When enough is enough

You see it a lot in the Recurrent Pregnancy Loss world and even the Infertility world.  People questioning when enough is enough.  I know even I was tempted by the ‘try one more time‘ even after 6 losses mind game as we planned on a FET after losing Abby.  Often times you see the try one more time turn into a try again and again and again.

When do you stop this crazy trying to conceive(TTC) race?  Or the crazy TTC and hope you don’t miscarry again race?  When do you stop trying drug x or drug y thinking that might make it ‘work’ this time?  When do you decide that you’ve seen enough specialists and have had enough labs drawn?  How many miscarriages is enough?

This is such a personal decision- no one else is walking in your shoes or living with your relationship or parenting your child(ren)(if you have any).  No one else can know what recurrent miscarriage or repeated IUI/IVF failures have done to your body, heart and mind.  Other’s experiences may provide you with some lessons learned but ultimately you need to own your own experience.

This hits home when I realize that I’m a ‘quitter’ in the RPL world (and yes, I was called such by someone on a RPL group).  I only had 6 miscarriages and Sally over there has had 11 and she’s still trying or Jill over there has had three children and then 7 miscarriages and they are still trying.  I think many people try to be encouraging- ‘Don’t give up, don’t quit, you can do it, great things come to those who wait, maybe next time your bean will stick!’  Honestly, I’m not a huge encourager.  I have to be realistic with myself, and I tend on the slightly negative side.  I also don’t get how some women can keep doing the exact same thing over and over and over again with the same result don’t see that as insanity.  But that’s their choice- if it doesn’t drive them insane, I really should have no say over it.  I just think that in being encouraging that we should be encouraging people to be making the best decision for them, not just encouraging them to keep trying.  People shouldn’t feel bad or guilty because they say enough is enough.

Then there are the things that just tick me off-

First is when these women say that if you stop TTC anymore that it means you didn’t want it badly enough.  You must not REALLY have wanted that baby if you aren’t trying again.  This really irks me that women who decide to get off the roller coaster of loss have to feel like had they just WANTED it more, they may have ultimately had success.  I guess we’ll never know, will we?  But I do believe, that when it comes down to it- what is in our hearts and minds has NOTHING to do with what biology may or may not do.  At the end of the day, some women will not be able to carry a(nother) baby and doctors may not ever be able to offer an answer.  You can want it till you are blue in the face, but that is a sad reality for some percentage of people.   It’s bad enough to feel like your body failed you and to stop without a(nother) baby, but she shouldn’t also have to have others tell her that she should have wanted it more.

Next is when someone does FINALLY get that pregnancy success and then she decides that she’s going to swoop in and ‘save’ the rest of us from our RPL.  I’m glad for her when I read that she has a healthy pregnancy after several losses.   And I think it’s great if she says what may have worked for her this time (ie, this time she used steroids or progesterone or xyz)– maybe someone else can take that to an appointment with their doctor.  But it irks me to no end when she generalizes that ANYONE who tries another pregnancy without using what worked for her that they are not advocating for themselves enough or they aren’t seeing the ‘right’ specialist or they should just get the drug and try it anyway because its a harmless drug.  Like we are all stupid and just blindly miscarrying without trying ‘enough’ medical intervention.  I’m glad you attribute a baby aspirin or a progesterone pill to your healthy pregnancy.  But don’t presume that everyone will benefit from that or imply that their miscarriage was their ‘fault’ because they weren’t on this drug therapy or because you didn’t push your doctor enough.  Last time I checked, there are no magic bullets to prevent miscarriage.  There are some crazy (untested, uncertain, and sometimes even dangerous to mom or baby) things out there that people are trying and there are still no guarantees.

So I’m trying to be ok with my decisions and experience.  I’m not there yet and I’m not where I want to be, but I won’t feel threatened or disappointed or whatever emotion when other people take different paths. If someone else is done, I respect that she has made that hard decision.  If someone else is trying again, I respect that hard decision.  If someone is moving on to adoption or surrogacy, I respect that hard decision.   And when someone asks the question, ‘How do you know when enough is enough?’, I’ll offer the most thoughtful response I can and remind them that what’s in their heart is most important.  If they don’t know, then maybe they need some more time to figure it out.  But I owe them more than just blindly saying to hang in there and keep trying till they get their rainbow when that may not be what’s in their heart or what’s best for them.  Only they can know.


9 thoughts on “When enough is enough

  1. Thank you so much for this post. It’s funny (not haha funny, but odd) to me to hear that people have judged you or others for ‘giving up’. I often feel like the opposite, that people must think I’m the biggest idiot for continuing despite such unlikely odds. I sort of judge myself for it. In any other circumstance if something failed 6 times I’d assume it wasn’t going to happen and cut my losses. Like you said, just because it eventually worked for someone else does not mean it will work for everyone. Continuing to try has nothing whatsoever to do with strength because honestly it would be harder to stop. Adoption or not having children is harder and more terrifying to me, and so if anything I’m choosing the easier option by avoiding those things. I am definitely terrified that, as you said, once more will become again and again and again because I won’t ever be able to say enough is enough.

  2. I agree with everything you said. Everyone is different. Everyone’s body is different. And what works for one person (emotionally or medically) will not necessarily work for another. I think all of it is hard. To keep trying is scary and painful. To stop trying is scary and painful. I want children more than anything, but I know I’d have a point where I would have to stop trying for a biological child because it would be too painful to lose too many. I would never judge someone for the decision they made on this. And I can’t believe someone referred to you as a quitter.

  3. It’s so hard not to compare your situation to others, or to insert your own experiences and emotions into another’s situation. Recently, a woman in my miscarriage support group (on Facebook) asked the rest of us for some advice as to what she should regarding her next treatment cycle. (Long story short: she’s had 9 miscarriages and 1 failed IVF with PGD; I’ve had 1 miscarriage and 1 failed IUI.) All I could think to say was “STOP! How can you keep doing this when you keep losing them?!” It was part not wanting to see her get hurt again, and part seeing myself come up short compared to her. There’s no way I could live through that many losses. I would quit long before 9, but she’s determined to keep going. I must not be strong. Of course, I didn’t say that; all I or anyone else could say is “Spend more time sifting through your thoughts and emotions; go with what you feel in your heart is the right decision for you right now.” That’s all any of us can do.

    • I would have had a hard time reading that Facebook scenario, too, and I probably have read that and worse (and I’m right up there with miscarrying two IVF/PGS babies). But I imagine that most of the responses were ‘try again, have you had extra progesterone?, maybe you need to take 2 baby aspirin a day, this one is it!’ And there is something major to be said about the encouragement, we all need it when going through this dark sh**. Not everyone needs to be as much as a downer as I am! But what this woman may need to see and hear is also ‘it’s ok to stop if you need to, or take a break if you need to, do what is best for you’. /MMB

  4. Wow I’m surprised to hear that other women who are in the same kind of situation as you (RPL or fertility problems) would even judge. They of all people should know the horrific road you have traveled. And I for one think that “giving up” can be a positive thing. I can’t begin to understand what women like you have gone through, but I can see how it would just keep tearing you apart bit by bit. So just putting it all aside, even just for awhile, sounds like a blessed relief.

  5. I’ve spent the last year or so grappling with this myself. I’ve always thought that each individual woman or couple had to decide for themselves when enough was enough – and I’ve always respected a persons decision to stop, or try again, or change paths. What I never could decide is how I would know that I was done. It took much soul-searching, and a cold-hard look at finances, to realize my limits (a third IVF and any resulting FETs). After a looooong time, I’m okay with stopping at that point — regardless of whether I end up with three babies, or one, or none. That’s MY limit, mine and hubby’s. To impose my personal limits on anyone else seems ludicrous – as you said, we are all unique with our own stories to tell. Some of us have very good reasons to try again, while others (such as yourself) have very good reasons to stop. How anyone, online or IRL, can believe that they know what you should do better than you do just boggles the mind, especially since no one can guarantee the ending you seek.

    Do what makes the most sense for YOU (taking Hubs and Sweets into consideration), and tell everyone else to kindly keep their opinions to themselves. 🙂

  6. I find it terribly insulting that anyone would insinuate that you didn’t want it badly enough if you quit. There is so much more to that decision than how badly you want it. Hubby and I quit when we did for a very long list of reasons, none of which were that we didn’t want it anymore. We still do, and it hurts every day.

    I also can’t stand the unsolicited advice. I had a woman e-mail me personally, singing the praises of progesterone. Ummm. Yeah. Thanks. Been there, done that- for four of my five pregnancies. I’m glad it worked for you, but progesterone deficiency is not my problem, and if you had read a little further in my blog, you would have known that. Frustrating.

    Anyway… ugh. Just a note to sympathize. I deal with the same issues all the time. Huge hugs to you….

  7. Here from ICLW!

    I have had similar experiences. One with a co-worker who conceived her son via IVF and one loss, and the other with my mother-in-law had two stillbirths, four miscarriages and three healthy children. After our third miscarriage we’ve taken a break, and have received more than enough comments regarding our commitment to having children or how strong our desire REALLY is. It is so much more hurtful to hear it from someone who has been there – because we expect (perhaps unreasonably) for them to have a deeper understanding of how tough this is than someone who hasn’t been through it.

    I’m sure my story is much less heartbreaking than a majority of women battling IF, but I’ve reached my personal limit. I have so much respect for all women going through this, especially the ones who have gone further than I have…they have a strength in them that I cannot find for myself. I’m not sure if we will re-enter the TTC world, we’re still debating…but the key to all of it is that it’s our decision when we draw the line…not my mother-in-law or co-workers or any one else’s. I just wish more people, especially those of us in the IF trenches, would have more kindness for each other knowing how tough this journey is on it’s own – without the judgement of others.

    I’m so sorry for your losses, and I hope you’re able to find peace in all of this!

    • Hi Rachel- thanks for stopping by! I am sorry you are hearing comments also from people about taking a break from TTC. I think you are right, we really don’t expect it from people who know how hard the road can be. I just popped over to your blog, looking forward to reading more. Best /MMB

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