Tuesday, November 6, 2007

My Story Project

My husband J and I have been battling infertility for almost 6 years. In the beginning we guessed that there may be some difficulty in our conceiving a child but never imagined it would lead us to where we are today. Most people in the world do not understand how infertility can impact someone’s life – 87.5% of people conceive their children without difficulty, and go on to have uneventful pregnancies, without complications. But that leaves 12.5% of our population who do have to struggle with infertility and pregnancy loss. It is a struggle that you can not escape. It permeates every aspect of your life from your emotional health, to your physical health, to your financial health.
Infertility bombards you every single day. You have to constantly think about what cycle day you are on, take medication which wrecks havoc on your emotions, take time off from work for medical appointments, work your way through unknown diagnoses, treatments, and procedures all the while trying to navigate your way through a world which views couples without children as almost second-class citizens. We are told by people who could never possibly understand what we are going through that we should relax, stop trying, just adopt. We are questioned about our treatment decisions. We have to face a constant battle between hope and despair. And, after spending all of our money on treatments, we are often asked how we could possibly afford children anyway. We live in a constant state of heightened stress, sometimes extreme, often internalizing that stress, always trying to act like our struggle is not bothering us because people think it is a lifestyle choice. We are told that what has happened to us – our infertility, our pregnancy losses – are God’s will, they are a blessing, we are lucky not to have children. Imagine the struggle within oneself when your rational mind knows that you have a medical condition that is preventing you from having children, or carrying a pregnancy to term, and trying to quiet the demons in your emotional mind that tell you that maybe you are a bad person, maybe this is God’s punishment for you. Imagine having a disease and one day your doctor tells you that you have a great chance at recovering from it, and the next day you’re told you will never recover from it. Imagine that scenario every day for months, and even years. Imagine what this all must do to our overall health, physically and emotionally, now and in the future.

Our partial insurance coverage has allowed us to pursue treatments to some extent. We are thankful for that – some people don’t even have that. We have been able to use IUI as a treatment, even though our chance of success is rather slim. We were even able to pursue IVF treatment, because of a grant made possible by New York State. Still, without coverage for the most efficient treatment we basically gamble our money away each month pursuing treatment with a low chance at success, just because that is all our insurance company will cover.
In our quest to build our family, we have taken out numerous loans, as even co-pays for covered treatment each month, begin to add up eventually. Currently we have 4 outstanding loans we are paying on for previous treatments, as well as using our monthly income to fund current treatment cycles. We spend about 15% of our income each month on fertility treatments. That does not even include the times we have taken money out of our retirement accounts to pay for medical expenses. We have virtually no savings, which frightens me when I think of our future, and it also leaves us out of the running should we consider adoption.
Insurance companies should be mandated to provide coverage for all infertility treatment. Physicians and patients should be the ones deciding which treatment option makes the most sense. It would save money in the end – for the patients and for the insurance companies. People struggling with infertility should not be punished for having a disease, just because someone else views it differently. And, our government should make adoption more reachable for people. While there are adoption tax breaks from the government, people still have to find a way to come up with money that they often do not have, and then are reimbursed after the finalized adoption. What about having guaranteed adoption loans, similar to student loans, backed by the government? Sure I can apply for an adoption loan, or home equity line, to fund an adoption, but for a couple with little financial means, this is often impossible. With proper insurance coverage, or better adoption coverage in our country, J and I, and millions of other people may be able to someday realize our dream of having a family.

4 comments:

AOTexas said...

Great letter. And I'm pulling for your BFP. Try to keep up hope. I know sometimes it feels impossible.

Kristen said...

Thank you for sharing. I think it's a great letter. I hope it helps to wake up those in charge.

Julia said...

I am sorry. We have mandated coverage, and so our medical decisions are just that-- medical. I am sorry it is so different for you.

BethH6703 said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I wish I couldn't understand your position as well as I do...