Another Kind of Limbo.

November 13, 2010 at 8:05 pm | Posted in Infertility | 15 Comments

Part of me was a little relieved when I got the call from my clinic. Because I had lost hope, and really I was just trying to talk myself into optimism because I had no other option. And it was really HARD to keep the optimism going.


Driving home last night, I felt a numb sort of anger.

Because we’re back at square one. Where, if we want to bring home a sibling for O, we have to do IVF. AGAIN.

Fresh cycle fucking FOUR.

Before now, I thought that since we did have success with a cycle after my surgery, maybe we had fixed everything so that we’d have another success pretty easily.

Now? I’m not so sure.

And I do NOT go through the whole rigamarole of another fresh cycle if we’re going to end up in the same place. Because my biggest fear is that I will end up bitter and jaded, where infertility defines me. I’m terrified of ending up forced into a choice of having a family of three because, well, we have no other alternative.

So last night, instead of getting drunk, J and I talked. What’s next?

And in the course of our discussion, I started getting frustrated that he was saying NOTHING about what HE wanted. And said so.

And then he said it.

If it were up to me, we’d be done with trying now.

He went on to say that he didn’t want to give an opinion because he didn’t think I was ready to be done.

And I will confess, I really do have a hard time imagining giving up the idea of our family of four. Until we started trying again, I didn’t realize just how much I wanted it. How ready I was to experience pregnancy and babyhood again.


I don’t know if I’m strong enough to do this again. Emotionally, physically, the FETs were really pretty low maintenance. To do the shots, the monitoring, the retrieval, the waiting to hear how many embryos and what quality they were, the transfer options, the freezing of the remaining embryos, the 2ww, then the beta/early pregnancy hell?

I need to know that I’ll come out of it with a real, live baby.

And of course, there are no assurances.

So last night when J said that if he were to choose, we’d be done…

Well. There was a lot of relief in it. Because we could get on with our life.

We can move on.

But if we don’t give O a sibling, will he MISS it? Will HE be okay with being our only child?

Will *I* be okay with it? Or will I always regret not doing more?

I wish I knew.

So here we are. Stuck in a different kind of limbo.



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  1. Will O be okay with being an only child? Almost definitely. Sure, there are some “only lonely” children who wish their parents had had a sibling, but there are also plenty of children with siblings who always wished (or sorta wished) that they were an only child. There are no guarantees. Most “only” children I know were very glad they were an only child, and didn’t have to share the spotlight with another sibling. They had their own fun, played their own games — no sibling rivalry! So there are some benefits.

  2. I went through this limbo for about 5 years. And, while I did go the other route and decided to go for IVF cycles, we did decide that we were going to do the three and that would be it. And while I was not totally sure about it–I had reconciled myself to it. I am glad I tried once more…and I cannot 100% tell you that if that cycle had not worked whether I would have been really ready to have M be an only child—but I can totally sympathize with your situation.

    I wish you peace and strength to go through whatever you decide.

  3. If it were up to my hubby, we wouldn’t have tried again at all. I hate that I’m the one who brought us back to this crap. Especially because he’s now invested too.

    As you know, we decided to do the IVF cycle. But I’m really feeling like this is our last effort at expanding our family, regardless of the outcome. Plenty of people grow up as only children and are perfectly happy with that life. I think it is all in how the parents approach it. Like A, O is lucky to have cousins nearby in addition to friends, which definitely works in your favor.

    That doesn’t make it easy, though. I feel for you, I really agonized over this too. And undoubtedly will again if the next outcome isn’t what we want.

  4. Thankfully no decisions need to be made right now. After my last m/c in July, I was the one who really didn’t want to go on and DH did. However, as time went on, it renewed my sense of what I really do want, probably because I was outright denied yet again, but also because it confirmed even more what I really do want.

    For me it comes down to doing everything I can within my power to achieve the outcome I want, so I can look back with absolutely no regrets if the “decision” comes to have just one child.

    And the good thing is that you do have IVF coverage available. I know it’ll involve a little more OOP money than before with your plan changing, but it’s great to have as an option, at least.

    I’m sorry to see you at square one. I’m about to run for president of the welcoming committee myself.

  5. I so feel you and you know there are so many parallels to our paths (including my husband being ok if we remained a family of three even after 5 addtl OE IVFs + 1 DE cycle in an attempt for a sibling).

    It took a year of not even talking about expanding our family to finally make the decision to move forward. And, still, I worry whether it is the right decision.

    You will find your way because you are strong, introspective, and contemplative. I wish you peace of mind and heart along the way. It can be a bumpy ride.

  6. This is a truly agonizing place to be, and I’m so sorry you find yourself here. Even though, by most people’s scales, I already had a large family (foster son and triplets conceived after 6 IUIs and a miscarriage), I truly wanted another baby. That baby took five IVF cycles to conceive. I don’t know that I ever would have been okay with stopping, but the last cycle we did was our last cycle. Money and coverage had run out and we knew we wouldn’t pursue a sixth cycle. Admittedly, I don’t have any frozen cycles to compare to (I never had anything to freeze), but for me I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied without knowing we’d tried as hard as we could.

    Everyone has to find their own way to their stopping point. Whether it’s because they’ve completed their family, run out of money, or run out of emotional fortitude to endure any more, everyone eventually finds their stopping point.

    I have an amazing, and large by all accounts, family, but I can’t say that I’m not still defined by my infertility. I’m acutely aware that even if we wanted to have another baby, it will never be in the cards for us. I’m acutely aware that my children are here but for the grace of a team of excellent reproductive endocrinologists and embryologists. I’m defined first by my children and my family, but closely followed by my infertility. If you find the key to avoiding that self-definition, I’d love to get a copy of the key.

  7. I wish there were an easy answer to this. O. will be fine without a sibling … because you’re clearly a wonderful parent. And I’ve known plenty of onlies who have had close friendships that feel more like sibling relationships. But will *you* be OK with making the decision to stop here? That’s a very different question. I hope that you find your answer and peace in your heart soon.

  8. I’m sorry that you’re here, but you know…luckily you can “make a choice” for now without MAKING a CHOICE, too. You can go back on a decision not to try if it feels wrong.

    As an only child, I will give you my honest thoughts on siblinglessness. I think too often people say “I know lots of only children who are fine!” but I find that onlies are few and far between. O will be fine without a sibling. I mean what? He will be. There are pluses….you get a car to yourself. You have all the attention (lol, also a minus), you don’t have to share. Christmases can be big. You can choose the restaurant, vacation location, etc without having to compromise. You don’t fight, and there’s never the chance that your relationship goes bad. You get the whole inheritance. Etc…

    That said, the one thing I was desperate to do when we started having IF issues, and indeed the one thing I was always SURE I wanted, was to not let my child(ren) be only children. Here’s why. While a lot of the pluses are nice, they aren’t lasting. Sure, I have close cousins, and a friend, all of whom are like siblings, but the truth is that they are “like” siblings. They are not siblings. I know not all sibling relationships are ideal, but there is something…singular about only childhood. There is something singular about adult only childhood. And it weighs heavier and heavier on me as my parents get older and start having some problems that in the end, this is all on me. I am it. When they are gone, I am the last of my family, and will be the last survivor for many years probably. I will be the only one who REALLY grieves my parents. I will be alone in hospital decisions, in funeral preparations, and in grief. NO ONE will feel ANY of it like I will. No one. And it is all my responsibility.

    In the end, those are the reasons I was adamant about giving my children siblings. In the end, those are the reasons I want to give Ethan a biological sibling. And in the end, maybe they will all hate each other, but they will still be brothers and sisters. And in the end, even if they have a poor relationship, they will be family, and not “family” as friends who are close can be, or “extended family” as cousins who are close are….but real family, of the type that can TRULY be broken.

    I know that there are people to support me when these decisions and times come. But I’m also no fool, and I know that ultimately I will BE alone and it will BE only me, you know?

    For me, the money (and we are talking A LOT of money. Counting this baby we are up in the $130k+ out of POCKET range, so there are loans, lol)…the hassle….the shots….the pain…the risks…it was all worth it. Because for ME it was important that they not be me. I love my parents, and I know that 30 years ago it was NOT the same infertility wise. I know that they did not really CHOOSE for me to be an only. But I’ve never NOT wished for a brother or sister, and once we started down the adoption path, I even questioned why they couldn’t have DONE THAT at least for me….For me, for my family, it just wasn’t what I wanted.

    That said, to me, it sounds as if you are not done, or sure that you WISH for O to be an only. Will he be okay if he is? Certainly, he will be, I promise. BUT….the real questions are…are YOU done, and is life as an only child what YOU WANT for him?

    Good luck deciding. It’s a tough decision.

  9. I once heard Joy Behar say ‘you have just one kid, you give them everything and it’s a beautiful thing’ (speaking about herself and her daughter).
    From reading your blog posts over the last year or so, I know how utterly grateful and blessed you feel to have O. It’s that thankful attitude that’s going to help you feel at peace. So if you decide not to try anymore, I know you’ll move forward with joy, knowing that your family is complete and perfect.
    If you decide to move ahead with IVF, I know you’re strong enough. You can totally do it. I wholeheartedly believe that about you.
    Just from your writing, I can tell that you would embrace the process, vent about it, own it and come out the other side just fine.

    I do not envy your place right now. Limbo is ridiculously hard. Hugs to you as you go through this.

  10. So, when we first started fertility treatments I knew we would keep doing them until we had at least 2 kids. Our first DE/IVF cycle gave us our son. We had 4 frozen embryos and felt that was more than enough to give us a full genetic sibling and we’d be done. Of course, it didn’t work out that way and we thought our donor could no longer donate because she had reached the max # of donations and we absolutely did not want to go through another donor search so we were done. Which meant TK would be an only child and I wondered if that was going to be ok for him. As several have commented already, there are only children who love being only children and those who hate it. I have read that studies show only children are not that different from first borns and one unique thing about them is that as a group they are actually highly variable in personality vs first borns or middle children or youngest child and it’s thought that this is the case because as only children they are allowed to develop who they are without a lot of constraints. Also, only children are often very close to their parents, more so than children who have siblings. The only thing that I felt was something I wanted to avoid with TK that I saw a lot of only children comment on (which jesspond comments about this) is that as their parents get older and decisions on care had to made, that is when being an only child was more of a burden and they wished for someone to share that burden with. And that was a thought shared by those who loved being an only child as well as those who didn’t like it. It was not enough of a reason for us to pursue another donor but it was enough that when we found that our donor had not reached our clinic’s max # of donations I knew we had to do another fresh DE/IVF cycle. Not for me, because I had eventually worked through my feelings for wanting more children and came to a place where I was ok with one child, but for TK my son. I needed to be able to tell him, should our next cycle fail and as well as any FETs should we get embryos to freeze, that we at least tried an additional fresh cycle for a sibling. Only then would I be able to live with whatever negative feelings TK might develop as an only child. As with so many things infertility and in life, only you will know what is acceptable for you and your family and what will leave you with no or the least regret. It will be a struggle to figure it out, but you have figured things out before and I know in time you will decide what the right next step will be.

  11. I am sorry that you find yourself back in this place. Personally I knew when I was done with treatments even though at that point I was not done with having a baby. I was unbelievably lucky and became that urban myth but even if that had not happened (and it didn’t until over 3 years since my last ivf cycle) I knew I couldn’t have done another cycle. I couldn’t bear for my children to have too many memories of a basically crazy mother who spent too much of her time in tears. I think you will know when you have reached the point where you will want to not do a cycle more than you want another bio sibling for O. O will be fine as an only for sure many people are. Many people dislike their sibs too. There are no guarantees with these things and you can only do your best. Wishing you all the best.

  12. I’m glad he told you how he really felt. Otherwise, it’s pretty hard to know whether everyone’s being thought of appropriately. Whether or not you ultimately try again, that’s important to know.

    I don’t know. I don’t know what you should do. I hope you can figure it out in time, and I’m sure it’ll take time.


  13. Ahhhh, limbo.

    None if these questions are easy ones. None if them can be made easily or without real thought.

    My only advice at this point is not make any sort of decision right now. Give yourself time after this loss, this process. Maybe after the holidays revisit the limbo questions.

  14. First off, I am so sorry. Loss is terrible, grief is miserable, but healing is life affirming. I can personally attest to all of that regarding babies who I loved but never were. I really love what one commenter said about throwing love at that little spark inside you, regardless of the outcome, as normal practice of being a mommy. It’s a wonderful warm, and also sad, feeling to know that you gave such love to that little thing if even for a few brief moments. That it came and went into this world with it’s mommy’s love and support. that’s incredible.

    As the parent of an only child (and to stay an only child) I can say that it’s a wonderful thing. We have 2 adult friends who are only children and they wanted for nothing in their childhood. They have told us that they wondered what it would be like to have siblings but never really wanted them. And I would say that these individuals have extraordinarily close relationships with their parents, which is wonderful to see. They graduated college, got careers, traveled the world, and went on to have families of their own. And because their parents have no other children, they are able to help their kids out even into adulthood–with college tuition, down payments on homes, family vacations.

    As someone with two sisters, one living and one deceased, I can say that their existence in my life has brought me great joy and great pain, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. And my parents were wonderful, but I did always long for more time with them. I felt lost in the shuffle. My daughter never will.

    Personally, because we only have the one, we are able to take more risks in our lives, which ultimately leads to more personal fulfillment. Because we only pay for preschool for one, and pay for clothes for one, and make time for one, and I’ve only have to be a SAHM for one, I have been able to explore my career path and completely reinvent myself in my career. I am 5x more satisfied professionally now than I ever was. I don’t know that I would have felt confident enough to do that if we had to foot the bill and make the time for two little monkeys. Also because of this, I am able to exercise more and am in the best shape of my life. My husband and I can afford romantic weekend trips together where we dine and drink and laugh and reconnect. And my aging parents are capable of watching my ONE daughter, versus being unable to watch more than one, so we can take these retreats. All pluses.

    I have seen close friends have the second child and have watched their marital relationships deconstruct and financial problems arise. To be fair, I have seen close friends have a second and thrive…but, sadly, it’s pretty much 50/50 in our circles.

    I hope this long comment has helped in some small way. Whatever you choose know that the success of your sons life will be based on your abilities as a parent and a cohesive family unit…not on your ability to provide him a sibling.

  15. Oh…you know what’s hard about reading about you going through this? That no matter what we say, no matter what I say in defense of being an only child, or going ahead and trying the IVF one more time…ultimately we can’t make your decision. I do NOT pretend to think that anything that we say will sway your heart one way or the other, it will be something that you think about on the way home, it will be the thing that keeps you up tonight, taking to J about….wonderging about yourself, but I , in no way, believe that anything I say to you will be the reason you decide it…and it shouldn’t be.

    what I will say is that I love you, like a friend….you’ve been there for me in so many ways, I want to be here for you, to listen, to soothe, to comfort, but I also know I cannot help really… can’t make J want to try again, can’t make you ok with doing another IVF cycle, can’t tell you that everything will be ok and that hurts me because I want to fix this for you…my friend.

    I know that you’ll get to where you’re going, maybe the only thing I will say is to give yourself a month or two …(or more) to just decide what you are capable of right now, emotionally physcially….and then decide. KNowing that we are here to listen and offer that comfort if you need it.

    and if I didn’t say it already, I am so very whole heartly sorry about all of this….I’m heartbroken for you.


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