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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Question Five

Welcome back after a long holiday weekend (or, for all of you living overseas--a normal weekend). A special shout out to our neighbours up north for Canada Day (yes, Americans DO know about Canada Day. They to say Happy Canada Day...). And of course, if you are here in America, we hope your weekend was filled with sparklers (if they're legal in your state), fireworks, and all the hamburgers/veggie burgers you could eat.

A discussion with my mum this weekend led to question number five. When she was going through infertility in the 60s and 70s, the only paths to parenthood were Clomid or adoption if you were going through IF. No IUI or IVF; no sperm washing or donor eggs/sperm (of course, the flip side was that without the option of abortions in the pre-Roe vs. Wade days more women put up their babies for adoption, hence adoption was a lot easier. My mother has a ridiculously easy adoption story for my sister in comparison to the hoops adoptive parents need to jump through today).

My mother's point is that it's easier today because there are more options. People at least can see a lot of hope before them because there are many things to try. My argument was that with all of the options out there, it's difficult to limit yourself and ever say "enough is enough" because you always want to try one more thing. Also, the financial burden of fertility treatments make it more frustrating when there are things out there to try that you think might work, but you can't afford them. This leads to a lot of couples/people heavily in debt with their bodies having gone through the grinder (anyone who has had a burst follicle will question the sanity of what you're putting your body through).

Which leads to the question: would you rather be living in the 60s with fewer options or living in the aughts (is there a better word for this decade?) with many options? Which one do you think you'd be able to handle better emotionally?

Not that you can go forward or back in time. So this question is a moot point. But it helps define the way different generations approach IF and may help you understand how a different generation (eg. your parents) views your struggle.

Tune back later for an ode to my mother--the woman who was our rock through IF. Thank you, Mommy.


Anonymous said...

In a lot of ways it is tempting to say that it is easier to live in a "simpler" time without the emotional strain of making difficult decisions. But, saying that it would be easier in the 60s leads us to question whether it would be easier to live in the 1800s when there really were no options (other than adoption, if one was so lucky). If I had lived in the 1800s I would have been considered a barren woman and forced to live a life of childlessness. This would have been a painful way for me to live, as I know that I was made to be a mother. Though it brings with it many complications and difficult times, I am thankful to live in a time when I have options. Some of them may be painful, both physically and emotionally, but I don't think they add up to the pain that I would feel if I had to live my life without children in my home. I am thankful that modern medical technology has provided a way for me to bear biological children. I am thankful that I live in a time when adoption is an option (though our American adoption system is flawed, we do have an organized system for uniting children and families).

Royalyne said...

This question could come at no more intense time for me. I'm back on birth control, trying to keep my endometriosis under control, while we wait for my husband to see his urologist, to find out if the "fluid-filled sac" is going to become cancer or not, to find out how much of his testicles will remain if it has to be removed, to find out if there is any hope of ever having biological children. Imagine the 60's where I would be going through multiple surgeries to try to manage my endometriosis because Lupron wouldn't be an option. Imagine DH not undergoing a semen analysis, which prompted the ultrasound that found the mystery sac. I can't imagine the amount of suffering I would do every month, the days curled up in the fetal position (why do they call it that, seems kind of cruel when you think that's the way I lay when I mourn another month without a baby), the nausea, the blackouts from pain. I can't imagine the suffering that my husband would eventually endure with testicular or prostate cancer (turns out the mystery sac could progress into either), the cancer spreading and eventually taking his life.

For me, infertility isn't something that I could live with, it's something that I need to do something about every day. I need to know that even though these tiny pills are preventing me from getting pregnant (yeah, right, the results from the semen analysis make that pretty impossible on their own), they are holding off the endometriosis, protecting the fertility I still have. I'm not the kind of person that can just sit back and let whatever happen, I'm stubborn and pushy, and I can manipulate just about any situation to get what I want. Why wouldn't I want to live in this time, where I can enlist the help of specialists and surgeons and high-tech equipment to manipulate the situation, to help me get what I want? I'm stubborn, it's gonna happen, and I'm just lucky that I have a husband that loves me enough to endure all of it with me. I'll keep pushing, and he'll have my back all the way. There is no giving up for me.

C said...

What an interesting question.

In a lot of ways, I'm very glad that I live in the 21st century when we have options like IVF with ICSI, donor eggs, and injectible medications. It means that so many of us who wouldn't have been mothers even 10 years ago can now experience pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood.

On the flip side, for financial and personal reasons, my husband and I have decided that the furthest we're willing to go on the IF train before starting the adoption process is IUI. That means that we won't be using most of the recent advances in IF treatments. I'm satisfied with our decision, but I do know that there will probably always be a part of me that wonders "what if?" What if we'd tried IVF? Would we have had biological children? For that reason, I think it would have been easier for me to live in an earlier time when there just weren't a lot of available treatment options. That "what if" factor wouldn't exist because adoption would be the only way for us to build our family.

Anonymous said...

I think I am definately happier to be in the 21st century despite not being able to have my own bio children. Decades ago IF would have defined who I am and how society viewed me. Today, IF is simply a part of me that I acknowledge but does not limit me. I have become who I am despite IF, not because of it. I am a mom of an adopted asian child, but society views me as a mom first. I don't think this would occurred decades ago.

What I don't like about our current medical options is that there are indeed too many options. It is rat hole. It seems there is always some experimental treatment that will offers success and hope, when in reality the possibility for success is often slim. What is really needed is some serious guidance at the on set of IF that discusses finances & options both within IF treatment and other family building oppotunities. I've seen too many people go into debt with IF treatments then struggle to meet the costs of adoption. I'm not bitter about this. I am one of the many that have declined IF treatments past routine IVF & was happy to leave it behind.

Nicole M.

Piccinigirl said...

Even with all the "what if's" I am still glad I am going through this now. I feel more Hopeful today about IF. I see women all around me , who never thought they would have children, getting PG. I know that medical technology is helping us do this and I can't think of a better time to be in because of it. I do think that insurance should step up as technology does and realize that not being able to get pregnant is a disease and should be treated to cure it. I also feel like it's a better time to be going through it because I don't have to hide it. The more people who come clean about the issues they had or how they overcame them the more we can learn about IF and how to make it easier for women struggling with it. IF is painful enough every day, but just knowing that there are drs, other women, family members who will talk me through difficult times and hopefully a medical staff that will get me pregnant. It's no toss up to me, now is definately better: Emotionally and physically.

Anonymous said...

I would prefer to have the options we have now, even though making those decisions can be agonizing. My husband and I had decided not to go beyond IUIs before proceeding to adoption, for reasons of finance and some concern over the ethics of leftover embryos.

Medically, they can do so much more now in treating infertility, too. I have IUI to thank for being pregnant, and I am happy that this was an option for me when it would not have been 40 years ago.

The conversation you had with your mom reminded me of the conversation I had with my mom about childbirth options. Today, there are so many decisions about birth environments, labor coaches, labor positions, interventions, etc. When I was getting overwhelmed by this, my mom reminded me that back in her day, she lay on a table with her feet in stirrups, and my dad wasn't even allowed to be in the room while she labored.

In each situation, I say it's b etter to be informed and overwhelmed by options than limited and left out in the cold.

The Town Criers said...

Royalyne—sending good energy to you and your husband. I hope the urology appointment results in good news. Manageable news?

It’s such a hard question. I’m definitely happy that I live in an age where medical technology can get me pregnant. And testing can result in learning about problems when they are still fixable. But it’s hard to know that there are procedures out there that are not accessible to you due to financial reasons. It’s one thing if it doesn’t work, but it’s another thing to know that it’s out there and you can’t have it due to money.

Which is why I support organizations like RESOLVE (which lobby for fertility coverage amongst other things). In addition, when we are multimillionaires, we will be setting up the Stirrup-Queens-Getting-You-Knocked-Up-Or-Into-Parenthood-Any-Which-Way Fund. This will cover adoption costs, fertility treatments, and your own personal masseuse for relaxation (since, you know, I heard that you can easily become pregnant if you “just relax”…)

Richard said...

As a man who has a sperm count of zero and an FSH level of 75, perhaps I ought to wish I lived back in the sixties where there was no chance that anyone could help me at all. But then I realise that my infertility is so complete that I might as well still be living in the 60s. For those of us who have zero sperm production all of the medical advances made so far are of no use to us whatsoever.

Don't get me wrong. I'm amazed and excited by the developments that science has made in the last 50 years or so and it pleases me to know that others no longer have to suffer in the way that I still do. I guess I just know how it felt back in the 60s when the doctors just shrugged their shoulders and said "I'm sorry".

Living now is definitely better. If nothing else there is always the hope of stem cell research.

serenity said...

I believe that we are fortunate to have the choices we do today, absolutely.

That said, for me, it means that I tend to think of science as infallible- each new technology gives me such hope- so that when it does not work out, it's almost harder to handle the failure then it would if a doctor had looked at us and just shrugged his shoulders.

Even so, I am thankful that we live in an era where we do have choices.

Anonymous said...

I am so thankful I live in this day and age. Had it been the 60s, when I was born, I probably would not have my precious boy. I think of this often.

Thalia said...

I always think it's a bit specious to want to go back to 'simpler times.' Would you also want to go and live without heart transplants? Without most of the current cancer treatments? Without computers and mobile phones?

So I imagine you can understand that my answer is no, I want to live now. In fact, I want to live 10 years from now when they've started to figure out why implantation does and doesn't happen, so that they can do something about it. Or when they've developed sufficient screening techniques that they can spot the embryos that are able to develop before they even put them back. It's hard to have options, but that's why we're adults with finely honed pattern-recognition and decision-making skills. None of our choices in life are simple. This one is more emotionally fraught than most, but it's yet another decision that we have to make with imperfect information and an emotional set of inputs. Thank goodness that so many more of us get to be parents. Let's hope in the future it's an even higher percentage.

Ruta said...

My mom went through infertility in those "simpler times" (late 60's to early 70's). After 7 years of trying, including several surgeries for endometriosis, my parents chose to adopt. That would be me. :-)

Although adoption was easier in some ways in the pre-Roe days, it was also not as accepted as it is today. My mom was considered a waayy-out there pioneer for adopting internationally ... from Canada. She had to fight negative attitudes everywhere, including from her MIL. So yes, in a very technical sense, her adoption was much simpler than the one we completed in 2003. But at the same time, it was SO much bigger of a deal.

Pretty Kitty said...

You know. I love my mom tons and for most of my life I have put her up on a pedastal so high that I couldn't even see her. It is because of this love that at times I am so hurt by what she says.

My mom has said to me on more than one occasion that I am lucky, because the treatments that are available today weren't available 15 years ago. though this is true, to me it is minimizing what we are going through.

While I am aware that in this regard we are, in fact, lucky; I have are hard time feeling lucky. It is comments such as these from the person in the world that I look up to the most, that sting the deepest.