Every NIAW we participate in the Blogger’s Unite initiative without question. This is our time to reach a new set of eyes through our words, and our story, to make a change and be the voice. Those who know our story, follow our blog, or have supported us through the years, know that Chris and I are a united front. Ben and Jerry, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Ham and Burger… you get the point. Our posts are born from both perspectives, this one is no different. Our infertility has changed so many aspects of our lives that it would take a thick, way too thick, autobiography to tell our tale. We've had dreams shattered, plans ruined, financial turmoil, and psychological breakdowns all for a common goal of starting our family. This is why we hope you-infertility advocates, congressmen, lobbyists, and other interested readers will resolve to know more about…surviving infertility.
“Just breathe Candace,” as I tried to calm myself. The wind was removed from my lungs which made the fall of my heart into my stomach much harder. My husband, Chris, made a space on the bathroom floor and just sat with me. I couldn't talk because at that moment in time I was mute. I couldn't think, because at the time it was too much acute pain for my mind to process. We just sat there amongst our sobs and laid on the cold floor in silence. It was not until an hour later that I would walk out of that bathroom greeting two cameramen who were also obviously emotionally affected by our journey. How could they not? It was only two months ago, they started watching the infertility struggle first hand through their lens, something most do not share. At this point, I had already had my 5th surgery, and this was my 6th and final IVF transfer. My doctors were closing the door on our assisted reproduction journey because my body simply couldn't handle it anymore. I was on national TV, participating in a documentary of a couple’s struggle with infertility when we heard those words, “Candace I am so sorry…” I just tuned out after that. It was a curse, like Groundhogs Day the movie. The same result every time. My uterus had given up and Mother Nature had stripped me of my right as a woman. With detected precancerous cells and a looming hysterectomy if this last IVF round was not successful, it was a struggle just to breathe, just to want to breathe, after hearing those words, “You are not pregnant.”
We had enough. Put your hand in the infertility fire, burn it, put it back in hoping for a different outcome, burn it again. We were motivated and would have put our hand back in that fire if we could afford it, if our bodies and psyches could cope with the rigors of it, and if there was a chance of a different outcome. With Candace’s precancerous cells and unreceptive uterus, we had to know when it was time to change directions. With all of our research going into IUI, IVF, and natural conception, we were totally ignorant about alternative family starting/building options. We decided it was time to LEARN! Guess what, there is more education out there about how to change a flat tire than there is about how to initiate an adoption! And forget about learning the ins and outs of surrogacy and how to start that process! As we dug deeper into adoption (with the premature assumption that surrogacy was far too expensive … only movie stars can afford that right?) we learned about the costs associated with adopting a child, domestic or foreign. “Don’t they pay you to adopt a child?” was a common question we got. Uhm, no! The costs are incredible, as in some four year degrees are less expensive than adopting a child. “Can’t you just go to places like China and pick up a baby?” Wrong again, the wait for an infant from China can last several years. But, all was not lost. We learned about how the adoption process works, teamed up with an adoption agency, and started looking into how on Earth we would raise the funds to afford adoption. Just as we were nearly completing our adoption approval process, we faced yet another learning opportunity, someone offered to be our surrogate. Guess where you go to learn all things surrogacy? We had no clue at the time, but quickly learned that nearly everything we thought we knew about surrogacy was wrong … like it is only for the rich and famous.
We did not give up hope. I would be a mother, I just did not know how. Financially we were ruined. Surgeries and fertility procedures had long drained our nest egg. This had been my last chance at IVF because my oncologist detected precancerous cells that had necessitated a hysterectomy. I would no longer have the ability to bear a child in my own womb. So the grim situation was that we had no money, no changes in legislation like The Family Act, S 881/HR 1851 to make this possible, and no uterus. No matter how bleak the state was for us, it was the heart’s intentions of a mother and father. That beat, no matter how faint, still hung on and despite all of the obstacles we had built up around us; hope was the spark that would fuel our drive to keep pursuing our family. Those closed doors would soon become invisible. There was a lot of praying, fundraising and most importantly continuously learning of what options we could seek out. We reached out to a local Resolve support group and learned about all of the resources that Resolve provides to help educate us. We spoke out about our infertility and shared our story boldly. That small amount of hope continued to grow and our life changed. We found a gestational carrier that would carry our child for us. This was a gift! The most amazing one you can give a couple.
Now What. (Chris)
Breathe, Learn, Hope. Although we are focused on infertility, that seems to be great advice for nearly any life-altering event-cancer, house fire, family loss, or any other catastrophic life event. The unusual thing about infertility though, the support for those going through infertility from government agencies and insurance companies is simply not there … absent. Why is this? Cancer is an awful, life shattering illness. Candace and I have both felt the fringes of cancer’s icy fingers with her precancerous cells and my brain tumor. But there are TONS of resources out there for cancer patients, as there should be. If your house catches on fire, what do you do? You tell people. You tell your insurance company, you tell your family, you tell your church. What do they do? They initiate a process to reimburse you for your loss, they let you stay with them until this terrible storm blows over, and they hold a clothing and food collection to make sure that you are not left without during this seemingly insurmountable transition period that you face. Why is the same not true for those with infertility? Candace and I hope that our efforts will remove the misconception that infertility is a taboo problem that should be dealt with only by the two people facing it. We hope that insurance companies will start broader coverage of infertility treatments as the facts and faces of people suffering with infertility are brought to light. 1 in 8, yep that isn’t a miscalculation, 1 in 8 couples face infertility in one fashion or another. It will only be after monumental changes in policy, public perception, and outreach that we can hope to change this staggering statistic. In honor of NIAW, we hope you resolve to know more about how those with infertility survive (by continuously remembering to Breathe, by ceaselessly trying to Learn, and with unwavering Hope) and resolve to actively participate in changing this statistic.
(Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.)
Learn more about the disease of infertility and how you can make a difference through uniting with Resolve below:
(Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.)
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