February 27, 2008

The Root of All Evil


Mr. Spicy and I had a loooooooong talk about it last night. And again this morning. The lack of it, the needing more, the taking of it by our RE and all our infertility expenses....ad nauseum.

The thing is - we aren't that bad off. There are many many people who are having to finance (i.e. "owe the man") for their entire IVF and those who just simply can't afford to do IVF at all, financing or otherwise. We are talking about selling our souls going into further debt for only about a third of the IVF costs. We have it comparatively good. The fact we can even consider IVF is really a luxury.

We have worked really diligently at paying off student loans, car payments, etc...to get where we are now which is still not out of the woods, but looking darn close. We really have a value of not creating new debt, and eventually living debt-free. It is hard when something like this comes up and we look at the amount we will pay out all at once and think: "Wow. It took us over a year to pay less than that on a student loan." and to know that this means a major set back in our plans to take over the world get out of debt.

I have always been the type to say, "It's only money!" and I have always felt things would somehow work themselves out. The sad thing is, during those times I made far less than we do now, and I was in fact, OK. So, how did we get here, where we make a combined salary that is really darn good and we still have to have these stressful and gut-wrenching conversations about financial decisions?

Mr. Spicy on the other hand is not one to say, "It's only money!" - he worries and ponders over our financial situation constantly. He has valid reasons for doing so - but since this isn't his blog and he has not willfully chosen to share his whole life with the world wide web, I won't delve into his reasons. Suffice it to say, he is not just some stingy curmudgeon. Not at all. But money matters to him, it matters a lot. Well, actually what it symbolizes to him matters a lot. He sees being debt-free and financial gains as being closer to freedom (and somewhat rightly so) and thus, setbacks financially feel like setbacks on the path towards freedom and autonomy. That's a big deal.

This morning, as Mr.Spicy processed all the ways that the expenses of IVF and the related decisions we are making as a result are burdening his heart and mind, my heart broke. I feel like somehow I am
doing this TO him. He doesn't feel this way. At least he hasn't admitted to me as much. But I just do. I looked at him this morning and I thought about how much this is costing him, emotionally, psychologically, relationally, financially, and I wished for a moment that I had never come into his life. I thought about how much better off he would be without his infertile wife in the picture. How he would have so much more freedom. Freedom to buy those new shoes he is lusting after. Freedom to buy a brand new suit. Freedom to drive a truck that isn't more than a decade old. Freedom to do what he loves in the world and never worry about money. Freedom to never feel "deprived".

And of course, we could just not do IVF - but that involves even greater costs that I don't think either of us is willing to pay.

It is so stupid and astounding to me that something like money could make me wish something like that - that we had never met. Because there is so much more than that between us. But I feel like in this moment of counting costs, of watching the results of years of hard work and diligence seem to disappear into thin air - what I have to offer here just seems so insignificant and small. I want so much to make this easier for him, to take more of the burden on myself - but I can't. (Honestly, my earning potential is just ridiculously less than his.) Just like he can't take on the burden of the shots, the hormones, the invasive procedures, the blood draws, the guilt, the shame, the questions that are uniquely mine to carry.

We are more together, more a team than ever - but still there is such a difference in what we carry in this, what we stay awake over, what we grind our teeth over at night.

Of course - if our IVF is successful these costs will seem small in comparison (I hope) - and I am sure we will never ever regret having made the sacrifices needed to do this. But if it doesn't work?......

It is so much bigger than money, isn't it? It always is though.

If you had to pay for IVF "out of pocket" - how did you cope with the financial decisions and financial strain? Was it different for you and your partner?


Kim said...

But if you had never met, he would be deprived of YOU. Without even knowing you or Mr. Spicy at all, I'd be willing to bet that he would agree with me that he would suffer from being deprived of knowing you and loving you more than he suffers when he can't buy those shoes he wants.

Not that I don't understand where you're coming from. With me and the Tree, it's not money that makes me sad as much as the idea that I'm disappointing him. When we met, he didn't even WANT kids. And as soon as he decided "hey! I really want kids!" that was when my body said "haha!" and wouldn't give us any. So I feel like he would have been better off without me, still not wanting kids and not having to deal with all this infertility stuff.

But you know what? He wouldn't be better off without me. Just like Mr. Spicy wouldn't be better off without you. And if you ask my Tree or your Mr. Spicy, they'd say the exact same thing.

Jen said...

I know I always feel guilty when one of my big worries about IVF is the money.

But I try to put it to the side. And not worry. Easier said than done.

We are paying out of pocket with a shared-risk program. It's crazy expensive but I wanted to go this route in case IVF No. 1 didn't work. And it didn't, so now it's like we're saving money. Ha.

I know I have a lot of animosity over the fact I have to pay someone for the priviledge of trying to get pregnant when others don't have the debt. But for us, the alternative was unthinkable.

I left the decision to do IVF with my husband, as he was the one who has lived with OI. He said he didn't want to have to go through what his parents did and wants his child(ren) not to have to endure the double-digit broken bones.

Ultimately, our decision wasn't about money but about giving our children a better life. I hate that I worry about the money aspect but I can't imagine either having an 18-month-old in a full-body cast.

Meg said...

Wow, your stream of consciousness is pretty powerful.

I just had this same discussion with my husband this week. Needless to say, tomorrow night (yep, a Friday) we have a date to go over making a budget and really sticking with it.

While we do not have the expensive IVF experience, we have a 50% copay for all pregnancy loss stiff and surgeries and 100% out of pocket for all medications. I am trying to add a few other needs of mine into the cost....like individual and couples counseling...which are not going over well with him.

nancy said...

Okay darlin', it sounds a little like you are letting Slumpy talk in your ear. My heart cried for you when we said "I wished for a moment that I had never come into his life". What a horrible thing for you to have to feel. And while I understand your reasonings behind it all, I really wish you didn't have to take on this burden too.

At the end you were talking about how you were more of a team than ever. And honestly, that's what I was thinking while I was reading your post. IVF is hardcore and really, mostly carried by the female. While a man can be just as emotionally invested as the woman is, it's not always the case (at least it's not with my husband).

So, as I was reading, I was actually thinking how "nice" it would be to have both of us feel a burden. Mine being the physical/emotional one and his being the financial one. Not that I'd ~wish~ my hubby to feel a burden, but to know I'm not alone in the burden-carrying business? Just seemed a little bit more 'fair'. I know this sounds selfish for me to say - but it's just that I don't want to carry all the burdens myself. To know my husband was also invested deeply in the cycle, well, it would make me feel "better" (better is not the word I'm going for though).

I hope you and him both can find your peace with this. You have so much to worry about, this just isn't fair.


Denise said...

I think it is pretty rare for a couple to be on the same page all of the time, especially when it comes to money. I highly doubt Mr. Spicy would be better off without you and I'm willing to bet (real money, actually), that if he knew you were having these thoughts he would tell you that is NOT TRUE.

Like Jen, we are in the shared risk program. I haven't gone back to our initial calculations to double check, but I'm pretty sure we've either broken even at this point or started to save money. Regardless of that, the stress factor has made it well worth it. I don't worry about every ultrasound appointment (which I apparently have to have a lot of), blood draw, etc. because it is all part of the cycle for the program. I know if we weren't in the program, I would stress over every one of those appointments and I would be tempted to err on less appointments to save money, possibly to the detriment of success.

I think it is easier to try to come to terms with the fact that you're going to spend a lot of money that could easily be spent on other things. Or should have been spend on other things. For example, a college education for your child that you conceived naturally. But once you come to terms with spending that money, you have to hope that the checks just start to feel like monopoly money and that you don't even think twice about writing them anymore.

Spicy Sister said...

Wow. Thanks for all your support and advice. You all are very right. Mr. Spicy would NOT be better off without me - we are so good for each other. And he knows that. And I know that. It is just hard to watch someone you love suffer for something you feel you should be able to prevent somehow. But you are right - it is good, in a very hard way, it is good that we share this burden. In different ways, we are both out here, naked and exposed. Hoping and risking all. We are more united in this - and I truly believe that in the end it will have been good, and even necessary, for us both.

Thank you for hearing me. Thank you for taking the time out to comment and to support me - it means more than you know. You women rock my world!

HeidiM said...

It sounds like you are both very financially responsible and think through financial decisions thoroughly. As for Mr. Spicy processing the financial burden, it’s possible he just needs to get his feelings off his chest. One thing that’s difficult in a marriage is that each person needs to vent, and occasionally in absence of a third party to vent to, we end up venting to our spouse about our spouse. I think it’s different from arguing though; sometimes you just need your real feelings to be heard, understood, and validated.

I’m the family accountant so my husband isn’t as interested in what IVF costs. His philosophy on money is “spend it if you’ve got it” and mine is “spend some of your disposable income but save a good portion of it too for worthy goals.” I’ve made some concessions to him in exchange for the IVF expenses, i.e. let him buy top-of-the-line sports equipment, but that is at the expense of saving which would be my preference. It goes against my nature to allow excessive spending on his end but it makes me feel less guilty about excessive spending on “my” end. So now we’ve turned into spenders instead of savers, and we have to be very careful to not allow it to become a long term trend.

I think too about how hard we work and how easily money goes out the door with IVF. Even if he’s not willing to give up new skis and a bike, we’re both willing to postpone retirement a year two and/or live in a less prestigous house if it means we can have a child.