Most couples facing infertility treatment never expected to have difficulty conceiving a baby. Month after month of trying leads to a trip to an infertility specialist and before you know it you are in the midst of infertility treatments. You begin with monitoring your basal body temperature then move into taking some medication and before you know it you are making difficult decisions about things like surgery and using donors. It can all come at you very quickly and make you feel out of control. Dealing with infertility on a daily basis can take an enormous toll on you physically, emotionally and financially.
Which treatments to try, for how many cycles and how much money to spend? All are very difficult questions. The answers are different for each couple. What may feel right for one person might feel very wrong for another. It is important to honor your individual circumstances. No one has walked in your shoes, and though loved ones and medical professionals may give you advise, you are the only one that can decide when the time is right to grieve your reproductive loss and move on to explore the other options that may be available for building your family.
Struggling through all that comes with infertility can leave even the most grounded person feeling that they have lost control over their life. It can help to take a step back and have a conversation with your partner about your goals, ethical beliefs, physical and emotional stamina and financial situation in order to put you in a proactive mode instead of feeling that you are always reacting. Some topics worthy of discussion include:
Ethical Beliefs – It may be that you are ok with IUI, but IVF doesn’t feel right, or perhaps you are comfortable with IVF and a donor egg, but surrogacy is pushing the envelope for you. Think ahead as to what could be coming down the road so you will be prepared when the next option is presented.
Financial Investment – As much as you may hate to put a price tag on a child the reality is that infertility can be a very expensive endeavor with no guarantee of a successful outcome. Most people have a limit on what they can spend. It is wise to set a budget early on with an agreement not to go over it without additional discussion. As much as you may dread it you should also discuss what your contingency plan is. It may be that if you are not able to have your own child that you might consider some form of adoption in the future which may have a significant financial cost as well.
Time investment – Life can feel like it is at a stand still when you are going through infertility treatment. Your whole schedule is planned around injections, blood draws, ovulation, etc. Things like vacations are difficult to plan, not knowing if you will or won’t be pregnant. Again, it can be helpful to set a time table for yourself knowing that you will reevaluate your feelings when you reach that point. It is also important for women who are getting older to realize that some of their other family building options such as adoption may be threatened if they wait to long.
These are difficult decisions to make as an individual; they become increasingly complicated when trying to make them as a couple. It is rare for a couple to always be in agreement. Infertility can take an emotional toll on even the strongest of relationships which is why it is important to talk through these issues early on and to continue to communicate throughout the process. If you are really having trouble coming to a consensus get some assistance. Some couples find it helpful to work through these decisions in counseling with a therapist specifically trained in reproductive health issues (you can locate qualified Infertility Counselors at www.ASRM/MPHG.org)
In the end only you will know when “enough is enough” and you are ready to move on. Trust in your judgment and expect that you may second guess your decisions in the future. “If we had just tried one more cycle…? If you do decide to walk away from infertility treatment be prepared to mourn the loss of the dream you had for yourself. Acknowledging the loss will allow you to grieve so that you can move on and explore other options such as adoption, fostering or deciding to live child free.
Erin Clark is a therapist who specializes in working with women and couples struggling with issues related to infertility, pregnancy loss and adoption. If you found this article helpful you can reach Erin through from our Contact Page