Saturday, July 24, 2004

why don't we stop?

the trackbacks here point to a post and an event that's stirred up some discussion in the infertility blogworld, which i admit i'm only peripherally a part of. i'm both male, not myself infertile, and have successfully completed (with the admirable help of my wife) two ivf's ending in healthy live births. read about it here.

while julie and tertia and cec proceed with their respective pregnancies apace, and they hope (and pray, as appropriate) for the best while fearing the worst, getupgrrl's world has come crashing down around her. you can read getupgrrl's description of what's happened; she's a much, much better writer than i ever could be.

but andrea asks: why don't we quit? it's expensive, after all; it's painful; as often as not, for all the happy endings, there are a zillion failures, miscarriages, horrible diagnoses, broken hearts. why not just go for the sometimes easier, if not always quicker, adoption approach? why do we keep it up?

[later, a correction: upon further review, andrea didn't ask this exactly the way i wrote it, as her comment indicates. still, what she really did write begs the question anyway.]

i'd never dare suggest anybody do one thing or another. i know why we went with ivf: my wife wanted it, and we had insurance that covered a very significant portion of it. she was not emotionally ready, at the time, to pursue adoption. she wanted a biological child; she wanted pregnancy; she was unable to understand how it was possible to go from not having a baby one day to having a baby the next with "no preparation" -- meaning, without the lead-time of a pregnancy.

there is never an easy answer. when do you quit? when you run out of money? when your credit cards are maxed and you're defaulting on them? when you've sold your house to put the money into more medical procedures? when your bathroom or kitchen looks like a crack house because of all the needles and little vials? when you realize how silly it seems to normal people that you bought a small refrigerator just to store your medication?

we got lucky. we had two successful deliveries out of three cycles. we're the winners in the unholy lottery.

i do know, though, some of the heartache and uncertainty that goes along with being infertile. there's no good answer to "when do we quit?" some in the discussion have likened it to alcoholism, a subject i'm familiar with: you quit when you can't take it anymore.

we quit when we had three children. in my qf heart, three isn't enough. i want more. but i recognize the biological reality: short of getting another wife (which is unlikely at best), i doubt we'll have another child unless we adopt. and sue isn't likely to want that soon. she's 40, and she hates being pregnant, and the works are all messed up from her surgeries (and the c-section didn't help the adhesions and scarring, i bet). not that it keeps me from trying and wanting and hoping, but i know the truth.

but like getupgrrl's husband, i wouldn't trade her in on a new, more fertile model even if it were convenient. she's the one i picked, and i'll keep her, at least until she's sick of me and wants to trade me in. (she told me that she'd trade me in for two 15 year olds when i turned 30; i replied that i'd trade her in for four 10 year olds when she turned 40.) sue's infertility is part of the game and i picked her knowing about it. even if i hadn't, i still wouldn't trade her in if i found out later.

there's never a right answer. we quit when we can't handle it anymore. and because many of us hang on to the dream of having children no matter what happens, we fight for a long, long time.

until there's no fight left.

1 comment:

  1. I think you can only stop when you're ready to stop. I think if you know your chances are almost nil from the start, that decision is a lot easier. If you only find out after you've married, after you've been trying, that hope is still there. I'll be facing IVF in December, if I'm lucky, and while I do my best to dampen down that hope that it will be successful, I must insure that when/if I do stop, I won't be able to say in 10, 20, 30 years time - I didn't try hard enough.

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