Appointment with Dr. Kwak Kim

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…………..where do I begin? It’s no secret that we are struggling to have a child. If you didn’t know, you’ve been living under a rock. We can get pregnant (not naturally, via IVF), but we can’t stay pregnant. Which obviously does us no good. So often I’ve heard, “at least you know you can pregnant?!” Yeah, you’re right, it’s great, but I can’t STAY pregnant. Which is heartbreaking and emotionally draining. Cycle after cycle we have so much hope and then we are let down. My RE is stuck…her and her colleagues don’t really know what our problem is. Is it our egg quality? Should we try donor eggs instead? They aren’t 100% on board with reproductive immunology (not most REs are, unfortunately) so it was time we took things into our own hands.

Bring in, the esteemed Dr. Kwak Kim (KK) — a reproductive immunologist. She is an OB but she studies why women are having repeated pregnancy loss, repeated implantation failure, etc. Why is my body working against me? Why is it rejecting these precious babies?  I heard about KK through Instagram — thank God for our infertility community. Lots of women I follow have seen her and have had luck, so I thought – why not?

My initial appointment with Dr. Kwak Kim was booked for July 7th — it takes monthssssss to get into her. However, I have the added benefit of being local. Because of that, I was put on a cancellation list and was able to get in almost a month sooner – on June 10th! There are two, well-known, reproductive immunologists in the US — Dr. Kwak Kim (Chicago) and Dr. Braverman (New York). I obviously chose to see KK because she’s so close to us — hallelujah!

The night before my appointment I didn’t sleep. I was a ball of nerves. Just the thought of being in another clinic, seeing another doctor, being poked and prodded for the umpteenth time made me cry. What made it worse, was that my husband couldn’t be there. Not by choice, obviously. But I had heard from other girls that if your spouse went with you, he’d be sitting in the waiting room the entire time anyway and wouldn’t be allowed back so it was pointless for him to come.

Of course it would happen that the day before my appointment with KK, I got my period. Oh joy. That WOULD happen to me, lol. The only thing that got messed up was my ultrasound – which I was able to reschedule for Friday, June 17th.

I arrived at the clinic at 8:30am for my 8:45am appointment. I parked my car, with my heart racing and my palms sweaty, and said a quick prayer. I checked in at the front desk and took a seat…

There was a small hiccup and I wasn’t taken back until 9:30ish. I was taken back for blood work where the nurse took 20 vials of blood. I looooved this nurse. She was upbeat and truly calmed my nerves. She told me that women from all over the world and US come to see KK — she mentioned Dubai, Turkey, Toyko, Japan, etc to name a few!

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After blood work, I was taken to see a nurse practitioner for a gynecological exam. We first spent about a half hour going over our medical history. She learned about all of our Clomid/IUI cycles and IVF cycles. She asked about my LEEP and my laparoscopy. We talked about our three miscarriages and our three implantation failures. She needed to know when we miscarried and how my body discarded the baby/babies. The more we talked about everything, the more I was beginning to really realize everything we had been through. Everything my body has been through. It was emotional, but I held it together. We talked about my family health history as well and I was completely taken aback when she said “Are your parents pretty healthy?” It wasn’t her fault at all – I was just already a little emotionally off being there and she of course had NO idea that my dad passed away fairly recently. After our chat, she did a quick exam on me. She noticed my thyroid felt large, so they are ordering an ultrasound on it. She told me that with PCOS + hypothyroidism they are often connected, so the ultrasound is mandatory. She didn’t feel anything of concern, but I still need to have it done. I will have a thyroid ultrasound Thursday, June 16th at 7:30am.

Next, I got to finally meet KK!!! I should mention that the walls at her practice are lined with huge, colorful posters of all the studies she has done. Woah, baby. KK is legit. LOL. Oh boy, I was anxious, nervous, scared, etc. I was most nervous for what she would say to me about my weight. I’ve heard from several other women that she is a stickler on weight. However, I was one step ahead of her because I’ve been on a diet/work out kick and am currently down 13.5lbs! She actually didn’t harp too much on it at all. She just mentioned that I was doing a great job and to keep up the good work because it will help in the end. So that was good – I was relieved to hear that from her.

She then drew a circle on a piece of paper and made a pie chart about all the things that can cause repeated pregnancy loss and implantation failure. The smallest portion of the pie was genetics. Now, you all know that we paid $10,000 to have our embryos tested. Ouch. And she’s telling me that this is the smallest piece to the pie?! Yikes. KK went on to say that she was at a conference in Montreal last month, and they are beginning to study the effects of PGS testing on the embryo. In the studies, they found that women who did not do PGS testing had more success. She said because you’re taking cells out of the embryo, you’re messing with the make up of it and disrupting it. DING DING DING! No kidding!!!!! Why didn’t I go see KK years ago?! Ugh. (Side note: after my appointment I called my friend Laura — and in telling her all about my appointment, I realized that we had way better success with our non-tested embryos…crazy right?!)

KK then discussed the other pieces of the pie…inflammatory issues, high NK cell activity (which we already know mine are HIGH), MTHFR issues/blood clotting, etc. She talked about wanting to do a biopsy on my endometrium 5-7 days after ovulation — heads up — I have NO idea when in the hell I even ovulate or IF I do! Ha. KK wants to look at my genes to check my make up to find more answers. Ouch. Why are all these procedures and tests so painful? 😦 So, in all she couldn’t tell me much yet about how to “fix” me, because she needs to wait until she gets all the blood work results back and I have my ultrasounds. As of now, my full consultation with KK is July 7th at 9am.

We had every intention of doing an FET with our final frozen embryo on July 22nd, but KK said we have too much to do yet. So, I’m taking her advice and setting that on the back burner for now. So, our FET is cancelled until we know what we need to try with KK’s recommendations.

Once we get all our results/plan of action from KK, we can then make a decision on what our next step will be. Will we try another egg retrieval? Will we use a gestational carrier? Will we try donor eggs? Only time will tell.

I want to thank each and every one of you that continue to follow our journey, pray for us, and support us. It means the world to us. I can’t tell you how many girls I have been there for during their journey and their struggle, donated meds to them, and then they get pregnant and they’ve completed disappeared from my life and have no interest in being there for me. As much as it genuinely sucks, I know we still have numerous people by our side – so for that, I thank you. WE ARE BLESSED.

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XO, Erin

 

PS – My dear friend Sydney encouraged me to start a Facebook page dedicated to our journey. Please come check my page out at: https://www.facebook.com/ourjourneytothree/

THANK YOU!

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6 Comments

  1. Wow, that is one intense meeting with a doctor- so glad you got in earlier!
    Good luck! This sounds fascinating and I’m very intrigued.
    Trying to just look on the scientific end, rather than emotional, is crazy!

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  2. I am so thrilled that you saw her!
    I saw Dr. Braverman and firmly believe in seeking the advice of the best doctors and setting yourself up for the best possible outcome. Wishing you all the best in your search for answers and for your next try!! 😊

    Like

  3. You are my inspiration!!!! You are so strong and you are always in my thoughts 🙂

    LOVE YOU and I’m so excited for the next part of your journey!

    xoxo
    Kolby

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  4. Arg, I wasn’t done yet when that comment ^^ posted. All of that with Dr. KK sounds so intriguing and promising! It makes me realize how little investigating our REs do… Best wishes on your next appointment 🙂

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  5. I am so glad you got an earlier appointment. It sounds like they are very thorough. I hope you find the answers you are looking for and deserve!

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