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Infertility and the road to hope: One woman's journey to conceiving Colorado's first IVF baby

Posted at 6:37 AM, Jun 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-16 21:45:26-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Infertility.

It's still a word that makes my heart skip a beat and is currently affecting thousands. For me it started with a mass on one ovary. I soon learned I had stage 4 endometriosis, PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome) and one blocked fallopian tube. There was a lot working against us. Surgery after surgery, my hopes would go up only to learn that the tumors and cysts came back. We were given a two percent chance of conceiving on our own.

Everyone’s journey is different, but I remember an overwhelming fear of never becoming a mom.If you've been down this path you know just how consuming those thoughts can be.

And then we became 1 in 4.

We were just entering our second trimester, going in for another routine ultrasound. I vividly remember the nurse going quiet, looking everywhere for the heartbeat and then leaving the room. The doctor entered and put her hand on my leg. It was a blur of heartache and tears after that.

1 in 4 pregnancies ends in loss.

1 in 8 couples are affected by infertility, that’s more than 7 million women of childbearing age that suffer from infertility issues. According to the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

Many times couples will turn to science to help. It’s thanks to women like Ellen Casey that science has come this far. The former Colorado Springs teacher was a pioneer of in vitro fertilization.

On Aug. 3, 1983, Ellen’s daughter, Elizabeth became Colorado’s first baby to be conceived through in vitro fertilization. Her birth graced the cover of USA Today, as she was only one of a handful of such babies worldwide. I asked her what it was like the first night home just being a mom. Ellen reflected back, “I was in my bedroom by myself carrying this tiny 5-pound baby and I caught site of myself in the mirror and I just stopped, and just so I have a baby I'm looking at my dream come true.”

Since then, millions of women have undergone IVF and given birth to hundreds of thousands of healthy babies.

However, for families not able to conceive in the traditional way, diagnosis and treatments can cost upwards of $100,000 out of pocket since insurance companies often do not cover the costs. In fact, only 19 states have passed any kind of infertility insurance laws and 13 of those states include in vitro fertilization coverage. Casey knows the fear of the possibility of never becoming a mom, "To love a baby that you haven’t even met. To love a baby that you haven’t even conceived I want it so badly to do everything you can to get it."

Just this year the "Colorado Building Families Act", was signed into law that makes large employer insurance plans (for businesses with more than one hundred employees) cover infertility treatments the same way they cover disease treatment.

Through her book, Unstoppable: Forging the Path to Motherhood in the Early Days of IVF Ellen Casey continues her message of hope and encouragement to each couple fighting infertility.

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