Friday, September 20, 2013

The Ethics of Creating a Family

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.

If only it was that easy.

DH got his test results back and it has confirmed what we already knew but never tested for.  DH has sperm antibodies which means his immune system is fighting his sperm.  We were told that if he did have the antibodies but they were attacking the tail IUI could be a possibility.  His tests showed that 90% of his sperm were "encrusted" in the antibodies and they were attacking the head.  His #'s were good as were his motility so they told him we would be an excellent IVF candidate.

I know I've mentioned before we were married agreed to two things we wanted to include adoption in the creation of our family and that IF fertility were an issue we would never do IVF.  So now we have confirmed it IVF is the only way we would conceive a biological child.  When we made the decision never to do IVF it was hypothetical now its a reality.

So we took the time to explore it and came back to the same conclusion.  As much as I'd love to experience pregnancy its not something I HAVE to have.  Will I feel like I've missed something- yes.  I will never get to participate in a conversation about my pregnancy.  I wont say it doesn't make me sad but I also think its OK to feel sad about it.  This post is as much a post about my ethical feelings on fertility treatment as it will serve as a reminder of our thought process.*

So hypothetically lets go through the process of IVF.

The first steps of the process is harvesting the eggs from me.  That process results in the administration of medication.  That medication is administered in the form of shots.  Although I survived the one shot DH had to give me for IUI I'm not a fan of them.  My bigger concern about the shots is that it is introducing high levels of hormones into my body.  The research is contradictory but there is a big enough trend that links women stimulated for IVF have a higher risk of ovarian cancer as well as can result in ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.  The three cycles of IUI which we tried while we were waiting gave me a glimpse into how those drugs made me feel.  I was in chronic abdominal pain as well as the addition of increased hormones intensified my feelings about our infertility.  I believe it was during that time frame that I became borderline suicidal and requested that my DH hide my medications.

If we made it thru the harvesting stage then would be the creating of the embryos.  How many would we create?  How many would we implant?  If we implanted three and all three take- would we terminate?  If we only implanted one but froze 5 more and the one took- what would we do with the 5?
DH and I both were in agreement that we did not want multiples- one more is plenty!  I feel like after experiencing infertility I wouldn't be able to terminate a viable embryo if we implanted more then one and they all took.  For that reason we agreed that implanting more then one would be our only option but with such a financial stake in them taking hold did it financially make since to only implant one?  We concluded that financially implanting one wouldn't make sense but implanting more then one ethically we couldn't take the risk of- thus implanting none would be our best choice.

What to do with the "left overs."  Again after experiencing infertility the idea of disposing of "left overs" seems so wrong.  I do not ethically go so far as to believe that outside of our bodies these embryos are sustainable; however I also was raised with this notion of waste and that wasting is bad.  In a womans body those embryos are viable.  So I thought I'd have a hard time disposing of them.  We could donate them to science to maybe help understand a host of medical research projects and I'd be happy with that resolution.  We also discussed that we could place them for embryo adoption.  We agreed that the only way we would place them for embryo adoption would be if we could have an open adoption.  Although DH and I both agreed the only way we would "dispose" of the "left overs" would be with embryo adoption we also (yes this is going to sound very selfish but I'm going to say it) felt like it would be challenging to provide the cells which would allow life for another family.  For me I think what I imagine expecting mothers deciding on an adoption plan may have many of the same fears as me: would the child resent me, would this other family love my biology as much as me, would the adoptive family uphold their promise to an open adoption, and my feelings go on.

Then came the letter with the cost break down.  $13-16,000.  For one cycle of IVF.  One 50/50 chance to be granted the chance to become pregnant.  Would we have to do it twice?  $26-32,000.  What is biology worth?  What would I be telling Baby Girl with my actions?  Say we spent $26,000 and still no baby?

So we re-asked the question- what is our ultimate goal?  It is to be loving parents to our children and provide Baby Girl (and Baby2) the love of a sibling.  So we stopped.  I didn't go for my ultrasound or blood work.  We are excitedly completing our paperwork and moving towards a full home and the American Dream- the Happily Ever After.

*This post is ONLY about my opinion on the ethics of IVF.  It does not even touch the bountiful ethical dilemmas of adoption.

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