The myth of the 12-month referral wait

couple early
couple early 

If there's a thing that really gets me about trying to conceive, it's the misinformation and perpetual myths that surround a lot of aspects of the journey.

One of the worst, and most frustrating, is where do you go when you ask for help? And when? When does "having fun practicing" get replaced with "Okay, I think it's time we got some professional help"?

Obviously everyone's situation is different, but I wanted to share my story to try to help prevent others’ heartache and pain that comes with the inevitable wait.

We had been trying to make a baby for about six months when I really hit a wall. It doesn't sound like long but this is roughly how it panned out.

Month one: Wheeeee! This is fun! We're trying to make a baby. HOW. EXCITING. Maybe we'll make a honeymoon baby. I must make note of cute Tahiitian names as we drift around this gorgeous tropical island.

Month two: Oh well, didn't happen first month. It'll happen! This is FUN! And oh so exciting!

Month three: I think I'm pregnant. Boobs hurt, period late, so tired I have to take naps. Yay! But why do the tests keep saying negative? And the blood test, too. Hmm, this is proving to be a bit more of a debacle than I thought it would be.

Month four: Something's not right. My cycle is all over the place. I start researching what it might mean and learn that there are a few blood tests that would indicate if something was out of whack.

Month five: I go to my GP and tell him about our experience. He says I have to be trying to conceive for more than a year before they'll refer me to a specialist. I’m distraught; I know something isn't right. I beg for a referral, or at least blood tests; the doctor suggests what I actually need is anti-anxiety pills. Almost fly-kick him in the head.


When friends announce they're pregnant I leave the room and start bawling, feeling like the world's worst friend. I wonder if my husband wants a divorce because I can't give him a sprog.

Month six: I have coffee with a friend who has had fertility issues. I unexpectedly break down, sobbing, telling her about our journey. She gives me the best piece of advice I’ve ever: "Go to the specialist. Go back to work, call a fertility specialist, make an appointment".

She explains that she’d been seeing a GP, but that a staff member had pulled her aside and told her that GPs aren’t fertility specialists.

I tell my husband, and we agree to pay $260 to get some peace of mind and see what's going on.

Month seven: We have a specialist appointment (stupidly on my husband’s birthday). The doctor says everything should be fine, but does a standard internal exam to find out. Everything's not fine. I go home distraught, but am proud of myself for knowing my gut had it right the whole time.

Month eight: I begin treatment for one issue, secretly stoked that I have a 'month off' trying to make a baby.

Month nine: Repeat month eight. I go back to the specialist and learn that the treatment for the first issue worked! Hurrah! Then disaster as another, worse issue, is found.

Month 10: We begin a new plan of attack and I start fertility drugs. I’m so excited that we're doing something positive towards our end goal.

Month 11: Repeat of month 10. Nothing. But I’m feeling less distraught about it, and am starting to realise this isn’t going to happen any time soon.

Month 12: New treatment plan due to husband being overseas. It didn't work.

The upshot of all this? If I had listened to my GP, I would be still be in la-la land, not knowing what was going on, and probably at my wit's end. My anxiety and probable depression from all this may have had a serious effect on my marriage, friendships and career. It sounds dramatic but that's exactly how serious this all was, and actually is.

My advice: fight. Don't settle if your GP's advice doesn't sit well with you. Get another opinion. Talk to those in the know.

And do NOT think you have to wait a year before you do anything about it. For those who are on this journey, there’s a common response: "I wish I'd seen someone sooner about this".

It's now 2014. I thought I would have had a baby or at least be pregnant by now. But at least I feel like I'm rounding the first corner, rather than still waiting to line-up at the start line.

The unknown is so much worse than knowing what you're dealing with, so my advice to you is to act. And don't feel awful about doing so.

- © Fairfax NZ News