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:
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’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.