I got a note from my doctor this morning after I asked where he thought we should go from here:
Dear XXXX, having reviewed your notes, I cannot, on medical grounds, advise you to stop. This is because you have consistently been able to produce eggs resulting in at least 1 transfer grade embryo. However, on a personal basis, it seems to me that both you and your husband appear very fatigued by the process. You both lead a very full and rich life outside of this treatment and I guess it’s time for you to decide if it’s appropriate to close this phase of your life.
With warmest regards
It’s odd to realise how differently that could be read.
When I received it, I zoomed in on the first part of what he said – the doctor thinks we’re still in for a chance, even as he recognised the toll the cycles – and the losses – were taking.
My husband, however, zoomed in on the second part – that maybe we should give up. His retort was quick: “Full and rich life?” he texted me. He felt mocked. I wonder if, like me, the idea that our lives are full or rich without a child is unimaginable for him (the state of our bank balances also makes the idea of rich laughable, haha).
Is a life that feels this hollow one worth living?
Don’t get me wrong, we are surrounded by love. We have family and friends. We have nieces and nephews we dote on, who regard us as surrogate parents and love us fiercely. My love for them is infinite. And we have each other. A beautiful home. We travel. We have fun. But we want to share that with someone. OUR someone – one part him, and one part me. There is a separate bucket of unused love just for that someone. It sits inside me and eats me up every single day.
But I am also forced to face up to some realities: IVF is frightfully expensive and has taken a toll on our financial stability. It has diverted all our plans into a petri dish. For weeks on end (months and years at this point), we don’t exhale. We have lived the last few years on hold – delaying dreams and planning around the elusive possibility that “we might be pregnant then”, even though that has turned out like trying to catch a cloud.
I am also in that rather odd, vulnerable, post-cycle failure stage no one really talks about – the days immediately after a negative beta and before the start of a new cycle (menstrual, not IVF), when you’re dealing with the idea that somewhere inside you, a potential life has simply disintegrated like a bubble that’s popped, leaving nothing but droplets of disappointment. Some find ways to move on, to embrace the next round. We mourn the possibilities. The last few years have felt like unending mourning.
So, where to from here? How far can/should we go to have a biological child? How many failed IVF cycles will it take to shatter our spirit entirely? How many cycles before our savings are as decimated as our dreams?
I wish the right answer was a little clearer.