I Was Weeks Away From an Embryo Transfer in Alabama — Now It’s Canceled


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When the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos created through in vitro fertilization are people — effectively shutting down IVF clinics in the state — Katie Potsma was “so mad and upset.” Potsma had an embryo transfer scheduled for March 12, which was canceled days after the ruling came down on Feb. 16.

We spoke with Potsma, a 41-year-old dental hygienist living in Pensacola, FL, about her fertility journey and how the Alabama ruling has directly impacted her journey to becoming a mom. Read it all, in her own words, below.

I met my husband in December of 2020, and by April 2021, we knew we were very in love and going to be together. We also knew we were old. I was 38 and he was 40, and I knew that I needed help with a fertility doctor.

So in April of 2021, we went to see my gynecologist and went to get some blood tests, and he said that we needed to see a fertility doctor. I became a patient at a place in Pensacola, where I live. At that point, they put me through a bunch of tests, and they said everything was beautiful, my body was perfect, but they didn’t really know why I couldn’t get pregnant, so they said, “Let’s do IVF.” I went through one round of IVF and I went to an appointment right before the egg retrieval, and they told me, “You’ve produced 11 eggs, but we can’t retrieve them because they’re just not quite big enough and we’ve put you on the highest dose of medicine we can.” Then they said, “The next step is using a egg donor.” That was October or November of 2021, after they had led me on and on that “everything was beautiful” for six months. I was very new to it all, and I didn’t realize that my ovarian count was so low that they should’ve never even tried IVF in the first place.

But I knew of two other people who used the Center for Reproductive Medicine (CRM) in Mobile, AL, so I decided to become a patient there. And in the very first appointment we did basic blood work, and my doctor said, “I don’t want to speak badly about any other fertility doctor, but there is no way they should’ve tried IVF on you. So yeah, egg donor is the way to go.” I then had to accept that I couldn’t have my own children. It was devastating. It’s not what anyone wants to hear. I never thought I wouldn’t be able to have my own children; it never even crossed my mind.

“It feels like the universe is against us.”

It took me a very long time to accept that if I want to be a mom, it will have to be through an egg donation. I wasn’t totally fine with it, but I went ahead with it because the clock was ticking. We ended up buying 15 eggs at CRM, and that was $40,000. They were able to help us make two embryos with those eggs, but they were really weak embryos, so they wouldn’t survive PGT testing, which is the genetic testing they send a lot of embryos off for. They said they could discard the embryos or implant them, and if I made it to nine weeks with both or one, they could do a genetic test at that point. We decided to discard them, because I couldn’t take the chance of needing an abortion or having a lifetime of debt due to disability and/or medical problems.

So we made the decision that night to buy eight more eggs from another donor from another egg bank. I ended up getting two healthy embryos. The first embryo was transferred Dec. 11, 2023, and it implanted successfully. Then, I started my period on New Year’s Eve. I didn’t feel like I was having an “actual” miscarriage, because I was only three weeks pregnant, but I was.

Then, they did an endometrial receptivity analysis to see if I needed any more drugs, and it ended up that I needed like 25 more hours of progesterone than most patients. So we knew what we had to do the second time around. We could’ve done the transfer in February, but they didn’t have an appointment until March 12. We set up for March 12, and then I got a phone call on Feb. 22. They said, “We have to cancel your transfer and we don’t know when it’s going to happen.” What was going through my mind was, “How can I get my embryo out of the state?” That was the first thing I asked her, and she said, “That’s a really good question. The only embryo-shipping company that they knew of had halted all shipping out of the state.” I said, “What am I supposed to do?” And she said, “We’re hoping this gets reversed in the next couple of weeks or couple of months.”

I did not even bring up money in that call. I mean, we have spent $80,000 so far, and this was going to be our last one — if it worked, great, if it didn’t, at least we tried. It feels like the universe is against us.

I really don’t want to wait more than four to eight weeks to see if something happens. If I can’t get the embryo out of the state — I am really considering going through all of this in Florida, where I live. But I have no idea if I want to spend that money again. I don’t know what to do. To be honest, I want to sue the state of Alabama. I don’t know how to go about that, but I’ll figure it out, because I feel like that’s my only choice.

Unfortunately, this has become a political issue, which is disgusting to me. I don’t think legislators and lawmakers need to be making medical decisions for women and hopeful families. My message to the people who have let this happen is: you are not a doctor. You very obviously have no idea how any of this works. You don’t care about the amount of money, time, bodily preparation, and mental anguish that hopeful parents have put themselves through just to try and build a family. You have forgotten that this whole area of medicine helps thousands of women, all the time, on both sides of the aisle. Shame on you.

— As told to Lena Felton

Lena Felton is the senior director of features and special content at POPSUGAR, where she oversees feature stories, special projects, and our identity content. Previously, she was an editor at The Washington Post, where she led a team covering issues of gender and identity.

Image Source: Family photo

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