Stopping Point.

February 20, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Posted in Infertility, Moving On. | 17 Comments

This has been in draft form all weekend; some of what’s in here is the hardest stuff I’ve written since I started this blog. I’m posting it despite my desire to revise and make more PC. Please be gentle in the comments.

By our last IVF cycle, I was trolling on IVF Connections – the Vets board. These ladies had suffered cycle failure after failure after failure. Some of them had 8 or 9 failed cycles. And the majority of them were bitter, and didn’t tolerate stupid questions, or hope, or baby dust. Much of anything really.

And I always wondered: Why don’t they just STOP? Most of them had so much trouble in their marriages – they were dragging their husbands along to RE to RE, doing treatment after treatment. They were beaten down and angry, but so defiant. Eventually a cycle would work, goddammitall. From my objective view, it was like they were fighting for the sake of WINNING the war with infertility. It wasn’t about being a mom anymore – it was about beating IF.

It was one of my worst fears when we were trying for our first child. That I’d end up bitter and jaded and doing cycle after cycle without seeing the signs. I wanted to make sure that I was AWARE. Because maybe I just wasn’t meant to be a mom; there was something else I was supposed to do.

But I got pregnant. And now, I can say that, you know, I actually AM deserving of being O’s mom. I’ve earned my motherhood with sleepless nights, low grade worry over fevers and coughs. I didn’t know I had the capability to love someone so unconditionally, so deeply, so widely that my heart aches in pain when I watch him sleeping most nights.

So here I am now.

I thought it would be easy to get pregnant the second time. We figured out the issue, right? All we had to do was do it again.

Except we didn’t. We didn’t at ALL replicate the cycle that got us pregnant. We went for blasts first in a cycle where I overstimulated so badly our embryos were crap. And then, in May, we TRIED to replicate the cycle – with the exception of the assisted hatching and antibiotic use.

And that’s part of why I’m having such a hard time stopping treatments. Why I keep drawing lines in the sand, announcing I’M DONE! I MEAN IT! And then renegging because I have this niggling doubt. We haven’t tried everything.

But, too. I don’t know how NOT to fight. It’s just how I grew up – I took on my mother’s stupid irrational rules and argued them until I was blue in the face. I was SURE that eventually I’d win an argument against her – just ONCE. I never did. Our last argument, when I was home for the summer from college, culminated in me very nearly punching her when she got physical with me. Because she manipulated facts and I called her out on it; I was disrespectful.

This is ME. I fight losing battles.

Infertility, right now, is a losing battle.

New RE gave me some measure of hope. And I came home and wanted to talk with Charlie Brown about whether or not that hope was enough to outweigh the distaste of doing another cycle. And Charlie Brown didn’t want to talk. Because, well, he was DONE last year, when we did our last fresh cycle. And arguing about whether we do another cycle now or quitting didn’t seem like a good use of his energy.

And I confess: I’m so fucking angry with him I can’t even breathe sometimes. Because if we didn’t have male factor, we wouldn’t even need to DO fertility treatments in the first fucking place. And it must be NICE to be in a place where you can just decide, hey, I’m done with treatments, end of story. Because he thinks he’s being all generous by saying, Well, if you feel strongly about it, we can do another cycle. Except I don’t have a partner to bounce ideas off of here. It’s all up to me, and I think it’s cowardly and passive aggressive and I’m floundering.

So yes, IF is hell on marriage. I don’t care what anyone else says. IF has the potential to really fuck things up between Charlie Brown and I. And I am working on being more generous and, you know, trying to move past the “blame game.” Because it’s stupid.

Where I am right now? I don’t KNOW what I want to do. I am strongly ambivalent. I want another baby so badly sometimes that it’s a physical blow to my gut, where I want to curl up and weep. I am so jealous of the people who get to do it again that I’ve lost perspective on how hard those early days are. I am bitter and envious and jaded.

But I am SO done with cycling, too. The doctors, the dildocams, the shots, the retrievals, the wondering if we’ll be able to take vacation next year because I’ll be pregnant or have a newborn. I’ve spent nearly 7 years thinking, in one form or another, about getting and being pregnant. This has been a long, drawn out battle, and I have the sense that I NEED to put an end to the madness.

While I’m being honest? I’m ambivalent about having another baby, too. Lucky is at a point where he’s largely independent. To go back to the sleepless nights, the nursing, the diapers, the trying to decipher what’s wrong when the baby’s crying… scares the shit out of me, too.

I just DON’T KNOW. I don’t KNOW what the right decision is. For me, for Lucky, for my marriage, for our life. If I walk away now, there will always be questions and the sense that we DIDN’T actually do everything we could to get pregnant.

Except there will ALWAYS be more that we could have done. And if we never end up with a baby, I will grieve. I expect over the years the grief won’t be as raw, but I will always wish it ended differently.

I don’t know where to draw the line. I don’t know when to stop.

I don’t know what to do.



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  1. I love this post. Thank you for being brave enough to put it out there. I am one of those bitter IVF veterans of whom you speak. Sometimes I wonder myself if I’m really in it for the end result (parenthood), or if I just REFUSE. TO. LOSE. Dammit — I want a kid, but I also want to WIN.

    If adoption were easier / cheaper, I think I’d have moved down that path a long time ago. As it is, we are venturing forth with DHS adoption — but that has many, many drawbacks as well. And we are continuing to cycle, in hopes that our baby is out there somewhere. If only we could find the right protocol.

    I get the place you’re in. I’ve been there, where stopping seemed just as impossible as moving forward. You will find your answers in time. I won’t promise they will be easy, but you will find them. I hope that you also find peace, in whatever form that takes.

    Much love,

  2. (((Hugs))) I could’ve written this a little over three years ago. And while we did eventually win that 2nd battle after 8 years of having our daughter, I can’t say when you should stop. DH and I battled so much over those 8 years. Sometimes when we were off actual iVF and I was busy with Traditional Chinese Medicine, yoga or diet changes, things were OK because it wasn’t forefront in his mind like it still was in mine. I hated when he would read my blog, because then he thought all I thought about was getting pregnant. I tried explaining that it was my outlet to get out what I didn’t want to bug him and others with, but it didn’t help. There’s a part of me that would love to tell the boys regularly that if I wasn’t more stubborn than their Daddy that they wouldn’t exist, but I don’t want anyone to dwell on thoughts like that. IF is just so F’ing hard on marriage.

    Lots and lots of luck in whatever decision you both make together.

  3. Well I’ve been reading your blog for a while, since we went through our own fertility situation 5 or so years back. You have been struggling with this issue for a long time and I am sure you are exhausted. Because fertility doctors make money doing this, they will almost always tell you that there is a chance, so you cannot expect to hear them tell you to stop. Your husband loves you and sees your pain, so you cannot expect him to tell you to stop. And you cannot tell yourself to stop. So don’t stop. When I feel this strongly about something, I do not stop until I am unequivocally satisfied that my efforts are in vain, and you are not there. If you are worried about your relationship with your husband throughout this then why not continue working on finding other outlets for expressing your feelings on this subject (for a while at least) and allow him the chance to take the break that he has verbalized that he needs, but keep on moving forward. You have a strong passion for having another child, and that kind of passion does not go away and should not be ignored. Give yourself permission to go at this goal with all cylinders firing, and eliminate the emotional ambiguity. You want this, so go get it, and embrace the journey. That is my assvice.

  4. Oh hun. It is so hard.

    Here is my only assvice: I honestly believe that men and women (regardless of where the diagnosis has come from) cope with IF and the resulting medical shit totally differently.

    It used to blow my mind that Q. was not consumed by thoughts about IF and getting pregnant during the three years we were in the trenches waiting to get things right. Even when we were on a break (and there was no chance of a miracle pregnancy since I didn’t ovulate), I still thought about it ALL.THE.TIME. It ate my life.

    Q? He turned up when he was asked to, did what he was asked to do (and I am not taking this for granted- the man learned to do PIO shots like a pro), held me when I cried, cooked me dinner while I railed against the universe, didn’t believe me when I flipped out that his family hated me and I was fat (ah yes, day five of stimming, how I do not miss you). But I gradually realized that when he wasn’t having to actively do something, he didn’t then spend the rest of his waking and sleeping hours thinking about our lack of being pregnant. Whereas I feel like that was all I thought about from the moment we chucked out the birth control pills to the moment we got the call that our beta was positive.

    We didn’t have a lot of heart-to-hearts. We still don’t, even though I would love to bounce more ideas off of him about raising E. I feel like I make most of the decisions, because I DO want to do things a particular way (or try them that way at least) and it DOES matter to me, and it really doesn’t to Q.

    And this is a way that Q. shows how much he loves me- it has taken me a long time to realize this. He isn’t passing the buck. He isn’t refusing to take responsibility. He is going along with what I suggest because he knows that I will have thought about this ad nauseum, and if that’s what I want to do, then that will probably make me happy, which makes him happy too.

    Is it possible that this is the case with you as well? Charlie Brown may well not be trying to avoid an argument- it may well be that he genuinely doesn’t mind. Stop or don’t stop. He wants you to be happy. He’ll do whatever makes you happy, whether that is stopping or another cycle.

    And like I said before, I think you should do whatever it takes to feel like you can get closure- no matter what that closure is.


  5. You just ripped my past out right in front of me. I was at the place. We had Secondary Infertility that was Male Factor. While my husband was supportive in lots of ways, there were many times that I felt that “I” was not only the one having to go through the shots and all the crap, but also that “I” was the only one who was pushing for another baby. There were times when I was scared shitless about having another child. Especially after M started Kindergarten. And especially after he started first grade. And it hurt so damned much to not get a sibling for him, but yet I was not sure to be dealing with the stuff I was happy to be away from (dirty diapers, PPD, sleepless nights, etc.) (An irrational part of me wanted to adopt a two year old just to get away from that stuff!!)

    We decided on the Three IVFs and you are out approach and were able to come out of it. But we had started looking into adoption…I really do not know if we would have gone down that road. I would like to think I would have.

    Obviously, as much as our journeys are similar, they are also so different. And there is no way anyone can tell YOU when you are ready to take a different path. But I think you need to take the path until you can go no further. And then go the next path. And the next.

    I wish you peace and happiness in whichever path you are taking. And know that we are there for you no matter what.

  6. I don’t think you’re ready to be done. You were away from this cycling stuff for quite some time when you were training for the marathon, and yet you are still coming back to it. I think you have unfinished business. And yes, there could always be unfinished business, depending on the outcome, but it sounds like you haven’t yet hit the point where you’ve run out of hope, and there is more you’d like to try.

    And yes, there are always logical reasons to feel ambivalent about another baby. Yes, the early days are damn hard. And yet, even in the midst of them, if I could give my TTC#2 self a pep talk, I would tell myself to keep right on trying. To do everything I could bring myself to do, cycle-wise, to have another baby.

    I don’t feel like any of this comment is coming out quite the way I want it to, but I hope you will choose to keep trying because I still have hope that you will get the end result you so want and deserve.

  7. I too used to think why don’t you give up but now I know I can’t until I have exhausted every option. However we don’t yet have a child we haven’t “earnt our spurs” or however you have worded it. In some ways having a child I imagine must make it harder to give up the IF journey as you have got there before. On the other hand you have someone to call you mummy and to kiss goodnight too so I can see that you can put the rest of the dream away as you have part of it. Also it is all consuming & it must be hard to juggle with a child in the mix.
    I have always thought people know when it’s right for them to give up, for some that is after 2 cycles for some that is after 20. Go with your instinct x

  8. Deciding to have N was torturous. Really. Cycling screws my health and I almost ended up in the ER 2-3 times in one cycle. Pregnancy is a disaster and I almost bled out at delivery. I was on bedrest and feeling guilty for months. It was all *my* choice to do it, M was ambivalent at best. And when things suck (because .. things tend to suck and then add an infant), I feel like *I* made everything worse.

    But. I knew I needed another baby. I knew I wouldn’t feel complete and whole and stop letting it rule my life until I had one. And I look in his eyes and hear his giggles and watch his brothers kiss him and … it was the right choice. All that suck turned into this perfect human being, and made me feel ok about being 100% fully done forever. And now giving away the baby stuff as he outgrows it feels good, feels free.

    Do what you need to do. If that’s to stop – then stop, and make your peace with it. If that’s to keep going, then find a way to make it work without dragging your husband down (since his “being done” seems less about the child at the end and more about the cycling process). Maybe it will be easier now without the stressful job behind you, a little more free to schedule things and carve out some time each day to deal with things emotionally. I think that you’re struggling so hard with it means you’re not ready to stop – but I think you can’t keep going until you find a better way to cope with it that doesn’t bring you to the jaded bitter stressed out place.

  9. I will address the marriage issue. IF has killed many marriages. Whether it is not being on the same page at the same time, the sheer stress of the whole process or the pulling away of one spouse not supporting the others desires/wishes/needs etc. It has shed light on traits of spouses that were never seen before. Sort of an eye-opener.
    We managed to survive all the shit that IF brings, but I will tell you that during a heated exchange my husband a year or so ago, he brought up my obsession with getting/staying pregnant. TWENTY FIVE years later. Yep. Not a typo. He had apparently been harboring this resentment how I *made* him go through the processes over two decades ago. Had he gone off on me like that 25 years ago we would not still be together.
    The whole IF process is much much different from the male standpoint. While they want to parent, they don’t have the same mindset at achieving that goal….especially when external forces are at play. Once you throw in labs, doctors, shots, becomes mechanical and boring to them. Sucks but it’s true.
    The bottom line is, you do whatever has to be done to make YOU happy and *done*. Charlie loves you and should see (through those male blinders) you are struggling. Talk to your counselor about the best way to make him see how conflicted you are and that you need his support.

  10. It’s hard to say whether wanting to continue is about KEEPING ON because that is what you do…or about BEATING infertility because you don’t want it to define you…or about WANTING that baby again or a sibling for O. Does it matter? You aren’t ready to stop. You have health insurance that will cover it. IVF comes with a physical and emotional toll not to be ignored…but why not use up all your insurance coverage and have THAT be your stopping point. I tend to think this is more about finding the right embryo than a ute problem with you. There are some people I intuitively feel (in my totally irrational non-medical mind) that just won’t get pregnant. You got pregnant. You can do it again. FOr us, the end of insurance coverage (and $50K) was the stopping point because if we continued we wouldn’t have been able to afford adoption or donor egg. But, we were on the same page: 2nd kid or bust. And yes the baby bits suck….but the 2 and 3 year old bits are so much fun…

  11. I’m confident that, while it won’t be easy (huge understatement) you’ll find the path that’s right for you.

    In my case, I was absolutely determined to have another child by whatever means necessary.

    I didn’t care whose genetics it had, I didn’t care if I was the one who carried the pregnancy, I didn’t care how much money I had to borrow.

    My husband was all “well, if it means so much to you, we can do whatever you want.” I was the one who made all the choices and did all the work, but that made sense to me, because I had this insane, irrational NEED for a child.

    • I think it’s a lot easier to find your financial stopping point than it is to find your emotional stopping point. I don’t think you’re ready to be done either, but you’re the only one who can decide what’s right for you. Good luck.

  12. So many things to say:
    The heart wants what it wants (even and especially in the face of adversity)
    Only you know what being ‘done’ means and when/how you will come to terms with remaining a family of three. But, you will know.
    What other singular pursuit would you invest $XXK into and walk away with nothing? (and in your case I’m talking about the pursuit of #2 and not O)
    I do think it is possible for marriages to survive and thrive in the face of IF (but it requires a consistent willingness on the part of both parties to come to the table with open hearts, examine the ‘whys’ of how each is feeling, and an unabashed honesty about the likely consequences of the choices being made). IF makes us vulnerable in a way that almost nothing else can.
    I sometimes thinks the bitterness is born out of an artificial end to treatment being placed on someone (meaning not having the finances, having an unwilling partner, or simply running out of options) and NOT reconciling/facing what that means. Fighting/arguing/bickering is at least a form of communication. Burying the feelings/issues is not and will lead to bitterness.
    You can do something you feel is right, kicking and screaming all the way. One does not negate the other.
    IF may define how you come to have a family, but it need not define who you are.

    Abiding with you.

  13. I’ve come back to this post 3 or 4 times now. I could write all of this. I write it in my head, I just don’t write it in public anymore.

    I wish, again, that we lived close to each other. We seem to have an awful lot in common.

    I used to think I would know when I was done. But I don’t. Being done because we just can’t do anymore is different than being done because we don’t want more children. Period. It’s a loss. There’s grief. And grieving isn’t a process in the way we think it should be. It ebbs and flows and is ever present, even when we think we’re doing a good job forcing it down.

    It’s funny. I want you to do another cycle because maybe it would work. But there’s this other part of me – the same part that hasn’t allowed myself to force the issue with Mr. Hope – that can’t bear to see you crushed again if it doesn’t work. I’ve said before that I don’t have another ounce of IVF failure left in me – and that’s the truth. But I still look at the SART statistics and wonder if maybe that clinic in another state would be the real answer. And then I think of the heartache and the expense, and I close that damn browser window, and I sigh a big sigh and hope that tomorrow will be different. Just enough.

    Thinking of you.

  14. I’ve been wanting to comment here for a while but haven’t found the time, or the words. The truth is I feel lie a fraud commenting here, as I don’t have to endure RE appointments or IVF to build my family, at least I don’t think I have to, but I still see a lot of my situation in what you are writing about. I too feel I’m the only one trying to build our family, in fact the last year has been all about my partner fighting me on it. We’ve been in couples counseling for six months now trying to work it all out. Everything is a constant negotiation. It never seems to get any easier.

    Having said that I’m also feeling some ambivalence about adding another member to our family. I feel so inadequate as a mother to my own daughter right now, I can’t fathom being able to handle two. I too am scared to return to the world of breastfeeding and night wakings and not knowing what they want, and doing that with a high-demand toddler?! Sometimes I think I’d have to be insane to take it all on. So yeah, I know what you mean about that too, how you can want it so bad it hurts and yet you’re also scared to death of actually getting it.

    Oh course you’re more scared to death of not getting it, and I think that is what it all boils down to. I wish I could tell you what you should do but you have to figure that out for yourself. The fact that you’re back here makes it seem like you really want to keep trying. I hope you find peace with whatever decision you make.

  15. Oh my!
    I think your decision to be done is kind of soft since you keep coming back to it. There is something inside you bothering because I believe you know you want it but are trying to look for reasons not to do it.
    Follow your heart and your guts and don’t let anyone or anything discourage you!
    There are no guarantees, I know that pretty well myself, but you will feel at peace in the end knowing you did EVERYTHING in your power to make it happen.
    On not being on the same page on this issue (Charlie Brown & you) that is a hard one but I guess it could be resolved if you open your heart and share your feelings. He loves Lucky as much as you do and I am sure he can do at least one more try, for you, for Lucky, for the marriage and also for him.
    I would definitely switch clinics and go the BEST one you can afford (and since you have insurance I guess this won’t be a big issue) even if that means going to a different state. The Colorado guys are just Are if A.M.A.Z.I.N.G….. I have a good story to share if you want to hear it!
    Goooooo Serenity, you can DO IT!

  16. Oh.oh my friend. I think that your feelings are valid and good…and very very normal. The truth is that every one of us (stupid infertility) has a dream of a “good easy” pregnancy…an OMG I’m pregnant…moment. I know even after all this time, I still dream of getting PG on our own by a whim. Lately it’s been so bad that I dream of little girl babies and cry at birth annoucements again.

    Plus I get angry with John becuase I want him to indulge me and not say things like “we can’t afford the 2 we have”….I know that..I just want him to placate my heart you know?

    You know MY opinion and it won’t change until Lucky has a brother or sister…keep trying !!!


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