The COVID-19 lockdown and months-long social distancing requirements have forced us to stay home and take inventory of our lives. For many, that’s led to a focus on family and family building. Doctors at the Center for Advanced Reproductive Services in Farmington have seen that focus on family play out in real-time.
When COVID-19 hit, the center had to close and cancel all elective procedures. But when it reopened in July, those next six months were the busiest in center history.
“We suppose that it’s due to COVID. We’ve seen a pretty big increase in the number of patients seeking infertility care,” said Dr. Daniel Grow, a lead physician at the center as well as the fellowship director.
From July through December there was a 30 percent increase in the number of IVF consultations compared to that time period in 2019. Fifteen percent more of those people chose to move forward with it.
One of those couples was Samantha Christensen and her husband Mike from Simsbury.
For Samantha, who continued working in hospice care over this last year, the idea of getting pregnant during a pandemic was scary.
“While the pandemic is going on, you have all these thoughts of, 'Is this the right thing? Should I even be doing this right now? Is this safe? Is this the best decision for myself, for my baby?' Your mind can just go a million directions,” Christensen said.
But ultimately, she and her husband chose to prioritize family.
“I think we just said, we’re going to do this and not look back because there were days when I was going back and forth and I just wasn’t ready to put my life on hold,” said Christensen.
The center also offers egg freezing services, something Amelia Nemeth from Southington chose to move forward with.
“I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a mother,” said Nemeth.
Doctors at the center said demand for egg freezing remained just as high as before the pandemic.
Nemeth is so glad she went through with the procedure because, like many singles, she has found dating to be even more difficult during this time of social distancing.
“It made me realize that this is something I needed to do and just because there’s a pandemic happening, doesn’t mean that I can’t move forward with my life,” said Nemeth.
It is very common for patients to reevaluate their lives during a pandemic, according to Kim Crone, a psychologist at the center.
“This is a difficult time. This is a time when people are feeling a little stuck, a little stagnated and by pursuing family building it’s their opportunity to move closer to something that might be a goal that they’ve maybe not prioritized,” Crone said.
Crone said although this pandemic feels unprecedented, this trend toward family building is not. The center has seen more demand during rough times like the recession or after 9/11.
“During difficult times they [couples] just start focusing on what they believe is really important in their lives. They start prioritizing those things that they value the most,” said Crone. “This is a time where they need hope, they need optimism, they need something to look forward to and this is an area in their lives that they can pursue that.”
But unique to this pandemic is the ability for patients to meet with their doctor virtually. It is perhaps the most convenient way to move forward with fertility treatments in the future.
Samantha’s IVF transfer was a success and she is seven months pregnant.
“I feel fantastic. I feel super lucky,” said Christensen, who is anxiously waiting to be surprised on the day she gives birth to her little boy or girl.
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