My husband and I started our infertility journey three years after we got married, but we had known since the beginning we would probably need help. My husband had cancer as an adolescent and while other kids were navigating the ups and downs of middle school, my dear husband was fighting for his life. Luckily, that battle was won, but the after effects of chemo on a young pubescent boy left us seeking help to grow our family.
We have spent the last four years and our last remaining pennies on fertility treatments. Luckily, after about $100,000 in medical intervention, three IUIs, three rounds of IVF, one FET and a crushing miscarriage, we have the most amazing 2-year-old we could have ever imagined. He is feisty, athletic, intelligent and obsessed with “Mick Mouse.”
It is hard to explain the emotional rollercoaster the past few years has been. Anyone in our shoes knows what it is like and anyone not in our shoes will never truly understand. I see other families with their beautiful children and a piece of me automatically shuts down. I ache for more children. I ache to give my son a sibling. I ache to give my husband another part of me. But, we have decided that we have to be done. This pain has to end and we need to move forward with the lives we have with our beautiful son.
So, as I try not to dwell on the negatives, I have turned my attention to the positives of giving up on this journey. Here goes:
1. We can stop waiting for the unknown.
2017 was especially hard. We had 5 frozen embryos from our first IVF (which was successful) and we assumed we would have additional success with an FET. One embryo didn’t survive the thaw and three of the other four were deemed genetically abnormal. That left one female embryo which I miscarried. She had a name. She was loved. She had so much potential. She is not here today. I think about her all the time. I planned on putting her hair in pigtails and longed to see her run, arms outstretched, to her adoring daddy.
My emotional health has really taken a beating. We tried two additional rounds of IVF after losing our baby girl, both unsuccessful. My heart hurts for what could have been, for what should have been, but I know I cannot take any more pain like that. I have a son who is here. He is alive and well and beautiful. He is known, so I am okay with giving up on the unknown.
2. We can plan for our financial future.
Fertility treatment is expensive. No way around it. Planning for our future has been put on the backburner to pay for the never-ending bills that keep strolling in months after we thought those days were behind us. Every blood test, scan, and exam is billed individually, so every couple of weeks we are made to endure reminders of the journey we took, taking us back to a place I don’t want to be anymore.
These bills are trickling down and should stop soon. Because of that, my husband, son and I can start to plan for our future. We want to build a house that suits the three of us and we no longer have to wait to see how large (or small) our little family will become. There is something exciting about knowing what tomorrow will look like and planning to make tomorrow as bright as possible.
3. We can plan a trip to Disney.
As mentioned above, my son is obsessed with Mickey. We have 122 Mickey Mouse Clubhouses and 23 Mickey and the Roadster Racers on our DVR. While mind numbing (after the 1,000th time being seen), our son still brightens up every time he hears the hotdog song. While we were on the fertility journey, we didn’t know when we would be able to take our son to Disney. Having a potential newborn put that trip on perpetual hold. But without that potential, my husband and I plan to take our little guy to Disney sooner rather than later. I cannot wait to see the look on his face when he sees “Mick Mouse” in person. The awe and amazement of a child is mesmerizing and I want to give him as many experiences as possible. Ending this journey will enable us to do that.
4. My body is now my own.
I have mentioned the emotional aspect of infertility, but the physical aspect of fertility treatments are as equally tough to endure. I have been injected over 100 times by my husband in the stomach, back and butt. I have been pumped full of hormones that made my mental health take a nosedive for the past several years. Adding in actually being pregnant and giving birth, my body has not been my own since we started this process.
Hubby and I are at a point now where we are sleeping at night, my boobs are no longer a milk factory and my hormones are no longer artificially derived. I can drink an adult beverage as wanted, train for a mini-marathon and just get back to being me. I haven’t been me in a very long time. I am excited to see who I am now, and what I will become now that this journey is over.
5. I can devote myself to my son.
When my son was born, I was always waiting for the next phase. When would milestones be reached and when would new stages begin and end? As I held him at night, I planned for our next child, thinking about what we would do differently and what we would do the same. I was in a perpetual state of wondering about what was to come, which didn’t allow me to live in the present.
When we decided to end our journey, I looked at my son, already 2 years old, and wondered where the time went. He knows his colors, can count to 10 (omitting 3 and 4 most times), and has already lost the baby fat that once caressed his beautifully round face. I refuse to let any more time pass without enjoying and relishing in every moment of his upbringing. Tantrums don’t bother me anymore. He is a little person with big emotions and I have gained the patience to help him navigate his feelings. His emotional and physical wellbeing are what’s important and I won’t take any moment with him for granted.
So, while one journey has ended, I try to look forward to what life has in store for my little family. I am trying to give up on the past and what should have been, but I also know that the pain of infertility won’t truly ever go away. Buried way down deep I will always want what we couldn’t have. But I will focus on the positives to make those moments of sadness more fleeting than there were yesterday.