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I Didn’t Buy My Children

I wasn’t going to comment on the WSJ article about shared risk and fertility loan programs (and I certainly wasn’t going to touch the comments that came attached to that article).  I was feeling fairly dismissive about the whole piece, and then I spent my morning yoga class in “fire-breathing dragons” (okay, I lie, I put my knee down when the teacher wasn’t looking and picked it back up again when she swung by my mat) and perhaps I really did release the emotions I’m storing in my hip joints as my teacher promised the pose would because I spent the ride home fuming about an article that I had pretty much dismissed.

There will always be people who will profit off another person’s misfortune while they simultaneously provide the solution to that person’s misfortune.  My RE is both the greatest man in the world and a thief, taking much more of my money than he probably needs (really, an average salary is $225,185 per year) while helping to make my body do what it can’t do on its own.

My RE provides a service quite similar to my ophthalmologist, who helps me work around my wonky eyesight.  I take both doctors up on their offer to give me access to medical advancements.  There is, of course, the option to not treat my poor eyesight, though I’ve never heard someone tell me that I shouldn’t wear glasses nor have surgery to treat the problem.  That there are perfectly good sight dogs out there looking for a home, and I’m being selfish to put on glasses instead of using this other option.  Mostly because we all know that it’s not true.  Sight dogs need a home, yes, but we also know that there are long waiting lists to obtain a sight dog.  It isn’t easy, it isn’t a quick fix.  It’s a different option for treating sight issues, one that may be the only feasible option for some people whereas I have a multitude of options due to the severity of my sight issues.

It’s a poor analogy because children are not glasses or sight dogs.  They are human beings with very real feelings, and parents need to be mindful of ethics in order to lessen any emotional stress on the child they’re bringing into their life.  I’m being facetious though because where the general population can wrap their mind around the difficulty and need for treating sight issues, as well as leave the decision up to the person experiencing sight issues, the topic of fertility brings out people’s judgment.

Finances definitely played a role in the choices we’ve made concerning treatments, but that is more the case this time around vs. the first time.  Just as a cancer patient would pay any amount of money possible to save their life (and the saddest part is that the line of possibility is close in for the majority of Americans, meaning that those with money can afford to do more to save their life), I was willing to pay any amount of money that was within our realm of possibility in order to become a parent.  We had to have a limit because there were loans we could have gotten that we could have never paid off.  But within reason, we were willing to pay what we needed to pay.  And yes, some would say that infertility is lifestyle threatening and not life threatening, but I would challenge those people to step into the mind of someone truly depressed after failed cycle after failed cycle and then talk to me about the hidden dangers of infertility.  For me, infertility was life threatening.

So we paid a lot of money, and we were successful so it — of course — seems worth it.  Do I wish we didn’t have to pay that money?  Of course.  But I also wish I didn’t have to pay for glasses or pay for my cholesterol medication.  No one enjoys paying health care costs.

Two weeks ago, we were driving home at night and the ChickieNob told me that someone told her that I bought her.  She wanted to know if this was true.  I’m not sure who told her this, and she refused to tell me who said it, but it lit an inferno in my hip joints, enough to provide flames to a whole army of fire-breathing dragons.

I didn’t buy my children in the same way that a cancer patient doesn’t buy their life.  I paid for services from people who had expertise in their field, and I made that money by providing services to other people because I am an expert in my field.  It’s a circle of money, one that inexplicably has judgment intrenched in it when it passes through the fertility clinic yet doesn’t have that same judgment trailing after it when it went into my pocket as a teacher or writer.

Every single person who has a child has paid money to have that child.  If they didn’t pay it to the RE, they paid it to the OB/GYN.  They paid it to the hospital.  It may have been as small as a co-pay, or it could have been several thousand dollars.  But everyone pays.  So, if someone is going to say that I bought my children, then we all bought our children.

Do doctors benefit from treating our problem — hells yeah.  I found it a little rich that it said in the article that doctors had concerns about fertility loan companies considering the enormity of doctor’s salaries, which come from the cost of treatment.  Do loan companies benefit from treating our problem — hells yeah.  Every company is trying to turn a dime on the people they service: a loan company tries to make money off my problem, my insurance company tries to make money off my good health.  And perhaps that is why I am so enraged, my fire-breathing hips releasing all these toxins onto the Internet.  Because every word of that article was wrapped in judgment like a piece of bacon around a scallop* — seeping rich fat into every sentence.  Oily, greasy, heart-clogging fat.

Was I pissed off thinking about how my RE was going home to his mansion while we ate ramen in order to afford treatments to have a child?  Yes, but I’m equally pissed at the car my ophthalmologist gets to drive just because I can’t see well.  If we’re going to report on the hidden ways the medical community benefits from patients, let’s at least be fair and show how much money medical issues generate for others across the board.  If you’re only going to target fertility treatments, you’re going to get my fire-breathing dragon words.  And rather than simply report, why aren’t we working to actually find solutions in order to make treatments affordable to all people rather than allow fertility loan programs to thrive in this manner?

*I know — what was up with a non-kosher analogy?


1 BigP's Heather { 02.28.12 at 11:32 am }

I’m more upset about the amount of money the pharmaceutical company made than my RE. At least I saw my RE face to face. I took up his time. He explained things to me and answered my questions. I never saw a drug rep. My nurse explained how to use the medicine and answered my questions. Yet I paid that company thousands of dollars as well. In fact, I paid them more for drugs than I did for inseminations…

2 unaffected { 02.28.12 at 11:33 am }

I couldn’t agree more with your whole take on this, and especially:
“If we’re going to report on the hidden ways the medical community benefits from patients, let’s at least be fair and show how much money medical issues generate for others across the board. ”

You mentioning your ophthalmologist reminds me of paperwork I’ve seen at the eye doctor for financing LASIK.

It makes me uncomfortable and angry that someone told your precious ChickieNob that she was bought. I’m curious how you responded?

And the last of my fragmented thoughts:
Why did I read the comments under that article? This one has me seeing red:
Linda Holmes-Rubin Wrote: If these people can’t afford the price of IVF, how can they possibly afford the cost of raising a child?

“These people”. Ugh.

3 Lindsey Hunter { 02.28.12 at 11:35 am }

I’m so so sorry that someone said that to ChickieNob, I wish I knew who, we would have some words! I agree compeletely with what you’ve said in this post, we took advantage of the available technology, we did not buy our children. I wrote a post a few weeks ago that had quite a few controvercial comments, one of them arguing that in regards to medical treatment IVF was comparable to breast implants. I have struggled for weeks now to explain a medical treatment that it really is comparable to and I LOVE your analogy. Thank you for finally giving me the answer I’ve been breathing fire over for two weeks!

4 Megan {{Millions of Miles}} { 02.28.12 at 11:39 am }

I always love your perspective on things. We get asked constantly how much our adopted children “cost”. People just do not think before they talk! It always hurts worse when people ask these kind of questions in front of my kids. I asked our social worker how she would handle it and she taught my children this very valuable phrase: “If you had 5 more minutes to think about it, would you ask that same question.” That usually shuts it down really quickly! If only people would think before they judge! Great post!

5 Lollipopgoldstein { 02.28.12 at 11:42 am }

Unaffected —

So I was in one car with the twins and Josh was in the other car, and we were coming back from a school function at night (we had all met up there). The ChickieNob said it when we were a few blocks from home, so I stopped the car outside the house and told her that whole bit about how we pay for services and not for people, as well as how EVERYONE pays for services at some point if they’re a parent. And then I told them that it sounds as if the person who said it was jealous that the twins never need to question if they were wanted. That they know how enormously loved and wanted they are, and perhaps this other person struggles because they don’t get a sense that they were wanted.

Then I told Josh as we walked into the house and he essentially repeated the same ideas to them at the impromptu family meeting we held.

I was pissed off.

6 Emma { 02.28.12 at 12:47 pm }

I used to have to pay out of pocket for medical services until I met my deductable. I hated forking over almost $200 in some instances just for a visit with a doctor that took 15 minutes.

I’m so sorry ChickieNob was told she was bought. No one should say that — especially to a child! I think you handled the situation beautifully though!

7 RelaxedNoMore { 02.28.12 at 1:07 pm }

Great post!
And if you ever find out who said that outrageous thing to your ChickieNob, you should go and kick them where it hurts. Hard.

8 Tigger { 02.28.12 at 1:25 pm }

The biggest fight my best friend and I ever got into was regarding infertility. Husband and I had done our first treatment just before college semester started one year, and it failed. I was discussing it with said best friend and she gets all upset with me and says “I don’t understand. You want a house, you bought it. You wanted a new car, you bought it. I know how much you want a child, but I don’t understand why you don’t just buy one.” I, naturally, let loose on her and we didn’t talk for about 3 weeks except when we had to. We eventually talked it out, she realized why she said hurt so much (and it wasn’t actually what she MEANT, which I knew but that was beside the point), and she apologized. It doesn’t help that she had one child and was pregnant with her second at that point, either.

I cannot, simply cannot, believe that someone told ChickieNob that she was bought. I also can’t decide if I would prefer that to be an adult or a child – an adult should know better, but a child would have to be taught that.

9 Queenie { 02.28.12 at 2:36 pm }

Some people are just assholes. (Comment directed toward newspaper article commenters, newspaper article writers/researchers, and whoever said that to Chickienob.)

I would love to see what would happen to IF treatment costs if insurance coverage was mandated everywhere as it is in some states. Actually, I’d love to see how RE salaries compare in states with mandated coverage vs. not.

10 geochick { 02.28.12 at 2:41 pm }

Holy moley, I can’t believe someone said that to Chickienob. I’m expecting it at some point for us since Baby X is adopted, but never in a million years would I even dream that someone would be so callous toward fertility treatments. Great response btw, and I loooove the sight analogy. I don’t want to know what kind of car my LASIK surgeon drives given how much money I just paid for 2 minutes worth of outpatient surgery.

11 Cristy { 02.28.12 at 2:51 pm }


During my brief time on this path, I have been angered time and time again at the idea I’m “buying a baby” because I’m pursuing treatment. No one who ever accused me of “buying my breasts” or “buying a heart” for seeking treatment for cancer or heart problems. But with children, the sky’s the limit.

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that fertility is so taboo. Sex education is greatly debated in our schools (because talking about automatically means they we’re giving them ideas instead of acknowledging that the human brain is wired for reproduction) and teenage mothers are often the subject of gossip (mentality = punish the slut). So here we are, a group of people who have a medical issue that prevents us from conceiving without intervention. Instead of supporting us, it’s easier to villainize us.

I’m so sorry that some asshole dropped the idea into their child’s head that ChickNob was “purchased.” You did the right thing. And I pity that child who said the comment because they clearly come from a family that has some serious issues.

12 a { 02.28.12 at 3:54 pm }

It’s times like this that I believe my husband when he says that it’s better not to share information with other people. They will somehow find a way to turn it against you. Sorry to hear that the Chickienob let this question bother her for even an instant. Glad to hear that her parents are good at addressing the issue and explaining it in terms she can understand.

Actually, my insurance company bought my daughter. Next time she’s annoying, I’m sending her there. 🙂 Also, your new favorite phrase is “hells yeah,” is it?

For me, what it comes down to is this: people want to think they’re unique…but at the same time, they want everyone to be exactly like them. Therefore, anything that is outside the norm is subject to judgement. And, since empathy is generally in short supply, the end result of the judgement is likely to be negative. (An expansion on my usual “People suck” philosophy)

13 Leah { 02.28.12 at 4:06 pm }

Ack, so sorry that she had to be exposed to that kind of thinking … It’s all a big joke to some people, it’s a pity you can’t buy a broader mind or some empathy.

14 Lora { 02.28.12 at 4:17 pm }

This absolutely turns my stomach. I’m SO sorry that someone said that to your beautiful Chickienob.

It’s amazing to me how people are so quick to judge fertility treatments… the same people who wear glasses, go to the dentist, take blood pressure meds, etc.

I’ve read several blogs in response to the Pope’s comments a few days ago and this brings up those same emotions. If we can’t go to the doctor for these needs, than why is it ok for someone to get lasik surgery or get a tooth filled. It sounds silly, I know, but people that make statements and write articles like that are a joke and out of touch. Maybe the next time they have a broken bone they should just let it heal on it’s own instead of contributing to the ER doc’s salary.


15 Her Royal Fabulousness { 02.28.12 at 8:41 pm }

I think it is better for me not to read the article, and especially not the comments. Can people really believe that if people don’t have an extra 30-30K lying around for IVF, then they can’t afford children?! Seriously? If that was true, barely anyone would have children!! What? Only those lucky enough to make a whole lot of money have the right to have children?

16 Mali { 02.28.12 at 8:45 pm }

I absolutely hate what was said to your daughter, and totally agree that you pay for services, and that is a very different thing.

But I feel as if the article focuses on something different, and I personally don’t see judgement in it. Unless I’ve skimmed it too quickly, it seems to me to point out the funding options, and the different ways clinics deal with these. And so I don’t really know how I feel about the article, to be honest. I’m lucky enough to live in a country that funds two cycles of IVF up to the (maternal) age of 40, and most other healthcare (with the exception of my glasses to be able to see). So I’m coming from a very different perspective. Here, you don’t have to pay for IVF any more than we have to pay for knee surgery if we need it. (IVF has limits – 2 cycles only – but so does knee surgery – with quite long waiting lists).

I was also lucky enough to be able to afford IVF when I needed it. (I was ineligible for government funding.) I have friends who were not eligible, and also could not afford to pay privately. My heart aches for them. But I also felt squeamish when I saw the first advertisement here for a loan for IVF. (Only recent, and only one bank I believe). I guess it’s no different to other loans – but it does seem to target very vulnerable people at an intensely vulnerable time of their life. (The 12% interest rate quoted in the article seemed pretty high. A loan shark is a loan shark.) But of course, on the other hand it gives an opportunity that might not otherwise be there. I’m also conscious of the very real potential for a conflict of interest between the doctors and loan companies. That also makes me squeamish – though again, IVF is tightly regulated here, and so conflicts are I think less likely to occur than in an unregulated market.

Still, I am pretty confident that if we could not have afforded to fund IVF, I would not have taken a loan out for it. One of the reasons why we waited to try to have children was to ensure we were financially able to do so. But if you’re cash short, and know that you have a guaranteed income and are able to pay off a loan over the next few years, I can understand the attraction of the loan. Let’s face it – people who do IVF have usually thought through the issues of having children far more deeply than the large percentage of people whose pregnancies are unplanned. But it also makes me incredibly sad to think of the pain of paying off a loan for IVF when there is no baby as a result.

17 laura { 02.28.12 at 8:54 pm }

i posted this to my facebook (and have been accused of buying my child in the past by a friend who was an asshole…if only she knew! buying him has been the cheapest part of it by far! )

18 Michaela { 02.28.12 at 9:33 pm }

I live in a state that mandates infertility coverage but in order for IVF to be covered you must work for a company of 50 employees or more. Which I don’t and I find it so random that the number employees determines your eligibility for medical care.

I had a friend tell me once she doesn’t feel that fertility treatments should be covered because it’s a choice. I told her that a vital part of my body is not working correctly. I have organs that are not functioning properly and deserve that same treatment as any other organS. If my stomach wasn’t working properly no one would say: “Well she really doesn’t need to eat that much!”

It fires the dragon in me too!

IVF treatments, acupuncture, supplements, herbs, blood work, ultrasounds: EXPENSIVE

Holding your baby in your arms: PRICELESS!

19 Justine { 02.28.12 at 9:59 pm }

I can’t even imagine what kind of person would have said that to ChickieNob … that part actually infuriates me the most out of all of this. Adults say stupid things to each other. But to children? I have dragons, too.

On the other hand: it’s true that the expense of fertility treatments (and adoption, for that matter) leaves some people unable to do as much as others when it comes to having a child. Just as some people can’t afford the cost of health care because their insurance coverage is abysmal. My friend who had a heart transplant recently talks again and again about how thankful he is that their insurance is amazing … I looked at my husband’s, which is currently covering us, and realized that we would be in a much worse situation financially if anything like that ever happened to one of us. I confess, the inequality of access (even if *technically* everyone could have access) to fertility treatments gets my dragons going, too.

20 Joni { 02.28.12 at 10:46 pm }

Thanks for this. Linked to my facebook now too… Sorry someone said something so insane to your daughter. Unbelievable.

21 Bionic Baby Mama { 02.29.12 at 9:09 am }

Great post — I love a good rant — and more than that, great answer to ChickieNob. I expect we will have some ‘splainin’ to do ourselves someday, and I am tucking this away in the back pocket of my mind.

22 Denver Laura { 02.29.12 at 10:38 am }

I can’t believe somebody said that to ChickieNob.

If you don’t have $20-30K sitting around, I guess you shouldn’t go to college. At least you shouldn’t get a loan right?

I took out a loan for $2,000 for my failed IUI. I could have afforded it outright but it made for a better quality of life (i.e. expensive wine after each failed cycle).

23 loribeth { 02.29.12 at 11:49 am }

I would have been pissed off too. As someone else said above, you know the kid who said that to ChickieNob didn’t pull that comment out of thin air — it must have been something they heard at home. :p

I read the article. I think the thing that bothered me most was the 22% (!!) interest rate being charged. I also found it amusing/eye-rolling that so many of the comments were from people promoting their own fertility-related services. :p

24 Brandy { 02.29.12 at 1:29 pm }

Thank you for this! I learn so much from your posts. We’re just starting the adoption process and I’ve already heard so many ignorant comments. I’m sure there will be more to come. I love how you responded.

25 Kasey { 02.29.12 at 3:07 pm }

I can’t believe someone said that! As always, I love your writing, and your analogies are excellent. And I think you handled the situation/responded so well.

26 Melody { 02.29.12 at 3:08 pm }

Probably best that you don’t know who said that to ChickieNob. If that comment made you feel the way it makes me feel, their tires would be slashed and you might be in jail awaiting a hearing for vandalism.

27 Lori Lavender Luz { 02.29.12 at 3:19 pm }

Oy, now my hips are tight.

I see others have pointed it out, but this is the crux of it: “If we’re going to report on the hidden ways the medical community benefits from patients, let’s at least be fair and show how much money medical issues generate for others across the board.”

You handled it so well with ChickieNob.

It’s funny because I just finished writing a part about intrusive comments about adoption. People do love to judge others, always certain their own house isn’t glass.

28 Rachel @ Eggs In A Row { 02.29.12 at 5:39 pm }

I wish I could write something elegant about the “your parents bought you”. But I’m so irritated.

29 Dead Cow GIrl { 02.29.12 at 6:40 pm }


I remember talking to a friend of a friend who had young twins and I, who was getting ready to do my first round of IVF asked if they were from infertility treatments hoping to find a friend with common ground. Instead I got a lecture on how, no, hers were natural and that she doesn’t even go to twins play groups because she has nothing in common with all those rich bitches who pump their bodies full of chemicals.

I’m still a bit speechless at her judgmental ignorance every time I see her and it’s been years.

And? I think I bought my oral surgeon and at least two dentists vacation homes.

30 Dead Cow GIrl { 02.29.12 at 6:41 pm }

But just to be clear, I bought my RE a much nicer vacation home.

31 Bea { 03.01.12 at 6:54 am }

What a strange thing to say.

But what you said? All correct. I love your response (in the comments).


32 Chickenpig { 03.01.12 at 2:46 pm }

My, you’re all fired up, aren’t you! Even to the point of using non kosher analogies. 🙂

All doctors who specialize in ‘non medically necessary’ fields make crap loads of money, because the insurance industry doesn’t regulate their costs in any way. If it comes down to life or death, there are in fact limitations to the profit margin doctors can collect. Trying to get pregnant is unfortunately a botique industry. There are a wide variety of places you can go to, and a wide range of what you can expect to pay for the service. I am very lucky in that my RE is associated with our state university system, and there fore they keep the prices down. In return, they are the only ‘in network’ provider for some of the largest employers in the state, guaranteeing them business. Our health care system is really sick, and this is just one of the examples of where treatment is necessary. My state also has a healthy insurance plan for all children, and when they started to provide money for the kids in the plan to get braces and orthodontic care, the cost for pediatric orthodontic care everywhere in the state went down as clinics started fighting for all the new business. Now even ‘poor’ kids can afford to have strait teeth around here. Imagine that? 🙂

I still find it amazing that the cattle ranchers are using IVF to produce more black angus beef. I don’t hear anyone making a stink about that. Maybe because the process is a LOT cheaper than what we humans are charged for the same luxury.

33 Cherish { 03.03.12 at 10:15 am }

Ohhh, this makes me mad. What is wrong with people?

34 clare { 03.04.12 at 2:50 pm }

that is such a strange and awful thing to say to a child! It is a testament though to your parenting that she’d bring it up and you guys knew how to set the record straight (with your kids.. and then to write such a thoughtful post with a good analogy for the wider world to read). We don’t have kids, but there have been so many comments about questioning the money we’re saving to pay for a future DE cycle or for adoption costs. I think your analogy of eye glasses etc will prove useful in the future rather than my normal speechless sputtering.

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