This is the story of Taryn and Tyler, both members of Generations of Hope infertility patient advocacy group, in Alberta. It is the story of how a girl Taryn, learned at the age of 14 that she didn’t have a uterus and would need extraordinary measures to help her become a parent, if ever she wished to have a family. There are too many stories of patients in Alberta with health conditions that have led to infertility. And yet this province remains one without any financial support for in vitro fertilization, which is one of the most effective but costly measures to help couples conceive.
What hits me the hardest about the story of Taryn and Tyler is the fact that she was 14 when she first heard she was infertile. Maybe this couple breaks my heart just a little because I was 14 when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, an incurable inflammatory bowel disease that also led me to a lengthy infertility struggle and numerous health care crises. Maybe it’s because lately when I think about infertility I think a lot about my daughters. My oldest girl is 12, soon to be 13. She is a healthy, wonderful, dreamy girl just like Taryn probably was at that age.
Sometimes, when I watch these incredibly powerful stories of brave couples travelling this lonely and hard path to parenthood I can’t help but think What if? What if this was my child who needed health care help for any issue. Wouldn’t I knock on every single door to every politician’s office? Wouldn’t I insist on the treatment she needed? And wouldn’t I also move mountains and forgo sleep to get her what she needed?
This Mother’s Day I wish for a few things. Flowers are always lovely, but not necessary. A charm for my Pandora bracelet would make me happy, because my girls usually shop for that kind of gift with their dad and that is priceless to me. But more than that – if I should reflect on motherhood and what the experience of parenting means for me my wish is simple – and it’s a common one for a lot of Moms I think. I want to leave the world a better place for my kids. I hope they do not to have to fight the battles I have had to face. I wish that life would rise up at their feet and meet them with open arms and loving hearts. I want them to have all the options in the world. Health, happiness and love.
Infertility is a reality for 1 in 6 couples, many of whom are a lot like Taryn and Tyler. In Alberta public health care funding is not available for in vitro fertilization. (IVF) IVF is the gold standard of infertility treatment, but because it costs as much as $10,000 a cycle it is unaffordable to many people. In many other areas of the world there are funding options for people struggling with infertility, in need of IVF. In Belgium, Australia and New Zealand there is funding for IVF. In Quebec couples requiring IVF are permitted three rounds of IVF with the provision that only a single embryo is transferred. Why is that important? Because public funding coupled with single embryo transfer provides the best possible health outcomes for both mother and child. And in areas of the world where there is no funding for IVF, couples often resort to transferring several embryos hoping to increase their chances at conception. This leads to high rates of multiple births.
How Generations of Hope Helps
There is no clearer example of how infertility is a medical issue than the story of Taryn and Tyler. No clearer example of why infertility is not a lifestyle choice. Taryn and Tyler were both married young and they needed help to conceive. They received the financial help they required through a generous organization called Generations of Hope, based in Calgary, Alberta.
I have written about Five Reasons why Public Funding for IVF Makes Sense for Alberta. And I will keep writing about this issue until the world is a better place for Mothers and their children. In Ontario today a provincial budget is being tabled with funding for IVF and recognition that infertility is a health care issue. That’s a powerful Mother’s Day gift for many hoping to become mothers in that province.
It’s time for Alberta to make public funding for IVF a budget recommendation as well. This Mother’s Day remind your MLA in Alberta why it’s harder for some to become mothers and why public funding is necessary for the future of the province. Generations of Hope has been advocating for many years now. They need more voices sharing stories and helping to talk with MLAs. They need you to advocate so that your sons and daughters might not have to.
I am community manager for Generations of Hope. I am compensated for that position. My opinion is all my own and I believe strongly that it’s time for Alberta to help make public funding a reality. You can follow Generations of Hope on twitter to learn more http://www.twitter.com/gensofhope/