A War Closer to Home

Samantha - Decatur, Georgia
Entered on April 3, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe children are miracles.

At first blush, that sounds like a Hallmark card. That’s not really what I mean. I do believe children can be miracles of love, but I know they can be miracles of science.

I was 32 when I met my husband. It was a whirl-wind romance. We met, fell in love and eloped, all within 6 months. As newlyweds, we quickly settled, bought a home and started building our life together. We knew we wanted a family but one problem quickly arose.

People are not shy about asking personal questions. “When are you going to have kids?” we were often asked. Nor are they shy about giving advice. “You are trying TOO hard, just relax and it will happen.” After a year, the advice became tactical. “Watch the calendar, do yoga, have sex when your temperature rises!” Often the comments were way too personal and sometimes embarrassing.

Over time, the stress escalated. I couldn’t see a pregnant woman in the supermarket without bursting into tears. “Why not me?” I asked. One traumatic encounter occurred when my doctor prescribed prenatal vitamins “just in case” it happened. When I went to the pharmacy, the pharmacist casually asked, “when’s your due date?” It was all I could do to respond, “Uhhh, I’m not pregnant.” I quickly left the store and had an all-out breakdown in my car.

Two years into “trying,” we surrendered to a fertility specialist. I say “surrendered” because by this point, trying to have a baby had become a struggle. I felt like I was in a battle for parenthood and little did I know, the war was just beginning. My future included months of Clomid to boost ovulation, daily blood draws to monitor my cycle, weekly internal ultrasounds to gage egg production, and four unsuccessful insemination attempts.

A year after fertility treatments began; my doctor pulled us into her office and advised “it’s time to bring out the big guns.” She was talking about IVF. Invitro Fertilization—a procedure that is little more than two decades and only 50% successful. It’s expensive—we spent $43,000 out of our retirement account. It’s painful—five injections a day and invasive procedures to retrieve my eggs and then attempt to transplant them. And it’s a crap shoot—equivalent to taking our life savings to Vegas. But we wanted a biological child. I wanted to experience pregnancy. So, we did it, held our breath and waited.

IVF is miraculous. It’s still so new, the first “test tube baby” was born in 1978. At that time, IVF was controversial, the cost astronomical and often considered an “ethical” choice, not a medical one. If I had been my own mother, just 30 years ago, it would have never been available to me. And yet, the real miracle of this science is the dedication and persistence of fertility researchers and doctors who are the Generals on the front lines fighting for infertile women.

Four years after we started “trying,” we welcomed our miracle. It was a long struggle but a battle worth fighting. Months after her birth, I often still cry at the sight of my daughter while holding her victoriously in my arms.