Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What IF?

April 24-May 1 is National Infertility Awareness Week. As a 25 year old IF patient who may not have many years left with my own fertility, I wanted to share about my infertility journey and to connect you all to others who are going through similar circumstances.

What IF every state passed a law that would require insurance companies to cover fertility treatments and A.R.T. so that people like me and my husband wouldn’t have to choose between their mortgage or having a family?

My husband and I have had a multitude of conversations about having children. They started out simple (are we ready to have kids? yep.) and have become increasingly complicated (is he willing to consider having children that are not biologically related to either me or both of us? not yet.). Let me share some background for those of you who may not have read my story before.

I was married at age 22, and pregnant at age 23 1/2 after only two months of trying. Before I started trying to conceive there was always a nagging thought of, what IF there is something wrong with one of us? It was a tremendous relief to get pregnant so quickly.

But as quickly as it started, it ended. I was diagnosed at 12 weeks with a blighted ovum (a pregnancy where, most likely due to genetic reasons, a fetus does not form, only a sac is present). I was stunned. I had to medicinally abort my baby. Everyone told me, "you're young! You will have another one in no time at all."

And they were right. I got pregnant three months after losing my first and was elated... for three days, until the fever and bleeding at 4 weeks pregnant meant that all was not right. They followed my HCG closely and we were able to see our baby three times with a beating heart, although she was measuring smaller than I thought she should be. We saw her alive and measuring 9 weeks and they told us all would be well. And then I lost her three days later.

I refused to go through another miscarriage without testing. The Ob/Gyns who I saw all sounded a bit ticked that a 25 year old with ONLY two miscarriages would bother having all of this testing done, but I was convinced there was something wrong.

Thankfully, I didn't listen to those Ob/Gyns and eventually found my way to an RE who diagnosed me with poor ovarian reserve, a heterozygous compound MTHFR mutation and a septate uterus. Strikes 1, 2 and 3. Thankfully this isn't baseball, and I'm not out yet.

As of May 17, it will have been one year since I was last pregnant. Thankfully we did not waste that year trying solely on our own before seeking help; we have already tried Clomid for three cycles (let's just say that Clomid and my uterus didn't get along) and are now moving onto Injectibles (daily injections of HCG) to improve the quality of my eggs (without IUI or IVF, since my "piping" obviously works).

And now I get to my what IF. My husband and I have always tried to be fiscally responsible. We currently owe nothing to anyone and are planning on keeping it that way (except possibly a house one day). Our insurance, the best we could find from the government, covers exactly zero dollars for any infertility medication and zero dollars for even doctor's appointments, if they are related to a treatment cycle (which thankfully does not include "timed intercourse cycles," which is what we are currently doing). Although we are racing against a clock that no one can see, we will hold off on IUI or IVF (probably our best chances of conceiving) until we have exhausted the other options and until it is possibly too late.

Can you imagine what it would be like to never be able to conceive a baby of your own? Can you put a number on how much you would be willing to spend to be a parent? Infertility is a disease. Perhaps not a life threatening one, but it certainly affects your entire life. People get health care coverage for diseases that they gave to themselves (i.e. lung cancer from smoking, heart disease from eating poorly and not exercising). Why shouldn't infertility that we didn't give to ourselves be covered? Should we have to choose between fiscal responsibility or never being parents?

What IF you, yes, even those of you who get pregnant from one round of unprotected sex, wrote a letter to your senator asking them to pass a law to require insurance companies to cover fertility treatments? What IF they listened?

Please visit these links for more information on infertility:
RESOLVE: What is Infertility?
RESOLVE: National Infertility Awareness Week
Bloggers Unite: Project IF (Part 1)
Bloggers Unite: Project IF (Part 2)


Anonymous said...

That is pretty weird that your insurance doesn't cover those sorts of things. Is that usually the case? Or did you end up with a crummy insurance plan?

I suppose one thing you could do (if you're not currently doing it) is use an FSA or HSA, if they're available to you. Granted, you can't enroll in these until next year, but something to consider in the meantime.

Also, just saw this website, it mentions the other way to lower your tax burden when it comes to medical procedures:

As for the FSA, HSA, etc. accounts, I know a good deal about them (hence my personal finance blog) so if you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer them!

I know this has all be very tough on you and Jonathan, but I'm glad to see how strong you've been able to be.

Brooke said...

Great post Abby.

Laura said...

Hang in there! Great post!

Abbie Burnham said...

No, we don't have a crummy insurance plan. We have one of the best plans that a government employee can sign up for... and government employees are widely considered to have some of the best health insurance plans available to anyone. It is quite normal for insurance companies to not cover infertility treatments. They generally will cover the testing required to determine if you are infertile or not, but most plans will not cover any amount for any Assisted Reproductive Technologies.

Abbie Burnham said...

Also, I did know about the tax benefits. Of course, they don't count the first 7.5% of your annual income (a fairly large chunk), but I suppose the rest of it is tax deductible.

Thanks for the tip on the FSA, I'll look into opening up one of those.

Anonymous said...


My heart goes out to you. I can totally understand what you are going through. I to struggle with infertility. My story is a bit different and would be happy to share if you are interested.

Cammi Waggoner

Kir said...

I've asked myself this question so many times, my husband and I are broke right now, but we have twin sons..our IVF spent every last dime we had and then spent a loan and now the babies, well they spend the money we don't have. :)

I say it with a smile, because we have our sons, but you're right. Health insurance will cover an abortion but not a conception even though our government goes on and on about the sancitity of marriage and the privalege of parenthood.

I can only hope that by more of us talking, facebooking, refusing to NOT be quiet about infertility that more people (insurance companies included) wll start listening.

wonderful post, thanks for your words and good luck on your journey.

soblessed2be said...

I love you, Abbie! I am so encouraged by your faith and love despite so much pain! We are praying for you!!!