Hi, my name is Kaitlyn, and I have wanted to be a mother my whole life. I hate that it's come to this.
In my mid-twenties, I decided to take the Single Mom by Choice route, as I am very happy as a single woman and have never felt the need or want for a romantic partner, but I have always wanted a family of my own. I knew stability was important, so I worked toward buying myself a home, and in 2017, I finally did it! I was ready to try for my baby.
Everything started out fine. It was exciting and a little scary. My doctor was so supportive of my choice to become a single mother, which was a relief to me. I started the process of fertility treatments, all while building my nursery. The nesting process was cathartic for me, so I painted the room, I bought my crib, and I even bought a security blanket. Unfortunately, my exciting journey toward motherhood took a tragic turn. Even worse, while I had been originally led to believe my health insurance would cover fertility treatments after the first year, the reality was that my insurance company covers absolutely no fertility treatments for women who are not married to a man. (Yes! This is still 100% legal in 2021.)
I’ll spare you the gritty details, but I tried. And tried. And tried. I did everything right; and still nothing. Every time I tried, the period that followed (sorry, not sorry—this is part of the process) was just awful: debilitating cramps when I never got them before, nausea, migraines, heavier-than-ever bleeding. They lasted twice as long as normal and I would spend a few weeks devastated that yet again, I must have done something wrong.
Then, finally, one year after I started trying, I got a positive test. I had been too excited and tested earlier than I should have—but there it was, the double pink line staring back at me. I cried for an hour. I texted my closest friends to let them know I finally had good news. It was a Thursday, so I had the entire weekend to bask in my happiness, then I would call my doctor and tell her the good news.
I spent the next few days excitedly researching. When would my baby be due? (The same week as my birthday!) What would their zodiac sign be? (The same as mine!) What middle names went well with the first names I had picked out?
A week later, my period came again. It was just as awful as it had been the other times I had tried. I felt so stupid after that, having to tell the small group of people I’d shared my good news with the horrible truth: I had lost it.
A doctor’s appointment soon after confirmed that I had miscarried, and a discussion with my fertility specialist after that confirmed what I knew in my heart, but dreaded: I had miscarried at least two times before. Every attempt I had made had ended in an early miscarriage or no fertilization at all.
“This is good news,” she said cheerfully to me as I held back tears. “This means you can conceive.”
Sure, I thought. But I can’t keep it alive.
It’s not an uncommon thought. Guilt, shame, the feeling of being at fault for something you couldn’t control, but it doesn’t feel that way. Would it have been different if I was younger? Thinner? If I didn’t take that Advil for my headache? Would it have been different if I had skipped my inhaler, or not taken the antihistamine for my allergies? Would it have been different if I had eaten different food, or not gone for that hike?
The reality is no: it wouldn’t have been different. Deep down, the rational part of me knows that—but it does little to comfort me. Each failure has pushed me deeper and deeper into this dark place, this sadness I can’t shake off but keep carefully hidden. The “what if’s” haunt me. I find myself bursting into tears in the middle of the afternoon with no obvious trigger. I want to keep myself busy to distract myself from this terrible loneliness I feel, but I can’t bring myself to get up and do any of the things I used to love.
What’s worse, is that the doctor's appointment that followed brought me even worse news. One of my fallopian tubes was blocked, meaning IVF was likely my best shot at getting pregnant. Though I had been originally told that insurance would kick in after one year of trying, the sad truth was that my insurance would cover nothing. Why? Because I am not married to a man.
It seems insane that in 2021, this is still happening to people. It seems insane, but it is a reality. The price tag for IVF in Boston? No less than $45,000 to start, according to my doctor.
That doesn't cover medication. That doesn't cover sperm. That doesn't cover the birth. It just pays for the operation, and I had to pay for it all out of pocket. I resigned myself, and as heartbreaking as it was, I sold my house so I could instead pay for IVF. My symbol of stability, the nursery I had painstakingly prepared for my future child are all gone. To say I'm ashamed of where I am today would be a grievous simplification of the emotions I'm dealing with on a daily basis.
Further research led me to CNY Fertility Clinic in New York. They are a legitimate, low-cost fertility clinic. Through them, IVF starts at a little under $5,000--not including medication or sperm. I have to drive 3.5 hours each way for my appointments, but not including gas and lodgings for surgery, everything should come to about $15,000.
I have already paid for my medications, at $5,604.00. I have paid for sperm, which was $1,195.00 plus $210.00 for shipping. Sperm storage at CNY is $550.
I had to undergo a fresh round of genetic testing at CNY, which came to $200.00. The same day, I had a saline sonogram, and discovered polyps on my uterus. Finally, an answer for my repeated miscarriages. An answer my own doctor back at home couldn't give me. I will need surgery to remove the polyps.
When I contacted my doctor about scheduling surgery, however, and asking if I could do my monitoring with her instead of driving to New York every other day for two weeks, she informed me that because I was a patient at CNY; I was no longer her patient and she could not help me.
So now, I am going to have to drive to New York for every single appointment, no matter how short, including surgery—which includes overnight stays, and possibly hiring a driving service if I can't find someone to come with me, as I'm not allowed to leave the hospital without a driver after surgery and Uber doesn't count.
Because of this surgery, some of my mediations may expire—and I may need to buy another round of medications for another $5,000 +. The costs are stacking up, despite going to a low-cost clinic. I'm scared that I will spend so much money trying to get pregnant that when the baby finally comes, I'll be starting over with little to nothing.
I know the nay-sayers will read this and tell me that if I can't afford a baby, I shouldn't be having one. The reality is that most people don't have to pay $15-20,000 upfront to have a baby. Most people get pregnant for free, sometimes when they don't even mean to. I may not be going the traditional route, but I can't help but think that it isn't fair to ask me to pay so much for something that comes so naturally to almost everyone else. It isn't fair that insurance won't cover my medical expenses because I am not married to a man.
In addition to everything else, I am desperately trying to save up money so I can afford my own place again. I am watching what little I made from my house sale dwindle away with every payment I make toward IVF and it's terrifying me.
This is where GoFundMe comes in. My friends have been urging me for months to make a GoFundMe to help with all these costs, but honestly, the idea of it terrified me. It terrifies me even now. I don't want people to look down on me, to think I'm a beggar or that I'm looking for free handouts. I'm not. The system has failed me, and I am just doing whatever I can so I don't drown in medical debt before I even get the chance to start my family.
Every little bit helps. Every share helps. Every kind word helps. This process is incredibly lonely. Doing this alone is painful and scary and any support I can get, I will take.