Choosing medical treatment for infertility is taking a risk. When you first see an infertility specialist, you have no idea what the diagnostic treatments will detect, which treatments your doctor will recommend, or whether you will get pregnant and carry a pregnancy to term. Your choices would be limited if couples in the past had not been willing to go out on a limb. They took risks so that new technologies could be discovered.
I have had the privilege of specializing in infertility counseling for the past 20 years, and I have watched amazing advancements in the field of reproductive medicine during this time I served for 10 years on the National Board of Resolve, and I will always remember the guest speakers at one of our fundraising dinners.
The guest speakers were Dr. Howard Jones, his wife, Judith and Roger Carr, and their daughter, Elizabeth (who was 19 years old at the time). Elizabeth was the first “test tube baby” born in the US on December 28, 1981, and Howard Jones was the Carr’s doctor. I was deeply moved as I listened to each of them tell their stories of this monumental event. Dr. Jones told the story of standing outside the delivery room surrounded by the media who were anxiously waiting to see if a healthy and normal baby was conceived in a test tube in the lab. Dr. Jones said he had prepared 2 press releases…one was in his right pocket celebrating Elizabeth’s birth, and the other was in his left pocket expressing sorrow if something went wrong. This was a brave doctor who took a huge risk to explore, learn about, and transfer embryos created in a test tube into the uterus of an infertile woman.
As I listened to the Carr’s tell their story, I had tears streaming down my face. Many others in the room did too. I tried to imagine how they managed their fears and anxieties as the embarked upon this IVF journey.
If they had not taken this leap of faith, I would not have the privilege of being a mother to my son, and the millions of IVF babies would not be alive. I was, and still am, grateful for their courage in taking this huge risk. I am not sure I am that brave.
Elizabeth is now 29 years old, and there are now over 4 million in-vitro children world wide. There are about 58,000 IVF babies born in the US each year. I am so very grateful to those who have been risk taking pioneers in the field of reproductive medicine.
I also admire the bravery of each man, woman, and couple who enter into the unknown journey of infertility treatments. You make difficult decisions each cycle about whether you choose to continue infertility treatments, and if so, which treatments, and at what cost emotionally, mentally, physically, spirituality, and financially? These are tough choices, and they are always made thoughtfully and with a giant leap of faith.
Today is a good day to celebrate your strength and courage as you seek to become parents. Honor yourself in this process. I honor you and those who have blazed this trail before you.