As much as I wanted to dive right into fertility treatments after my recent FET did not work, it just isn’t realistic for us. We are physically, emotionally, and financially tapped out. So we are taking this time to heal, recenter, and reevaluate. I want to use this time wisely. I’d like to try treatments again in the future, as well as possibly fostering or adopting. But right now we really need to take a break.
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Have you taken a break from trying to have a baby? What advice would you give to someone considering taking a break? What helped you the most during that time? Please comment below.
Sometimes you just hit a wall. You’ve exhausted every option available to you, and you have to rethink how you are doing things. In my last post I talked about how our recent frozen embryo transfer did not work. The embryo did not implant, so technically I did not become pregnant. It was very sad for both of us. Over time I’ve become accustomed to plans not working and loss. I’ve found that it stings less and less over time, but the disappointment is still there. After seeing how this was affecting my husband, I realized the best thing for both of us is to take a break.
Initially he asked for a month-long break from treatments, certainly reasonable and doable. Well it’s been one month since my embryo transfer, and I think we need a longer break. The decision to wait longer is mostly a financial one. We just don’t have the money for treatments or any family building right now. We’ve put all our eggs in one basket with this fertility treatment (pun intended). But I realized I also put us on the back-burner. I wanted to share a list of things we sacrificed in order to pursue treatments.
Things we put on pause for fertility treatment:
- Getting a house (living in a neighborhood that isn’t always safe)
- Finishing college degree (I have about 1.5 years left on second degree)
- Buying a car
- Rarely buying clothes (my home attire consists of an obscene amount of holey clothes)
- Saying “no” to vacations because “I might be pregnant by then” or “I’m pregnant and don’t want to risk another miscarriage by traveling” and of course “I can’t go on vacation, I don’t have the money.”
- Weight loss goals out the window when doing fertility treatments. Fertility treatment = Bloats McGoats
I could go on and on about how planning and saving up for treatment impacts literally every facet of my life. If you’ve been on treatments, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I think that building a family, no matter how you do it (treatments, foster-to-adopt, adopt, etc.) can take so much out of us if we let it.
But what if we flip that idea on its head? What if instead of believing we are losing something or missing out on something, we could instead view it as something we are gaining? I’ve experienced a lot of loss through miscarriages and IVF rounds that did not work. If you were to tell me right after a miscarriage that I am ‘gaining something’ I would not have been very happy with you. But if I pull back and look at the big picture of what I’ve learned over these years, I truly have learned a lot.
The biggest thing I’ve learned is building resilience. I’ve learned and accepted the grieving process after each loss. With my first miscarriage that happened years ago, I laid in bed for two weeks straight. Other than using the restroom and occasionally getting food, I was tethered to that bed. I listened to a lot of music that spoke to my grief. I cried more than I have ever cried in my life. I cried so much that I physically ran out of tears and could not cry anymore, which I did not even know that was possible. It was shocking, devastating, and heartbreaking.
But when I had more miscarriages, the emotional pain lessened over time. You become used to the possibility that it might not work. You learn to become realistic. I still feel sad when it doesn’t work out, but nowhere near what it was like with my first loss. That first loss was debilitating.
I think a realistic approach to treatments is to hope for the best and plan for the worst. I don’t believe in the whole “don’t get your hopes up” idea. If you are feeling hopeful, despite the odds, let yourself fully feel it. You can be simultaneously hopeful and planning ahead if things don’t work out. In fact, that is how I’ve gotten through all these years of trying. I allowed myself to feel happy and hopeful when things were looking good and I also mentally prepared myself for the possibility that things wouldn’t work out.
I had a plan in place to prepare for a loss or round of treatment that didn’t work. I asked myself, “What are some healthy coping skills I can do to build myself back up if I do lose this baby (or if my treatment doesn’t work)?” I thought back to other times in my life when things were difficult and what helped me then. I wrote down my plan so that it was tangible and I could refer back to it. I would talk about my plan for healthy coping with my husband. My plan became my safety net as well as what helped get me back on my feet. Over time and with practice my safety net became stronger and I got back on my feet a little quicker each time. I highly recommend creating a go-to healthy coping skills list for yourself. No matter what loss you experience in life, this can really help you build resilience.
I wanted to share a book I started reading recently called Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg. It’s all about loss, grief, and building resilience. I think it is really well written and the lessons learned can also be applied to the grieving process of failed fertility treatments, miscarriages, stillbirth, infant loss, etc. If you are experiencing a loss related to family building, I highly recommend seeking out books not just on that subject, but on the grieving process in general. There’s a limited number of books that talk about the grieving process during miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss. So I’m thankful that I’ve decided to expand out my resources beyond the scope of miscarriage grief, because learning about other types of grief opened up so many resources for me. I’m finding that learning about grief on a broader scale has opened my eyes to many other voices and lessons on how to build resilience. Hearing peoples’ stories about grief from losing a spouse, an older child, or being diagnosed with cancer has helped me to learn what they did to stay strong and become resilient in time.
So, circling back to my original thoughts, this break from my fertility treatment is all about reconnecting to who I am as an individual and who we are as a couple. I plan on doing a post in the future, summarizing my break from fertility treatment. That future post will probably be related to more practical ways to navigate your break from treatment. For now, I will be sharing tid-bits along the way of things I’ve learned.
What have I been up to lately now that I am taking a break from treatment? Recently I went on a camping trip with my husband. It was an amazing trip. We didn’t go anywhere new, we’ve been camping there a handful of times. But this time I was able to take my mind off treatment and focus on us. I really do feel like it helped reconnect us. It was a lot of fun and while I was there it felt as if we rekindled a part of ourselves that was there before trying to have a baby.
I’ve also been focusing on trying to lose weight and get healthier. I’ve been doing intermittent fasting and lost almost 9 pounds this month. I still have a ways to go but it’s a good start. I’ve been cleaning the house more and trying to get more organized. We’ve been doing more hiking and walking. I’ve been trying to move more in general. I created an Instagram account dedicated to weight loss, self-development, and goal setting. You can follow my account @goalsandconfetti on Instagram. If you haven’t already, you can also follow me at @hopingforbabyblog.
I plan on taking this time to review more books, shows, podcasts, ect. about not only fertility treatment but also other family building options. I’ll be posting my reviews soon on this site, so be looking out for those. There are so many great resources on family building out there. I plan on updating my Resources & Products page for you all too.