Friday 17 November 2017

Q&A: Can we afford one more trip down the IVF route?

Q After trying for a baby for three years without success, my husband and I decided to go down the IVF route. At the outset we reckoned that if we cut back on a lot of things we could just about stretch to cover the cost of three attempts. Despite these initial intentions, after three unsuccessful goes we decided to try a fourth and final time.

We borrowed the money but again, it kills me to say, we had no joy. I think my husband would like to draw a line under it at this stage but I know he wants to make me happy too. I just feel I need one more try. As mentioned, we can't really afford it although I'm convinced we could find the money somehow. My parents, whose retirement fund has been destroyed by all the financial upset of the last two years, have offered to help but I don't know if I should accept.

A IVF and other fertility treatments have produced amazing results but sometimes I wonder if it was easier when such options didn't exist.

The lack of choice meant you were forced to accept the likelihood of not being able to reproduce at an earlier stage. However scientific advancements have provided us with endless possibilities and there are always people happy to gain financially from these developments.

I met a woman in Uganda last year who had just given birth after her 10th IVF cycle. Her family had sold their land and livestock to help her pay for the treatment. The morning after she gave birth she told me she wanted her baby to have a brother or sister and would most definitely try IVF again.

The lengths to which people go to have a child are startling and sometimes there is a point where you have to accept that your rational self has got lost amidst the emotional turmoil of it all. At this stage it is important that you sit down with qualified medical professionals who have nothing financially to gain from you and listen to their assessment of your chances.

Society has taught us that the natural progression in life is to have a family. When circumstances dictate that this is not an option, it knocks many people into a bit of a slump. After all, that's what was supposed to happen. Now what?


Instead of seeing it as a disaster, it can open up a whole new range of possibilities. It's such a taboo for people to say that they don't want children that few role models of child-free couples are promoted in society. In the United States this is changing but the life of a child-free woman is still generally questioned and frowned upon.

The reality is vastly different. I know a number of couples and single people who either couldn't or wouldn't have children and whose lives are more fulfilling than so many others. Nor is it a child-free life that they have. Most have close relationships with siblings' and friends' children who are hugely important to them.

I'm curious to know when you decided to try again for that fourth and 'final' time. Did you also say to your partner that you just needed "one more final try". I would hazard a guess that you have been here before. Last time your husband supported you and this time it seems he will do the same.

So what happens if the fifth cycle fails? Will that really be it? Have you considered other options at all? I'm not even suggesting you need to accept the possibility that you may not successfully conceive but I'm asking you to contemplate other possibilities.

There is, unfortunately, a very real chance that another cycle may fail. It would be in your best interests to have already contemplated areas such as adoption or a life without children of your own. IVF is a hugely expensive business and there are those who have carved out a very lucrative career from it. You will always find people who will tell you the next cycle could really work because it is in their best interests to do so. Be mindful about seeking clear independent advice.


What does your husband want? You say you think he would prefer to draw a line under it but it sounds like you haven't asked him frankly for his view. It is important you are clear about what he wants.

Of course he wishes to make you happy but convincing yourself that the next cycle is the answer does not guarantee happiness. What are the implications if it fails?

Financially you will have spent a considerable amount of money. If you embark on another cycle and fail, are you sure you won't be blamed or blame yourself for the outcome. If he agrees to try again just to keep you happy, might he then resent you if it comes to nothing? These are conversations that need to be had.

You say you are convinced you would find the money somehow and I hope that you are right. IVF aside, having a baby is a very costly business. You can't just think about the cost of paying for IVF when the outcome would be a costly new baby too.

I'm loath to recommend you seek financial help from your parents. I understand their desire to make you happy and perhaps to have a grandchild but can they really afford to assist you like this? If you go for this option, it would be wise to work out repayments.

How has your relationship with your husband coped through all this? It has been a very stressful time for both of you and you need to be mindful of taking care of that bond. Sometimes couples are so set on starting a family, they don't consider how a relationship will survive without children.

Take a little time out from worrying about having children and spend some time just enjoying each other's company.

After that have a frank discussion about what both of you want for the future, taking in all possible outcomes. Then if you think you really are going to give it one final try make sure the medical advice you get is utterly impartial and the very best of luck.

Orla Barry presents Weekend Blend on Newstalk 106-108FM on Saturday mornings from 10am-12pm

Irish Independent

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