Coping Through the Unexpected: Cancelled Fertility Treatment During COVID-19

By Angela

My husband and I have been trying to have a child since 2017. I got diagnosed with Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR) at the age of 30. I have a very low number and poor quality of eggs. When you go through three pregnancy losses, as well as two failed egg retrievals and transfers from in-vitro fertilization (IVF), you become a different person than you have ever imagined.  I grieved over my DOR diagnosis and knew it was going to be extremely difficult to get pregnant. Unfortunately, it meant that I would go through many rounds of IVF to potentially have a child who is biologically related to me. I could walk away and choose another alternative to build our family or continue moving forward with IVF. I chose IVF because I was almost at the home stretch of a success story when we conceived with our last remaining embryo. Then our story got cut short by a miscarriage. But I am not going to give up.

I was ready more than ever to start my fourth round of IVF. I was determined, with my fertility medicines and shots ready to go. Until I got an unexpected call from my fertility clinic. My nurse told me that all fertility treatments are cancelled until further notice due to COVID-19. My nurse told me that fertility treatments are considered elective and non-essential. I was in total shock and saddened as I began to rationalize why fertility treatments should be considered essential. I became more and more bitter. How is it that my diagnosis of infertility is considered elective? Why is the desire to become a mom through fertility treatments considered non-essential? What is the future of fertility treatments going to look like once they resume? I honestly don’t agree that fertility treatments are elective or in other words a choice. I didn’t choose to have infertility. I didn’t choose to do IVF, but it is my only option if we want to have a family biologically. You may look at me at the age of 32 and say that I have many years to start a family. That I should just calm down and relax. But the fact is that I actually don’t have a lot of time. My fertility clock is ticking. My fourth round of IVF that just got cancelled is my last chance to try with my own eggs.

Some people may think that IVF is not an emergency, so that is why fertility treatments are considered elective and non-essential. But just because it is not an emergency does not mean it is not urgent for patients like me. And other non-emergent health care is taking place in Massachusetts. In my eyes, fertility treatment is essential. When you have been trying to get pregnant for over three years, have endured lots of IVF shots and three pregnancy losses (including one where you saw the heartbeat), every opportunity matters, every month matters. You fight even harder to become a mom when you see a heartbeat for the first time. So how do I cope through the unexpected cancellation of my fertility treatment? I connect with others going through the same situation through social media and virtual support groups run by Resolve New England. I speak up and advocate in a peaceful manner.

COVID-19 is scary and should not be taken lightly. There need to be safety guidelines to protect providers and patients, while allowing fertility patients to have their reproductive right of treatment. The physician and the patient should then decide whether or not to proceed. I hope that fertility treatments can resume shortly so that I can finally bring home the child who my husband and I have been fighting to conceive.