather than just ditching the contraception and seeing what happens. I resent that you have to map everything out and go through a lot more thought than others do. But… there is a reason for that. So it’s frustration and venting but I think we all understand why it is like that… I just keep looking for the positive stories! 🙂

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  8. You have every right to feel bitter about the things that you’ve had to go through. Try to focus on the good that you’re about to bring into your lives with a baby, hopefully some time soon! In the mean time, surround yourselves with friends and people who make you happy and understand what you’ve been through. I hope that eventually, some day, you will be able to work your way past some of the bitterness and let go of some of the anger. I know it will never fully go away, but maybe some day it will hurt just a little bit less. *hugs*

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  9. You’ve been through hell and back, and there are some horrible things you’ve experienced at the hands of medical ‘professionals’. You have every right to feel bitter and angry about it. Like the above commenter, I know that some day, these memories will be a distant memory and the pain won’t be so acute. Thank you for your courage in sharing your story with us.

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    • Thank you Lindsay. You are right, some days are worse then others. And one thing I already know is that by turning to adoption the hard days are not as frequent, and the hurt is becoming more a part of our past. For us, that’s one of the great things about adoption after RPL, it brings hope back to our lives!

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  10. We find ourselves in conversations like this- that boil our blood and bring up old stuff that we haven’t come to terms with yet. Usually it’s me that flies off the handle, and DW that shuts it down, reminding me that it’s not good to go relive the horridness again. I’m sorry. We’re bitter too. I’m also bitter for you. Good on you for knowing your limits.

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    • I’m sorry you and DW are also bitter! I hate that we have all experienced so much hurt and pain, but yet I am thankful that we have each other to reach out to in our times of need. Thank you so much for always helping pick me back up when I’m having a bad moment.

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      • Likewise! It’s so true. I don’t know how I would’ve survived without you and the great community of support we have here.

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  11. I agree with you about the abortion clinic and that our system is ass backwards in so many respects. However, I’ve heard from too many women in other countries who had to fight just as hard to get basic

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  12. I am sorry for your suffering. I agree about the abortion clinic and am still amazed they made you two go through that instead of caring for you in hospital. I actually don’t think out professionals are much different from the vast majority of REs and OBs south of the border or across the various ponds in that even basic testing and differential diagnoses are often neglected until patients raise a ruckus or something goes intensely wrong. Doctors like lawyers on the whole are slow to embrace change at least when it involves the female reproductive system. Women’s problems aren’t sexy. 😦

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    • I think you are right, my experience is not unique to being Canadian. Any doctor, anywhere, is not perfect. They are humans and I’m yet to meet a perfect one. One of the greatest life lessons I have gained through all of this is my refusal to simply trust a medical professional – for the rest of my life I will question, I will not take no for an answer and I will push for better care. And I am confident that will help me and my family in the future. 🙂

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      • I want to direct you to the comment by Dr. Nicholson on my blog earlier today. Blew me away – here is someone dedicated to creating better birth outcomes and while that’s not what your post was about it made me think of your post. There are doctors who push against norms. But the profession is conservative on the whole, in part for liability reasons but also for much more mundane yet no less harmful or not-harmless reasons. The whole reality that assisted reproduction is not supported financially in North America is a reflection of a systemic problem some aspects of which you reflected on in your post. Grr… I totally respect your choice to shut down the conversation when it feels right to do so. At this point no good is likely to come and bad is certain to follow.

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  13. First of all I think it’s absolutely horrific that they would send you to an abortion clinic and not have the procedure done in the hospital. I agree with you about looking back and wishing you could have switched doctors or would have had more information. I look back on my miscarriages and the help I got before I sought out fertility clinics on my own and I am devastated by the lack of information I was given. It’s hard to just move on and not be bitter when looking to the past.

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    • Thank you so much for sharing your similar understanding. It really is hard to look back and not have some feelings of bitterness and wishing that you did some things differently. I hope with time the pain reduces, and there are less moments of bitterness for both of us!

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  14. I’ve done the same thing…I start thinking and talking about what “should” have been done…and then reading through more blogs and seeing that “basic” and I mean basic tests were not given before treatments and IVF cycles…makes me so mad! That’s why I am a huge believer in being your own advocate. Just like you said “Dr.’s are NOT Gods” Especially in regards to reproduction…because even my RE says..you can have a seemingly perfect uterus, perfect embryo, perfect timing and a BFN. Whereas, you’ll then have a “bad” embryo, horrible lining, bad transfer…and boom…pregnant…none of it makes sense…and then in regards to the “policy” of you all having to go to the clinic for your medical termination..I mean…blows my mind and makes me livid. It’s really all just a mess and if we get out of this with a child…it’s a miracle..by any and all means…a miracle…

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    • You so get it! I hate that you do, but I also selfishly love that you understand! It seems to me that there should be some basic protocols for testing, and unfortunately until you are well into the IF/RPL world you don’t really know what to question and what to push for. So unless you are one of the luckier ones who get pregnant and stays pregnant quickly, you have to learn to advocate for yourself and push for better care.

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  15. I feel like all medical systems are messed up in one way or another. It’s frustrating and does create a lot of anger, however – some things that you noted should just be part of a standard procedure. In my opinion. If you are the patient and you request something to do be done or tested it should be in your right to have it done…. However, I am not very educated on other international systems and why they work the way they work. It’s so easy to start down that bitter rabbit hole when talking about medical issues… I’m glad you chose to stop and protect your heart from bitterness. Way to chose the high road… XO HUGS, nothing about any of that is easy.

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    • I believe you are right, every medical system is messed up in their own way – for that matter, any system design by humans is bound o be messed up in some way. Really, it becomes about learning to work within the system and figuring out how to achieve what you need. Thank you so much for understanding.

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  16. I’m so sorry. Having experienced our fair share of unbelievable treatment (or not) over the last three years, I can well understand this. Like you, there are some things I still struggle to talk about, even with my husband, because of how they make me feel for hours afterwards. Hoping time brings you some peace on these matters. They can’t be changed, so it is essentially up to us to process and accept them. It shouldn’t be that way though, I know. Xxx

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