By Kristin Carter, Guest Blogger
I really haven’t shared this story with many people. Fertility problems are so hard, and I don’t wish them on anyone. I can see how marriages can break up over such devastating news especially if the other partner isn’t supportive. I also think about the people that struggle that don’t have the means to pay for IVF. I still have drugs sitting in my fridge because I just can’t motivate myself to throw them away. I bought them after a morning appointment when they told me it was probably going to be another day but then later that day they decided to trigger me that evening. The drugs expired in 2012 but it’s painful to think about throwing out that kind of money. So I keep it in my fridge, because if it’s in there it’s still worth the $900 or so that I paid for them, right?! For those who struggle with infertility every baby shower, birth announcement, and pregnant person you see is a constant reminder that it’s not you. If I had a dollar for every person who asked when we were going to have a baby, or asks us when we are going to have baby #2 I would be able to pay off all of our fertility loans and maybe afford to have baby #2!
We were married the fall of 2007 at the time we were one of the last couples of our group of friends to get married and of course most everyone already had kids. The year we were married Matt was 37 and I was 32 and we were so excited to finally be married and planned on starting a family right away. After a year of thinking we were going to be pregnant almost every month we had had a conversation with another couple that were married the year before us and were also trying to have a baby. They mentioned that they were going to see a fertility doctor. I remember being surprised that they thought that they needed to seek help. I mentioned it to my husband and I was shocked when he agreed it was time we talk to someone about why we haven’t gotten pregnant. I quickly made a doctors appointment and we went the next week. I really didn’t think anything was wrong I just thought we might get a little “help” to make things happen quicker.
When we heard the news I remember thinking: “this doctor isn’t telling us the truth, he just wants us to spend thousands of dollars with him to do this procedure called IVF because he will make a lot of money”. Basically what I took home from that conversation was if you give me $28,000 I can get you pregnant tomorrow. Without IVF you will never have a baby. I thought this doctor was crazy. Our issue was a low sperm count, but a low sperm count is still in the millions. So in my mind, since it only takes one sperm then there could be one lucky one out of the millions. Well we tried that theory for about a year without a positive pregnancy test. I guess that doctor did know what he was talking about. We also finally told our parents the news. That was one of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had with them. I cried when I told my Mom that I wasn’t sure if we were ever going to have a baby. My parents have always been supportive but they became even more supportive when it came to having a baby. They told me that we needed to do everything that we can do to try and have a baby. They said we weren’t getting any younger and they would do anything they could to help us.
With that news from my parents I decided that maybe we did need to investigate the option of IVF even if it did mean taking out loans. We figured since we had paid off both of our cars and if we could just drive our cars long enough to pay off the IVF loan it would be the same as a car payment. So we tried out a new doctor and loved her right away. We decided to go with an IVF “package” that allowed us a couple of cycles if it didn’t work out the first time.
What many people don’t understand about IVF is the cost of the drugs, they are so expensive!! There are a few states that IVF is covered by insurance (Illinois & Massachusetts are two of them) and Matt is from IL and my Mom’s family is from MA and I seriously considered trying to get a job in both states! But we didn’t have time for that so we picked a package that allowed us 1 live retrieval followed by 2 frozen retrievals and then another live retrieval and 2 frozen if needed.
We started in June of 2011 with an retrieval and transferred two live embryos. We went in for the blood test and anxiously awaited the results. When the doctor finally called us she told us it was definite “maybe”. WHAT?!! I thought that it was a positive or negative not a maybe. I had NEVER heard of that before!! Well, I had a positive HCG count but it was a 21 and they like to see it much higher than that at the first blood test. So they made me come in two days later to see if my counts had doubled. When I went in for my second blood test my counts had doubled, so I was pregnant but they only doubled in the 40’s so they weren’t as high as they would like to see them. So I had to go in two days later and my count had gone down which means miscarriage. At this point devastation set in, but I also just wanted to be done. I wanted to get everything out of my system so we can start over.
Finally, we are able to try another transfer in November of 2010. This time we will try to transfer two frozen embryo’s (this clinic has a great success record for frozen transfers). We are so excited to transfer and are told by the doctor that they are such good quality that he wouldn’t be surprised if they are twins! Of course we are stoked with that news at the transfer and tell our parents how excited we are to hear the results. We are all on pins and needles the day of the blood test and await the call from the doctor. When I finally get the call, we find out that the test is negative. I remember thinking…..”WHAT? YOU ARE KIDDING ME?” What do we do now? The doctor told me that many couples that have been through what we have been through give it a couple of months to relax. Other say: “I signed up for this” and keep going. I remember thinking, “I totally signed up for this”. We told our parents the news and they took it really bad this time. I think this was worse than the miscarriage because they told us the quality of the embryo’s allowed us such a good chance.
So now we are at decision time….we have 1 frozen embryo left to transfer and the doctor tells us that because of the quality that we have to transfer before we do another live cycle. Which makes sense to us financially too because then we don’t have to pay for the drugs to go through another retrieval. But I remember thinking in my head “if this transfer of one embryo is successful it means we will have an only child”. I never in a million years thought I would have an only child. I don’t want my child to be alone; I want him/her to have a sibling so many things run through your head. But you want to have a miracle baby so bad. We transfer one embryo the first week of December 2010 we do things totally different this time, my husband made me eat Mexican instead of Paradise Bakery while on bed rest, we didn’t tell our parents or anyone we did a transfer this time, and our favorite doctor performed the transfer. We didn’t want to jinx ourselves. When our doctor called us, our HCG count was definite and she was so excited to tell us that we were FINALLY pregnant.
So yes, we have a beautiful miracle baby. We decided not to find out what we were having because I can seriously tell you to the date and minute that we conceived. I have pictures of that beautiful embryo. A beautiful amazing girl: Ainsley Marie was born to us on August 30, 2011. But no, we probably won’t be having #2. We are still paying off loans from #1 and needed to buy a bigger house and wanted to have a pool for that sweet girl as she grows up in the heat of Arizona. We couldn’t have another baby in the other house so it was either buy a new house or pay for another baby….but we needed to get a bigger house so bad that there really wasn’t a choice. We have our miracle baby (who is 5!). We have good friends who have children she will be close with, so hopefully she won’t mind being an only child. We are just lucky we have our girl!!! Infertility really puts life into perspective….I have friends that freaked out when they couldn’t get pregnant after a couple of months or didn’t get pregnant when they wanted to….but they didn’t go though this journey and couples that survive this journey know the gift they received