Pacing Yourself On The High-Tech Track to Pregnancy
There’s no question that the rapid advances in reproductive science are offering ever-new options and help to many couples. But there’s a downside to this progress, too, especially if you still don’t know what’s causing your fertility problems and don’t have clear parameters about what choices to make. Set time limits to reassess your goals, and be sure to take stock of your finances, too. By clearly defining which fertility treatments you’re comfortable trying, you’ll be able to minimize your stress and feel more in control.
Even if you enter fertility treatment with a workable plan in hand, you still have to remember not to lose sight of yourself along the way. Because the grief of infertility is uniquely cyclical, you might find yourself bouncing between the highs that come with the hope that this time things will work, and the crushing loss of a failed procedure. The shifts can be exhausting, and it’s essential to give yourself time to recover.
Rather than barreling ahead to try and meet some self-imposed time-line for pregnancy, take a break. Find solace with friends and family who understand, who have been there. Talk to your partner about how you’re both doing, and how you both feel about continuing fertility treatments (you can use the checklist below). If you have symptoms of burnout, consider taking a few months off, or even just a vacation free of fertility concerns. Always remember that the goal is to add a child to your life, not to have a baby at any cost.
Avoiding Collisions on the Road to Parenthood
Sometimes spouses are at odds about how to move forward or whether to stop fertility treatment altogether. Recently, I had a couple in my office who typified this. After years of trying to get pregnant, Ashley was physically and emotionally exhausted, and ready to end fertility treatment. Her husband, on the other hand, could only see ahead to the next option that might give them a baby. Ashley, struggling with her guilt at not being able to conceive, silently continued fertility treatment until she reached her breaking point.
If you find yourself at an impasse or struggling with painful emotions, professional counseling can be invaluable. Gaining insight into your feelings and learning to communicate more effectively will help you to emerge stronger and healthier as a person and as a couple. Infertility support groups can also be a source of much-needed comfort and guidance.
When it's Time to Change Course
Deciding when the time has come to end fertility treatment is a personal decision that you and your partner should make together. The most important thing to consider is not whether you’ve tried “everything” to get pregnant, but whether you made your best effort, while respecting your emotional, physical, and, of course, financial limitations.
Be prepared, however, that once the decision has been made there may be some intense feelings of grief and loss. As long as you were in fertility treatment, the hope was alive that you would conceive a biological child. You won’t be able to move forward until you can accept infertility as a permanent part of your history.
The ways to mourn the end of the dream of a biological child are as unique as each couple. Time, space, communication, even ritual, provide ways for you to become whole again. Some couples just need time to talk, while others devise their own ceremonies to acknowledge the loss and receive the closure they need to move on.
Whether your new destination is to adopt or to live child-free, the most important aspect of this decision is choice. In the words of the prolific American author and intellectual Joseph Campbell, sometimes “we must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.”
A version of this article originally appeared in the Fall 2005 issue of Conceive Magazine.
Related Topics: Assisted Reproduction; Fertility Drugs; Infertility Support; Stress and IVF Success; Relationships and Trying to Conceive
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Jan 28, 2009
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