This is mainly aimed towards those diagnosed with MRKH, but it can be for anyone that is diagnosed with infertility early in your life, i.e. before you start to try to have children naturally.
I was diagnosed with MRKH at 14… so I knew I would need to take an alternative path to becoming a parent way before I was ready to become one….but I was completely naïve about the cost and the process. Initially when you receive your diagnoses, you fear “I’ll never be a mother” and that can be depressing and isolating. Knowing you have options, and at least vaguely what the process looks like seems to help most girls when they’re first diagnosed. Having a bit of knowledge can also help educate and calm a new significant other that may have a hard time coping with the idea of possibly not having kids.
Here is a list of things “I” wish I knew when I were younger about this journey to become a mother. (compiled with the help of many ladies). If you even have an inkling that you might want to be a parent one day, these are our tips, and if you decide you don’t, then hey you might have a good chunk of change for an amazing vacation!
And yes most of these are aimed towards Surrogacy, just because that is the path I chose and have subsequently become an “expert” in, but most also apply to adoption.
General Tip--- SAVE , SAVE, SAVE!!! When I was first diagnosed, the doctors told me that IVF with a gestational carrier was an option to have a biological child, but that was it about it. No one ever told me to cost, lengthy process or anything else. My sister (only 3 years old than me and not yet a mother herself) instantly offered to be my carrier when the time came. So once I was married my husband and I went to the IVF doctor. We were SHOCKED by the process, and the money needed. We had no idea health insurance didn’t cover any of it. And that even if my sister were to carry for “free” there are tons of other costs associated with the process.
Start a savings account immediately, or ask your parents to start one for you. This is a great way to take control of the crappy situation you were just dealt and be proactive about your future. Even if you just put $10 in it monthly, plus any leftover birthday or holiday money, your account will grow.
Spend Wisely. Yes live your live, have fun, spend your money, but remember you will need a good amount of money to have a family, so make savings a priority.Think twice before frivolous spending or racking up credit card or other debt.
Wedding registry. This is something I never thought of. Instead of registering for fancy china plates and Egyptian cotton sheets, ask your guests to contribute money to your “have a baby” fund. There are tons of cute sayings you can put on your invitation (se Pinterest!) and websites that even make it easy for them to contribute. And we all know once you’re married the “when are you having kids?" question comes up regularly so this is an easy way to let everyone know a bit about your situation so they don’t ask as much!
Choose your career/employer/health insurance wisely. Not all health insurance is created equal. Some states have Infertility coverage mandates, but even within those states there are tons of loopholes. Some employers provide infertility coverage even when they aren’t mandated to. So if you’re flexible do your research early! One Warrior I know became a public school teacher in New Jersey because they have one of the best mandates in the country.
Enjoy the peace... of not accidently getting pregnant, of being able to be child free for as long as you want, etc. We call this a Silver Lining. Yes it completely sucks that we can't get pregnant naturally or “accidently,” it really does, but it’s also very freeing! Don’t become consumed with your pursuit to become a parent, enjoy your youth!
Look into egg/embryo freezing before your clock runs out! Sounds drastic, but it can be true! Most women don’t know but by the age of 26 your fertility starts to take a nose dive, and after 35, the chances of IVF even working go down drastically! We are in a “fortunate” position to know very early on that we’ll need to do IVF, so why not get those suckers out earlier and have healthier and better chances?!? Of course please consult with an Reproductive Endocrinologist, but If you’re in a committed relationship and you feel comfortable about it, do an IVF egg retrieval and freeze your embryos for the future, as embryo/egg freezing (approximately $15,000) can be a way to do surrogacy in smaller pieces, making it more affordable and managable. And if you aren’t in a committed relationship consider egg freezing. Younger eggs are generally much more successful.
Remember you’re not alone. There are countless Warriors that have paved the path to parenting before you, reach out to us! We’re here for you, and we all LOVE to share our knowledge. This process is daunting, and is honestly like having a full time job and learning a new language all in one. So why not get some help figuring it all out?
Check out my blog post on the Mothers with MRKH Facebook group I started and see if it would be the right group for you!
I also have a page for Affording Surrogacy with various tips.
Bram's Birth Story
Ways to Save Money
Things not to say to IPs
Tips for newly diagnosed
Mothers with MRKH
Our Gender Reveal
2000- Chrissy dx w/ MRKH
2002- Chrissy & Lee meet
2007- Chrissy & Lee Marry
2009- Chrissy 'hysterectomy'
2013- Awarded Cade Grant
7/3/14- IVF egg retrieval (5)
1/18/15- Embryo Transfer (1)
9/29/15 - Bram born!