The journey through fertility treatments can be overwhelming – financially, physically and emotionally. Part of how we make decisions about the next step to take is to stop and understand where you are, what you've lost and what your ultimate goals are.
What's Your Story?
Maybe you always knew that you wanted three children–maybe you even picked out their names. Maybe you imagined watching your daughter at her first piano recital–or building a tree house with your son. Dr. Janet Jaffe, of the Center for Reproductive Psychology in San Diego, explains that all of us have a reproductive story. Your hopes and dreams of what your family would look like–and how you envisioned yourself as a parent–is all a normal part of your reproductive story. Also normal is the belief that your story will unfold without a hitch with a happy, healthy baby in your arms.
Loss and Grief Are Part of the Journey
"Having infertility or a pregnancy loss clearly is not part of your original reproductive story — nor is having a premature baby with complications, or having postpartum depression, especially after a highly sought after pregnancy. None of this is the way it was supposed to be. Part of why you feel so awful is that your reproductive story has gone terribly awry. This is traumatic and a real loss," says Jaffe.
Get Help When You Need It
You don't have to do this alone. You and/or partner may need additional support when it is time to make the next decision in your family-building journey. You may not be on the same page at the same time or you may be concerned about your decision when balanced against your family's opinions, your faith, or even your checkbook. Whether you need a financial counselor or a mental health practitioner, raising a child takes a village, so why not get help to bring one home?
One way to acknowledge the loss is to share your story and stories with an infertility support group. SupportGroups.com provides a space for individuals, friends and families who are looking to share personal experiences, evaluate information and get support as they work through the challenges of infertility.
Where am I?
First list all your options. Here is a sample list that may not fit your needs – it would be a list for someone who had failed at least one IVF cycle without donor eggs or donor sperm. The couple's options would be:
- child-free living
- repeat IVF cycle with your own eggs and sperm
- donor egg
- donor sperm
- donor embryo
This is the McKinsey MECE technique - make a list which is mutually exclusive and completely exhaustive. Narrowing down your alternatives simplifies decision making—you are going to have to choose between one of the above!
No Looking Back
Remember the lady who turned into the pillar of salt for looking back? Ok – probably not going to happen to you, but you can decide to move forward without regret. Dr. Malpani, a fertility specialist, often suggests to his patients that they take the "path of least regret." What does this mean?
The path of least regret
Pretend, for a minute, that you are 60 years old, and you are looking back at this moment with the wisdom of hindsight. Which decision will you kick yourself less for? What will give you peace of mind when you are 60 that you did your best? As Krishna advises in the Bhagvad Gita, "Karmanye vadhika raste maa faleshu kadachan" which translates to, "Perform the right action without hungering for the fruits!"