Decisions, decisions.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for ages, finally found a little free time and having handed in my last assignment a smidge of energy. Please note up front, this post is not asking for advice.

We didn’t go into fertility treatment with a pre-arranged limit, to be honest at the time it felt like we levelled up before we’d even started – we’d only be TTCing naturally for about 6mths when we found out we would need IVF. And then our Dr. told us we were the ideal couple, the one IVF was designed for – our only issue was tubal damage, and as IVF bypasses the tubes we’d be all good. In fact, the Dr told us about a family who got their whole family (3 or so kids!) off one cycle – as our first cycle was publicly funded, the idea of getting more than one child of one cycle was perfect. We’d get our family without financial considerations having to be a big part of deciding whether or not we’d try.

Potentially our doctor set us up with false expectations, but as we got 6 embryos in the freezer (no fresh transfer) off our first cycle, we though we were on to a good thing. 7 transfers laters, several cancelled cycles, another surgery, a chemical pregnancy and a miscarriage we’d used up our allocation of public funding. We had to decide if we were going to continue, and if so where would we find the $$, or if we were going to call it quits. The doctor told us it was a numbers game, more times you try the more likelihood there is of success. Some lovely family offered us some financial support so we decided to continue.

We signed up for a package deal – 3 cycles for the price of 2 and a bit….and if you get to the end with no success a refund equivalent to about 2 cycles. We figured we wouldn’t need 3 cycles, but thought’s Sod’s law would have it that if we signed up for 3 we’d get luck on our first cycle. Another 3 transfers later (2 of them were transfers of 2 embryos at once), another chemical pregnancy and another miscarriage, and we’d reached the end.

We were devastated. We got our refund. It didn’t mean anything to us. The arrangement was it’d go back to those who’d helped us out, so we couldn’t even have a fancy holiday to cheer ourselves up. We’d thought that was the end, we were tired, heartbroken and out of mental & emotional resources. We were struggling. We’d said that was our last try, but were tempted to try again. We were told we could use the refund to try again if we wanted to.

We decided we would. It would be setting us up for at 13th embryo to be transferred….in my family 13 has been a winning number for us before, so surely that meant this time it’d be our turn….it was a numbers game after all, as the doctor kept saying.

We started our 6th round of IVF as the New Year rolled in. This was going to be our lucky year. We got a good number of eggs, it was going to be our turn.

None of them fertilised. It was all over.

Apparently, its really common for couples to not be on the same page at this stage. One wanting to continue or to try other options, one wanting to stop treatment all together. Both view points valid – its either the devil you know or the devil you don’t really. Both options scary and full of emotion. It’s really tough when you’re not on the same page. It’s not like there’s a solution that’s a compromise, either way one person is going to get what they want and the other isn’t.

But we’d gone into the final cycle saying that was it, we were drawing a line in the sand, if it didn’t work we’d walk away and start trying to learn to live again in a life we didn’t choose. It was tough, we were broken and lost. People tried to convince us to change the plan, they didn’t understand. They couldn’t grasp that being on a different page from each other at that point, could be a breaking point for our relationship. We had to choose our marriage over the idea of a family. We had to try and find a way to keep that strong, but somehow find a way to not dissolve under the weight of a decision we didn’t agree on nor wanted to make.

And now we’re nearly at the other end of the year, and it doesn’t feel like we’ve healed much. It’s been months purely focussed on survival. It might be common for couples to not be on the same page when it comes to making the decision to stop fertility treatment, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

If you’re facing a decision like this, I’m really sorry. It’s painful and tough, be gentle with yourself and each other. Take your time. Feel the feels. xo

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4 thoughts on “Decisions, decisions.

  1. I feel like a broken record when I start off my comments to your post saying “well put” but damn, it is. And yeah, it is absolutely possible for a couple to veer off path from each other during this. For my husband, he was ready to stop much, much earlier. I went into it intellectually thinking the same, but as the one whose body was more intimately involved, and the one whose body was the source of our problems, matched with the fact that his sperm and our donor’s eggs made thirteen blastocysts, part of me felt obligated to keep trying, buck up and keep going no matter what it was doing to my mental health, no matter how the biopsies and scratches turned my cervix into an excruciating environment, no matter how the side effects messed up my back and piled the extra weight on my body. We didn’t expect to do as many rounds as we did because with DEIVF they practically guarantee you a baby with the odds they present. After the 6th round my retina spontaneously detached and I thought, what the fuck, after this and a herniated disc and our 2 year wait for our little girl in Ethiopia suddenly being cancelled as the country closed its doors, all I could think was, I would be fucking crazy to continue letting these hormones abuse my body, a body that (to paraphrase another blogger) also seemed to be a place where embryos went to die. I can’t read blogs from folks still cycling because, almost like an addict, it makes me thirsty again to “find a way” and go to another clinic to another donor and – even though we have no savings left – get a loan to try it “one more time” and…aw hell no. Then I wake up and think about my body slowly healing, my husband and I finally getting to focus once again on our marriage, in a marriage where the majority of years have been spent on failed procreation attempts. I don’t tell him about my wild thoughts anymore, and in a way I think it helps as it forces me to focus on other things with him. And he gets it – it’s not like he didn’t grieve. Every door shut in front of us and with this attempt at domestic adoption now, we’re a whole different couple than we were in the beginning. We don’t even think about it now. The first month I tried to do a little nesting, but I sunk pretty quick and now I’m just trying to think of other things. We’re almost to the 7 month point from our last transfer, and it’s like the hell just evolves. It hurts, but in different ways. I feel war torn in so many ways, battle scars everywhere that people don’t see. Taking it out on my husband in new ways, and grateful to have a good therapist who is helping me and my husband individually work on our shit after all of this has happened, amen for her I tell ya.

    I am glad you spoke up about focusing on saving your union – this is a world where so many in society only talk about traditional families and expect that if people don’t put children at the top of their list (future or existing) that they are lesser. I remember when a woman years ago on a talk show said that her marriage comes first in her family, because without that healthy relationship she’s no good as a parent, and people were slamming her right and left for not putting her kids up on a pedestal. And with infertility at our clinic they were literally stunned that we wouldn’t go for two more rounds and “give those embryos a chance” even though the doctor knew exactly what had happened to me physically (and shit, after 6 DE transfers, 2 mock cycles, and 2 medicated IUIs in the course of exactly two years? proves that empathy did not exist there), and folks on blogs saying that they “won the battle” as if it had something to do with willpower and “never giving up” and thereby insinuating that those of us who stop really don’t want it bad enough. Fuck that shit.

    Thanks for continuing to be a serious blogging badass. Cheers to you!

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  2. Getting off that rollercoaster ride of treatment is so much tougher than anyone who’s never faced it ever realises. You’re so right about the medical side waxing lyrical about the pros (always the pros, never what to do with the cons when they happen) of treatment and you get lulled into this whole false sense of security treatement ‘roadshow’.

    I’m glad we got off the rollercoaster; for me it was the one (only?) thing I had total control over, in a world of treatment where you feel like you’re out of control of what these drugs are getting your body to do and how they make you feel dreadful physically and wretched hormonally. Not to mention pregnancy losses – you get so psyched up by the babble from the doctors and nurses it’s such a dreadful, horrible, gut wrenching shock if you lose a pregnancy because of the whole turmoil involved in getting to that state in the first place. Or if those embyos don’t take. Or if your eggs are decrepit like mine ended up being.

    Relationships can suffer tremendously – not only with our beloved partners but others around us who have no clue of the emotional toil and burden all of this places on our hearts and souls. The last thing anyone needs after stepping off the rollercoaster are people questioning, trying to get you to give things another shot, not understanding where you’re coming from – it’s all added pressure. Don’t they SEE that this sort of sh*t breaks people up into a thousand tiny pieces of hurt each time things don’t work out?

    I’m glad you made the right and best decision for you. There is a life after all this aftermath. It may take a while to figure out where you go from here (that’s partly the ‘survival mode’ you guys have been in, but you’ll get your mojo back. Plus you have a whole heap of us here to walk alongside you. You’ll go on from strength to strength and your other half too. It’s time to find enjoyment for both of you once again and why the hell not? You richly deserve it after everything you’ve been through. Go get some of whatever it is you need to make you feel like you again.

    Finally, thank you for an insightful post – it’s about time someone mentioned doing the right thing for their relationship and having the courage of their convictions instead of conforming to what society thinks we should – although it’s usually the sort of section of society who have never had the sort of struggles we’ve had!

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  3. I’m so sorry you went through all that. That doctor shouldn’t be giving couples such false hope. The idea of getting three kids from one IVF cycle is extremely unlikely! It is really hard when you aren’t on the same page as your partner. At some point you have to prioritize each other and your marriage. I wish other people would be more understanding and supportive when a couple are ready to stop getting IVF and move forward.

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