Friday, April 29, 2011

Letter to Human Resources

Last year, we saw Project IF for National Infertility Awareness Week. Keiko's WhatIF video made me want to start talking about infertility to someone other than my husband and my doctor. The biggest step I could convince myself to take was to start up an anonymous Twitter account and this blog.

In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week this year, I sent the following email* to my Human Resources department. I used the template provided by Resolve and made a few edits to tailor it to my situation. It's not much and at a large employer like mine, I don't know what the impact will be. But it's not anonymous and it was time to do SOMETHING:

Dear AVP of Human Resources,

I have been an employee of This Company for over two years. This Company is a valuable asset to our community and the wider region, providing innumerable benefits to employees and community members alike. This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, and I am writing to request that you consider adding coverage for in vitro fertilization (IVF) to the health benefit packages This Company offers.

Statistics indicate that one in eight couples of reproductive age in the United States suffer from infertility. That translates to 7.3 million people suffering from a disease that receives little recognition or respect for the traumatic experience that it truly is.

Recent studies have shown that the psychological impact  of infertility diagnosis and treatment is equivalent to that of cancer. According to the World Health Organization and the CDC, infertility is a disease. For many patients, IVF is the only effective form of treatment for the form of the disease from which they suffer.

Some critics of infertility treatments and insurance benefits for those treatments claim that infertility is a lifestyle choice. While it would be disingenuous to deny that some patients seek treatment as a lifestyle choice (namely to delay child rearing to a later, more stable point in their lives), those patients represent only a small fraction of the total of those in need of treatment. This criticism erroneously assumes that age is the only factor contributing to infertility. Even patients whose age might be considered a factor may only have come to seek treatment after years of trying unsuccessfully to conceive without medical intervention.

Employers often believe that adding infertility coverage benefits will increase health care costs.  However, studies indicate that including comprehensive infertility coverage in a health benefit package may actually reduce costs and improve outcomes.

For example, an employer survey conducted by the consulting firm William M. Mercer found that 91 percent of respondents offering infertility treatment have not experienced an increase in their medical costs as a result of providing this coverage. For more on the survey, click here.

As proven in the following studies, the perceived cost of infertility treatment is typically overstated.

  • Often patients select treatment based on what is covered in their health benefit plan rather than what is the most appropriate treatment.  For example, a woman having trouble conceiving because of blocked fallopian tubes or tubal scarring may opt for tubal surgery, a covered treatment, which can cost $8,000 -$13,000 per surgery.  Many patients are forced to forgo in vitro fertilization (IVF) because it is not a covered service even though it costs about the same as tubal surgery and statistically is more likely to result in a successful pregnancy.Infertility as a Covered Benefit, 1997). According to William M. Mercer, “The decline in use of high-cost procedures like tubal surgery would likely offset the cost to include IVF as a benefit and provide improved health outcomes.” (William M. Mercer,

  • In states with mandated infertility insurance, the rate of multiple births is lower than in states without coverage. (New England Journal of Medicine, “Insurance Coverage and Outcomes of In Vitro Fertilization,” August 2002).  Couples with insurance coverage are free to make more appropriate decisions with their physicians based on medical necessity rather than financial considerations which often result in multiple births and a high rate of complications during and post-pregnancy. Read more here.
  • Comprehensive infertility coverage may actually reduce premium expense by as much as $1 per member/per month.  According to The Hidden Costs of Infertility Treatment in Employee Health Benefits Plans (Blackwell, Richard E. and the William Mercer Actuarial Team, 2000), insurance premiums now indirectly provide coverage for “hidden” infertility benefits such as surgeries to remove scarring in the fallopian tubes for women or varicose vein removal for men, were calculated to be adequate to cover more effective and often less expensive treatments such as ovulation induction, intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization. 
  • The cost of infertility services as a percent of the total health premiums went down after the 1987 Massachusetts mandate. (Study by Griffin and Panak, Fertility & Sterility, 1998) 
  • In vitro fertilization accounts for less than three percent of infertility services. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), 85%-90% of infertility cases can be treated with conventional medications.

Additional information on issues surrounding infertility can be found on I hope The Company will consider extending infertility coverage to include IVF and support our family building efforts.  Thank you for your consideration.



Baby steps people, baby steps.

*All names changed to protect my privacy.
The internet is forever, after all.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

All the Cool Kids Have One

Happy NIAW!

My sweet friend Jen over at This Is More Personal is doing a fundraiser for Resolve in honor of NIAW. Go check it out and pick a little #hope for yourself!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Old Dog Searching for New Trick

Depression has been a factor in my life since my childhood. Both of my parents suffered from it. My mother sought therapy and has been on anti-depressants since before I left home. My father didn't admit he had a problem till long after my mother divorced him, but he's now on anti-depressants as well.

I've never really felt like I personally had true depression. Sure, I had down times, I had periods of situational depression. Who doesn't get a little depressed every now and then? But on the whole, I feel equipped to self-manage my blues.

I made my first foray into therapy just after I finished college, returning occasionally until I completed grad school. My diagnosis was chronic anxiety and panic attacks. I was uncertain of my path in life and needed an objective listener to talk through my desires and decisions.

One day a few years ago, I started crying at work and couldn't understand why or figure out how to stop. I left work and drove straight to my GP, which led to a diagnosis of a severe vitamin D deficiency and a temporary prescription for an anti-depressant. I took the first half dose and the side-effects were so bad (heart palpitations and hallucinations) that I was unable leave the house. I threw the rest away. Fortunately, my doctor also prescribed a mega dose of vitamin D which kicked in within a week or so and my depressive symptoms abated.

There have been a handful of times in my life when a case of the blues developed into what can only be described as a Black Cloud that cast every aspect of my life in gloom and shadow. At these times, I felt that there was absolutely no point in continuing my life as I knew it and the only solution I could see was dramatic and all consuming change. In short, I would drop everything and run. Nothing like walking away from your life and reinventing yourself to force yourself into Hope for the future. Not the healthiest strategy perhaps, but a fresh start was 100% effective.

This is the first time since getting married and buying our house that I've spent so much time under my Black Cloud, and my usual tactics won't work here. Running is not an option anymore. Perhaps that's why I feel so hopeless and desperate this time. I need a new strategy and I'm at a loss. I need a new trick.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


OMG y'all. So funny I just had to share.

The temps are quite lovely today, so we've got the windows open around the house. We're just hanging out and we can hear people outside talking and calling to each other down the street. All of a sudden we hear someone calling their dog:

"Romeo! Romeo! ROOMEEOOO!"

And Prof exclaims:

"How can you not finish the line!? WHEREFORE ART THOU ROMEO!"

I'm dying here. He kills me.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I Don't Know What to Say

My husband asks how my day was, and I don't really have an answer.

My parents call on the weekend to catch up, and I have nothing to tell them.

My colleagues ask how my weekend was, and I can't remember what I did.

My BFF texts to check in, and I don't even know what to text back.

I read your tweets and blog posts, and I don't know how to comment.

I open a new post on my own blog, and I just don't know what to say.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Holla Georgia!

Hiya! I know I have a bunch of readers in Georgia and I'm hoping you lovely peaches will head over and give my bloggie buddy Waiting Vicky the benefit of your experience. She's contemplating traveling to the United States for treatment and is looking for recommendations in Georgia, specifically in the Atlanta area.

Thanks y'all!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Much Ado & Motivations

I've been lurking in the online IF community for years. After NIAW last year and Keiko's stunning What IF video, I created my IF Twitter identity and opened up a line of communication (albeit anonymous). Shortly thereafter, I started this blog. And over this last year I've "met" hundreds of you who are riding the same roller coaster I am. Hoping, trying, losing, hurting and surviving to hope again.

In the last week, so many in this community have lifted their voices in outraged response to the ignorant and disrespectful publicity stunt by PETA, and our combined voices turned out to be loud enough to bring about change. There is something inspiring about watching scores of my online friends "coming out" about their infertility in response to their outrage against this ubiquitous ignorance. And something so satisfying in seeing A Result.

When we think about the amount of effort it will require to make an impact in our governments or to change the way society as a whole views infertility, it can seem daunting and overwhelming. It can seem like too much of a fight for one person to sustain. And that's partly because we are all so accustomed to feeling alone and isolated, that it FEELS like we are fighting this alone.

I'm grateful to PETA for providing such a catalyst to our community. NIAW is important to us as a community, but it is OF our community. Having a common target, and one we perceived to be within our sphere of influence, was motivating in a completely different way. PETA has proven to us that we can act together and as such we can make a difference.

I am only one voice, but I know that many of you out there are also making yourselves heard. I want to say an extra Thank You to Keiko and Katie who have both been so persistent and so eloquent on our behalf for more than just the last week. This community needs people like them. Please let them know how much their advocacy means to you.

Can we be loud enough to make ourselves heard by our "elected leaders"? Can we be loud enough to make ourselves heard by our individual employers? Can we be loud enough to make ourselves heard by our friends and family?

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Now that we're in April, I can announce that I hate the month of March. It's the most miserable month for weather. Every climate I've lived in has basically sucked in the month of March. In Texas it was windstorms and pouring rain and tornadoes. In Florida, it was generally nice enough but not quite warm enough for the beach (a truly grave disappointment in my early 20s). Now that we live so far north, March wavers between more damn snow and rain that melts what snow there is, leaving everything a gloomy mud color.

The weather is the least of my dislike though. Year after year, the blasted month of March drops some kind of bombshell on me. I've grown accustomed to it. Every year, I hope this will be the year that breaks the streak even as I brace myself for whatever might be around the corner.

This year, I thought that by NOT mentioning it, I might be able to break the streak. When we had reached the second to last day of March with no disasters, I kept my mouth shut lest I jinx this seemingly brilliant luck. I should have known better.

As disasters go, it certainly wasn't dire, but on March 31st, we got our tax forms in the mail from our accountant. I then had to wave good-bye to nearly $2,000 that I'd been hoping would go towards IVF. As disasters go, I guess it could been so much worse. Other years have certainly dealt more serious blows and at least we had the cash saved up and could pay up without penalty and interest. Still.