I’ve been asked over the years if I’m ready to give up. Our latest cycle seems to have raised that question again. Before I go any further I want you all to know that it hurts to hear these words. I wonder if those that ask this question have ever walked this path or have ever thought (and I mean truly thought) about what they would do if they had been dealt this hand. For most people, they fortunately will never have to make decisions about the path they choose to take to try to have a family. I am glad that they have never had to even think about the things that we think about every day, I hate that anyone has to go through this.
Why should I give up? 8 years, 7 transfers, 13 embryos…maybe it is enough, maybe its never going to work. We have 5 more embryos frozen. At the moment, that is 5 more chances. Of course, there may come a point in the future where we decide to move on, but that is very different to ‘giving up’.
‘Giving up’ somehow implies that I don’t want it enough. It implies that I need to admit defeat. I have news. This isn’t something that either defeats you or you beat it. We entered the world of assisted conception 8 years ago, completely naive to the fact that we thought IVF would work first time. Even the GP told us we would ‘just need a little help getting pregnant’. For us, IVF it didn’t work first time. We seem to live in a place where hope is given and then within a few weeks it is gone again. Yet we continue to move forward. Our relationship has been tested in ways I never thought possible. I have had more medical procedures than I care to admit. I have suffered depression as a result of not dealing with things when it didn’t go well. I have felt left behind, out of touch with those around us and I have lost people who were once my friends. There is a vacuum of silence between me and most people ‘close’ to us as they struggle to know what to say and I brace myself for what they might say. Its a lose lose situation. Everyone else around us moves forward, mostly with families that have grown over the past few years and will continue to do so over the coming years. Our route to parenthood isn’t as simple as it is for many, but does that mean I should now ‘give up’.
Infertility will never defeat me because I am not at war with it. It is part of me, it is part of us and our lives. Saying the words ‘we give up’ will not make that go away or change it. We have made the decision to continue to try to have a family. I know it is not in the conventional way, but for us it is the only way it is possible. Whilst we have the strength, courage, hope and probably just as important, the money, to keep having treatment, then we will.
There will come a point where we will move on. In fact, this time last year I thought I was at that point. It didn’t feel like I was ‘giving up’, it felt like I was starting to move on in a different direction. I spent what felt like weeks and weeks in counselling sessions saying that I thought I would ok if we didn’t continue with treatment, but seemingly going round in circles, probably trying to convince myself that it was the truth. We hadn’t had any treatment for 12 months & I was feeling the best I had done for a long time. It turns out that I wasn’t quite ready to move on. Something was telling us both that we would regret it if we didn’t have at least one more cycle of IVF. It was a joint decision to find a new clinic and have more treatment. It was the right decision for us. Just as the decision right now to have further treatment with the embryos that we have frozen is also the right decision.
I went into the last frozen transfer with a renewed hope and positivity. I am afraid of treatment, but that is because I know the reality of what it feels like and what the drugs do to me. Yet, I am still willing to try.
Seeing 2 lines for the first time in 12 years truly was one of the best days of our lives together. The day I started to bleed was one of the worst days of our lives together. Being pregnant and then miscarrying has made our grief and sadness so much deeper that it has ever been before, but it has also given us renewed hope that one day somebody may call us ‘mum and dad’. Should we ‘give up’ on that now? Yes I am sad, I am angry, I think why me, I have no explanation as to why 6 transfers haven’t worked and why 1 did work and then didn’t continue to develop. There is a place in my heart for all 13 embryos and there always will be. I will always think of the dates that they would have been here with us and how old they would be now. That will never leave me. I know that 17th November will be etched on my brain and in my heart forever. We have been through a lot, maybe if I was reading this story I too would be asking why we ‘keep going’. And yet we are not ready to move on. Our last cycle did the opposite, it gave us hope that at least one our 5 remaining embryos may actually stick around for the duration. Whilst I know I am in the depths of sadness right now, I also know that in time it will lessen and I will be ready to transfer another of our embryos. And as I keep being told, hope is everything.
Maybe its easier for those around us if we ‘give up’? Of course it probably would be, they wouldn’t have to ride the roller coaster that we ride with each cycle, they too could get off. Maybe they have ‘given up’ on us after all this time. That’s ok too. I get it, our story is now getting a little boring. We don’t have a baby for all of our efforts, the reality is we may never have one. It is probably hard for those people around us to watch us each time we are plunged to the depths of sadness and hope that we crawl ourselves out of it. Each time we do. It perhaps scares people that I may drift to a place of darkness. Just because the tears are flowing and I feel sad right now for what might have been, it doesn’t mean that I am going to get to the same place I did before. I got there because I didn’t cry or talk about it. The fact that I am is a good thing. It means I am dealing with it and not burying it. How many times can we go through this? To that there is no answer, I know that we will know when it’s time to move on. I wonder if people would like me to say I’ve given up so that I can somehow forget what we have been through the past 10 years and just ‘get on’ with life? I will never forget any of it. I am changed. I am different to most people that I know in the real world. Infertility and our journey means that I always will be. I have accepted this, I just hope one day that others can also accept this about me.
So, please don’t ask if it is time we gave up or if I’m ready to give up…when it is time for us to move on, we will let you know.