Once we are diagnosed with fertility issues, and after the shock and grief starts to wear off a little, we pick ourselves up, and start to redefine our sense of self, to include the idea that you may have challenges, and we think of how we are going to face what we need to and overcome this so that we can achieve our goal.
We spend time grieving, and researching, and talking (sometimes), and soul searching. We find new support structures and enter new circles and cliques – the sisterhood of the empty wombs. We make friends, and have a laugh (sometimes) with the people who understand what we are facing.
When someone falls pregnant, they leave the group slowly, messaging and still checking in, but things aren’t the same really. It is like the attempt to “just be friends” after an amicable breakup. You are torn between feeling jealous and sad that things aren’t the same, and a little pleased for them, because this might mean that things could go your way too.
What happens when the person to leave the TTC group is you, and when it isn’t because you’re pregnant? When you were on the ART roller-coaster, you had people to talk to and cry with and support you – from around the world, regardless of whether you even met them or not. You shared intimate details and laughed and cried together. Now, when you think you can’t take any more needles, poking, prodding, hormones and disappointment, you’re faced with having to give up yet another aspect of your identity – that of the the STC (Struggling To Conceive) sisterhood.
It takes as much courage to see yourself through the treatments as it does to let go when you need to.
So, if you have come to the point where you’re questioning whether or not you are going to go for the next cycle of ART, you may want to prepare yourself by thinking about where you want to take your life from here? What would you like to focus on for just you? Is there a way that you can nurture your relationship to restore and improve it going forward? Does the decision to stop trying to have a child mean that you are going to try adopt? Are there other avenues you want to explore?
Life is an invitation to step into your potential – whether that potential includes being a parent is up to you. You didn’t choose to struggle, but you can choose how you want to deal with it, what you are prepared to do and for how long.
“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” – Epictetus