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What Comes Next? (After the Last Failed IVF)

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a blog by S.I.F., December 1, 2010

There is a sinking feeling that settles in when you’ve reached the end of in vitro fertilization (IVF).

The end of your IVF cycles. The end of those frozen embryos. The end of the plan to build a family that you had laid out so nicely once upon a time.

A momentary onset of panic sinks in as you wonder: What comes next?

No one goes into IVF (or any other fertility treatment for that matter) thinking that it won’t work. Sure, you realize that IVF failure is a possibility, and in the back of your mind (and bottom of your heart) it’s even a possibility that you boldly acknowledge ... but you never truly think that will happen to you.

Because if you did, you never would have ventured down this path to begin with.

When you reach the end of the road, though, and still don’t have a baby nestled up inside of your womb, it’s hard not to feel like you’re drowning. Like the waves are starting to crash over you a little too hard and a little too fast. Like you are out there alone, in the middle of that deep deep ocean. Not a speck of land in sight.

Finding your way out can seem next to impossible. And figuring out what comes next can seem more difficult than surmounting Everest.

Because the fact of the matter is, you’ve already given it your all. You’ve put everything you possibly had to give into the hope and dream of getting pregnant.

And it didn’t work. Likely more than once; it didn’t work. Because one failed IVF cycle isn’t always the end of the line. There are often embryos frozen away, or other IVF cycles purchased as part of a package. There is typically still hope at the end of just one IVF cycle.

But there is always an end in sight, and once you’ve reached that end; the true weight of your own failure is devastating. It's as painful as any death or loss you’ve ever experienced. It becomes hard to imagine putting anything else into this endeavor. When you have tried and tried, and tried again, it takes your breath away to imagine putting more money, heart and time into the quest to get pregnant.

At some point you start to wonder how far you’re really willing to go to birth a child. You think about adoption. About foster care. About surrogacy and all the other options in between.

But the truth is that the idea of never carrying a child inside your own womb makes your stomach seize up a bit. It makes you want to crawl up into a ball and hide away from the world — hoping that the answers will suddenly appear to you when you least expect it.

I am there. At the edge of the abyss. Feeling a hurt I never anticipated feeling when I started this journey.

Left only to wonder; what comes next? And how on earth do you begin to figure that out?

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Comments (3)

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. As a man, it's sometimes hard to understand and know the feelings a woman goes through at a time like you described. Your message will help me encourage others I meet through life who are hurting in this way. I am so sorry you have experienced this pain. May God give you peace in the midst of your storm and wisdom for the future decisions.

I think you make a very valid point. Fertility specialists are big on selling you all these procedures, but not big on aftercare. Wouldn't it be nice if they phoned and asked are you pregnant, did it work, are you ok? But you are left alone and ignored..
all the best to you!

This is a very powerful post. Especially the comment about the waves crashing over you and not a speck of land in sight. I came to the end of my journey recently and the feelings you describe are exactly how I felt. With time it has become a little bit easier, some days I feel totally devastated and other days I am able to get on with my life and forget about it. But everytime I see the love a mother shows her child it just breaks my heart. What next? Who knows? Maybe there is a bigger picture to be seen, or maybe I just won't have kids and that is my fate in this lifetime. I think you are incredibly courageous and I love reading your blog. I hope it all works out for you, in whatever way that is. I really do.
From snowy Dublin, Ireland.

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