Infertility is a painful journey, and it’s not a journey you ever thought you’d have to take.
It requires strength, determination, courage and faith.
The road is bumpy, you break down on many occasions and you can take many detours hoping for successful treatment.
Many couples are successful and their infertility road does finally lead to the parenting highway.
But for some couples, when all treatment avenues have been exhausted, it’s time to ask yourself some uncomfortable questions.
This might be driven by age; it might be financial or it can be that emotionally and physically you’ve had enough.
Sarah Lawrence is the founder of After the Storm. This website and online community supports couples who are childless-not-by-choice. Sarah is childless herself due to endometriosis, adenomyosis and a subsequent hysterectomy.
Sarah is a qualified life coach and trainee counsellor. She understands how hard it can be to pick yourself back up after finding out that you won’t be having a family.
Sarah has shared her story to shine some light into the darkness of the situation and provide support.
Sarah Lawrence, Founder, After the Storm
The toughest thing about infertility isn’t being asked that ridiculous insensitive question of when you’re going to have children. Even though you’re trying your hardest to do just that!
It’s not the helpful suggestions like stop worrying, or any number of other equally banal suggestions.
And it’s not the relentless cycle of hope and disappointment that eventually starts to spiral into desperation.
That’s not to minimise these things, because they’re all really difficult to deal with.
The decision to stop treatment
Looking back the hardest and most heart-breaking thing was the decision to stop treatment.
Admitting to myself and my partner that I had nothing left in the mental, emotional or physical tank to carry on.
For me, the decision to stop wasn’t taken lightly. No doubt your decision will include just as much thought and consideration.
It’s not something that’s done flippantly.
A lot of circumstances have to be weighed up carefully, including everything you’ve been through on your fertility journey.
It means weighing up the pressure you’ve already put on yourself, your partner, your body, your mind, and your emotional and physical health.
You have to determine whether all of those things can take any more pressure in your quest for a family.
Can you contemplate a happy life with or without children?
Ask yourself what you are or aren’t prepared to sacrifice for it?
And, so I think we can all agree it’s flipping scary! Because only you can make this decision.
It’s not for anyone else to tell you what to do, because this is your life and you’re the expert in it.
This decision is as unique as your fertility journey.
It can feel lonely, isolating and is a huge burden as you contemplate what the impact will be on your life.
Having been through it, I can say the one thing I would’ve loved is support and guidance in coming to terms with my decision. Help to stop the relentless cycle of hope and disappointment.
I wanted to know that I wasn’t the only person to have gone through this. I wanted to know that there is a life after trying for a family.
I think it would’ve helped cope with the enormity of the decision to know it was going to be OK. That I was going to be OK once I stopped.
So, I’m that small glimmer of light in the darkness for you. There is masses of support out there, if you decide that your life won’t have children.
And I’m not just talking about me here either, because there’s a whole community out there when you’re ready. The childless-not-by-choice community is starting to find its voice.
A whole community of support
If you do end up making the difficult decision to stop, then we’re out there waiting for you to come and find us. We have podcasts, books, websites and blogs. All there to support each other and help our community cope with the enormity of the decision to stop trying. No one has to do this alone and it might not be the life we dreamed about. But it can still be bloody amazing!
Sarah offers support to help to people affected by this issue. She encourages you to embrace your confidence again and move towards empowerment. Her regular Facebook Lives are amazingly honest. You can find her on Facebook here.