Monday, March 13, 2006

Money vs. Babies

I'm on day two of the dreaded birth control pills.

We're just waiting around for Partner to get her period so we can schedule the next cycle.

It feels awfully quick, doesn't it? And apparently this is it: the final episode of IVF with Partner's eggs. (NB: the "apparently" above. I am always talking to my students about picking textual hints, and that's one. I'm not ready for this to be the last try if it doesn't work, thus "apparently.")

I know I said I was all about hope this time, but shite, I am scared. At our meeting with Dr. BusyBusyBusy he said our odds had dropped now, considerably. His previous numbers indicated a 50% chance on the first cycle, but now that we're on our third, it's down to 30%. He did note that this was the national average, so it wasn't exactly bad, it just wasn't as good. And he told us that if this next cycle failed, we should probably move on to my eggs. Because the chances are about nil that it will work with Partner's eggs if it fails this next time. And, he also said, there is the financial side to consider: we don't have infinite amounts of money to keep doing this. And at some point, we need to face up to that.

In the middle of this blogging about IVF, I don't see too many women write about the financial stress it puts on us. Either everyone is richer than us, or it's just taboo. We shouldn't write about how much money this is costing us because that's just crass. Right? Well, I don't think so. I think to deny that real stress of how we negotiate our lives to pay for this treatment is to deny part of the very real stress associated with IVF. Jesus-- I don't even like to buy gas because I hate thinking about that money just being burnt up. But ultimately, I do know that any amount of money would be worth a little squirmy baby nestled up in bed with us.

So what do you do to keep affording this? Take equity lines out on your house? Run up several "IVF" credit cards to their max? Ask your parents for a loan? Win a reality tv show for the money? Rob banks? Play the lottery religiously? Pray that the housing market turns up again so you actually start making money? Oh-- wait-- that last one is probably just us.

Do you think about the money factor at all when it comes to this? Because while I know Dr. BBB is right-- we're pretty much at our limit right now after IVF #2 and we're pushing for #3-- I still want to keep going and going and going until I get pregnant with Partner's eggs. (And even that being said, we both know we're incredibly lucky to have my backup eggs and uterus. We're well aware of how this eases the burden of any future questions.) Right now, we're motivated by love for each other and our desire to have a family together. I don't want our motivations to be altered by money. I just don't. I don't want to have to stop trying when I'm not ready because there's nothing else in the coffers. I want to stop trying when we're too tired to do this any more. When we both agree it's too much emotionally for us and we need to move on. I don't want to stop this dream of ours only for monetary reasons.

But how much real does it get? And where does one draw the line in the sand? And how often can one keep stepping over that line before getting lost?


Blogger abster said...

Hi Katie,

My partner and I have some left over meds (well taken care of, not expired, etc) if that will help you guys out with the costs. Let me know--post on my blog or comment here and we can figure out how to communicate about this if you are interested.

Hang in there, guys.


1:51 PM  
Blogger Mandy said...

The financial aspect of infertility is just total crap. You're already dealing w/ enough to begin it, little own trying to figure out how to pay for it. I hope that this cycle works and you don't have to worry about coming up with money for future ones.

2:36 PM  
Blogger DD said...

When our first IVF failed, I posted about how much it cost because I was sick of the ranges being "anywhere between $10-$20K" whenever I tried to research it. I wanted anyone who found my site to know that if they were seeking treatment for one IVF (w/ICSI) in Nebraska to know that it was going to be about $8500 - 11,000 (depending on what rx or where they got them from). I've found that's pretty cheap compared to the rest of the country.

I think some couples are ashamed that they are lucky to have insurance, but they shouldn't be so they don't discuss it openly. We don't have insurance for any of it, but have been fortunate to have a stock portfolio, and if we had to, his parents would loan us the money.

Cost is integral to the decision to pursue ART. I just think some people think they would be judged by putting a price on a baby, but it's a sad fact.

3:02 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Money was/is definitely a factor for us. We would have loved to do partner/partner IVF so we could have a child that was connected to both of us, but it would never have been in the realm of financial possibility. We were further challenged by the fact that my miscarriage was so complex it cost us at least a cycle's worth of sperm and insems in the end. And then the RE's office lost a vial of our sperm (about $500 in replacement costs there) and we still haven't settled that issue.

We're lucky enough to have some of the cost covered by insurance, too, but it still adds up in a prohibitive manner, especially with both of us teachers and therefore not too flush! So yes, we think about cost a lot.

And yes, people do most of those things that you mentioned in order to afford it. The joke around our house is about selling ourselves down on 14th Street.... Sad, isn't it, when all you want is a family?

3:39 PM  
Anonymous Jenn said...

I wrote a LOT about the financial aspect before we got insurance coverage. I had absolutely no idea how we would afford it, just that we would do a shared risk because we couldn't afford not to. I'm so grateful to have coverage mandated by the state, which is also something I love to talk about to anyone who will listen.

7:48 PM  
Blogger Brooke said...

I don't know. I really don't know when is enough. I don't know how much money should influence when to stop.
We had (have) very little money. So, we pursued parenthood the only way we could actually afford. Which isn't to say that it wouldn't have been our first choice anyway. We just didn't really look into any other options.

8:31 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

Money is always a factor. I'm naturally frugal (read: cheap), but we couldn't imagine not spending the $ to try to have a family. We went through ARC, with a $21,600. loan for 3 fresh and 3 frozen cycles. (for the stuff that wasn't covered (meds, ICSI, PGD, AH), we used credit cards). We went through 3 fresh and 1 frozen cycle when we ran out of gas. That's when we decided to persue egg donation (which is way more expensive). We appealed to the RE, as there had been a snafu with my biopsied samples. They said they would waive all their fees, but I would still be responsible for outside testing, etc. That cost about $8,000. - $9,000., on credit cards. This included meds for my donor, her airfare, her testing, anything I could help with. The fact she is my cousin saved us about $8,000., and the fees from the RE would have been high, too.

Thankfully, it actually worked and I'm due April 10th. I'm still really stunned, and I'll believe it when I see the little guy. I transferred the ARC loan (which was 8.9%) to a credit card for 6.9% and we're down to about $13,000. All of our other credit card debt is about the same amount. Our total debt before buying a house and starting IVF was about $600. We're living on a budget and chipping away, so we're getting there. It's certainly much better than the alternative.

Best wishes to you guys - I hope this works, but it's always nice to have a back up plan (and back up uterus)!

11:54 AM  
Anonymous said...

I feel a bit silly writing to say, Come to Belgium! But that is my advice. I don't know how I could have afforded treatment in the U.S.
As it happens, I am covered by the Belgian national health insurance scheme, which means that a certain number of IVF tries are mostly paid for (and the remainder, which we pay, is a pittance compared to the amounts you speak of in the U.S.) The trade-off -- which I accept and even endorse -- is that the number of embryos transfered is limited (according to age and number of previous unsuccessful tries) . The hospital is a leading research institute, and they treat the gay couples that some neighboring countries will not.
If you are not covered by the national health insurance plan, you can pay for treatment. I believe the current rate is 4,500 euros (about 5,500 dollars) for IVF without ICSI, and a bit more with ICSI. That's even less than it seems to be in Nebraska. The medications for some reason also cost less here.
In any case, this may sound absurd, but it is a very real option to come if you have some time and can't afford local American care. I have read of many English women who have come here after being monitored in London, as much for the quality of treatment as for the savings. But both are substantial.
If you are at all interested, you could write me.

4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I realize this is bold of me as I'm not even a blogger and so don't have a name or addy to let you know the slightest bit about me, but why is your doc so sure the problem is the eggs? You've gotten good embros, right? Maybe the problem is with implantation or... I'm really not trying to be nosy, I'm in a similar situation and would like to know more if you're up for sharing. Thanks and, of course, I hope that the next cycle will be *the one* we are all looking for.

7:44 PM  
Anonymous MFA Mama said...

I dunno. We don't have the whole "no sperm in the house" issue, and got pregnant naturally with our three boys, but we've just blown our entire nest egg and are now living pretty much paycheck to paycheck because of the medical expense involved in keeping our third child alive. He's required more copayments in his first six months (tomorrow!) of life than our other two children put together, TONS of medication, two surgeries, special formula that costs as much as a house payment, durable and non-durable medical equipment that is/isn't covered according to Anthem's whims, and WEEKS of my life spent on the phone looking for answers, and explanations, and exemptions...if you look at what we've spent on getting him healthy we probably could have done IVF a couple of times (although I don't know the going rate in my state). We had some trouble getting pregnant the second time around, and I brought up ART after one cycle where I was one day late and got my hopes up and then...but my husband said hell no, we can't afford that. And now look at us--same amount of money, afforded afterall (or at least we came UP with it)...I think you just do what you have to do for your baby, whether they're here yet or not. The rest will sort itself out. I hope.

9:04 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

I know what you mean with the money issue... Katie and I have not drawn our line in the sand yet. It sucks that money has to end up being a factor in this whole thing. All I know is I'm not ready to give up on my dream of giving birth.

11:49 PM  
Blogger Soul Searching said...

Wow! I had no idea this shit was so expensive! I'm glad you posted this, because I truly hate when I try to find the cost of something and find a really vague range. It's definitely eye-opening to read these comments, and just makes it all more of a bitch really.

5:05 AM  
Blogger Sophia said...

I posted vaguely at various times but here are the financial run down for us

In the beginning, insurance covered three non-ivf attempts but won't cover the man in the can. I had a 5000 medical spending account with a debit card that i can use like a credit card.

Tries 1 - 3: IUI's with 2 clomid cycles. Let's say 120 dollars in co pays, 10 for clomid, 315 dollars each vial for the first donor and 460 for the second one cause doc didn't like the first one's quality. All paid by the debit card and insurance

Try 4: Injectables and 2 IUI's bad math error on my part occurs...I'm out of money in the flex plan. I pay 1100 dollars out of pocket. Total cost about 5000

Tries 5-9: No insurance and no flex plan so now its known donor at home. Money spent on travel costs, food, opks and hpts god maybe $200 - $300?

4:17 PM  
Blogger Gabrielle said...

Sorry for posting a (long) comment to an old topic, but I have just had a chance to sit down and catch up on my fave blogs...

T is a "budget nazi" (sorry, the term is not meant to offend anyone, it is just T's self-appointed title. I like to call these little sayings of hers "Tanyaisms", but I digress). Ok, so T keeps a very strict budget and had quite strong ideas on how much we were going to spend on IVF and how many tries we were going to have (but this was before we really knew how much it actually cost). Needless to say we blew that budget in the up-front fees for the first cycle (about $11k for us here in Canberra Australia, but we did get back around $4.5k from Medicare, no insurance). The bare naked truth is that I was prepared to end our relationship if she had stuck to the budget and not allowed us to spend more money or time on achieving my/our dream. Thankfully it didn't come to that, and I honestly don't know now if I would have walked out on her, and certainly feel guilty now about having those thoughts. But hey! That is the power of the pull towards motherhood.

I would have done almost ANYTHING to get/save the money for the treatments, and would have continued to do anything until I either got my wish, or finally woke up and realised that it was not going to happen. But I wanted to be the one who decided when to give up on my dream and not be told to give up because we had spent enough money.

When you get a big bill for something (for example - you put off renovating the bathroom, but then the shower falls apart and you end up needing to replace it anyway so you spend the same amount of money anyway), you just make it happen because you have to do it. When you no longer feel you have to do it, then you stop. Until then you manage to find a way. We are not rich by any means, but we do watch what we spend so that we can afford nice things. The nicest "thing" of all is Baby G.

10:32 PM  

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