A RMACT Patient Shares Her Thoughts On "When Is Enough, Enough?"
RMACT Ladies Night In Stories - When Is Enough, Enough?
We all feel release in different ways. Some of us cry. Some of us talk. Some of us write. A slightly different version of what is below appeared on our Ladies Night In Facebook page recently. I contacted the patient/writer (who I know personally), and asked her if I could share it here. She agreed, with the idea that perhaps it would shed some light or offer some comfort to someone else who is challenged by similar questions. Of course I'm keeping it anonymous. I will just say that it resonated with many women who are on that board. So while this is one woman's thoughts, it may very well echo thoughts that you have had. Enjoy this beautifiul, heartfelt piece. I know I did. ~Lisa Rosenthal
A desperate cry that is often heard on the RMACT Ladies Night In Online bulletin boards is this question, “How do you know when it is time to give up?” Usually the person asking is in a really painful and desperate place. It’s such an individual decision; still, there is no one else except you that can answer it. Here are my thoughts, examining this question for myself; I’m willing to share my journey, hoping that it will provide insight for you.
There is no magic number of years trying, or IVF cycles, or losses. Each person has their own pain threshold, what might be bearable for some will be way too much for others.
I recently heard of an interesting study where infertile women were offered as many free IVF cycles as they could bear (no pun intended, really) to conceive. Do you know what the average number of cycles underwent was before most people gave up?
Three. Can you believe that? Three. After three cycles the average person said ‘enough. I can’t do this anymore’. It was too painful for them to carry on. Now for some of us, well me, this is just unbelievable. Free cycles and you say ‘enough’? I am moving on to cycle #4 (not including a cancelled cycle). Am I crazy? No. Are they crazy? No.
I don’t think it is about how much you want it. That’s not what this is about. It's not about how badly you want a child, I think it’s about what you are prepared or able to go through, what you are prepared to give up or suffer through in order to have a child. For some people the cost is too high. They are not prepared to risk their mental health, their emotional stability, their marriage etc. in order to get a child.
I deeply envy those people who have come to the point in their lives where they say ‘enough’; where they can make the decision to live childfree. They get off the clichéd roller coaster and get on with their lives; away from the invasiveness and all consuming cycles, meds, needles, betas, hopes and disappointments. They go back to being normal. How wonderfully liberating. It must be like being let out of prison. It's a place of ‘acceptance.’ I envy them. I really do.
Because I can’t give up. Even living through all the pain I have, and continuing to live this hell daily, I still can’t give up. Because giving up is scarier to me than carrying on. A childfree future is just not an option for me. Which means that I am never giving up.
Am I brave or am I stupid? Is it perseverance or is it obsession? I don’t know. All I know is that I am not prepared to live my future childfree. And yes, I will do what it takes to get there. There are so many people in my life (luckily not my family, who know how important this is to me), who think I am obsessed; that I am crazy for doing this to myself. To put myself out there time and time again, only to have my soul destroyed and my heart broken so often. They don’t understand my need or drive for a child. They say: ‘don’t you think you should give up now?’, ‘don’t think that god/fate/nature is sending you a message?’
And therein lies the rub. I am not prepared to buy into the belief that this is my lot in life, that this is my life plan. That I am not ‘meant’ to have a child. Bullshit. I am not going to accept that. I am not an observer in my life, I am a participant. I have control over my fate, because I have choices. I will have a child one day. I understand and accept that it might not be in the way I expected. So my child might come to me through donor eggs, adoption, whatever. The how is no longer important to me, the end result is.
I am not obsessed. I felt close to obsession, about three years ago, when it consumed my life, but now I am just determined. I will succeed, because the alternative is not an option to me. Making the decision to eliminate childfree as an alternative for me has brought incredible peace. Because I know, come what may, I will have a child. It makes the daily grind of infertility so much easier to deal with, because I know I will have a happy ending in my life story.
To get back to the question of when is enough, enough, I know the answer for me is when the pain of trying is worse than the pain of giving up. For me, the pain of stopping is way greater than the pain of trying. Don’t let anyone make you doubt yourself. Do what is right for you. If it takes 5, 10 or 20 IVF’s for you to come to the place in your life where you either achieve success, or where you say ‘enough’, then that is what it takes. I know of a few people who almost feel embarrassed at the number of IVF’s they have done. They shouldn’t feel embarrassed. Going through this over and over is incredibly brave; it shows incredible determination and drive. Only you will know when enough is enough. And if you decide you can’t or won’t do this anymore, then celebrate your decision as a very brave decision, and live your life to the fullest. We each can have our own version of a ‘happily ever after’, but it has to be right for each one of us.
About Lisa Rosenthal
Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.
Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.
Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.
Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.