I suppose I’m just in journal mode with these posts right now. Every one of the women I’m following who have experienced infertility have such different stories and unique paths they are on. And, for the most part, the responses I’ve received from readers has been like a warm soft blanket – full of support, affirmation, and comfort, with no judgment or pressure to be or feel anything other than what I’m experiencing. How beautiful is that!
But one reader really hit a nerve, and I’ve got to call it out.
First, she told me that I should transfer two embryos, which something I have said multiple times on this column in my blog that I am NOT interested in. And while I don’t think I should have to fucking defend our decision to not do this, I’ll put it out there again. Our decision not to implant two is not just because we don’t want to risk having twins in general (amen to women who are excited about that, it’s just never been of interest to us, probably starting off back when my stepmother had twins and I saw their first days of life in incubators when they were born at 4 and 2 lbs, respectively), but also that:
A) a twin pregnancy for a woman in her 40’s is very high risk to a woman’s health (no matter how easy the Hollywood celebs like to make it look);
B) twins require a hospital birth (which I want to avoid at all costs), as no midwife or reputable birthing center, because of the high risk, will take on;
C) would literally destroy my home-based solo-run company I’ve worked my ass off to build that’s allowed me not only to pay off my student loans, home equity loan and credit card in these first few years, as well as be the primary breadwinner (my husband has a good job but it does not make enough to pay bills should I not be able to work, so we’ve used his income to pay for our benefits and save for retirement), it also is a job that I am very good at, very successful at, and as the best bonus of all, gives me the flexibility and us the income to spend more time with the family that we do build; and
D) just as importantly, there’s no fucking way I’d risk twins with our Ethiopia adoption in process. I am happy to have one kiddo to introduce to his/her big sister in Africa, but there’s no way I’m going to potentially have 3 small children at once (by the way, it fucking blows my mind when people say “well wouldn’t you just back out of the adoption?” as if our adoption plans were somehow just backup plans and not something we are fully committed to).
And even after I said why I didn’t want twins, she pushed the matter further, completely disregarding what I said.
Second, she said the words that just about pushed me over the edge, the ignorant comment that I should not give up.
The day after our DEIVF fail, I hear this from someone who should be, as a fellow human being who has dealt with this, the most empathetic towards doing whatever is right for our particular situation.
Let’s just say I nearly blew a gasket when I read this.
Being in this situation, I’m used to dumb comments from people who’ve never been through this. Like after texting a friend within minutes after getting the bad news, receiving a response of “how are you?” (seriously? how do you think I am?). But whatever. Fortunately, in the hours before the news was to arrive, I received multiple emails and texts from friends with just the words I needed to hear. The best was from a friend who has children (and also suffered two miscarriages) said, “Whatever will be, will be the journey meant for you – and it will be better than you could ever imagine for yourself.”
I loved that. LOVED that. And that’s the way we went into our day yesterday and I swear it helped temper the news we received.
We can’t predict the future. All we can do is listen to our hearts, pay close attention to our intuition, and proceed in the way that is best for us. Not anyone else, US. As I’ve said before, when you tell someone to “never give up”, you are essentially telling them that it is not okay to end treatment. That somehow they should have endless supplies of money, physical and emotional strength, and willingness to put one’s body through more.
After all, we’re already on Plan C for the “homemade” part of the family making process. Plan A of course was to get pregnant without any assistance. Plan B was to get assistance but still do it with my eggs. Plan C has been to do it with donor eggs combined with my husband’s sperm.
It’s okay if our third and final try doesn’t work this spring, and we choose Plan D that stops turning my body into a constant lab experiment. It’s okay if we choose to close the chapter and stop the spending that’s already cost $20,000 in the past year and wiped out our savings. And it’s definitely okay if we choose to fully embrace bringing our strong, smart, sweet little girl over from Ethiopia and be parents of one child (or perhaps adopt another after that…) who, just as much as one coming from my belly, will absolutely be the sunshine of our lives.
Long Term Side Effects of Infertility Treatment Medications
Physically, this time I felt new symptoms. I thought, gee this must mean it’s working! But it was just my body reacting to drugs in different ways. And it’s important to take into consideration the potential side effects of the powerful drugs involved in combating infertility (beyond the standard nausea/moodiness/bloated/etc.):
- Delestrogen/Estradiol: increases risk of endometrial hyperplasia, a condition that may lead to cancer of the uterus, along with breast cancer, heart attack or stroke.
- Progesterone: increases risk of blood clots, breast cancer, heart attack or stroke.
- Bravelle: increases risk of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS).
- Femara: high blood pressure, severe joint pain, vaginal bleeding.
This is not to discourage anyone, including myself, but when you do something over and over again to negative results, you have the right to say “You know what? I don’t want to continue to put my body through this, and I don’t want to risk these potential side effects any more.” And it’s okay, if you want to say you do want to give it another try.
But it’s NOT okay, unlike the millions of memes out there saying otherwise, to tell someone else that they should not get to choose a different direction. It is NOT okay to tell someone to never give up.
“There are no guarantees in life; this is the sometimes very painful but truthful outcome for many women who are brave and resilient enough to try IVF. No woman I know who has embarked on IVF should ever feel that she didn’t work hard enough for a child. And for all those women out there who are on this difficult journey, remember you are brave, you are strong, you are amazing. And if it feels like it’s time to stop, listen to that voice – you will still be loved, be able to love and, I believe, if you count your blessings, you probably already have a family around you, whether it’s your biological family or a family of friends.”
~ Alexandra Carlton, from the Kidspot article, I gave up on IVF, Emily Symon, and that’s OK.