September 14, 2010

When Continuing Hurts More Than Stopping

When R and I first started undergoing treatments and I was new to the online IF world, I'd see women ask "How do you know when it's time to stop?" as they were trying to figure out the next steps in their paths. And the answer, invariably, always came: When it hurts more to continue than it does to stop.

As a relatively naive newbie back then, I couldn't exactly wrap my head around that.

I mean, really, how could it hurt less to stop trying (and possibly not have kids) than it could to sit in a chair and listen to your doctor rattle off all the (medical) things wrong with you and your husband and conclude by telling you that it just might never happen for you?

I planned to fight like hell until we got to the other side, regardless of what it took. I would just keep marching forward, doing whatever we needed to do, until we made it happen. As if determination is the only essential factor.

So we went through a lot, and still, stopping wasn't even a consideration. And then we lost baby #5 through miscarriage #4. And for the first time I started to understand, at least on a very vague level, how continuing could maybe hurt more.

But still, I wasn't ready to consider stopping.

So we continued to march: through a disasterous retrieval, a shockingly good retrival, thyroid surgery, and my dad almost dying.

And slowly, during all of that, I began to think about how much time we have spent. How much we have sacrificed, lost, to infertility. Financially, emotionally, time-wise, other dreams and plans. All in the pursuit of a dream that is still just as elusive now - if not even more so - than it was when we started in 2003. And how if we stopped, we could stop funneling all of our bank account to REs, we could travel without a medical purpose as impetus for the trip, we could buy a smaller house with a smaller mortgage and possibly work a smaller number of hours.

Then we had the most recent miscarriage in May. And we decided to pull out all the stops for one last attempt - antibiotic treatments, consulting with reproductive immunologists, even a biopsy to confirm that I have the beta-3 itegrin receptor (which is a good thing), even though RE is already pretty sure I have it.

No regrets. It's the motto with which I vowed to approach this entire process.

To that end, in the past month, I've had literally 37 vials of blood drawn. Ovulation could not be detected, so now I'm on estrogen, soon to be followed by progesterone, so a little piece of my endometrial lining can me snipped out of my uterus in a few weeks, sans general anesthesia. On top of all of that, it has been the most insane month of work in my entire life, and the next three or four will be just as crazy.

So I'm cranky. I'm freakin' tired. Exhausted, really. Bloated like a balloon and gaining weight at the rate of about a pound a day, thanks to the estrogen.

Then yesterday, all of the immune test results (accounting for 35 of the 37 vials) arrived. And I looked at the results. And I know with 99.9% certainty at least one of the things the RI is going to recommend is LIT.

And I Don't. Want. To. Do. It.

More accurately, I don't want to cross a dangerous border into Mexico to get it, and I don't want to drain our bank account to travel repeatedly to someplace like Europe for it. It's not the actual treatment I'm against, just what is involved in getting it.

So R and I talked about it last night. We didn't reach any decision yet. But we - or at least, I - did reach that moment. The moment where it finally hurts more to continue than it does to stop.

I don't know yet what we're going to do. R's feeling is go big (including LIT) or go home.

I don't know that I have "big" left in me.


Anna said...

Oh, I am so sorry this has been so rough. If you could see into the future and know that eventually you'd be successful, you can derive motivation from that to keep you going.

This is brutal, and I'm so sorry you're going through it. You and R are in my prayers.

Mo and Will said...

oh. This is all so, so hard. After our fifth loss, I too have had the thought, maybe we've had enough. We have eight frozens but I don't have eight tries left in me. Thinking of you. Hoping that you can find some peace, and an answer that makes sense for you.


Patience said...

I am so sorry. I am reaching that same point. I hope you are able to come to a decision regarding the LIT that is best for both of you. Thinking of you.

lastchanceivf said...

I completely understand because I reached that point. I could so clearly see myself in my saddest, most hopeless moments--sobbing on the floor, sobbing in my office, sobbing in the shower, sobbing in the dark--or all of those other moments where I felt like I was in a complete fog--and I just didn't want to risk it anymore. I didn't go through nearly as much as you, but I hit my limit. Sure, there are days when I wonder if I had just pushed a little harder, done it one more time, but honestly, I don't miss ART at all.

I hope you find peace with your decision. And of course, I hope it works.

Andie said...

I really related to your post - thought I would be the girl who fought the hardest, tried the longest etc. But after almost five years I have only one attempt left in me, our journey nears it's end. You just reach that point where it's too hard, and you realise trying to beat the odds (and probably failing) isn't worth it.

I'm curious what your results showed. Can't remember all the RI tests that could result in needing LIT.

Anyway just wanted to say I understand, and I will second everyone else's thoughts that the journey is a brutal one. Thinking of you.

Nico said...

It sucks that you can't do the LIT here. Are there any clinical trials you could potentially participate in, that might be one way perhaps. Other than that, I really really wish that it hadn't come to this, that something had been different and made the difference you guys have needed. Gah.

MrsSpock said...

I haven't even gone through a tenth of what you have, and I was already feeling, "I don't have much left in me."

Sometimes exploring the other side- childfree without choice- can help clarify if you have reached that "enough" point, or if you have a little bit of fight left in you.

Libby said...

The whole thing just plain sucks. I'm sorry you're having such a hard time. I had to read a little about LIT because, amazingly, I had not heard of that before. I don't blame you for not wanting to cross into Mexico for it. It's too bad there isn't some "bad boy" RE that would be willing to do this treatment for you here. There are days where I say, "well, if it's meant to be, it will be regardless of which treatment or doctor I choose," and other days I try my darndest to find the answers in any supplement or treatment that I hear about. It's all so maddening, but I hope you will come to have some peace about making your decisions.