During our year long struggle trying to conceive, I had a conversation that has stuck with me. It reminded me that no one really knows what it is like to struggle with infertility, unless they themselves have experienced it.
I mean no one ever really knows someone else’s struggle but I have found that infertility is something different. No one knows how to empathize. If someone is struggling with cancer, no one else knows what that journey is like unless they themselves have experienced it. But everyone can relate to cancer. It has touched everyone’s life in some way, whether they have had cancer, know someone struggling with cancer, or have lost a loved one to cancer. Everyone can empathize with the horrific effects that cancer can have on a person both physically and emotionally. I am not comparing infertility to cancer by any means (cancer is a horrible disease but it has touched everyone’s life in some way), just showing that infertility is not something many people struggle with or know someone who has been affected by it.
Towards the end of our year long struggle, I had been speaking to my friend who completed a round of IVF. I was learning about everything your body goes through for a 50% chance of having a child. I was terrified and freaking out. I honestly didn’t (still don’t) think that I can justify financially spending $12,500 towards the possibility of getting pregnant and put my body through everything you have to in order to do IVF. When I was sharing my concerns about IVF with someone, they replied, “So what? You are just going to give up? There are other options besides IVF.” (I heard this on multiple occasions from multiple people.) Sure there are lots of other options; hormones, IUI, surrogacy, Clomid, adoption. These are all great options. But the fact that someone could say that to me, told me that they don’t get it. They have no idea what it feels like to even come to a decision to do these things. If they did, no one would say that to someone struggling.
Everyone’s reason for infertility is different, some are just unexplained. Sometimes the “other options” aren’t options for them depending on the reason for their infertility. Sometimes people can’t afford to do any of these options. Most people don’t have to pay to have a child. They just do what they were told to do and Bam! baby. Those of us struggling with infertility have to calculate the costs, not just to try and have a child, but also the costs of raising a child if one is actually conceived. Most insurances do not cover any type of infertility treatment so the costs tend to be out of pocket. Asking someone to pay $12,500 for a 50% chance of having a child, is a lot. Paying a stranger to carry your child can cost upwards of $100,000. Some can avoid this cost by having a friend/family member do it for them. But that doesn’t take away the costs of the procedures to harvest the eggs, create the embryos and implant them into that stranger or friend.
The decision to seek medical help to try and have a child is not an easy one. It isn’t just as simple as saying, “we want a child and we are going to make one “. It is also a large financial decision. Even adoption can cost $20,000 or more. None of the “other options” to have a child are cheap or easy. So to say to someone who is struggling with this decision, “that’s it? You are just going to give up?” is probably one of the harshest things I have heard throughout this struggle. It hurt. It meant that they had no idea where I was coming from or what I was feeling. It meant they didn’t really even try to see it from the perspective of someone going through this. They saw it from their perspective which was, “if you want a child, you will do whatever you can do to have a child.” That is true but there are hundreds, sometimes thousands ($), of other reasons why certain “options” aren’t realistic. Try to think of those who have struggled and what it would feel like if you couldn’t have the child you desperately wanted, the way you wanted to have them, and you may be able to get a glimmer of how it feels to struggle with infertility.