A Thanksgiving Offering to Fertility Patients
PathtoFertility is a team effort. A Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut team effort. Here's a blog by one of our most beloved team members, Nurse Practioner, Monica Moore. One of the most read blogs in the last four years was a blog that she wrote about how it felt to be "on the other end of the negative pregnancy test phone call". Today's blog is about gratitude. Me, I'm grateful for Monica for putting together her thoughts in such an eloquent and poignant way to share with us all. ~Lisa Rosenthal
It’s Thanksgiving week, and I was speaking to one of my sweet and beautiful patients who had just been told that she had no normal embryos to transfer post Comprehensive Chromosome Screening (CCS) cycle.
Of course, we were both upset at the results, but, true to her character, she accepted the results graciously, even taking the time during this difficult and emotionally charged conversation to thank me and Dr. Hurwitz for our role in her care. Unbelievable that she would think of us when our role lately seems to be only that of harbinger of bad news.
First, a little background. (She was asked and gave permission for me to share her story anonymously.) She married late in life, not finding her true partner until she was 39.They quickly realized that they would need help creating their family, so she came in for her initial consult at age 40. Luckily, she was able to achieve a pregnancy as a result of an IVF cycle, and her little boy is now almost 2 and the center of their busy lives.
Knowing that she wanted more children, she returned to see us at age 42, and was told that she “had the ovaries of a younger woman,” that is, she had many follicles and blood markers that indicate good ovarian function. She completed her first IVF cycle with CCS and it was found that she had no normal embryos. She wanted to do another cycle right away, but it was financially a challenge as her insurance was not covering any of these cycles due to her age. She was able to ask for a loan from a family member, and completed another cycle, where the embryos made never made it to the blastocyst stage and were unable to be biopsied. The most recent cycle was only able to occur as a result of her taking out a loan against her 401k in order to finance it and, as stated above, no normal embryos.
Apparently her “younger” ovaries were deceiving us. They looked younger by clinical markers but were not making good quality, chromosomally normal embryos.
What next? This is a smart lady in the medical field, able to easily understand the language of fertility treatment. Dr Hurwitz has reviewed all of the stats and the numbers with her, she knows the chance of achieving a healthy pregnancy with her own eggs is low and, at this point, she and her husband do not want to utilize donor eggs.
Problem is that she is a person, not a compilation of numbers and statistics. An amazing, giving person with feelings and desires who is also a great mom. She deserves to have another baby. We discussed her options and she realizes that if she went to a bank to ask for money for an investment, that her “rate of return” would be low in this case. But what is the risk of not trying? How do you quantify that? Would she always wonder “what if?” It’s just money, right? What about the fact that she is using money that she would be using for her existing family (college funds, home repairs) to finance the potential for another child. How does she reconcile that in her decision-making process?
At the end of our conversation she asked me the question, “What would you do if you were me? If I was your sister or your friend”? I actually consider her a friend, we have known each other a few years, shared feelings and thoughts and my suggestions are important to her decision-making. I can hear her pain and understand that she doesn’t feel that her family is complete, but I also know the financial and emotional investment that she has made for the past 2 years and see the toll this is taking on her.
I told her that I honestly didn’t know (not helpful, I realize). I can’t possibly know what it feels like to have to make this kind of decision, but what I do know is how it feels to be inadequate. All my years of experience and degrees from school haven’t prepared me to make her dream come true. What I can do, though, and what I plan to do, is to help her through this process, regardless of outcome.
It takes courage to open up and share feelings and experiences.
I will admit that even if we are not experiencing your exact experience, we share your sense of helplessness.
So this message is a tribute to her and others like her who let us into their lives and invite us to be part of their very personal journeys.
We are grateful.
~Monica Moore MSN, RNC