IVF Revisited: Emotional, Physical and Financial Torture
I am 39 years old and from Australia. It’s been 10 years since ending IVF treatment in bitter disappointment; 14 years since starting to ‘try’; 16 years married; 20 years together.
My story: I was in an administration job I hated when we first started IVF but after treatment failed I went back to university to get my master’s degree and then a few years later also my teaching diploma. I now have a job that is very fulfilling working with very special children.
After failed IVF treatment 10 years ago I once took refuge in my kid-free, adult family. My two older brothers seemed disinclined to settle down and my parents who seemed to understand, if not quite share, my pain in that they had no grandchildren and knew what it was like to be the odd ones out in their peer group. Yet in the last year both of my brothers in their late 40s have married and each had a child through IVF. I am honestly very happy for them both.
What I find difficult is that I am now the odd one out in a circle of people who were once my refuge and yet again I am doubting myself that I didn’t persist with IVF long enough or try hard enough to have a baby.
My mother, who I once thought empathised with me, has never been as excited about anything in her life despite non-subtle hints that she needs to tone down the grandchild talk around me. My mother-in-law (who has 3 grandsons from her other son) sent my parents a card to congratulate them on becoming grandparents and my mother told me how lovely she thought that was – I just can’t fathom the thought that went into that gesture on either my mother (in telling me) or my mother-in-law’s behalf – maybe it was a “congratulations that not all of your children were duds”
Or is it just me and my infertile paranoia?
I really thought I was over this but my once confirmed bachelor brothers settling down, having children and comparing nappy (diaper) changing techniques has really thrown me.
Infertility has been my greatest sorrow and greatest reward. I can honestly say that I no longer have a desire to be pregnant and I now know what I want to do with my life and I’ve found a truly satisfying career path. So why did I find myself back at the IVF clinic 3 months ago undergoing another barrage of tests only to find out what we already knew?
There is no biological reason for our infertility and the recommended course of treatment this time was 3 rounds of IVF to start with … because apparently a failed IUI, 2 failed rounds of IVF with a side of ovarian hyperstimulation and a failed frozen cycle were not enough emotional, physical and financial torture
The doctor found it quite curious that we’d taken a 10 year hiatus after such a relatively short 2 years of treatment.
We were quickly reminded of why we decided to cease treatment 10 years ago and this served to reaffirm that decision and the realisation that the last decade had not produced a miracle treatment that would/could work for us with a reasonable potential for success.
What I came to realise, too, was that an average, fertile woman taking the pill actually has a greater chance of falling pregnant naturally than I do and even with IVF we have an 85-90% chance of failure.
Still, here I am again, where I was 10 years ago, trawling through blogs, looking for someone who understands. I hope I’ve found that place.
It’s that one last bit of hope that this time will be the time it works and you too get to share in the miracle of having your own child, looking into their eyes and seeing yourself looking back. You can try to convince yourself that you found success in your work and don’t need children, but you wouldn’t be trying again if that truly was the case. I’ve been with my husband for 18 years, 9 of them married. We lost a pregnancy a year into trying naturally and immediately started treatments. We’ve been through every fertility treatment available multiple times. After the third failed IVF (each time requiring surgery for endo and stimulation due to low egg count and quality) we decided it was time to stop. Each round was months of torture and pain, each time producing one a+ fertilized embryo that didn’t take.
I couldn’t put myself or my hub through it again. I needed to save my marriage. Unfortunately all of the meds and surgeries took a toll on my health, and my job and my relationships with my family and friends with kids. You try to keep this very private nightmare to yourself but others can’t help but judge and make you feel like you just need to get over it. They gave unsolicited, hurtful advice without knowing what it’s like to go through it. They moved on with their lives, often leaving us out of theirs for fear of hurting our feelings – but I believed it was more them not being able to relate to our struggle. There’s nothing more painful than seeing pictures of kids parties you’re not invited to. When confronted, I am told they didn’t think I would want to go to a kid party. Slowly, I have been pushed out of my family bc we just don’t fit. It’s heartbreaking enough to go through infertility, but watching my family spend vacations with other family members that have children is equally painful.
To save ourselves, we closed the book on IVF and saved up for adoption. Then I suddenly couldn’t walk one day. I believe all the surgeries, rest and stress herniated my disks but of course will never know. Now I have no job, no children, and no family in our lives. We spent the adoption money to pay bills.
My husband is my best friend, and I now will do anything I can to enjoy the one person that stuck by me and suffered with me. However, I will always live with the hope for a miracle, even at 42. It feels like a sickness, like why can’t Iet it go? It’s an emptiness I will never fill, no matter how hard I work at it.
So yes, I get why you are trying again. Some can just let it go, where others live with the hope that this one time will be the answer to our prayers. You are not alone.
I’m really sorry. It’s hard. When I closed the door on having a family when I was 40, my younger sister was, at the time, in a relationship with a man (whom she adored, and we did too) who already had a family, and didn’t want any children. I remember telling my sister to think about it before it was too late. A few years later, when I had also taken refuge in thinking that at least my sister and I would grow old without children, her (now) husband changed his mind (due to tragic circumstances) and they had my niece. The pregnancy announcement was a shock, and I will admit that I felt a little betrayed. Though I was happy for her, as she had wanted children, but I was sad for me. So I guess I can relate.
One of the great joys of my life now is being that special auntie to my niece. It’s a great sadness that she doesn’t live closer to us. But I guess I’ve come to terms with the fact that being a special auntie is all I can do. I have no other choice. And so I embrace it. I hope you get the chance to do that with your brothers’ children too. If that is what you would like.
Know that people here do understand. I’d love to talk to you on my blog (No Kidding in NZ – yes, I’m right across the ditch), or via email if you’d like that. Best wishes.
I am so sorry about the hurt and pain. I had ovarian failure and premature menopause at 32. I wanted a baby badly at 28, but put it off in order to get a proper full-time career sorted out precisely so I could LOOK AFTER a baby for the next twenty years. It took us as a couple 14 years to resolve the hurt and pain and mess. I tried donor egg treatment three times but it was hopeless – only gave me two miscarriages and two operations and nothing more. It also nearly ruined us financially; it nearly split up our marriage, and it nearly made me lose my job. I hung on by a thread for years and years until one day I knew I had to close the door on it otherwise I would end up dead as I had seriously contemplated taking my own life and I thought about that a lot for many months and figured out a way to do it.
As we live in a country where adoption is free through the state, that is what we did six years ago – adopted. For our personal situation, that is what has helped us – although of course no-one should adopt just to ‘cure’ infertility, and we indeed did not do it solely for that reason. We are extremely lucky though, it has helped resolve the dreadful, dreadful agony inside me.
If you look at that photo essay posted on this site, where the couple visit a fertility clinic and speak of watching ‘the celebratory baby party’ to which they know they will never visit, please know that I understand what you feel. Also see that they spoke of their lost baby as a shadow always following them around – a great point I thought because once the sun shines, it’s a physical impossibility to stop a shadow being formed …. it cannot be shifted. And since the sun shines on the earth all the time, it well represents the pain of lost motherhood if that is what one sought.
AS an adoptive mother after ivf, I have nothing to ‘boast about’ and indeed I am constantly aware that I was millimetres away from being ‘childless by circumstance’. But please know that I reach out my hand to women like yourself and embrace your predicament and pain with as much sensitivity and compassion as I can muster. I am sure it is easy to say from my ‘safe’ position, but having gone to the brink of collapse and even self annihilation, and now having come through that, I feel it is important to tell you that you are valid and loved, loving and strong, and very worthy of great respect and compassion. I know also, from my own horrible experience, that the answers to questions that we seek so often come in forms we did not expect, nor want (and yes, that’s the hard part). And sometimes even the questions need to be changed or re-built so that the best answers can be found for us. I guess it’s the process of coming to terms with that that eventually gives us peace – but it is the hardest thing to do I know.