Monday, July 23, 2012

The Ever Elusive Stage of Acceptance (no, I'm not there)

My therapist has been talking a lot lately about how going through infertility is a grieving process. I get that, and I've read about it on lots of other IF blogs. It's weird to be grieving something I never had, but here I am, definitely grieving, definitely cycling through those stages of grief again and again.

Of the five stages, I vacillate frequently between Denial, Anger and Depression, with an occasional stop at the Bargaining Station. Acceptance seems like a distant glimmer. Haven't been there yet, not even for a minute. My favorite is Denial, where there still lives some hope and I can blissfully forget that my ovaries suck. Bargaining hosts some hope too, but I find myself easing out of that stage more quickly than the others. I make regular stops at Anger and Depression. But really, who with IF doesn't?

The elusive "Acceptance" Stage seems way out of reach. And here's where I think the grieving process must be different than grieving a death. Death is final. You know when someone dies, that's it. Close the book. Roll the credits. It is OVER. With infertility, however, it's so open-ended. How can I ever finish grieving the possibility of my own biological child if that possibility isn't completely 100% dead?  My chances of getting pregnant are small, but they're not zero. I can "accept" that my journey is shit and it's not easy, but when do I "accept" the rest of it? Will I EVER accept it?

I don't think I'll ever get to acceptance as long as I equate acceptance with "giving up" (on my ovaries).   To me, they are one and the same. I'm not ready to move on to Donor Eggs until I accept that I won't have children with my own eggs. What's the line? How do you come to that decision? I'd love to hear from ladies out there who have decided on donor eggs - when did you know you were ready? And also, ladies who waited it out and got their BFP or who continue to wait... how long did you / will you wait?

31 comments:

  1. You're right -- the infertility journey is so open-ended! I think, really, it's all about how much you're willing to put up with. There are times when I think it will never end and I will never stop -- until, perhaps, I'm fifty (or so) and enter menopause and have no chance in hell of ever conceiving again. But mostly, I know what my limits are. What treatments I'm willing to try (and which ones I'm not) and how long I'm willing to spend on each treatment before moving onto the next. Once I do it all and have tapped all my resources, then I'm out. I'll call it quits. At least...that's my plan NOW. If I ever actually get to the end (God forbid), I may change my mind. Wishing you the best and hoping that you, too, can make the best choice for you and your family-building.

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    1. I like the idea of having some kind of "end date" (or age) where I know the game is over if I get that far. But I'm already in premature menopause, so my end age might be far earlier than 50!

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    2. My husband and I made our own end date and we are going to try and stick to it. I don't want infertility to be my life's work. I'm tired of how much of a role it already plays and how much of my time with my husband it has sucked up. At the end of the year I want to move on if it hasn't happened (unless we have frosties). I hope I can stick to it.

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  2. I agree--it's very difficult to find acceptance unless you have either resolved your infertility in some way, or if you can be okay living in limbo. It's tough we are new parents through adoption. For me, the decision to stop trying to pursue a pregnancy was based on my very low statistical chances of a successful pregnancy, and the fact that I wanted to try to be a mom before I turned 40. I knew it was the right decision to move on because I felt a HUGE sense of relief every time I thought about it. Its a very personal decision that is different for everyone.

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    1. I'm so happy for you to have found parenthood through adoption! I'll have to pop over to your blog to hear the whole story of how it all unfolded.

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  3. 3 years into this and I'm not into acceptance either. However, I did finally find myself in a place (after our canceled IUI) that I no longer cared much about freak miracles and want this next try to give us the best chance (I.e. IVF) even if we could open my tube or do more testing. I just realized I was really and truely tired of waiting.

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    1. I guess it doesn't help that I am the most impatient person ever! I hate waiting for anything, let alone the thing I want most in the world! I'm crossing my fingers for you that your next step is the one that works!

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    2. you and me both! Its been INCREDIBLY hard to wait!

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  4. My decision to use donor eggs was due to 2 reasons: 1. Convenience-my sister was practically giving them away and 2. Impatience-I want this phase of my life over as soon as possible and it seemed the shortest route between A and B. Those factors over powered my desire for a bio baby and I am still grieving that loss. I havent accepted my infertility situation and spend most of my time in the anger zone. I have just accepted certain realities and chose accordingly. Peace in what ever decision you make.

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    1. It is quite convenient that your sister offered! I'm super impatient too, but I must have some left in me if I'm not ready to make that leap yet.

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  5. We decided not long after our cancelled IVF that we'd plan for our next step... Donor egg cycle in the spring. Given our chances of conceiving with my eggs, we had our plan and our timeline. It was just about scraping up the last few thousand dollars. This decision had a lot to do with my age (35) and the fact that I knew I couldn't just keep waiting for a miracle. I was 35 and very impatient, and I just wanted a baby. Does this mean I had grieved and given up on our bio baby completely? No way! I don't think i'd ever have been able to give up and accept that (well, maybe after 50). I just could not ignore the clock anymore. So we were confident in our decision... Then, well, you know what happened. We got incredibly lucky and we thank God every day for this chance.

    Until you get your miracle, I hope you can find some version of acceptance that doesn't mean giving up hope, but that makes things a little easier to live with. I know how difficult the anger and depression are to have as constant companions. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

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    1. I am hoping and praying with every fiber of my being that my story follows suit with yours! Maybe there really is something to that "give up and it'll happen mumbo jumbo.

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  6. I don't have any experience with donor eggs, or making those kinds of decisions, but I am really interested in the question. For so long we were considered "unexplained", and recently we got some news that puts a little more of a dire spin on the infertility bit. Donor eggs may be in my future too, as well as donor sperm if the husband's morphology doesn't miraculously improve.

    You may not feel like you're at the acceptance stage yet, but it's an amazing thing to be self-aware enough to know where you ARE. Hang in there, friend, and I can't wait to hear more about your decision!

    Happy ICLW! :)

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    1. More than anything, my therapist is helping me figure out my own thoughts. Aside from this blog, I rarely give myself the chance to just experience my emotions and reflect on how I feel. In fact, I usually try to distract myself so that I don't have to do that. So I think most of any self-awareness I have can be traced back to my therapist. If nothing else, it's a chance to think out loud!

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  7. I think what you are doing is very smart. I plunged very quickly into our "next step", embryo donation. Without grieving... now those feelings are bubbling up. I'm very excited to move forward, but there are feelings of sadness for what isnt/wont be there. The fact that I'll never say/hear "you get this from your dad", "you look like your mom", etc. I'll be heading directly to therapy in the near future, like tomorrow. Wishing you the very best. If you get any answers to your questions, please... SHARE! :)

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    1. I've been so tempted to jump into donors too! But I know in my heart I'm just not there yet... what I wonder is if I will EVER be there.

      Therapy really has helped! I recommend it. Best of luck moving forward!

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  8. Ah acceptance. I feel the same way about acceptance=giving up. Though parts of me are slowly thinking that acceptance will make the giving up part easier. You could probably outline an entire new 5 step process of acceptance. As I wait to begin IVF #2, I am collecting success stories of bloggers in my reading list who have achieved pregnancy after multiple IVF attempts. I'll try to get it posted during ICLW in case you stop by.

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  9. I agree that there is grieving when it comes to infertility, but it's not the same as grieving a death - because there isn't the same finality. Why should you accept that you can't have children, if you're still working to change that? And when it's not a given that you can't ever. Or maybe we're supposed to accept that it's really hard to have children? But we know that already, don't we?

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    1. Right on! I definitely understand and accept that having a baby will be hard for me given my condition. But do I accept a scenario that results in me not having biological children? No. At least not yet. Maybe someday...

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  10. Hi there. I found your blog through ICLW and can totally relate. I feel like I go through the stages of grieving regularly and sometimes I hit acceptance (although, not that often), but it is not the acceptance that my quest for a baby is over. For me, it is simply accepting where I am. Accepting that I have not met my baby @ 30 goal. Accepting that I will never be able to enjoy a pregnancy the same as my friend who got pregnant right away and had no issues. I have accepted the $#!tty hand that I have been dealt and know now that I have to work harder and be more persistant than most of my female peers if I want to achieve my goal. I think on thing the IF/loss teaches us is that we are fighters and we NEVER give up! We will win this battle one way or another, right?! It just may not be the way we imagined it. Good luck to you. I'll be cheering you on!

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement! I hope to get at least to the point where you are - to find some peace in accepting that this is my journey and it might look different than I had thought.

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  11. Acceptance is a tough old boot. There are days when I think i have found it, but they tend to just be days only and then something will kick off the whole damn cycle again. And that's 10 years down...I think there are aspects of IF that are easier perhaps to accept. One I can accept is that we are just much, MUCH more interesting people than the regular parent you meet who are (in my humble IFer opinion!) booooring! ;)

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    1. Haha, that's a good way to look at it. We're probably building all sorts of character that the fertile myrtles probably aren't getting!

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  12. Acceptance is hard. It took me several years (about 11 after I first found out about it) to accept that my husband had MFI.

    An ICLW Visit from #63
    liddy @ the unfair struggle (mfi, speedskating, 1st 2ww)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by... I can't imagine going through 10 more years of this!

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  13. Making the decision to move onto egg donation was one of the hardest but best decisions I have ever made. We started TTC in my mid 20's and it was very hard to give up on the idea of a genetic child. Part of me hasn't. Pretty much from the very beginning my RE told me we needed to use an egg donor but I was very resistant at first. I did everything I could diet changes, acupuncture, meditation, yoga, and 2 IVFs with my eggs. After IVF #2 I decided it was more important to become a parent and move onto the next chapter of our lives. My beautiful DE DS is almost 2 1/2 and I couldn't be more in love with him. There are still hard days but I know I have the child I was meant to have.

    Wishing you the best.

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    1. Thanks so much for weighing in. It's so good to hear that the DE cycle was successful and that you are happy now. I feel bad sometimes that I don't want to just jump in to a donor, but it's encouraging to know that you struggled with the decision too!

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  14. We moved to DE after 6 months of TCM which helped my hot flashes and night sweats, but did nothing for ovulation. I knew it could take a lot longer, but at 40 & 42, time wasn't on our side. At that point I had been tracking my cycles for a year & the thought of continuing to SEE nothing happening was getting very depressing. I think charting helped me understand how close to 0% my chances were. I still cry, I still hate that I won't have a genetic child; but I will have a biological child(ren). I will carry and nurture the baby as it grows inside me. I will be the biological mother. DH was there 6-7 months before me; I needed more time. You clearly need more time. You will know when you are ready for something different. Hugs!

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  16. I think it is really hard to know what the "right" time is for DE with POF because we are told about the 5-10% chance of conceiving on our own. I was diagnosed 5 months ago and we are already narrowing down the list of donors. Sometimes I think I am moving too fast and not taking the time to grieve the loss of a genetic connection with my children. Other times I think that I will only feel whole once my children are here. Lately I have been trying to take the time to grieve and think through what I am really losing (the ability to say my child has my nose or my moms eyes or my swimming ability and a genetic connection to the generation of relatives that I am proud to be related to). Journaling and therapy are helpful for me. The reason my husband and I decided to try DE instead of adoption first is because I want to have my husband to have a chance to have a genetic child and I want to experience pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. So, I know that DE have high % success and I will likely be able to get those things! I also hate the disappointment of every month that I am not pregnant. And all my tests are consistently negative - FSH started at 99, AFC is 2, AMH is undetectable - these things make me not want to keep waiting for that 5% chance. I want my children here, however they find me!

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