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Was It Worth It

A long post where I repeat myself too much to drive the point home because hot-button topics generally elicit hot-button reactions.

Julie answered and asked a question in a recent blog post about measuring that state of “was it worth it” when considering what was endured in order to become a parent.  I started to answer it there, and it grew into a tome worthy of challenging Dickens in complexity and characters.  So I thought I’d recreate my thoughts over here.

I started, perhaps, with a different understanding of the question.  I looked at it purely from the idea that if a child costs X amount of emotional dollars, is a child worth that exorbitant emotional price of enduring treatments, surrogacy, adoption, etc (please take actual money out of this equation unless the spending of said money is affecting you emotionally).

You obviously can’t put a price tag on a child or an experience, but I took her asking to be in the same vein essentially as the questioning that comes before committing to a purchase.  When you’re about to part with a huge sum of money, you want to know if what you’re spending your money on is worth the price tag.  And with infertility, when you’re about to part with a huge sum of sanity, you want to know if what you’re spending your emotional energy on is worth the high price.  Though, of course, I’m not sure how in either case anyone can answer the question because the worth of everything in this world is subjective.

I guess I don’t really subscribe to the line of thinking that states “if you get what you want, it was worth it and if you don’t, it wasn’t worth it.”

That’s how I saw the question.


Bear with me for this long story because it does have a point in the end:

The twins have recently become obsessed again with a home movie Josh and I made several years ago at Disney World.  I’m not really sure why we chose Disney World as a vacation destination because we were ensconced in treatments and not really grooving on hanging around with small children.

But I was really drawn to the idea of going to the park because there’s something about that place (for a sentimental person like me) that foments hopefulness.  It is drilled into your brain–definitely through cheerful music and small talking animals (but I wouldn’t put it past Disney to use tachistoscopes to project images of fairy dust into your brain).  I got very wrapped up in the not entirely helpful message that dreams can come true if you just wish hard enough.

I wished really hard when we were there just in case.

I wanted to film the Spectromagic parade for someone–it’s a long story but suffice to say that the person wanted to see the parade years earlier and had missed it by minutes and had screamed out in her frustration, “nothing fucking goes right in my life!” because at the time, nothing was going right in her life.  So I wanted to film the parade and mail it to her to take back that moment of her running through the park with me, jumping over benches, trying to catch the end of the parade.  And missing it.

Josh and I went to stake out our seats for the parade about two hours beforehand like insane people.  Oh, and I should probably mention that it was pouring out.  Not drizzling–pouring.  As in my shoes were ruined, my clothes were soaked through, and I was holding an umbrella.  But still, I insisted that we sit there because I couldn’t believe that the parade would be rained out; not when we had come so far and it meant so much to film it and did I mention that we were infertile?  We deserved to have something go easily.

Josh filmed me a few times as we waited and I sound insane.  You can see in the background that people are walking out of the park in droves, but I’m saying into the camera, “we’re not sure, but they might cancel the parade.  We just don’t know yet.”  Of course we-knew-yet.  There was lightening.  It was pouring.  Spectromagic is an electrical parade.  They are not sending people covered in light bulbs out into the lightening and rain.

When the kind workers on the street gently told me that the parade was indeed canceled, I cried like my insides were going to come out through my mouth.  I didn’t cry in a way that befitted the situation.  I cried because I honestly didn’t understand how I could want something so badly, sit in the rain for two hours, and not get it.  In the same way that I couldn’t believe I could try over and over again, take drugs, have catheters threaded through my cervix, grab happiness and lose it days later, want it so fucking badly, and not get it.  It was an infertility cry coming out as a Spectromagic cancellation cry.

I’m sure Jiminy Cricket would have some excellent advice to dole out that would give a loophole to wishes, but I didn’t want to live in a world where wishes had loopholes.  Some things are sacred, and wishes that are made with your entire being is one of them.  We should all be allowed a small handful of actual wishes to be used at our discretion in this life time, with the understanding that we’d use them on the really big stuff–and that perhaps is how I can answer Julie’s question.


Was it worth it?  The answer is clear for me because if I had been given three wishes to use in this lifetime, I would have used one to treat primary infertility.  I can answer that emphatically because, for me, parenthood was an at-any-cost desire.  I would have used any means to reach parenthood, I would have spent any amount of money, I would have put my body through anything.  I’m not entirely sure it was a healthy determination.  It was maybe more in the realm of crazy.  Knowing how things turned out, I’m glad I was crazy, don’t get me wrong, but there is always the “what if” in the back of my mind when I think of other possible endings.

There are a bunch of other places in life where I think I would have used a wish and then, on second thought, if I only have two wishes left and I don’t know what else I might encounter in life, I would backpedal and probably decide that it’s not worth using up a wish.  It’s not that I don’t want this thing; it’s just that I don’t know if it’s wish-using worthy.

Please read this carefully and don’t jump down to the comment section and tear my throat out because you misread it.  Those who choose not to use one of their three wishes for parenthood still want to become a parent.  And they may be willing to do a lot to get there and it may be that the cost of using one of those wishes would be too great in balance with other factors.  But I think the willingness to use one of your allotted wishes is a good indicator of how you’ll answer “was it worth it.

And with that–I have more respect for people who know whether or not they’d use a wish and if they wouldn’t, choose to live child-free rather than put themselves through treatments, surrogacy, or adoption just to “win.”  I think infertility makes us so angry sometimes that we just want to beat the fucking daylights out of infertility just as much as we want to become a parent.  Sometimes, I think the balance even shifts and if we were thinking it through rationally, we would say that it’s better to step back.  And yet, we can’t because infertility is smirking at us and we want to throttle its neck.  I have tremendous respect for those who opt to live child-free rather than try any of the other various paths because they are people who know themselves well.  And that is an important skill so many are lacking.

But just as I have respect for those who know that their best path is child-free, my best path was to try everything.  We literally were willing to consider every possibility to become parents.  Did we want a baby and did I want to experience pregnancy–of course.  But if that wasn’t an option, we had Plans B, C, and D which may have brought us together with a special needs six-year-old rather than a baby, but damn it, we were going to be parents at some point come hell or high water.

And this isn’t commentary on how badly I wanted it–it would be simplistic to boil it down to that.  Two people bidding on the same painting at an auction both want that painting very badly–one doesn’t want it more than the other.  But one is either willing to ignore factors the other can’t OR they simply have means that are different from the other bidder.  In other words, there is no Wanting Olympics.  Please, for the love, do not start a Wanting Olympics to bookend the absolutely pointless Pain Olympics.

Parenthood was worth it for me–wish-using worth it.  That’s what makes it worth it more than the fact that we had the ending we wanted–because parenthood hasn’t exactly been all breastfeeding-cuddles-and-picture-book-reading for us.

Reaching parenthood after infertility isn’t a guarantee that you will answer this question affirmatively.  I know people who didn’t think it was wish-worthy, but plugged away with treatments nonetheless, and ended up with the child in their arms.  Some think it’s worth it.  Others would tell you that it wasn’t worth it.  That parenthood isn’t all it’s cracked up to be (and for the love, it isn’t.  I mean, if you’re doing it for the giggles and kisses, stop right now because you also need to be doing it for the possible neurologists and speech therapists).

As I write this, it is also clear (at least to me) that I’m not willing to use up another wish on this round of family building.  Don’t get me wrong–I want it to happen.  I want to have another child.  I am frustrated and weepy and full of yearning AND I know exactly what I’m missing–it isn’t an idea this time around; it’s sitting at my breakfast table.

But if Jiminy Cricket reached his big, almighty cricket-hand towards me and said, “cough up another one of your three wishes,” I’d have to demur.  I’m willing to go so far this time and it has nothing and everything to do with what I owe to that first used wish.

I have to honour what I was given by being careful with my two remaining ones.  And in infertility-land, using a wish is equated with spending enormous sums of money and emotional distress.  My unwillingness to use a wish this round is no reflection on how much I love the twins or parenthood.  But it is a weighing of additional factors.  Which means that if this third child doesn’t come into our family, I’ll be sad.  I’ll be angry and frustrated and bitter.  But I won’t have regrets over the choices we’ve made or any desire to undo them.  I will be wistful and wish that life had turned out differently.


I was originally going to title this post “Was It Worth It; or Why More People Should Live Child-Free” but worried that people would be offended and miss the point.  The fact is, anyone putting their heart through this should assess the emotional cost and use it to determine worth before, during, and perhaps after the experience.

We unabashedly determine worth every second of our lives–is that cup of coffee worth $3 or should I make one at home?  Is an iPod worth $200 based on how often I’ll use it?  See–you are good at making worth decisions prior to purchase, therefore, I think everyone can make them before they have the event or item in their hands.  There are always places in life where the reality falls very far from the fantasy, but I trust that most people know in their heart whether something is worth it before they’re holding the thing they want.

And that’s why I don’t think it can be boiled down to the idea of retrospect and of course people who are holding their children will say it’s worth it.  I have too much respect for your intelligence and I believe you know right now, before you’ve held a child, whether this is worth it.  And that is separate from whether you get your heart’s desire.

I don’t think it’s a useless question nor do I think that only people who know their outcome can answer it–as I said, that line of thinking is too simplistic.  I think you know (yes, I’m talking to YOU) whether this is worth it for you.  The only thing is that no one can answer it for you.  It is such a personal decision and just as I can’t expect you to agree with me that $3 is a decent price for a cup of coffee, I also can’t decide for you the worth of parenthood nor do I know the cost it will take from you (emotional cost, that is) in order to get there.

Of course, we live in a world where there aren’t granted wishes.  There aren’t guarantees.  You can put your life savings on the line, your body through hell, your heart through a meat grinder–and still not end up with the happiness you were seeking.  We all know–unfortunately too well–that you can wish with your entire being, and it doesn’t stop the world from taking away a child too soon, to not bringing one to you at all.  And beyond that, there are so many factors that go into assisted family building–money, age, health, sexuality–that there probably will be doors that will closed to you by the sheer fact that you are you, no matter how much you tug at them to open.  But all that is neither here nor there when talking about worth.

Because I still believe, when it comes down to it, that if you want to know how you’re going to answer the “was it worth it” question after the fact, you just need to sit quietly with the question right now and answer truthfully–at least to yourself–if you’d use up one of your wishes on this, either knowing what else you could do with those wishes or taking that leap of faith that you’ll be able to endure any other shit life tosses at you once all of your wishes are gone.


1 Sunny { 01.23.10 at 6:03 pm }

Awesome, thought-provoking post, as always. Most things I agree with entirely.

Thinking about it, though, I wonder if *everyone* really can answer the “is it worth it” question before they have kids. I really am not sure I could have — in fact, my husband and I struggled a lot with that. As each treatment cycle failed, we wondered: Were we willing to go to the ends of the earth to be parents? Was the severe emotional toll worth it? We were really considering pulling the plug on TTC and living child free (get a big yard, lots of dogs) when I did get pregnant. And the experience of becoming a parent has really changed that perspective for me — at first being overwhelmed by new motherhood and crying, “this wasn’t worth it!” to now finding more joy as a SAHM than I never imagined in my life. We were very close to not using that wish — but from where I am now, I think that would have been a mistake.

(I hope I’m not misinterpreting what you said, I did read it several times.) 🙂

2 Sunny { 01.23.10 at 6:08 pm }

typo: “than I EVER imagined” 🙂

3 Mel { 01.23.10 at 6:17 pm }

Sunny–I absolutely think there is room for that possibility too. Or the fact that sometimes we don’t know the personal worth of something or someone until it is gone. Or the fact that there are roads not taken that had we taken them, we would have loved them but we’ll never know due to other choices.

I also think there is a strong message sent out to people that they need children to be fulfilled. That it’s a must-do aspect to life. And that simply isn’t true for all people. But that strong message is embedded into our brain and I fear that there are people who continue with treatments or adoption or surrogacy beyond the place that they’re comfortable simply because they’re worried about missing out on this experience, even if had there been no pressure, it wouldn’t have been one they would have worked this hard to obtain.

4 Sunny { 01.23.10 at 6:18 pm }

I hope I was clear in my comment — what I kinda meant was, I couldn’t decide if $3 was worth it for coffee when I had an incorrect idea of what the coffee would taste like. Of course, had I not spent the $3 on coffee, I would never have realized that I *do* actually like coffee, and that could have been completely fine. But now having tasted it, I think $3 is quite reasonable.

I will stop now, I promise. 😉

5 Sunny { 01.23.10 at 6:31 pm }

Mel – we were cross-commenting. 🙂 I think you are right, there is that message that we “should” be parents that doesn’t hold true for everyone. One friend comes to mind specifically — she didn’t realize that mothering was not a good fit for her until she had her son. She loves him to pieces, and her husband fills the “nurturing” role typically ascribed to women, but she is absolutely certain she is not going to have any more, and I respect her for being in touch with that, if not before she had any children, at least after one.

6 Sam { 01.23.10 at 6:42 pm }

an interesting point, and certainly quite appropriate for me at this point in my life as I consider spending a small fortune this year to become a single mother (at the grand old age of 35) and my Mum asked me how I would feel if I spent all that money and it still didn’t happen (cos I am borderline PCOS) and my immediate response was that it would still be worth it cos then my mind would be put at rest that I have tried and then it would be time to move on. I would regret it far more if I didn’t at least try.

7 Tonggu Momma { 01.23.10 at 6:58 pm }

For me, it wasn’t worth it to have a child biologically, but it was worth it to parent a child. We never attempted fertility treatments. I know – for me – that going down the fertility road would not have been worth it. But we’ve been waiting over three-and-a-half years to adopt a second time from China, so I guess I am willing to put myself through a lot in other ways.

8 Battynurse { 01.23.10 at 7:35 pm }

This is a great post. And to some extent something I’ve been struggling with although for me a big part of it is the money since it’s really causing a financial problem for me and that affects pretty much every other area of my life. The IUI’s I did at first and even the first IVF cycle was worth it. I didn’t feel like I regretted the decision to do it although it still sucks donkey balls to make that payment to failure every month. The second one IVF I feel a bit more regret about. I question more if it was worth it and admittedly I’m having a hard time with the FET right now. I want it so bad but I have this fear that if it doesn’t work that I’m going to totally regret trying. I also sometimes wonder if after having children if I will think back and look at myself as being crazy to “want” to do this by myself. Right now I feel like this is it. Whether it works or not. I don’t know if I have it in me to try again and to spend this much money again. If we’re looking at this as wishes, would I use a wish to be a mom? Yes if it was for sure. If it was a wish for just a try? Not so sure.

9 LJ { 01.23.10 at 8:05 pm }

I often worried if it would be worth it, parenthood. It had been built up, albeit realistically, in my head to be EXACTLY what I wanted and needed. Would it live up to my expectations? Would I be sorry I wasted a wish on it?

To me, it has been worth it so much that I’d even trade in half a wish on my current experience.

For another? I still am not clear.

10 HereWeGoAJen { 01.23.10 at 8:13 pm }

My first reaction was that I would use my first wishes to have the children and the leftover wishes to make sure the children lived happy, healthy, long lives. But I didn’t quite think through the number of wishes I’d need. (And even now I am not sure how many wishes I’d need.)

11 Heather { 01.23.10 at 8:56 pm }

Ah. Yes.



The word perseverance comes to mind.
(We contemplate the adopting another one land daily at our kitchen table as well….)

12 staciet { 01.23.10 at 9:21 pm }

Mel, what a thought provoking post!

I would have used having a child(ren) as one of my wishes…even with everything that has gone wrong…even with all that was so hard and so painful…and even though things are not like how I picutred them…it would still be a wish I’d make again and again and again. There is so much that is right, so much that makes me smile and love being a parent even on the hardest and scariest of days.

The question I struggle with now is whether I’d use a second wish to expand our family again. I’ve gone over it so many times that I think the thoughts have worn permanent grooves in my brain, something similar to a well worn hiking path. I think I would. But…I do have to say that there has to be a limit to what I do now. I just can’t keep going forever trying to have another baby when there are more to think about now than just me and my husband.

13 Ann Z { 01.23.10 at 9:21 pm }

Wow. I’d love to be able to say that I could have written this post, but I can’t, because you’re so go at putting words down for things, but this:

“I’m not willing to use up another wish on this round of family building. Don’t get me wrong–I want it to happen. I want to have another child. I am frustrated and weepy and full of yearning AND I know exactly what I’m missing–it isn’t an idea this time around; it’s sitting at my breakfast table.”

Wow. Yes, that is exactly where I am at. I know that I would have used that wish to get Zoe, no question, no hesitation at all. And I’ve been struggling to figure out how to put into words what is different this time around. Because I do want a sibling for Zoe, I really, really do, and I know I’m willing to go through IF crap and treatments to get there. But like you, I wouldn’t use another wish for it.

Lots for me to ponder. Thank you.

14 Eve { 01.23.10 at 9:22 pm }

(loss mentioned)

I’m not sure if I used my first wish for my ds. We wanted terribly, painfully, and wholeheartedly to be parents, and though it took us quite some time, achieved it fairly easily when it came to fertility treatments (just clomid, metformin…no IUIs, no IVF). During that time, we discussed living child-free, and I even think (for a brief time at least) we thought that might be the right path for us.

Second round of TTC was definitely using up a wish. Once we felt the absolute joy of our son, we desired it OVERWHELMINGLY more to have another for us and a sibling for him. We knew we had one shot financially at IVF.

Now with the loss I’m facing (one twin has passed and one still in peril), I wonder whether the wish was worth it. If she survives, of course ‘yes’. If she does not…I’ll have to do some soul searching on that one. The non-bitter part of me says it will still be worth it for the chance to have held these babies in me for so many months. The bitter part is not so sure.

15 a { 01.23.10 at 9:27 pm }

I think the question comes up too late for the most part. While people research things, they end up consulting WebMD or Dr. Google, and then after some time, find blogs with personal stories. Knowing the medical stuff is important, but reading of other people’s experiences is the only way to determine (beforehand) whether or not it will be worth it.

Caveat: I am a “lucky” one, in that I never had to mess with my hormones (my body is merely a hostile environment). In my state of mind after two losses, I don’t know what I would have done to get my daughter. 4 years later, and having read of so many experiences, of injections, and mood swings, and hot flashes, and advice, and ignorant doctors…I have shaped my opinion. I would love to have a sibling for my daughter, but I will not force the issue. I can inject heparin and take prometrium and iron and stay away from sugar to maintain a pregnancy. If my tired old eggs can create a healthy fetus at my age (40), great news! However, I am not strong enough to go through suppression and forced ovulation and retrieval and all of that stuff. The stress would kill me. So, thank you, ART community, for educating me as to what I would be able to handle.

Was it worth it? I don’t know if the question really relates. Was having my daughter worth losing two other babies – I don’t think I can make that call. I can’t buy into the “if not for the loss, I wouldn’t have the girl I have today” theory of cost. To me, that’s about as useful as the “either it’s meant to be or it’s not” theory of the universe.

Glad I had a few days to ruminate on this topic…

16 JJ { 01.23.10 at 9:27 pm }

I do find myself thinking if I would have answered this differently if I were not currently a parent–what I would have done and to what extent to be where I am. But I do know that right here, right now–its has been worth it all. Knowing that I will have to go down a similar path if we want to add to our family–Im just not there yet. Still too soon to tell…

17 a { 01.23.10 at 9:29 pm }

Oh, I would have used the wish for the first go round, though.

18 Lavender Luz { 01.23.10 at 9:37 pm }

I would have used two wishes to build my family. Parenting was worth it, but, obviously, for us, pregnancy was not.

I think I always want to have a spare wish in my back pocket.

19 nycphoenix { 01.23.10 at 9:40 pm }

great post i posted on my blog as one who did not get the happy ending but the different one. Its not an unhappy ending because that assumes that there will never be happiness but there will be, there has been.

20 Sonja { 01.23.10 at 9:49 pm }

I’m coming to this post with a perhaps unique viewpoint. I had a hyst (kept ovaries) a year ago. No kids, and no plans to have/adopt/steal kids in the near future.

I know I have options: adoption or surrogacy. And these are great options to have, don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to have these options.

I do breakdown and bawl about the pregnancies I will never have. But then I remember yeah, I do have options. But at what cost will these options come? Money, time, effort, what will I be giving up (or choosing not to do, depending how you look at it). And how would I value these costs?

I turn to you, those who have walked this path before me, to learn from you, to get inside your heads for a minute or two, to see how you went/are going about it.

It freakin boggles my mind and scares the hell out of me that this will be me someday.

Thank you for this post. I look forward to reading everyone’s responses.

21 Emmy { 01.23.10 at 9:49 pm }

It’s interesting, because as I commented on Julie’s post, this is something I have been having a hard time sorting through. I’ve wanted to hear from my friends IRL who have gone through IVF that they feel it was worth it. I’ve wanted reassurance that they don’t regret their decision. It’s helpful to see people on the other side (whether they ‘win’ or not) not regret their decision.

I would most certainly use a wish on a child. In a heart beat. I’m really worried about the emotional repercussions of failure. I’ve been through a lot emotionally in the past 14 months- some IF related, some not, and don’t know how much more I can handle.

It is quite an interesting question. For me, it is helpful to hear stories from the ‘other side.’ I need to hear that despite the crying/fussy/tantrum/learning disabilities/whatever issues they (you) are willing to or already have done it again. It helps me get through the day.

22 Amy { 01.23.10 at 9:57 pm }

Great post. I think you nailed it. When people are deciding whether to pursue infertility treatments it’s always in relation to other options. They’re choosing it (or not choosing it) *over* something else.

23 Cathy { 01.23.10 at 10:21 pm }

I think what is so often missed is if the CHILD will think it was worth it. You can say it’s worth any cost to become a parent … but what if your child has a life-long life-altering painful condition and is going to suffer every day? What if that child is going to grow up and hate their very existence? IS it worth it then, to fulfill your selfish desire to parent when the price is paid by the child?

And since it is a risk for every person every time … can anyone really know in advance?

That is my struggle with trying to decide if we should ever try again or not. We’ve come too close to disaster and aren’t out of the woods, and may never be. It will be a long time yet before I can say whether or not it was worth it the first time around – because no matter how much I love it and them, it’s about THEM now … and them being happy to be alive. I so often worry my son will grow up to hate me for bringing him into this world to live in pain, even though I couldn’t have known … and if he does, it wasn’t worth it, not one bit.

24 Meg { 01.23.10 at 10:21 pm }

Great post and I love hearing your point of view – you are able to articulate in words what I am feeling. Now that I am pregnant after going through infertility treatments, everyone around me seems to think that everything should be fine and that I should be grateful that I am pregnant. I am happy/grateful that I am pregnant but it would have been nice to not have to go through what we did – and non-infertiles just don’t get it. I am also bitter about draining our savings account – friends tell/ask us – “Wasn’t it all worth it though?!” and it makes me want to scream at them because they just don’t get it.

25 Gwynn { 01.23.10 at 10:59 pm }

On our first try for a child, I would not have used a wish. I had lived 40 years child-free and although I knew I would regret it if I didn’t try to have a child, I wasn’t completely sold that it was the right thing for our lives. We got pregnant on our second IVF, so the emotional toll of trying was not too terribly significant. But during our pregnancy our son was diagnosed in-utero and given a 70% chance of having an extremely rare syndrome. After feeling him squirm and wiggle and after letting myself commit to, embrace and fantasize about motherhood, I would have without hesitation given one of my wishes to know that he would be ok. As it turns out, he’s perfect and either we do really get wishes and mine was granted, or we were just extremely lucky.

Over the last year we have been trying for a second child. We have been through four rounds of IVF this time and have given it our damnedest on every natural cycle in between. For this child, I’m willing to go further, to pay a much higher emotional toll, because I now know what I am trying for. There are few things in life that I have ever loved as wholly as motherhood. Would I be willing to give up a wish for this child? The other night when my RE told me that my eggs are so old that some of them literal fell apart when they tried to ICSI them, when I lay there on the floor crying as though the flesh was being torn from my body, I would have said “yes” in a heartbeat. The next morning, though, as my head cleared, I came to the realization that I’m not so sure the wish would have actually been for a child. Because although the helplessness I felt at the diagnosis was deeply painful, I eventually realized that it was stinging slap in the face by the cruel hand of mortality that hurt more.

26 Duchess { 01.24.10 at 1:14 am }

Great post, very thought provoking. Spending wishes to me is like spending other someone else’s time – it is often a blind leap and not something to be taken lightly or with out serious consideration.

You have given me much to mull over, thank you.

27 S.I.F. { 01.24.10 at 1:18 am }

This was, easily, one of the most incredible pieces I have read about infertility and the costs we pay to become parents that I have ever read. I don’t even really have words to explain how I am feeling right now after reading this beyond:

I would use my wish. In a heartbeat. I would use my wish.

28 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 01.24.10 at 3:19 am }

Ever since my babies started smiling, I’m constantly thinking to myself how the years of IF were all worth it.

I would no question use a wish to bring them into my life, but I don’t think I would use a wish to have fast-tracked them and had them without struggles. I’m sure that at many points in the 7 years I thought I wanted to fast-track it, but now, I think I’m better for having gone through it all.

Part of why I would have wanted to use the wish is for the guarantee. One failed treatment after another gets you to wondering if it might never work. What I went through was worth it to get to this point with two babies, but I think it would not have been worth it to end up with no children and only wisdom.

29 Circus Princess { 01.24.10 at 3:37 am }

Such a difficult subject. And so important. Thank you for putting your thoughts into words, I hope it makes people ask themselves that very question. I know I have. And the answer is yes, I would use at least one of the life-wishes.
Happy ICLW!

30 AnxiousMummy { 01.24.10 at 4:49 am }

Hey Mel
Since our issue is SIF-I didn’t have to think too much about it the first time IYKWIM. We just had a m/c, AF returned, then fell pregnant again straight away. We were and are incredibly blessed that it turned out that way. For me, the decision as to how far we’ll go to conceive a 2nd child is about my daughter as much as me. I really want her to have a chance to experience sibling relationships. If we are unsuccesful, fine. She’ll have a different kind of life. But I know I’d regret it forever if I didn’t try to do it for her, me and DH. So yes, I’d use a wish on it. But well, I didn’t use one the first time, so I guess that would leave me 2? Hope this makes sense!!

31 Tio { 01.24.10 at 4:51 am }

It’s worth it. But it’s not fair.

What I mean is, I would use a wish. Maybe all three of them. But in an ideal world, none of us would have to make that choice.

32 Your Great Life { 01.24.10 at 7:41 am }

My attitude toward the lengths I would go to in order to have children changed with every new experience, with time, with maturity, with marital ups and downs and with ageing.

I always wanted to be a mother. I was ready for it from the age of 23, but didn’t meet DH material until much later. It never occurred to me that I would have any difficulty having the 4 children I had fantasized about.

I experienced recurrent miscarriage, which I treat as a form of infertility; being the inability to conceive a healthy pregnancy that would culminate in a live birth. From the moment I lost my first baby, I was determined to have another go. I definitely would have used one of my three wishes. After the 2nd and 3rd miscarriages, I would have used every wish I had. My desire became a need. I wished. I prayed. I spent thousands on tests. I said “if I only have one, I won’t ask for anything else.” In my 4th pregnancy, with a lot of medical supervision, paranoia, a bout of food poisoning and 2 ½ weeks in hospital, I had my daughter. My doctor called it luck that I had a couple of healthy eggs left. I didn’t care. I had my girl.

Afterward, I couldn’t conceive again. People (including my mother and mother-in-law) kept saying I should be grateful for what I had and leave it at that. My first, unconditional wish came true so I grabbed for the second. I went to great lengths to have IVF, including losing 30 pounds, spending about $15,000 , leaving my husband in England while taking my daughter to America for 3 1/2 months for fertility treatment. My 2nd wish had conditions attached to it. My husband didn’t want to spend any more time, emotional energy or stress on having more children. If that first IVF didn’t work, he wanted to leave it at that. I reluctantly agreed that we would stop trying if it wasn’t successful, and it wasn’t.

Here is where the 2nd wish came in. Four months later, I became pregnant naturally with my son at the age of 42. I felt guilty for having given up; as if this child was not as wanted because it didn’t take extraordinary measures to have him. I don’t really think that a naturally conceived child is less wanted, loved or treasured more than one born from assisted conception. I think that IF couples have a different perspective, on where giving birth and parenting stand among their personal values and priorities, as do adoptive couples.

I stopped short of wishing and trying for a 3rd child because I was nearly 43 by then and my marriage and my body didn’t recover from childbirth as well as I would have hoped. Was it worth it? 100%. There was never any guarantee of children and I took the plunge anyway. Either I would have waited for my RE to tell me to stop, or if I thought that the diversion of my attention to fertility treatment was somehow cheating my daughter or if I felt less than joyous about mothering “just” her.

33 Hope in Briarrose { 01.24.10 at 9:09 am }

I personally believe doing anything in your power to have a child when you want one bad enough is totally worth it.

Some infertile people choose not to go through treatments and spend all that money and some of them end up childless and that is their decision. But, I personally feel like I have to explore every avenue before I give up on something.

So, I guess it is also a question of money and faith.

34 Fat Chick { 01.24.10 at 9:34 am }

“And that’s why I don’t think it can be boiled down to the idea of retrospect and of course people who are holding their children will say it’s worth it. ”

Yes, this. I’m in the middle of it, the horrible, awful middle of it. For the past two years, I’ve made decisions that finally caused me to break – actually break – at my ER on Friday. I kept asking myself, “Is it worth it?” and for a long time, I kept answering that it WOULD be worth it, once I have a child. But the thing is, I may not have a child. I’ve come to the conclusion that yes, I am still willing to go through EVEN MORE to have a child, but I’m not willing to go through one ounce more the way I have been. I need to make some changes, changes in the way I expect to be treated medically and personally, and changes in the way I deal with those who treat me less than what I consider my baseline. How could needless suffering be worth anything? It’s not. I guess what I’m taking the long way of saying is that my answer to the “Is it worth it?” question is that at this moment, with the way things are now, the question is irrelevant. I refuse to take more crap. Now that I’ve begun advocating for myself and recognized that things must change, yes, it is worth it.

35 tash { 01.24.10 at 9:37 am }

I think I’m paraphrasing you a bit, but I view this like I do Bordeaux futures (not that I have direct experience in that, mind you) or any medical treatment really which is to say, you’re putting money down on a chance, not a product/direct outcome. If you have cancer, you may be the type that is willing to mortgage the house in order to fund a potential outcome, knowing full well it may not come to pass. And what you need to ask is, is taking the chance worth it? And perhaps more importantly, how I feel looking back if I don’t take this chance? Which I suppose is why I feel it’s psychologically important (for me) to walk to the end of that spin of wheel and see what happens in my mind’s eye if it turns up sour. Can I deal with that? Am I ok having at least forked over to take the spin in the first place? Because the payoff can be tremendous. I’ve gone through this in my own way recently, and I won’t know if it’s worth it really until May I suppose. In another way, it’s freed me psychologically just to know that I’m unstuck and I tried, regardless.

36 Erika { 01.24.10 at 11:19 am }

WOW, wow, wow. What a well written, thought prvoking post! I would use all three wishes on having kids some how.

37 serenity { 01.24.10 at 11:35 am }

Ever since I read Julie’s post I’ve been rolling this idea around in my head, sifting it around the edges myself. Another post for my own blog, I think.

But I agree wholeheartedly with you. There is something to be said about knowing your limits and what you’re willing – or NOT – to give up for the pursuit of being a parent.

And I love, love LOVE that you discern between the desire to be a parent AND the need to beat the fuck out of infertility. Because, in my opinion, they are two definitive IDEAS. But often they’re intertwined and wrapped so tightly around out hearts that in the midst of treatments, in the dark middle of the fear, it’s hard to tell them apart.

Great post.


38 mrs spock { 01.24.10 at 1:59 pm }

This is a question that has been rolling around my brain as we face secondary infertility.

As far as primary infertility, I can say I would have gone to the moon and back to become a mother. I would have fought the infertility hand to hand, to the last man standing, the first time around.

And it is easy to say it is worth it, because my son is well. I can’t help but think of Cathy’s comment above, because I am a regular reader of her blog, and wonder what my thoughts would be if my child was terribly sick. Would it have been worth fighting to my last breath to bring him here?

And here we are, after 12 months of failed natural cycles, and one pitiful Femara cycle, and deciding to take a break. Maybe a long one. Don’t get me wrong, I wish I could have a couple more kids easily, and I am still sad about it, but we just aren’t willing to deplete our emotional reserves again right now. The all-consuming hold IF had over us is is so much less, and it’s so strange. I wouldn’t spare another wish on it.

39 My Reality { 01.24.10 at 4:02 pm }

I would have to say it is worth it. I would have used all three wishes just to have the opportunity to be a parent.

I was not prepared to stop until I was a mom. If IVF hadn’t worked the last time, we would have moved to something else. I can’t think of anything more worth it.

40 Lindsay (LTF525) { 01.24.10 at 4:31 pm }

This is something I am struggling with right now. How many wishes am I willing to use on having a biological child? I know I am willing to use all 3 on becoming a parent, but just now sure how important it is to me that my child be of my flesh and blood.

41 chickenpig { 01.24.10 at 4:53 pm }

It was completely worth it to me, worth all the physical and emotional toil, at any rate. My husband and I are the one in a million lucky couple who had unlimited IVF on our old health insurance, so all the rounds put together cost us less than most people spend on their living room furniture. (please, don’t hate us, everyone). If I hadn’t had children, it would still have been worth the try, and the experience. I never went on to grad school, and my career never panned out because of it, but I never question whether or not it was worth going to college. It is kind of like asking what memories you would erase from your mind if you could. My answer is none. Even the moment where the RE told us there was no heartbeat, or the one where I was curled up on the bathroom floor having a miscarriage, or the many times I was sobbing uncontrollably after the birth of the twins. The memories and experiences are part of what makes me who I am today.

As for wishes? My wish is always the same since I started to have children. Even now that I have 3, I still wish on every star, every coin into the fountain, every birthday candle I blow out to get pregnant, just once, the old fashioned way. Crazy, I know, especially since I know I’ve used up every wish, favor, and drop of luck I’ve had getting my children here safe.

42 Rachel { 01.24.10 at 5:07 pm }

I’m not sure the question “Was it worth it?” is actually an answerable question, at least for me. I mean, what were the alternatives? I knew from the beginning — from my first miscarriage to my husband’s diagnosis to our third failed IVF to our second failed sperm donor — that I would do absolutely anything to become a parent somehow. I would have used all three wishes to become a parent.

Now that we have H, I have almost become a new person. People tell me over and over how happy I look. I am now able to breathe.

Because we adopted, I know that in order to have a second child we will not have to endure the same kind of loss and physical invasion of privacy that we did to become parents the firs time. I, without a doubt, want a second child. The wait will be long but less painful because we are parenting H.

That being said, I would also give up a wish to have not gone through all of our troubles and have had my first pregnancy turn into a child.

So how do I answer if it was worth it? It is what it is. I had no choice in the matter. I would rather have not gone through all these problems, but I did. My body was not able to maintain a pregnancy so I became a parent in an even more complicated manner than with ART.

But I am a parent now, and this is what makes me happy.

43 Kate (Bee In The Bonnet) { 01.24.10 at 6:05 pm }

I just read a Malcolm Gladwell essay that touched on the sociological notion of revisionist hindsight– meaning, when asked about whether certain prospects are good or not beforehand, we assess at one level. But when those prospects turn out very well, afterward, we often think that we knew in advance how good it was going to be (if that makes *any* sense at all…).

Anyhow, I wonder. Because when I first answered this question on Julie’s blog, I felt pretty negative. I *hated* IVF. It and I were not such a great pair. And being that I don’t yet have a child in my arms, I assess that NO. It isn’t worth it. No thank you.

However, a few days later when commenting on the blog of someone on the edge of pursuing IVF/ICSI, I had quite the different take. Really, it wasn’t so bad. There were parts of IVF that made me feel really accomplished, really sure of myself. And frankly, I was both 100% convinced that it was just going to work, no matter what, and also with my head already in the next cycle, things I would do differently, things I would force the doctor to listen to. So, it mustn’t have been so terrible if I was thinking about doing it again in the midst of the awfulness (granted, I hadn’t gotten to my personal bane, the PIO shot yet…). I found myself reassessing, because truthfully, while I have ALWAYS said that living childfree is where I would be if one try didn’t work, that wasn’t the case when I was in the throes of treatment.

I don’t know. I guess what I mean to say is that the question becomes impossible to answer, because our nature is to gloss over things retrospectively. If things turn out well, then we are inclined to swear that we always had hope that it would turn out well. And if it turns out badly, we get the certain feeling that we had that little bell in the back of our head telling us that it might go wrong. We don’t remember accurately when assessing hope.

So, for me, it depends on the day that you ask me. Some days, I will swear it was worth it. And other days, I will scream about how I will never, ever, ever do another IVF procedure again, even if the worst happens to the current passengers. I seem to be just like the majority in this way, unable to clearly assess what my hope is worth.

44 Michelle { 01.24.10 at 6:29 pm }

Thanks for this thought-provoking well said post Mel.
I would use my wish.
In the middle of gathering funds to get my DH a surgery that may or may not yield sperm.. I would give just about anything to know that my money is going to equal a healthy baby at the end of this.
I would, right now, use my wish for a healthy child that is both biologically mine and his.
Ask me again after the money is spent, and we still don’t have a child.
I would use my wish, yes, but the actual wish changes as we go through this process.

45 K { 01.24.10 at 6:33 pm }

This is a difficult question. Like so many others, you can’t know until you are there if it was worth it. I thought Sunny’s comment saying that you may not know if the $3 coffee is worth it until you taste it, is right on. I’ve seen a lot of people drinking those coffees, I’ve sipped it a little myself and so to me its worth $3 and hell I’d pay double if that’s what it took. I do think that sometimes the desire to beat the damn IF disease that swept through my system was just as strong as the desire to have children. I hated my body’s inability to do what so many could do and I just wanted to beat this, but never more than my desire to be a parent.

46 wifey { 01.24.10 at 7:19 pm }

I believe that it’s worth it (said as someone who hasn’t gotten there yet). Would I give one wish? At this point, I’d give all three. I wouldn’t have said that before our first loss, when I clearly recall telling people that IVF wouldn’t be for me. But now, I’d face financial/emotional/marital peril (and even bodily peril, for that matter) for the chance to be a mom. And maybe part of that is just wanting to beat the living shit out of IF (and it certainly isn’t healthy) but it’s where I am. The thought of looking back on this time and wishing I had tried more spurs me on.

47 Shelli { 01.24.10 at 7:51 pm }

I have wished so long and so hard for a second child. I have done things I never thought I would do. I spent my money and my drained my soul. I even wished at Disneyworld more than a few times, hoping the magic would rub off… and I am still left wishing.

I often thought that doing these things would leave me with no regrets at the end. But now that I have, I am left with even more.

48 Mrs. Hope { 01.24.10 at 9:07 pm }

I used a wish the first time. I wished with my entire being and we would have gone to the ends of the earth. It was worth it. I don’t regret any of it.

I would use a wish for a second. But our ends of the earth aren’t the same this time.

It’s still not fair, though – in the big picture. I’d use another wish to have more time (I don’t know how to phrase it the right way) with my brother. So they’re all gone, my wishes.

49 deathstar { 01.24.10 at 9:15 pm }

Yikes, I know I would have used a wish to have a child. Most definitely. And you’re right, at times it was to “win” over infertility than anything else. I wanted to conceive and deliver so I could enjoy saying FUCK YOU to mother nature and pick up my trophy in the maternity ward. And eventually I had to get over my vengeful feelings and make peace with the infertility witches. I mean, it wasn’t personal, was it?

50 Geochick { 01.24.10 at 11:06 pm }

“I think infertility makes us so angry sometimes that we just want to beat the fucking daylights out of infertility just as much as we want to become a parent.”

I realize your post is about so much more than this, but damn, you hit the anger part right on the stupid-infertility-head!

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