Wednesday, 11 November 2009

An Exit Strategy

Yesterday marked three years of wedded bliss. Also, not entirely co-incidentally, it heralded three years of failing to get pregnant. (Little tip to anyone who found this site through googling "Special things to do on your wedding day," don't decide to lose the birth control on the same day you lose your maiden name - it slightly taints the whole anniversary celebration thing).

Anyway, three years in and we've made a pact. We give it two more years bringing the total to five and call it a day.


No, not our marriage. That whole trying for a baby thing.

That might sound a bit drastic, but hear me out.

One of the problems with trying to get pregnant without a specific 'problem' is that other than actually getting pregnant or hitting the menopause there is no moment when you can categorically, absolutely, unequivocally say the trying is over and move on.

For some people maybe this is a good thing, there is always hope. For me it isn't.

I keenly remember hearing a radio interview with a woman who used the phrase "I wasted my thirties trying to have a baby." This has haunted me. I don't want to live like that. I am in my prime. Other than the lack of child my life is pretty much text-book perfect. I should enjoy it.

Early next year we are likely to run out of NHS options. So we'll have just shy of two years to throw money, time and energy at the problems.

We'll do everything we can to have a baby.

But if nothing happens, after two years we stop. We'll move on (probably literally - somewhere where we don't have to worry about schools or being responsible grown-ups).

I know I'll only be thirty five and "lots of people have kids in their forties", but, if I haven't managed to get pregnant by then we can assume that age isn't the problem.

And yes, lots of people try far longer than five years and go on to conceive. I know, I know. But I also need to know that this isn't going to blight my life from now to menopause. I need to know there is a time when I can be me and not wee on sticks every morning, not count days between period and ovulation, ovulation and period, not obsess.

Obviously this comes with numerous caveats - not least it is a woman's prerogative to change her mind.

For some people the thought might seem depressing but to be honest it feels like a relief.

I hope I don't need it, but having an end in sight puts me, not my hormones, back in control.


  1. That's a very brave decision. And I'm sure one which you've both thought about a lot. Only you'll know if and when it's time to call it a day.

    Happy anniversary and I really do wish you all the best...

  2. I think it's a very brave decision indeed. One that I'm sure you don't need me to tell you is not made on a whim. I sincerely hope that it dones't come to that though.
    I hope you had a good anniversary. Did you go anywhere splosh?

    Ps: Thanks for the reply. Link as follows. It's locked at present but will be up and readable in a few days. Cheers

  3. We had the same sort of talk after our diagnosis (we measured in treatments rather than time but the result was the same), having an end in sight made all the difference to my well-being, it gave me something to plan and helped with the bitterness a little. I felt (and still do) that my husband was more important to me than the quest for baby and while we'd give it everything, we needed to resolve to enjoy the life we could create together.

    That talk was hard and emotional but I swear being able to look towards our "Plan B" really took the edge off on the days when I was just plain sick of tests or peeing on a stick and monitoring what my body was doing.

    I hope you don’t get so far you need to put the plan into action but I do hope it has the same sort of effect on you as it did on me.

  4. Makes sense to me! I've thought about this too. What identifies that enough is enough? Age? Money? Hope?

  5. I totally get this and it makes perfect sense to me. For me, the take away from this is that you are not willing to be defined by (in)fertility. There are many, many wonderful things in life and children are one of them. And, understandably, you'll do everything you can to have a child, but there has to be a limit at some point.
    My husband and I have not had that conversation yet, other than agreeing that we will pursue adoption if fertility treatments fail. At some point we should discuss a timeline for this as well.

  6. Congratulations. I realized last month that it has been a long time since we were living for ourselves. TTC seems to be all consuming sometimes.

    Hubby and I agreed to discuss "stopping" after we get a diagnosis and plan from the RE. I suggested that once we stop we should get a new kitten. Now Hubby doesn't want to stop!

  7. Yay for wedded bliss! Congratulations!

    As for the other, well, you are doing better than I am. H and I keep NEARLY having the 'just how bloody long are we going to keep this up' (I've just re-read that. Fnarr. Sorry) conversation and never quite, you know, actually, HAVING it. We should really stiffen our resolve (tee hee sorry. Sorry sorry sorry) and make a firm (snort) decision.

    Which explains why we never have a grown up converstaion about anything at my house. I'm too frikken' juvenile.

  8. I think about that too. We are "unexplained" and yes there's hope, but there also comes a point when I'll just want to move on to something else and stop thinking about trying to get pregnant. I think it's good to have a plan.

  9. Happy Anniversary! :)

    I really appreciate this post--and it's definitely not depressing! I wonder about our finish line, too. We haven't had that discussion yet, but we will have to...just because my personality dictates that I be able to plan in some way, have some kind of solid objective. Already we have made numerous deferments in the name of family building, and I'm sure there'll be more. BUT I agree with you--at some point, I'll have to be able to live this life o'mine without the constant reframing/what if/etc.

    Hoping these next two years (fingers crossed for shorter) bring you good things. :)

  10. I totally understand your thought process. I'm glad you're finding what works for you. I had very similar feelings and thoughts as well. And you're stronger than I my friend because I was going to go for one more IUI at 3 and a half years of trying and if that didn't work, adopt.

    By the way, can I just say that I love how you write your blog? I find it so thoughtful. I also adore that you take the time to use English so well. Your spellings are correct, your grammar is lovely, and your words hit home.

    I say this as someone who often gets lazy and/or bends the grammar rules just for fun blog effect. But I can't stand it when people brag about their intelligence or ability and do those same things. You don't brag, yet you'd be more deserving of the praise.

    Thanks for your writing!

  11. It makes perfect sense. Living your life in 2 week increments is enough to make you nuts.

  12. Smart decision.
    We were also "unexplained" and its bloody frustrating (no pun intended).

  13. The above (points upwards to last comment) in no way means *I* am not rooting for you (again, no pun intended).

  14. Completely with you. There has to be a point in time, if only theoretical, where it's just enough already. At least that little bit of control is ours to have.

    Congratulations, too. Three years!

  15. I totally agree with everything you have said...and having an end (even if it is not the desired end) is a huge comfort.

  16. That's exactly the time scale I gave us (with Mr Spouse's agreement) and I feel pretty happy (though frustrated at times) that we are moving onwards now and not continuing to try.

  17. You're welcome. :) Just for note, I told him that AFTER he gave me the ticket. I don't want to seem like some sap trying to get out of a ticket. ;)

    And I told you I firmly believe in positive reinforcement. If someone's doing something I like, I reward it!!! :D

    And like a lot of people said in your comments, I too enjoyed living for ourselves while we waited for my body to stabilize. Not letting IF rule our lives was a nice change of pace. I can completely understand needing to set the boundaries.

  18. Cheers Mick, I’ve thought about it a lot the husband … well sorta!
    Thanks Carolyne, we took the day off work and went to the National Gallery and then a post meal, despite everything it was a lovely day.

    You’re right, Serendipity, it does make a difference knowing that we don’t have an endless void ahead of us.

    Quite Rambler, for many people I think enough comes when they have run out of options, but I think I’d feel cheated if I was forced to stop due to external forces rather than because of a rational decision I’d made.

    Yup, that’s another thing AplusB if you have a plan B (no pun intended) then you need to start thinking about when to put that into action and make it plan A.

    Pregnant Yuppy, after a year of trying (and failing) I bought forward my plan to get a dog once we’d had a baby – we’ve had him nearly two years and he’s been a great source of comfort.

    Well, Nuts, I think you should grasp the topic firmly (snort, you’ve got me doing it too!). Nah, I think our three years of absolutely nothing makes the decision a bit easier. You’ve got a lot of other things to deal with just now.

    Cheers JC, do you ever think it would be easier if you just KNEW one way or another?
    Thanks Trinity, yeah fingers crossed in two years time things’ll be quite different for both of us…

    Barb, that is one of the most flattering comment I’ve had. In fact for a moment I wondered if it was sarcastic! I have certainly tried to take more care over my grammar since my blog was review in August.

    Or Batty? Batty.

    “Bloody frustrating”! I’m gonna use that Corymbia.

    Cheers Twangy, though in reality three years isn’t the half of it (or the third or the quarter, in fact I think it is the fifth of it).

    Thanks Megan, it is.

    Thanks for this Dr Spouse, its really useful to hear from someone who has made this kind of decision and to see how you feel now.

    I didn’t think you’d have used it as a ploy to get out of a fine, Barb (although I totally would have!)

  19. Happy Anniversary!

    This is fascinating reading for me, because it's a point of view I never had - I was always of the school of thought that I'd still be trying or... ummm... dead. I couldn't visualise ever jumping off the merry-go-round, dizzy & sickening as it was. I was tied to the bloody horse!

    Unexplained infertility is, to my mind, the worst diagnosis to have, and I ache in sympathy for you - but it's also the diagnosis that seems, anecdotally, to respond reasonably well to IVF when all else has failed.

    And... somehow, I think you'll know in yourselves when you've come to the end of your particular piece of tarmac and the white lines you were following start to fade away. Having a rough timescale is certainly no bad thing - you can gradually start to envision the alternative, responsibility-free (I was going to put 'diminished responsibility' for a mo!) life you could enjoy, as opposed to undergoing a violent mental sea-change.

    Either way, we're out here cheering you on.

  20. I get what you mean.

    It only makes sense to put a ring around it somehow, do your best to get there, but if you don't you still have everything else.

    It never got to that, but I do doubt how well we would have stuck to a timeframe, if push came to shove.

    Best of luck.

  21. Not sarcastic. I'm never THAT mean. :)

  22. Thanks HFF, Even a year ago I couldn't imagine ever considering stopping, but things are getting a bit exhausting.

    Who knows how I'll feel when if it comes to it Xbox, but I need something to keep me the right side of sanity.

    I didn't really think so Barb!

  23. A belated happy anniversary.

    An exit strategy is very scary but necessary if, like you say, you don't want to waste your 30's. We have kind of agreed on our exit strategy but it makes me very twitchy whenever I think about it. Two rounds of IVF and then we get on with life. It's definitely a lot easier to say than actually do but I am mindful that we have already nearly spent the first few years of my 30's on this.


I've resisted word verification for ages but I'm getting so many spam comments at the moment that I think it is time. Sorry!