Tuesday, April 19, 2011
The Dollars and $ense of family building
So, I decided to take a moment from the maelstrom of beta hell to talk about something else.
Most people know how much I hate money. I grew up in poverty, so I've always thought of money as something that's nice to have but... well, sort of evil. It certainly didn't buy happiness.
Then I met infertility. And suddenly, money took on a new context. Suddenly, we needed it like we needed air to breathe. Suddenly, money made all our decisions- what we did on the weekends, what doctors we saw, what testing we had done, if we would ever get to go on a vacation, whether we could switch jobs... everything was navigated by money.
I still hate money.
We live in a state that has "mandated coverage," but that coverage is limited to diagnostics. Some insurance companies, like mine, get around that though. While our insurance covers diagnostic testing for infertility, they have a clause that says they only cover it until ONE cause is found. One. So after they labeled me PCOS, we were thrown to the wolves to fend for ourselves. No testing for other basic causes, no HSG, no laproscopy, no semen analysis... nothing else at all. We got things covered over the years, but not because of infertility. Our HSG fell under recurrent miscarriage testing, my laproscopy and hysteroscopy were the result of my abnormally painful menstrual periods... almost everything else came straight out of our pockets. Our insurance didn't even cover my initial blood work testing for the PCOS diagnosis, because instead of labeling it as "diagnostic" for infertility, my OB at the time only labeled it as "infertility."
C'est le vie.
Finances rules our life more than I would like. We've spent every spare dime we've had these last 3 years of treatments (thank goodness that first year trying was free of expense)... we hardly have anything in our savings account now. Just enough to get by for a month in case my husband loses his job. We can't move from this house we hate, we can't buy a car to replace our rust bucket, we can't afford more treatments, we can't pursue adoption... we were taken over by the financial burden of trying to conceive. We've been together for 8 years, and we've still never went on a honest to goodness vacation. Just a weekend getaway for our honeymoon, and after our last two miscarriages.
Our decision to stop treatments came about for many reasons: after 4 years and so many miscarriages we don't have much left to give, and we can't afford to keep trying when it either ends in a negative test of another miscarriage, and well... emotionally and financially it's draining. Our life has been on complete standstill on so many levels because of treatments. Financially we've been trapped in our house, car, jobs, and lifestyle. Emotionally, we just don't have anything left to give, sometimes I feel like an old hallowed shell. I don't even know who I am anymore. I'm bitter, I'm sad, and I'm so tired. Life hasn't beaten me down, but the desire for children has.
One cycle of injectable medication for me would cost anywhere from $1,800 to $2,600. And I've already had 3 miscarriages, and whatever this current pregnancy ends up being. The cost is such a gamble when we don't know if we'll conceive, and furthermore if it's even possible for me to carry to term. I can't justify the cost anymore. And if I get pregnant? All the medication I'd have to be one will cost another couple thousand dollars. If it worked, great... but if it didn't... well, crap.
So assuming this pregnancy doesn't work either, because let's face it things aren't going well and I've already have 3 miscarriages, so if it doesn't work... we'll take a year, save money, evaluate our options, and take time to mourn and heal.
So that's what we've been through, and where we are. I'm going to answer some of Lori's questions now:
How did/would you handle it if your child asks you, “Mom, how much did I cost?” How would you answer at age 7? At age 18?
Honestly, I really don't know. I haven't actually imagined actually getting a child out of this in... well, a long time.
When the child was younger, I might say "All the love in my heart," or something alluding to the fact that the cost was irrelevant now... that they're priceless. Because truthfully, if I had a child while the cost might have had quite an impact on us I think the pain would lessen if things actually worked.
It's the throwing money away on unsuccessful treatments that hurts me so much. Wasting $500 here or there, $2,000 there, on a cycle that yields either a negative test of a miscarriage is like insult to injury. I'm out the money, and out the dream. It's painful to know that I could have just went out and burned that $500 in the street and it would have amounted to the same thing.
An older child, I'd have to evaluate which truth they want. If they were honestly curious as an adult, I might talk to them about the expenses and make sure they realize how much I'd gladly do it again if they were my light at the end of the tunnel.
To what extent have finances determined the family-building decisions you have made? How have you able to balance financial considerations against other factors such as medical, ethical, emotional…?
Finances have been a huge deciding factor, and I hate that. It's hard to weigh your medical options, when your options dwindle because you start scratching options off the list because you know you can't afford it... or even if you could, that you'd never feel emotionally okay with taking that option and having it yield no results. And really, that's how I end up weighing options these days... how much am I going to regret this financially and emotionally if it doesn't work, or it makes me have another miscarriage? Because in all honestly, those options are always more likely than a viable pregnancy... 4 years has shown me that. So I think in those terms now, and it seems to work the best for me.
Has institutional and governmental support for certain family-building paths impacted your choices? For example, ART being covered by insurance, tax deductions for adoption expenses, etc.
As I mentioned, our health insurance covers practically nothing. Our employers have no adoption benefits for employees. So in that sense, it has affected us. We don't have those options, so we make choices that probably aren't the best. We do what we can in the moment, what we are comfortable with spending given the low odds of success. If we had insurance coverage for injectables or IVF, we might have tried those sooner. If we had adoption benefits, we might have moved on to that a long time ago too.
As it is, the lack of benefits for us has left us in a giant financial trap. It limited our options, and left us with no current alternatives.
Visit Write Mind Open Heart for more perspectives on the Dollars and $ense of Family Building and to add your own link to the blog hop by May 1, should you want to contribute your thoughts.