The Box of Denial

On Sunday, I finally did something I kept meaning to do but couldn’t bring myself to: I unearthed The Box. The pretty patterned one I’ve been hiding for an inordinate amount of time given our predicament; the one I’d started filling with my “battle gear” several years ago. Filled with shiny covers and brimming with the promise of delivering the ultimate goal: a healthy, sustained pregnancy. When I first started buying some of these books, about 5 years ago, I told myself that it was just “in case” – I didn’t really need them because I wasn’t really that serious about getting pregnant just then (newsflash: that’s totally not true – I was just kidding myself. Flat-out D-E-N-I-A-L. Unsurprisingly enough, I’m sure.).

I was embarrassed to admit that I wanted to have a baby – or just how badly – and that the “magic” wasn’t happening. It would’ve been easy to glow with happiness if I’d gotten pregnant – then, only then, was it “safe” to admit how much I’d wanted it. But no such happy event for us. While everyone, it seemed, around us was getting pregnant again and again, I pretended that it wasn’t even on my radar – filled with the growing pain that only receded when it was punctuated by even greater heartache as people around me started dying (five in the space of two years, in case you’re wondering).

As time went on and all the other crap in my life came to a head, the unspoken issues that continued to keep us in our childless state became buried for a while – and so did the box of books. Periodically, I stealthily added another title – maybe something I picked up at a discount store or a used book store. Always when I was alone. Why? Because the books – just as the deceptively beautiful box they’ve been housed in – were something that needed to be hidden. Almost as if, just by being out in the open, it was a jinx – or inviting the prying eyes of others who wouldn’t possible understand in the boon of their own fecundity.

The truth, I finally realized this weekend – in one of those panicky-painful moments that make you get so choked up that even tears freeze before they can fall, so despairing and raw is the emotion – is that I was ashamed and in denial. I kept thinking that if I ignored the box and all the problems inside it, then like the mental trick for putting something out of your mind, it would just disappear.

Ridiculous, right?

But then, if like me, you’ve never been pregnant and are in the Mojave Desert of fertility (the cringe-worthy age bracket of 35-44), it’s hard not to panic. And I mean full-on, ripping-out-your-hair-biting-your-fingernails-to-the-quick-screaming-crying-sleep-depriving PANIC.

On Sunday, right before I went in search of the Box of Denial, I had a no kidding panic attack. I started sweating, my heart was pounding like a jackhammer, and I felt like I was either going to throw up or faint. I wrote in my journal. I tried to watch a bit of tv to distract myself. I tried to talk myself off the ledge. For what seemed like an eternity, I felt like I was going to let out a guttural, animal-like scream just to relieve the tension that made me feel like I was having a heart attack.

I’ve read – or half-read – a couple of infertility books in the last couple of years. One of them was so dysjuncted that I found myself having a hard time following the chronology of events. Another one – that I’m still trying to work my way through – keeps making me feel like gasping in exasperation and rolling my eyes.

The one that I’m actually responding to, though, is a book called Making Babies: A Proven 3-Month Program for Maximum Fertility; co-authored by Sami S. David and Jill Blakeway. To say that it makes me want to pick up the phone, book two respective appointments and get on the next flight to NYC would be an understatement. I started reading this book Sunday evening – and it’s definitely been eye-opening. It made me feel so, so incredibly vindicated about not sticking with Dr. Greedy McMoneybags (the RE we didn’t like but that, in the last couple of months, I was almost tempted to make a new appointment with – how’s that for despair??). As I continue reading, I feel both reassured AND freaked out: we waited too long; we don’t have convenient, easy, or even reliable access to the type of medical care (both Western and Eastern) of the kind that the authors favor: medical detective work.

I know from a lot of blogs and/or IF community forums that many women are frustrated by doctors who are proceeding too slowly for their liking – and if such delays are caused by greed (hey, let’s run a few thousand dollars worth of unnecessary tests, k?) or trying to disguise what is really actually a lack of knowledge, then I agree. However, so far I have found that the approach these two authors believe in is so much more in keeping with what I need and want (but am, honestly, petrified to consider because of my “advanced” age and previous DOR diagnosis): investigating the root of the problem(s) and looking for the least invasive way to fix them.

I found myself thinking back to the RE who never even suggested an IUI (even though I’d never taken Clomid in my life or had a previous IUI) and wanted to go in, guns blazing, telling me the only way we’d conceive was with IVF + ICSI (most expensive treatment outside of external issues such as egg donor or surrogacy – quel surprise!) and that he was planning to use the most aggressive protocol. Meanwhile, my anxious questions about side effects were met with something between a disinterested shrug and dismissive snort – answered as “just some minor bloating”. (Yeah, I didn’t really buy that, either.)

So now I’m in a bit of a weird, uncomfortable situation: on the one hand, I’m enjoying this book – as much as you can while feeling a metaphorical gun being held to your head – and learning about things I, quite frankly, didn’t have the faintest clue about; on the other hand, there’s that nagging voice inside my head saying you don’t have time to mess around anymore; should’ve thought about that years ago. I’m trying to calm myself down and think that investing in their suggestions may take time, but without doing so, I may not only be subjecting myself to repeated treatments in the future that may or may not succeed (to say nothing of the financial, physical and emotional trauma that IVF really represents) but also setting myself up for a lower chance of success than if I actually make the commitment I was starting to make at the end of 2012 before another part of my personal life went to hell in a hand basket last year.

Is it crazy to press the pause button at this point in my life? Is it insane to think, let’s take 3 months to really focus on our health, to consider Eastern medicine (acupuncture, Chinese herbs etc)? Do I want to do this for the right reasons or because I’m scared: scared of the uncertainty, scared of not knowing where to turn at this point, scared of the whole impact of IVF?

The two warring halves of my brain keep being locked in what feels like a deadly tug-o-war: between the “do it, DO IT NOW!” panic side and the peacenik that wants to try and approach this with a modicum of conservatism, meaning in this case to not overlook less invasive treatment options. Did I mention, previously, that no one has actually bothered – at all – to explain any of my labs to me, except to inform me that as a DOR “candidate” for IVF, I’d probably need donor eggs in the foreseeable future? That no one asked me about my cycles, about whether I’ve ever done a BBT chart (I haven’t), that no one bothered to actually do more than 1 set of labs to see if the values were consistently the same; that no one actually checked whether my pituitary gland was/is functioning properly at all, whether my progesterone levels are “normal” in the different phases of my cycle? Initially, I was told I didn’t actually ovulate, ever, at all – based on a single, solitary blood test. So is it really surprising that what I want, what I’m looking for, is an RE who’s going to put all the cards on the table – not just the ones with the highest dollar amount?

And…with that I also realize that I’m driving myself crazy. Last week was a bit of a haze – I was under the weather, feeling emotional even though I’m not yet anywhere close to my next period (which I no longer dread so much as I resent and pretty much hate it). Wrapped up in sweaters and blankets, feverish, I threw myself a pity party by watching Sex and the City. I cried when Charlotte had a miscarriage; I cried when she tried to put on a brave face at Miranda’s son’s first birthday party…until she came face to face with the silver Tiffany’s rattle her first husband had bought before she found out about her fertility issues. Got angry at the scene where this one woman swears by an acupuncturist and highly recommends him in between saying something about how all the IUIs and IVFs had driven her crazy – which made me think: really, how nice it must be to (a) not have to worry about the money part of ARTs (which, let’s face it, is a HUGE consideration) and/or (b) living in a big city where you’re not only spoiled for choice, whatever the type of medicine, but also nowadays in the case of New York City in particular, actually have IVF coverage if I’m not mistaken.

(Gremlin. Ugh. Still working on that…)

Needless to mention, I’m trying to stave off another pity party to coincide with the PMS that, I believe, has RSVPd for sometime next week. I’ve been feeling cranky all day, but I know that’s due to the mute terror I feel without knowing, really, how to find the kind of doctor (and I’d settle for a general one to start out with) who can actually be bothered to look at the person, not the dollar signs. Old-fashioned, you say? I know time is of the essence – believe me, I never thought I’d be one of those “biological clock” women, but there’s nothing like someone putting a question mark on your ability to have biological children that’ll not just make that clock tick but turn it into a dinner gong. Yet, personally, I’d rather have someone who isn’t all about turning you into a pin-pricked receptacle for toxic medications that may or may not turn you into Godzilla, Attila the Hun, Jack(ie) the Ripper etc. from the ensuing renegade hormone spin cycle.

Translation: I don’t want someone to waste my time but also not recommend a course of action before or without investigating other less invasive/costly options. I’m not saying that there’s a chance in hell we could conceive without the previous RE’s “recommendation” for IVF with ICSI (and I use that term lightly, since he might as well have been holding a gun for the amount of choice his “recommendation” left room for). But that book made me so glad, despite our continued struggle, that I didn’t agree to put my life, my body, my health, into the hands of someone who probably wouldn’t have had time to fit me into his busy schedule if I’d thought I was having symptoms of OHSS or some other serious side effect with the treatment.

So here’s my question: how far are YOU willing to go to have a baby?

Is it just about experiencing pregnancy for you? How important is the biological connection to your child(ren) to you/your spouse? And how far would you travel, how much would you be willing to spend, how many different doctors, supplements, medications, procedures would you be willing to endure to get to the sought-after goal?

I’m not being facetious – I really want to know. Because I’m thinking, is it really any crazier to travel out of state – or, even, the country – in the quest of motherhood than it is to contemplate being held ransom to the tune of $25-50K if you have to contemplate domestic infant adoption?

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34 thoughts on “The Box of Denial

  1. We have been on the ttc journey for 6 years. Six years ago when we started it was a lot of charting, timing, waiting, etc. We didnt jump right in to treatments. But we did get to that point and end up in my RE’s office. After 6+ rounds of clomid (and I’ll be honest, clomid did make me crazy. Crazier than any of the needled hormones, but we are all different) Anyway, we were talked to about the options of IUI and IVF. We figured we would try IUI, as a less expensive option. Well, for me, this IUI stuff turned out to be a $6,000 failure. I tend to require a shit ton of meds, so the $1,500 we were quoted went out the window. We decided we would set our goals to IVF, but that we would save for it. Who want to pay that bill if it doesnt work, right? So, for the next 3 years we saved and saved and talked & talked. We walked about adoption, using a surrogate, or living child free. For me, it was like this – I do not necessarily have to have the biological connection. But donor eggs was not on the table for us, as my reserve is good. Its just getting them there. Anyway, we knew that would could and would only do this one time. One fresh cycle with however many FET’s that would allow if the 1st time did not work. We went into it sort of thinking that it wouldnt work, as a safety net of sorts. But we also knew that is it didnt work, our next stop would be joining a foster to adopt program. I had already been in touch with the programs, attorneys, etc.
    I think the biggest piece of advice I can give anyone would be, only YOU know your limits. Emotional and financial. So, set those limits before you begin down this road. And give yourself a backup plan, or a plan B & C. And take breaks along the way. If it is family that is important, you have lots of options with adoption. While adoption is a daunting thing, it is possible. I never married myself to the idea of being pregnant, also – I think as a safety measure. Good luck to you! I will be rooting for whichever choice you make!

    • I think that when time is still on your side, it’s maybe a little “easier” to be patient and examine different options. I don’t mean to say that any one person’s situation is better/worse necessarily. I feel like I’m kind of between a rock and a hard place: when I was diagnosed with DOR a little over a year ago, I was absolutely shell-shocked because I honestly didn’t see it coming, at all. Then the MIF on top of that, and the crappy RE who basically just wanted to bleed us dry without even discussing any other options. For me, it’s not just about the money – it’s also thinking about the possible side effects of the meds and wanting to have an RE who isn’t going to pretend there aren’t any and who will LISTEN to your concerns, especially once you actually start taking them. I really appreciate your advice and sharing your story – I know I need to stop feeling sorry for myself and be more proactive, especially with looking into alternative family building options before we get to that point so it’s not a free-fall and starting all over. Honestly – one of the biggest issues I have with all of this is that IF is making me feel absolutely ANCIENT. 😦

      • I do understand that. It is so hard when you think “if I had known 10 years ago, we could have planned differently, etc.” Having a terrible RE has to be the WORST. I am sorry for your experience there. I truely think it can make all the difference.
        I will tell you, from my experience, the side effects were not that bad with IVF. I know there are tons of different protocols and meds, and my body tends to need higher doses of the hormones, but for me, honestly, the clomid was the worst of all. Maybe IVF hormones didn’t seem so bad b/c I was expecting it to be horrible. You know, based on what you read & all the jokes in movies about the raging hormones, why would we expect any different, right? I did gain 10 lbs, but that could have been anything. Lack activitiy? Hormones? Who knows? I hope you can find a RE who is worhty & capable!

      • Thank you so much for being understanding. Sometimes I feel like whining about not liking an RE is so childish – I mean, I don’t have to like the person who’s supposed to help me have a baby, right?? But then what drove me over the edge and made us leave the clinic was the fact that I really got the overwhelming feeling that, when the chips were down, that RE wasn’t going to give a rat’s a$$ (excuse my language) about what happened to me and my body, and wouldn’t listen if I was having side effects. The ensuing fear, frustration, anger and anxiety would probably have been extremely detrimental to any cycle we did there so I figured, why waste the money if someone can’t even be bothered to practice a modicum of “bedside manner”. I definitely didn’t enjoy the Clomid either. I mostly felt sluggish but the thing that was the worst for me is that I felt like I was having really bad hot flashes and night sweats – for five days I couldn’t sleep properly and, by the end of it, I was just relieved it was behind me. Here’s hoping that we can look back on this sometime in the near future and think it’s actually funny LOL

      • My clomid days were funny. It was hot flashes. We did our cycles through the summer. (HA!) and my husband would be freezing, wearing fleece pants & hoodies while I laid on the couch in a tank top & undies with popsicles literally laying all over me. It was NOT funny at the time. I had random bouts of just sobbing for no reason at all. I lost it on a few co-workers once or twice. Then I would get these energy spurts. It was crazy! I am glad the injections did not have that effect.

      • Uhm, yeah – the random bouts of sobbing have pretty much become MY LIFE in the last few years…which probably explains why the emotional side of Clomid – if it did affect me that way – passed rather unnoticed. Ahem. In hindsight that IS actually kind of funny – not quite as funny, yet, as I hope it’ll be some day. But I definitely feel a lot better about what you side with the injections. I think maybe it’s better to be more worried about it and then be “pleasantly surprised” – you know, as much as you can be when shoving a needle with artificial hormones into your skin. I guess I should be glad that neither my husband nor I have any perceived “ethical” issues with ARTs – can’t imagine if one of us did and the other didn’t. Yikes!

      • My husbands mother had religious issues with IVF. It is a “if God wills it to be, then it will be” thing with her. That caused us major issues that we may never overcome. Luckily, my husband & I were on the same page throughout the process and were able to put her on a back burner for a few months.

      • Yeah…I think a lot of people have to deal with this type of judgment from people who really, excuse my language, should just kindly STFU. As far as I’m concerned, if you have healthy children that were conceived without problems, the only opinion you’re entitled to voice is “I’m so sorry for your troubles” – preferably followed by “what can I do/how can I help?”. The whole “God wills…” makes me really angry – personally, it doesn’t affect me because neither one of us is religious, but I HATE seeing it from within an extended family where the IFers are also religious. To throw someone’s faith in their face and basically tell them that it’s abandoned them or that their own faith has turned against them? Outrageous!!

      • I just let it be known that if she felt that way, then she should never, ever allow herself to benefit from any type of modern medicine. Cancer treatment, knee surgery, laser eye surgery, I could go on and on. It made me angry too, but it just shows ignorance. And I feel sorry for ignorance.

      • Good point! I think it’s just so much harder when it comes from within your own family or circle of friends – people who you should rightly assume care enough about you not just to WANT you to be happy, but certainly not to wish you ill. Sadly, even in my own experiences, people can be downright cruel with the comments they make in regards to IF – part of which is probably also because they don’t realize just how hard it is and just how otherwise seemingly innocuous comments really smart.

      • So true! SOme of the things that have been said to me, or to other bloggers I have read about here. WOW. Just wow. Goes to show how stupid people really are. What I think it is is the need for people to say “something” anything to try & feel like they are helpful. But it ALWAYS comes out wrong. So, to people I say, kepp your mouth shut. If you aren’t sure, just shut it.

      • You know, sometimes you can at least tell the person is TRYING to be helpful – but I’ve been on the receiving end of “advice” that was more like a hacksaw, with absolutely no empathy or desire to be “nice” at all. My thought? We should all be issued a cattle prod to retaliate against such offensive, mean and sometimes downright belligerent comments. LOL

      • I like that plan. I really like to tell people that what they have said is inappropriate and has hurt me. And perhaps save some other person from their brutality.

      • Good on you!! I think we all could do with speaking up in a “mature” way, rather than just lashing out defensively (which is pretty much what I do when I’m not reeling from the verbal blast and slinking away). Even long before we realized we were dealing with IF, some women said the most inappropriate things to me – like a woman I barely knew who basically asked me flat-out what kind of bc we were using because I wasn’t pregnant (uhm, hello? kindly get out of my bedroom and mind your own beeswax); another one I knew even less who felt the need to tell me in rather excruciating detail all the problems she and the Mr. were having in their “boudoir”. I mean, REALLY? I’m not exactly a wallflower but some people really over-share and are overly nosy.

  2. I am 2 months shy of being 38. I don’t feel that old and think it’s ironic that I am the 7th of 8 children and have IF issues. After trying on our own – by me checking my temp and watching “O” dates, it was 2 years before we went for help. Over those two years I had one chemical and one ectopic. So, I knew I could get pregnant, but didn’t seem to be able to stay pregnant. We went into the clinic very naive. I had no idea it was going to lead to a lap surgery and IVF. However, that’s the path we’ve been led. My problem is tubal… one blocked and the other isn’t much better. Apparently, he tried to “make it pretty” during the lap, but it’s not great. I did not have any side effects from medications during IVF. I’m doing FET, now, and again, no side effects. I also did not experience many of the complaints of shots burning or itching (in the stomach). I haven’t experienced the PIO, just yet… ask me a week from now and I may be cussing up a storm. 🙂 We live within an hour of 3 clinics. We selected the one we visited based on me meeting a few people that used him and LOVED him. One of those was at work and by chance as she was in town for a wedding and we ended up talking about her kids and that’s how I found out… it was weird! (Divine intervention?) Two women were successful and one hasn’t been, yet. We met him, and liked him, as well. Plus, he’s a half hour from our home so it makes life much easier. There have been a few times where I’ve wondered if we should see someone else, but I like that he does everything. No one else does my ultrasounds but him. He might run late, but he is the one doing all proceedures… not a tech or nurse. Except for blood draws and vitals. As for other “stuff”, I have considered acupuncture, but I don’t know the first thing about it or where to even find someone. Also, once finding them, do they know what they’re doing or are they just a newbie figuring things out? I’m not too much into other people touching me, either, so I haven’t done any of that. Our decision to go IVF was that we would rather spend money to have our OWN children than to have someone else’s. We both agreed that we haven’t felt led to adopt. That may change, but not yet, as we still have frozen embryos. When the time comes that we won’t have any left, then we will visit our options. I also do not think we will be willing to put ourselves in a situation where we are in any large amount of debt. I personally don’t think it’s worth it to have the stress of being in debt. When we got married, I left my corporate job and went back to school for a trade. We did that so when kids come along, I can be at home… still praying that was the right decision (3 ½ years later). Therefore, while we have two incomes, mine is not what it used to be and we’re not going to endanger our lives with debt. I don’t know that any of that helps, as it is all opinions, but I pray you are led to some answers and find a RE that you can connect with. 🙂

    • I’m totally with you on spending the money for bio babies rather than 3rd party reproduction, at least so long as that’s an option. We’re DOR/MIF, so the process is both complicated and more expensive because of it. Ironically, I had zero blockage when I had my HSG done – but I’ve never been able to get pregnant to date, so my guess is ARTs are the only way to go…assuming I don’t run out of time before we get to it. I’m seriously thinking about taking the approach of a book I’m reading right now and getting back to basics. I have no delusions that it’s suddenly going to turn me into a Fertile Myrtle, but without IVF coverage and the extra expensive of ICSI, I don’t want to throw away money we don’t have lying around without doing my “due diligence”. We were seeing an RE we both totally hated – the feeling of being just a number and being talked down to, then the unreturned phone calls etc when we didn’t jump the gun and hand over every red dime we have. I wish we had the options/choices within such close proximity, but honestly I’d just settle for figuring out where to go and how to find an RE we’d both be happy with. For us, it looks like we’re going to have to travel out of state and possibly out of the country – with the added expense that entails. I completely agree with you about the whole debt thing – at the RE we didn’t like, one of the nurses told us to just make sure we had enough available on credit cards to pay for meds. UHM, ok – because the stress of being in debt with the possibility of not even being successful the first time around is definitely going to be conducive to conception? Me thinks NOT!

  3. When I started I didn’t have a plan and I think this is my biggest mistake. I went right to IVF because I have tube issues. At this point I don’t know if they are dilated or blocked or dilated but the clinic said they were blocked so I could get some money back on my first 3 cycles that my province covers (which is about half of what I actuyally paid a cycle).

    I trusted the doctors at the first clinic and still feel that their goal was getting me pregnant. I never felt they were throwing the most expensive treatment at me.

    I’ve done 7 IVF cycles with my own eggs 4 transfers with donor eggs (2 donors) and have spent of 100K. I’d never claim I’m an ‘expert’, but I can tell you what I would have done differently knowing what know now.

    Oh, I should answer your 2 main questions and comment on the possible myth of women becoming ‘crazy’ when they take fertility drugs.

    I did whatever the doctors told me to do. New drug or supplement, I did it. I’ve transferred embryos 11 times – I still have remaining embryos. I want to say I’d do anything but I’m struggling with the idea of a surrogate.

    Travel. There isn’t a fertility clinic in my city that does IVF. I’ve flown to a bigger city to do it. I did manage to find Eastern medicine in my city so start poking around if you are serious about it you might be surprised what you find. There is also a book called The Infertility Cure by Randine Lewis that is about eastern medicine. You can do a lot of what she says at home. Also, it usually takes a few months to have a consult and do the workup so if you start an supplements and an eastern protocol now, you probably won’t end up putting off any treatment if you decide to go that route.

    The possible myth. I was never a raving lunatic on fertility medications. I only had some bloating even when I over stimulated. This has left me wondering if women get crazy because they’ve heard they are supposed to. I did have some hot flashes and headaches but they were managable.

    So here’s some of the things I would have done differently.

    Decided how far I was going to go before I tried donor eggs or how much money I was willing to spend.

    Expect the worst and plan for it. I thought I was going to get pregnant on my first insemination. Hello, I didn’t even get to do an IUI. I wish I would have considered that none of this would have worked for me.

    Do as much testing as possible up front before paying for treatments. The $500 for a Yale biopsy after over $100K spent seems fucked up to me. Another doctor along the way should have considered that my uterus might have been the problem. I guess if everything works out like planned on your first Clomid cycle and you get pregnant natuarally then spending a bucket of money for some tests does seem wasteful but I’m convinced I would have spent much less if I had insisted on more extensive testing first.

    Do genetic testing earlier. Actually my clinic didn’t offer it initially but I should have investigated all my options. This is also a huge amount of money, but finding out on your first IVF that your eggs are bad will save money down the road.

    Oh, another book recommendation. I started reading On Fertile Ground by Helen Adrienne. I’m only a couple chapters in but it seems like it would have been useful from an emotional perspective early on.

    Anyway, good luck. A lot of hard decisions and sorry for the long response.

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a detailed response and sharing your personal experience – that was actually somewhat the goal for this blog post. Because of the fact that we’re totally in limbo – me, terrified both of dealing with DOR, flying “blind” since my one and only AMH test over a year ago and scared of the actual ARTs – and trying to figure out how and where to find a new RE. On the one hand, I keep freaking out about time going by without ANYTHING happening – but I also don’t want to needlessly or unnecessarily undergo expensive treatments, so I’m trying to get more information so I can figure out what to do from here…

  4. This is such an interesting post and an evocative list of questions…
    The question of when to stop is front-and-center for us right now. We’ve decided that we’re going to go forward with this FET of the two remaining embryos, because those could very well be our children—but if that doesn’t work, then there are still other things to try. Donor #2 with DH’s sperm, or with donor sperm, for one thing. And I’ve learned more about what to look for in a donor since I chose ours and might choose differently next time around. There’s always a reason to try again. Particularly when you are in a guarantee program that will let you keep trying for two years. But right now, my gut is saying no to that, and I’m feeling like this FET will be our last waltz through this territory. BUT that’s right now. Who knows how I’ll feel in the future. We have decided not to decide. There are just too many unknowns for us to parse out all of the “what-if” situations that can crop up with this FET, and their corresponding following treatment options.

    For me, letting go of the biological connection was not the most difficult thing. Very early on, the idea scared the hell out of me, but I think I started opening to donor egg relatively soon, because what I really wanted was a family, above all. I mourned the biological connection, but by the time donor egg was suggested to me, I was ready for it.

    We considered adoption early on, too—for the same reasons: having a family was most important. But we weren’t married, we were still in grad school, and all sorts of other factors made adoption seem like it was not an option for us then.

    We decided we’d try IVF once with my own eggs and then on to donor egg (which we thought would be a sure thing). Now adoption is becoming more doable right at the time that I am reaching my frustration-limit with the RE industry, and with needles, blood-draws, scary ultrasounds, D & Cs, and the whole gamut of time and health that is lost with each loss. I often feel indignant. Like: Hold up: I deserve better than this motherf*cking bullsh*t. Get me out of this nightmare. Of course, this alternates with feelings of deep gratitude that I exist at a time when donor egg is even possible.

    I would say that now, and even in the early days, we have simply been searching for the path of least resistance to family. I’m really not caring what that looks like and am open to surprises. I just can’t believe how hard it is simply to *find the path*. Jeez!

    So, I won’t stop. DH won’t stop. It’s set: We are *going* to have a family, one way or another, a family of one or two children—whether that is donor egg or adoption—and also: we’ll be getting a dog someday, too. So there, life.

    • Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment! I really appreciate your willingness to share your take on these issues openly – I’m still feeling so much trepidation, most of which is probably due to the fact that we’re really in limbo at the moment. I’m scared of all the additional risks that come with being both DOR and in a very much less-than-ideal age bracket. I know for a lot of women the pregnancy part is the most important and therefore it’s maybe less difficult to move onto DE – for me, the biological connection is more important right now, maybe because I’ve lost so many family members in the past few years. If I had to choose between carrying a DE pregnancy myself and having a bio baby via surrogacy, I’d chose the latter. Right now, though, our main issues are finding an RE and coming up with the money – all the more difficult to contemplate IVF when you have no coverage, and we can’t qualify for a refund program. I would be totally open to adoption if it wasn’t basically like legalized blackmail. I object to the ridiculous and completely unjustified fees on principle, so I don’t think that’s going to be an option for us. But I think that in the long run, like you, the most important thing will be to have a family – even if it ends up coming about in a very different way than we thought it would. So I’m grateful, so very grateful, for people like you who are willing to share their stories, their input etc – because that really helps put things into perspective for me and gives me other things to think about. 🙂

      • I wish I could give you my IVF coverage—-I just found out that my new insurance covers 3 IVFs! Oh the irony! And now that it is possible that sperm has been the problem all along (as DH is now the more likely common denominator in all 6 losses) I’m sure it’ll be suggested to me to try an IVF with my OE…gaahhhh. See? The path through the RE world really can be endless.

        The biological connection—I understand why you and others are set on it. It’s the most natural instinct in the animal kingdom, after all, to reproduce—I wish more outside this community were understanding of that. And it sounds like you are open to surprises, too, in the future. I’m not so sure about the “legalized blackmail” —it’s not always so black and white, and it is sounding like international adoption in some countries can be quite straightforward (in others, it is awful awful). I heard of a birth mother (during group) who refused to take any living expense $ (and it was a modest sum) until she’d signed over her rights. But you’re right that the fees are outrageous—but not any more outrageous than fertility treatments (~30K).

      • You’re so sweet to say that. To be honest, i really wish we had IVF coverage because it would at least take the financial issue out of consideration. I actually think that all insurance companies should cover up to 3 – I think that’s reasonable because, personally, I don’t think I’d want to do more than that anyway. I’ve seen people talk about having done 10 cycles because they have coverage – and aside from the fact that I can’t even wrap my mind about the six figures they didn’t have to fork over at all, I just wouldn’t do that, personally. I think that adoption is definitely like legalized blackmail – regardless of whether you’re talking about domestic or international adoptions. The bulk of the fees involved don’t even go to the birth mother anyway, aside from which I kind of find it ridiculous not only to penalize people who are reproductively challenge in such an exorbitant way, but I feel like it’s complete hypocrisy when people are always up in arms about how it’s “unethical” to buy a baby/child. Sorry, but when you’re asking me for five figured to assume the responsibility for someone else’s child, what exactly am I doing if not buying a baby/child?? Sorry, I’m just a little wound up about this issue because we would totally be open to adoption, but the way things are done just makes it an unlikely choice for us. At any rate, I definitely think what’s most important it to be honest with yourself throughout one’s IF journey and to keep talking openly with your spouse, you know?

      • You definitely sound closed to adoption, and I get that. I just hope you don’t judge others for adopting because you think of them as involved in blackmail—that would be harshly assuming a lot about people who’ve done as much research and hard work figuring out the adoption world, and what’s the best route in it for everyone involved, as we have the ART world.

      • Oh no, of course I wouldn’t judge someone else for adopting!! On the contrary…if anything, I’m maybe a little jealous of others who either don’t feel the same way or who are able to look past any reservations to see the bigger picture. Maybe I’ll get there in time, I don’t know. I think what I was trying to express is that I just feel the whole shebang – reproductive endocrinology and adoption – is just a big industry that fails to take into consideration the people affected. I’m sorry you thought or felt that I was being judgmental towards other people’s endeavors in adopting a baby or child. 😦

      • Not at all. I just felt bad because I know I tend to be kind of judgmental – some of it is not really meant the way it may initially come across but borne out of frustration, anger and resentment relating to our personal situation. But I’m trying to take a breath and stop getting angry about things I can’t change 🙂

  5. It’s interesting, reading this. I’ve actually been working through composing a post for a couple of weeks now trying to articulate my limits. As the time it’s taking me to do so indicates, there’s a lot of conflict going on internally about those.

    If I had it all to do over again, where I would have changed things in my own journey is that I would probably have skipped the injectable/follistim timed intercourse/IUI attempts. A recent study from Dartmouth University showed that once the point of using injectables to induce ovulation entered the picture, it was more time and cost efficient to go to IVF (link to the blurb about the study: http://geiselmed.dartmouth.edu/news/2009/06/26_reindollar.shtml).

    And make no mistake: those injectable TI/IUI cycles were hell on me. I had one marginal cycle and one good one out of 5 we attempted. I got cysts. I felt like crap. We spent over 5K on those between clinic and drug fees, 5-6 months and that doesn’t even cover the emotional resources expended. I’m 31 now (30 when we started treatment) and yet even I’m feeling the strong tick of the biological clock and the waste of that time.

    At this point, the tentative sort of place we’re at with limits is that we will use our two frozen embryos. We will likely do one more fresh IVF cycle with our clinic depending on a few things. If that one fails, at that point, we are willing to do one more fresh cycle with noted clinic like CCRM with extensive intervention. And if we’re lucky enough to have frozen embryos, we’d use them up. But then we’re done with ART. This, of course, could change at any time, but it’s the tentative plan now.

    As far as adoption, I think both my husband and I would be open to considering it, but it would definitely have to be the right situation. Ironically from the circumstances we’re in, adoption would be far more expensive (due to some changes in living circumstances that would need to happen to make us more attractive to agencies/first parents), more invasive, and more time consuming. In a lot of ways, that’s the real reason we’ve turned to ART.

    I’ve found it helpful to read some books like “Silent Sorority” or “Cracked Open”. Both detail how their authors chose where to draw a line with ART. Even though I wasn’t always in the same place these authors were, how I reacted to things in the books helped me to clarify where I was standing on the issue. And both strongly show some of the very dark sides of ART – even though I still chose to pursue ART, I felt much more equipped to recognize my limits and understand more fully what I had gotten myself into.

    Sorry, I know this is garbled.

    I’m sorry you’re going through this. It sucks so, so badly.

    • Thank you for your honest and open comment. I appreciate the book recommendations – always looking for those – and I’ll definitely check into the two you mentioned. I’m so sorry for everything you’ve been through. I sometimes wonder if I’ve ever had those very early m/cs that I’ve read about – which I probably wouldn’t even have known since I have pretty bad periods. But without any evidence to the contrary, I have to assume that I’ve never gotten pregnant to date – hard to deal with at my age, especially considering that even any ARTs come with increasing risks once you get to your late 30s. In a way, I really wish I’d heard that biological clock ticking a lot louder when I was your age, when the chances – from a statistic point of view – are at least more optimistic. One of my biggest fear is not just being in the “care” of someone who sees only the bottom line, not the patient/couple but also the increased risk of m/c and birth defects in my age bracket…Here’s hoping that this year brings happy news to both of us! 🙂 HUGS!!

  6. I would do anything. I have done everything, looked everywhere, read the books, did the diets, the yoga and acupuncture and meditation, took the supplements, had one invasive procedure after another, dusted myself off from one failure and pregnancy loss after another, got on planes to see doctors and cycled in the best places. That’s how important to me the biological connection is. We are approaching our line in the sand, and I’m not sure if any of it will get me anywhere except more depleted when we ultimately sustain the final and most devastating blow. But I could not rest on a maybe, on uncertainty. Next step is donor, which is heart-wrenching, my greatest fear. I’ll spare you my list of grievances for why it keeps me awake at night. We will never adopt. Period. That’s our line, and it’s there because of the nature of the domestic adoption scene. I refuse to sell my story to attract some twit who got knocked up by accident, and I refuse to negotiate on the terms of my parenthood. At least the donor options keeps me in the driver’s seat.

    • I can really imagine myself in a somewhat similar situation, which is precisely why I’m thinking about seriously trying to do whatever I can to help my body become more – or as – fertile as it can be. I have no delusions that this will miraculously lead to natural conception – I mean, I think I would’ve gotten pregnant at some point if there was a chance – but I figure that I also don’t want to throw away money we don’t exactly have growing on trees without doing the appropriate prep work, kwim? Having said that, I’m completely with you on domestic infant adoption – and I find your candor and honesty extremely refreshing!! Here’s hoping that your journey will soon give you the biological child(ren) you so obviously deserve. HUGS!

  7. I won’t let myself think that far ahead. We aren’t considering donor eggs or adoption (yet). We are taking it one cycle at a time, because if I allow myself to think further ahead on the what ifs and we actually get to those, I think I will be emotionally devastated long before then. (Does that make any sense?) I am not ready to think beyond this upcoming ivf because I don’t want there to be anything after that but a pregnancy. And if it doesn’t work, we will have to figure it out then. Such a difficult, emotional, terrifying thing to grapple with.

    • I completely understand – it’s why I know that thinking about all this stuff is somewhat counterproductive for me as well. But in the absence of being in the care of a good RE at the moment, my mind is running rampant…:(

  8. I would do anything to have a baby. I would travel anywhere, try anything, give up my last dollar. The biological connection is more important to my husband than to me (my father is adopted so I am much more open to the concept) but in Australia it is extremely difficult to adopt. We have the lowest adoption rate in the western world and less than 100 children are adopted domestically each year across the whole country. International adoption is slightly better but still takes up to 10 years and you aren’t even allowed to submit an adoption application until you are at least 12 months clear of any form of fertility treatment. For us it’s just not an option which is why we are throwing all of our money into IVF. There is a clinic in Sydney that has one of the best IVF success rates in the world and we have already decided if I fail 4 more cycles (which would bring us up to cycle number 10) we will fly me to Sydney for 2 months and try there. To do that we will have to take out another loan against our house. Someone once told me its important to know when to draw the line in the sand and say “ok we give up now” but for me there is no line. I will do anything and I will not begin to fathom my life without kids. I know not everyone is the same but that’s just the way I feel.

    • Thank you so much for your honesty. I can’t imagine how hard it must be given what I absolutely admit I had no idea about in other countries. I thought adoption was bad here – basically a legalized way to strong-arm desperate couples into forking over 5-figure sums of money to take on the responsibility for the child of someone who can’t or doesn’t want to raise it. I definitely think that it’s good to have options or choices, and your comment is giving me much to ponder. I know that, for me, there’s definitely a line – age wise, number of cycle wise etc. I really hope that you’ll have success sooner rather than later!

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