Airdronian Paige Fossheim knew that she wanted to be a mother with all her heart. When she got married she and her husband, Aaron had many conversations about starting a family and soon enough the couple began to try and conceive a child.
After a year of negative pregnancy tests, Fossheim would go to see her family doctor. After a battery of tests, the couple learned that the reason they were having trouble conceiving was that there was male factor infertility combined with unexplained fertility. Fossheim said that many couples are confronted with the unexplained fertility diagnosis, which is all the more frustrating as there is no known medical cause as of today.
Doctors recommended that the couple begin intrauterine insemination (IUI) treatments, which are not covered by the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP), as, according to the government, these treatments along with in vitro fertilization (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), artificial insemination, ovarian stimulation, sperm transfer, and gamete transfer are not considered medically necessary.
After four IUI treatments, Fossheim and her husband had no success, which prompted her doctor to recommend that the couple try the next step, which is IVF. Although she estimates that she and her husband have spent nearly $10,000 dollars on fertility treatments thus far, she was determined to continue her journey.
"We're at the point where we just don't have enough [money], especially with the cost of living that's increasing. So we decided to start this fundraiser because we've had some family and friends in the past that have indicated that they wanted to support us and contribute,' she said. 'We started it as well, to start bringing awareness to it [fertility struggles] and how many Albertans face it and the lack of funding in Alberta."
Through a donation page that she has set up on social media, she is hoping to amass $15,000 dollars to be able to continue with her fertility treatments. Fossheim works multiple jobs, including babysitting and dogsitting, while her husband also works as a driver for Uber in order to supplement their income amidst their medical costs. But there is also the emotional toll that the couple is going through, which she said comes and goes in waves.
"There's been a huge impact on our mental health, and especially my husband; men the way that they deal with these kinds of things, especially with what we're dealing with, they blame themselves," she said. "My [babysitting] clientele is mostly newborns and I've actually had to stop accepting clients because it just gets too difficult."
In a recent social media post that accompanied the donation, Fossheim explained that a few weeks ago, as she was singing a lullaby to one of her little clients, she began to cry.
"I don't truly know at this stage if that's something I will get to do for my own child," she wrote.
Many of her clients stay with her through till they are toddlers, so she watches the infants she once sang lullabies to become little tykes full of mischief and curiosity.
"Being a part of their life and just getting to experience the joy, the sadness, and the anger, it's just amazing," she said. "Being able to contribute to that fills your heart. But, it does make it really difficult sometimes, especially [with] the younger ones. When I take them to the zoo, and we're running around, and you see all of these families, and you're with them, it's hard, but it's also it's just so rewarding."
She also noted that during the holiday season, it can also be difficult for couples who are having trouble conceiving as they meet and are expected to mingle with family during gatherings, gatherings that can be a very stark and very painful reminder of what they may be missing out on as they watch their family members parent.
"At some point, you just don't know if something that you've wanted for so long is ever actually going to happen, especially because of the financial aspect: knowing that the one barrier, the biggest barrier that's in the way is financial."
While the couple has also considered adoption, that route is also very costly, along with the waits and numerous applications and other procedures. Fossheim underlined that even if their financial goal with this fundraiser is met, there is still a very painful physical aspect of IVF. However, she said is willing to go through with it because the end result may be the very thing that she has longed for, for so very long.
When asked if she would prefer a little girl or a little boy, Fossheim said that it doesn't matter, because both she and her husband have had different names picked out for years, for both a daughter and son.
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