Adventures in Fertility

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

July 25th marked the 33rd birthday of the first test-tube baby. Since then, 4 million children have been born with the help of IVF, now a booming $5 billion business in the United States. Holly Finn, who is undergoing her sixth attempt at in vitro fertilization this week, discusses the challenges women face when they wait too long to have a baby. In The Baby Chase: An Adventure in Fertility she shares her personal story and writes about the new scientific frontiers of fertility, and breaks the silence around egg and sperm donation.


Holly Finn

Comments [29]

Ed from Larchmont

It's men's fault - they want to do good but need a push sometimes - but women, you have to be smarter. If you're having sex with a man, and he 'isn't ready to have a child', then leave, he's wasting your time. Also, you shouldn't be having sex with him unless you are married, of course.

Aug. 03 2011 04:16 PM

@anonyme, While it is true that everyone knows some women who have children later (late 30's into 40's), (so of course, it is possible), we do know the odds. They are based on overall statistical evidence and scientific research, not on anecdotal evidence.

Also, non-scientifically, I've always heard old wive's tales that say, "If you have your first before you are 30, you can more easily have children into your later years, " so your mother would be an example in support of this.

We can all only hope to be as active at 91 as she is!

Aug. 03 2011 07:39 AM

JR - My tiny mother didn't even start having babies till age 29, had triplets(weighing 15 lbs) which she carried to term at 36, and her tenth child (an almost 10 pounder) at 43. She's 91 and was just out mountain climbing in British Columbia a week ago. Don't tell ANYBODY what their odds of ANYTHING are - because YOU don't really know, do you?!

Aug. 02 2011 08:53 PM

Why do you need to ask epidemiologists about acupuncture instead of acupuncturists - or medical acupuncturists if you want an MD attached - but you don't need to ask them about humorists? Norman Cousins wrote his book at least 35 years ago if I recall... If you really want to conceive you cannot hurt yourself gettign acupuncture treatments. What is the matter with us stupid westerners who will really abuse themselves with hormones and chemicals but can't take a gamble on a 5,000 year old system that has sustained country/culture that's even older! Sheesh!

Aug. 02 2011 03:07 PM
Patricia from Forest Hills

People on this comment board are very judgmental. Whether you do IVF or adopt, it's a personal decision and forget what everyone else thinks.

R from Manhattan - the world is overpopulated then don't have any biological children but don't tell this woman not to, it's her body, her decision. Same for you Sara from the LES. Guess what Sara some child-bearing aged women do need these treatments. If you'd ever been to a fertility clinic or been on one of the infertility message boards you'd know that, but you don't because it doesn't seem you know much about infertility.

Aug. 02 2011 02:14 PM
Ed from Larchmont

I sure hear the agony of a woman who can't have a child. But down the street there are women who don't want their children and are aborting them. Can't we get these groups of women together, for everyone's benefit? (It's nice that the guest brought out how difficult egg harvesting is, it's serious.)

Aug. 02 2011 02:13 PM

Judging by some of the comments here, I think the guest is very accurate in comparing social attitude towards women dealing with infertility to a witch hunt.

Aug. 02 2011 02:10 PM

I have a neighbor who sought out jobs in retail at the Disney and Warner Bros (now defunct) because of their generous reproductive benefits. In her early 40's she spent years chasing pregnancy through IVF. After 6 or so years, when her doctor suggested donor eggs, she sat at my kitchen table sobbing at her loss. I couldn't understand it. I counseled her to consider it - she would experience pregnancy, it would be her husband's child, she would be a parent, etc. Do you know what she said through her sobs? "You don't understand - I'll never be able to look in my daughter's face and say she's got my eyes." Her and husband adopted a girl from China. Who doesn't look like either one of them. I feel sorry for the kid.

Aug. 02 2011 02:05 PM

After 9 years of infertility, and 3 lost pregnancies, my husband and I decided to adopt. We now have a son and it is and was an AMAZING experience to adopt. However, it is a long journey to the decision to adopt. It cannot be rushed, it is NOT a simple decision, and people who say "you should just adopt" need to be ignored. They have no idea what they are talking about. YOU will know when you are ready to adopt, no one else.

Aug. 02 2011 02:04 PM

It sounds to me, the guest has her own personal bias against the IDEA of women not having children, of which she finds herself one of. Perhaps there's a really good reason why she's having a hard time conceiving. I'm not saying I don't have empathy for her situation, but sometimes not having what you want is really a blessing in disguise.

Aug. 02 2011 02:04 PM
David in Fredericksburg, VA from Fredericksburg, VA

RE childless couples & others' attitudes towards them. My wife & I have 2 wonderful adopted children and the things some people say are breath taking. How much did you pay for them?, etc. As well as the attitude that "real" parents have the right to tell us how we should be raising our children - since they just naturally know better.

Aug. 02 2011 02:02 PM
Sarah from Brooklyn

I'm confused as to why a woman would do in vitro with both a donated egg and donated sperm. Seems irresponsible in this day and age with so many other non-biologically related childred out there who need homes.

Aug. 02 2011 02:00 PM

please discuss cost - how much has she spent? insurance?

Aug. 02 2011 01:59 PM

"Disposable Income," indeed.

Aug. 02 2011 01:59 PM
JR from NYC

One of the issues about late age pregnancy is that many women are led to believe by celebrities that it will be a breeze to have a baby after 40.
Young women need to be informed about the slim odds of becoming pregnant and having a baby at an older age, and not believe what the media is feeding us.

Aug. 02 2011 01:58 PM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

No one ever discusses the amount of ENERGY required to take care of children. I am talking about the lack of sleep, chasing the child around, carrying the child, taking them to playgrounds, playing with them ("floor time"), etc.

Children have the right to have parents who are young enough to have the energy that the children need and deserve.

Sara from LES has a valid point, and some may not like the politics of it, but you can't argue with millions of years of nature (unless you are determined to drag politics into every discussion.)

Aug. 02 2011 01:57 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Oh, Brave New World already! LEt's end this charade and nonsense about "family" and stuff! IF fathers can't have children without mothers, then mothers shouldn't be allowed to have children without fathers. The state should take over, or at least corporations, and take the whole process of child production and rearing out of the hands of crazy old feminists.

Let's end marriage and family once and for all, and get on to the 21st century way of doing things!

Aug. 02 2011 01:55 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

I think marriage should be abolished, and children produced in factories, ala Brave New World. Fathers are out of the picture already, so what are we going to have, a mother-only society like the Bonobo chimpanzees?

Let the state or corporations produce and rear workers. soldiers and taxpayers as required, and get this whole process out of the cottage industry stage already.

Aug. 02 2011 01:55 PM
Anonymous from New York, NY

There are natural alternatives to IVF. I know many women who were not successful after years of IVF, but became pregnant within a few months of acupuncture treatments.

Aug. 02 2011 01:54 PM

@ Sara - Good point, but what most women don't realize is that the child-bearing years, especially for first babies, end around 35.

Women need to put child bearing as a priority no later than 30 if they really want to have their own baby.

Aug. 02 2011 01:50 PM
Sara from LES

What does your guest feel about the age of these women trying to have babies? Child-bearing aged women do not need these treatments. No offense to her but there is a time for this. I'm just having a difficult time trying to reconcile why we should be giving this idea that having children into your 40s is acceptable.

Aug. 02 2011 01:49 PM

I am 40, so of the same generation and same situation as Ms. Finn, and I have several friends of the same age in the same boat. We feel now, after having put aside child bearing for life and career until our mid-thirties or so, that we were sold a bill of goods as young women.

All we heard in our teens and twenties was, build your life, build your career, there is plenty of time for kids! Look at all the medicine and technology that is available to make sure of it! WRONG! All of our friends who had children much younger are doing just fine, very happy where their careers and lives took them.

Now, we preach to all young women we know and meet - DO NOT WAIT to have children. You will always make do, and with some small sacrifices, things will work out.

Media needs to get out the truth and reality of waiting too long . . . not having your children before 35 DRASTICALLY reduces your chances of ever having a baby. . . look at the scientifically proven statistics.

In addition, for those ignorantly critical of women wanting to have a baby, adoption is too difficult, too expensive, and takes too long.

Aug. 02 2011 01:46 PM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

I read Ms. Finn's piece with interest, and appreciated her frank discussion of her own experience and emotions; I think it's great the piece started a discussion about IVF, fertility, and having a child in the modern world.

I felt like there was a lot of guilt on her part for waiting to start trying until she was 39, and that her conclusion was/is to tell younger women to get pregnant much sooner. While I appreciate her feelings, and can't dispute them, I feel like the discussion needs to broaden into the realms of: how do we all proceed trying to raise kids in a country where both parents now usually work? Is it really fair to ask women to drop everything when they're 28 or 30 to get pregnant, even if they themselves aren't ready to be a parent? How can men aid women in this scenario? And, can freezing women's eggs when they're younger, be a regular and affordable part of family planning for the future?

People usually don't make the connection that situations like Ms. Finn's are a result of a societal change in which the majority of women now want to have the same opportunities as men, and many therefore need or want to wait until they're older to have a family. Since many men have been waiting to get married or start a family until they're financially secure or further along in their careers for decades, I think it's timely that women's feelings and ambivalence toward getting pregnant, and the results of waiting until we're older to do so, are taken seriously.

Aug. 02 2011 01:22 PM
John from Washington Heights

Wow, the commenters on this thread have the empathy of a gnat. People get to the IVF option only AFTER they've exhausted all of the easier and cheapter solutions (including accupuncture, which, btw, works well in conjunction with IVF and other procedures). Also, people that use IVF are not the ones contributing to world overpopulation since they're lucky to get one or two children at most, Octomom aside. Lastly, many childless couples that cannont concieve no matter what, DO end up adopting so stop pointing your fingers and get off your holier than all pedastal. And lastly, Ed in Larchmont, a fertalized embryo consisting of a handful of cells that doesn't "take" is no more a human being than is the phlegm ball in my throat that develops when I'm forced to read the anti-choice dribble you post.

Aug. 02 2011 01:22 PM
R. from Manhattan

EA: I believe it is a waste to spend all that creating a child when living children need help.

On the other hand, NOT having children (because, let's face it: we have plenty on this earth and right now, thousands are starving in Africa) is a smart option.

People don't like to talk about this stuff- the world is overpopulated.

Aug. 02 2011 12:56 PM

People who claim others should adopt rather than try for IVF should look what it takes to actually adopt. I have a friend who waited EIGHT HEARTBREAKING YEARS to adopt, due to birthmothers changing their minds at the last minute or using drugs during their pregnancies. Adoption is also VERY expensive, even more than IVF. The NPR Baby Project blog features a woman pregnant via IVF, who has 2 adopted sons. She chose IVF because it was $10,000 (I think) cheaper than what she paid the attorney who handled her second son's adoption (and couples frequently pay less the second time around once they know what they're doing). Those who truly care to promote adoption should make it easier and less expensive.

Aug. 02 2011 12:14 PM

Why not find a good acupuncturist and change your diet? (A good acupuncturist can "get you pregnant"!) Read: Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A Price (c.1939 - a whole different context) for an eye-opening picture of who easily makes healthy babies and how - there is a website for this foundation: and there are cookbooks written by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig. They contradict most current lore on the subject, but my doctors were shocked to see that I reversed serious bone loss following their advice, using no drugs. Our health care providers sometimes live in a different reality from those they treat!

Aug. 02 2011 12:07 PM
R from Manhattan

So much money, so much frustration, so many tears...why?

To sate the selfish and narcissistic need to copy one's self.

Put your money, frustration, tears...and love into adopting a child who needs a home.

Aug. 02 2011 11:06 AM
Ed from Larchmont

In vitro fertilization is expensive and not guaranteed, and usually human beings are killed because extra embryos are conceived and frozen or discarded.
And, really, in vitro fertilization is not as successful at all in comparision to pro-life doctors who treat any medical problems that the couple has which prevent pregnancy, and which in vitro doesn't solve. And it costs much less money. And sometimes the problems are very simple and treatable, just not diagnosed.
Instead of these simple solutions, people choose these convoluted and complex and expensive, and often unsuccessful, approaches. See Gianna - The Catholic Healthcare Center for Women.

Aug. 02 2011 08:21 AM

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