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Decisions

I’ve meant to write a new post so many times over the past few weeks, but haven’t been able to figure out what to say. I feel like I should be writing an obligatory 2014 wrap-up post, but I don’t really know what that would look like for me. It’s been an incredibly hard year – one of my hardest – and I don’t want to focus too much on the details. In many ways, though, I’ve been feeling like I have a pretty significant crossroads in front of me, and I’m not sure where I want life to take me from here. I have plenty to say on that topic, so I guess this is my version of reflecting on where I’ve been and what might be in store for the next bit of my life.

Graduation is coming up in just a few short months, and it’s time to start planning for life after school. It’s time to decide what kinds of jobs I want to apply to and which places we might like to move to. As we’re closing one chapter of our lives and moving on to another, it’s also time to decide where we want to go on our infertility and family building journey.

We started trying for a baby a year before I entered my Master’s program. It’s hard to believe that I am now almost finished with that program and still don’t have a baby. If I had gotten pregnant quickly, as I thought I would, I probably would have postponed grad school for a year or two. Pregnancy and a baby was our first choice, but since that dream was not realized right away, we decided that we would both move forward with our career goals until our non-pregnant status quo changed.

I think back on all the conversations we have had about how we would work things out if we had a baby while going to school. Each month, we would think forward to where we would be in 9 months: what semester we would be in, where the breaks would fall. We stayed up late, wondering if it would be too difficult to balance studying, teaching, and being pregnant at the same time, but knowing that it would be worth it in any case. We discussed who would work what jobs and how much time we would take off and what kind of class load we each could handle, and we reminded ourselves that our student schedules afforded us a large degree of flexibility that would serve us well as new parents. As it turns out, none of that conjecturing was necessary.

28 cycles later, I’m tired of pretending that my sole focus is on my schooling and my work, when in reality this is only my plan b, the path I have followed because I didn’t know what else to do. Don’t get me wrong – I love what I am studying and am excited to be moving further along in my career. It seems so hollow, though, when I can’t have the one thing I want most.

At the same time, I’m tired of the unending ups and downs of infertility. I’m tired of constantly being aware of what cycle day I’m on and of keeping track of how often and when we’ve had sex. I’m tired of waking up early every single morning to stick a thermometer in my vagina. I’m tired of peeing on test after test and of subjecting myself to ultrasounds and blood draws with doctor after doctor, watching my bank account decline just to hear, time and again, that they can’t find anything wrong and that I should move on to treatments.

The thing is – I don’t know if I’m ready to jump into treatments. A couple of months ago, I thought I was ready for an IUI. We decided to wait until after the holidays, though, and now I’m not so sure. Part of the problem is that moving on to treatments seems so final. My doctor has told us that they would do three IUIs, then recommend that we move on to IVF. There is of course a possibility that all it would take is one IUI, but I think I’m scared that we would fail all of those treatments, and be left completely broken and hopeless. I would almost rather stay where I am, where I still have hope that it could happen naturally, especially since we are unexplained. We really don’t know if there is anything wrong, and it’s hard to pour so much money into fixing this when it is all so uncertain.

And that’s the other thing – money. As grad students, we don’t exactly have a luxurious income. It’s more than enough to meet our needs and it would easily cover the costs of a baby, but it’s not enough for all the costs of treatments, especially since we have no infertility insurance coverage and would be paying out of pocket. The costs of what we have done so far have already been quite overwhelming. We have a good chunk of money in savings, but I’m not sure that draining it at this time is the best way to go, and we’re not willing to go into debt for treatments at this point in our lives. Maybe it would be better to wait until we are more settled, with stable jobs and incomes, before moving forward.

I don’t know. On the one hand, perhaps I’m being naive, and we should try at least one IUI in the next few months. At this point, it’s pretty unlikely that we would conceive on our own, and postponing treatments just means that we’ll have to wait longer for our baby. On the other hand, I think it might be good for both of us to take a break from the whole baby-making business for a while. The sadness and emptiness wouldn’t go away, but perhaps some of the stress and anxiety would dissipate if we took a few steps back. I feel like we’ve been living under a fog for so long now, and I want to break free and enjoy our lives by diving into something else that can provide meaning and fulfillment.

We still can hope for a miracle, and maybe we’ll get lucky on our own. The way I see it right now, if we absolutely do need help to get pregnant, we might as well wait until we are at a better place in our lives before getting that help. We have age on our side, so there is no pressure from my biological clock for a few more years.

I worry, though, that we might have a problem that will get worse over time. What if we miss our opportunity by not being more proactive? I don’t know if I could forgive myself if we found out down the road that our issues could have been solved, but it was too late because we waited.

Also, does my reluctance to jump into treatments mean that I am not ready for a baby, or that I am not committed to becoming a parent? I don’t think it does, but I worry about that as well. I worry that those we have told about our situation might judge us for our decisions, assuming that we don’t really care if we’re not willing to do anything at all and make any sacrifices necessary to get pregnant as soon as possible. I have to remember though that people will judge no matter what we choose, and I know my heart. If I were to get pregnant naturally, I would be 100% ready and committed. I am ready for a baby, but I don’t feel ready for treatments, at least not right at this moment. I’m not sure I’ve let go of the old dream of how I thought it all would happen.

I know that most women who have gone down these paths no longer care how they get pregnant; they would give anything just to get a positive test, regardless of how it happened or how many doctors or procedures were involved. These women might be shaking their heads at me, and I hope I don’t make light of their situations by saying this, but I’m just not sure that I’m at that point yet.

I’m not sure I want to relinquish my fragile hope that we could still conceive on our own, and, somehow, in my mind, starting our first treatment cycle seems to signal giving up that hope. I desperately want a baby, but I also want to be sure that we’re doing in this in the best way, especially since we do (presumably) have time to spare. I want to be sure that we’re taking our mental health and our financial situation into consideration. If we have the possibility of making this whole process that much easier for ourselves by waiting for a while, shouldn’t we at least consider it?

These decisions of where we should go next have been hanging over me for the past couple months, and I really don’t know how I am going to resolve them. There are pros and cons each way, and I know that no one else can tell me what we should be doing (although I am sure everyone could offer an opinion). At least in this moment, my heart is telling me to take a break. Not a permanent one, but at least for a month or two, to gather myself back together. Maybe even for a year or longer, to allow us to get settled into the next new chapter of our lives, which will probably involve a move and new jobs, before returning to the world of doctors and needles and ultrasounds.

I’ve been reminding myself that my story is my own, and it’s okay if it ends up looking very different from that of those around me in real life or in the online infertility world. Sometimes it almost seems like there is a competition of who’s been at this the longest and who has endured the most treatments. Really, these comparisons don’t help. My story is my own, and I need to do what is best for me. I don’t know when this journey will end, or what that ending will look like, but I really do want to be sure that I am careful and intentional in each of these decisions that I am making.

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8 thoughts on “Decisions

  1. Many well meaning people may offer advice and even criticism about your choices, but only you and your husband can determine what your right path is. In my experience it can be incredibly overwhelming at times because there is no road map to your right answer. Be kind to yourselves as you try to figure it out. Wishing you the best.

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    • Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds it overwhelming. I’m sure we’ll make it through in one way or another, but it’s so nice to have support now while we’re in the middle of it all.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This post is so honest, so raw. I relate so much to being at a point of making decisions and questioning all the paths that lay stretched out in front of you. It is an incredibly difficult place to be, and I feel like you are so thoughtful in examining all the possibilities and where you are as a person, as a couple, as parents-to-be.

    “Also, does my reluctance to jump into treatments mean that I am not ready for a baby, or that I am not committed to becoming a parent?” I have felt this way, too! I felt this way when we did Clomid (my experience was different from yours as we had a known male factor diagnosis from the get-go, so no unexplained), like even though the doctors said it wouldn’t likely help I wanted it to, but then I would get so scared that it was too soon, we’d just gotten married, and then I felt like I wished our baby away. It is perfectly fine to feel this way, but nothing you decide or say or do means that you aren’t ready to be a parent or aren’t committed to it, and screw those people who will judge you. We give ourselves way too much credit for being able to control outcomes, and I fall victim to this ALL THE TIME, but have to remind myself that my thoughts won’t get me pregnant or not pregnant. It’s hard to navigate.

    “I’ve been reminding myself that my story is my own, and it’s okay if it ends up looking very different from that of those around me in real life or in the online infertility world.” YES. Everyone has their own path. Everyone has their own timing, their own limits, their own decisions to make and make peace with. Again, boooo to those who would make you feel bad about your decisions. I am on a Buddha roll, so I’m going to share a quote that I like that I think speaks to this: “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” I don’t know if it speaks to you, but it helps me when I feel like others are judging me or telling me which way I should go, that the person who makes these decisions is ME and my husband, and that’s all that matters.

    I wish you peace in whatever decision you make, and I’m thinking of you at this difficult and unsettled time.

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    • You are so sweet; thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I think these are such huge decisions in infertility, no matter what the details of our circumstances are, and it’s probably natural to second-guess. I’m glad I’m not the only one, anyway – sometimes my doctor makes me feel like I am, so it’s so good to hear your similar experience. I love that quote you shared; I’ll have to remember it. You are right that we are the ones making these decisions for our own path and the voices of others really don’t matter. Thanks again for your thoughts, and I’m sending my best wishes to you as well!

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  3. I feel like i could have written this post, Reb. I know the feeling. Regardless of how you choose to proceed, be kind and gentle with yourself.
    It’s good to take time to “sharpen the saw”. I just finished my year of waiting and healing – it was imperitive for being ready and healthy for the next phase of my life (including treatments). I highly recommend it, but whatever you do, remember to take care of yourself. Do your yoga, build some more savings, eat some good food, however it is that you take care of yourself. And, it has to be said, it feels good to just forget about babymaking for a little while. You never really forget, but letting it go… Its a relief. Which i totally needed.

    Best of luck, whatever you do. And for what its worth, i promise not to judge 🙂

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    • Thanks so much for the support and the non-judgment! 🙂 It’s good to hear that your break was helpful for you, and I hope that it makes things that much easier as you’re moving into the next steps. I definitely think it will be good for me to focus on myself and forget about all the babymaking for a bit. Thanks for sharing your experience; it’s always so good to hear from someone who’s been there.

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