Struggling with Infertility: Guilt

Just a quick recap: This is my sixth post in what has become a series about this topic. The first was about my initial struggles of dealing with infertility, and then I went into detail about starting IVF and the egg retrieval process, the IVF transfers and how it felt, a post about grieving, and finally, the aftermath of 3 rounds of IVF and where I was at that moment.

This one is less about the topic of IVF and infertility itself and more about my current feelings about moving forward with more.

I’ve spoken about the emotional rollercoaster that is fertility treatments — if you’re on that particular ride right now, I truly, deeply understand and commiserate. And about the feeling of grief, feeling defective and broken, the anger and sadness.

I want to go into something else today: Guilt.

Guilt for…trying again?

When we originally started the IVF process in November of 2018, we got 3 good embryos. Husband and I talked about it endlessly and decided that if these 3 didn’t work then we would have to be done.

We’d still have a beautiful and fulfilling life together. But the $33,000 and all the time, emotions, energy, and everything — we wouldn’t do it again.

And then those 3 didn’t take. We didn’t get the kid we went through all that pain for.

And…we didn’t feel done.

For personal reasons, we are not currently going with other options out there.

So, we took the summer off to think and decide and to really step away from it all.

It was a really good summer. About 6–8 weeks after being off all hormones and meds, I finally started to feel like myself again mentally and physically. We traveled to see family and we went to Alaska and we began talking about other non-fertility-related stuff again.

In the end, we decided to try again. One more time. Alllllll the way over, starting with an egg retrieval in early 2020.

After all, in April 2019, New York passed a law that said that any NY-based companies with over 200 employees MUST provide insurance with fertility coverage. Which, of course, will (hopefully) help with the money aspect.

And I still work from home, which helps with the time and energy needed (and all the doctor appointments).

We’re going to try again.

And…I feel extremely guilty and selfish because…I don’t want to.

I’m terrified of trying again.

It was so freaking hard the first time (three times).

It sucked.

I was on tons of hormones, which made my emotions all over the place and uncontrollable, I gained 20 pounds, I had trouble with regulating my emotions and would lash out or have weird mood swings, I went into a depression mentally, and I felt like my body wasn’t my own. I hate the shots and all the pills and having to get up at 7 am to go to monitoring (blood work and ultrasound) every few days. I hated having to plan everything around the timing of the pills and shots. I hated the emotional rollercoaster of anticipation and devastation.

I hated it.

And we’re going to do it again.

Like my husband says (which I agree with), if it gets us a kid, it will be worth all of that.

But all I can think of is…what if it doesn’t?

And I feel SUCH immense guilt for being afraid of it and not wanting to do it again. I mean, if it DOES result in a child, then I guess I’ll feel guilty for not wanting to and if it DOESN’T — then what? Am I going to “I told you so” to myself? Mire myself in more guilt and anxiety? Who knows? Let’s be real, probably that last one.

If you want a child and are doing fertility treatments: you are amazing.

Because this shit sucks.

And I am okay saying it. I don’t feel guilty or selfish for saying I hated it and it sucked. That’s just the truth. You shouldn’t be afraid to be honest, not everything is fun and happy and medical procedures generally aren’t.

You don’t have to lie and call it a “beautiful process” like so many do with other things, like childbirth (gross and painful but with a beautiful result) or ALL of parenting (many moments of awesome combined with many moments of frustration, puke, and poop).

It’s not beautiful. IVF is lots of pills, shots, invasive ultrasounds all the time, blood test results, and clinical transfers. It’s clinical and efficient (ish), not beautiful.

I don’t feel guilty for not enjoying the process. The guilt is all from being scared of it and almost wishing I wasn’t going to go through it all another time.

I’m still going to. But damn, I feel guilt and anxiety about it all.

It’s almost like survivor’s guilt: You don’t really have anything to feel guilty about. You’re allowed to survive and thrive even when others didn’t, but it just doesn’t feel that way.

Entrepreneur, writer, editor, book coach, cat lover, weirdo, optimist. Author of “Write. Get Paid. Repeat.” & “Concept to Conclusion.” jyssicaschwartz.com

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