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This week (April 22 – 28, 2018) is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) sponsored by RESOLVE The National Infertility Association. This year’s theme is #flipthescript, which you can read about here. I’m flipping the script in a way that people often don’t want to talk about, but it’s a perspective that should also have a voice.

They tell you to never give up. Always have hope. Keep trying.

And so we do.

We try everything. We pay tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket on treatments that have no guarantee of working. We sacrifice our time to make appointments and drive to clinics. We get poked and prodded. We change our lifestyle – what we eat and drink, how we exercise, what products we use, when we have sex. We spend countless hours researching and advocating for ourselves. We try every strategy from yoga to supplements to meditation to embryo glue. We hope. We pray.

It begins to take on a life of it’s own. Finding our fertility becomes a full time job. And then, it becomes consuming.

We begin to separate from family and friends who don’t quite understand or know what to say. We see pregnancy announcements and go to baby showers, then cry secretly in our bathrooms. Eventually we start avoiding them completely. Our world begins to get smaller as our one focus grows. We become desperate to have a baby. And we do everything.

For many there is the big pay off at the end – we get the miracle baby, healthy and sweet smelling. All of our efforts are rewarded. We say it was all worth it. And we mean it. That’s the happy ending that everyone tells you about.

But what happens when that happy ending is nowhere in sight? When your life has become something you no longer recognize? When your fluctuating emotions seem to control you? When your desire has morphed into an obsession? When your debt has risen and you’re simply exhausted? How long are you supposed to keep going?

Is it ever okay to stop treatments or should you really never give up?

In the early days of my infertility, I held onto the “never give up” mantra with an iron fist. And after 3 years of infertility and multiple treatments, my first IVF was a success. My beautiful daughter was born healthy and strong. At that moment I thought my journey was over and I had won. While I always wanted at least two children, I never wanted to go through infertility treatment again. It took so much out of me. It changed me. But as the years passed and the pain faded, my desire for one more child resurfaced.

Dealing with secondary infertility now, I’ve done five more IVF cycles and two frozen embryo transfers, and I’m realizing my ending may look quite different this time around. While my journey is not completely over yet, the outlook is not bright. For the first time, the “never give up ” mantra may be doing more harm than good.

Then I had an epiphany.  When a want becomes a need, then morphs into an obsession, sometimes it is healthier to let it go. It’s not giving up. It’s making a healthy choice. It’s not saying “no” to a dream, rather, it’s saying “yes” to the life I have.

I’ve spent so long holding onto a picture of my future, that I’ve lost focus of the present. I can change the picture of my future. I can take back my life. There will, of course, be sadness and loss for a dream that was never realized, but in time I will heal and I can find me again. I’m right here surrounded by blessings.

There will be life after IVF, and it will be good.