What I want you to know about deciding to stop infertility treatments

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Michelle.

I was never the type of woman who dreamed of being married or wanting children. I had been molested as a child, and getting through that therapy and coming out on the other side was such an accomplishment, I didn't want to assume other good things were going to come my way. But when I least expected it, I met my husband. He was everything I didn't think I wanted, but has ended up being one of the people who loves me best in this world. I wouldn't trade him for anything.

So, we got married and (after several years) began talking about getting pregnant. Well, life got in the way. My husband's father died and he went into a tailspin of depression and lashing out at the world. We were forced to focus on our faltering relationship and had to work hard to get "us" back on track. It took another four years, but we got to a point where we felt we were ready. So I stopped the pill, and we started trying to get pregnant.

Only a few months into trying, I was late. My twin sister had gotten pregnant 2 years earlier (at 36) after only a few weeks, so I was ecstatic. I took a pregnancy test and .....negative. I took another one -nope. So I went to the doctor as the back of the box said, had an exam, blood drawn and awaited the results. I was in the car driving to work when the nurse called.

In the middle of traffic she very curtly told me the blood results showed I was peri-menopasal. I began sobbing. I had to pull over. Everything in my world had just stopped. Here, someone who had never dreamed they would be in a position to have a good husband to have kids with, was being told she might never have them.

Well, what followed was Clomid, and what seemed like a million dollars being thrown at the only fertility clinic in town (who was listed as "the best"), to no avail. Uterine cysts, ER visits, eventual IVF's, even a surgery for scar tissue CAUSED by the fertility treatments, all resulted in nothing. Our doctor, who had originally been very confident we'd have no trouble, became very stiff when we'd see her. She seemed less and less compassionate as we got further and further into treatment. She even chastised me for going to the "wrong hospital" when I was doubled over in pain with no idea why; cue ovarian cysts. 

Finally, when she told us I had great big eggs, but no substance to them, we asked sis (who had my nephew by then) to donate her eggs. At 39 it was long shot, but she endured. But by day 7 of the shots, the doc said there was only a 15% chance it would happen. And she finally recommended we save our money and stop treatments. 

I will never forget sitting in the car with my husband outside of the clinic discussing stopping treatments. All treatments. I didn't want to, but I believed him when he said he couldn't bear seeing me in so much physical and emotional pain any more. And honestly, with such a low chance of success (and the fact our insurance didn't help at all), we decided to stop. Right then I said out loud to the universe, "There will never be a day this bad again." 

There would be good things from this decision. Like no more going in the clinic to be told "negative." No more multiple uncomfortable vaginal ultrasounds, no more being poked and prodded, giving myself shots, and having nurses telling me to "be positive and relax."
There would be no more acupuncture, or weird teas, or special breads and positions to be held captive to try to make this un-makable baby. But there were very hard negatives to deal with. We had stopped formal treatments, but that didn't stop me trying to will it to happen on our own. Of course, I knew logically it wasn't going to happen, but I never got back on the pill. I went to fertility support groups, but everyone there was in the thick of things, (and still hopeful) and I was on the way out. So, I stopped going.

I prayed harder than I ever had before -for two things. First, to get pregnant. But second, and probably more importantly, I prayed I could be strong enough to deal with the fact I wouldn't be able to conceive.

In a weird coincidence-just days after our decision- I rescued a stray from the street. Literally.
Her mom had tried to get them across a busy street and when the cars came mommy cat went one way and the kitten another. Both were ok, but we never found the mom again, and so I took the kitten to the vet. I feared the worst, but all she had was a little road rash. I officially adopted her, and named her Faith.

It has been 2 years since we became not "dealing with infertility," but being infertile. I still don't use the pill, but I have finally gotten to the point where I don't buy pregnancy tests when I am late, and I don't assume God is going to bring me this "miracle" people who aren't in my position say he will.
I am coming to terms with the fact that I may never give up hope for becoming a mom, but that I must plan for my practical tomorrow that I won't give birth to that child. And though I am crying while writing this, most days are pretty good. And I think in the end, that's what you have to focus on. Life goes on. Even if it won't inside of me.

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