Mother's Day is approaching, but May 10 will be different for moms, aunts, and grandmas than previous years as COVID-19 precautions keep families apart. But Mother's Day when you're waiting to become a mom means something different, whether you're on a journey through infertility treatment, trying to conceive, or somewhere in the adoption process. For us waiting, the pandemic means another year may pass where Mother's Day doesn't apply to us. I’ve been trying to conceive for six months, but appointments that would provide answers about why I’m not getting pregnant are considered nonessential while COVID-19 rolls through the U.S.
My husband and I began TTC in November 2019. I visited my OB-GYN for her guidance on stopping birth control. She cleared us to start trying, and said to give her a call when a pregnancy test came back positive or we had tried for four to six months with no luck. Then we may want to run some tests.
At 26, both of us figured getting pregnant shouldn’t be too difficult. We learned everything we know about it from sex ed in public school, not too different from the Mean Girls scene where Coach Carr says, “Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant and die.” Turns out it’s not that simple (or drastic) for everyone.
We also could never have predicted the ways COVID-19 would change our daily lives in 2020. We live in Florida, notorious for being lax on its coronavirus response, but all nonessential medical appointments have been cancelled nonetheless. The appointment I had on my calendar at that six-months-with-no-luck mark has been pushed back another month. And there’s no guarantee that date will stick, either.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommended in mid-March that doctors postpone any “nonessential” fertility procedures, including ovulation induction, intrauterine inseminations (IUIs), in vitro fertilization (IVF), and embryo transfers. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has asked women’s health providers to move to telehealth as much as possible, but in my experience, many appointments are simply being postponed until in-person visits are safe.
A woman isn’t considered infertile until she has been trying to get pregnant for one year without success. For those of us TTC without the recommended guidance and testing at six months, we may be more likely to arrive at that year than other women in the past, and with even more unanswered questions and frustration. For women who have been TTC for a year or more and are harnessing all the bad*ss reproductive science we have today, I can only imagine how you feel right now. Parents adding to their families via surrogacy, fostering, and U.S.-based or international adoption aren't exempt from this indefinite wait, either. You’ve all come so far and done so much to be derailed by something unforeseeable and out of your control.
Of course, I understand why OB-GYN and infertility appointments are suspended. Flattening the curve and keeping ourselves well is the number one priority for everyone right now, especially our doctors and healthcare providers so they can keep being there for the patients who can’t wait.
But it’s also OK to feel like you can’t wait either. It’s OK to feel that all your excitement has turned to sadness now that your journey to parenthood — already a rocky road for some of us — has taken an indefinite detour. It’s OK to cry when another friend or loved one announces their pregnancy on social media and you don’t know when it will be your turn. And it’s OK to ask your support system to hear you out and validate your feelings.
For other women waiting to become a mom during COVID-19, no matter how far along you are in that process, I see you. Regardless of what the recommendations say, your hopes of having a family are important. Care that helps you achieve that dream is essential. Here’s hoping that, whatever course this virus takes, our journeys toward pregnancy and adoption can begin again soon, and our Mother's Day will come.