Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The financial question

I grew up poor (food stamps, W.IC, Ha.bitat-for-humani.ty-built-us-a-house poor). Between graduating from high school and moving in with Mr. Bunny, I supported myself, and life was not luxurious. It certainly wasn't bad: I could always afford organic milk, and while I sometimes had to go into debt to get by, or to do without expensive things like a car, I did just fine. Being poor was stressful, but I was used to it. Mr. Bunny grew up middle class. After graduating from college, he ended up in a job that is not what he hoped to do with his life (teach Latin), but is ridiculously high-paying. He makes truly absurd amounts of money. Apologies to those of you who struggle financially and would like to stab me in the eye. I can only say that I too have struggled.

My professorial income is not large. There's an imbalance in our incomes and also an imbalance in our attitudes towards money. Mr. Bunny thinks we need to be careful and save lots. Since I'm used to having just enough for necessities, I content that we have All the Money in the World. But I also have a ton of guilt associated with spending money, particularly on medical stuff. We never went to the doctor when I was a kid because we couldn't afford it, so we just had to stay healthy. I see medical care as a luxury.

When we had the IVF conversation a month or so ago, it was really tough. Needless to say, IVF isn't covered by our insurance (thanks, Ohio!). Mr. Bunny was unprepared for the cost of IVF. He'd been thinking ten grand, and was shocked when I told him it would be more like 15 per cycle (we get a discount because I'm a university employee), and we'd likely need more than one cycle. When I said he should be thinking more like $45 grand, he said, we can't afford that. I burst into tears. I felt so completely shitty. It's my fault we can't have a baby, I already feel all kinds of guilty about spending money on medical stuff, and without his income IVF would be very difficult. But as it is, we totally CAN afford it. I don't know if this will make sense to anyone else, but it sucked super hard. The discussion continued in a more positive way, but that initial reaction is still with me. So I'm wondering whether this is typical. Does anyone else feel guilty like I do? If you've had the IVF chat, how did the money part go?


  1. I was petrified of having that talk - the financial, emotional, and moral implications of IVF scare the crap out of me. In the end, I know we would find a way to make it work if we had to, since we both want kids, but it wouldn't be an easy decision.

    You shouldn't feel guilty about it at all, it sucks, yes, but it's not your fault or your choice that you guys are in this position. Hugs.

  2. I know what you are going through, Bunny. We have had the IVF discussion, and while we don't have a ton of money, we could pay for it with a little help. I grew up in a home where money was tight and when I see our bank account now, it feels good to have money there. DH makes good money, I bring in significantly less. I know it can be hard to feel that inequity.

    The other thing is NOT your FAULT you can't have a baby. There are so many reason why you haven't gotten pregnant, you can't blame yourself. It's something that is happening to you, not something that you are making happen. That's a big difference.

    Just keep talking to your DH. Men process things like this slower than women. GIve each other time to really think about what is best for you as a couple. I know you will reach the right decision.


  3. Our family backgrounds are unfortunately similar. Only I ended up more like your husband than like you. I worry about money. A lot. Even though the two of us make plenty now, I cringe at every purchase. Even buying new towels or a new pair of jeans that I NEED makes me pause. Oh well.

    If you opt for IVF, you can check out shared risk programs that allow you to take out a loan to cover the whopping cost, with manageable monthly payments, the program usually includes 3 fresh cycles with some number of possible frozen transfer cycles. If it works, you get what you came for (a baby) and forfeit any unneeded cycles; if all of it fails, you get a refund (in the ballpark of ~75%). Then at least you recoup some money for your troubles, and have it available if adoption is the next step.

    And to second comments above...IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT YOU AREN'T PREGNANT. The two of you are in this together and you both want the same thing, so try not to think about the "reasons why." There are no good reasons why, the end.

  4. Sometimes it just takes guys a little longer to get used to the idea of shelling out cash to become parents. Sometimes just planting the seed and then leaving it alone for a little while works wonders. I'm sure he'll come around after he's had a chance to mull it over for a bit.
    And not being able to get pregnant is not your fault! We can only claim fault for things under our control, and we all know that infertility is not under anyone's control or we'd all be knocked up by now!

  5. We had "the talk" too. I think it's common that the hubby's are more shocked at the costs of things, because we tend to know a lot more than they do about IF, treatments, costs. I don't remember how shocked he was, I think he was pretty shocked at the cost of adoption, and international adoption. It just sucks that our only way "out" is to fork over a shit load of cash and pray we get a miracle. Don't feel guilty about spending the money if you're in a position that you're able too. Over time it will probably be a easier thing to discuss and you will probably get on the same page eventually if you're not already. I don't feel guilty like it's my fault, and you shouldn't either, it's not your fault. I just feel pissed sometimes about it.

  6. Thanks, you guys, for all the kind comments (today and on other days). I guess I know logically that it's not my fault, but emotionally--it's another story.

  7. I know what you mean about the guilt of infertility. I know I would never want my husband to feel guilty if he had shitty sperm count and he doesn't want me to feel guilty, but it's hard. I know.
    As for the money conversation, it really is insult to injury that not only is it hard to get pregnant, but it's going to cost a ton of money! My husband and I decided that we would make it work. His bonus money creates our savings, so we decided to put it towards infertility treatments, but then we found out that if we switch to my HMO we'd have fertility coverage. So, to be fair, I've never had the "it's going to cost $45,000" conversation...yet. My hubs tends to be much more conservative than me with money, so it's likely he would have had the same response yours did. Hang in there.

  8. I wouldn't think about the long term worse case scenario of $45 grand.

    Try saving for one cycle at a time and reassess at every stage. You never know if might well happen first time.

    Best of luck.