Tens of thousands of people turn to fertility clinics every year in the US to help them grow their families. For many of those hopeful parents, the process can be an emotional rollercoaster and expensive.
Alexandra Maier of Milwaukee is one mother who tried in vitro fertilization and other methods when she was trying to get pregnant.
And then…the pandemic hit.
Maier shares her experience as part of the Pandemic Pregnancy Project, which is documenting the stories of families and their babies and how they’ve been affected by COVID-19.
I had fertility treatments lined up to start at the end of March 2020. Then, COVID-19 hit and the stay-at-home order came down.
When I called the clinic a few days later, the nurse said, “I’m really sorry, we aren’t doing any procedures. We’re not seeing any patients. Fertility treatment has been deemed ‘non-essential.”
So then — because this is something that was essential for me in order to have my child — having treatments put on pause and not knowing when the end date of that pause would be was super scary.
And then, I call in April. “Sorry, we can’t do it this month.”
May. “We’re really sorry. We can’t do it this month either.”
In June, finally they say, “We can get you in.”
The first procedure we did was an IUI. And then two weeks later, I got another negative pregnancy test like I’d seen so many times before. After three unsuccessful rounds of IUI, we decided to transition to IVF.
My doctor told me, “If you get COVID during any point of your treatment plan, we have to stop. You’re out all of that money. You have to pay for it again to do it again. And you have lost that chance.”
COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin were surging and I didn’t know if a simple interaction would get me sick or not. We had been dealing with infertility for six years at that point and I couldn’t lose this chance because I was finally feeling hopeful.
The supply chain issues we had throughout the pandemic didn’t just affect toilet paper. It also affected IVF meds. And when I went to the pharmacy to pick up these extremely expensive medications, they told me, “We don’t know if we have them all in stock.”
If I don’t have this medication, then we might have to cancel the cycle.
Luckily, they had it.
They were able to do an egg retrieval after a lot of at-home injections. The egg retrieval gave us three viable embryos.
After my embryo transfer, I tested early at home. It was so early in the morning I looked at it and like, “Here it is again, another negative.” So, I leave it on the counter. I’m crying. I go back to bed. I’m done.
But, this was a positive pregnancy test.
I’d gotten so used to negative tests that I just thought it would be negative and I was too tired to look at it closely.
I tested every day leading up to our blood draw and the line kept getting darker.
Like, it’s happening. It’s really happening this time.
I just really hope that for those that do IVF during the pandemic that they get their miracle babies, too.
Editor’s note: Alexandra Maier of Milwaukee welcomed a baby girl in July 2021. They enjoy snuggling and reading books together.