1,697 days and counting! That is how long my husband, David, and I have been on our fertility journey. Sadly, it has often seemed like an endless and futile process.
Gifted with a strong maternal instinct, I have dreamed of becoming a mom for as long as I can remember. David and I discussed our shared desire for children at the very beginning of our relationship. Knowing he had to finish his undergrad before we could responsibly attempt conception, we prevented it for the first year of marriage.
As soon as he began pharmacy school in Amarillo, and I transferred to teach at an elementary school there, we went off birth control. We tried to conceive naturally for seven months with no success. Because I’ve known since I was 11 years old that my body’s cycles do not work like most women’s, I suspected that I might be infertile. Sure enough, the doctor diagnosed me with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in the spring of 2014. Spring! In the season that emphasizes hope and the birth and renewal of all things – it seemed like our hopes might end unfulfilled.
Not wanting to give up on our life’s dream, we started fertility treatments. We tried every dose of Clomid and then moved to Clomid with Metformin. This took most of a year and still nothing! After all of those months of failure, the doctor recommended that we transition to more advanced fertility treatments. He referred us to a fertility center in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
The next logical step was intrauterine insemination (IUI), but living in Amarillo – five hours away from our fertility clinic – made IUI impractical, if not impossible. Our RE recommended in vitro fertilization (IVF) instead because the more controlled timing would be better for traveling back and forth. We found out firsthand that the expenses for IVF are astronomical and that insurance would not pay. Over the next six months, we spent over $18,000 – our entire savings. However, we knew our future babies were well worth it!
Unfortunately, neither the fresh cycle nor the subsequent frozen embryo transfer (FET) delivered us a baby. Our hearts were broken, and my body and mind were exhausted. We were living on my single teacher’s salary, David was half-way through pharmacy school and we had spent all of our money. We decided to take a break.
Spring 2016, while we waited for the next time we could afford another round of FET, my new obgyn had me try Femara for around six months, but to no avail.
In November 2016, while visiting my parents who live in the Austin area, we discussed starting fertility treatments again. My parents, who are only a couple of years from retirement, expressed their willingness to help with our expenses. They knew we had already used our entire savings and stepped up.
David was six months from graduation and we had already decided to move to the Austin area. Fellow fertility patients had recommended Kaylen Silverberg MD, so we decided to transfer our precious embryos to Texas Fertility Center.
In January 2017, we began a six month process of transferring the embryos, redoing all of the expensive tests done two years prior, performing preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) on our embryos and preparing me for another FET, which occurred in July 2017.
Thousands of dollars later, we experienced yet another disappointing result. Because we had so many failed attempts, Dr. Silverberg told us about ERA testing, which could help determine the day that my body might be receptive to embryo implantation. Over the next eight months, we went through three cycles of ERA. We learned that my body should be receptive on Day 7.5 – 8.
Nearly five years and an unbelievable amount of out-of-pocket expenses later, we transferred Embryo #7 on Good Friday 2018. And now, we are once again waiting. Hoping. Praying.
Infertility is not an elective or self-induced condition. It is not a rich person’s condition. It chooses who to attack. When it attacks, it impacts a person’s body, mind and spirit. It is outrageous that insurance will pay for all sorts of medical conditions, but will not help when a woman’s body cannot work the way it should to conceive a much wanted – and much loved – baby.
Isn’t it strange that if a woman’s heart is broken so many times, from not having a child, and she develops anxiety and depression, insurance will pick up the tab for her medical care and prescription drugs? Yet it won’t cover fertility treatments.
Our journey is not over. We will go on as long as we can. Our hope endureth forever.
Update – For nearly five years, we suffered the pain of infertility. On day 1,705 our eyes were filled with tears of joy when we heard our first ever “yes!” Last week, in the middle of National Infertility Awareness Week, we heard the sweetest sound of our baby boy’s heartbeat. The Lord has been so gracious to us throughout this journey and we pray He continues to be with us and our baby as he grows.
Contact our Austin fertility center to learn how our team is working to raise infertility awareness and increase accessibility to reproductive care.