Painful Rainbows

April 9th, 2013
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With 10-25% of all clinically established pregnancies ending in miscarriage, it’s a wonder that anyone would purposefully put themselves at risk of going through such a heartache. When a couple has to employ the services of a reproductive endocrinologist and pay for artificial reproductive technologies (ARTs) in order to even attempt a pregnancy, it’s all the more amazing that people take the chance. On average, IVF carries with it a 35-40% success rate for women under age 35, just over 30% for women between 35 and 37, just over 20% for women between 38-40, and only about 13% and 4% respectively for women aged 41-42 and those over 42.

So between the likelihood of a success (defined here as a live birth of the awaited child) and the likelihood of losing a child in a miscarriage, it is a small wonder that couples take the risk. The pay off, of course, is priceless. Yet to put oneself in this situation time and again, with all of the associated costs, invasive procedures, stress, and scheduling nightmares can only speak to just how much such couples desire a child.

Interestingly, many couples who continue to repeat ARTs rather than pursuing adoption often cite the desire to experience pregnancy and childbirth as the deciding factor. The idea is that they want all the great things associated with pregnancy – that glow, that bump they can show off, the sheer awe of feeling a baby begin to move inside, and the empowering affirmation of having given birth to a brand new human being.

And while it’s common knowledge that pregnancy also comes with less than appealing side effects – nausea, gas, aches and pains – it is considered all worth it for the long awaited baby. But what if one goes through all that, takes the good with the bad, and ends up with empty arms nonetheless? How much heartache can a person take? And how can anyone expect such a person to not have been changed forever by such profound loss?

It must be twice as painful for many women who lose a child in a miscarriage to listen to rhetoric claiming that a woman has the right to voluntarily get rid of a child in her womb. How many of us would gladly step in and take that thrown-away baby into our own bodies, and raise that baby as our own, if only the technology (and the law!) would allow it! Likewise, it must be hurtful to hear fertile women complaining about their pregnancies or focusing solely on the negatives, rather than being grateful for the miracle they are privy to.

Perhaps when we think we see a curse, we can actually find a blessing in disguise. For me, knowing what I now know about the miracle of how life begins and progresses has only solidified for me my faith in a loving God whose awesome power cannot be contained. Having been where I’ve been on this journey, I’ve come to realize that nothing – not even the pursuit of a child – is the ultimate purpose of my life. Through the rain, I’ve been able to view the rainbow.

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One Response to “Painful Rainbows”

  1. Becky S Says:

    I think the figures you state show that a dose of realism is needed before embarking on IVF with your own eggs post-40. I had two failed cycles (aged 40 and 41) before opting for donor eggs. It was a hard decision to choose another woman’s eggs but my goal was pregnancy and motherhood. Now I’m pregnant! I would encourage others to consider donor-egg IVF.

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