Sometimes fertility treatments do not end in a positive pregnancy test. Undergoing assisted reproductive technology (ART) is overwhelmingly taxing on every facet of a couple’s life, even to the point of destroying relationships. At what point do you decide to stop treatment?
Kristy and Dave have had their fair share of obstacles. Military families sacrifice so much, lack of coverage, and of course, pausing family building efforts until the family is reunited after deployment.
I met Kristy years ago at a local infertility support group meeting. She was the outgoing one, laughing and cracking jokes about her vagina and her stirrup shenanigans. Kristy is the kind of person that resets the thermostat in a room with joy when you meet her.
Together, Kristy and Dave share a different and very real perspective on their fertility struggle and I admire them for their ability to step out of the darkness and find happiness—even when the outcome was not what they had hoped for.
Here is what Kristy had to say when I asked her to get personal with FertilitySmarts:
This Is Us
They say opposites attract…and boy do they! Dave is extra tall and I’m extra small! He’s over 6’6” and I’m barely 5 foot nothing! He’s in the military and I’m an elementary teacher. We are total opposites, but we fit together like perfect puzzle pieces when it matters. We both love each other, our dogs, reading, spending time on the ocean, fishing, discovering new places and traveling.
Our differences make us unique, but they also bring us together. I found my soul mate and am forever grateful to be on this crazy journey called life with him.
Dave and I met in the summer of 2001, but it wasn’t love at first sight like most fairytales; it was more like you stay in your lane, and I’ll stay in mine! Months after working together, we finally talked and I agreed to go out on a date with him. We were inseparable after that first date. We were quickly falling in love, and then 9/11 happened. The world changed and so did we.
Dave is in the military and he left on September 12th. I thought we would be over, but we actually got engaged a few months later. Little did we know that our life was going to be full of ups, downs, and diagonals along the way.
I had a vision, a dream, and a plan of what my love story would look like…and boy is the big guy upstairs laughing His butt off at my “plans.”
How Our Fertility Journey Started
Dave was deployed to Iraq a year after we were married. We decided to try for a baby “just in case” something happened to him, but we didn't get pregnant before he left. We didn’t think much of it at the time, but we decided I wouldn’t go back on birth control after he returned from deployment and just let nature take its course.
Years into trying naturally, I still didn’t think anything was really wrong. I think I was just in denial because I just knew it would all work out in the end. For years, I tested, took my temperature, tracked, tried every position imaginable (including standing on my head after sex!), and nothing was working.
We decided after nine years (yes, nine!), to talk to my doctor. She said we should both get tested, but to make sure Dave went in first since his tests were easier, quicker and less expensive. We discovered quickly that we were dealing with male infertility.
We decided to try intrauterine insemination (IUI) first, mainly because of the cost. I was so excited I could hardly contain it. I couldn’t sleep before my first appointment and even woke up early just so I could go in and sit in the waiting room. This was it!
They told me they wanted to do an ultrasound first, and I was even excited about that. I’ve seen the movies where women get ultrasounds, laying on their backs with the belly goop going all over their belly and the image appears on the screen.
I knew there wouldn’t be a baby on the screen because my doctor said he wanted to check my follicles (whatever that was?!) and I wasn’t pregnant, but I was confused why I needed to get in stirrups. They never did that in the movies.
Well, I quickly learned that this was a totally different kind of ultrasound; the kind that used a wand and no belly goop! Little did I know that I would get up close and personal with that wand many, many times in the years to come!
But it would be all worth it in the end, or at least I thought. Everything went perfectly, except at the end of the two-week wait, the test was negative.
I didn’t understand how this could happen. We did everything right. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t stop crying.
There was only one line.
One line that would become my norm. One line that would be on every single test from here on out. One line that told me my dreams of having a child would not come true—ever! One line that would determine it all.
We tried a few more cycles of IUI before moving on to in vitro fertilization (IVF). We were hopeful and excited the first round of IVF because it didn’t matter how many swimmers we had, they literally hand picked out the best. We didn’t need millions, we only needed a few. Enough to fertilize my retrieved eggs.
All my tests came back glowing! Perfect lining, perfect, follicles, perfect uterus, and even perfect embryos. It was all perfect!
Until I saw the one line again.
It was devastating. Crushing. Life altering. This was supposed to work! This was our answer. This was the key to our diagnosis. This. But it wasn’t. That one line reminded me again, that it wasn’t. My body had failed me. Failed us. Again.
We tried IVF again, and a few more IUIs, but they all ended the same way—with one line.
Where are we now?
Last summer after going through multiple failed treatments again, Dave and I were talking in the middle of our kitchen. I asked what he wanted to do and I braced myself for his response. I just knew he wanted to try again, one last time, and I just didn’t want to. I was done. I wanted to move on, but I would go through it again for him.
As he slowly told me he was done and wanted to move on as he braced for my reaction. We both looked at each other is utter disbelief and relief. We were finally on the same page. We were done. We were ready to move on, and we were both happy about it.
We tried. We gave it our all and we lost, but we tried. Not everyone can say that!
We don’t regret moving on, and we definitely don’t regret all the times we tried and failed.
It’s been almost a year now, and we don’t regret our decision for one second. We don’t regret moving on, and we definitely don’t regret all the times we tried and failed.
What I Want You to Know
If I could scream anything from the rooftop, I would tell people that infertility sucks! It sucks big time.
Infertility treatments don’t work for everyone, but there is still hope. I don’t regret all the money, all the time and all the tears, because they really did bring us closer together. We didn’t let the loss tear us apart, and for that we are lucky.
We don’t have the ending we hoped and prayed for, but our story isn’t over yet. Our story just has a new chapter and a new path. We live life differently now. We are planning our life around us, and not the next treatment or the next cycle. It’s freeing.
We save our money now for different projects around the house and not the next treatment. We get excited about new adventures that we’re planning and we don’t get upset anymore when we see babies on TV or in shopping carts at the store.
We’re happy, and I never thought that was a possibility after the countless failed treatments and pregnancy tests that only showed one line, but we are.
Let’s Talk Money
Money….UGH! Here’s the thing, Dave and I are dually insured but infertility treatments are not covered at all by either of our insurance companies. Nothing! Zero, zilch, nada. Talk about another blow to the gut!
That means every office visit, every ultrasound, every single medication came out of our pockets. It adds up quickly. That is why we took so many breaks in between treatments—we were saving up for our next round. That is why our fixer-upper house is not finished nine years after buying it; we poured our money into our treatments. Tens of thousands of dollars!
Infertility in Numbers
In the infertility world (and in my own math-geek mind) everything is about numbers. How many follicles? How many embryos? What is your LH? What is your FSH? How many ml of each injectable medication will I take? How many times a day will I need to inject myself? So many numbers.
Here are some of my important numbers: 40, 15, 13, 9, 5, 3, 3, 2, 1 and 0.
- 40: How old I am.
- 15: The number of wonderful years I have been married to my amazing and loving husband.
- 13: The number of years we tried to conceive.
- 9: The number of years we were silent about our infertility.
- 7: The number of failed medicated IUIs we have tried.
- 3: The number of canceled cycles.
- 3: The total number of beautiful embryos we transferred.
- 2: The number of failed IVF cycles.
- 1: The number of lines I see on every pregnancy test.
- 0: The number of babies I have in my arms.
I could also add the numbers 10 million (the number of tears I have cried throughout the 13 years) and one thousand (the number of pregnancy tests I have peed on).
You can read more about Kristy and Dave on their blog, TTC a Taxson Baby
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