This is a question I think every infertile faces at some point in time: when is enough enough? When have you truly done all the fertility treatment you can face? When do you decide IF treatment is a waste of your money and what you're really meant to do is parent a child through adoption, so you're moving on? When is it just easier on the heart to move on to living child-free?
These are the questions facing The Hubs and I at the moment. For us, what the question boils down to is this: what counts more towards our limit, the time spent trying or the actual treatment accomplished in that time?
You see, we're unique to a lot of couples who've been TTC for a while because, while we've been trying for 7 1/2 years, we've really only done a minimal amount of treatment. Due to one circumstance or another, the only treatment we've undergone has been four Clomid cycles. Not a real overflux of treatment, I think you'd agree. However, if you look at the time we've spent on TTC, I think you'll find that this is a significantly greater time than a lot of others in our position spend attempting to create a family. I will say not a greater amount of time than everyone - I can, as I type this, think of at least 3 people who've spent at least this long or longer in their own TTC game - but certainly a greater length of time than your average infertile.
What has held us up, you ask? Well, initially it was because we were living in the UK and were planning to move back to the US. We thought it made better sense to wait to seek out help discovering what was wrong until we were settled in the US. And, at the time, it did make more sense. Now, looking back, I wish we'd chosen differently, but you can't change the past, so on we move.
Once we were actually in the US, there always seemed to be something else holding us back from seeking help: my dad's illness, money, The Hubs being out of work. When we finally did seek treatment through my OB/GYN, she wanted us to try Clomid before getting a referral to an RE. We did that. Four clomid cycles, all a bust. Finally we got our RE referral and it looked like we might be getting somewhere, then my body decides it's not happening.
Stop. Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. No, instead we were lost in the land of treating hyperplasia. And Type II Diabetes. And Hypothyroidism. And Sleep Apnea. And the revelation of a missing right fallopian tube. And any other mundane illness that could creep up to prevent our dreams from coming true. But finally - FINALLY! - we got that all sorted and it looked as though we might actually be on our way towards our goal. But, alas, we were once again stopped and told we would have to wait. This time, I needed to lose weight. 30 lbs minimum.
That brings us to where we are today. I'm working on losing that weight - and I'm doing a pretty good job of it - but I don't know when we'll actually move on to any treatment. Our RE won't even do an HSG to see if the one remaining tube I have is clear until the weight comes off. He says "I can get you pregnant at your current weight (at that time it was 273 lbs, it is now down to 263.6 lbs), but I can't keep you pregnant. And, any pregnancy would be much too difficult for anyone your size."
That's where we're left. 7 1/2 years of hoping and longing and wishing. 7 1/2 years of heartache and disappointment. 7 1/2 years of not knowing what to plan for or when, or even if, we would ever be parents. And still, we're no further than we were before. We haven't even progressed one centimeter from where we were 7 1/2 years ago (or at least that's how it feels).
That brings me back to our question: when is enough enough? Should we keep on moving towards trying an IUI or IVF? Should we give up on trying to reproduce biologically and focus our time, energy and finances on adoption? Should we try to come to terms with living child-free?
Honestly, I'm not so sure our finances would sustain IVF AND adoption. I'm pretty sure we could manage an IUI or two, but, after reading so many of the stories in the IF world, I'm hyper-aware of the fact that IVF does not always work. I want to be a mother. I've never wanted something so bad in my life. Living child-free just does not seem an option for me. The Hubs feels similarly. How we become parents is not really that important, but the fact that we do become parents is hugely important.
I've done without a lot of things in my life that are deemed "rights of passage". I never had a big 16th birthday party - my dad was sick and it wasn't an option for us. My marriage proposal wasn't a big production - The Hubs just kind of asked and I said yes, we just wanted to be together forever without anyone being able to separate us. I never had a bridal shower - we were living in England, only came to the States a week before our wedding and couldn't really take much back with us. Wedding showers aren't a huge deal in England (at least not with The Hubs' family and friends) so we had no shower there either. I could go on and on, but you get the picture.
I don't mean to whine, but I have sacrificed a lot of the time-honoured, traditional experiences in life. Being a mother is not one of those experiences I'm willing to forego. I just won't do it. I will stamp my foot, scream and cry like a petulant child if I have to, but I simply will not accept that I will never be a mother! The maternal instinct is too ingrained in me.
So, what to do? Where does that leave us? Waiting to try an IUI? Moving on to adoption? Praying for one of those "miracles" everyone who has never experienced infertility tells me about?
Or simply continuing to ask myself: when is enough enough?