It's a strange phrase I've heard from my doctors - first in relation to my cancer diagnosis, and now in reference to our infertility struggles.
What does it mean, "given your history"? Well, I've learned that it usually means a pessimistic prediction is about to follow.
For instance, a couple of years after being declared in remission from Hodgkin's lymphoma, I felt a small lump in my right breast. Not irregularly shaped, or too hard, or matted into the tissue (things I knew from my go round with lymphoma were baaaad), but definitely there. I had an ultrasound, and the mass was solid, not fluid filled (so not a cyst). The doctor looked at the ultrasound and felt the small lump and said something like, "Well, in a woman under 30, we wouldn't really think much of this - it's almost certainly a fibroadenoma (translation: totally benign) - and we would probably just watch it over the course of the next several months...but given your history, I think we should do a biopsy."
Which was negative, thankfully.
But examples like this began to occur repeatedly. And at first, I was grateful for the careful medical attention. After all, I had lost trust in my body's ability to work properly, too. But over time, I learned to not go to the doctor and report a symptom unless I wanted something invasive done, because "given your history" translated in practical terms to something like, "You were really unlucky once...and so now we have a higher index of suspicion over ever cough, ache, and fever just in case it's another unlucky (and unlikely) event."
And knock on wood, in more than 10 years, nothing else has turned up. And my "history" has faded into the background...not a big deal anymore, but just something mentioned in my medical history and then tucked back again where it belongs - in the past.
Flash forward to infertility and it's been almost the opposite battle.
I had a bad feeling about our reproductive chances from the get go, which is kind of funny (also kind of sad) in hindsight. We actually saw an RE before we even got married to get a reproductive workup, because I was so concerned. Based on what? Gosh, nothing really, except maybe what you would call a (not yet) mother's intuition. And the RE gave us the all clear. Everything looked great. Go out and have unprotected sex. And well...you can see where this has gotten us.
As our infertility losses have accumulated, we've heard repeatedly that each miscarriage is just bad luck and our likelihood of it repeating very low.
This was comforting to hear after miscarriage #1. It was significantly less comforting to hear after miscarriage #2. Then somewhat puzzling to hear it again after miscarriage #3. By miscarriage #4, hearing that we wouldn't miscarry again was irritating. And by miscarriage #5, it was downright infuriating.
It seemed that in infertility, our lack of a history meant that the physicians were not able to imagine we could fall outside of the population statistics. For most women my age, a miscarriage is not a repetitive event. A live baby is around the corner.
So it is only now after three years of grief, we are beginning to hear the words "Well, given your history..."
And I find myself wanting to half laugh, half cry. I've been trying to get this situation assessed for what I've thought it was for quite a while now, and only NOW are the doctors also beginning to see a pattern?
It's a funny thing, this lens that medical providers see you through. A lens colored by your personal health bad luck or a lens filtered by population statistics. Either one may have a lot - or very little - to do with the actual truth of the matter.
Same as my own lenses on the situation, I guess, which are sometimes colored mostly by my fears about a bad outcome and on another day, filtered by my hope, my drive to see this through and out the other side to a child in our arms.
It will be a glorious thing when "our history" becomes just that, something we've moved on from. Something we can look back on from afar and say, Remember how hard and unending those days seemed! So wonderful it is to be out the other side! It will be a wonderful thing when we can have our infertility history tucked where it belongs - a thing of the past that we have overcome.