Catherine (UK): When is enough, enough?
I was kindly asked to write a post for my f word a few weeks ago. At the time, I was in the middle of our third round of IVF. It had been a long road to get there, almost six years of trying which, on top of many months of trying naturally, included three rounds of IUI, two rounds of IVF - both of which had positive results sadly followed by miscarriages at around seven weeks. In between those rounds, there were also two frozen transfers, both negative.
Following our second miscarriage in 2015, we made the decision to take some time out. We had found ourselves both unemployed for one reason or another, but all directly or indirectly due to the stress of infertility. We were exhausted, overweight, skint, lacking in passion of any kind and in fact, totally lost.
We took small steps and, for the most part, put ourselves back together and fast forward almost two years, we were ready to try IVF again. At this stage, I was working with Fertility Network UK and I was meeting some amazing women and men also going through treatment and others who dedicated their lives to support them. Rather than feel overwhelmed by it being my work and personal life, I felt that it normalised it, which was great. It was also the inspiration behind me setting up my #TTC Instagram account @tryingyears which has brought me so much support and camaraderie.
Positivity all around, feeling emotionally and physically well, this was the one that was going to work. I had no reason to think otherwise.
So, when test day finally came, the shock of the negative was immense. I was completely numb.
What I should have mentioned previously is that going into this round, it was (probably) our final one. We’d said from the beginning that we would do three rounds and we just didn’t think we could put our lives on hold any longer. Plus, we haven’t got the money sitting in an account ready to fund any more – this last one was a surprise NHS round! I also secretly felt confident that this was the one that would give us our much longed-for child so wasn’t worried about number four!
So, what happens when you are faced with it all being over, with no pregnancy, no baby?
The reality is I changed my mind immediately. I couldn’t let that be our last one. The reason? I simply wasn’t ready to give up hope. If we did that, it felt like there was nothing in front of me. Nothing positive in our future, no reason to go forward. Of course, that isn’t true but that is what it felt like.
It’s been a few weeks since that test and we have changed our minds back and forth several times. I genuinely don’t know what the next six months will bring. I turn 40 in September and, in all honesty, I’m very aware of the increased risks with pregnancies as women get older so I feel like that’s a ‘natural’ pause for us anyway. If we try ‘one for luck’ I’m sure it will be before that – although in truth I’m not actually ‘sure’ of anything much these days!
I have quizzed friends who have made the decision to stop, to try to find answers, they can’t give them to me although it is good to hear that some of their thoughts echo my own.
For now, we are attending follow up appointments, asking lots of questions and weighing up our options. We’ll never stop trying naturally but, at some point, some of us do have to decide that enough is enough. I am under no illusion that it is an easy decision to make but I am realistic enough to know that for some people, no matter how many rounds, how much trying, how much hope, it just doesn’t happen. I have close, amazing friends who have done it ahead of me and whilst I don’t want that to be my future, I know that I will be in amazing company, just as I will be if our little miracle does decide to bring their light into our life.
It's taken me a while to write this post because after our result I just didn’t know what to say. As the weeks have passed I have slowly felt better and several ideas of what to write have crossed my mind. Sitting down to write this I genuinely wasn’t sure which one I was going to choose but it feels right that it’s this. It’s a subject that, understandably, no one wants to think about but that makes it a subject that little is written about. So when faced with the question, ‘When is enough, enough?’ there doesn’t seem to be much support. Perhaps, if you have to think about that question at some stage, this might have helped.
Thank you if you have made it to the end of this piece. I think it’s incredibly brave to read about something that you don’t ever want to have to admit to yourself, but I also think it’s important to prepare for as many possible outcomes of infertility as possible, so when faced with things we don’t want to think about we feel at least a little prepared.
If you would like to discuss any of this, or follow Catherine’s ‘what happens next’ please go and find her at www.instagram.com/tryingyears.