There are 7.5 million women in America who cannot conceive or carry a child to term, according to the Center for Disease Control, and 6.9 million of them seek infertility treatment. That boils down to about 11.3% of the population. A portion of those women get a happy ending; the one that ends - after two, three four rounds of treatment - in a baby.
For Australian blogger Carly Ellen Lee (and thousands of women like her), her fertility treatment journey has not found that happy ending. Now, after a second miscarriage, she's sharing her devastating experience with the world. After 2,999 days (that's roughly 8 years), 130 needles, 11 cycles of IVF, two miscarriages and about $66,000 spent, Lee and her husband, Rob, have decided to stop trying. "Not a lot of positives come from infertility, but I want to change that," her blog says. "I want our journey and heartache to have amounted to something other than debt."
In a gut-wrenching Facebook post, Lee explained her choice. "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," she wrote.
Her most recent pregnancy was, in some ways, the couple's last hope; they used their very last frozen embryo. They were shocked when the pregnancy test came back positive. Lee began to experience pregnancy symptoms and cherished them, "tiredness, sickness, constant peeing" and all. They drafted a pregnancy announcement, bought baby clothes, made lists. And then, shortly after the six week mark, Lee felt a tear inside her.
"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," she wrote. "All our dreams and hopes ... gone. Shattered. Over. Everything covered in blood."
Like many women, Lee wrote that she feels like her body has betrayed the future both she and her husband envisioned as parents. It's not true (it's not her fault!), but for Lee, that's how it feels. "Grief, sorrow, guilt, despair, anger, disappointment, emptiness, fear, disgust, confusion, ending, ended, final," she wrote. "Do you know what it's like to hear you husband cry for the loss of your baby? A child that he will never get back? And to know you've caused all this pain and grief to him, to everyone else."
For now, Lee is just trying to hold it together through this loss. But she isn't alone. Women have been commenting on Lee's post, sharing their own experiences with prolonged infertility and infecundity. "I'm so sorry," one commenter wrote. "We haven't been through half the journey you have but we just had a similar experience and it is like having your heart ripped out of your chest and stomped all over."
In a response to one of her commenters, Lee did mention potentially trying alternative methods to finally get her rainbow baby. "It appears that it's genetic issues for us," she explained. "The next step will likely be donor eggs or embryos if we choose to go down that track."
[h/t Refinery 29]
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