Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My thoughts on "The Truth About IVF"

This post is in response to SIF's post, "The Truth About IVF". I recommend reading it before reading mine. You might also like to read Lindsey's response here (interesting not only because I adore Lindsey and SIF, but because they are friends in real life). And to be thorough, here is a link to SIF's most recent post, which is on this same topic.

As many blogs as I follow (and that's a large number), there are only about 25 that I read religiously. Every.Single.Post. Single Infertile Female is one of those blogs. I love her writing style. I love her sense of humor. I think we'd be friends in real life (yes, I'm totally a creepster!).

So, on a Monday morning past, while sipping my coffee and trying to get myself motivated to do some work, I read her post about her feelings on IVF, and how they have changed.

It wasn't until about three-quarters of the way down the page that I started to feel a little uncomfortable.

What started to make me uneasy was when it shifted from the "IVF is not something I feel comfortable doing again" theme to the "IVF is going too far in general" theme.

As an infertile who has no chance at conceiving except for immaculate conception or IVF, it's hard not to take offense when someone disagrees with your chosen path.

But I wasn't, and still am not, mad. I didn't get angry reading her post. After all, personal opinions are what you expect when you follow someone's blog.

And SIF has been through IVF. Twice. So, she has every right to form her own opinion about what is right for her. I'd rather read opinions about IVF from people who have been-there-done-that, rather than from people who barely know what IVF stands for.

I do know that I instantly started defending IVF in my head. And my first instinct is to compare IVF to some kind of life-saving treatment, like chemotherapy. I tried to justify it this way in my head for a while, and then I realized that infertility and cancer are not on the same level.

As much as I sometimes think that infertility is the end of the world, it's not the end of my life.

So, to compare infertility and cancer, IVF and chemo... it's not a fair comparison. Or is it? No, you can't die from infertility, but chemotherapy and IVF are both medical procedures. They are comparable in that respect, at least.

It's a slippery slope when we start on the path of questioning whether medical procedures are going too far. Are life-saving medical procedures and medicines the only ones that get the free pass? Is medical intervention going too far when it helps alleviate debilitating pain that wouldn't have been fatal? Where do we draw a line? And who is this "we" that makes these decisions?

Because I can't conceive naturally, should I just live out the rest of my days barren? I can't afford to adopt, unfortunately (I didn't realize the average cost of domestic adoption was $32,000 until reading it here). I'm not sure that the foster-to-adopt route would be right for me, as I've seen heartbreak in that arena when children are returned to their birth parents.

I was lucky enough to be accepted into a clinical trial for my IVF, so my cost has not been considerable.

And I will do what it takes to become a mother, and to make Buster a father.

I've never thought that IVF was going too far. That it was toying with what shouldn't be. And that's where the comparison to cancer, or any life-changing medical condition, can come in to play. Why should we only alter our fates when it comes to saving our lives?  Why shouldn't I want to alter my childless future? If the technology exists, and has proven to be safe, why would I not do everything in my power to fulfill my dreams?

I can understand why IVF is not something that everyone would pursue, whether it be due to religious, financial, or emotional reasons. And I can completely understand why SIF would not want to go through another IVF cycle. But to make the leap from it not being right for her personally to saying it's going too far for everyone, well I can't agree with that.

Because I don't think it's going too far.

But that's just my opinion. And like SIF, I'm entitled to mine.


  1. This is an awesome post. In the beginning of my Infertility struggle, I was against IVF for religious reasons. I really felt like it was messing with God. My dad once said though that God created these Dr's who came up with these procedures. He created those hands. After 3 years of being childless I no longer had the same views of IVF and especially now that my boys are here. I don't know how I could (or anyone else for that matter) ever look at them and not KNOW they are a creation OF God. I would not trade the journey I went on for anything. And I most certainly would not trade my boys for anything. If it wasn't for IVF they would not be the chosen miracles they are.

  2. I love this Kara, and I love that you did it with out bashing S.I.F. She is entitled to her opinions and I think they just came out a little wrong near the end of her post, she was talking about that was right for her but I read it as what she felt was right for all of us which isn't true.

    1. I agree that her wording made it almost seem like the tone of the post changed from "what is right for me" to "what is right for everyone". Regardless of how she meant it, I still like her, respect her, and will read her posts! But her post got me to thinking, which is why I wanted to write a "response".


  3. I have been afraid to comment on that post because I am still too close to the issue after my failed IVF. But, I love what you have said here and 100% agree. Thanks for saying it better than I could.

  4. Thank you for your kindness to me Kara. Honestly, I have been sick to my stomach about this for days now. Crying, and feeling shunned, and misunderstood, and ultimately... in the wrong. I never intended for my post to come out as a judgment against those still on this path, or already holding a baby in their arms. It was never my intention at all. I was trying to explain how my views have changed and why, but I never wanted to make it seem like I felt as though others should feel the same. It honestly breaks my heart that I made anyone feel that way at all. I tried to say more than once that I was talking about me and only me, and that I wasn’t judging in any way. I tried to preface every one of my more bold statements by first saying that I was only talking about me, in my situation, based on what I had gone through and believed to be true for the future. I tried to make it clear that the words I was using only pertained to my own personal feelings, even pointing out that I was open to the possibility that my mind may again be changed in the future. But obviously, I failed miserably if so many people took my words as a judgment against them. And that really does tear me apart, because it was never anything I set out to do at all. So thank you for recognizing that. I really am rooting for you all… it’s just that it has hit a point where I no longer see the same path as being right for me.

  5. I hear you. And I agree that it is a very personal and individual path we all must make for ourselves. IVF isn't taking it too far for those who want to exhaust their options. I can't imagine deciding to live childless until I have given IVF my best and complete shot. IVF may entail some drugs and stress that might not be good for us, but I do believe that it is our right to make that sacrifice. I know many women who went through it once, twice, even more to produce a viable baby and I can't see that IVF has done any harm to the child.
    I can see where you saw error in SIF's post. I also read her blog and was torn when I read that one in particular. I understand where she is coming from, but do not agree that IVF is taking it too far. If you have the will, the funding, and the support it can give you the possibility of a complete dream. Sometimes it doesn't (like in my case so far), but I think that it's wonderful that we have the chance for something that would otherwise be out of our reach.
    Well said.

  6. It's funny because I used to think IVF was going too far or "playing God" but as I struggle with my own infertility my views have gotten more positive around it. And you are correct, is it really that different than any other life saving medical intervention? Afterall, one saves a life and the other creates, to me, they are both in God's image.

  7. Nice post.

    I hope my post didn't scare anyone too much with my adoption post. It is good to thwart those arguments of those who say "just adopt...". There are ways to make adoption a little cheaper, but it is often still more expensive than an IVF cycle. One nice thing about adoption is the tax benefits (as long as they don't disappear.)

    In any case, it's a highly personal decision- living childfree/ IVF/ adoption...

  8. I totally agree, I didn't think IVF was something to mess with and then when I found out it was my only option I suddenly changed my mind. No one knows what we go through and they will never understand unless they are faced with infertility.

  9. I think its everyones personal choice. You know what youre ok with and until your faced with only those options, you never know which route you would choose.

    I also wanted to say that If a person decides they want to adopt from the foster care system, you can just be an adoptive parent. The wait is a bit longer, but so far Ive seen 3 couples, plus us, since our class in Aug to be picked to adopt children and it doesnt cost a thing(in my state anyway).

  10. IVF certainly isn't for everyone. But my opinion is that if fear is the emotion guiding your decisions, you need to take a serious step back and take another look before your spread your fear.

    Reading a box of progesterone and seeing that it causes birth defects, and deciding that it is therefore not for you is all well and good. BUT when there are women who are going through IVF RIGHT NOW who are injecting it into their bodies...that can be detrimental. The truth is, and this is from my Gyn and RE, not opinions of mine, is that IVF causes birth defects and miscarriages. That's right, you heard it from me. BUT that is because PREGNANCY causes birth defects and miscarriages. When you put an egg and a sperm together that would probably never meet outside a lab, you increase those risks. When you inject yourself with progesterone, you increase the likelihood of a pregnancy continuing that wouldn't have on it's own. That doesn't mean that progesterone increases the risk of fetal harm. It means that somewhere out there a woman sued the drug company because she had a miscarriage, and from now on it has to be put on the box. Plain and simple. Every...single...outcome has to be put on the box in the US, even if it only happened ONCE. So please, keep that in mind.

    IVF is a personal choice, but it is an effective, and safe, means of getting pregnant for those who couldn't otherwise. Estrogen and progesterone are hormones that increase with IVF, but they aren't foreign substances OR medications, and they also increase with pregnancy (including spontaneous ones). If you inject yourself with follicle stimulating hormone, you will increase your natural estrogen levels. This is all true, but those estrogen levels decline quickly to normal levels after ovulation.

    All of us as patients owe it to ourselves and others to get the facts regarding ART procedures from our doctors...and NOT doctor making EDUCATED decisions. Fear shouldn't keep any of us from pursuing treatments for ANY illness.

  11. Thank you for bringing this series of posts to my attention. They were each incredible to read and gave me food for thought about how we each experience IF differently and have to make our own decisions about when and why to quit treatments. Ultimately, I think its all about support. Our community is based on mutual support and that makes posting our personal thoughts a heavy task when they could hurt someone else' feelings.

    I understand where SIF is coming from, but I think she explained too much, if that makes sense. She could have said that for personal reasons she feels this is the end of the road, but in describing her fears and reservations she hit on some *very* sensitive subjects. While reading everything, I also kept in mind "What if she were calling it quits after, say, 8 IVF attempts. Would that change people's reactions?". Personally, I kind of think it would have. Sorry for posting a novel!

  12. I totally agree with you Kara.
    WOO IVF! lol
    Even though DH and I never had to do it, and I was questioning if I would want to (who am I kidding, I totally would've if we had the money)... to say it's wrong for anyone to do it is just bogus.
    But whatever... differing opinions and all that jazz.

  13. I was so anxious to read your response because you always have an awesome way of expressing yourself. That is exactly what I would have said, if I could say it that well :-)
    Thank you for sharing.

  14. Kara-
    I just wanted to comment on your post...
    I agree with you totally. I look at it like this, no matter what we "choose" to do whether that be someone choosing chemotherapy for cancer, or IVF/IUI for infertility, in my opinion, GOD will determine if any of it will work. Just because someone has chemo for cancer treatments does not mean they will be healed, and like we know just because someone has reproductive assistance does not mean we will be pregnant. But in both situations the better outcome is hoped for. I believe that it doesn't matter what we choose because either way, God will ultimately choose our outcomes. So, in saying that, I agree with you that there isn't anything wrong with IVF/IUI. What makes that any different than chemotherapy? Plus...God says be fruitful and multiply :) it doesn't mention anything in the Bible about fertility treatments OR chemotherapy being sinful. Sorry about the religious rant. Hope I didn't offend anyone.

    Sgtfish129 (twoweekwait)

  15. Different people have different opinions about ivf treatment but I think that it is a miracle of science for those people who can't conceive naturally.



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