I was 26 when we decided we were ready to start a family. I had been dreaming of this moment since the day we got married and my heart was so full thinking of the life that lay ahead of us. We were going to be great parents.
Four long, heartbreaking years later, I find myself still waiting for that dream to come true.
When we first found out we would need to rely on fertility treatments to get pregnant, of course, we were devastated. I never imagined this is what it would take to start a family. I had the same hopes and dreams as many other women (you know, finding out I was pregnant the first month of trying and surprising my husband with a "World's Best Daddy" onsie).
What turned out to be equally as painful was the realization that in our state, insurance does not cover any of the costs related to fertility treatments. After two rounds of IUI, we knew the right choice for us was to move into In Vitro Fertilization. This decision also came with a $12,000 price tag and an ever-present worry about how we were going to pay for it all out of pocket.
"We'll take a year off and save," we said. And we did. We saved enough to pay for our first treatment cycle and we thought our worries were over. We have never been more wrong.
In the last year, we have been through more as a couple than I ever thought we would encounter throughout our entire lives together. The unceasing anguish of four failed IVF cycles took its toll on our marriage as we tried to navigate our own emotions while supporting one another, too. "Everything will be alright as long as we have each other," we would say, but things are never that easy. We worked hard to be there for one another, and we were. We are. But there is this lingering worry about how we will continue on when what lies ahead of us carries a $17,000 price tag.
When we first began our IVF journey and would tell people it's not covered by insurance in Maine, they would say, "You guys should start one of those crowd- funding things!" I would cringe at the thought. I hated seeing those myself, and a crowdfunding plea for IVF, I did not want to appear that desperate. The things people would think about me!
I've changed a lot since then. When we first sought help for our struggle with infertility, I made it my mission to make sure no one knew. "When are you guys going to have kids?" everyone would ask. "Oh, gosh, not for at least a few more years!" I would say, and it felt like a little piece of me died every time I said it. Looking back, my reasons for keeping our struggle a secret were the exact same reasons I refused to ask for any sort of financial help--even $30,000 later. I was too worried about what other people would think.
I have spent my whole life creating an image for other people. I did all the 'right' things, in the 'right' order for everyone else just as much as I did them for myself. How sad is that? It has only been in the last year that I have learned that people are always going to judge you and point fingers but that their opinion of you is just that...their opinion. I have let others be my biggest limitation my whole life and for once, I am going to do exactly what my heart tells me I need to do instead of letting my fear decide for me.
IVF is controversial. There are undoubtedly those people who loathe the idea of it (believe me, I have already encountered my fair share of them) and there are those who just don't understand it. Both are okay. I don't expect everyone to support our journey, or even agree with it. Our decision to use crowdfunding to help us build a family is not something we take lightly. In fact, this has been one of the hardest things that we have ever done and has only come after months and months of deliberation.
But it comes down to this: Right now, there are people who want to help us. Family and friends who know how much I want to carry a child of my own and what great parents we will be someday. Family and friends who want this as badly for us as we want it for ourselves. We don't know what will come as a result of our crowdfunding, and no matter what happens, this will not be the end for us. But what I do know is, for us, even putting it out there is another small victory in this long, unyielding road that is IVF.