06/22/2010 02:16 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Dealing With Infertility: Will a Child Make Me Happy?

For infertile couples the desire for a child overshadows everything in their lives.

Lynn has a home that everyone loves to visit. Her house is beautifully put together with a collection of antique toys she uses to decorate the rooms. Lynn also crochets gorgeous blankets and baby clothes which she gives at baby showers. She would make a wonderful mother. She and her husband Rob have everything they could want in life except a baby.

She has been through all types of infertility treatments, even one where she had her ovaries shrunk, causing a sort of menopause. She was then given massive doses of hormones to "plump" them up hoping to create large amounts of eggs. Nothing worked. She and her husband have been trying for over 12 years. It is their personal choice not to adopt. They are going to keep on trying because carrying a child in her womb is that important to Lynn. Lynn's health insurance from her teaching position pays for some of the procedures. Rob works two jobs to cover the rest.

Lynn says: "People tell me that we should adopt but that was never an option for us. It may sound vain but I want a child from my own body. I want to be pregnant. It's just how I feel and I think that should be respected. Many people think I'm wrong and selfish when there are so many children who need parents through adoption."

Barrie and her husband Jim have tried fertility treatments, but they made a deal with each other. If the treatments didn't work within five years, they would stop trying. The expense and emotional upheaval was taking its collective toll on them. At the end of the five years they were in their mid-forties and adopting was difficult. They went to China and adopted a baby girl.

Jim says: "We were taken to a room where there were at least 20 babies lying on two long cots. As we walked in a line, a baby was given to us. It was like an assembly line. Barrie is tiny and it was kind of funny because when our turn came, the next baby was the biggest one there! But when they put Christy in our arms she was ours from that moment on."

Four years later they adopted a second daughter.

Michelle wanted a child desperately. After three years of unsuccessful trying, her husband Jayson had to have surgery for a testicular blockage. After surgery and hormone treatments, they had in-vitro, which worked on the second try. Their insurance paid for all of the procedures.

"We were lucky," says Michelle. "I've met women at the clinic who have been trying for quite some time with no results. It can be heart-breaking. You live on faith and hope."

Jayson adds: "We encourage couples to keep trying as long as they can afford the stress and aggravation. They should exhaust all avenues."

Laura and Andrew had no problem becoming pregnant but Laura kept miscarrying in the first trimester. After being put on an endless waiting list for adoption they finally turned to surrogacy. They met Karen, the woman who would carry their baby, through an online surrogates forum.

"Everything was done legally and financially by our lawyer. Laura's fertilized egg was implanted in Karen's womb and we were with her all the way through the pregnancy from sonograms to delivery. I cut the cord and five minutes after the birth Laura held our new son. Our experience was a good one although we've heard about some very sad cases involving surrogacy."

Another couple, Nannette and William sought an anonymous egg donor. It took three tries for them to get pregnant but finally they became the parents of twin girls.

Not all stories end with success. Having tried unsuccessfully for years to have a child, Marianne and Joe took a break and seriously discussed what their efforts were doing to their marriage. They finally decided to begin a life that didn't include being parents but one that had a great deal going for it in terms of love, health and shared interests.

"We mourned for quite some time, " says Marianne. "But finally we made peace with our decision."

Wanting a child is a personal choice and whatever option you choose is a decision only you and your spouse can make. There are many avenues you can wander in your search to become parents. The best thing to do is to speak openly and candidly with each other.

All the couples interviewed for this article did have some advice and rules to follow.

  • Set realistic time limits.

  • Find out how much your insurance will pay for medical procedures and how much you are able to pay out of pocket.

  • Determine if you can afford the costs of adoption or surrogacy without severe financial burden.
  • Decide how much stress, time, and money you are willing to invest, then take stock of your lives together.

Make decisions that will help make your lives happier and your marriage stable.

To read more from Kristen Houghton, peruse her articles at Kristen and visit her Keys to Happiness blog.
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Copyright 2010 Kristen Houghton