women warriors

Many thanks for the kind comments on my last post. I guess it’s not surprising that just as I begin to struggle with forward movement, I am kicked one step back.

As I’ve said before, I believe we are done with treatment. There’s the financial aspect, which has dictated much of our decision. But there is also the emotional, physical and psychological impact of treatment — the effect on your body, heart and mind. The uncertainty. The unknown and unknowable. The drugs, the risks. The putting your life on hold. The letdown of failure. The dashed hopes and shattered dreams. The strain on your body and spirit, relationships, work, and quality of life in general. Of course if we knew we could have a baby on the other side, many of us would do things never before imaginable, without a second thought.

You never know if one more treatment will be successful, so maybe it’s worth another try. If you think there is a chance, you may be willing to brave the fiercest battle. I do believe we are women warriors in this struggle. (Men, you too are important players in this battle, of course.) Whether we ultimately “prevail” or not — whether we are able to build our families through treatment or adoption or not — we encounter and overcome our fears every day just for this chance, or we brave the future knowing we fought the best we could. We survive our losses. Eventually, we emerge stronger from our struggle, even when we feel battered, weak and defeated. I try to remember this, even when I can’t feel it. 

So why do I feel like I’ve taken a step back? Yesterday I got a call from my RE, let’s call her Dr. Reassuring. I had expected this call. I had emailed my nurse about our BFN and told her we would probably not continue treatment. She knew we wouldn’t do another fresh cycle, but we still have 8-9 tiny embryos on ice. I explained that we didn’t know why we would put our hope in another FET when my body did not respond well to even the best of the batch. Whether due to declining egg quality, my poor thrashed lining, or random chance, it seems that further FETs would be throwing good money after bad, when it might be time to just move on. She promised my RE would call to try to answer our questions, to help provide some closure at least. 

So Dr. Reassuring doesn’t think it’s poor egg quality, even though they’ve never been tested. She thinks we still have some good embryos, and she’s seen women get pregnant on their last batch, so she doesn’t prescribe to the “bottom of the barrel” theory. As she’s explained before, sometimes embryos are not viable even when they look perfect. “We’re not as smart as we like to think we are,” she said. “We only select them as best as we think we know how.” So what about those slow-growing stragglers who weren’t even in the top five? “Remember, it’s not a beauty contest,” she said reassuringly. “I have no reason to believe that one of them isn’t the one.”

I asked whether my deficient lining was the culprit. I’ve had so many surgeries that have left cause for concern. She agreed my lining was on the low end, but it was trilaminar which is a good indication of health. She would use a more aggressive estrogen protocol next time. This concerns me because of my high risk of breast cancer, but she reassured that a short protocol would not increase my risk. She told us to take some time to grieve this loss, then think about if and when we might want to try again. “They’re not going anywhere.” See, I told you, reassuring.  

So all of this has only resulted in further mind muddling. Just as I begin to try and find a way to accept our situation, I am thrown back to consider whether more treatment, more drugs, more tricks could work. It’s so hard to walk away from those little frosties. But the truth is that 4k could be used towards adoption, instead of throwing it down the black hole of treatment. When do you stop buying into the hope of a chance? Is it naive or foolish to think it could work? Is it reasonable, or just desperate? The answers of course are different for everyone. 

As I process this, I’m reminded of the non-linear stages of grief, in which denial and bargaining are revisited, even as you try to come to terms with depression and anger and move on to acceptance. This results in confusion, when I’m seeking clarity

As I look to the future, something Tash said resonated. I feel like I have no horizon. I know this phrase has been used before, though I can’t remember where. For someone who usually feels solidly grounded with direction, purpose and focus, this is immensely disorienting. Without this clear vision in the distance, I’m not even sure which battle I’m trying to fight.

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~ by luna on April 25, 2008.

21 Responses to “women warriors”

  1. I don’t know what to tell you. Dr. Reassuring’s advice sounds good. Grieve this current loss and then reconsider. But I hear you on the not knowing when to say “uncle”

  2. I hate that place you’re in. It’s so dark. It feels like there’s no way out — like you’re in jail and there is no way to escape. And it’s so unfair because you are innocent — you didn’t do anything bad to get in there. You only wanted something that comes so naturally to other people.

    Just keep breathing. You’ll get through it. I know you will.

  3. I don’t think I could walk away if we had some left on ice, but I’m not you. It is a chance, no matter how small. But adoption is a chance too and if you think the money is better spent in that direction, I say go for it. I don’t know. You have a tough decision to make.

  4. I have a similar struggle with clarity and balance. The stages of gried are NOT linear, I have learned that too. It can be so painful and so exhausting to fight so hard and feel like the wheels are just spinning. I don’t have the answers (hence my lack of comments lately, my words seem inadequate) I just hope you get some traction and I hope that for myself too. If I can’t go exactly where I want to with all this effort, I’d like to at least not be spinning my wheels forever!

  5. that would be stages of grief. it seems I can’t type when I do comment!

  6. The most immediate battle that you’re fight now is the fight against the unknown. Not knowing what comes next is unnerving. When what comes next hinges on something out of your control, it is disconcertig. When it hinges on something that IS in your control, it is downright dizzying. Sometimes having that much control over your own fate makes you feel like you have no control at all. Sometimes it’s easier for the decision to be left out of your hands. Such a hard place to be in, stuck between those two decisions, Luna, espeically when what comes next is all up to you and your husband.

    Hope can be dangerous, frightening, and even emotionally risky, but if it’s there and you feel it (even if you hold it away at a distance or try to ignore it), I don’t think it can ever be foolish.

    As always, I’m thinking of you, and thanks in return to you for your continued support of me.

  7. I didn’t realize you still had more frozen embryos left. That does indeed complicate the picture. It is sooo hard to know when & where to draw that line, especially when you have options like that dangling in front of you. However, as the dr said, they’re not going anywhere. I know it feels like the clock is ticking, but take some time to grieve & recuperate from this last cycle. You don’t have to make any decisions right away. (((hugs)))

  8. It’s almost harder (in my head) to know there’s *some teeny tiny wee possibility maybe* scenario out there. I almost wish these people would just out and say “TOO BAD! NO MORE!” It would make the decisions so much more easier in a way. The possibility is what freezes me in my tracks. I wish you well on this decision, this information. It’s a lot to digest, and I’m glad you’re in reassuring hands. Thinking of you as always.

  9. Every time something like this comes up, I’m struck by how unfair it is. Not just the obvious unfairness of IF itself, but the unfairness of having to make the kinds of decisions that no one ever should have to make. That most people never even contemplate. I think the “choices” we have to make are perhaps the worst part of all.

    My heart sank for you when I read this post. Isn’t that odd? You tell me about something that should be hopeful, but all I feel is your desperation for this to be over.

    I liked Rachel’s comment — that it’s like you’re in jail and you can’t get out. I keep seeing it as being like a nightmare. You started out having this perfectly benign, perhaps a bit wacky dream, and then you wandered into this nightmare and you can’t wake up.

    Ever have a nightmare where you thought you had woken up, but then found you were still in it? This is what has just happened to you. You even saw it coming, but there was no way to run, and nowhere to hide from it.

    I wish I could give you some advice, even some solace. But all I can do is say it again: this is so fucking unfair.

  10. Hi Luna –

    Drawing the line is so difficult. It keeps moving.

    I agree with Loribeth – you don’t have to decide today, tomorrow, or even this year what to do with those frosties. They will be there if you want to use them in the future. And of course we all understand that is a double-edged sword, but at least you can push it off for now if that helps you.

    And I couldn’t agree more with babychaser, it is unbelievable the decisions that we are faced with – things that few people even imagine, and those are our day to day decisions.

    In my experience, the hope of success, no matter how infinitesimal, no matter how deeply buried, will draw you back into considering more treatment. And it is painful, painful to think about, painful to consider seriously, painful to endure.

    Everyone is different, but for me, the last three or four cycles I did were part of closing that door. I had four “last” ivf cycles – ones I went into feeling sure that this was the last time. Each one of them was part of the “moving on” process for me. I guess that what I am trying to say is that, even if you are tempted by, or even engaging in, further treatment, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t still working on moving on. Being sure that no stone (within our reach) has been left unturned can be crucial to acceptance for so many of us.

    I really believe that moving on is a process rather than a decision. And it is not a straight line process, but I liken it to a pendulum, which swings wildly at first, but over time, the back and forth lessens. At least I hope it does.

    Hang in there!!!!

  11. Well said, Luna. You will come to the right decision in time and with much intelligence and soul searching, I know. I understand very much what you mean about not having a horizon, but you will. You will. That’s not false optimism, it’s a clear enough understanding of who you are that I’m confident you will find and define the horizon and the path there. Allow me to say this without sounding like a dispenser of advice, never that, but it is reasonable, not desparate, to have hope.

  12. Give it time, Luna. Though lingering in limbo is agonizing, especially when you’re a warrior at heart and want to get back on the battlefield.

    Someday soon, the fog will lift and you’ll see the horizon. I second Melanie’s quiet call for hope.

  13. What I find so frustrating about your situation, in addition of course to the story of your actual infertility, is the role that finances have to make in your decision right now. I wish it were possible to put that all aside and make your choice from a different place. I wish adoptions were free, and FET’s covered by insurance. Impossible, I know, just wishful thinking that doesn’t get you anywhere. But I wanted you to know that I recognize how incredibly difficult (and unfair-feeling) that must be for you.

    I, too, agree with Melanie that is it reasonable to have hope. I just wish the space around it didn’t ache so much.

    I, too, agree that the right answer will come to you with time.

  14. I wish I had some sage advice to help you decide how to proceed. It’s so very hard to move when you can’t see the horizon line, when the earth keeps shifting under your feet. Like others before me here, I do believe you’ll make the right decision…

  15. Argh… I’ve been thinking of you since I first read this, but just don’t know what I can say to help.

    Totally exploring some of these same issues myself, so I look forward to seeing where this journey takes you. Wishing you peace!

  16. Talk about resonance. When we were trying to figure out if we could save Jacob, what our chances were, what his chances were, I found myself wishing for closure. Instead of all that “I wish I had a crystal ball” crap, I wanted something definitive. Anything. Spontaneous labor. Heartbeat gone silent. Early signs of infection. Something, some reason, some clear indication that it *really was* time to let go of him. In the end, we had to make our decision without much of a clear sign. And I think that’s why it’s so hard. For me, anyway.

    The problem with doctors like Dr. Reassuring, it seems, is that she gives you hope. Gives you a reason to believe that maybe, just maybe you can have your dream. Even if it’s just that 5% chance that everything will be okay. That freaking 5% is a lot to cling to when it’s everything you’ve ever wanted.

    Thinking of you.

  17. As others have already said, decisions such as these are unbelievably difficult to make – particularly when we feel that we are at least in part being forced into them for financial reasons.

    You and the amazing M must make the choice that feels right for you as a couple – whatever that may be, we will be here to support you. As others have already said, you do not have to make any immediate decisions. Although it doesn’t make those decisions any easier, it does at least mean that you have the time to think things through.

  18. Sorry I’m a little slow in catching up. I’m finally recovering and finding time to get on other blogs.. BUT this is excatly how I feel. And I completely understand your dilemma as DH and I feel the same way. I still have embies on ice too but I’ve had so many failures, I just don’t trust in my own body anymore either. Part of me just wants to move on to adoption but part of me wants to give those other embies a chance. And none of these decisions are an easy one. Thinking of you.

  19. […] RE, Dr. Reassuring, heads a leading research facility and has been talking about the need for this type of technique […]

  20. […] live baby. My RE (aka Dr. Reassuring) later convinced me not to view the remaining frosties as the “bottom of the barrel” since they can’t yet predict how each embryo will respond in the human body. She encouraged […]

  21. […] Throwing good money after bad for failed treatments just seemed like an endless downward spiral, a veritable “black hole” – not just financially but emotionally, physically, psychologically, spiritually. Facing the […]

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