I made Aliyah a week after my wedding and joined my husband, a lone soldier who made the move several years before. We met at a wedding in Israel a year earlier and maintained a long-distance relationship for the year leading up to our wedding. It was scary and exciting. I could not have predicted then how vital living in Israel would be for us and for our future family.
In my teenage years, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). At the time, I was assured that it was nothing to be too concerned about. It’s an extremely common hormonal disorder, approximately 10% of women have PCOS – it may affect fertility prospects, but it also may not. My doctor told me not to worry about.
I considered myself lucky. Armed with this information, I pursued medical intervention earlier than the recommended one year of unsuccessful attempts to become pregnant. I persuaded my doctor to run a set of blood tests and an ultrasound of my ovaries to determine whether we should intervene earlier on in the process. She immediately confirmed what I’d suspected – I didn’t ovulate on my own and would need treatment in order to conceive.
Although, I’d suspected that this would be the case, the reality of it was hard to come to terms with. I didn’t even realize at the time how lucky I was to be dealing with this scary prognosis in Israel.
I dove into researching on my own and quickly discovered that for most people, a big part of the pain of treatment was the price tag that comes along with it. I connected with some couples in the US who had to wait months in between treatment cycles in order to save money for each one. We had the opposite experience. Each time our doctor chose to change our treatment course or to send us for a different test, we were able to dive right in. We grew more and more appreciative for the Israeli medical system that values family and encourages and covers fertility treatment.
I also heard of friends in the States struggling in their professional lives while trying to accommodate the grueling and time-consuming schedule that comes along with fertility treatment protocol. Once again, I understood how blessed I was to live in a country that not only has laws protecting pregnant women, but also many laws protecting women undergoing fertility treatment. A woman in treatment cannot be dismissed by her place of employment during that period (as long as she previously disclosed this information to Human Resources), and she is granted 40 hours dedicated to medical appointments associated with treatment. This allotted time is in addition to the 40 hours granted by law to a pregnant woman to do the same.
Our treatment trajectory began with various combinations of ovulation-inducing pills called Clomid and Letrozole. After several failed rounds, we switched to Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) with injectable hormones. And finally, we turned to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) which thank God was successful for us and resulted in the birth of our beautiful daughter. We began treatment at Beit Egged, the Jerusalem women’s clinic for those with Meuhedet health insurance and concluded with IVF through Bikur Holim Hospital in central Jerusalem.
Our journey to pregnancy took one and a half years. Needless to say, it was not an easy time in our lives. Once again, we were surprised and grateful to find some wonderful Israel-based organizations that helped us through this scary time. I attended free yoga classes for women undergoing fertility treatment through Keren Gefen. I took advantage of the subsidized therapy offered through Mercaz Panim. Both of these amazing organizations provide a variety of generous and vital services for couples going struggling through this process.
It was one of the hardest times in our lives. We’ve often asked ourselves: Why would we be given this challenge? Why was this struggle assigned to us? We received so much help and kindness along the way that more than anything, we’re able to look back at our journey with gratitude – gratitude for the opportunities we had access to and the support we received. Dealing with all of the details in Hebrew, a language that I still struggle with was not easy but now I know that I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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