Friday, November 16, 2007

We've Decided To Give An IVF Cycle A Chance For Peace Of Mind

The continued outpouring of prayers and support for me and Christine regarding our problem with having a baby has been absolutely incredible. The way you have embraced us, cried with us, shared in the pain, and offered gentle words of encouragement and advice has been our stronghold in the midst of an extremely difficult decision we have been contemplating regarding our next step in this process.

This has been at least five months in the making and started back in July when we found out we both had issues that have made a pregnancy difficult. Christine then had endometriosis surgery three months ago and has been given the green light on baby-making. My issue is with low sperm quality which has had Christine and I using terms like IVF, ICSI, and donor sperm.

Like I said, your amazing response to our infertility woes has been nothing short of incredible. For those of you who have been through this entire process and shared your experience with us, THANK YOU doesn't even begin to show our sincere appreciation and respect for you. As we've gone through the emotional rollercoaster about what to do, Christine and I have made our decision--we've decided to give an IVF cycle a chance for peace of mind.

The more we thought about this decision, the easier our choice became. If we refused to even TRY to do an IVF cycle, then the likelihood of getting pregnant on 8% quality sperm and Christine's endometriosis returning after she gets off of birth control are next to nothing. Yes, I believe in the miracle-working power of God to make it happen in His will. But the reality is the odds are very slim.

Regarding adoption, that's still an open option if this IVF cycle we attempt does not work. And let me just say, we're not at all opposed to adoption. It's a beautiful thing that actually mimics what God Himself did for us by adopting us as sons and daughters into His family when we accept him as our Abba Father. The act of adoption is very sacred and I greatly admire anyone who chooses this pathway.

But the reality of adoption is it is a very difficult, bumpy ride for vulnerable couples not knowing for sure whether they'll even get their baby or not. And the wait is usually at least two years, tens of thousands of dollars, emotional ups and down, and on and on. Christine and I spoke with a couple in our church who has done one international adoption and is still in the midst of a domestic one as we speak. The administrative Hell they put you through along with all the aforementioned issues make this an extremely unattractive option for people like me and Christine.

So we're back to the IVF decision we have made. Here's the thinking on why we are doing this: We're gonna give it ONE chance to work. Yes, this singular opportunity has odds of about 40-50% of working at a total cost of around $18,000. Sounds like a lot of money and it is. Thankfully we were approved by Capital One for an infertility loan and will be paying this off over the next five years. But regardless of what happens, it will be money well spent.

If we go through this process and Christine gets pregnant, then the money will have been well spent. Thanks to the specialized ICSI process where the best-looking sperm is placed in the center of the egg for fertilization, this greatly increases the chance that is indeed what will happen. It's a hit or miss proposition, but at least you're able to play the game where you wouldn't otherwise.

However, you might be wondering how we will feel shelling out all that money if for some reason God forbid this IVF/ICSI doesn't work. We thought and prayed about this for a very long time and it was not an easy conclusion for Christine and I to come to. But here it is: We will be sad if the IVF/ICSI fails to produce a pregnancy. But we are prepared for that now so we'll know how to react if it actually happens.

Christine has said she'll probably need a few days to come to grips with the reality of not having a child this way. But afterwards we will simply accept this as our lot in life to be without a biological child of our own (still keeping the adoption option open for the future) and have the peace of mind that we at least gave the IVF/ICSI an opportunity to work. We'll never have to look back and regret that we NEVER tried. Our chance is NOW and it's one we're willing to take either way.

Is the money scary? Heck yeah! My job is what you see me doing here at my blog and other related web sites on a daily basis. It's a non-traditional means for income, but has been paying the bills for about a year. I'm expecting an increase in sponsorship in 2008 with several interested companies, but nothing is guaranteed. If my business takes off like I believe it will, then there are no worries.

Even still, it's always good to have backup plans for raising some extra money. That's where we hope to get YOU involved in this process. In the next few days, I'll be posting about some homemade bead jewelry that my sweetheart Christine has made to sell to anyone interested in helping us in this cause. This is a fundraising venture that will give us the financial assistance we need while giving you a chance to receive an extra special Christmas present for someone in your life (maybe even a little something something for yourself!). :D Stay tuned for more details about that coming soon.

Meanwhile, we went to our IVF orientation on Wednesday this week where a nurse went over the schedule of all the shots, tests, treatments, retrieval of the eggs and sperm, and the embryo transfer details as well as how to administer about 60 shots in 10 days! EEEEK! I'm terrified of needles and cannot imagine what Christine is gonna have to go through, especially with the one that goes into her bottom for two months in a row. She's gonna have another pain in the butt besides me now. :P

We go to the reproductive endocrinologist's office next Wednesday to get baseline readings for Christine right before our trip to Virginia to be with Christine's family for Thanksgiving. She immediately begins the shots and I've been warned that this could impact her mood adversely. Hoo boy! Lord, I pray now for mercy and gentleness from that dear sweet woman I call my wife so she doesn't rippeth my headeth off during this process! LOL!

In my next post about our quest to have a baby, I'll share with you the names of these shots Christine will be taking and talk about the process of going through an IVF/ICSI cycle. We're ready to give this a go--good, bad, or ugly! We just want to be able to say in the end that we used this open door of opportunity and never regret our decision. And we won't.

Pray for Christine as she begins taking these shots next week that she will be strong. She's a lot better at them that I'd ever be, so I'm honored she would go through this to have OUR baby. I love that woman now more than ever before!

Check out some more feedback we've received from readers as well as related news regarding infertility and IVF:

Hello Jimmy,

You get so much mail, I don't want to waste your time with a lot of unnecessary words. Let me just first say I love your blog. You are a talented, witty writer and I believe you are doing your readers a great service by supplying such informative and interesting health news and interviews.

But my real reason for writing is to express my sympathies for the problems you and Christine are having in trying to conceive a child. As a mother of four, with four miscarriages in my history as well, I know a little of the pain you have suffered. I would just like to leave you with something to reflect upon during your decision making process regarding IVF.

I take it you are a Christian, from what I've inferred from your writing. From that point of view, I think it is imperative to remember that IVF almost invariably results in "unusable" embryos being destroyed or discarded. I don't know what your belief is regarding when life begins, but even if you think it might begin at conception, then you may want to give further thought (or get an honest answer from your doctor) to the IVF process.

I know this is a painful time in your life. May God bless you and lead you in the right direction.
ABC News: "Eating Soy May Slash Sperm Count"

Now that you've found the science that will work, now it is time to turn to religion. By this I mean the resources of the family values movement, aka the church, or the theocracy crowd, aka church-based social services. Not, my favorite people. But, there is a reason to look here for financial assistance.

I imagine, but I do not know, that they are very much anti- the sperm-donor thing, so the fact that you make the effort to see beyond the humanist answer, a bad answer in their view means that they should be on your side. They have the money. Heck the Bush administration is handing out tax dollars to these entities like crazy. So cycle through the fundamentalist churches and find someone that can help.

I'm attending my girlfriend's Catholic church. A few weeks ago, an organization came forward needing us to evangelize their services. They get government money, so they needed patients to keep the money flowing. The patients didn't need to be Catholic or religious.

Make the calls even if you don't go to church. Your tax dollars paid for these services. Access them. They are there waiting. You may also find some financial assistance from your State government, but I'd have no idea who to ask.

Beyond that, get a PayPal account and tie it to your blog and websites. Start a new website just to generate contributions. Have you put your blog content into a book yet?
Hi Jimmy!

I too would like to make a plea for adoption. I agree with the lady who stated that everything happens for a reason. Perhaps there is a reason for those who cannot conceive? Perhaps their baby, should they have one, will face health problems, be they mental or physical. Another reason for infertility could be that God knows how overpopulated we are, and it’s his way of controlling the population.

For myself, I looked at all of the struggles I have faced in my life, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, abuse, Lyme disease, obesity, obsessive compulsive disorders, and I decided that it was not worth the risk of my own happiness, to put a child through any of these possibilities. All are hereditary, including abuse! I just could not do that to anyone, let alone my own kid. Life is hard! I even made the decision not to adopt because some of my issues are behavioral, and could be “taught” to a child. I would not wish obsessive compulsive disorders on my worst enemy!

On another note, there is the cost that you mentioned, that is just astronomical. Have you also considered this? Not only will you have this tremendous debt, or deficit, but there is also the cost of raising a child in and of itself. Don’t even get me started on how much you would have to save starting right now, to put a child through college! At least $500 a month I believe is the current statistic. Will you be able to adequately provide for a child after spending that much money conceiving? Provide for them as well as you would like to? Back to adoption, wouldn’t it be better to put your hard earned money into the life of a child who needs it right now, rather than spend tens of thousands of dollars trying to create a new life?

I know that people want their “own” child, but I am half adopted. My father died when my mother was pregnant with me. When I was one and a half, she married a man who took on me and my three brothers; he adopted us 4 years later. Never in my life did I call him my step-dad, or my adopted dad, despite the fact that he was probably the worst dad in the world. To me, the one who raises you is your mom and dad. Blood has nothing to do with it. It’s the ones who stayed up with you when you were sick, or read to you every night ‘til you went to sleep, or who helped you through those auditions for the school play. Those are the parents, the true moms and dads.

And when considering adoption, if you go that route, also consider adopting an older child instead of being put on a wait-list for an infant. So many children out there need homes.

OK, that’s my two cents, for what it’s worth. I know that no matter what the decision, you and Christine will make great parents. I wish you the best of luck in making your decision. I know the decision not to have a child at all was the hardest one I ever made, so I wish you well in making yours.

Today’s the first time I’ve read your blog – it came up in a Google Alert I’d set a couple years ago for IVF/ICSI. My husband and I underwent the process just about two years ago, and now we have a 14-month-old boy. We couldn’t get pregnant because my husband’s sperm morphology was zero percent. In fact, all of his counts were very low, so that made ICSI perfect for us. Actually, I’ve read that a majority of IVF cycles are done with ICSI these days, just because it ups the success rate so much.

We live in Des Moines and used the University of Iowa’s excellent IVF center. We also used the “insurance” program and spent about $15,000 on it, plus about another $3,000 on the drugs. Today I tell people that I would pay a hundred times that for our son. I think U of I’s program refunds the money if the pregnancy results in a miscarriage before 10 weeks, and since most miscarriages happen by that time, we felt like it was a reasonable risk, especially since none of my tests showed anything suspicious. Plus, if you do miscarry and they have any extra embryos frozen, they’ll try again with those at no extra cost. Also, they keep a close eye on you once you’re pregnant to make sure hormone levels are good, and they’ll make sure you have progesterone supplements, which helps support the pregnancy.

We took out a home equity loan, which we just recently paid off when we sold our home, to pay for the treatment. I think if I hadn’t tried it, I would always have regretted it, because I wanted to know what it was like to have my biological child. I’m adopted myself, and my husband and I will likely adopt the rest of our children, but I’m so glad I went through IVF/ICSI. The emotional roller coaster is such a faded, distant memory now.

As for the process itself – it’s pretty intense. Your wife will have daily shots in the legs and hip (they really aren’t more than a prick), blood work every two or three days once the cycle starts and then a couple ultrasounds to check on how the eggs are growing and when they should be retrieved. The retrieval is really easy since they’ll put her under. I wasn’t sore or anything – just a little groggy afterwards. And, of course, your part is a breeze!

Then, you’ll hear the next day how many eggs were fertilized and are growing. We only had three fertilize, which is fewer than most women, and I was so disappointed because I thought there might not be enough to have a really good embryo to implant. But, three days later, when we went back for the transfer, we got a photo of the embryos and were told that two of them were “perfect.” They were both transferred and we got to watch the whole thing on a giant ultrasound screen in the room. The doctor pointed out the two “sparkles” as they were being transferred, which still gives me goose bumps when I think about it. We didn’t end up with twins, but the fact that one of those little sparkles is now my funny, sweet little guy is just amazing.

I did try to remind myself that there’s more than one way to build a family, but in the end, I would have always wondered if I hadn’t at least tried the IVF/ICSI. Good luck to you and your wife, whatever you decide.

First let me begin by saying I enjoy your blog and I was turned on to it by my reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Gil Wilshire. I have to tell you my home is a 90 minute drive from his office and the ride home was not to pleasant after my first visit there, he made no bones about the changes I needed to make to my diet in order to get healthy and to eventually conceive.

To make a long story short I’ve been living a low carb lifestyle for almost 8 months now and I’ve lost nearly 60 pounds and seen dramatic changes to my PCOS symptoms. I am writing to you today because I am completely on the same wavelength concerning the costs associated with the treatment of infertility. I always say that if my plumbing worked then I could have dozens of kids and no one would say a word and my insurance would cover much of the cost, but since we are struggling we have all kinds of hoops to jump through and little or no help from our insurance.

My husband and I have been married for nearly 7 years and we share your concerns about the cost of these treatments. There is pressure from the doctors, they see these problems everyday and it is easy for them to tell people to commit thousands of dollars, but do they realize what it is like to pay those bills if things don’t go as hoped. It is an incredible burden to know that there is something wrong with your body and you may not be able to have children, then add to it that you are preventing your spouse from having children too and it is enough to make anyone feel desperate enough to do just about anything.

I know that you are a Christian and I encourage you to pray and seek God on this matter. It has been my faith that has kept me going, I’ve said for years that I know God will give us children. We have been tremendously blessed four years ago our nephew came to live with us and is now like a son to us, and 2 months ago today we adopted a beautiful baby girl. We still desire to have a successful pregnancy, but we will take whatever we can get. For now we are just hanging out eating right and counting days, if we don’t become pregnant in a few months we will take additional steps.

I realize your situation is different, please feel free to call me, I would be happy to share with you why we are not in favor of IVF and the other costly treatments. Your blog has given me lots of good support and I would love to reciprocate. God makes people parents in ways that are unconventional and sometimes medically impossible.
FOX News: "Study: The Sexier The Walk, The Less Fertile The Woman"
My husband and I went through an (unsuccessful) IVF cycle back in 2003/2004, and I’m more than happy to answer any questions you have about it via email.

Our case was a little different than yours, my husband had great sperm count/motility, but I have severe PCOS which means I don’t ovulate at all on my own – we had to use mega doses of hormones to get me to respond at all, and although we transferred 3 perfect embryos, none of them implanted, which was absolutely heartbreaking.

I later found out that I have a inherited problem called Factor V Leiden which makes implantation and carrying a pregnancy to term very difficult, and we had to re-evaluate everything at that point. With the cost of drugs and IVF at $15,000-$20,000, we just couldn’t justify going through the emotional stress of another cycle.

I wasn’t able to “let go” until I sold my leftover drugs. Now, at 35 years old, we’ve not ruled out trying again, but haven’t decided on it yet either. I still weigh about 400 lbs, and want to wait until I’ve lost the weight I need to lose before even considering it. I know for sure that the DS I’m having in January will force me to eat more protein/less carbs, and I’m sure that will help as well. Maybe we won’t even need to go to an reproductive endocrinologist and we’ll just get lucky. I’m more than happy to talk about anything related to our experience, all you need to do is ask.

We did two rounds of IVF/ICSI that resulted in our beautiful twin girls.
Jimmy and Christine,
My wife and I went through IVF/ICSI in 2000 and we now have 7-year old twin boys. We had to do ICSI for the same reason, low motility--my boys couldn't get past the goal keeper.

We went through the whole injection thing and harvesting the eggs and then waiting to see how many eggs 'took' and then the implanting of the fertilized eggs and then the waiting to see if we were pregnant. Oh yeah, the cash, we spent about $20,000, it hurt--I was a firefighter and my wife worked in the dental field--we weren't rolling in the dough, but we have two wonderful healthy wild and crazy boys!!

I would spend whatever it takes again and again to achieve what we have now, it's only money and if it takes 20 years to pay it off--who cares. You can always make more money Jimmy.
Jimmy and Christine:

My husband and I experienced this infertility roller coaster from 1999 to 2003. While it seems like a long period of time, we were only in treatment for about 18 months in 2002 and 2003. At the time we did not have health insurance that covered assisted reproduction (by the time we got coverage, we felt that we were too old to become first time parents and it was just too difficult for us to jump back on the emotional roller coaster of treatments).

During that time we ultimately underwent 2 IVF/ICSI cycles, once using my own eggs and once using donor eggs. Unfortunately both cycles were unsuccessful and we have since decided to live child-free. While my husband and I were unsuccessful, I would always have been haunted by the "what ifs" if we had not tried.
Jimmy and Christine,

I would like to say may God be with you on your journey to parenthood, wherever that may lead you. Please keep in mind and always remember - with God all things are possible.

All the posts I read about this was either about adoption or the cost of IVF/ICSI. Not one blogger said anything about the cost involved with adoption, or the heartache that goes with it when a child goes back to their birth mother "because the courts said so."

Its a shame that there are people out there that are basically baby making machines (sometimes with siblings that have different fathers-or the fathers are unknown,AND that many of these children are born out of wedlock!) and that the government is providing for them(welfare & food stamps and in some cases child support because the parent or parents are in jail). These same people get free birth control, free prenatal care, and the cost of having the baby is free, then the immunizations are free and they go onto medicade and then their medical care is free, not to mention the WIC & Food For Families programs-which benefits the mother while pregnant and the baby til age 6.

Yet the government does nothing to help people who really want kids to get them, whether it is by adoption or medically helping the couple to conceive, their own biological child.

Then there are the people that really want children and can't for one reason or another, or people that have to go through fertility treatments to have one and basically get so in debt that it makes life harder for them to live - especially if they end up with multiple births.

I have friends that are foster parents, I know others that have adopted a child, I have friends that were adopted and my brother and his wife had to go thru fertility procedures to have their two children. I have one child and would like another, but it has not happened yet. The emotional rollercoaster you go thru while trying to conceive is UNBELIEVABLE!!!

My heart goes out to you and Christine. If your faith is strong and your marriage is strong, ya'll will be able to conquer this, and come out on top!

Basically it's gonna be expensive whichever way ya'll decide to go, and I think the joy of having a child is worth the cost of the procedure to get it. Counseling to keep ya'll together and will help ya'll to deal with all the emotional ups and downs as well as the financial burdens. Counseling is a good thing and it doesn't matter if it is from your church or from the medical profession. Always make time for you and Christine, no matter what, and remember "The family that prays together, stays together."

I have been following your pregnancy efforts. I know what it's like to be
dealing with this. I had 3 ectopic pregnancies in 1980, 81 and 82. Had to
decide if IVF was the next step. We opted not to for a variety of reasons
and feel now it was the right decision. I wish you both the very best. My
thoughts and prayers go out to both of you.
MSN/Today Show: "8 Dos and Don'ts: Diet Tips For Pregnancy"
Hi Jimmy!

I enjoy following your blog and have been a very firm believer in La Vida Low Carb since I was a teen. I was reading your story and frustration with not being able to have a baby and IVF. I wanted to drop you a little note and let you know the BIGGEST way low carb has helped me!

When I was about 18, I started noticing hair loss and hair in unwanted places. I was gaining at an alarming speed, despite not really eating that much. After crying to my doctor to please figure out what was wrong with me, I finally got a diagnosis--PCOS--when I was 23. I read all about it and decided to be real about Atkins. Working full time and going to nursing school full time I was still able to be extremely faithful to 20 carbs a day.

After only about 3 months I lost 30 pounds! My PCOS symptoms greatly improved. Then I started to feel very sick. I was pregnant! I was on BC at the time for my PCOS, not even trying to get pregnant! I was told I would have a very difficult time because of virtually no periods and one of my tubes was blocked by a cyst. When I had an ultrasound, my cyst was gone! 3 short months of LC and I had shrank a cyst and completely renewed my metabolism.

Then, this year after a few years of not being on LC I got serious again. My PCOS was worsening and I felt terrible. I was on Atkins again and lost 21 pounds in 3 weeks! Next thing I know---I am pregnant AGAIN! I was very happy with just being able to have 1, but 2----it blows my mind. So I am 18 weeks pregnant and owe it all to the Low Carb Life! I will tell anyone who will listen how Atkins got me pregnant twice...most don't believe me but it is definitely true! After the baby comes, I am going for Atkins again with more than 120 pounds to lose.

I love your story and your site! I wish you all the best in everything!
Jimmy/Christine --

I don't have firsthand experience with IVF procedures, although my husband and I did struggle to get pregnant. We had one successful pregnancy out of three, and our boy/girl twins will be two this month!

We have some very good friends who did IVF. Out of four rounds of IVF, they have one little girl. The first round resulted in miscarriage. The second round is when they had their daughter; she was one of three embryos to implant. The third and fourth rounds were completely unsuccessful -- no pregnancies either time. With that said, we were also in labor and delivery classes with three couples who had undergone IVF successfully, so it does work.

In the end, the cost to undergo IVF versus the cost to adopt is about equal -- most places put the estimates at $20,000. Adoption isn't a guarantee of a baby, either -- heaps of red tape, long waits for paperwork to be finalized and processed, and then you wait for a baby to become available. . . unless you adopt overseas, which brings another set of challenges with it. . .

Have you guys considered having the IVF done out of the country? America has some wonderful technology, but there are other countries not far behind us -- in fact, there are hospitals in India that are managed by a health care company in Dallas, TX! As a rule, the cost to have a procedure done outside the U.S. is roughly 1/3 to 1/2 what you would pay here. . .

Just a thought. . .

Best wishes to you both!
Hi Jimmy,

Please know that you and Christine have my total support in your quest to have a baby of your own. You both in my thoughts. Again, I admire your honesty in laying out the various reasons why you are having problems conceiving. I don't think that there are a whole lot of guys out there that will candidly admit that part of the problem lies with them. I have every expectation that the happy day will come when you post about the arrival of your child. And I look forward to that day.

Some doctors who do IVF recommend acupuncture prior to and during the IVF process and find it to be very helpful. Thought I would pass this along.
Hi Jimmy:

I was reading your blog today and saw what you and Christine are going through right now with IVF/ICSI.

I have sent you a link with pictures of my two sons (BEAUTIFUL BOYS!) who were BOTH born from IVF/ICSI. My husband also had a horrible sperm count and we were told we would probably never have a baby of our own. We went through 2 fresh cycles and 2 frozen embryo transfer cycles, so we've done it all. One is a frozen baby and the other is a fresh baby!

ICSI has been around for almost 12 years. It is now standard procedure in most good clinics. For the most part, it has essentially "cured" male infertility, so feel confident you are using a well established method.

Make sure you understand if your clinic does a Day 3 embryo transfer or a Day 5 blastocyst transfer. I had both and only Day 3 worked. Day 5 is not the end all/cure all that it is sometimes advertised. Day 5 is often pushed to reduce the risk of multiples. I have tons of info on this subject, so let me know if you need more.

So much of your success is riding on the quality of the lab and the embryologist. He is the single most important person in this equation. Ask your clinic if they are certified and what training they have.

Lastly, try to ignore everyone's ridiculous and obnoxious comments and advice. Going through IVF was the hardest and best thing that ever happened to us. It changed our lives. So many people take for granted the ability to have a child. It is often the uneducated that make the most hurtful comments.

They have no idea what you two are going thru. Just like I cannot even begin to imagine what a cancer survivor feels, someone who has never experienced infertility has no idea what it is like. I always try to remember that before I judge people too harshly.

I know how hard this is, and how very few people understand the incredibly difficult decisions you and Christine are facing right now.

We spent about $36,000 for our children. Boy, that would have been a heck of a vacation, huh? Do I ever think about that money? NEVER. Did I worry that it was all for nothing the two times it failed and I was not pregnant? Yes. What is most important is that you have a good doctor, a great lab and come armed with facts.

Please call me if you would like to discuss, I'm a research nerd and I know more than any normal person should about IVF. My doctor often joked that I should come to work for him.

I wish you all the best and send you fertile thoughts. I assume you'll keep everyone posted on your progress with the blog.
Dear Jimmy, regarding your recent post about contemplating IVF, please consider the following argument against it. I know it can seem like the medical technology involved is not any different from any other medical procedures intended to heal sickness, correct deformities, etc., but creating life (something we are to do in a way that reflects we are made as an image and likeness of God) is in an entirely different category from using scientific know-how to heal sickness. A human life is not a product you have a right to purchase because you want one. Please consider applying all the money this procedure would cost you towards adopting a child who needs you and Christine to be his parents. May God bless you and give you the wisdom to walk in His ways.

"Babies in Test Tubes" by Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk

When I give talks about in vitro fertilization (IVF), I usually ask my audience the following question: "How many of you know a baby born by IVF, or know a couple who has tried to get pregnant this way?" Usually about half the hands in the room go up. Then I ask them to raise their hands if the couple was Catholic. Virtually all the same hands go up a second time. I have the sense that Catholics are making use of IVF at about the same rate as non-Catholics, and that most of them are only vaguely aware of the Church's position on making test tube babies.

When asked why IVF might be immoral, people will usually mention the extra embryos that are frozen or discarded. Such embryos are certainly a serious concern, but they are not the primary reason the Church insists the procedure is immoral. Even if IVF were done without making any extra embryos at all, this way of making babies would still be morally objectionable, because the procedure strikes at the very core and meaning of marital sexuality.

It substitutes an act of laboratory manipulation for an act of bodily union between spouses. It turns procreation into production. IVF is really the flip-side of contraception: rather than trying to have sex without babies, we try to have babies without sex. Because many Americans have come to view sex largely in terms of recreation, ignoring its procreative orientation, they have lost touch with the grave violations that occur both in contraceptive sex and in making babies in test tubes.

Clearly, the moral violations that occur in IVF do not reflect upon the child, who is innocent. It is not the baby's fault in any way. The child has no control over how he or she got here. Regardless of how a baby comes into the world, whether by IVF, whether by adultery, by pre-marital sex, or even by cloning, that baby is always a gift and a blessing. The problem with IVF is not with the child, but with a decision made by the parents concerning how to pursue the satisfaction of their own desire for a child. In other words, babies, even when very much desired, should not be brought into the world by making use of disordered means such as adultery, pre-marital sex, IVF, or cloning. They should be brought into the world only within that intimate love-giving moment of the marital embrace.

Children are entitled to come into being as the fruit of a singular parental love that is uniquely manifested in the spousal moment of bodily surrender to each other. Through the incredibly rich language of the parents' bodies, through their body to body contact, the new body of their child is engendered. In their one-flesh union, they enflesh new life. That intimate bodily embrace is a sacred action that only spouses may share, and it represents the unique and privileged locus, by God's design, in which human love is translated into new life. IVF violates this design by replacing that love-giving act with an act of production, whereby we manufacture our own children in petri dishes and test tubes, as if they were products or objects to be manhandled at will.

In this way, IVF incidentalizes and adulterates sex, reducing it to another arena for manipulation according to our own desires. When we take this immoral step, others quickly follow, including the freezing or even the discarding of our own children, as if they were a form of medical waste. By making test tube babies, we first violate the sacred human act by which we hand on life. It is then but a short step to go further and violate the very life itself that we produce in the laboratory.

Is it not reasonable and right to insist, as the Church does, that new human life should be the fruit of married love, carried out through bodily self-giving between spouses, this act which allows each partner to enrich the other with the total gift of himself or herself? The marital act embodies spousal love directly, exclusively and authentically.

Can we say the same for IVF, where the woman upsets her delicate hormonal cycles and subjects herself to repetitive injections with powerful drugs to make her body produce unnaturally large numbers of eggs, and where the man may be expected to go into a back room with salacious magazines and videos to "provide a sample"? Can we really say that IVF embodies spousal love in an authentic and exclusive way when a lab technician ends up being the causal agent of the pregnancy, instead of the spouses themselves through a sacred act proper to their married love? By any stretch, can we honestly believe that IVF is faithful to God's design for marriage?

We sometimes tend to brush the ungainly and unsightly parts of the procedure under the rug and instead try to focus on the result, the baby, so as to mitigate the disturbing reality of what we are really engaging in. Some couples also may rest their approval for IVF on a perfunctory assumption, namely: "We have a right to a child when we get married, so any means, even IVF, should be okay." But the deeper truth is that we never have a right to a baby.

A child is not our property or our possession. Rather, a child is a gift, one we hope God will send us, one we stand ready and eager to receive, but certainly not an entitlement or a right for us. When we marry, we properly have a right to those beautiful, life-giving acts we call marital acts, which open us up to the mysterious divine spark at the heart of human love. Those remarkable marital acts are the only human acts appropriately ordered to engendering the incredible gift of new human life.

Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D. earned his doctorate in neuroscience from Yale and did post-doctoral work at Harvard. He is a priest of the diocese of Fall River, MA, and serves as the Director of Education at The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. See
Hi Jimmy,

Thinking about you guys and it's just a thought. IVF is about $6,000 here in Panama as opposed to $25,000 in the States, however, they may be better at this procedure in the States. I know someone who just went through it. She is 42 (quite a bit overweight, but very pretty still) and I'm not sure the circumstances in their case, but after 3 tries they were not successful.

One time it took, but she miscarried. It was really sad, especially for her husband. She does have 2 almost-grown children, but her newish husband wants children of his own now that her children are about to leave the nest.

My heart goes out to you both. Not an easy decision or an easy trial for that matter, but I just have this feeling that God has a plan for your lives and it is a good one! Keep praying for God's guidance.

Keep the feedback coming at and I'll be providing more updates, along with that special bead necklace and bracelet fundraiser, in the near future! THANK YOU again everyone!

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Blogger Scale Mistress said...

Jimmy and Christine-

I know this has been (continues to be) a difficult time for you both but I'm glad to see that that you are pursuing IVF/ICSI. Expensive? Yes. But I felt the same way...I had to try and not face regrets later.

The drug regimen can be hard. But don't let everyone's horror stories scare you. Everyone reacts differently and I suspect that Christine will hold up fine...for the greater good.

Please continue to share your road to parenthood with your readers and we will continue to cheer you on to where ever that road takes you.

11/16/2007 9:37 PM  
Blogger Lisa32989 said...

I can't believe how incredibly insensitve some people can be and judging from some of the comments or emails you posted, you have some insensitive readers. You also have some wonderfully supportive readers.
My prayers are that God continue to guide and direct your lives through his will will for you and that he give you the strength to accept that will as a blessing, no matter what the outcome.

11/17/2007 10:13 PM  
Blogger Mommy of Many said...

Dear Jimmy and Christine,
You and your wife will be in my prayers for sure for the next couple of months. I have a great burden for those wanting a child and have not been able to conceive. There are times I wonder why God gave me 14 children and the next couple none. But may you and your wife be pleasantly surprised by what God has in store for you in the near future. As you and your wife have been givers to so many, He will reward you beyond all that you can ask or think.
Blessings to you both,
Michigan Mommy of Many

11/18/2007 10:20 PM  
Blogger Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD said...

You might actually consider flying to India for your IVF/ICSI treatment. An ICSI cycle in our clinic ( costs only US $ 3500 - so that even if you added the costs of the airline tickets you'd be able to do about 3 cycles for the cost of 1 cycle in the US. Our pregnancy rates are excellent - and we can also offer a guaranteed pregnancy option !

11/22/2007 9:12 AM  
Blogger Dana said...

I wish you the best in your quest for children and I'm glad to see so many folks being supportive of you. That said...

Its a shame that there are people out there that are basically baby making machines (sometimes with siblings that have different fathers-or the fathers are unknown,AND that many of these children are born out of wedlock!) and that the government is providing for them(welfare & food stamps and in some cases child support because the parent or parents are in jail). These same people get free birth control, free prenatal care, and the cost of having the baby is free, then the immunizations are free and they go onto medicade and then their medical care is free, not to mention the WIC & Food For Families programs-which benefits the mother while pregnant and the baby til age 6.

Yet the government does nothing to help people who really want kids to get them, whether it is by adoption or medically helping the couple to conceive, their own biological child.

I know you didn't say this, but it is disgusting.

My children have two different fathers because my now-ex-husband became a felon and with the circumstances of that, I did not feel safe staying with him. It wasn't a violent crime but wow, he planned it for six months and I didn't know--what else didn't I know? Lack of trust destroys a marriage. I certainly wasn't going to go back to him later to help me make my second baby. My kids, by the way, are almost nine years apart in age.

I went on Medicaid when I was pregnant because I was a college student and the father wouldn't insure me, even though he could afford to. My daughter remained on Medicaid for a while after she was born because he didn't have health insurance from the end of my pregnancy until she was several months old. He insures her now, though.

And I am not married to him because, in the end, I could not trust him either. He comes through on money matters most of the time but when it gets down to the nitty-gritty of a relationship he falls woefully short. Again, if my prospective partner/spouse does not have my back and vice versa then how is that a basis for a good marriage?

My question is, I know there are lots of folks out there who want kids and can't have them the usual way, but what's that got to do with me? Why is the fact that I'm low-income and have had children somehow a threat to these people? Personally, I think it is bitterness because I won't just hand my kids over to some childless rich married woman. I'm not basing this on wild hypothesizing; I've SEEN this kind of attitude bandied about. It's horrible. It's also potentially abusive to children; I've read all about attachment parenting and observed the behavior of my own daughter from the time of her birth and I really think that babies being needlessly taken from their mothers hurts them on a deep emotional level. I don't think it an accident that adopted children have a higher rate of behavioral problems. If the child is an orphan or their parents are really, incurably messed up then OK, they need a home. But to rag all over a single mother or a poor mother and make her feel worthless and then take her child? No.

And I did want my children, both of them. Very, very much. So do women who live on welfare, if you can call it "living"--the only government assistance I got was WIC and Medicaid, neither of which I get now--and somehow I doubt they appreciate being told they didn't want their kids, or they're being evil because your tax money's being spent on them. The alternative is breaking up families or letting people die, because if someone can't make enough money to feed their families then they just can't make that money, and you can't MAKE your employer pay you more, or MAKE another employer hire you instead.

Or, put more simply, as I hear in my own online social circles, "Wow--these people don't want me to use birth control, don't want me to get an abortion, but they don't want me to have my child either? WHAT THE HECK AM I SUPPOSED TO DO THEN?" Because once a woman's pregnant, you can't make it not have happened. And frankly, we waste tax money on far worse. In the end, kids in single-parent families do no worse than kids with two parents once you control for income and environmental stability. And in the end, it's really about them.

Good luck. But please don't begrudge those of us who did this without petri dishes. Y'know, we kinda envy you and your income, too. ;)

11/26/2007 4:50 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS for sharing your comments, Dana, but as you stated I didn't say that. But this was an interesting quote from you:

But please don't begrudge those of us who did this without petri dishes. Y'know, we kinda envy you and your income, too. ;)

Ummm, if you are referring to me, then I can't help but laugh. My income is nothing to write home about and it's costing us a pretty penny to pay for this IVF/ICSI cycle. We're just borrowing on future income. :)

THANK YOU again for your comments!

11/26/2007 9:37 AM  
Blogger CUsmile said...

I am praying so hard for both of you right now!!!!!

My friend went through this TWICE!
Yes..TWICE. 10K+ each time. No..they are not rich either, but, the loans they took out, the perks they did without to have 2 of the most precious children was to them..priceless.

I have known them for years. In fact..for her 4th attempt (first 3 attempts failed) I went with her. I sat and massaged her head and sang Paul Anka's "Having A (my)Baby" using words that matched her and her husbands life. And she has a beautiful baby boy from that!!

Anyway, it is about you two..not anyone else. Right now you need all the positive energy and focus and that is what you got from, I am sure many more people that count and also, I believe from the man that matters most.

Having a baby...What a lovely way of saying how much love eachother,
Having a baby...what a lovely way of saying your thinking of the can see its face a glowin'...we can see in your eyes your happy to know it!

Keep it up, this is the most important thing in your whole life, and if I could...I would pay for it ALL, for ya. But, my prayers seem to carry some you got those coming full force!
Yours Truly, Michele

12/02/2007 3:50 PM  
Blogger CUsmile said...

PS..I am not sure my friend did the same process as you are going through. But, to me, it is the same. To have a child..not matter how you go about it is a blessing no matter what.
Yours Truly,

12/02/2007 3:53 PM  

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