family,  Health,  infertility

Infertility Impacts Everyone: Katrina #ohip4ivf #onpoli

Meet Cameron. Grandma has dubbed him “the whole family’s baby.” He’s a sweet little guy, almost 18 months old. He made his Mom and Dad parents. He made Grandma a grandmother again. But his journey here was hard fought. Mom Katrina struggled through many medical, financial, physical and emotional hurdles to conceive Cameron. She was diagnosed with endometriosis and she had a few unsuccessful IVF (in vitro fertilization) attempts. She had miscarriages and she tried various alternative and natural therapies designed to boost fertility and alleviate the pain of endometriosis.

Eventually, after thousands of dollars spent and a tremendous emotional toll on everyone, baby Cameron arrived by C-section November 17, 2011. An IVF success story, but with a tremendous price for family. A price he is absolutely worth. But still. There are days when Katrina Vedan-Millar still thinks she should have moved to Quebec where health care for infertile people means IVF is covered when necessary to conceive.

Karen Miller is Katrina’s Mom, and she is as vocal as her daughter about fighting for public funding for in vitro fertilization. Miller, a real estate agent, says this: “The baby she ended up having is really the whole family’s baby because everyone played a part in helping get that baby born whether it was helping pay for treatment, making food or just looking after her. I feel lucky to gain a grandson, but I don’t understand…Almost all of her friends have had to under go some sort of assistance in the fertility department. What is going on out there with women today? I wish we knew more about endometriosis, like what causes it?”

Katrina suffered with endometriosis most of her life, but it went undiagnosed until she turned 32, around the time she started trying to get pregnant. She tried to have a baby for two years unsuccessfully. With the support of her husband and extended family, Katrina did cycle monitoring, acupuncture and read books about how to eat better and what to do to help boost chances. Then they were referred to a well known fertility clinic in Toronto.

Not only did Katrina have endometriosis, but she also had toxic liquid in her tubes that would terminate any possible pregnancy (Hydosalpinx). Endometriosis is just one condition that can lead to infertility. There are many conditions including cancer, Crohn’s disease, PCOS, pelvic scarring, male factor and unexplained infertility. Katrina’s surgery took place March 2010. It went well, but both of Katrina’s tubes had to be removed. The only way to have a child would be through IVF or adoption. Katrina considered adoption, but really wanted the opportunity to carry a baby.

“There were times I wondered how this all happened. I had dreamt about being a mother. I had been taking birth control pills and had safe sex since I was 16. I was never told in health class that this could happen. I wasn’t prepared to hear I wouldn’t be able to conceive “naturally,”she said.

Katrina and her husband started fertility treatment shortly after the surgery. Financially part of her treatment was covered in Ontario, but over time the couple spent close to $30,000 trying to conceive.
Katrina got pregnant that first cycle, but then miscarried. That was devastating. They tried again a second time, and a third time after that. None of those cycles were successful. Katrina’s endometriosis returned. She was losing heart and struggled to get out of bed many days, then consulted an acupuncture practitioner again. One more time, she hoped, and one more time the couple headed to the clinic. This time, two embryos were transferred.

A few days after the transfer, she started to feel sick. She went to a family dinner and they were serving fish. She couldn’t stand the smell of it. Unbelievably Katrina thought she had the flu up until her doctor asked her to listen to the baby’s heartbeat. After so much heartbreak, she had trouble believing she could be pregnant, and trouble believing the baby would be born healthy. Her son Cameron arrived November 2011. Katrina and her husband have 4 frozen embryos left and they have started the cycle to have another child.
“I look back now and remember that first day waiting for my ultra sound in the fertility clinic. I remember looking around and thinking I couldn’t believe how many women were in the same waiting room.”

Katrina notes many of her close friends have also done IVF. Many struggled with infertility. Many were in their early 30s before they knew there was any issue or health concern.

“Without IVF none of us would have children. None of our parents would be grandparents. I thank my lucky stars everyday that science has progressed to what it is today. Without IVF I wouldn’t be able to call myself a Mom.”  

Katrina said they started to consider a move to Quebec where the government covers the full treatment amount. In the end they spent close to $30,000 trying to get pregnant.

“I don’t understand why Ontario doesn’t cover the treatments. It’s not cosmetic. Don’t they want us to have children? Aren’t children supposed to be the future? It makes me both sad and angry.”

In Canada, Quebec is the only province that covers in vitro fertilization. There funding is available for three rounds of treatment where single embryo transfer is the standard. Single embryo transfer results in healthier outcomes for babies and mothers. Right now several patient groups across Canada are advocating for public funding for in vitro fertilization. One of those groups is Conceivable Dreams.

“Financially, ivf drained us. We used all the money we had and thank goodness we got lucky and had a child, but the financial toll has left us in a bit of hot water because we spent the money for daycare or a caregiver. I can’t go back to work full time, until we can afford to leave him. I never really stopped working since he was born. So instead of sleeping when he sleeps, most nights; nap times for me are spent working on my laptop doing as much contract work as I can. I’m pooped and would love to be rested but we have a mortgage, car payments, groceries, diapers, etc to pay for and on top of all that we have to dig ourselves out of the financial hole this put us in.”

Grandma Karen Millar says it was devastating watching her daughter struggle with endometriosis. “It was hard to see my daughter go through so much pain. She did a lot of cycles and miscarried on a few of those. It was emotionally and financially taxing for her and for us watching from the sidelines.

“I am happy there was a happy ending. Katrina could have fallen into a hole of depression had she not had a baby at all. It was difficult for my husband and I to see and fully understand why our daughter could not get pregnant. None of our family members have endometriosis.”

Karen says her daughter spent a lot of money flying to Florida to get treatment she thought would help the endometriosis. She also spent a lot of money on acupuncture and various treatments over the years of trying.

“We have helped with some of the costs, but they are mind-blowing.  Luckily, she works with us because otherwise she would be out of work with the amount of time she has had to take off due to the pain from her endometriosis, and the challenges of IVF.”

You can join to call for public funding for IVF in Ontario by following Conceivable Dreams on Twitter. They are also on Facebook and Pinterest. I am community manager for Conceivable Dreams. My opinion is all my own. 

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.


  • Jinxy and Me

    As a woman who has experienced endometriosis and infertility I strongly agree that IVF treatments are a medical necessity that should be covered! Thanks for sharing this story.

  • Amanda

    I had a friend go through this and I think it is so important that you are spreading the word. Every woman deserves an opportunity to have a child.

  • Unknown

    I’m so happy to hear that this story has a happy ending with a beautiful baby boy! Being in the States I had no idea that IVF was publicly funded at all anywhere in Canada but I’m glad to hear it is and hope it carries over to Ontario and other places. I would be wonderful if it was covered and could solve so much heartache.

    Tesa @ 2 Wired 2 Tired

  • Julie Harrison

    I know several wonderful sets of parents who conceived using IVF. I just can’t understand how there are different rules, for different provinces. I would think that everyone in Canada would have the same right to equal care. Glad to see they had a happy ending though!

  • MC

    It’s so great to see that her story had a happy ending! Infertility is a medical issue and I hope one day the financial draining end of infertility treatments can be covered for couples.