Saturday, 31 October 2009


The events of the past week have got me thinking.

This round of IVF has been incredibly hard on me, both physically and emotionally. It's also been very hard emotionally on my husband and several members of my family. I expected the emotional upheaval, but the physical side has been so much worse than I thought it would be - I think largely because of the huge rhinoceros doses I was on of all the drugs (and maybe a little bit because I'm a bit of a wimp).

And all that was for nothing. The emotional ups and downs, the physical downs and more downs, the complete breakdown on Monday, the having to tell people that we'd failed. All for nothing.

And then there's the other big news of the week. My sister didn't plan this new baby. As far as all my family is concerned, every baby is a blessing, but this one came as a bit of a surprise to her. When her husband asked what she thought they should call it, she responded, "I think we should call it a day."

Up till now, I've always been her emergency back-up, and have loved the fact that she would call on me first when she needed help. My brother-in-law works long hours and finds it hard to get away from work. So when my youngest niece had to go to A&E earlier this year, I was the one who left work and met them at the hospital to take the middle one off my sister's hands and then pick the eldest up from school.

Her children come to stay for the weekend and we each think we're being done a favour - she gets a weekend to herself, and I get to have fun with my nieces.

I often go round to help bath them and put them to bed, and whenever there's a meeting at the school, or she has to help out at playgroup, or she has to go to a work do with my brother-in-law, or any of the dozens of other things that crop up, I'm the first person she'll ask to babysit. And I almost always manage to juggle work and other commitments and say yes, because I love my nieces and am always happy to spend time with them.

If I had a baby or babies of my own, it might be harder for me to drop everything for her. And with number 4 coming along, she's likely to need help more, rather than less, often.

And then there's the other thing. We want to be in the lives of all our nephews and nieces, and with nephews in South Africa and nephews and nieces in the US, the only way we can do that is with regular travel.

We've put our lives on hold since we started TTC, and put off planning our next trip to South Africa two or three times. Our latest trip has now had to be cancelled, and I'm gutted that I won't be able to spend time with my brother and my lovely sister-in-law and get to know my nephews again. Their younger son is my godson, and he was not quite 11 months last time I saw him, so although he knows I'm his godmother, he has no real memories of me at all.

Then there's the cost. Travel is expensive, we need to provide for our retirement, and there must come a point when it becomes downright wrong to spend any more money on fruitless treatments. If we have two more cycles of IVF, we'll have spent close to £20,000 on trying to have a baby. My first house (well, flat) only cost £24,500 - that puts it in perspective.

I can remember all too well what it's like to live hand to mouth - in fact, I can remember what it's like to go hungry for three days because you miscalculated when your next money was coming in and had no food in the house and nothing with which to buy any more. And here we are now, throwing away our hard-earned savings on a dream which may never be realised.

So maybe all this is God's way of gently telling me that I should just appreciate the time I have with my nephews and nieces and forget about trying to change the status quo by putting my body and my husband through all of this again - and in all probability getting the same result at the end anyway.

Then again, maybe this is just my current state of emotional and physical exhaustion speaking, and maybe I'll be able to face the next cycle with renewed hope and vigour after a bit of a break. And as we said when all this started, maybe this IS the rainy day we've been saving for, and it'll all be worth it in the end.

Either way, I just wish I knew whether it was worth bothering to continue. Because if there isn't a baby at the end of all this, it most certainly isn't.


  1. Such a difficult decision to try to make when the process to get pregnant is also so difficult. I feel for you. Give it time and the you will know what the right decision is for you.

  2. It's hard to know if it is worthwhile carrying on the TTC journey as there are absolutely no guarantees. How many other things in life do you pay HUGE amounts of money for with the high chance you'll get nothing in return? But the way I look at it is if you have any hope left in you then you're not ready to give up. You have to weigh up the hope vs the hopelessness and figure out what one comes up the winner. For me, even though I know IF is the single worst thing i've ever had to deal with, I cannot give up, I still believe that we will get there in the end. There are always other options or drugs or protocols to try and while I still have those options open to me I just can't give up. But thats just me, and I know of other women who have happily made peace with the fact that thier TTC journey is over. I admire them for their decisiveness, and sometimes think it takes a lot more guts to stop riding this rollercoaster than it does to stay on it. Good luck Hope Springs, the right answer will make its way to you in its own time. :)

  3. Deciding when to stop is such a hard decision. I agree with egghunt that sometimes I think the ones who can actually MAKE the decision to stop have more strength than I do. And you're right, if there isn't a baby at the end then all of this is worth nothing. It's just wasted money, emotions, exhaustion, and physical toll. I think maybe the answer comes when we are satisfied that we have done all we can do to try and fulfill our dream of being parents. And "all we can do" will be very different depending on the couple and their particular life situation.

    Take some time to think it over and pray about it. Let your body and heart heal from this last IVF. Then, when you have some peace, maybe the answer will come into your heart.

    Praying for you!

  4. Sonja put it very well in saying that by letting your heart heal a bit, it may then be open to some answers...

    Keeping hope alive is what pushes me through this nightmare. I have to believe that there is a light at the end of this hellish tunnel, and I am determined to find it. We hope and pray that the light is a beautiful baby to call our own, but I have accepted that this may not be. The light could very well be something else entirely, but we do not know what it is until we reach it. We have to keep moving, we have to keep breathing, taking it all one step at a time...

    I hope that once you reach your light (because it is there!), you find some peace...

  5. Thank you so much for all your thoughtful comments. You're right about two things - I can't make any firm decisions about anything right now, and it takes a lot of courage to decide to give up on that dream. My first instinct was to try again as soon as possible, but doubts have crept in since then.

    I'm still not sure whether I SHOULD be carrying on, and at the moment I find it hard to imagine where I'll get the strength from to go through all this again. But in my heart of hearts, I know I'm not ready to give up yet, and that if Mr No Nonsense tells me he thinks there's a chance if we have another go, I wouldn't be able to say no.

    Right now, I think three is probably our magic number, and if it doesn't happen in three attempts we'll stop - but I don't think it's something you can definitely plan for.

    Oh for a crystal ball...