Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: “Ambivalent IVFer”

This week, Jenée Desmond-Harris and Lauren Williams discuss a Prudie letter: “Ambivalent IVFer

Jenée Desmond-Harris: I had a very unethical thought about what the letter-writer should do: Take the money and pretend the round of IVF didn’t work and use it for the home repairs she wants!

Lauren Williams: I cannot cosign this, Jenee. But I did have an ungenerous thought about the generous family member, which is that they are being manipulative with their money.

Jenée: Oooh, I didn’t think of that. But you’re on to something.

Lauren: Of course, they are probably just offering because they know the LW wouldn’t ask on her own. So they want to be up front that if she needs it, she can have it. But they also might want another baby around, because what family member doesn’t, and even if there’s no pressure, the offer is still pressure, you know?

Jenée: Totally, they want a niece or nephew or whatever and can afford to help.

Lauren: I struggled to understand where the LW was coming from here.

Jenée: Yeah, I don’t really get people who don’t know what they want.

Lauren: Everything she wrote indicated that neither she nor her husband wanted another kid nor wanted to go through the pain and drain of IVF.

Jenée: But I guess I read between the lines that she thought she might regret not having another one like five years from now. But people who want two kids know! Like right away!

Lauren: But then I realized that she is nearing her last chance (as a 40-year-old who just last night told someone she was 41, I understand this). And there IS something compelling about the offer of something free, even if you weren’t thinking about it before. If someone sent me a brochure of a fancy boat and told me they would pay for it, even though I was not thinking of a boat before, even though I knew all of the bullshit that owning a boat would entail, I would spend a lot of time imagining myself on the water in my brand new some-expense-paid boat.

Jenée: Yes. One thought I had reading that was that it reminded me of what you sometimes hear about dating apps … having too many options makes things harder and makes you more indecisive than you would be if you just had to date whoever you ran into on the street; or in this case, if you just had the kid you could have and didn’t have the resources to turn to science. But I really think she should remind herself that if she truly wanted this she wouldn’t have waited until the last possible minute, with a 20 percent change. She would have been running back to the clinic after the first one was born.

Lauren: And if she really wanted it, like most people, she would have found a way to do it even without her family member.

Jenée: Exactly.

Lauren: Or she would have asked the family member immediately. (Addendum for my boat analogy before anyone comes for me: I have two children and have been through IVF, btw, I’m aware neither of these things are actually like boats.)

Jenée: (And lol I should also say I’ve been through IVF before anyone comes for ME for saying in my response that a few weeks of hormones and an egg retrieval is not the worst thing in the world.)

Also, I don’t want to make it seem like these things are quick and easy, but if she finds herself desperate for another child in a few years, there ARE other ways—adoption, IVF with egg donation, embryo adoption, etc. And assuming the relative will help with anything that leads to a kid, she’ll be able to afford them. I don’t think that will happen though.

Lauren: As 40-year-old IVF patients we are VERY QUALIFIED TO RESPOND TO THIS QUESTION.

Jenée: We really are!

Lauren: If I wanted another kid, it would be worth it. And so I know that if you’re thinking it’s not worth it, you probably don’t want another kid.

Jenée: Right, people who truly want two kids aren’t like “But I don’t know, there’s that first trimester … maybe not worth it.” Bottom line, letter-writer, stop stressing and enjoy the little family that is clearly right for you. And if your relative wants to put that 20k toward someone’s IVF bill, you have my email.

Lauren: Tell your relative thank you but no thank you. However, if the money is truly burning a hole in their pocket, the child their generosity helped bring into this world could use a new roof over their head.

Jenée: OMG the relative really is being a pro-life republican about this … only generous to embryos, not so interested in kids who are out in the world.

Lauren: Ha. Does the relative know how much daycare costs?

Jenée: Seriously, find a way to get that money. It’s just sitting there!