I was looking at old documents when I was searching for an infertility post I had written and, I came across this piece... This is something that I had written on January 4, 2014. A few short weeks later, I would find out that our first attempt at IVF would fail. It honestly was one of the darkest days and periods of my life that I can remember. I felt lost, alone, and wasn’t sure if I would ever become pregnant. This was before we had our very first positive pregnancy test on April 3, 2014, and had our first child on December 5, 2014—something I’m so thankful for to this day.
By sharing my story with you I hope it gives you strength to always hold on to hope. I share my story as I want to be there for others. For anyone who has suffered through the darkness that enwraps you when you so desperately want to become and stay pregnant.
January 4, 2014
“I know I was meant to be a mother... I always envisioned having 3 or 4 children. We bought our first house, a 3 bedroom home, envisioning our children growing up in there. But now what I have come to find out is that I may never be able to become pregnant.
Where to even begin… When I think of what’s going on, there are so many words that start to flash through my mind.
Growing up, you hear the stories of young girls who get pregnant “on accident,” or who have had “surprise” pregnancies. As a teen, I figured it must be pretty easy to get pregnant as it seemed so many people often got pregnant when they weren’t ready. You hear stories that women get pregnant while on birth control. So of course, when we finally decided that we wanted to start our family, I thought it would be fairly easy.
Because I am a nurse practitioner, I now know there is a very finite window each month in which it's possible to become pregnant. It’s actually not easy in the slightest. So when my husband and I found out that I wasn’t ovulating, it got me thinking... I’ve met so many people who said they didn’t plan their pregnancy or who weren’t very excited when they found out they were pregnant. They felt as though they were unlucky, whereas I view them as some of the luckiest people in the world. What I wouldn’t give to become pregnant so easily!
It seems unfair that becoming pregnant is easy for some, and either difficult or impossible for so many others. It’s unfair that some insurance companies will pay for an abortion, yet won’t cover any expenses related to infertility. I guess some would consider me lucky as my insurance company had coverage for infertility… $500 for the entire year, and could only be towards a consultation fee or testing to determine the cause of my infertility.
After my very first doctor’s visit and the hysterosalpingogram (a specialized test to ensure my ovaries and fallopian tubes were normal) my insurance company had already fulfilled their infertility coverage.
What many insurance companies don’t cover is all the subsequent office visits, medications ($1000-2000 per IUI cycle and more than $3000 per IVF cycle), ultrasounds (minimum of 3-5 per IUI or IVF cycle), blood tests; sperm analysis for your husband, the cost of IU, and the cost of IVF (average cost is approximately $13,000).
Insurance companies also don’t cover the nutritionist you start seeing to try and gain weight (or lose, depending upon the situation) that the doctors have recommended. Insurance companies don’t help pay for the fish oil, B complex, calcium, zinc, primrose oil, nettles, and vitamin D supplements you buy for yourself and/or your husband thinking that all of these things may help you become pregnant. Yes, maybe this was unnecessary, but when you start infertility treatment, it’s as if all normal thought processes leave your mind. If someone recommends yoga, different foods, or supplements, it doesn’t matter what it is, you instantly jump at the opportunity. Always trying to do just one more thing that may help you on your path towards becoming a parent.
What I don’t understand is how unfair it seems that some people in this state have insurance companies that cover IVF treatment and others do not... How unfair it seems that some states in the US require insurance companies to include infertility coverage if they have pregnancy coverage. Again, I am not fortunate enough to live in a state that requires this. And how unfair is it, that infertility treatment has become a privilege? Due to the fact that many insurance companies don’t help with infertility treatment, there are thousands of people who just cannot afford it.
Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond grateful that technology exists to allow me to have options to become pregnant. I am grateful that my husband and I are in a financial position to move forward with infertility treatments and to attempt to get pregnant through IVF. But, I also have a tremendous amount of guilt that I am able to do IVF when there any many others just like me, who cannot, simply because of the financial barrier.
I feel guilty for a multitude of reasons. I am infertile, I have hypogonadatropic hypogonadism. The hormones that are I need to be able to become pregnant are nearly non-existent without help from medications. So of course I feel guilty.
I feel guilty because I look at my husband who is the most amazing man in the whole world. Someone who would be be the most amazing father in the whole world... and I don’t know how long it will be before he becomes one.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get pregnant. I don’t know if our child will have his genes or will be adopted. And I know when he married me, if he never imagined I would struggle to get pregnant. He has never once blamed me. Instead, he has held me while I cried, and wiped away my tears. He's made me stronger because he is so patient and optimistic. But I feel so guilty that it is because of me that I am delaying him being a father.
Infertility has what seems like an infinite number of external and internal stressors. When I first found out I had to see a fertility specialist, I was so naive as to what the next months or years would entail. No one ever told me that I would have days where I would start crying for no reason at all. I had no idea that I'd have to give myself injections in my abdomen for 10+ days in a row per IUI or IVF cycle. I had no idea the stress that came with trying to arrange my work schedule to accommodate for the many doctor appointments, ultrasound appointments, IVF procedure day, day of embryo transfer, and other appointments. Or that I would constantly worry about the smallest details the entire time.
I would often lay awake at night for hours thinking some of the following: Is my estradiol level rising appropriate? Am I exercising too much? Am I eating the right things? Will my follicles grow as they are supposed to? Will I be pregnant this time? How many eggs will they be able to retrieve on the IVF cycle? Did I cause all of this by running marathons or exercising too much, or eating too healthy? What is too much exercise? What if we never get pregnant?
I had no idea that I would constantly think about what it might be like to be pregnant. Or how grateful I would feel to be nauseated and exhausted if it meant I was pregnant.”
My journal entry ended there...
Looking back, I have tears streaming down my face. Because despite the fact that I am now a mother, these emotions flood back.
My heart aches for those who still suffer with infertility. For those who have never become pregnant. It aches for those who have never been able to experience a pregnancy. And most of all, for those longing to be a mother. People often think that once you become a mother, the above feelings of guilt and stress go away—they don’t. With every new IVF cycle or frozen embryo transfer, the same emotions flood back. When I hear of others going through an IVF cycle, particularly when it fails, I cry with them... I have been there. I know the darkness.
Despite having two children I adore, we don’t feel as though our family is complete. We would love to continue to grow our family, but I realize it may not be possible. I can only hope we will again be successful in the future. That I can give my husband another child and my children another sibling. I am eternally grateful that I am a mother. I am thankful each and every day for the beautiful gift of my two healthy and happy children.
We now have one beautiful frozen embryo left for the future. For now, I pray and hope that beautiful embryo will one day become our child.
Read more of my experience with IVF here
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