Andrena and her husband Chris got married in October of 2013, and then started to conceive two years ago. After actively trying for a year, the couple started the process of basic testing to make sure everything was working fine. One of the initial tests showed that Andrena had a blocked fallopian tube, so she was immediately referred to a fertility doctor by her gynecologist. Everything was happening so fast that initially, Andrena felt numb. She held her tears in until she went back to work and had a major breakdown in her supervisor’s office. She was both heartbroken and afraid.
Chris and Andrena’s first consultation experience was not as expected. She felt that it was like they were a number not a real couple who wanted care and empathy. After many first initial meetings the multiple departments, the couple felt the focus was pushing towards a specific treatment without offering other options.
Andrena and her husband were devastated felt as though no one seemed to care. So, they took matters into their own hands and started doing research. They started their search for other fertility specialists in the area and reached out to friends who had overcome infertility for guidance. Andrena found the RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association website and was blown away by resources available there.
While reviewing their health plans, the couple realized that their benefits included the opportunity to receive a virtual second opinion online. The couple had their tests and charts reviewed by a fertility specialist. While the doctor couldn’t confirm that Andrena’s fallopian tube was actually blocked, he did rule out male factor infertility. Then, Andrena and Chris found another fertility doctor that was a great fit for them. Their new doctor was recommended by mutual friends. As they talked during their first appointment, Andrena and Chris knew that they were in the right hands by his compassion and his ability to explain options. He advised that the next step was to have a laparoscopy done to see what was actually going on.
During the surgery, it was discovered that one of Andrena’s fallopian tubes were severely damaged and had to be removed. The damage was due to a previous surgery she had to have a cyst removed while she was in college. Her left fallopian tube was blocked by a cyst, so that was also removed. The couple felt optimistic after gaining answers from the laparoscopy and decided to move forward by taking fertility medication and trying on their own for two months. By the third month, they had their first IUI, which wasn’t successful. Month four brought another unsuccessful IUI.
Based on what the doctors said, it was the perfect opportunity for Andrena and Chris to conceive, since everything was in place. They were very disappointed and decided that mentally, emotionally, and physically they needed a break. They are currently taking a break from treatments and have become very involved in raising infertility awareness in their community.
While busy with treatments and doctor appointments, Andrena recognizes the limited access to resources and support in her city related to infertility. After seeing the guidelines needed to start a support group, Andrena and her cousin decided to start a RESOLVE Peer Led Support Group in Columbia, SC. Their first meeting was held in August of 2016. The group is one of two in the entire state of South Carolina.
“When our journey started, Chris and I quickly realized that our insurance plans would not pay for any of our doctor bills or treatments. This set back and financial burden prompted us to advocate to change this injustice, not only for ourselves but for others in our state.”
After months of meeting with legislators, the S.10 Legislation was pre-filed in December of 2016. The bill requests that insurance companies cover the diagnosis and treatment of infertility procedures. The legislation has some exclusions but this is a big step in the right direction. The legislation is currently in subcommittee waiting to be discussed by the Senate and House. Andrena has great support from her family, friends, co-workers and non-profit organization WREN (Women’s Rights Empowerment Network) advocating with her to get this legislation passed.
“Chris and I remain positive that we will one day become parents as we rely heavily on our faith in God, prayers and support from loved ones.”
Chris & Andrena K, SC