Some days are better than others.
Some days I wake up and at least finish brushing my teeth before the reality creeps in and taps me on the shoulder. Other days I wake up feeling a pit in my stomach because not even dreaming could keep the reality at bay. And all days, no matter the amount of positive thinking or distracting activities, this reality hovers overhead.
Because of COVID-19 my husband and I may never be able to have a child.
And we are not alone. Within the last few weeks women all over the country have had their IVF cycles cancelled or postponed. Many others have had their implantations put on hold. And all of us now share yet another common bond that none ever wanted.
Not only do we need help to conceive but now that help has been taken away. Indefinitely.
If all had gone according to plan, I would have begun my first round of IVF on March 17th. But on March 16th our clinic in New York City halted all new cycles until further notice. If a woman had already begun her cycle she could continue, but the rest of us were forced into a wait-and-see purgatory.
For those unfamiliar with the process, a round of in vitro fertilization (IVF) begins at the start of a woman’s cycle. With the help of daily hormone injections, the ovaries are stimulated to produce multiple eggs that are then retrieved in a surgical procedure at the time of ovulation. The eggs are then fertilized by sperm in a lab with the resulting embryos later transferred to the uterus, known as implantation.
So, as you can imagine, there is a great deal of planning that goes into a round of IVF. We began ours back in December and have spent the last two and a half months actively preparing for that mid-March start. Then, just like that, it’s over. The opportunity vanishing into thin air. The plans seemingly all for nothing.
Now, let me be clear, we understand why this has happened. We’re in the midst of a global pandemic and hospitals need all available resources diverted toward keeping people alive. We would never want our attempt to begin a life to potentially mean someone else loses theirs.
But while the rational side of me totally gets it, the rest of me is floundering—lost, frightened and angry. Completely and totally angry.
I find myself breaking down almost daily. My attention span is short as I get work done in spurts before my mind wanders and I feel the despair sneak in. We have absolutely zero control over something that will affect the rest of our lives. And that is terrifying.
As if knowing you have to rely on IVF to get pregnant isn’t stressful and difficult enough. Now that option isn’t even available.
And this isn’t just about infertility. Yes, most people turning to IVF have been unable to conceive naturally. Many have spent years on this infertility rollercoaster where the emotional toll is steep.
Then there are those like us—those who turn to IVF as the only option that gives them a shot at having a healthy baby. You see, genetic testing can be a part of the IVF process, and for us it was the reason we began this journey.
My husband, Marc has an extremely rare genetic condition and a 50% chance of passing it on to a child. The condition is potentially devastating and could mean a baby would not survive infancy. While there is a 50% chance we could naturally conceive a child that does not have this condition (assuming we do not have other fertility challenges), it’s a risk we aren’t willing to take.
And to make matters even more complicated, I am 40. And recent bloodwork has shown my egg reserve may not be all that plentiful.
So, while the IVF cycles will resume at some point, we can’t help but wonder if it will be too late for us. Because for every month that goes by my chances of producing enough eggs to make this whole thing work decreases more and more.
Look, we all know the IVF process is a luxury. Not only because of its steep price tag but also because this amazing and complex medical procedure actually exists. If it were up to nature, our parental fate would already be sealed.
So, I get that not everyone can understand why what is happening right now is so devastating for us. And that’s okay. I just ask you to simply understand that we are feeling it. This is raw. It’s jagged and heavy and sometimes catches in your throat leaving you unable to breathe.
Because if we end up not having a child, I want it to be because all of the options did not work. I do not want it to be because we were never allowed to even try.
And yet, because of a global pandemic we may never be parents.
That is the reality we now face.
And so, we sit with that reality. And we wait.
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