The Silent Judgement Around In Vitro Fertilization
Perhaps when you were a kid, you heard whispers of something called in vitro fertilization, and you thought it was some strange, other-worldly procedure conducted by futuristic robots in a lab that looks like something from a Universal Studios set. Your parents mentioned that a friend of yours was conceived through IVF. It all seemed so foreign and rare to you. Now, as an adult, you may have come to learn that IVF is actually quite common. You may even have friends who have gone through IVF, or are looking into it, as they are struggling to conceive through conventional methods. It’s no surprise, since millennials are doing the whole kid thing a bit differently. Many aren’t having kids at all, and for good reason, and those who do tend to wait a bit longer. But, as a woman, the longer you wait, the harder it can be to conceive. As such, you may know a handful of women scheduling some rounds of IVF. But there is this thing at play—this unspoken judgment around IVF that nobody’s talking about. Or if they are, it’s behind closed doors, and only with people who are decidedly not having kids.
It’s so expensive
In vitro fertilization is expensive—very expensive. When all is said and done, you may be facing bills in the hundreds of thousands range—especially if you must go through multiple rounds of IVF. Those who don’t want kids or don’t really support the idea of IVF might feel that it’s a gross misuse of funds.
You don’t know what it means to them
Ultimately, it’s never up to us to determine what is a “gross misuse of funds” for somebody else. Your friends could think that all the money you put into renovating your bathroom was a gross misuse of funds—did you really need that Jacuzzi tub and those marble floors? We can’t put a price on what something means to somebody else. If having a baby would be the greatest joy in this person’s life, then it’s not a gross misuse of funds.
It’s a bad investment
More on the money topic, I get it: there are thoughts like, “You could be investing it better.” Since, the reality is that IVF isn’t a sure thing, if you look at it like an investment, it’s not a very safe one. Pregnancy and delivery success rates only rank around the mid twenties to mid thirties, percentage wise, for the first four rounds of IVF. Typically, we wouldn’t think an investment with a nearly 70 percent chance of failure was a good idea.
With high risk comes high reward
Here’s what I’ll say about the investment: look at anyone you find greatly successful in your life. Ask about their story. They probably made some very risky moves at one point. They probably took some big losses. And yet, they came out on top. In general, high reward won’t come without high risk. If you can respect that in other endeavors, you can respect it in a woman going through IVF.
You could adopt
Depending on what route parents take—like independent adoption agency or private adoption agency—costs incurred could reach tens of thousands of dollars. And, at least a couple knows that at the end of that, there is a very good chance a child will come into their lives. So, many ask, why pay triple the price for IVF, which likely won’t result in a child?
It’s about creating something with your beloved
It’s important to understand that, for many couples, having a child is about creating a person who has the attributes of their partner. If you really love your partner, and think he has incredible qualities, you can perhaps understand why you could feel that making another little version of him would be a service to the world.
Maybe…take nature’s cue?
Some can feel that doing IVF is like going against nature—they can think, “Take a hint from nature—you aren’t supposed to make babies.” Though the jury is still out and there are conflicting studies, there is a chance that IVF comes with a slightly higher risk of birth defects. With all of this information together, many can feel like getting IVF is like defying nature’s will.
We do it all of the time
Humans defy nature’s will all of the time. In a sense, taking a birth control pill is defying nature’s will. Getting plastic surgery is defying nature’s will. Living for thirty more years than projected with a chronic illness, due to advanced treatments, is defying nature’s will. We are humans: we are evolved, intelligent, and defying nature’s will to make life what we want it to be is what we do.
There are too many people
There’s the overpopulation thing, and the thought, “We already have too many humans, and this person is going out of her way to further contribute to the problem. Wouldn’t she feel, at some point, a bit guilty for spending so much money to add to our overpopulation issue?”
One person won’t change that
Try to support your friend. If she gives up her dream of having a baby, she alone won’t solve the overpopulation issue. Also, if she has the means to provide for her baby, then at least consider that she isn’t bringing that baby into a life of wanting—which is often the concern when we discuss overpopulation.
Why is a mini-you so important?
If a pair is dead set on having a baby that’s biologically theirs, and it is costing so much money and emotional bandwidth, it’s common to think, “Is making a miniature version of you that important?” We can already judge the selfishness and narcissism around having kids in those who get pregnant easily—that judgment can increase towards those who go through IVF.
We’re all narcissistic in our way
Yes, even you. Even if you aren’t having kids, you are doing something narcissistic. You want to leave your stamp on the world. Maybe you’re doing it through your career or your art. But don’t believe that you are void of narcissism—you just exhibit it in a different way.
This isn’t a real problem
When a friend is going through IVF, it may monopolize the conversation. Every lunch is about how that is going, the stress and heartbreak around unsuccessful rounds, and the financial stress it is causing. You can think, “Nobody is forcing you to do this…You brought it upon yourself. And now we’re all talking about it, all of the time.”
How real are your problems?
Just know that when you complain about how tough it is to chase your career goals, or how tumultuous your relationship is, your friend could easily say, “Nobody is forcing you to chase those dreams or to be in that relationship, and yet, I have to sit here and listen to you talk about it.” Who are you to judge whose “problems” are real, or not real?
One day, you may want it
You have to remember that nobody grows up thinking, “I hope to go through IVF one day!” In fact, if you asked this very friend going through it if she ever thought she would, she’d likely say, “No. If you’d told me, when I was 18, that if I wanted kids one day, I’d have to go through tis, I would’ve said then I don’t want kids.” But, feelings change. When that desire to have kids takes over, some will do anything to have them. But it wasn’t the plan. So be kind to your friend going through IVF. This wasn’t exactly plan A for her, either.