A desperate cry that is often heard on the bulletin boards is “How you do know when it is time to give up?” Usually the person asking is in a really painful and desperate place.
It’s such an individual decision. There is no magic number of years trying, or IVF cycles, or losses. Each person has their own pain threshold, what might be bearable for some will be way too much for others.
I recently heard of an interesting study where infertile women were offered as many free IVF cycles as they could bear (no pun intended, really) to conceive. Do you know what the average number of cycles underwent was before most people gave up? Three. Can you believe that? Three. After three cycles the average person said ‘enough. I can’t do this any more’. It was too painful for them to carry on.
Now for some of us, well me, this is just unbelievable. Free cycles and you say ‘enough’? I pay for every thing out of pocket and I am busy with cycle #6 (not including FET’s!). Am I crazy? No. Are they crazy? No.
I don’t think it is about how much you want it. People shouldn’t think this. Its not about how badly you want a child, I think its about what you are prepared to go through, what you are prepared to give up or suffer through in order to get a child. For some people the cost is too high. They are not prepared to risk their mental health, their emotional stability, their marriage etc in order to get a child.
I deeply envy those people who have come to the point in their lives where they say ‘enough’, where they make the decision to live childfree. They get off the clichéd roller coaster and get on with their lives, away from the invasiveness and all consuming cycles, meds, needles, betas, hopes and disappointments. They go back to being normal. How wonderfully liberating. It must be like being let out of prison. It is the place of ‘acceptance’ that I spoke about in an earlier post. I envy them. I really do.
Because I can’t give up. Even being through all the pain I have been through, and living this hell daily, I still can’t give up. Because giving up is scarier to me than carrying on. A childfree future is just not an option for me. Which means that I am never giving up.
Am I brave or am I stupid? Is it perseverance or is it obsession? I don’t know. All I know is that I am not prepared to live my future childfree. And yes, I will do what it takes to get there. There are so many people in my life, not my family, because they know how important this is to me, but other people, who think I am obsessed, that I am crazy for doing this to myself, to put myself out there time and time again, only to have my soul destroyed and heart broken so often. They don’t understand my need or drive for a child. They say: ‘don’t you think you should give up now?’, ‘don’t think that god/fate/nature is sending you a message?’.
And there in lies the rub. I am not prepared to buy into the belief that this is my lot in life, that this is my life plan. That I am not ‘meant’ to have a child. Bullshit. I am not going to accept that. I am not an observer in my life, I am a participant. I have control over my fate, because I have choices. I will have a child one day; it might not be in the way I expected. Hell, what am I saying, I expected to have a shag and end up pg, IVF is already an exercise in the absurd. So my child might come to me through donor eggs, adoption, whatever. The how is no longer important to me, the end result is.
I am not obsessed. I know I have come close to obsession, about three years ago, when it consumed my life, but now I am just determined. I will succeed, because the alternative is not an option to me. Making the decision to eliminate childfree as an alternative for me has brought incredible peace. Because I know, come what may, I will have a child. It makes the daily grind of infertility so much easier to deal with, because I know I will have a happy ending in my life story.
To get back to the question of when is enough enough, I think the answer is when the pain of trying is worse than the pain of giving up. For me, the pain of stopping is way greater than the pain of trying.
Don’t let any one make you doubt yourself. Do what is right for you. If it takes 5, 10 or 20 IVF’s for you to come to the place in your life where you either achieve success, or where you say ‘enough’, then that is what it takes. I know of a few people who almost feel embarrassed at the number of IVF’s they have done. They shouldn’t feel embarrassed. Going through this over and over is incredibly brave, it shows incredible determination and drive. Only you will know when enough is enough. And if you decide you can’t or wont do this any more, then celebrate your decision as a very brave decision, and live your life to the fullest. We each can have our own version of a ‘happily ever after’, but it has to be right for you.