A New Adventure

25 Jul

I’m going to deviate from the normal knitting and urban homesteading content to talk a bit about something very un-natural: IVF. We’ve finally worked things out with our insurance company, so I feel safe in writing about it here. Those of you in the Maryland Contingent have heard most of my thoughts about the upcoming procedure, so feel free to skip this post.

So T. and I have decided to pursue IVF after the ectopic pregnancy because my chances go from 15% – 30% of having another ectopic to 1%. FYI- my chances of having an ectopic before I actually had the ectopic were 1%. Yup- I’m that special.

My feeling about the upcoming chemical adventure are very mixed- everything from excited, anxious, fearful, hopeful, and frustrated. I’m very lucky to even have the option of trying IVF, but more on that later.

The Details

So in plain English- here’s what will happen over the next 2 months: I will take all kinds of drugs to produce eggs that the doctor will then retrieve during an outpatient surgery. Then they will manually inseminate my eggs with hubby’s sperm and watch them grow. The one (or maybe two) that look the most viable will then be transplanted back into my uterus where hopefully it will implant and produce a pregnancy. The remaining embryos that didn’t make the first cut, but are still potentially viable, will be frozen for possible future use. Voila- IVF in a nutshell!

But it is oh-so-much-more complicated that that. I have to literally take a shot to produce every stage of a normal cycle. Birth control to control my cycle, a series of shots to develop eggs, but not release them, then a shot to release the eggs, but not too soon. Steroids and valium for surgery. Then a month of inter-muscular hormone shots to try to keep a pregnancy.

All of these shots must be taken at exactly the right time, or the whole procedure goes up in smoke.  For example, the big shot I take to release the eggs must be taken 35 hours before the surgery because at hour 36, all the eggs will be released and it will be too late to surgically remove them.

So needless to say, I’m anxious about getting this complicated schedule right. Oh, and I’m anxious about becoming a human pincushion! Some of these shots are subcutaneous (think small needle) that I can give myself, but most are inter-muscular shots (think huge needle) that the hubby is going to have to give me- in the butt! This will be made complicated by his traveling schedule, so I’m going to have to draft someone to help me while he’s gone. Any volunteers?

The Debate

We met with the doctor and talked about “the controversies” surrounding IVF. I prefer to think of it as a debate, and we’ve made conclusions that others may not agree with. But that’s how the world works- sometimes you agree and sometimes you don’t. Take it for what it’s worth.

Embryos: Whether you consider them living beings or not. We’ve decided to freeze and save the viable embryos in case we need to use them in the future. However, when we are done with them- what do we do with them? We’ve decided to donate them to an infertility clinic so that women for whom IVF does not work can try getting pregnant with them. God help any woman who decides to raise a child with our genes. (I guess that includes me, too!).  The embryos that are not considered viable for freezing will be donated to research.

Divorce and/or Death: After a heated debate, the hubby and I agreed that frozen embryos will be donated if we get a divorce and transfered to the other spouse should one of us die. I’m pretty sure he won’t do anything with the little guys if I pass away, but I don’t know how I would feel if he passed away. Would I want to have another child? Who knows- I don’t have to make that decision today (or ever, hopefully). But the transfer allows me the flexibility of choice.

I’m very comfortable with the decisions that we agreed on. There are some other thoughts and emotions I have about the whole big-picture thing.

Big Picture

I am very fortunate that our health insurance covers up to three IVF procedures in my lifetime. Most people don’t even have this option- they would have to fork out over $15,000. (I think it’s more than that since our medications cost over $4,000 alone. Since I know that the ectopic surgery cost $14,000, I can only imagine the retrieving eggs, inseminating them, growing them in a lab and transplanting them back would cost just as much. So I would guess that an actual IVF procedure would cost up to $30,000. ) We could never afford those out-of-pocket costs without saving up for many years. And by that time, I would probably be too old to have kids. So yes, very fortunate.

I could go on and on about the different thoughts out there about IVF- that it’s for the rich people who just waited too long to have kids, or that it’s selfish to go through this when there are so many adoptable kids needing a good home. But I don’t really care what other people say about it- just what T and I feel. However, even our feelings aren’t very clear; it’s such a complicated situation.

Hubby has a much stronger biological need to produce a child than I do. In all fairness to him, I’ve known for many many years that my having a child would be nearly impossible, so I’ve had time to come to terms with this. And he states his need in a very logical way: “I’ve just come to terms with the idea that I might be able to raise a child and be somewhat successful at it. There are so many variables when it comes to raising kids, I’d like to eliminate the variable of genetics. At least with our DNA, we know what we’re getting into.” (To which I think- yeah, you were such a piece of cake to raise that your mom sent you off to boarding school. Not to mention my genetic makeup: depression, short, heavy, bad eyes and teeth. Boy- our kids will have it made!) But I really can logically understand his position. And he isn’t saying no to adoption, just that he wants to know he can raise our kid before we mess up someone else’s kid.

And I really do want to have a child- I want to be pregnant and I want to give birth and I want to breast feed if possible.  But I also really want to adopt. With the fear of sounding holier-than-thou, I think we have a duty to our society to pick up slack wherever we can, and raising children is the most important job there is. So adopting a child helps the kid, helps society, and helps your heart- what an amazing gift we have as human beings- to bond with one another regardless of DNA. It’s a gift to ourselves to adopt a child, no doubt about it.

So why will insurance cover over $100,000 for Hubby and I to conceive a child, but there’s no assistance to cover adoption costs? Why does our political culture dictate that insurance cover the cost of transporting frozen embryos to fertility clinics, but doesn’t require minimum coverage for adoption?

And why is there not a federal requirement for state adoption services? In our state, Georgia, there is no government sponsored adoption service, only government regulated private services. In our case, adoptive parents are required pay for social workers, health costs for the mother, living expenses and clothing costs for the mother, and legal fees. And there is no guarantee that the mother will hand her child over for adoption when all is said and done. This essentially guarantees that only the wealthy can afford to adopt, and therefore, only the children that wealthy people want are adopted.

How can we continue to let some children be adopted to the highest bidder while others (mostly minorities) become wards of the broken foster care system? It breaks my heart to see the political attention fauned over unborn children while there’s a complete lack of political attention on existing children in need of healthy homes and environments. What does that day about us as a society?

I’m envious of the Canadian system where they have both government-run and private adoption agencies. This forces private agencies to compete with the government agency, whose sole concern is finding safe homes for its wards, rather than making a profit. The average out-of-pocket costs for adoption in Canada is $6,000. Some states I believe have a similar system, like Pennsylvania.

Well, I think I’ve said my peace on IVF and Adoption. If you made it this far, I appreciate your reading this whole article- I know it’s a whopper. I’ll return to our regularly scheduled material later this week, and I’ll keep you up to date on the human pincushion adventure, too!

Thanks for stopping by!




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