This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. Although I didn’t know this week existed until a few days ago, I have been very aware of infertility for quite some time. I am very open about the fact that we used in-vitro fertilization to have our daughter. You can read about our experience in this post about “my body.” But what I have not been open about is what has happened since then. I have gone back and forth about how much of our struggles to keep private and how much to share. At my last MOPS meeting we heard a wonderful speaker and she talked about taking off your mask…admitting your flaws, letting people see all of you, acknowledgeing your fallen nature, opening up to others, not trying to be perfect/just show people the good parts. And after a lot of thought and prayer and discussion with my husband and some close friends I’ve decided to share a little more and slowly remove one of my masks. It’s scary, but I’m praying God will use my struggles for his purpose. I’m partly doing this for myself. Although it is personal it’s also freeing to open up and let go of secrets. I’m also doing this for anyone that might read my blog and be struggling with infertility. I am always happy to be a source of support or encouragement. My thoughts are a little scattered, so bear with me. I will be using terms you may not be familiar with if you don’t know anything about IVF (in-vitro fertilization). I appologize in advance, but it’s tough to explain it any other way.
Like I said before, we did IVF to have our daughter. We were very fortunate to get pregnant on the first try. But since then our journey through the world of infertility has gone down hill. In October of 2009 we decided to start trying for a 2nd child. We did a frozen IVF transfer using our remaining embyros. It did not work. So we had to start over. In November of 2009 we did a fresh round of IVF…stimulation and retrieval. Just like our first IVF cycle, I hyperstimulated (produced over 40 eggs). Because of this I can’t do a fresh transfer. We froze our embryos and waited while I recovered. In January of 2010 we did a frozen transfer. A few hours after the transfer I came down with the stomach flu. And knew right away it wouldn’t work…and it didn’t. In February of 2010 we did another frozen transfer. Somehow our family managed to get the flu yet again. Rebecca came down with a bad case 2 days before my transfer. And of course I got it a few days after my transfer. And had a negative result again. Since then the Dr. has told us that he was really surprised that the transfer did not work based on the embryo quality. He said the flu could have been what caused the failure. We went on to do a third frozen transfer in March of 2010. This transfer emptied the freezer again. At the end of March I had my pregnancy test. The results came back inconclusive…not positive…but not negative. Over the course of a couple weeks the hcg levels started rising and we were hopeful. But my 4th test showed that the levels were going back down…an early miscarriage. And now we are back to square one again. This was just a few weeks ago. And we are still getting over it. We don’t know why all this had to happen. And I don’t think we will ever understand. It is a struggle. Some days are easier. Some days are very tough. But we are trusting that God has a plan and a purpose. He can use our struggles for his good. So we are waiting to see what He has in store. We did have a very good consult with our doctor and will be moving on to another round of IVF later this year. We are hopeful that God will bless us with the family we have always dreamed of. We pray for Rebecca each day that she will experience the joy of having siblings. And we know that in all this God has a plan, a purpose and perfect timing.
So that’s where we’re at in our experience with infertility. And we are not alone. So many people struggle with infertility. It is good to hear about things that raise awareness. It is not a life threatening illness, but it is one of the toughest things anyone can go through. It can consume your whole world. It can be tough just to go to the store or church or wherever. There is a constant reminder of what you don’t have. It is so tough physically and emotionally. And it puts a strain on you financially (I wish MI required insurance to at least cover some of the expenses!). If you don’t konw much about infertility, please take a moment to read up on it. If you know someone that struggles with infertility, support them in any way you can. It’s not something you should have to go through alone…but most people do. This is National Infertility Awareness Week…and I am very aware. Are you?
A few facts from the RESOLVE website about infertility:
Infertility is a disease that results in the abnormal functioning of the male or female reproductive system. Both the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recognize infertility as a disease.
Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse (six months if the woman is over age 35) or the inability to carry a pregnancy to live birth.
•Infertility affects 7.3 million people in the U.S. This figure represents 12% of women of childbearing age, or 1 in 8 couples. (2002 National Survey of Family Growth)
•Approximately one-third of infertility is attributed to the female partner, one-third attributed to the male partner and one-third is caused by a combination of problems in both partners or, is unexplained. (http://www.asrm.org/)
•A couple ages 29-33 with a normal functioning reproductive system has only a 20-25% chance of conceiving in any given month (National Women’s Health Resource Center). After six months of trying, 60% of couples will conceive without medical assistance. (Infertility As A Covered Benefit, William M. Mercer, 1997)
•Approximately 44% of women with infertility have sought medical assistance. Of those who seek medical intervention, approximately 65% give birth. (Infertility As A Covered Benefit, William M. Mercer, 1997)
•Approximately 85-90% of infertility cases are treated with drug therapy or surgical procedures. Fewer than 3% need advanced reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization (IVF). (http://www.asrm.org/)
•The most recently available statistics indicate the live birth rate per fresh non-donor embryo transfer is 28%. (Assisted Reproductive Technology Success Rates, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2005)
•Fifteen states have passed laws requiring that insurance policies cover some level of infertility treatment: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and West Virginia. (For more on this visit the insurance coverage section of resolve.org.)
•Offering a comprehensive infertility treatment benefit with appropriate utilization controls may actually reduce costs and improve outcomes by eliminating the inappropriate use of costly covered procedures and allowing specialists to use the most effective, efficient treatment for a specific type of infertility. (Infertility As A Covered Benefit, William M. Mercer, 1997)
•A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (August 2002) found that the percentage of high-order pregnancies (those with three or more fetuses) was greater in states that did not require insurance coverage for IVF. The authors of the study noted that mandatory coverage is likely to yield better health outcomes for women and their infants since high-order births are associated with higher-risk pregnancies.