Friday, April 30, 2010

What IF.....

What IF we save the money we need, blow it all on IVF, and fail?

What then?

Money has been a constant factor in our IF journey. Hubby and I are a professional couple - I certainly wouldn't call us well off, but we both work and make decent money and try to live within our means. In those nightmarish beginning days, when we were just a few miscarriages in, money was like a balm. We used it to soothe our souls and our broken hearts with vacations, dinners out, and a bit of retail therapy here and there. We were reminded, by our spending power, that there are financial advantages to not having children. Our friends with kids would look at us wistfully when we announced another trip, just as we would look at them wistfully when they announced another pregnancy.

You see, in those days, we still believed that we'd be able to have a child with minimal medical intervention. After all, we thought, conception does not seem to be a problem. Eventually, we thought, one will stick and our days of lounging on a beach chair drinking frosty drinks will come to an end, replaced with the bliss of diapers and spit up and sleepless nights and chubby baby thighs.

Those sunny, child free days are now behind us. And no, we didn't magically have a child that I told none of you about. It has become glaringly obvious to us, four years and seven dead babies in, that a family won't come cheaply.

The physical costs - fertility drugs, hormones, supplements, miscarriages - are astronomical. The mental and emotional costs - well, I could write a whole blog about them. (Oh wait, I did!)  The financial burden of infertility is another layer of hurt, magnifying the other million daggers.

 My doctor has suggested that in vitro fertilization probably represents my best hope of having a successful pregnancy. Unfortunately, we do not have any insurance coverage for infertility treatments. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

And so we are left to scrimp and save, trying to pay off debt and build our savings, in a race against time. I started this journey at 27. I am now 32, and have precious few sort of fertile years ahead of me. We no longer go out to eat, or to the movies, or to see bands play. We don't take vacations. We cancelled our lawn service, and I walked to work every single day this winter (no small feat in Iowa) so we wouldn't have to purchase a second car. Our home is quite a mess right now, but things like renovations, repairs and upgrades will just have to wait, and we'll deal with the demolished bathroom that we can't finish right now. We want a family, and are willing to make whatever sacrifices we need to make, but the fact that we don't have a child, and cannot enjoy our child free life, sucks monkey balls (especially when plenty of folks we know are absolutely in no financial position to support a child, and pop them out like pez dispensers!).

I know that, for my own future mental health, I need to exhaust all of my options before we accept that birthing a child is an impossibility. I cannot have regrets about this process, or I will end up more bat shit crazy than I already am. My biggest fear, though, is that we will make all of these sacrifices, and drain our savings for IVF, only to fail. Then, we would have no back up plan, no option of adoption, no family, no future.

I don't understand - I really, truly don't - why insurance companies are free to discriminate against the infertile. Sure, infertility is not fatal, but neither is eczema, and I have coverage for that. If pregnancy is considered a "lifestyle choice" for the infertile, why is it not for the fertile? I think about people who don't have any extra income to save, and who will never be able to afford treatment, and my heart breaks into a million more tiny pieces. I think about the economic impact of millions of infertile couples in the same boat we're in, who are dumping every single penny into saving for treatment instead of stimulating the local and national economies, and it's clear to me that insurance coverage for infertility treatments benefits everyone.

What if insurance companies covered infertility treatments, and infertility was no longer a disease only the wealthy could afford to treat? What if everyone could pursue the dream of parenthood, without having to put themselves in financial ruin?

What then?

This post is part of Project IF: Part 2 in recognition of National Infertility Awareness Week (April 24-May 1). For more information about infertility, please click here. For more information about NIAW, please click here. If you'd like to check out more about Project IF, and see the list that inspired this post and many others, please click here.


  1. That's really a beautifully written post. It totally sucks that you ever had reason to write it in the first place, though.

  2. well said! your thoughts well-represent the angst, frustration and sadness that many of us feel. thanks for putting it into words. =)

  3. This is a great heart felt post. I can feel your emotions. I wish you or anybody else didn't have to live with inferility.

  4. 100% right on. We have minimal fertility coverage--enough to allow us a few unsuccessful IUI's and a almost-successful home insem (pregnancy achieved, but ended in miscarriage). However, I had to fight tooth and nail to use this coverage--a battle that went on for *months*. No doctor would diagnose me with infertility, since our issue was shitty genetics; when I married my husband and found he too was a CF carrier, insurance balked at the idea of covering IUI's, u/s, Clomid, injectibles, and the like. We had to "formally petition" the company, and the only reason we won is that if we had a baby born with CF (a 1 in 4 chance), at the minimum, the medical bills would be hundreds of thousands of dollars (between preventative care, ongoing treatment, and up to a double lung transplant).

    Insurance is a no-win battle. I personally believe adoption expenses should be at least partially covered as well. I wonder if the system will ever turn around and take the more inclusive and less exclusive road.



  5. This is a great post which really highlights how important it is for all insurance companies to cover this.
    Our coverage in Australia is really good because our system is really different and I hate that other people all around the world have to go through this. It just isn't fair!

  6. Great post, and you're so right--it drives me absolutely insane that treatment for infertility to enable the most basic of human functions gets lumped in with plastic surgery as an optional procedure, and IVF, which has been successfully used to make babies for 30 years, gets classified as "experimental," and thus, not covered. I am trying to imagine all of the things we could have done with the money we spent on IF treatments and meds, if only those had been covered by our medical insurance, which I thought was supposed to, you know, cover medical issues--but it boggles the mind. To have all of that money to use for other things--fun things like vacations, important things like more adoptions--how utterly wonderful that would be. Someday. I do think it will have to happen eventually, especially if we keep speaking out on this issue. At least, for future generations of infertiles, I hope the shitty fertility coverage situation will change.