Carolyn Hax: Considering IVF after the loss of an unborn child
Adapted from a recent online discussion.
My husband and I have never come up against a critical, uncompromise-able situation where we differed in opinion until now. We recently lost an unborn child (our first) due to genetic defects. Moving forward, IVF with pre-implantation genetic screening is an option to make sure our next child is completely healthy, even though we were able to conceive naturally the first time.
However, starting to think about this option, I am not sure I’m comfortable with it from an emotional/spiritual perspective. Neither of us is particularly religious, but after this loss I would feel bad about the discarded embryos, and devastated if the healthy one didn’t implant successfully — which only happens about 45 percent of the time.
My husband thinks my vague discomfort is illogical. The issue feels sort of urgent since he is pushing for us to set aside money during his insurance open season. But I don’t think we could afford it (not covered by insurance) even with the maximum flexible-spending-account layaway.
It’s too soon to start thinking about this. ... I’m scared to try again, and not ready to move on yet.
— Procreation Woes
You’re still recovering from both a physical and emotional loss; “recent” means your body is likely still affected by hormonal changes, and of course you’re grieving. That’s a really hard time to produce a time-pressured, “logical” decision.
Your husband himself might not be as coldly rational as he thinks. Taking concrete steps like setting aside money might be his way of managing his own grief, since controlling the things we can control is a common, often productive answer to the helpless feelings that death can stir up.
There is a compromise here, though. Explain to him that you won’t decide by the open-season deadline, but will think about it over the next year. If it weren’t for the money, presumably, your husband wouldn’t be pushing for you to make up your mind about such a complex medical and ethical decision — right? So stand firm that you won’t move faster than you’re ready, even though the money issue is a valid one.
I suppose he technically can set aside money himself, since they’re his benefits, but you can only manage your part.
Plus, in the year you give yourself to think and talk about and research this decision, you can also be saving for it. It’ll be after-tax dollars, sure, but you’d need those anyway, right? Either to pay procedure costs in excess of the FSA maximum, or just cover the typical expenses for child-rearing however you choose to create your family.
So, move on this path with him, just do so at your own pace.
I’m sorry for your loss.
I have no idea if this will be helpful, but I know, as a biologist by training, that having the science behind medical stuff is always comforting to me. For what it’s worth regarding the unused embryos/unsuccessful implantation, up to 50 percent of naturally fertilized eggs do not implant, either.
That’s not what Monty Python taught me.
But that does put things in useful perspective, thanks.