How Much Would You Pay to Get Pregnant?

by Laura Christianson

For the one in six couples blindsided by impaired fertility, the quest to achieve pregnancy can become all-consuming—battering emotions, body, and pocketbook. How much are you willing to pay for a pregnancy? Jeff Opdyke addressed this issue in a column for The Wall Street Journal.

Certainly, there are many who will immediately say that no price is too dear to experience the joys of parenthood and to bring into this world a life that is of your flesh and blood,” writes Opdyke.

But when couples learn that a natural pregnancy is unlikely, they’re faced with immediate, very difficult decisions:

  • If at first we don’t succeed, how many times should we try, try again?
  • If medical treatment doesn’t work, do we have a Plan B, such as adoption or remaining child free?
  • Just how much money are we willing to spend on treatment that may not work?
  • Should we reserve funds for pursuing other paths to parenthood?

“Money often takes a back seat in the initial discussions—lost in the emotion of the moment,” writes Opdyke. He adds, “It doesn’t do any good to ignore the financial component, even if it seems crude to put a price on childbirth.”

I agree. In my volunteer work with couples facing fertility challenges, I have met couples who spent upwards of $100,000 in their quest to become pregnant. Some have refinanced their homes; others have moved cross country to find jobs that offer excellent fertility treatment benefits. Most, unfortunately, have gone heavily into debt and even into bankruptcy.

One friend told me, “There’s always the hope that next time, the treatment will work. Next time, they will have invented some new drug or new procedure that I just have to try.”

Next time…next time. The kernel of hope remains through seemingly endless cycles of hope and anticipation followed by defeat and intense grief.

With the fixation of conceiving or carrying a child to term always before you, it’s hard to set limits. Opdyke writes that “money and motherhood…become so entangled that rational thought will disappear.”

And yet, rational thought is critical when a couple considers treatment. Limits must be set. You and your spouse must sit down and closely examine your finances, preferably BEFORE you begin treatment.

  • How much do you have in savings?
  • In home equity?
  • In workplace health benefits?
  • Are you willing to take out a loan? If so, for how much?
  • Are you willing to move to another state, to a job that offers better fertility benefits?
  • Are you willing to sell your nice new car and drive a used model?
  • Are you willing to downsize?
  • Should you get pregnant and give birth, how much money will you need to pay for your child’s basic needs, for daycare, or for potential medical issues the child may experience?

Harsh as it may sound, taking an honest look at your finances will save you potential heartache. If you determine that you can afford $40,000 in your quest for a child, you might decide to budget $20,000 for one cycle of IVF (in vitro fertilization) and the remaining $20,000 for adoption.

Or you may elect to try two or three IVF cycles. Whatever you decide, it’s imperative to be emotionally prepared to walk away from treatment when you’ve reached your financial limits.

Yes, it’s excruciating to walk away – I’ve done so myself. But when my husband and I worked up the courage to walk away from fertility treatment, we had something to walk toward. That “something” was the two delightful babies whom we adopted.

What about you? If you’ve experienced fertility challenges, what boundary-setting have you done that works for you? What do you wish you’d done differently?

howtoinducelabor April 20, 2010 at 7:10 AM

I know of people who have put themselves in serious debt in their quest to have a baby (multiple ivf’s). It is a roller coaster that can be very difficult to get off of, even when you know in your head that you can not afford to continue. It is the heart that sometimes takes over the decision making in these situations.

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