While I've likely lost some old readers and gained some new ones with my blog transformations from TTC to pregnancy to parenting, I haven't felt like an active part of the ALI community lately. It's the community no one wants to be a part of -until you are. And then you can't imagine family building without it. (Unless you're one of those fertile, clueless, lucky ones.)
Hooray for the blog carnival hosted by Write Mind, Open Heart and Baby Smiling in Back Seat. I can contribute to the discussion on budgeting and financial family planning and feel like an active part of this community again. (I have some other community related posts brewing which I hope keep me connected as well.)
When I decided to TTC, I didn't think it would take two years, an infertility diagnosis, a slew of fertility drugs, and three losses before I became a mother. But it did. And I'm one of the lucky ones. Cycle after cycle, I kept waiting for them to say the letters, "IVF" and for the bottom to fall out financially but they never did. In fact, I brought up in-vitro at my WTF meeting after loss number three. The RE said it wouldn't necessarily help me since I was in fact getting pregnant. It would just cost more.
My story started when my gynecologist gave me a referral for the fertility center and scheduled me for a FSH test and HSG without knowing if was fertile or not. As a 39 year-old SMC wannabe, she said the fertility center would want the tests so I might as well do them while I waited for my consultation. They were covered by insurance with a co-pay. My insurance company also agreed to cover the fertility center consult and ultrasounds and lab work were partially covered as diagnostic testing. The IUIs were out of pocket. And of course the donor sperm was my cost. My out-of-pocket cost for an IUI was $185. Not a typo. That was how much each of the first four IUIs cost me without insurance. In fact, the cost of a single IUI was one of the least expensive of all the things I paid for. Donor sperm varied between $300 for local anonymous swimmers to $600 for semi-local open identity donors. I started with the open identity variety and when the funds ran low, switched to the locals.
I plan to be very open with my kids about how they came to be. That has always been the plan even before I knew how long or how much money it would take to get them here. While I can't say for sure, I hope my openness will help them to accept that while they may not have been conceived the same way their friend who lives up the street was, they were created out of love and want. And yes, it took some money. And that's okay.
Money has been a touchy subject in my family. My brother went through a messy divorce and his ex likes to talk about things like child support with their young children. He struggles financially and his kids are very aware of that. It's a burden I don't think their young minds should have.
If my children ask me how much they cost at age 7, (and I hope that they don't), I will try to answer in such a way that takes the focus off of money and more about us as a family. They'll already know that they don't have a daddy and that many people worked hard to help Mommy have them. I'll tell them getting pregnant cost a lot but it was worth every penny. If they press me, I'll compare the cost to something they know we're paying for at the time like, "Lots and lots of soccer camps." If they ask at age 18, I'll tell them that the process to get pregnant cost more than I had planned but not as much as many families pay. Instead of a dollar amount, I'll tell them nearly all the money in my savings account at the time. And remind them how important it is to save money for things you want.
When calculating how much they cost, I include every cycle, every donor sample, every loss, every procedure and every medication from the time I decided to start the process to graduation from the RE to my OB. I even include the books I bought on becoming a SMC.
I took family building one day a time. I knew that with each failed cycle or loss, I could be done based on cost but I was fortunate enough that I saved enough to do "one more cycle" -seven more times. I also imagined I would only have one child and that money would be the reason. When it finally worked, I was sure I wouldn't have the money to go through the process again a few years later. I feel very lucky (most of the time!) that I had twins and my boys will always have each other.
Visit Write Mind Open Heart for more perspectives on the Dollars and $ense of Family Building and to add your own link to the blog hop by May 1, should you want to contribute your thoughts.