Our Road To IVF – Money Issues

Our road leading to IVF seemed long.  From the first time IVF was recommended as our best chance at pregnancy, it took about 3 ½ years for us to eventually proceed with IVF, mostly because of concerns about the cost.  However, with pastoral and godly counsel and much prayer, we felt God’s hand upon us, even guiding us to the center He wanted us to use.

“We will know when we need to know, not before.”
(Elisabeth Elliot in “God’s Timing”, Faith That Does Not Falter.  )

This quote describes our road to IVF.  After surgery and treatment for Stage IV endometriosis, my doctor’s recommendation was that we try to get pregnant for a year, but if not, she said our best chance for pregnancy was IVF.  We were not initially inclined to do IVF.  At first, it seemed drastic.  If it was still possible to get pregnant within that year, why jump to IVF, when it would cost $10,000 (in 2001) for a 50% chance of pregnancy?  This was something we reasoned together but did not try really communicate with our doctor to find out more.  The $10,000 would be worth it if I got pregnant, but to spend that much money and not get pregnant with one chance and then be out $10,000 seemed like a huge risk to us.  It would have been both financially and emotionally devastating.

I didn’t get pregnant on my own that year, and after seeking treatment from a different specialist, we were again advised that IVF was our best chance for pregnancy.  At the time, we wanted to try IUI since it did not seem as “invasive” and was also less expensive, although the success rate was not as high as IVF.  When IUI didn’t produce a pregnancy, we sought to add to our family through adoption and also started to read a little more about IVF.

In the spring of 2004, my sister called me about an episode that aired on Dr. Phil.  It was about a shared-risk program for IVF in Washington, D.C.  I looked it up on the internet also and found out shared-risk costs more than one traditional IVF cycle, but some programs refund 70-100% of your money, if you do not go home with a live baby after a certain number of attempts.  It sounded like something feasible for us, maybe a financial risk worth taking.  It is more like a type of insurance, since we did not have insurance coverage for infertility nor live in a state that mandated coverage.

Summertime rolled around and my husband decided to ask our pastor’s counsel about IVF.  It was like a burden lifted off of us when he talked to him.  We had a green light!  I remember asking him, “Why did you ask him about this now?  Why not a year ago?!”  The doctors always said we had “a window of opportunity”.  All I can say is…

“We will know when we need to know, not before.”

That summer the show on Dr. Phil aired again and my mother-in-law taped it for us.  After my husband’s talk with Pastor, we watched the program.  I looked it up on the internet and tried to figure out how we could make it work.  It would be costly just for traveling and lodging.  A few days later, I did a web search on shared-risk IVF and a company came up called Integramed (now known as Attain IVF.  They did a similar shared-risk program with a handful of approved reproductive centers in the U.S.  At the time there were no centers in our state, but the closest one to us “just happened” to be only four hours’ driving distance from where we lived and 5 miles from my sister’s house!  That location definitely sounded more practical and feasible.

I prayed for peace about this center.  We also scheduled an IVF consult with our doctor locally to compare options.  I prayed Psalm 102:2b “In the day when I call, answer me speedily.”  And He did!  Praise the Lord!  By the end of October, in one day – the same day – the Lord answered my prayer by closing the door on our local doctor and opening the door to the center out-of-state.

Isaiah 30:21. “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.”

We knew this is where the Lord was leading us.  Within two weeks, we had our first appointment.  Then we were accepted into the shared-risk program, and by January 2005, we did our first IVF.  This definitely turned out to be the best option for us because we I did not get pregnant on the first attempt, although if I had, it still would have been worth it to us.  It was God’s timing, and…

“We will know when we need to know, not before.”

Note: I am presenting our story of shared-risk as one of many financial options to have a baby.  We had our baby in 2006, and so I am sure there are now even more programs and ways to save money, raise money, get the most out of your money – all that will hopefully lead you on the road to having your baby.
Article on Affording the Cost of Infertility Treatments

My Opportunity for Importunity

In January 2005, we were accepted into a shared-risk program for IVF.  Our 1st IVF attempt in January of that year did not result in a pregnancy.  Although it was difficult to hear that my pregnancy test was negative, we knew we had two more chances.  My husband’s words of comfort were that he was still confident I would get pregnant.  In my previous post, I said the evangelist’s message on importunity was preached on March 30th.  That gave me renewed hope to persevere in my petitions, to keep praying for a baby.  The dictionary defines importunity as the quality or state of being overly persistent in request or demand; to beg for urgently.

Our 2nd IVF attempt in April was cancelled because of a cyst.  Our 3rd IVF attempt in July resulted in a pregnancy – for about a week.  One of two embryos implanted, but it did not continue.  After the July IVF attempt, we thought we would have one last chance with the shared-risk program, since it allowed three attempts.  What we did not realize at the time was that they considered the cancelled cycle one of the attempts.  So one day they left a message on our answering machine saying they were refunding 70% of our money!  After praying about it and consulting with our specialist, we decided to try one more time.  That IVF – 3rd attempt to us – occurred in October 2005.

I mentioned hearing that message on importunity twice in the space of seven months.  It was as if the Lord knew I needed one more shot of encouragement to keep praying and asking.  On October 30th, the same evangelist preached at our church from the same exact text!  I smiled to myself when I realized it was the same message.  I thought, “God wants me to hear this message again!”  It was for me!  This was my opportunity to keep praying.  I just said, “OK, Lord.  I’m going to keep asking you for a baby.”

Again, this was the evangelist’s message.  Praying is asking.  Importunity means relentless asking.  Keep at it until our prayer is answered.  Keep praying until we get what we wanted and asked for, not a no, or a maybe, but a yes!

My retrieval day was 4 days later on November 3rd.  This final IVF attempt was not without another exercise in faith that I’ll share in another entry, but on November 16th, my first pregnancy test was positive and this time, it continued!  I was finally pregnant!

The November 17th entry of Streams in the Desert shares these thoughts on importunity.  “God will hear prayer, but He may not answer it at the time which we in our minds have appointed; He will reveal Himself to our seeking hearts, but not just when and where we have settled in our own expectations.  Hence the need of perseverance and importunity in supplication.  Never let us despair.  God’s time for mercy will come; yea, it has come, if our time for believing has arrived.  Ask in faith, nothing wavering; but never cease from petitioning because the King delays to reply.”  C. H. Spurgeon