Infertility is gut-wrenching and isolating.

My husband and I started trying for a baby in 2020. We were finally in a good place in our lives where we felt comfortable to add a little one to our family and thought since it was so easy for everyone else around us, that it would be easy for us, too.

After a year and a half of trying, we were told by doctors that it was too soon to be tested for infertility. We ended up changing doctors and found out that we both had fertility issues. They told us that no amount of Clomid, trigger shots, or intrauterine insemination would help us and that we needed to go straight to IVF.

It was like a knife to the chest. I felt so alone and isolated because no one close to me had ever gone through IVF. I saw my friends who had babies or who were pregnant, and I felt alone – like I did not belong with them because neither one of us could relate to the other. When we met with our fertility specialists, I felt ashamed. I hated that I was now in this labeled population of “infertile,” and I hated even more feeling like a failure.

Once we had a plan in place, my husband and I set to work fighting for funding. Infertility is not covered by any health insurance companies in our state – whether it says so or not. The tricky thing is some (keyword there) testing is covered, but the actual IVF is not. Which means you are looking at a bill anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 depending on the clinic you go to. Take the feeling of “this is financially impossible” and add “I’m so ashamed” and you get a big, horrendous, “why me?

So now we sit, 401K’s nearly gone, and every investment we have readjusted. Every penny we found in the couch cushions has been sent away for one chance at a miracle. One. Chance. And here are the things people don’t seem to understand: IVF does not mean that in nine months we will be bringing home a baby.

It is a vicious game of Red Light, Green Light meets Monopoly. You test and test until you get a green light to start injections. Then, red light! You have to hope you have good-looking follicles/eggs. You got ‘em? Great, green light for the retrieval. Red light! You have to hope they grow into embryos. They grew? Greenlight for the transfer. Wait, red light! You have to wait to see if it embeds into your uterus. Then, and only then, can you pray that in 12 weeks’ time you get to pass go and finally have your own pregnancy announcement.

It took me two years to finally feel unashamed of my label because my label doesn’t make me a failure – it makes me a warrior. I am the one in eight you see on an ad while scrolling. We are more than just an ad or a statistic, more than just a stigma or a stereotype. We are more than our infertility.

Erica W., WA

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