I didn’t expect to hear the words, “I am sorry, there is no heartbeat,” at my first ultrasound. But those are seven words I will never forget. On the drive home, it hurt. My husband squeezed my hand to reassure me it would all work out. I needed time to mourn, but a storm was brewing.
In a short eight-month span, at the age of twenty-eight, I lost two pregnancies, was diagnosed with balanced Robertsonian translocation (a chromosome disorder), Factor V Liden (a blood clotting disorder), and bladder cancer. My dreams of starting a family were slipping farther away every time I met with a new doctor.
It never crossed my mind that one day I might need fertility resources. Looking back, I’m so thankful my husband worked in Washington D.C., which gave us access to Walter Reed Medical Center and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital.
When doctors identified my chromosome abnormality, they referred me to a specialist. My chromosome abnormality made me a high-risk pregnancy and the genetic counselor helped me understand my unique situation and reproductive risks. She assured me if I got pregnant again, I would receive a noninvasive prenatal test to screen for chromosomal abnormalities. I would also receive diagnostic testing to see if my baby would carry the same chromosome structure as me.
My husband and I took classes at the Art Institute of Washington, an IVF contractor for military personnel at Walter Reed. We learned more about infertility, our reproduction risks, and treatments that would increase our chances of a healthy pregnancy. After attending IVF classes, we felt Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) with In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) was our best option.
While IVF as a military spouse is expensive, it’s more expensive on the economy. One treatment of the IVF was going to cost my husband and me $7,000. While this is a lot, other treatment facilities outside the military and without military discounts in the area were double the cost. #whatiwantyoutoknow is you should never be afraid or ashamed to utilize the programs available through the military. While they are limited, they are quality.
Healing and Hope
I was right. Time allowed me to mourn. The miscarriages I had still hurt and the thought of those two precious lives pop into my head at the most random times. But I am grateful that the military has covered all our medical expenses. My husband and I would still be paying debts to hospitals for cancer treatments, chromosome testing, genetic screening, and ER visits. Instead, we are enjoying a healthy life without the added financial burden and two beautiful children now three and five years old.
I hope that my story brings you one step closer to finding the answers you need as a military spouse struggling with infertility. I hope you find strength and support on your road to motherhood.