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How do you know when it’s time to just stop?

(16 Posts)
Catinthecorner Sun 08-Oct-17 16:51:38

I’m a relative newbie to infertility (only two years in) but I’m already just so very sick of it. I’m sick of the invasive testing, the drugs, the patronising advice (take a holiday/relax/etc), the heartache.

I know it will all be worth it in the end (more patronising advice) IF it works. But that if is so large. The reality is our odds are less than 20%. Probably a lot lower actually.

So how do I know if this is just a bump in the road or if it’s time to call the whole thing off, grieve properly for what will not be? At the moment I feel the flickering hope is the worst bit. I just cannot work out how I could put myself, or my husband through more years of this but at the same time while the flicker of hope exists will I regret not trying everything possible?

Winenight Sun 08-Oct-17 22:35:07

I struggled with infertility for nearly 4 years before finally getting success on my second cycle of ICSI and I know that there are patients out there who sadly struggle for even longer than that.

I didn't always feel the same throughout that time- some months were hopeful, other times were desolate and some times I genuinely don't think I cared. I delayed starting ICSI until we'd been trying for nearly three years. I just wasn't ready for it until then.

I'm not quite sure where you are in the fertility process. The point where I was ready to do ICSI was when the stress of having my period come month after month became worse than the thought of the IVF process. And seeing the endless pregnancy announcements on social media felt like everyone was running past me in a race and I was standing still, going nowhere and falling behind. It's very tough.

It's a very personal decision when to stop and I think that you have to be comfortable going forward with whatever decision you make. And with fertility treatment there are no guarantees- it's like a casino.

One of the most important things I learned was not to put my life on hold in the expectation of getting pregnant- so I left a stressful job, took nice holidays and began to plan what my life would look like without children, if things didn't go to plan second time around. I understand your desire to draw a line under it and take control back of your life. But if you have only been trying two years you don't necessarily need to make any decisions straightaway, you can take some time out.

This whole infertility business has a huge impact on our well-being and relationships. Good luck with whatever you decide.

justtheonethen Sun 08-Oct-17 22:42:26

We tried for 4 years before ivf, should have had ICSI but had a last minute sperm revival so didn't need it. We got incredibly lucky and got pregnant first go.

We had a plan, we would do 3 rounds of ivf/ICSI and that was it. If it didn't work we decided to go travelling for a year.

Like wine I stopped putting my life on hold and also left a stressful job. I also felt differently as time went on, again some months I don't think I cared, others I was desolate. Overall I became pretty numb to it all and I was desperately unhappy.

Once we had a plan in place I felt more positive as there was an end in sight, however it worked out.

No one can tell you when the right time to stop is, for me that was when we had given everything a reasonable go. Reasonable being a level I knew I could live with regardless of outcome.

Good luck. It's desperately hard and can be so lonely. Do you have good real life support?

Astella22 Mon 09-Oct-17 20:39:01

I think that decision can only really come from the heart OP. You could come up with a 100 logic reasons to stop but you have to feel it. I'm in my 5th and definitely final round, we too a break for a year so I could go into one with a clear head. The time off really helped me to come to terms with it all. I completely understand just how emotionally draining it all is.
Practically I have created a plan for my future should it not work for me but god it was hard to even admit it just mightn't work ever.
Just know it's ok to keep going if that's what u want but also it's ok to stop too!

LemnisKate Mon 09-Oct-17 20:50:16

I was about to start my 4th round and then the night before I just suddenly knew I didn’t want to go through it all again so I cancelled. That was 6 months ago and it still feels like the right decision. It sounds so simple but for me, I just knew. The same way, like a pp said, that I knew that it was time to start IVF, rather than keeping on being disappointed every month. I’m sorry you’re going through this; it is truly rubbish.

sebashocked Mon 09-Oct-17 21:02:26

We gave up after 12 years (4 IUIs, 7 rounds of IVF and 4 miscarriages). It felt like we had exhausted all our options and I was tired of essentially putting my life on hold. It helped that I was able to make some serious life changes (quitting job I hated but where I'd stayed so would be eligible for maternity pay, getting seriously fit) and basically start building a life where I really was at peace with the idea of not having children. I think deep down you know when it's time to throw in the towel.

JeNeBaguetteRien Mon 09-Oct-17 22:51:33

It's a tough one Cat, something for you and your partner to discuss but in terms of decision making you're the one going through the process so if/when it feels like time to call it a day you probably will know. If you really have no idea maybe you could try counselling (independent?).
DH and I have been talking more about what if this doesn't happen and whilst we're keeping at it for now we both know there will be a time to stop. I hope we reach that point around the same time.

💐 to those who are now on a different path or who have just had enough of this. It's really no way to live for a long time is it?

RubyBoots7 Tue 10-Oct-17 07:05:47

Totally understand where you're coming from! People who have not been through infertility or IVF don't understand how hard it is - emotionally or physically. It can take over your life can't it!! And even within the infertility crowd, there's no much variation in people's attitudes towards it.

We are currently pregnant from 2nd cycle of IVF/ICSI. We always said absolute max, we'd use the three goes we were very lucky to get on the NHS but no more.
A friend who had been through IVF said they'd have done 10 rounds before they gave up. When I heard that I was like HELL NO smile Even three rounds felt like it was pushing us. I think the difference is that she was desperate to have kids and would've felt incomplete without. Our attitude has always been we'd love kids, but we have a great life and many friends without children (through choice) so we'd see what happened and deal with it. Nothing wrong with either approach!

Like others, I switched jobs as I had been staying in my old one for stability/mat pay but not because I wanted to. So glad I did and that was actually two years ago now, it's taken so long!!

We also took breaks in the process. One was because I got OHSS, but actually we could've started back sooner, we just needed a breather. Instead we went on some lovely holidays and booked in a bunch of stuff we couldn't do when IVFing (ie drinking, extreme sports). We really needed it and went back to continue the cycle in a much better place emotionally.

I feel like if we'd 'given up' some people might've (would have! 😂) judged us
I still feel judged now that I'm not dancing around with uncontainable excitement - because part of me expects it still not to work out. But sod it, it's your body and you and your partner's life. You've got to do what's right for you. There's such a pressure to have kids and to want to have them above all else - no matter the hardship to get there. Some (lots of?!) people just don't feel like that, and that's absolutely fine and normal!

There have been times when I thought why are we doing this second round. Standing with a needle in your bloated and bruised belly at some ungodly hour, crying because you're exhausted and feel sick and you've just absolutely had enough. But then it worked (so far), so it seems worth it now. If it hadn't, I'd be going into the third cycle with dread of doing it all again. But we'd agreed our plan, and I know I would've regretted not trying with all the goes we had. (There's also something about not being grateful for the chance on the NHS that many other people don't get).
And then we would've definitely stopped. No question at all. And I genuinely think we'd have been okay with that, because from the start we'd come to terms with the fact that IVF isn't a miracle fix and we are fulfilled and happy without children.

I wish you all the best with your decisions x

RubyBoots7 Tue 10-Oct-17 07:06:45

Sorry I don't know where all my paragraphs have gone. Apologies in advance for your 👀

eurochick Tue 10-Oct-17 07:06:47

We put a limit on it. Ours was originally three rounds of ivf. However we changed that after I got pregnant but miscarried from the first round - it showed it could happen. In the end we said we would do five rounds. Round 4 worked.

fluffygreenmonsterhoody Tue 10-Oct-17 07:09:28

You know that little flicker of hope you have? I decided to stop when it eventually flickered out.

If it’s still there, don’t put it out willingly.

zippybear Tue 10-Oct-17 07:13:13

Something I've read a few times and found useful is 'keep going until it's harder to carry on than to stop' And if you are not sure allow yourselves a good break (hard with the ticking clock I know) and see how you feel, sometimes a break gives you the strength to restart, sometimes it shows you that you will be ok without children flowers

EarlGreyT Tue 10-Oct-17 09:33:34

We put a limit on it too, but then moved the goalposts.

I said initially 3 rounds, then we decided maybe 5 or 6 rounds. I left the hospital after my 5th egg collection and said to my husband very decisively "I'm not doing that again".

We didn't really stop though as we then moved on to donor options. I agree with zippy as at the point of stopping with my eggs, I knew it was harder to keep going than to stop.

I stupidly still haven't lost that little flicker of hope though. After a bit of a break, part of me thought maybe we should try again with my own eggs, what if the next round is the one? Deep down I know it won't be, but I can't REALLY know unless I try can I?

I guess what I'm trying to say in all of this waffle is that there is no easy way of knowing when to stop. Deciding to stop is one of the most difficult things about this, particularly as it's unusual to be told be the professionals categorically that you have to stop. There's always something slightly different you could do with the next cycle and it's hard not to think "maybe that'll be the thing which does the trick".

Despite the tiny flicker of hope I have regarding my own eggs, I have accepted giving up with them and don't feel any regret. I do feel disappointment at my stupid ovaries for failing me, but not regret.

EarlGreyT Tue 10-Oct-17 09:36:05

It's really no way to live for a long time is it?

No, absolutely not. Living in limbo with your life on hold and planning everything around IVF cycles (and in the optimistic early stages possibly being pregnant) is a miserable way to live and is no life at all.

Blondeshavemorefun Tue 10-Oct-17 13:56:33

Everyone is different

I ttc for 10yrs. 5 with my husband who sadly died and I thought all hope had been lost to ever be a mum

I met an amazing man and then 5yrs ttc with my new partner

We didn't give ourselves a limit
But after 2 failed cycles and 4 embryos transferred we did stop and lick our wounds and consider could we go again

Age also had part to do with it. I was then 40
And knew time was an issue / plus cost and saved again as had to pay for all ivf treatment as df has kids in their 20's

We did cycle 3 abroad and got much better results and had some left to freeze. 3 failed and as did 4 a fet

Our 5th go another fet was a successful and we now have our dd 6mths

It was easier to keep going and would have done all embryos frozen and then tried de as one last cycle

All the time you have that flicker you aren't ready to give up

To me 2yrs isn't a reason to give up but that's my opinion - it's what you and partner are happy with u

How many cycles have you had and what's your age

FlickingVees Tue 10-Oct-17 14:13:35

We ttc'd for 36 cycles, I took my temp and analysed my cervical mucus and kept detailed records of everythingfor three long years.
As I was in my early 30s I thought we had plenty of time, but as the months rolled on I was actually thinking, maybe being a mum wasn't going to be a reality for me.

After all the heartbreak of being told my DH produced too few and too low quality sperm, we decided to stop trying to think about IVF and ICSI as no clinic would do it unless with donor sperm.
As a last hurrah, I went for an ovarian scan just on the day when we were refused IVF, just to see what was to be seen (private scan) and as I saw an egg follicle being released I though we'd go for it that night.

We got pregnant at that absolutely last attempt, and I with hand on heart would not have gone any further down the road of donor sperm and IUI/IVF etc.

Sometimes you just have to give up, and accecpt the reality. Make a plan of "after this we'll stop and get back to being a couple again without the monitoring and timed ttc sex". Plan a month travelling or something like that to listen and talk and reconnect as people and have sex just for fun.

Points to keep in mind.
Sperm quality can be improved over a period of three months. Up your DH's mineral and vitamin supplements. Coffee before ttc-ing can give the sperm a swimming boost.
Use ovulation predictor sticks and time sex to occur after you've ovulated, especially if sperm are short lived. You want sperm to meet egg in the Fallopian tube.
Take folic acid 800mg and also know your luteal phase (get tested). It may well be you need progesterone 200mg a day as a pessary.

You might need the neck of your cervix opened a bit. This is something your gynae may suggest.

Good luck and I hope you find happiness with whatever outcome you have.

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