Infertility: Are You Ready to Throw in the Towel?

Infertility: Are you ready to throw in the towel?

How to Decide That Enough is Enough When Struggling With Infertility

by Ashley Erekson

ashleyereksonRecently, after about two years of trying to conceive, and the failure of our second IUI, I found myself, for the first time ever, contemplating what I want to do with my life if I’m not going to be a mom. I have spent my entire childhood, teen years, and adulthood waiting, not so patiently, for the chance to be a mom. When my sweet husband proposed two years ago, I was not only ecstatic to be on the verge of marrying such a wonderful person, but also overjoyed that the time had finally come. I was ready to start the part of my life I’d been waiting for so long to begin.

Now here I am, two years later, still waiting. I’m not ecstatic anymore. I don’t get my hopes up with every new cycle. I’m no longer motivated or excited by the thought of the next infertility treatment on the horizon. More often than not, I am riddled with heartache over the lack of little things in my home, feeling jealous or bitter towards those who have been blessed to have children easily, and hating myself for feeling those emotions. I realize that two years is not a very long time to TTC when some have tried almost 10 times that, but aching for this for so long before I got the chance to try has seemed to magnify the heartache and frustrations. Knowing I had PCOS and a family history of infertility, I knew going in that it would be difficult, but I was not prepared to get to this point. I didn’t think anything could ever make me want to stop trying, but now I’m not so sure. I feel tired and beaten down. I am sick of my entire life being consumed by TTC.

With these new thoughts of what to do with myself if I don’t have children, I have been at a loss. I don’t have single plan for my life that doesn’t involve children and my husband. This got me wondering- How do I know when to call it quits? How do I even make that decision? How do I let go of the one thing I’ve aspired for my entire life? I was searching for answers when I found the article, “Is it Time to Move On?” by Penny Fletcher M.A., LMFT on resolve.org. In her article, Penny has some very good suggestions of what to consider before making this decision.

“First, consider taking a break from treatment if you are feeling extremely overwhelmed. This will give you a chance to recuperate from the daily doctor visits and medication injections. It will also allow you to experience what it feels like to not be on the infertility rollercoaster. You may decide that you do not want to get back on it or you may find yourself enthusiastic to begin the next step.”

She also suggests assessing the effect the treatment process has had on you so far- where are your finances, emotions, and relationships at this point? Do you have more to give to this process? These are important things to consider before making your decision. If your relationship with your significant other is failing, maybe it’s time to step back and work on that. Maybe a break is necessary to rebuild your financial reserve. Maybe it’s time to just throw your focus into those things in general. She states that communicating your needs and emotions openly with your partner is also a necessity- you may not be on the same page at the same time. A second opinion from a different doctor may also be something to consider. Many people continue infertility treatments to avoid dealing with the pain of letting go, but as Penny points out, avoiding the pain does not make it go away.

More questions Penny has outlined to consider:

  • Is it difficult to be hopeful as you start a new cycle?
  • Are you feeling resentful that you’ve put so much of your life on hold in order to pursue parenthood?
  • Has your relationship lost its passion and joy?
  • Is the idea of being a parent more important to you than being pregnant?

She states that if you answer yes to most of these more often than not, it may be time to reset your family planning goals.

“Do research on all of your options – third party reproduction, adoption, childfree living. Talk to people who have taken those routes to find out if you can picture yourself in their shoes. Being open to all possibilities does not mean you have to accept all possibilities. It just means you consider them so that you can make a thoughtful and informed decision that fits your life.”

Deciding to stop trying to have children is a deeply personal decision, and not one that can be made in a moment. It requires much consideration, soul searching, research, and communication. There is no guarantee you won’t have regrets, as with any other decision you make, but you will learn to build a life on the decision you’ve made.

After considering the points in this article, I feel more knowledgeable. I feel prepared to make this decision. At this point in time, I have decided not to throw in the towel- I’m not ready to let go just yet. However, I have discovered that I AM ready to step back. I will continue trying to build my family, but I am moving it to the back burner for now, and putting my focus into other elements of my life. I want to enjoy my husband, my hobbies, my friends, and all of the things I have neglected for the past two years. After taking some time to just be myself, I’ll see if I’m ready to jump back onto the infertility rollercoaster, or if I’m happy with what I’ve built in the meantime.

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Photo credit: Steve Corey / Foter / CC BY-NC

May 19, 2015

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  • Ellen Smith

    Oh wow, what a personal article you’ve written here. I know a couple who got lucky the first time they did IVF and have a beautiful daughter now. But they tried again for a second and it hasn’t worked out for them yet. I think you should have a limit to how many times you try before you consider other options like adoption for example. Really interesting and different read. I loved the personal touch.

    Ellen,
    http://fishnetsxd.blogspot.ie

  • Ashley Erekson

    Thank you! That is a good idea- limiting the amount of treatments. It’s hard to know where to stop though- you’re always hoping for that miracle and wondering if that next try is going to be the one. I hope things work out for your friends!