"Days trying for a baby: 2999 (over 8 years)
Doctors consultations: 62
Blood tests: 64
IVF cycles: 11
Amount spent: $66,000
'After all this time waiting, our dreams have come true, we are beyond excited to announce that our baby is due in February.'"
That was the announcement Australian blogger Carly Ellen Lee had prepared to send to family and friends when the last round of her IVF treatments seemed to actually be working. She and her husband chose to implant the last of their embryos with little hope that the pregnancy would take. But it did take, and weeks later Lee was still pregnant.
"We were cautiously optimistic. Don't tell people just in case, don't get too excited we told ourselves," Lee wrote in a recent Facebook post. "Our second blood test a week later was great, things were looking better. Perhaps we could share our news? Our third bloods a week after that were right on track, perfect.
Then the pregnancy symptoms started to kick in. Do you know how good it feels to finally actually feel pregnant?"
Symptoms that many other pregnant people dread — exhaustion, morning sickness, constantly having to pee — were a godsend to Lee, who said that those symptoms finally made her pregnancy feel real.
"We started booking in appointments and scans. Making plans. Bringing out the baby things. I ordered some things on the internet. I wrote lists of what I had, what we needed. Where did we put that list of baby names we had selected last time? I downloaded the pregnancy app. 6 weeks gestation, our baby is the size of a lentil. Amazing," she wrote. "We allowed ourselves to relax a little and talk about our future. Our future as parents. Finally after all this time our dreams had come true. Everyone was right, it did finally happen. Why did I ever think we wouldn't eventually fall pregnant? It was all worth it."
Then, suddenly, the pregnancy failed. And all of their hopes and dreams and planning ended.
"One moment all our dreams had come true, the next the feeling of tearing followed by gushes of blood, pain, warmth, more blood, not slow leaking blood, bleeding, flowing, so much blood, clots, tissue, so much pain. All our dreams and hopes... gone. Shattered. Over. Everything covered in blood," Lee wrote.
After going through the ache of two miscarriages and years of failed IVF, Lee and her husband have decided not to try again. Lee wrote in her post about feeling that the miscarriage was her fault, and that her body had failed her and that she had failed her husband.
"Do you know what it's like to hear you [sic] husband cry for the loss of your baby? A child that he will never get back," she wrote.
But it's important to remember that infertility isn't the fault of the woman or her body. Lee suffered through losing her pregnancy just as her husband did, and doesn't deserve added guilt.
"How can we possibly pick ourselves up and try again when this journey has brought nothing but unhappiness and despair above all else.
I can't imagine adding anymore numbers to our list, no more blood tests, appointment, needles, procedures, scans, money, no more drugs, no more IVF cycles and please no more miscarriages. No more. It's over. We can't do this anymore."
Often what we hear when we talk about fertility treatments and IVF is the story of a pregnancy that finally sticks. Sure, there were years of struggle but at the end of that struggle there was a baby — so it was all worth it.
Those stories are wonderful, and completely worth celebrating, but they aren't the whole picture. Sometimes, years of struggling to conceive doesn't end with a baby. Sometimes, people have to stop trying — and we need to hear those stories, too.
Lee says she has been overwhelmed by the response to her post, from women who've had similar experiences. "So many people have reached out to share their stories of miscarriage and IVF with me, it's been heart warming," she tells Refinery29. "This is something thousands of women go through, we all need to speak up and share our stories and learn that miscarriage is not taboo."
Welcome to Mothership: Parenting stories you actually want to read, whether you're thinking about or passing on kids, from egg-freezing to taking home baby and beyond. Because motherhood is a big if — not when — and it's time we talked about it that way.
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