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RESOLVE The National Infertility Association

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BENEFITING: RESOLVE Inc

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THE STORY:

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One of our Mom Strong Stories this month:

The journey through infertility can be a long one, full of ups and downs, hopes and disappointments.  Susan shares her journey and how she found the strength to make it through.

I am 36 years old and married for almost 6 years to the most incredible person in my life, Greg.  Our journey began back in 2011, about a year and half after Greg and I were married and we knew we wanted to start a family. We planned a beautiful trip in Mexico and marked that trip as the start of our “trying”.  Sadly after 10 months of trying to have a baby we both decided it would be a good idea to get checked by an infertility specialist.  In March of 2012 we went to Shady Grove Fertility in Leesburg, VA and began infertility testing.  The doctors diagnosed us as “unexplained infertility”.  They could not find anything specifically wrong with either of us that would inhibit us from being able to conceive a child.

We decided to try for a few more months but by October of 2012 I was ready to go back to Shady Grove for help. We began a low cost treatment called Timed Intercourse.  I would take 5 days of clomid and when the follicles on my ovaries grew between 18 and 22mm in size and I had at least 2 or 3 of them, I would give myself a trigger shot in my belly which made my body ovulate within 36 hours. We then tried during that time and 2 weeks afterward I would go back for a blood test. We tried this for 2 months in a row.

I had such high hopes this treatment would work, especially when the doctor couldn’t find anything wrong that would keep me from getting pregnant. It was a very stressful process, having to try on specific days and times rather than just doing it naturally when the mood hit us.  However, the treatment was unsuccessful.  After the second cycle we decided to take a break and just go back to trying on our own.

Another year passed.  We both decided we wanted to see how we could try IVF treatment. It was around November 2013 and the insurance I had at the time didn’t cover IVF. The cost of one round of treatment was nearly $20,000. My husband suggested trying to enroll in a new health insurance group that covered some IVF cost and fortunately for us, December open enrollment was around the corner. I was able to change my insurance to Aetna and have 50% of IVF treatment costs covered. I remember being so excited and grateful at the same time.  Little did we know what we would have to do to get that coverage.

Once I was covered under the new insurance in January of 2014 we found out we had to either be diagnosed with a specific infertility issue or complete six rounds of a lower cost infertility treatment with no successful pregnancy before Aetna would cover 50% of an IVF treatment. It was heartbreaking.

I talked to my OB about possibly checking for Endometriosis and she recommended I have a Laparoscopy and Hysteroscopy surgery done to look for Endometriosis.  I had the surgery done on January 30, 2014 and they did not find any Endometriosis. This was good and bad for me. Had they found signs of Endometriosis we could have moved onto IVF right away but because they didn’t, we had to complete the additional rounds of a lower cost treatment before Aetna would help us.

Another lower cost option to IVF was a treatment called Intrauterine Insemination (IUI).  This is basically doing clomid, like in the timed intercourse treatment, except they inject the sperm into the woman’s uterus much closer than trying yourself but the sperm still has to fertilize the egg on its own. Under my new insurance coverage this treatment was $900 each round and the infertility doctor told us my chance for a successful pregnancy trying that treatment was very low due to my age and the length of time we had been trying. We didn’t have the money to spend $900 four times just to have it fail. Thankfully the Timed Intercourse treatment was a little over $100 each round and counted toward the six we needed to complete. The failed rounds we did back in November and December of 2012 counted toward our six; thank goodness. 

I just wanted to get through the process. One cannot explain how difficult it is emotionally to struggle to get pregnant when you want it so badly. It is also hard for others without infertility issues to understand what it’s like to go through this struggle. You have the stress of trying, the worry over money, trying to be happy for others you find out are pregnant and didn’t try very long or experience any issues trying.  Not to mention going to baby showers… I feel like I went to my share during this process. That, for me was one of the hardest things I had to do. I was so happy to celebrate other friends getting pregnant but inside my heart was hurting.

Beginning in March of 2014 we began the timed intercourse treatments again. We ended up doing 4 months of them in a row and all were unsuccessful. This was a very hard time for me because I felt like we were just wasting time and jumping through hoops for the insurance to cover IVF. I am very thankful to have had so much love and support from close friends and family that really helped me get through those 4 months. I had to keep thinking about July and starting IVF and staying positive. We never lost our faith and hope of having a baby one day.

We were approved for IVF coverage in July of 2014 and began treatment officially on July 17, 2014. All the medication was quite overwhelming but despite it all I was still beyond excited to try. I had to give myself two shots in my stomach each day for 11 days until I had enough mature follicles for the egg retrieval. The shots were medications to stimulate my ovaries into overdrive. I had monitoring appointments every couple days until the egg retrieval date was scheduled.  I had 12 eggs retrieved on July 30, 2014 from those 12 eggs, 8 fertilized and 4 of them maintained excellent quality.  One embryo was transferred into my uterus on August 4, 2014 and the other three embryos were frozen. Then I had the dreaded two-week wait for my blood results. That was the longest two weeks of my life!

During my IVF treatment I had learned of a private IVF support group on Facebook so I joined it and the support from other women going through infertility and IVF treatment helped me a great deal. It was comforting to know I wasn’t alone but also sad to realize just how many couples struggle with infertility.

I remember seeing other ladies on the Facebook page going through the two-week wait at the same time as me and some of them began taking at home pregnancy tests several days after their embryo  transfers. I became close with one lady who transferred on the same day as me and when I learned she had taken a home test on the seventh day and got her BFP (Big Fat Positive) I got so anxious I ran to the CVS around the corner from my work and bought a pregnancy test. I came back and took the test at work .

I will never ever forget this day; this was the day I got my very first positive pregnancy test. The line was very faint but it was there! The first person I told was a colleague who just happened to walk into the bathroom as I was staring at the test. My husband was nervous because the line was so faint. So, I continued to buy pregnancy tests and took one every day until my blood test and each day the line get darker and darker! The excitement was overwhelming. I was finally pregnant. We were finally going to have a baby. We were going to be a family!

The blood test appointment came and sure enough, we got our official BFP! I had to return to Shady Grove for 2 additional blood tests so they could confirm the pregnancy hormone was increasing and it was! Both Greg and I were beyond excited. It was a dream come true. I graduated from Shady Grove Fertility to my regular OB after my 8-week appointment.

Some of the ladies from the private IVF support group started another private group on Facebook called Healthy Mom-Happy Baby/Babies and about 40 of us who were successful with IVF treatment and were pregnant began keeping in touch and talking throughout our pregnancies. We all had due dates around the same time. We kept in touch throughout our entire pregnancies and still keep in touch to this day a year later.

I was very fortunate to have an easy and healthy pregnancy with no complications and today I am the very proud mommy of a happy and healthy 5-month old baby boy named Luke.  He was worth the wait and everything we went through. I never knew I could love another person so much until I became a mom. It is truly one of my most treasured moments in life.

This is my Mom Strong moment. Fighting to become the mom I know I was destined to be.  Greg and I never lost hope and we celebrated every little win we could get from the unexplained infertility to the insurance coverage.  I am very grateful the stress of infertility treatments and trying to get pregnant didn’t hurt my marriage but instead, brought us closer together and even stronger as a couple For many, the struggle to have a baby can cause a lot of stress on your relationships. We were open with our friends and family and the support they showed us helped us keep going. 

I truly believe if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Mathew 17:20.

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