Infertility Awareness Week

I am a little late to the game… but Sunday marked the beginning of #NationalInfertilityAwarenessWeek .

CW: pregnancy, infertility, loss, miscarriage

In 2013, I made the decision to become a single mother by choice. I have always known I wanted to be a mother, but it didn’t occur to me before then that I didn’t need to force myself into an unwanted relationship to achieve that. I started working toward that future.

In 2017, I took my first big step toward that goal and bought a house. I researched, and discovered that I didn’t qualify for fostering, and I could not afford to adopt. So, I made my first appointment at the Mass General fertility clinic for January 2018. I did all my testing, and set an appointment to start IUI in March. But in February of 2018 my basement flooded, costing me thousands and leaving me with no heat or hot water for 5 months. I had to cancel my appointment.

Soon after I was in and out of the ER with asthma problems and nonstop sinus infections. I found out I needed surgery, and weekly allergy shots, which I could not do pregnant.

In February of 2019, I had my surgery and started my allergy shots. After 9 months, I finally reached maximum dose, so I made my appointment for March of 2020 to go back to mass general fertility.

Then, COVID hit. Everything shut down. My appointment was canceled. I decided to try on my own, because I didn’t want to wait any longer. During COVID, I tried at home via ICI. Over the course of 2020, I tried 5 times, and I miscarried 3 of those times. I told only a small handful of people, but I didn’t let them see how much it affected me. It crushed me, but I didn’t want to bother anyone with my problems, so I stayed silent. I have always been the strong friend, and I had to keep being the strong friend.

When everything opened back up, I went back to mass General. In March of 2021 I explained to my doctor that I had been trying for a year, but miscarried 3/5 times and simply didn’t get pregnant the other two times. My doctor explained that since I had been trying for a year, insurance would cover my treatment. We decided to move on to IVF. I redid my testing, and a few weeks later, I went in for my baseline appointment for my first egg retrieval.

As I was lying on the table, waiting, my doctor came into the room and told me that she had to cancel my retrieval because insurance would not cover me, despite my policy stating that I would be covered. She explained to me that it only covered heterosexual, married couples, and suggested I find a nice man to marry and come back a year later to try again.

I was devastated and furious. I called the insurance company, and they reiterated the same bullshit. Despite my policy saying absolutely nothing about marriage being required, they would not cover me unless I was married to a man for 1 year.

I was desperate, and decided to sell my house so I could pay out of pocket for IVF. It was hard. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I gave up my home and my independence for this dream of being a mother.

I moved back home, and soon after, found CNY fertility. They offered affordable prices for IVF, so with the money from selling my house, I drove to from Massachusetts to New York anywhere from 7 to 15 times a month from November of 2021 until November of 2022.

On February 9th of 2021, just a few weeks before my first retrieval, I lost my mother. My future child would never know their Nana. I would have to raise my baby without having my mom around to ask for help. I grieved openly for the first time with my friends. I grieved for the loss of my mom, and I grieved for the life that went with her. The life I got to watch both my sisters enjoy with their children, even if only for a few years. I would never get to watch my mother hold my baby, or cry on her shoulder when I was overwhelmed. I would never get to argue with her about spoiling them or pretend to be angry when she taught them to swear.

In April of 2021, I did my first transfer. It failed. A month later, I did another. It also failed. In June I did a third transfer. It worked!

But a week later, I miscarried. My fourth loss, and my last embryo. I opened up for the first time about my struggles.

I had spent all the money from my house sale on 7 months of IVF, and had nothing to show for it.

After a month of grieving, I rallied, and with help from my amazing father I was able to pay for another egg retrieval. One more transfer, this time with two embryos instead of one.

A week later, just days before my birthday, I found out the incredible news that I was pregnant!! I went to Disney with my best friend, Lauren, to celebrate my birthday and my new pregnancy.

The trip ended early, however, when I woke up on the last day bleeding. We moved our flights up and I drove to New York, terrified. My ultrasound was bittersweet—I was definitely pregnant still, but I had miscarried one of the two embryos—a girl.

My boy was still strong though, so I went home grateful for what I had.

I was so careful. I was so happy. A few weeks later, my best friend found out that she, too, was pregnant! We were due a few weeks apart, and everything was absolutely perfect.

I started showing at 12 weeks, so much earlier than I expected, but I was thrilled.

At 15 weeks, I found his heartbeat at home with a doppler. I listened to it constantly, eager to meet him.

At 16 weeks we started discussing my baby shower. I started working on his nursery.

At 17 weeks, I went in for a routine check up and my world came crashing down around me.

“I’m sorry. There is no heartbeat.”

I will never get the sound of those words out of my head. I will never forget the way my chest ached as I tried to fill them with air. I will never forget the pitying looks the nurses gave me as they ushered me into a private room to discuss my options with the doctor.

At 18 weeks, on February 10th of 2022, just one day after the 1 year anniversary of my mothers death, my son’s remains were surgically removed from my body by way of a D&C. Had it been even a week later, I would not have been able to have this surgery. I would have had to go into labor and deliver him, stillborn.

He was too far decomposed for me to see him. The doctors kept me under anesthesia as I bled too heavily and too long. When they finally woke me up, they explained that they might need to do a transfusion if the bleeding didn’t slow down.

Eight hours later, it slowed enough for them to release me. I left the hospital without my baby, visibly no longer pregnant and feeling more empty inside than I had ever felt in my life. His loss destroyed me. With him, a large part of me died. I grieved openly for him, and that was my one mistake. No body wants to see their strong friend break. That moment of weakness left me grieving for the loss of my son alone.

I still grieve for him. I will always grieve for him. I don’t know that I will ever truly be happy again, but over the last few months, I’ve learned how to fake it. I smile and you’d never know it wasn’t genuine, because I’ve learned that people don’t like to see their strong friend grieving. I smile because I have to. I smile because I don’t want to be alone anymore.

But it isn’t a real smile. I don’t have a real smile anymore. It died with him.

I am 1 in 8. I am 1 in 4. This is my story.


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