Adults' Stories

A physician’s struggle with infertility: How experience was her best teacher

It was the first day of residency at Augusta University for Dr. Hamer Titus. She was meeting her fellow residents, and one of them shared that she was pregnant. This was just a few weeks after a very difficult time in her life.

Just shy of a month before, Titus was vacationing in Myrtle Beach, S.C., with her husband, Kyle, and family celebrating her graduation from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine and resting up for her residency, which would begin July 1, 2014. Titus awoke in the middle of the night on June 6 in excruciating pain and knew something wasn’t right. An at-home pregnancy test told her that she was, indeed, pregnant. Things went from not right to wrong; as a recent medical school graduate, she knew that she was experiencing one of two things.

So Titus called her obstetrician and gynecologist (OBGYN), and he asked her to come in right away. During the examination, he didn’t say much, but his turning the screen away from her so she couldn’t see it said it all. He finally told her that she was experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, when the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, and it had progressed far enough along that it required emergency surgery.

All this took place after three rounds of intrauterine insemination (IUI) in Charleston during her fourth year of medical school. Infertility specialists recommend three rounds of IUI before moving on to in vitro fertilization (IVF), which can be costly, so Titus felt hopeless.

“I was constantly around women who were experiencing the happiest day of their life,” said Titus, “and it made me angry when I’d see women who could care less about being pregnant.”

A turning point in the journey to motherhood

In October, a few months after Titus’ residency began, she was on a rotation with the infertility specialty and met Dr. Larisa Gavrilova-Jordan. In fact, Titus approached Gavrilova- Jordan after the lecture and shared what she had been through. Gavrilova-Jordan wanted to see her right away.

“When I saw what she was doing, I was truly amazed,” Titus said. “I felt like I was in good hands with her. It’s important for people to have that faith in their doctor.”

On Dec. 24, 2014, just two months after meeting Gavrilova-Jordan, Titus got the call — she was pregnant.

“I was amazed by how quickly the process moved,” Titus said.

Advice from a patient and physician

As both a patient and OBGYN, Titus stressed that you shouldn’t wait too long to seek help, whether it’s from an infertility specialist or your OBGYN. She recommended being aware of options and not assuming that nothing is out of reach; she also pointed out that not everyone has to get IVF.

“Infertility is a lot harder when you keep it to yourself,” said Titus. “I found it helpful to be open and honest about what I was going through rather than keeping everything bottled inside.”

Titus’ education and professional experience started off as a painful reminder of what she couldn’t have but, at the same time, made her an informed patient. Through this experience, she earned the ultimate reward of a beautiful pregnancy and healthy child. On Aug. 5, 2015, the Titus family celebrated the first birthday of their son, Graham. And she came out of it as a better physician.

If you’re experiencing infertility, there’s hope

Augusta University Reproductive Medicine and Infertility Associates can help. Call us at 706-722-4434 or visit augustahealth.org/infertility.

To learn about our women’s health services and providers, call us at 706-721-4959 or visit augustahealth.org/women.

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