At 26 years old, Metro Vancouver nurse Misty Busch was hoping and dreaming of building a family with her husband Kevin when a life-threatening tubal pregnancy sent the couple reeling. The experience changed the course of their lives, in more ways than one.

Their parenthood dreams were dashed and Misty’s health was in jeopardy. Both of her Fallopian Tubes were damaged and she was infertile. Consultations followed, and experts recommended in vitro fertilization (IVF) – a process that involves implanting a fertilized egg directly into the uterus – as the only viable option for having their own children.

“We had the rest of our lives to buy a home.  We did not have the rest of our lives to have children. So we decided to go for it.”

Setting priorities

Misty and Kevin had been saving money for a down payment on a home, which can be particularly daunting in a city where property prices are high. The price tag for IVF was also high: $10,000. In B.C. there is no funding for IVF. Quebec is currently the only province that funds IVF for those cases where it is the medically recommended treatment option. Misty and Kevin had a huge financial hurdle to overcome.

“We had the rest of our lives to buy a home,” Misty recalls. “We did not have the rest of our lives to have children. So we decided to go for it.”

They used the down payment for a house to pay for one fresh round of IVF. Added to the financial sacrifice was the physical and emotional toll of medical appointments, missed work, egg retrieval and the procedure itself. The first cycle was not successful and the couple was heartbroken.

Success after heartbreak

“Going in I was so naïve. I was young, and I had several factors working in my favor. I thought everything would work perfectly on the first try.”

Misty did not give up. They scrimped and saved, and used the remainder of their savings for a second cycle. But this time, because it was all or nothing, and because they had drained their bank accounts, they opted to transfer two embryos to increase their chances of conception. In between cycles, they also spent money on treatments like acupuncture, hoping it would help. Misty estimates the total cost for treatment tallied well over $20,000.

“I chose multiple embryos the second time, not because I wanted the complications associated with twins, but because I desperately wanted a baby.”

Overcoming obstacles

The second IVF cycle was successful; Misty was pregnant with twins. Just 12 weeks into the pregnancy however, she had developed gestational diabetes, was hemorrhaging and had pre-term labor, so was placed on bed rest. Her job was no longer doable because of the amount of time a nurse is on her feet and the amount of heavy lifting involved. She remained in bed from September to January, only allowed to get up to go to the bathroom, watching seasons go by as she waited and hoped for the babies to develop long enough to give them the best possible health outcome. It was a long four-and-a-half months.

Bed rest successfully slowed the pre-term labor. The inclined position meant the weight of twins was no longer placing pressure on her cervix. At 33 weeks, a baby boy and girl were born. They both went straight into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. One twin was in the NICU for three-and-a-half weeks, and the other stayed there for five-and-a- half weeks.

“We are blessed to finally be parents, but that journey has been tough, both physically and emotionally. It’s also been a tremendous financial burden.”

Helping others

Through her infertility journey, Misty began helping others facing similar challenges.  The nurse in her has recognized an opportunity to give care and support to the one in six couples who struggle with infertility.

“Some people don’t find their calling in their entire lifetime. I found mine twice: Once as a mother, and once as a fertility advocate. I feel very blessed. If your son or daughter were struggling with infertility wouldn’t you want them to have access to the treatment they needed?”

By: Paula Schuck