At first, when infertility rears its ugly head in the life of a couple, emotional trauma and self loathing rule the roost, but once a couple decides on fertility treatment, there is a fundamental part of that process which no one really talks about, because there is no basis of comparison between the expected outcome of a fertility treatment, i.e. the baby, versus the money expended getting there.
However, the fact does remain that fertility treatments are costly, and could mean that a couple stays longer without a baby, especially they do not have sufficient funds to take care of the required expenditure. So, they are left to be painfully aware of the months, or even years, that go by as they await the opportunity to afford treatment, but at the same also aware this delay could indicateÂ a drop in their chances of conception.
“Truthfully, I never considered money, or the cost of the drugs, the treatments, and the different tests! All I knew was that I wanted a baby, and there was nothing that would stop me. I just had to have it, and that was that!” said Rolake*. “Yes, I knew the exact state of our finances, but immediately the doctors said there were options that we could pursue to have a baby, I immediately started to think of all the things that I could do to make more money, so we could pay.”
Rolake and her husband spent over a million naira on each cycle of IVF they had, but it ended in joy for them as they had twin boys at the end of the second cycle. Asked if thinks of the money spent, she stated emphatically, “No, it is really hard to put a money label on them. That is like saying my motherhood is worth ‘this much’. And that just won’t do.”
Natasha*, though astounded, at first, at the cost mentioned by the highbrow fertility clinic she had finally gone to with her husband (after she had tried two other clinics), soon adjusted to the fact that they had to spend more money than she had thought. But they were going to make it work.
The doctors had told her that for a woman who was just in her late 20s, the quality of her eggs were those of a woman in her 50s, indicating poor ovarian reserve. When she was told how much it would cost for the treatment she would have to undergo, she was shocked, and wondered where they were ever going to get that kind of money from? They had just bought a parcel of land, after years of saving, and they had no ready cash available.
But after the shock, they started to explore ways they could cut back on their living expenses; food, dining out, rent, fuel consumption, anywhere they could cut back, they did, and they were both able to get loans from the cooperative groups of their respective work places. She even took on extra classes to make more money. In the end, they were able to gather enough funds to start an IVF cycle.
That cycle failed! Devastated, and still paying off the loans they took for the failed cycle, they started another one. They were not going to give up. At least, Natasha would not even think it.
When her husband suggested that they pay off the loans they had taken before undergoing another cycle, she nearly went berserk on him. “How can you tell me to wait, when you know the state of my eggs!!! Waiting could mean us not being able to use my own eggs when we are finally ready!!! If you don’t want to pay, no problem, I will finance it out of my own pocket.” To appease her, her husband agreed to proceed with the second cycle of IVF. Luckily, it worked, and they got their baby.
But what if the cycle had also failed? What would she have done? At first, Natasha said, “I donât know o…but I guess I would have found a way to get money to try another cycle. I would have looked for money anywhere! I would even have begged my parents for it, lied to them if I had to…but I would not have given up.” When pushed later, she admitted that it might have taken longer for another cycle, as even she could see the foolhardiness of burying herself so deep in debt!
There are no guarantees with IVF, or even any fertility treatment at that. According to a Canadian study, IVF has a success rate of 47% for women under 35 years of age, dropping to 25% for women in their 40s.
The Anjorins* understood very well the no guarantee part of fertility treatment, but they just had to try for the sake of their peace of mind.
After 3 IUIs, with no babies, they pulled out the big guns, and moved on to IVF, with their remaining savings. They went through two cycles before their money ran out, but the fact that they were both 37 years old became a worrying factor for them.
Mr Anjorin had wanted them to wait a year, before jumping on the IVF treadmill again…when they would have recovered from the serious dent in their financial situation. But every time he got home, his wife would remind him that he was the one standing between them and their unborn child.
After a while, he could no longer bear the emotional blackmail, and he gave in. They went on the next cycle, which also failed. It became a case of living from one pay check to another, not to mention dealing with the emotional mess his wife had become. Thankfully, they were able to survive the rough patch that followed that cycle’s failure, and are looking to try another cycle in the New Year.
Unlike some western countries where fertility treatments are covered by insurance for eligible couples, there is no such cover for us in these parts. Except for minor procedures and treatment, all expenses have to be made out of pocket, which can be really draining. Thankfully, some fertility clinics, and financial institutions, offer some sort of schemes to help reduce the financial strain of fertility treatment. Public hospitals offer fertility treatments at cheaper rates, but success rates are dodgy, and patients often complain about the quality of treatment.
Expensive or not, when it comes to fertility treatment, giving up is always a hard choice to make, when there is a baby at stake.
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