January 24, 2018

The race to have a baby

After just one glass of wine the other night, I had a strange dream. It provided the inspiration for this post.

Imagine the journey for a baby as being like a race. The runners begin at the starting point, staring up into the distance at a road that stretches as far as the eye can see. The runners are told that their baby might be waiting for them somewhere up the road. It could be near. It could be far. Or it could be not at all. The runners can make the choice of when they wanted to start up the road, but the longer they waited, the farther away their babies might get moved. So one by one, couples made their decision to start walking up the road. The luckiest couples walked a few hours and came upon their babies right away. They rejoiced, took their babies into their arms, laughed about just how easy it was and left the road to enjoy a brand new life with their child. The rest of the couples congratulated them and continued walking. Some of them had to walk for a long time, but just as they were tiring out and almost giving up hope, they arrived at their babies. They, too, took their babies into their arms and breathed a sigh of relief that they were able to finally reach their goal. They gave thanks and were much more grateful than the first couples, but they realized that they still had it pretty easy. The remaining couples continued walking and walking and still, no baby. Some of them decided that they would remain patient and just keep walking, for as long as it took. Others quit the race and gave up in exhaustion, sadly resigning themselves that they would never be united with their baby. Still others decided in frustration that this was not working, so rather than keep walking, they stopped and rented horses. Now they were galloping along at about five times the speed of the walkers. For about half these couples, this strategy worked and they reached their baby. They realized that had they kept walking, they probably would have eventually reached their baby anyway, but it would have taken years. They were glad they took the horses instead because they were able to get there much sooner and even had time to get back on their horses in the future to go for a second or third baby. However, not all the horse riders met with success. Some of them kept riding and riding and still didn’t see any baby in sight. A few of these gave up, returned the horses (after all, feeding them was getting a bit expensive) and went back to walking. Still others got fired up and decided to look for better alternatives. They found out that they could rent cars. Now, they were roaring down the road at 70 mph and most of them happily reached their babies, but only after covering a huge stretch of distance. Of course, there were still some couples who had walked until they had blisters on their feet, rode horses until their butts ached and drove and drove until they could no longer afford the car rental and still, never reached their baby. Fortunately, not too many people fell into this category. The irony of it was that some of these couples could have reached their baby, if only they had decided to drive cars a little bit sooner. But by the time they decided, it was too late.

In reality, the pursuit of a baby is a lot like this silly story. Trying to get pregnant naturally is like walking. Doing low tech treatment, such as IUI’s and fertility medications is like riding a fast horse. Doing high tech treatment such as IVF, is like driving an even faster car. Back in ancient times, everybody walked. If they couldn’t reach their destination by walking, then they were out of luck. Then, as civilization advanced, some people could afford horses and were able to get where they wanted much faster. As the years have passed, in countries like the US, people now drive cars everywhere. True, just as there are still some underprivileged countries where cars are but a wishful luxury, for some people in the US, infertility treatment, especially IVF, is out of reach. Over the years, the effectiveness of IVF has skyrocketed and the prices have come down well ahead of inflation, but it still all comes down to a choice of where to spend your earnings. So. Do you keep walking? Do you try getting on a horse for a few months? Or do you go all out and start driving?

  • Araceli

    Very good entry Dr. Lee. I enjoyed reading it. I am wondering if this race is a marathon 🙂 nevertheless, I feel I am somewhere in the middle of this race with a rented horse.

  • http://unyielding.blogspot.com/ Syn

    Unfortunately there is not a “IVF” note I can pay over the next 6 years to pay for it like my car note…. but sure wish I could get the IVF car!

  • Peilin

    T: this was a GREAT article! thank you!

  • Jules

    As I am on the “road” to find my baby, this story was so inspirational it made me cry. Thank you.

  • Laura

    I walked for years. I rented a horse for 3 months. I rented a car for 3 months. Between the 3rd and 4th month of car rental, my FSH went from 9.9 to 27.1. I am told my road ends with no baby.