Did you ever think you’d end up being a human pin cushion science experiment? No? Well, neither did I until it seemed like it would be the only way I’d ever be a mom. So like the other 7.3 million American women and every 1 in 8 couples, my husband and I embarked on the IVF destination on our already bumpy infertility road.
As a sequential person, the IVF process seemed easy enough. Five steps: stimulation of ovaries through multiple medications, egg retrieval of ovaries, fertilization of eggs, embryo maturation, and the transfer of the embryo to the uterus.
Even after reviewing the timeline of the steps that would come to be my guide, I wasn’t intimidated. The process seemed like a welcomed progression of knowing what was next after our ordeal through the broken foster care system where we had attempted to adopt.
A mountain of infertility medications
A mountain of medications arrived. Then my days began to consist of being poked with a needle for blood work, prodded with a speculum for an ultrasound and injected with three different medicines each night.
Each night, after rereading the directions for each medication and making sure he had the right needle, my husband would go through the draining process of injecting me. We were encouraged as it seemed my ovaries were successfully responding.
Finally, after four years of trying, we got 15 eggs from our first egg retrieval. We were elated. But most of the embryos fizzled out overnight. We, then, had to go through a two-day embryo transfer instead of a five-day blastocyst. Never had I researched embryos so much in my life.
The second round of IVF
Did you know on the average only 25% of embryos actually go on to develop and become kids? Neither did I. So after our failed first attempt, we continued on with the second round of IVF. We had to go through the whole process again as we did not have any high-quality embryos to freeze.
Related content: What It Is And When Should It Be Considered
This time my specialists were armed with more knowledge of my body. This led to a change in the stimulation protocol. Because I have a retroverted uterus, they also used a different tube and twisted my cervix for the embryo transfer.
The result…a pregnancy, finally! Unfortunately, at six weeks, my HCG levels were not developing at a high enough level. Again, I found myself turning to the internet for answers. They saw a sac on the ultrasound but sadly it was empty. I had a blighted ovum which meant my body knew the embryo was chromosomally abnormal and miscarried the pregnancy.
To say it was devastating is a gross understatement. We were back at the starting line after four years of trying to conceive that included two surgeries: one for my coconut sized uterine fibroid tumor and one for my husband’s varicocele—large veins in the testicles. We also had a failed attempt to foster to adopt two little girls. And now, there were two failed rounds of IVF—the last one resulting in a miscarriage with a dilation and curettage (D&C) to remove the cells). We have one frozen embryo left to transfer and then our journey with IVF will be over. We will then explore international adoption.
The emotional and dollar cost of infertility treatments
Now, like every other portion of this bumpy road, we wait, attempt to get our hopes up and learn the steps for the next part of the process. Our next and unexplored step will be the Frozen Cycle Embryo thaw. This means that instead of going through the entire ovary stimulation process, I now have to wait for my period.
Once I get my period, I will take estrogen pills for two weeks, have an ultrasound, and then wait to determine the quality of my thawed embryo. Of course, after I pay the $1,200 fee [Editor’s note: the fees in this story are 2016 dollars) to get my embryo thawed.
Even though we have met our out-of-pocket deductible and have good insurance, that fee is non-negotiable. From what I was told, no insurance covers that fee. It just seems silly to have to pay to get your own embryo back.
Even with quality insurance, we have had to pay deposits of $1,500 for the first round, $700 for the second round, $1,200 for this thawed embryo, and $30 every 2-3 times we go to the fertility center. When you’re getting bloodwork at least 3 times a week, that’s at least $360 a month.
The bumpy journey on our infertility journey
This infertility road we were thrust on has cost us so much emotionally, physically, and financially. It is truly indescribable the emotions that you feel when your body cannot produce something so natural as a baby.
The only thing that has helped us on this journey has been the support from amazing people like you and our fertility center who navigated this road with us. To read our full story from both our perspectives hearing our honest candor as we traveled along the bumpy road of infertility. Check out our book: “Navigating the Road of Infertility.
This story was first published 11/17/16. It has been edited and reformatted for improved readability. It is being republished on 11/25/19 in honor of the 41st Anniversary of the birth of the first test-tube baby, Louise Brown.
Additional Content on Infertility:
Intrauterine Insemination: Is It the Right Fertility Procedure for You?
IVF: What is it and When Should It Be Considered?
41 Advances in the Infertility Field In 41 Years
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Christine Kahan and Aaron Kahan
Christine and Aaron Kahan, both educators and strong child advocates, are now speaking out to discuss their personal experiences surrounding their infertility struggles and the problems within the foster care system in their new memoir, Navigating the Road of Infertility, now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.