Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Health Care Debate

This post is not going to be a diatribe lauding praises for or expressing angst regarding the Affordable Care Act.  Rather I want to reflect on how IF is viewed by the health insurance community.

We, like many couples facing IF, have decent health insurance in many areas.  Our insurance covers diagnostics related to IF and if I was diagnosed with PCOS, Endometriosis or the like, it would help cover treatment.  However, once a diagnosis of Unexplained Infertility bubbled to the surface, we were cut off from insurance to assist us in fulfilling our dream of having children.

I can see both sides of this issue:

The Argument for Not Covering IF Treatments such as IUI & IVF:
  • These costly procedures do not serve as preventive care.  
  • Not becoming pregnant will not have a detrimental impact on my physical health.  
  • Even my mental health has withstood the storm with the support of my faith, family, and friends (in THAT order!).  
  • Technically it does not improve my current health in any way, shape, or form.
The Argument for Covering IF Treatments such as IUI & IVF:
  • It's not fair that other people can get pregnant and I can't and nobody can tell me why!  How do you like that for a scholarly argument:)?
  • These treatments are medical and compensate for something my body is seemingly unable to do

From a very simplistic viewpoint with very basic research, the evidence clearly speaks to why IUI & IVF is not covered by many health insurance companies.

That being said, I can't help but think there has to be a more affordable means for the nearly 10% percent of the population for whom assisted reproductive means would benefit.

What would it take?  Do we who live in the shadows with our IF need to speak out and create advocacy related to this topic?  Does there need to be more funding for research that would lead to more affordable means or increased rates of success that would not making me feel insane for taking a $15,000 gamble with 50% or less chance of return?   

Or, to play the devil's advocate...

Is it just utopian thinking that everyone who feels so inclined should have access to means to reproduce?  Should others be burdened with costs (through their insurance premiums) simply because my husband and I want to become parents?

Clearly I have more questions than answers on this front and would love to hear opinions from others.

So, what do you think?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"You don't have children..."

We have been very blessed in that very few people have asked THOSE questions of us or made THOSE comments to us.  You know the ones I'm talking about.  The ones where people with children (be them small or fully grown) make comments or, what they consider, good natured jokes towards those of us who are without children.

We have never been pressed as to why we do not have children or been reminded that we are not getting any younger.  We have not been provided unsolicited advice such as "just relax" or "I had a friend who adopted and bam the next thing they knew they were pregnant, so you should try that".  However, in two separate conversations yesterday I was met with the words "You don't have children so you wouldn't know..."-ouch!

This is such a rarity that I should be able to brush it off, and for the most part I have.  However, in some small way I am transported back to 5th grade.  When I was in 5th grade Benetton bags were THE thing (see pic below). 

In my house growing up food, shelter, clothing, etc. were never in question, but name brand anything was virtually nonexistent.  For months I watched as girl after girl in my class sported their new bag.  At school as we would unpack, pack up, and walk home each day I felt like an outsider until I had scrimped and saved birthday money, Christmas money, and quarters from the couch in order to buy the least expensive Benetton bag on the market.

Now, let me be clear, in the 20+ years that have passed since 5th grade I have evolved into a mature adult and have no desire to "keep up with the Jones'" be it in regard to material items or otherwise.  However, after the second dose of "You don't have children so you wouldn't know..." I definitely felt a kindred spirit in 5th grade me.

If only IVF could be financed through birthday money, Christmas money and quarters from the couch-sigh...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Age is Just a Number (or so they say)

Here I sit one week shy of my birthday.  Age can be such a central focus for us...

At 13 you become a teenager.
At 16 you can drive.
At 18 you can vote and are legally an adult.
At 21 you can legally drink alcohol

The above examples are cut and dry, but there are others that are much more dependent upon the community and/or generation in which you live...
  • Graduating college
  • Staring a career
  • Buying a home
  • Getting married
  • Having children
As a teenager I saw the timeline for my life as follows:

At 22 I would graduate from college and begin teaching.
At 23 I would get married and buy a home.
Somewhere around 28-29 I would begin having children.

The first prediction was accurate.  The others, not so much.  I met my husband at 25, got married at 30, purchased our first home at 31 and the age at which I will begin to have children is clearly TBD.  As time went by I did not stress (too much) about most of these timelines, but as many of us know time can be the enemy when living with IF.

The birthday that lies ahead is THE birthday.  The one that changes the statistics.  The one that, at the start of this journey, was so far away I didn't think would possibly become an obstacle because, while something told me we might have some difficulty getting pregnant, I never in a million years thought we'd be here.  But here is where we are.

I guess the good thing about statistics is, while they have minor things on their side like science and probability, statistics don't know me and statistics don't know my story.  Here's to hoping I can make the statistics shut up and allow me to enjoy me birthday in peace.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Not Yet

Despite my wonderful husband's loving decree that "this was it", this was in fact not it.  And so began cycle number 37ish (haven't actually been counting beyond the first year).

Strangely I am was not overly sad despite my resurgence towards a spirit of hope.  It just was what it was.

This is going to sound bizarre, but I am still not sure what hope is supposed to look like, sound like or even feel like at this point.  I equate it to a little kid who has asked for a toy for Christmas and 37 Christmases have passed without that toy appearing under the tree.   At first it was frustrating, then it was disappointing, then it was depressing, and now it just is. 

In place of the requested toy there have been other gifts--a renewed sense of faith and emerging sense of direction, a stronger marriage, time to devote myself to a job that I love-- to name a few.  It hasn't been all rainbows and lollipops, of course.  There have also been a few lumps of coal--cramps, acne, and envy of pregnant friends and colleagues seem to top that particular list.  Tis the season, I suppose.

I was speaking with a colleague this week who had lost his mother (who was well into her 90s) and at some point in our conversation the term "season of life" arose.  I used to see this season of life (aka IF)  as the season of waiting.  When I viewed it that way it felt like I was putting my life on and that everything else was secondary to waiting to having or adopting a baby.   I was constantly wondering if God was saying "no" to our request for children or "not yet" and felt until I had an answer I just had to wait.

In the last few months I have restructured my priorities and have actively tried to stop playing the waiting game.  Interestingly, during this time I feel the answer I had been awaiting has come.  And while I am still wrapping my head around what hope looks like, sounds like and feels like, I think I know have a sense of what peace feels like.  Not surprisingly-it brings much better feelings than the waiting game every did.