Advanced Maternal Age Infertility and Finding Hope
I am mentally exhausted. I try my best to stay positive and to keep my disposition sunny. This week it was harder to do. I was looking for an infertility support group led by a therapist and for the life of me, I can't seem to find one. I was TWICE offered a group for women doing donor egg IVF. One therapist encouragingly told me "you're headed there anyway" OUCH! This was via a terse phone call and having no information about my medical history other than my age. Is there a support group for being treated poorly by therapist? I now need that one, too.
I am so thankful that I have the support of the Fertility Fam and can share my experiences with the ladies on YouTube. It has been quite heartwarming when they reach out to me directly via email and offer support and encouragement. They also share their personal journey and struggles and it makes me feel less alone. I had no idea there were so many women suffering, mostly in silence.
I wonder how many more women are out there...suffering. I wish I could find them all and give them a big hug. This last week, support came in the strangest form. I was visiting my dermatologist, Dr. Monica Halem. I have been a patient of Dr. Halem's since 2014. I was on Accutane at the time for acne vulgaris. I've gone less over the years, just because my acne was under control and I stopped getting cystic acne after the medicine. (The medicine is very powerful and women are not allowed to get pregnant while taking it due to horrible birth defects. They make you take a pregnancy test before each month. I'm almost afraid to think about what it might have done to my eggs. Almost.) A few months ago, I read an article in The Cut about a woman who had undergone IVF at age 44 and had the doctors implant "abnormal" embryo. She went on to have two healthy happy babies. That woman was Dr. Halem!
I was excited to see her for two reasons. One my acne had returned (thanks fertility meds!) and two I wanted to tell her personally that she had inspired me. Well lo and behold as I am sitting in the waiting room a pregnant woman waddles out of the restroom and I do a double take. It was Doctor Halem. Wow. She's like an IVF unicorn. She has to be either 47 or 48.
When she came in to see me, I congratulated her on the baby and clarified if it was number two or three. She confirmed it was number three and she was having a girl. I told her she was my IVF unicorn and I had read about her. I told her I was so sorry to hear about her multiple miscarriages and told her that I had one last year and was still in therapy trying to process it. "How many did you have?" I asked gently. She looked me square in the eyes and plainly noted "Seven." Wow. My eyes started to fill up with tears. "How did you get through that?" She said she got a dog, so that she could mother something. Something about that moment and perhaps my reaction, made her visibly soften. She reached out and put her hand on my arm and asked where I was on my journey. She shared bits of her story that weren't in the article and it made me feel heard and understood in a way that no therapist ever had. She had walked more than a mile in my shoes and she had made it to the other side. "Remember" she cautioned, this baby was made with a 44-year-old egg. I nodded my head and quietly said, "I know. But I am going to get pregnant, I just know it. I just need the doctors to believe." She nodded. She understood my persistence in the face of medical advice telling me it was impossible. Some how her also being a doctor and also questioning the medical community made it more powerful.
I left her office with a bag full of creams, prescriptions and a newly refreshed soul. I nearly skipped from 5th Ave through Central Park back to Central Park West to climb on the B train. It felt like I was walking on air. Better than that, my belief in magic, miracles and the power of positivity was renewed. Miracles can and do happen. I have to keep working toward mine.
Read about Dr. Halem and how she successfully navigated IVF here: