I was first introduced to Lori McGrath and her blog; The Write Mama when she became one of VancouverMom.ca’s Top 30 bloggers for 2012. We bumped into each other at a PR event later on I really enjoyed chatting with her. She is a kind warm woman and her open style of writing on her blog about her life and her passions is refreshing. I feel truly honoured for her to take time to answer my questions about WHY we need coverage for IVF in BC.
The Government of BC wants us to think about all types of families on our first ever Family Day. But what about those people who cannot be a family due to the prohibitive cost of private IVF treatments? Lori is a great example of a mom that almost wasn’t.
1) First, your post on embryo donation was one of the most beautiful pieces I have ever read. Why? Because what you wrote there is for me the perfect symbol of love, motherhood, and infertility. I honestly tear up everytime I re-read it. Can I ask you what your first feelings were toward IVF as an option? I ask this because as much as infertility is not unusual, it still doesn’t seem a comfortable subject.
Thank you Kerry. That post meant so much to me. My path to motherhood went right through the agony of infertility and it’s not something I would wish on anyone. But having come out the other side, I am happy to talk about our experience.
When we finally were referred to a fertility clinic and met with a specialist, we had been trying to get pregnant for about a year. Things were getting pretty tough for me emotionally by then as the roller-coaster of hoping for a baby each month and then being disappointed every time played out. I was honestly just relieved to find out that IVF was an option for us. It was a lot to take in as the doctor described the many tests we would have to go through and the actual procedure but we were very hopeful.
2) Do you think that the fact that it is an uncomfortable topic is one of the reasons the BC Government can overlook it when it comes to having the treatments covered?
Definitely. Infertility is one of those things that is really hard to talk about and it is much more common than you think. One in six families who are trying to get pregnant will face infertility and the main cause of it is a medical problem. Unlike other medical problems, the drugs and procedures to treat infertility are not covered by medical plans. So not only are you stressed out and worried because you don’t know if you will ever be able to have the family you have dreamed of, but you also have to worry about how to afford it. Why is that?
3) I find parenting to be both a private and a public existence. People judge by appearances and can come across as insensitive to us purely based on things that they cannot know. Do you sometimes feel like you should wear a big button that says IVF..yes that’s me and my son!!?
I think there needs to be a lot of public education about infertility and in vitro – not so much because of where we are at now – we are good now that we have our family.
But during the two years we were longing to have a baby in our arms so badly, and when I just didn’t know if it was ever going to happen – that’s when we could have used some kind of badge.
You wouldn’t believe the kinds of things people would say to me when I tried to share a little of what was going on with me. One friend told me her brother never had kids because they looked into in vitro and there were too many birth defects so they decided not to have a child. Another told me it was just stress. My dad sent me an article he found that said I should eat more ice cream because I needed more fat in my diet. I mentioned to my nutritionist at the time that we would be planning to go through in vitro and might be pregnant the next time we saw her and she laughed and said maybe I would be pregnant with quintuplets.
None of these misconceptions were based on anything we knew to be true from the phenomenal medical professionals we were working with. We were allowed to use one embryo preferably, or at the most two for our procedure. I had a medical problem (endometriosis) that no amount of ice cream would ever help with and it wasn’t anything to do with stress. The risk of even a minor birth defect was extremely low if at all. What I probably should have had was a flyer to pass out to educate the people around me so they didn’t put their foot in it all the time. But what I did instead was not talk about it.
4) Dare I ask how you and your husband managed this journey? Do you think that the prohibitive cost of IVF treatments causes even more stress and pain?
We were very fortunate in that we had some savings we were able to use. It was just before we bought our house so we were mortgage free and able to afford it but by the time it was all said and done, it cost us about $30,000. I still worried about the financial aspect – it was money that we wouldn’t have for our down payment and we are still paying for that with the size of our monthly mortgage payments. But it was worth every penny.
Having said that, how many people can easily come up with $10,000 – the cost of just one IVF cycle? Many families will need multiple cycles to have their baby. Now that we have a mortgage, we would have to take out a loan.
I am convinced that the cost of IVF is preventing some BC families from having children or putting them into long term debt and yes, causing even more stress and pain on these families. It’s not right.
5) Lastly, Family Day is coming up. BC’s first one. Do you think that the name is a tad insensitive to not only those dealing with infertility but others who may not have just warm fuzzy feelings when it comes to their relatives?
My hope for Family Day is that it can be a time to talk about and celebrate all kinds of families including:
¨ Families dealing with infertility.
¨ Families created through in vitro fertilization and donor egg or donor sperm programs.
¨ Families who are choosing embryo adoption or surrogacy.
¨ Families who adopted or who are going through adoption.
One day, I am going to have to explain our infertility journey to my child and I don’t want him to run up against the myths and misinformation I had to put up with. Just in the same way we need to celebrate single parent families, gay and lesbian families and traditional families, let’s celebrate the infertility family. Let’s get the conversation started.