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TTC To CTT?

line-in-the-sand1

 

I have found myself contemplating this question more and more over the past year. TTC for 6 years turned into TTC for 7 years and now I stand at the doorway of TTC for 8 years. I’m still not really sure I have the answer or that I even fully grasp the impact of the question. I do know that I have a massive cheer-leading squad and for that I’ll be eternally grateful. But I also know that there aren’t too many TTC’ers out there that TTC for 7;8;9; 10 years. Most have success long before that and so few can truly understand what TTC for so many years is really like.

Three years of TTC felt like a life time, 4 years felt like eternity, by the time 5 years rolled around, disbelief had settled in, I cannot believe that in 3 short months we move into TTC for 8 years. There are days where I feel like this is all just a nightmare and that I’m going to wake up and be happy to discover that the hardships of the past 7 years won’t have been real. There are days when I’m gripped by utter disbelief, like an outsider looking in on my life in utter horror, wondering who this person is and how she’s survived all the miscarriages, all the rounds of timed cycles, all the rounds of IUI’s, all the rounds of IVF’s, all the failures and all the disappointments.  I feel like at some point a line has to be drawn, I feel like at some point I have to be willing to stop and say I will go no further.

But how? How do I make such a massive, life changing decision. Especially when I’m so afraid of the consequences of choosing to live childree.  I suppose my obvious fear of living childfree is already part of my answer, that although I have accepted I will have to make this choice at some point, I’m not in a place to do it right now. I have reached a point in this journey where I know that I will be able to live a childree, happy, fulfilled life, I guess that’s also what qualifies me as a Veteran of IF. But at the same time, its not a life I choose, its not the life I dream of and yearn for.

One week past my 4th failed IVF, I’m still hurting like crazy for the disappointment, loss and failure, I”m deeply depressed, barely able to hold my head up, but the desire to try again is still there. What makes my heart race and makes me tremble with fear is not the thought of trying again, but the thought of never trying again. I’m more afraid of giving up and walking away than I am of what trying again will mean.

In the last couple of months I’ve been fortunate to have a few amazing women come into my life, women who did TTC for 7;8;9;10 years and then drew the line and said to here and no further. One of those women is Sandy, after my posting earlier this week answering the questions on my battle with infertility versus my desire to be a mother and whether being a mother was part of God’s plan for me, Sandy and I had a rather interesting discussion, via email of course, on CTT(coming to terms) with being childfree. I must say her honest and frank response gave me a new insight into making this decision, this is what she said:

Hi Sharon,
 
As I was reading your post yesterday the one thing that struck me was how much you wanted to be a mother.  You grew up mothering.  Me?  I was a tomboy.  Nurturing wasn’t really my thing.  Maybe because I’m the oldest of six and the youngest is 16 years younger, who knows.  I was so very surprised when at age 34 the biological clock didn’t just start ticking, it went off like a time bomb.  Because I had had many years of happiness childfree, giving up on motherhood was, I believe, easier for me than for many others.  Even through the infertility I always talked about how lucky I was because I was only giving up a dream that was a few years old rather than something that was decades old.  And I stopped when I had a bad reaction to clomid and started having fuzziness in my vision.  When I talked to the doctor about it he said that I must not really have wanted to have children if I wasn’t willing to potentially sacrifice some of my vision (I already wear coke bottle lenses).  He was absolutely right – I wasn’t willing to go so far to give up major parts of my being.  I do think his answer was uncaring and extreme, but no different than your last comment, it made me stop short and wonder how far did I want to go and how much did I want to give up.  The answer was I was tired, didn’t like who I was, and wanted off the roller coaster.  The idea of pursuing further treatment gave me hives and panic attacks.  The idea of stopping felt like a warm flood of relaxation washing over me.  Absolutely positively my own experience and in no way should be indicative of what others should go through (notice how we infertiles get so very firm on that everyone is entitled to their own experience?). 
 
BUT, after the miscarriage I questioned all of it.  I wondered if I had given up too easily, whether we should have adopted, whether I should have done IVF (we did one failed IUI).  I think when you manage to get to step 1, giving up is so much more difficult.  And particularly when you enter the world of assistance because there are always stories about women who took 10 tries before finally getting pregnant.  So the end-point is a lot less clear. And that’s particularly true for those, like you, who were destined to be mothers from day 1.  Ultimately, while it would be very wonderful to have a child or two bouncing around my feet, motherhood, for me (and I’m only saying for me) isn’t the only pathto happiness.  At 44 I’m not willing to risk bringing a special needs child into my life and adoption takes too long and is fraught with its own challenges.  I will nurture in other ways, whether it be by being a moderator at a miscarriage board or by becoming a Big Sister again.  But I’m completely and utterly adamant that what works for me may not work for others and I also think that if I had miscarried early on my path would have been completely different.  I only offer my opinions as another perspective so that you can try them on and see whether they fit or not.  Either way you learn something.
 
Listen to your heart.  I think you’ll know when it’s time.  You may be coming to that point now because you’re starting to question it, but if your reaction is to dance away from not ttcas quick as you can, then it’s definitely not time.  I will support your decision either way and if you do decide to investigate child-free you are welcome to bombard me with as many questions as you can ask.  I have a cousin that did six IVFs.  One resulted in a failed pregnancy and the others were zip.  She’s recently decided to give up on becoming a biological mother and was trying to decide whether she wanted to adopt or to live child free.  At times I felt that I was being interrogated by her questions. I was happy to answer them because it’s so hard to know unless you’ve got an educated sounding board. Ultimately she’s decided to adopt and I’m so very glad that I had a role in helping her with her decision even though it’s not the same decision as mine. 
 
The decision of how far to go is a very scary process.  I don’t think you’re ready yet, and I wouldn’t be if I had FETs waiting either.  But I’ll be there to hold your hand as often as you need me (if nothing else you’ll know postivelythat there’s another left behind (and I type that with a smile that I can at least be that)).  And maybe my journey for you is only an affirmation that it’s not a path that you want to take any time soon.
 
I wrestled with whether to respond to you through e-mail or as a comment to one of your posts because there are others that are asking the same questions.  And, like you say, some of the comments are so very aggravating that I feel the more support you get for your situation the more the commenters may realize that there are some things that you don’t understand until you go through it.  Feel free to post elements if that’s what you want to do (but I’m not at all suggesting that you have to – we’re on so very different journeys that much of what I say may not be applicable to your emotions and may be completely irrelevant to what you feel you need to say, I’m just giving you permission to quote freely and offer your own opinions (ok, well maybe if I’ve come across as giving ass-vise I think I’d rather hear from you first before reading about it on your blog, but otherwise go ahead)).
 
Hugs and warmth,

Sandy

Sandy’s email has truly helped me, aside from giving me a new perspective, its helped me answer some of my own questions floating around inside my head. One of them is that while I’m far enough on this journey to be able to entertain the idea of CTT and living childfree, I’m no where near ready to give up on the dream.

So for now I have some peace with the choice I’ve made. Its helped me to strengthen my resolve, bite down, square my shoulders and get ready to fight another day.

FET here I come.

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17 Comments

  • Reply Lea White

    Wow, what a beautiful email from your friend!

    April 4, 2009 at 12:03 pm
  • Reply Murgdan

    Wonderful post…and a wonderful e-mail you received. So refreshing to have people just be honest for a change.

    April 4, 2009 at 12:47 pm
  • Reply Rach

    We’ve been TTC for 10 years now.

    We’ve had 4 miscarriages in that time, the last one of which was just over a month ago. Our 3rd miscarriage was 12 months prior. Our 2nd was 7 months prior to that.

    So in just over a year and a half, I’ve had 3 miscarriages.

    After our last, I decided that it was time to get off the train, the miscarriage was my “stop”, I couldn’t ride anymore.

    However, the past month has made me realise that it’s not that easy and I really don’t know if I’m ready to give up just yet, though I do know that I won’t be devoting the next 10 years of my life to heartbreak and tears like I have the past 10.

    Rach
    xxxx

    April 4, 2009 at 1:02 pm
  • Reply Kirsty

    Stunning post! You are one strong sista – and I am so pleased you are going for the FET!
    I personally think you would cut off your right arm if it meant you could hold your own baby! (Actually – might be hard to hold said baby if you cut off your arm…….but – you know what I mean!)
    Good luck! know that your cyber-buddies are with you every step of the way!
    x-x-x

    April 4, 2009 at 1:29 pm
  • Reply Sandy

    Hi Sharon,

    Thanks for the kind words about my journey. To others that are reading this, I’ll add some additional context about the e-mail above. We started ttc 10 years ago, gave up 6 years ago. Got pregnant last year (I guess it took six years of relaxing) and lost the baby at 10 weeks. The miscarriage was devastating and took a year to recover from. The Step 1 that I refer to above is actually being able to get pregnant – we never got that far until a year ago.

    If you’re interested in how I felt about my miscarriage and the healing process, you can read about it here: http://blog.simple-inspirations.com/2009/03/i-am-blessed.html.

    Infertility is brutal. I have been a constant admirer of Sharon’s strength, stamina, and ability to cope for as long as she has. I got off the roller coaster at year 3-4 when the dr questioned me so abruptly. I can’t imagine having the dedication that Sharon has and for that she has my always and forever admiration.

    Sandy

    April 4, 2009 at 2:14 pm
  • Reply Kristin

    How wonderful and caring Sandy was to email you. I am glad she was able to help you come to terms with what you are feeling.

    April 4, 2009 at 2:33 pm
  • Reply Jo

    I agree with you, Sharon, in that people who haven’t been on this roller coaster as long as we have can’t really understand how it feels. My hubby and I have been TTC for 6.5 years officially (7.5 unofficially). . . with nothing to show for it. And yet, I can’t imagine giving up. Not yet.

    I’m glad to hear that you are asking yourself questions, and discovering the answers. Let’s hope this FET finally brings you your miracle!

    Hugs,
    Jo

    April 4, 2009 at 4:24 pm
  • Reply samcy

    Whilst I respect other’s decisions to live child free I know in my heart of hearts that I am no where near ready to make that decision. Not unless I am told that I have absolutely NO hope at all.

    For what it’s worth Shaz, I think you’ve made the right decision to move forward with the FET.

    (((HUGS)))

    xxx

    April 4, 2009 at 5:14 pm
  • Reply monica lemoine

    Wonderful musings and insights from Sandy. I can really see how that would help put things into perspective. I think she’s right – listening to your heart is the best thing – although I imagine it being hard at times. You’re in my thoughts, Shaz – supporting you no matter what you decide and when. xoxo

    April 4, 2009 at 7:07 pm
  • Reply Annie

    “Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” Wilma Rudolph
    “Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow American Poet 1807 – 1882

    The above quotes offer inspiration for the journey and path we have chosen – many people give up too soon and do not have the courage or strength to suffer the loss endured, the emotional roller coaster, the sacrifices made, and the willpower to succeed. Be it the constant monitoring of one’s weight, health and lifestyle, not booking that trip or holiday due to appointments or the constraints of going through a cycle, walking away from some friendships because they just don’t understand and it is tiresome to be who you are not to accommodate “their” feelings by hiding your emotions.

    I started my journey late in life because I was too sensible – thinking we best be financially stable etc with a good career behind me – rather than leaping into motherhood – so at 35 I began and at 36 the fear of reality started to hit home and now at 40 I know so much more about my body and the process of fertility that I wish I had begun at 25 – but we can’t look back, we can’t change the past, we can however share our learnings and experiences with others and in turn have hope that eventually our own tenacity will be rewarded. Hang in there! Your strength and sharing of your journey offers strength to others!

    April 5, 2009 at 12:27 am
  • Reply Orodemniades

    We tried for 8.5 years (you can read details in the about me section of my blog) but were ultimately successful with our 1st and only treatment, IVF when I was 39.

    People, not even the majority of other infertiles, do not understand what it is to try for so long. The bitterness and anger…It still crops up, even now, a year after my son was born. TTC for 2-3 years is just so very different from trying for 7-8 or more. Time stands still, as if everything that happens to you is just a dream.

    I wish I could make it better for you. All I can say is that if parenting is what you want, you will find a way to become one.

    April 5, 2009 at 1:17 pm
  • Reply Mands

    I’m glad Sandy’s e-mail gave you new perpective, I truly believe you and W will make wonderful parents.

    April 5, 2009 at 4:43 pm
  • Reply CeCe Garrett

    I am glad that you are going with your heart on this. I love ya to bits and haven’t stopped praying.

    April 5, 2009 at 7:58 pm
  • Reply Pamela Jeanne

    By all means, do what feels right. We’re here for you every step of the way.

    April 5, 2009 at 10:03 pm
  • Reply loribeth

    What a wise & wonderful response from Sandy. I agree with her that you will know if & when the time comes to say “no more.” We all have our own personal “lines in the sand” & yours may be very different from the next person’s. (((hugs))) to you as you move on to your next FET!

    April 6, 2009 at 3:36 am
  • Reply SassyCupcakes

    I’m so glad you’re going ahead with the FET. You’ve got such awesome embies and you really don’t sound ready to stop yet.

    Like Sandy I also felt relieved when we made the decision to stop (also after a weird reaction to Clomid funnily enough). We are hoping to adopt locally, but we do still talk about ttc and if we should give it another go. My heart isn’t in it anymore though and to be honest, if we can’t adopt I think we will most likely live childfree.

    I think it’s safe to walk away when you really just don’t want to do it anymore. For some people that won’t take much, but for others it’s a really long road. Everyone has to make their own decisions, but I think the best you can do is leave yourself with no regrets.

    April 6, 2009 at 10:03 am
  • Reply stacey

    I am so glad you posted this letter, Sharon. It truly gives me some insight into a decision that I haven’t spent much time trying to understand (given that I’m not ready to stop ttc at this point). But I think it is very important to think about all options.

    I couldn’t agree more that trying to have a baby for that long is extremely hard. As you know, I’m now into my 8th year as well. It is overwhelming when you look back and realize how much time has gone by while you’ve waited, hoped, tried, failed, tried again, (repeat over and over and over again). It is heartbreaking and it has changed me forever.

    I greatly admire your friend Sandy and others who have found the courage to stop. I think it’s as courageous to stop as it is to keep trying. I try to encourage you to stick to your resolve because I think that, like me, you’re not ready to let go of the dream of being a mother. If ever you do reach that place where you are ready, though, I will be behind you 100%! It has been stated here, and I agree, that we will each have our own experience in this and our own line in the sand.

    I am so glad you shared this. It has helped me to better understand where others are on the journey, and I appreciate that. Thanks to you and to Sandy!

    April 6, 2009 at 6:56 pm
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