When you can't get pregnant but don't have infertility coverage

Apr 20, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. ET
Image: Getty Images/Thinkstock/Royalty Free /

When I was trying to get pregnant with my fourth child, it didn't happen right away and I was unable to do anything about it because my insurance didn't cover infertility services.

I didn't have trouble conceiving my first three kids. Each pregnancy came easy, and each pregnancy was pretty textbook. I knew I was fortunate, but I didn't realize how fortunate until I started back down the road again a few years after my third baby was born and nothing happened.

I was mildly surprised when the first month came and went without success, but I figured it would happen the next month. But it didn't, and the months proceeded to fly by with increasing disappointment and disbelief until two years had passed. After the first year came and went, I visited my OB-GYN, who gave me charts to fill out (a skill I had mastered already) and a few suggestions. I returned later with no happy tale to tell and was really bummed that there wasn't anything he could really do.

The medical insurance we had at the time didn't cover infertility testing or treatment… and honestly, even insurance that does cover it doesn't pay out like other medical issues. You see, infertility isn't seen as a medical problem because, to insurance companies, having babies is optional. And when you've reached the end of a year and haven't conceived on your own, if you don't have the extra funds available for further testing and help, you're out of luck.

Even when my doctor scheduled exploratory surgery to see if the reason for my secondary infertility was due to endometriosis (I have always suffered from excruciatingly painful periods), the insurance company refused to cover it. They said that I had to instead try taking birth control pills to see if that alleviated the pain before they'd agree to cover surgery that could actually address the problem (and in the meantime, restore my fertility).

So not only was I unable to get pregnant, I was also out of hope. After two years of trying to conceive, I did get a positive pregnancy test, but my joy was short-lived as it ended in miscarriage a couple weeks later (when we were out of town at a wedding, of course).

Completely discouraged, I didn't want to try anymore, and for a year I put thoughts of another baby aside. When we tried again, I got pregnant right away and bore another healthy baby. The mystery of my secondary infertility was never explained, but I will never forget how awful those years were.

Because it was a fourth baby that I wanted, and not a first, I never felt that I deserved to fret about my lack of conception, as though the feelings of loss that I experienced every month when there was no baby on board weren't valid. And it definitely kept me from saving money and aggressively seeking treatment.

Infertility is painful, as is secondary infertility, and those without the means to do something about it often find themselves suffering in silence. While my story had a happy ending several years later, not everyone's does. If you're struggling with infertility but can't do a whole lot about it, my heart has been there, and is with you.

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