Four months ago, my husband and I made the decision to stop fertility treatments and move forward with our one and only child as a family of three. On the heels of five straight years of fertility treatments and yet another failed embryo transfer, we knew we couldn’t keep putting ourselves through the cycle of hope then despair, and that it was detracting from what we were giving to our actual child and to each other.
Now, a few months removed, we know we made the right decision. We don’t have regrets – we feel like we did everything we could to have another child without going too far outside of our comfort zone and boundaries. And we don’t look back and wonder ‘what if we had tried one more time.’ We are confident we tried enough.
But it turns out that moving forward and letting go are very different things.
Yes, we’re moving forward. We started travelling again, no longer bound by the uncertainty of fertility treatment scheduling. Now I spend all my mornings with my son instead of making the two hour drive to the big city to get my blood work and ultrasound done. I am focusing on my career again and on achieving new successes professionally rather than putting my career on the back- burner as I focused on making babies.
I have even pulled the crates of baby clothes and accessories from the basement and are packing them up to give to a friend who is expecting twin boys in a few months. It honestly breaks my heart that my son’s tiny baby clothes are not going to be for his baby brother or sister, that we’ll never have another use for them.
But we know we have hung onto them long enough – we do not need them anymore.
We are also getting a dog (shhhh don’t tell my son yet! We want it to be a surprise!) because, well, we love dogs, and because there is a gap in what we envisioned our family to be, and maybe a dog will help to at least partially fill that gap.
Time keeps ticking, and now, with a little hindsight, I can say that life is honestly better. We are moving forward, one step at a time. We, dare I say it, are happy again.
But… we have not let go.
At my final appointment with my RE in July, I asked him to tell me all of the ways in which I was never going to get pregnant. I asked him to ignore my ugly cry face and to give me the brutal honesty I needed to hear – that it was never going to happen for us. I wanted to walk out of that appointment with absolutely no hope that a miracle would happen so that I could really let go and live my life.
He could not give me that closure. Instead, he said “you cannot not plan to get pregnant.”
In other words, if I stopped trying, maybe, miraculously, it could happen one day.
Ugh, I hated hearing that.
Everyone knows someone who knows someone else who spent years in fertility treatments and they finally got pregnant when they gave up entirely. When we were in the depths of treatments, I used to say that I would only stop treatments if I had no more hope because I didn’t want to live my life cycle by cycle, wondering, wishing, dreaming for some miracle.
And now, four months after stopping treatments, I am still very aware of what cycle day I’m on. And while we are not actively trying, I know when a new cycle is set to begin and I can’t stop the tiny voice in my head that hopes a miracle has happened.
So while my heart is not ready to let go, I’m still putting one foot in front of the other.
And while I can’t control the tiny voice in my head hoping for a miracle, I enter each cycle without any expectations. I do all of the things I want to do, like take hot baths, lift heavy weights, eat sushi, drink tea, and have a (many) glass(es) of wine – all the things I was restricted in doing during fertility treatments.
I’m doing all the steps I need to do to move forward. And if I move forward far enough, maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to let go – at least a little.
By Vidya Ledsham