Baby Dilemmas: Lesley and Jeff

The Price of Parenthood
Dr. Phil talks to Lesley and Jeff about their inability to conceive and possible solutions for it.
"I'm willing to do anything to have a baby," says Lesley, who's been married to Jeff for five years. "I had endometriosis since I was 17, and haven't been able to get pregnant since."


The couple have undergone two costly artificial insemination attempts and one in vitro fertilization attempt. "I was completely devastated. I felt hopeless. I felt lonely," Lesley says of those failed attempts. Now she wants to try in vitro again, but Jeff refuses to pay another $20,000 for the procedure. "Once it didn't work, I just felt like, 'There goes all that money,'" he says.

Lesley says that she's willing to go into debt to become pregnant, and feels angry that her husband is putting a price tag on parenthood. "Jeff spent $20,000 on a car, and now he doesn't want to spend $20,000 on a baby," she points out. "If Jeff's not willing to go through the infertility treatments again, I would consider leaving him."
"Is there any way that Jeff, or anyone, can appreciate the sense of urgency and desperation that you feel right now?" Dr. Phil asks Lesley.


"I don't think he has any idea," she replies. "I just feel like I'm devastated. Everyone always tells me, 'You're so young. You have plenty and plenty of time.' I'm almost 27, and after the age of 30, your chances decrease when it comes to infertility. I feel like we have tried for so long that if it doesn't happen now, it's never going to."


Dr. Phil validates her position and the pressure she feels. He asks Jeff, "Do you appreciate that?"


"Certainly," Jeff answers. "I want to have a child, too ... It's just so hard to want to have a baby, but you have to go into debt to do it."

Dr. Phil wants to know if Jeff shares Lesley's commitment to having a child. "She says you'll spend $20,000 on a car, but you won't spend $20,000 on in vitro fertilization," he points out.


"I wanted to get this vehicle paid for before we tried something like that," Jeff explains. "But she doesn't want to wait."


"Do you understand that she's on a lot higher level of urgency than that?" Dr. Phil asks. "You want to get the vehicle paid for — that's like maybe a four on a scale of one to 10. She wants to have a baby in her life, which is like a 14 on a scale of one to 10. Do you see an imbalance between the gravity of one thing versus the other?"


"I understand and really I want to have a child, too," Jeff insists. "She's just wanting one right now, where I'm willing to wait awhile."

Dr. Phil asks Lesley about her statement that she would leave Jeff if they couldn't resolve this issue.


"He knew when we got married that I wanted a family more than anything," Lesley explains. "Now with the infertility problems, I don't feel like he's willing to go the extra mile that it takes."


Dr. Phil points out that Lesley is putting a lot of stress on herself and Jeff. "Research is very clear that if you have anxiety, pressure or stress, that diminishes your chance of being fertile," he says. "I promise you, if you really want this, you've got to say, 'I've got to back off of myself here and I've got to back off of my husband.' ... Does that make any sense to you?"


"I think if we had just started trying, then I could say I'm a little obsessed, but this has been going on for over five years," Leslie points out.


"Actually, it's been going on much longer than that," Dr. Phil reminds her. "You were diagnosed with endometriosis when you were 17, and you told us that in the back of your mind, on that day, you knew that you would never have a child."

Lesley starts crying as Dr. Phil recounts her struggle with infertility. "You've had two artificial inseminations, you've had one in vitro, and you're getting more tired," he says.


Dr. Phil doesn't think an ultimatum is going to help the couple reach a compromise. "You can't put your marriage on the line here," he cautions. "You don't negotiate with ultimatums. You're saying, 'You do this or I'm going to leave you.'"


When Lesley says that she simply wants Jeff to understand the seriousness of her situation, Dr. Phil interjects, "The way to do that is to say, 'I'm going to communicate this until you get it.'"


Turning to Jeff, Dr. Phil asks if he is willing to change his views about in vitro and honor Lesley's priorities if she is willing to relax and not put so much pressure on their marriage.


"I think that's what we need — to back off a little bit," Jeff agrees. "I'm willing to do anything I can to make this happen."


"So can we stop ultimatums and stop pressuring each other and work to make this happen?" Dr. Phil asks Lesley and Jeff. When they agree, he surprises them by explaining that the show has arranged for them to visit Shady Grove Fertility (www.shadygrovefertility.com) to begin their fertility process, all expenses paid.


"It's a dream come true," Lesley cries. Jeff, who is choked up as well, hugs and thanks Dr. Phil.


Dr. Phil tells Lesley and Jeff that Shady Grove Fertility is offering this program for infertile couples with financial needs. He also explains that under the center's shared-risk program, couples will receive four chances to become pregnant. If they still haven't conceived at the end of that time, they will be given a full refund. "The whole idea is if you don't become fertile, you get the $20,000 back to spend on alternative things like adoption," he says.