Wednesday, November 07, 2007

My Story

This is my contribution to the My Story Project, as part of Infertility Awareness Week. As hard as I tried, I couldn't make it any shorter because it was a long, hard journey that had a huge impact on my life.

When my husband and I got married, we decided we wanted to start our family immediately. We both dreamed of having a family. We each even had a name picked out for our future children. Almost 2 1/2 heart-breaking years later, I finally got a referral to a gynecologist who specialized in infertility. Almost immediately she discovered what was wrong - I have PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome, which causes irregular hormone levels, anovulation and various other health problems. I had officially received my diagnosis, and with it another one - infertility. My husband and I were absolutely crushed. Luckily, the doctor had an idea - Clomid. However, after 3 cycles of increasing doses and increasing side effects, I was still not ovulating. The gynecologist had exhausted her knowledge - we needed a reproductive endocrinologist.

When we first saw the RE, we were obviously excited... but we were also terrified. Because we had to see a civilian doctor, our milit@ry insurance was very limited in what it would cover in regards to Assisted Reproductive Technology. However, we found a loop hole, because based on their definition ART did not mean fertility medicine, it meant assistance in the physical process of reproduction, ie IUI and IVF. As long as we were relying solely on intercourse to put the sperm and egg together, then medication, testing, doctor visits, everything would be covered. The RE proceeded to do another trial of Clomid at the highest dose, combined with an injection of hCG to force my body to ovulate. I responded poorly to the Clomid again, but we went ahead with the hCG shot to try. As expected, we didn't get pregnant. At this point, the RE believed our only shot at pregnancy was through IUI, using injectable fertility medicine. However, the cost of the medicine alone was astounding and we didn't know how we could afford it. We decided to try one monitored cycle of injectable medicine before proceeding with the IUI. We figured that if I responded well to the new medication, we could justify the debt we would incur for the IUI next cycle. As luck would have it, after 2 straight weeks of injecting myself in the stomach every night followed by the hCG shot, I got pregnant and our beautiful daughter was born later. Our dream had come true. The RE was amazed that we had managed to conceive without the IUI. We were amazed that we were finally parents, 3 years after deciding to start our family.

Two years without birth control later we knew we needed help again. I went to see my doctor about my depression (caused by infertility) and left with a referral. Thankfully, we were now living near one of the few milit@ry hospitals that has a fertility clinic. Because we would be going to a milit@ry treatment facility, and not a civilian doctor, IUI would be covered. Another trial of Clomid revealed what we expected - I still did not respond well - but we did manage one IUI on Femara before I stopped responding to it as well. I ended up needing injectable medicine again. Because my husband was on short deployments a lot, it was very difficult trying to schedule my cycles around when he was home. Combined with the 'intercourse on demand only' and not having childcare for appointments, we were under a lot of stress. On our fourth IUI, we were told that after 3 cycles on the injectable medicines, we would not be allowed any more IUIs - our only option would be IVF, a good portion of which would not be covered by the insurance. Yes, it would be cheaper than what most other couples pay who have no coverage at all, but still a hefty amount. We knew there was no way we could do it. In other words, this cycle was our last chance.

Can you imagine the joy and relief when I got a positive pregnancy test that last cycle? If it hadn't worked, we would obviously have still been blessed to have our daughter, but our dream was to have two children. Thankfully, because of our insurance, our dream has come true. For the average couple, it is an easy dream. Having a family is taken for granted, because everyone assumes it will happen easily. When you learn that you may never have the family you have dreamed of, it is like someone has ripped your heart out and torn it to pieces. Both times we went through treatments it was painful and stressful - emotionally and physically - but compared to the unnecessary pain and stress that other couples without insurance face, we know we got off easy. Without our insurance coverage, we would not have the beautiful 3 year old girl who can make any day better with a silly grin. We would not be expecting the baby brother she is so excited about getting this December. We can't imagine our lives without our children and we can't believe that in this 'modern age', in a country so defined by family, so many people have to face a life without their dream because through no fault of their own they were given a medical condition rendering them infertile. Having children isn't necessary to live? Without my children, I wouldn't want to live.


The Town Criers said...

It's chilling how close you got to the end. I'm glad the story has a happy ending. Thank you so much for doing this. I don't think it's too long at all.

BethH6703 said...

Thank you for sharing your story. It's so nice to read one of these that has a happy ending! Congrats on your lil girl at home, and her lil brother on the way!