At What Cost
I’m always curious and want to learn the process when I encounter a blog were the author states that they’re stopping trying-to-conceive. They’ve either embraced living child-free or they’re on-hold for an indefinite period of time while they consider options. It’s always been the thing that scares me the most about trying-to-conceive with infertility. Talk about a ride Disney would never want to touch–the roller coaster with no off button.
Hello. My name is Melissa. I’m 32-years-old. And I’m a trying-to-conceive addict.
Because I’m not sure that I would ever have the courage and strength to say enough is enough. And that scares me. Because it all goes back to the idea of “at what cost.” Yes, a baby is worth the hard work (physically and emotionally) of A.R.T. or adoption, but at what cost? A loss of health? The breakdown of a marriage? Financial ruin?
I am a huge fan of Ali Domar’s book Conquering Infertility. It helped me get through many a negative beta. But I’ve always been bothered by a statement that brings other people so much peace. It’s tagged as her “message of hope”: You will be happy again. Life will become joyful again. And some how, some way, if you want to become a parent, you will.
Maybe it’s really revealing that I’m a half-full (wait…half-empty. No, half-full. Which is the negative one?) person at heart. And my intention is not to ruin this statement for you or drag hope from your clenched fist. If you feel strongly about Domar’s words, stop reading now and I won’t be offended.
The first part certainly brings me hope because I can compare infertility to other times in my life when I have felt pain and I know that life changes. And I like being reminded that I will one day be happy when I am in the midst of great uncertainty and despair. It’s the second part with which I find fault. And I’m not trying to be a buzz-kill, but the words just don’t ring true to me because I’ve read a few blogs lately from people who have given IF their “all” but who are finishing their final post with a sayonara to trying-to-conceive.
And I think these words bother me because at the end of the day, they place blame with the person rather than the uterus, the sperm, the eggs. It’s you in that sentence. Because the inverse is that if you don’t become a parent, it’s because you didn’t try all the some ways and some hows. Which again begs the question: at what cost. Yes, there are certain “some ways” I could try, but the result of those “some ways” may be a child I can’t afford to raise or a loss of overall health. And Domar’s statement completely disregards the possibility of secondary infertility since they’re already a parent and the pain that secondary infertility brings (the lack of respect for secondary IF is a whole different post…).
Which brings me back to the original question–when do you know that it’s time to stop and how do you stop? Do you believe you can reach this space? Most people will luckily never need to actually put this into action, but it serves as an insurance plan. I shouldn’t get on the ride not knowing how to get off.
Addtional thoughts added in the afternoon…
I just wanted to clarify (and become a bigger buzzkill because I don’t think I’ve been enough of a downer today. Seriously, what is it with ovulation and my downer thoughts?)…
The reason I have concern with Domar’s words are that they don’t take into account anything but sheer will. Yes, if I’m willing to sacrifice everything, I can become a parent. Which takes us back to the idea “at what cost.” In our current financial situation, adoption is difficult though not impossible. But for many people, adoption is impossible because financially it’s impossible. So if they can’t conceive naturally, and they’ve spent a lot of money on A.R.T. to no avail…then what? Even foster adoptions cost money. And I’m only worried that someone will take Domar’s words to heart and feel like “I’m not doing enough–I’m not doing everything” and then self-blame. Because we take on enough guilt as is.
Which is not to say that finances don’t change, circumstances in life don’t change, and that what isn’t possible today may be possible years from now. I guess I’m thinking about a small sliver of the IF community–but a sliver of the community nonetheless.
I’m scared for that sliver when I hear Domar’s message of hope.
Because in the end, in MY situation, it is a message of hope because my husband and I are 100% on the same page (with our infertility…at least). Which makes a huge difference. We all know that there are marriages that don’t weather the storm. And I worry about that too when I hear those words. What if you want to adopt and your husband does not? Do you leave the husband in order to make yourself a parent? Do you stay in the marriage and feel like you didn’t explore all the some hows and some ways? These are the difficult questions–and yes, it’s a small sliver, but it’s a sliver nonetheless.
So I can still hold onto those words as a beacon: I will become a parent again (even if I’m not really included in that statement anymore…I wish she would add some parentheses to make it applicable to people going through secondary IF or people who are step-parenting). But there are people who will not reach parenthood for whatever reason. And I don’t want them beating themselves up because there were too many obstacles in their way and a cheerleader in their ear chanting: it will happen! Because I do want to have hope, I do want to have the cheerleaders, and I do need that support. But I also need the cheerleaders to step back with me and admit defeat if defeat happens. Which it hopefully won’t. But I can’t predict everything that life will throw my way. And regardless, even if it works for me, it doesn’t mean that everyone else has the same resources and chances at their fingertips. And my heart aches about that.