By Sheila Lamb, 14th April 2016

The True Cost of Infertility

The Similarities Between a Wedding and Infertility

The Similarities Between a Wedding and Infertility

Not everyone plans on starting a family straight after their wedding but I did, because at 41 years old, time was ticking by. It took only 9 months (coincidentally) to plan our wedding, but 8 times that was spent on planning a family.

It was brought to my attention the other day when reading an article that the cost of getting married currently sits at around £20k. The reason this number stuck out for me personally, is because it is about the same as three rounds of In-Vitro Fertilisation, or IVF for short.

How do I know this? Because, in effect, I’ve already paid for 3 weddings (but I have only participated in one!)

With 1 in 6 couples facing infertility and many having to fund treatment themselves, the cost of actually having a baby will soon be more than getting married!


So it made me think; If a wedding and IVF are similar in monetary costs, are they similar in other ways?

Time Consuming
Planning your wedding, for many, can take over your life. You think about it every day, every minute of every day and it often keeps you awake at night. But it’s fun, with a capital ‘F’! How many wedding and bride magazines did you buy? How many wedding fairs did you attend? You had a list that seemed to get longer; Venue, ‘The Dress’, flower girls, maid-of-honour and bridesmaids’ dresses, flowers, honeymoon, wedding cake, groom’s suit, invites, favours… The list just goes on!

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Help and Support
Of course you didn’t plan your big day alone. Oh no! Your spouse-to-be was involved every step of the way and at least once every day you spoke about ‘Our Wedding’. It’s quite likely your family and friends gave you advice; sometimes welcome – happy days! – and other times unwelcome. As the day got nearer, things got stressful of course, but always ‘The Big Day’ arrived as planned.

Big Bucks
You had a budget to start with which likely grew as time went on. One thing you knew was that on The Big Day, all your planning and hard earned cash would bring about an amazing day with wonderful memories captured on photos and video, so that you’d never forget as time moves on. The amount spent was so worth it.

Now let’s fast-forward a period of time and you’re now trying to get pregnant. For the first few months it’s fun, with a capital ‘F’! You secretly buy baby magazines, Google nursery equipment and talk to your imaginary baby – often. You desperately try not to tell your best friend but it slips out… cue fits of giggles and knowing glances! Similar to when you told her you were getting married.

You’ve already bought a Home Pregnancy Test (HPT) and eagerly await creeping into the bathroom for an early morning pee. But you haven’t opened one yet because your period came again this month. A really good friend tells you a BIG secret; she’s pregnant and they weren’t even trying! You are so happy for her and give her a huge hug. But why is there this feeling in your stomach that doesn’t seem like happiness? It has a tiny voice – why not me?

Not Pregnant

You find yourself getting very frustrated, you start to hate yourself, blame yourself and feel utter despair, and so very sad. You try to be excited and you are pleased at every pregnancy announcement, but deep down your heart is breaking. All you can think about is getting pregnant. Once all you could think about was getting married. But that was fun. This is depressing.

You both finally face up to the fact that this is taking way too long. You read that if you haven’t fallen pregnant within six months and you’re over 35 you should see your Doctor. You reluctantly book an appointment.

Taking Action
The Doctor wants to organise some tests – blood tests for hormone levels for you and a uterine scan, urine tests for Chlamydia for both of you, and a sperm test for your partner. Then you wait for the results. If the results are normal your Doctor will suggest some lifestyle changes – another not-much-fun list like: lose weight, eat healthily, regular moderate exercise, stop smoking/drinking, try and reduce any stress through yoga, tapping, meditating… If the results show that there may be a problem you’ll be referred to a fertility specialist.

You’re referred. You never dreamed you’d find yourself at a fertility clinic! Older women who’d left it too late went to fertility clinics, not someone like you. But you look around and all these women look just like you – some are younger, some older, but they look perfectly normal, just like you.

The Latest Planning Obsession
Now your time is spent on organising fertility tests rather than wedding stuff; do you have any eggs? Do you have endometriosis, fibroids, PCOS, blocked fallopian tube/s? Are your hormone levels correct? Does your partner have plenty of good quality, expert swimming sperm? Does his sperm have any DNA damage? So many invasive, sometimes painful, always embarrassing tests you put yourself through. Cue (un)helpful advice from family and friends – “You’re trying too hard, just relax”, “I know someone older than you who got pregnant” and “You must be doing something wrong”.

The comparison between planning your wedding and trying to have a baby isn’t lost on you – it’s taken over your life; it’s all you can think, talk and dream about.

Where you both used to talk about your future family, now there’s an elephant in the room and you’re desperately trying not to drift apart as a couple. You feel guilty because you can’t give your husband a baby. With the odds of getting pregnant on the first IVF cycle at 20%, there are no guarantees for a happy ending.

You do your first IVF cycle – you start a list of scan appointments, blood tests, medications and injections, date for egg collection, date for embryo transfer, the date in two weeks time when you can pee on a stick. Your big day won’t be in eight months time. Your budget is blown out of the water. You start planning another cycle.

There are so many comparisons I can draw between planning your first ‘Big’ day to planning your next ‘Big’ day, but the main difference is, that for many, the planning goes on and on with no celebration. There is no definite outcome despite the lists you write and the money you spend. There is only the regular monotony of hope and distress each month. So as much as planning a baby, like planning a wedding, can be fun, planning a family when dealing with infertility issues can feel like a never ending roller coaster of emotions.

(Note from The Editor: Many thanks to Sheila for her honest contribution to The Glass House. Sheila is the proud Founder of My Fertility Specialist magazine, an online magazine helping and supporting people who are struggling to get pregnant, by providing correct, up-to-date articles and features written by global fertility experts. To read more from Sheila, you can check our her Author page here, or visit her website or Facebook page , and follow her on Twitter @myfertilityspec.)

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