IVF Science: the illusion of control

Not be a downer but I read this article a couple of days ago in the New York Times linking IVF to an increased incidence of birth defects.

Over the past few days, I've been trying to come to terms with what I think of it.

My rational side says the data is based on a relatively small number of women. And as NYU's Dr. Grifo points out, the risk of a problem is relatively small (even if increased). My husband Will echoed these lines of reasoning when we discussed the findings.

But then my other side (my Lupron-filled, emotional, crazier-by-the-day side) latches on to the research as one more thing to worry about (like I need one more thing).

In the dark of night I have even thought that maybe I am selfish to go to such great lengths to conceive a child (who based on this research might be more likely to have a birth defect). I think, if I were a better person, I would just adopt (and truth be told, we'd like to, but we'd also really like to have at least one biologically related child).

In the dark of night I also have other opposite but just-as-loony thoughts, like maybe I can convince our RE, Dr. Stupendous, to put back one more embryo than he is planning to, and maybe then at least one will survive. Maybe if I stop eating Splenda and aspartame it will all be ok this time. Maybe acupuncture will do the trick. Maybe if I eat organic I'll get pregnant. Maybe munching that ice cream bar (ok, two ice cream bars) last night will mean I won't. Maybe these anxious thoughts will doom the cycle. Maybe maybe maybe. It's a vicious 3AM spiral.

IVF controls much of what is usually a mysterious process. All of this micro manipulation and monitoring make it tempting to start to think that if I just take this action or avoid that action, somehow I can influence the outcome. It also makes it tempting to think that if we don't get pregnant/lose another baby/have a baby with a problem, maybe there is something I could have done that would have prevented it. That maybe it is all my fault.

And then at some point, I catch myself, and say to myself firmly:

You are not in control. You are NOT in control. You've got great science on your side, but you cannot determine every part of the journey or every potential outcome. Relax. Go with the process.

Repeat as needed.

(which will likely be often)




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