For the majority of us, being a mother is something we assume will just happen while we are working towards our dreams. For too many of us, however, the real “work” is when we try to get pregnant. Trying to conceive is much harder than most people think— especially for women who have concentrated on their careers for years and are “ready” to have a baby later on in life.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, between 1978 and 2000 the birth rates for women ages 35 to 39 and 40 to 44 more than doubled. And with an increase in age, there also comes an increase in infertility, which can be the most trying and difficult thing a woman will ever endure.
Working for a company called HealthWatchSystems, which specializes in infertility tools, I’ve heard a multitude of stories from women whose infertility has caused them to experience a roller coaster of emotions including desperation, resolve and sheer elation— stories that would make anyone appreciate what they have and never take their ability to “make it happen for themselves” for granted.
Suzette Keller is one of the women that I have had the pleasure of meeting. She is an amazing mother-to-be thanks to advanced (and affordable!) technology. Here is her story:
My husband, John, and I met in 1991. We were married in 1997. We waited to have children so that we could prepare for our future— which we thought, naturally, included children. I became pregnant in 1998, but it was an ectopic pregnancy. I needed to have surgery and my filopian tube was severed. My OB/GYN had me take Clomid, and after three cycles— three months— informed me it would be better if I saw a specialist. The specialist suggested that we try IUI (Intra-uterine inseminations). After five failed attempts, he then suggested that I try in vitro fertilization. This was a very costly option. Our first attempt was unsuccessful, or so the doctor’s test had shown. Three weeks later the test was positive, but with no drugs to sustain the pregnancy, I miscarried. My husband and I decided that if we had to go through this we needed to find the best, so we ended up at Columbia University in NYC. The first two in vitros there were unsuccessful. Thanks to a high increase in drugs though, we did have enough embryos to freeze three. The downside of that was my hair got very thin and started to fall out and my teeth became loose. I needed to go to the periodontist to have my gums cut and resewn. I decided to take a break and give my body a chance to recover.
That summer, I was diagnosed with sarcoidosis. I was in the hospital for two weeks. I started to think that parenthood might not be the path we were meant to take. I was devastated! All I wanted was a baby.
Four months later, I was pregnant. I miscarried at nine weeks. I was taking prednisone and other medications to strengthen my lungs and also to get rid of the ringworm I was covered in due to a low immune system. I started thinking that maybe some things just aren’t meant to be.
We decided to try adoption. We hired a famous lawyer and felt like this was going to be it. Advertising an 800 number we sat by the phone and waited. There are some crazy people in the world and we heard from a lot of them. Nothing ever became of this and the emotional toll was enormous.
My church suggested to consider adopting from Russia. We would be able to keep an orphan for a couple of weeks in the summer, return him/her back to Russia and wait to see if we were lucky enough in a years time to adopt a child. I looked into it, but couldn’t do it. After wanting a child so long, returning it was not an option for me.
In May 2005, John gave me the OV-Watch (www.ovwatch.com) for Mother’s Day. I was dieting and trying to get back into shape so I put trying to conceive on hold for a few months.
In time, I starting to become optimistic again. I went for a check up in July and the plan was to use the embryos in January. Of course by August, I was really impatient.
John suggested I try the watch. Not being able to wait until January, I did. In September, after only one cycle on the OV-Watch, I was pregnant!
Suzette’s story is extreme, but trouble conceiving at any age is not uncommon.
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine: “One in ten women at any point in time will be having difficulty getting pregnant and one in four women will have trouble conceiving at some point in their reproductive life. If you break it down by age: With women 30–34 years of age, one in seven have difficulty conceiving, age 35-39: one in five, and 40–44: one in four have difficulty conceiving.
If a woman begins trying to have children between 20 and 24, her chance of success is 94 percent, 25–29: 91 percent, 30–34: 85 percent, 35–39: 70 percent, and 40–44 only 34 percent will eventually conceive.”
Suzette says that it has all been worth it. She credits OV-Watch with helping her find her most fertile days of the month to conceive. Better timing made all the difference for her. She notes, “There is a lot more to this story: the extreme amount of money that we spent on treatments and medicine, the physical toll that it all took on my body and the emotional state that I was in.”
She continues, “The basic human desire to procreate, which is in all of us, created a need so ingrained into my husband and I that the everyday feeling of missing out on what should be a normal phase of life was just unbearable. My baby is due May 25th— I can’t wait!”