I've read posts on quite a few blogs recently discussing the question of whether the treatments, anguish and heartache that we're putting ourselves through are worth it. Most of them have been written by people who've come out the other side and are looking back as parents on their fertility struggles.
For me, I can say with absolute certainty that if I were guaranteed to end up with a child at the end of it, my definition of 'worth it' could be stretched to include a whole lot more than I've gone through up to this point.
But we have two failed IVFs behind us and very low odds of success on future treatments. My eggs are only going to get older, my FSH is already high and my AMH is already low. I have to face up to the fact that it's way more likely than not that our next IVF will also fail - that's not pessimism speaking; those are just the odds I'm working with.
So the question 'is it worth it?' is one that I have to ask from the perspective of someone who is pursuing a dream which might never become a reality, or which might become a reality in some other way, such as through adoption.
Then what I have to consider is what I'll regret more in five, ten, twenty or fifty years' time - doing X or not doing X.
And at the moment I know that if we don't at least try to have treatment at XXXX clinic, at least ask if they're willing to give us a third chance at IVF, I will regret it, because I'll always wonder if their tailored approach could be what was lacking on the first two attempts, and whether I might have got a positive result with them. Knowing that I tried and it didn't work would be better than knowing that there was a chance of trying something different and I didn't go for it.
I also know that if we abandoned the four months of healthy eating, healthy living and supplement chugging just because it was a bit tricky to stick to, or if we hadn't had the hair analysis done in the first place, I would always wonder if that could have made a difference. The saving in a bit of money and four months of inconvenience is nothing against the peace of mind that comes from knowing that we did everything we could.
A fourth IVF? Donor embryos? Going beyond spending all our savings and remortgaging the house? Chucking out the microwave and going even more New Age hippy? I don't know - we're not there yet. At the moment, I'm thinking ICSI #3 is the limit both physically and financially, but we would like to explore the donor option. But I don't know what the result of ICSI #3 will be, and until I do, I won't be able to make the mental calculation.
But the fundamental question is now this: will it still be worth having done this if it fails? And all future plans will have to be assessed in the light of this question. Because this business doesn't come with guarantees, and some of us have to fall on the wrong side of the statistics.