My Musings

Too High A Price

Payment-in-kind (Finance): The use of a good or service as payment instead of cash

Sometimes, I get a thought or a phrase stuck in my head and it goes round and round, so I thought I’d write it down:

We have paid too high a price.

I studied Economics at Cambridge Uni, it’s where I met James. When explaining the subject to him early on and even through to our life together now, there are two phrases I tend to overuse:

  • The basic economic problem is to distinguish between wants and needs.
  • You need to price the good (i.e. what’s it worth to you? It’s how the equilibrium is found between supply and demand – everything has a price).

So we want a baby – we know that – we don’t need one. But at what cost?

The Monetary Value

Of course, there is the literal monetary value. And this is something I know that a lot of people trying to conceive – particularly those going through IVF – find frustrating or struggle with. Babies come so easily for lots of couples (“it’s the most natural thing in the world!” or “we got pregnant straight away!”– urgh), but for others, they have to save and spend an actual pecuniary amount. Many are asked to put a literal price on having a baby. And many can’t afford it.

For James and I, we were given the option of waiting 6 months for a one-hour NHS telephone consultation, or to queue jump (by paying £345 privately) to speak to the same doctor in a week’s time.

Shame. On. This. System.
We paid for the appointment.
Shame. On. This. Couple.

We don’t queue jump in traffic or regular queues, yet we were willing to pay our way to the front here. Still, as many others would and economists should: we ‘priced the good’ of a timely specialist opinion, and we deemed it worthwhile. So we paid for help and we will likely continue to do so.

The Non-Monetary Value

But when I think about the phrase that’s stuck in my head, that we have paid too great a price, I’m not actually focused on the monetary value. I’m pondering the personal, emotional and mental cost here – the stuff you can’t price in money terms. The payment-in-kind (to use my work terminology) costs, as it were, of having a baby. If you respond ‘in kind’, you react to something that someone has done to you by doing the same thing to them. And all I can think is: she died and now I would like to.

A quote that didn’t make the cut in my recent blog about book quotes, was this:

“Grief is the price we pay for love”
I thought I found this in a book, but Google tells me that it’s attributed to Queen Elizabeth II

It’s true. Grief is the price we are paying here. And I can’t explain what it feels like. Grief is the absolute extremes of everything: not sadness, but devastation. Not anger, but rage. Last night I was actually screaming out, punching things, hyperventilating and biting down on my duvet – that was all new. It is still surprising to me (perhaps not to you as a reader) how much of a pendulum my life and emotional state is. Saturday night I was fine, Sunday night I was not.

On Wednesday I was feeling upbeat and blogged about how much good has come from this situation. On Saturday I discussed with a friend how there has been ‘enough’ good done since Summer. By Sunday, it was clear that it is not enough. Nothing can be.

I have priced the good: For the amount of good we have done or achieved, we have paid too high a price.

Losing three babies, to do some slithers of good. It is too high a price, and I just can’t shift that thought.

P.S. While writing this blog, I received an email at work – some economic research – entitled “Print Money Not Babies”. It’s to do with demographics and how the shrinking working age population means that the debt burden in developed countries is too great, so more quantitative easing is likely necessary. In the absence of more babies, we need more money. I’m not sure where I’m going with this, other than noting the coincidence of this blog vs. these concepts. (As you can imagine, the word “babies” doesn’t often pop up in my world of work.) My personal conclusion however is the opposite, it is not money that is the issue here, rather the lack of children.

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(4) Comments

  1. Claudia says:

    I too paid the price to see someone I am in a queue with a waiting list of 46 weeks…. however, just like people go for a pamper because after all they deserve it, I rewarded myself with a specialised OB appointment 🤷‍♀️

    1. Anjulie says:

      An excellent point. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind xx

  2. Karen Palmer says:

    “Losing three babies, to do some slithers of good. It is too high a price, and I just can’t shift that thought”

    I’m not an economist – Gordon is though and maybe I should have got him to reply to this ( maybe one day in a safe-from-Covid world, you, James, Gordon and I will sit round a dinner table discussing this – how lovely that would be).
    But I think somehow that’s the wrong sum. Your babies are not the price of these good things. Summer’s life, and BoC’s and My Baby’s lives, all our lives are priceless. There’s nothing good or wonderful enough to balance out the loss of a life. But if some good comes… I’m not sure what you’d call that in economic terms… then it’s some comfort, some beauty, that exists despite their loss xx

    1. Anjulie says:

      I do think you’re right. I know it’s a case of reframing, but I’m struggling. Perhaps you’re suggesting that this has created (in economic terms) a positive externality, a by-product, not the initial intention. That IS another way to think about it.

      PS dinner sounds great xx

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