‘I’ve spent £132k and sold my home for IVF and still don’t have a baby – it’s ruined my life’

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Katie Abdou, from Plymouth County, Massachusetts, sold her house and moved back with her parents to be able to afford IVF. She kept trying for years until her ovary ‘exploded’

A woman has opened up on her desperation after spending more than £130,000 over three years trying to fulfil her dream of mothering a child.

Katie Abdou, a 37-year-old food broker from Plymouth County, Massachusetts, has spent an estimated £132,420 ($165,000) and three years on unsuccessful IVF treatments, leaving her heartbroken and feeling like her dream of becoming a mother has been shattered.

Katie, who always wanted to be a single mother by choice, explored adoption and fostering but found the processes to be expensive and challenging for a single woman. In her quest to have a child, she attempted at-home intracervical insemination (ICI), a method where sperm is inserted into the cervix. However, she experienced three chemical pregnancies.

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After these setbacks, Katie was advised to undergo IVF. To finance the treatments, she sold her house at a $100,000 profit and moved back in with her parents. Over the next three years, she underwent five failed IVF transfers. Each attempt brought new hope from doctors that the next round might be successful. However, in March 2024, when she discovered she was not pregnant again, Katie felt devastated.

Katie said: “I was never interested in being in a relationship but I always wanted kids. It was a conscious decision to be single. It feels like the death of a dream. I have spent so much money. I estimate it is $165k. IVF has ruined my life.”

She considered adoption when she turned 30. She said: “It’s exorbitantly expensive. The more I looked into it the more unethical it felt. It felt icky to be buying someone else’s child because they couldn’t afford them. I looked into fostering but the rules were extremely strict.”

Katie’s journey began in March 2020 when she tried ICI using a sperm donor she found through a safe sperm donor site. After five attempts and three chemical pregnancies, she sought medical help. A hysterosalpingography (HSG) in the spring of 2021 revealed blocked fallopian tubes, making IVF her only option.

She found a clinic in Albany, New York, offering affordable rates and started her first IVF round in November 2021. Despite having three viable embryos from her first egg retrieval, only one resulted in a chemical pregnancy, and the other two did not take.

Katie’s best friend, Chris, offered to be her sperm donor, and she underwent another IVF round using his sperm. She became pregnant in November 2022 but sadly miscarried one embryo a week later. She carried the other embryo, a boy, for 17 weeks before discovering there was no heartbeat during an ultrasound.

She said: “I had got the nursery all ready. I had planned the baby shower. I went for an ultrasound and his heart had stopped. He was gone. It was awful.” Katie had a ring made of his ashes, which she wears every day, and has a tattoo of her son’s footprints on her shoulder.

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Heartbroken but determined, Katie continued her IVF journey. She also had PRP therapy – which involved taking blood from separate platelets and injecting them back into the uterus. Katie said: “I had blackouts. I gained 50 pounds.”

However, subsequent attempts were unsuccessful due to various complications, including chronic endometritis, which causes infertility, and an ovary that exploded following an egg retrieval, resulting in emergency surgery.

Despite these challenges, Katie underwent more IVF treatments, including priming to improve egg quality and PRP therapy. However, her remaining eggs did not result in a successful pregnancy. “I felt like a broken person. It’s heartbreaking. It changed me. I used to be a confident person. I went from a size 10 to a size 22,” she said.

Reflecting on her experience, Katie believes more support and information about IVF are needed, especially for single and queer individuals. She hopes her story will raise awareness and help others navigate their fertility journeys more effectively.

Katie said: “I think there needs to be more support for single and queer people. I’d love for more information on IVF to be available.”

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