When to say stop to fertility treatments?
Updated: Nov 4, 2020
When I embarked on this journey, I never would have thought that I....
First of all, I never would have thought I would embark on this journey... Could have never seen this happen to myself, or myself being able to cope with it.
This infertility struggle is hard, unfair and hurts you precisely when you expect it the least.
I still to this day wonder how come women who do not have any wish for children find themselves pregnant as soon as they are sneezed upon, while others have to fight for years to an end to achieve a dream that should be their birthright. I certainly asked myself the same question not that many years ago, from a different position-the position of the one getting pregnant on the pill. Little did I know life would soon place me on the other side of the barricade. Not that back then I felt less frustrated, mind you!
Anyway, the point is that these days I am bitterly celebrating three years in Assisted Reproduction hell.
Is it enough? Is it too much? Should I go on? When should we say enough is enough and frankly, ARE WE DONE YET?
Cause I would love to make my life again about other things than OPKs, 2WW, BFNs and you name it.
At this point in my life I would have completed (please sit down) 7 IVF cycles, 6 IUI cycles with full IVF protocol, 2 Clomid cycles, 5 Femara cycles, and numerous natural TTC cycles.
All that in a 3 years bracket, with all the hope, deception, rage and frustration they brought upon me.
My last IVF cycle is barely over, and I am still into my two weeks wait, so you will say I am jumping the gun and speaking as if I knew this cycle too was doomed. The truth is, at one point it's getting harder and harder to keep your spirits up, positivity starts to appear silly and at the end of the day it's probably an instinct, as if to save you from the heartache that invariably follows the broken dream of yet another month passed with nothing to show for it.
For the last couple of cycles I have been telling myself: this one is my last. And yet I would find rays of hope and the courage (or craziness) to try again, for (yet another) last time.
But when do we say "no more"?
Some stop when they run out of funds to finance their journey. This is a very important aspect because infertility is not only heartbreaking and a burden on one's mind and body, but it also destroys your budget and eats up your savings. For them in this category, the decision is easier made, for once you're out of cash, there's no point in asking when to stop, you know you have to do it, and here is your bank account making your decision for you. Frustrating but undebatable.
Some stop when they can't take no for a pregnancy test anymore. Repetitive failures to conceive may dig deep into your self esteem, damaging the zen of your couple and your relationships with other people around you. Especially the luckier ones, and especially those who were not even remotely interested in having yet another baby, and keep whining about "these things happening to them".
Some stop when they realise this hunt for the golden egg takes too hard a toll on their marriage. Because this is another taboo people usually do not wish to discuss: a process supposed to bring a couple together gets people apart. Intimacy is lost, desire diminishes, pressure builds up, and what was supposed to be an act of love in the pursuit of the fruit of love itself, becomes, let's face it, a fixed schedule of lovemaking, timed by hormone levels and subcutaneous shots. And this is hard. What may start as being funny (we have to have sex NOW, I have a positive OPK) becomes a self imposed task a couple of cycles later.
You eventually begin to forget yourself as a couple, and your sex life starts to be measured in ovulation tests, sperm morphology counts and number of follicles retrieved.
And that's harsh!
We are not trained for that, we grow up being told getting pregnant is easy peasy, why... everyone gets pregnant, especially when they don't want to, so when it doesn't happen for us, and we have to fight for it and pay for it too, it appears unfair and frustrating.
I know for me this is my last time doing IVF. Luckily it is not a matter of money as French basic insurance covers fertility treatments, or I would have never been able to have so many cycles so far. For me, having previously been confronted with loss and mourning, this infertility journey had me passing through all the stages of grieving, once more.