Wednesday, 27 April 2011

There but for the Grace...

The latest issue of Marie Claire magazine opens, as usual, with a column from Grace Dent. Her columns always make me laugh, she is funny, acerbic and irreverent. (All that I aspire to)

This month the column was about the joys of children. Specifically, the joys of children that you can return to their parents whilst you knock back another glass of chilled white.

All well and good.

But what particularly struck me was this sentence:

"After years spent trying for a baby, and many appointments involving bleak phrases such as ‘Nurse, bring the vice and the blue dye’ and ‘This might hurt for four days’, I decided that perhaps life would be fine without my own children."

She went on to highlight the benefits of her choice. Benefits that were virtually parroting Mariella's column (which, if you haven't read May's response, go and do so now) "I can live in a house with white interiors full of easily-smashable objects. I don’t need to take a break from the career I’ve worked on for two decades. I can go on long-haul holidays..."

Grace's justification did not annoy me like Mariella's because she is practicing what she preaches, unlike Frostrup with her two children who had the audacity to expound on the joys of childlessness, Grace really is living the ... er ... dream.

A couple of years ago I gave myself until November 2011 before was going to take my feet out of the stirrups and get off the baby-making horse. The reasons were relatively arbitrary - by that point we'd have tried for 5 years and I figured I would have had the best of both NHS and private treatment which would inform my decision about whether there was any point in continuing to beat a dead womb.

I figure at this rate I've got two more IVFs in me.  The NHS funded one for which I start injecting myself on Saturday and then, if that fails, another private one (the joys of spending five years as an infertile is that you have plenty of time to save up a packet for a self-funded IVF, not so many of those long-haul flights though).

At the moment I am not feeling spectacularly positive about the next cycle - for no reason other than I've already failed once.  And four and a half years, without even the sniff of a chemical pregnancy, tends to dampen ones spirit somewhat.

So back to my original point. How does one go from being filled up to your uterus with blue dye to perfect contentment in a life where children arrive for a few hours, use your DVD player as a toaster and go home chock-full of sugar to wreak havoc elsewhere.

I'm not having a go, I genuinely want to know.

I might just tweet her, and ask.


  1. I'm not quite there, but I can see it on the horizon. My best suggestion - time and therapy. Also, if you have any friends with truly obnoxious, demanding toddlers, visiting them often helps.

  2. Yeah, I'd like to know, too. Although it may change, right now I've given myself until January 2012 before we "give up." I'd kind of like to know how you switch to "acceptance." Let us know if you find out.

  3. Incredible post. I just went to May's column as well and had a really good cry. Fucking Frostrup needs a kick up the arse.

  4. Great post. I'm not sure. We've been on this road for almost six years. I thought I had given up on it but that all changed a little over a year ago. I think I'm going to try to four IVFs (including the one I'm on now), along with any of the FETs that accompany. It's hard to say though... it seems to change on a daily basis for me. A week ago I was verging on deciding this IVF and any FETs... that's it. Now I'm having a hard time imagining giving up since we've come this far. In the end, I guess I have the same question...

  5. I don't think there is such a thing as perfect contentment. I believe there is a time when you decide to stop banging your head against a brick wall because it hurts too much...and cessation of intense pain can feel pretty much like contentment.

    It's the rock and the hard place - or if you prefer 6 of one, half a dozen of the other - where either choice has consequences that are unpleasant. You weigh the amount of unpleasantness you're willing to suffer and the associated chance for rewards. And then you go on, knowing you made the best decision you could under the circumstances.

  6. I remember going into my 2nd IVF with a similar outlook. It's kind of a defense mechanism of sorts. The first time you are absolutely crushed when it doesn't work. So, for round two you try to protect yourself a bit more (as if that is actually possible).
    I understand the end dates as well - our first 5 years ttc were the same way, not a hint of pregnancy. Ever. Then amazingly 3 x in 6 months. Talk about 180 degree turn. Anyhow, here's to hoping that the second IVF is all you need. Love your carefree attitude, and I hope that does nothing but help the process =). Thinking of you!

  7. My mother's theory (posited at a point when she was trying to tell me it was ok if no kids occur) was that at some point the biological clock just stops ringing its alarm bells, and the overwhelming desire for a baby reduces. Apparently this is the line my childless aunt has given to her.
    I don't know how much of this to believe, but it is very difficult when you(hypothetical person) invested so much time and emotion to admit that it's over. But there are some people so obsessed with the need for a child that everything else falls away. I don't know that that is a healthy place for a child to grow.
    On the hand- an apparent benefit of remaining child free- never having your midriff muscles tear in two(really?WTF) and not knit back together.

  8. Time helps. It's been over 7 years since I learned I'd never have children. (Last IVFs cancelled, dr wouldn't do anymore). Your brain reprogrammes itself, so you just don't think about it all the time. And growing older helps too. It's a process - and takes time - but it does mean that you can embrace your new life with joy and hope.

  9. Thank you for the link to May's post it was bloody brilliant. I don't know how you go without having children. The thought of it makes me start to cry. I hope that both of us never have to make that agonising choice and that our bodies will remember what they are supposed to do. I think though by the time you have to make that choice you will have started the process anyway. Here's to our next IVF cycles. BTW I hope I haven't missed it but any news on wombmate?

  10. I guess it has something to do with having tried everything. Then. Something with facing your biggest fear. Letting yourself go into the dark abyss. Letting your eyes adjust to the dark and then, slowly, see what you have left.

  11. I'm stumped.

    I do appreciate though that it's a spectrum, and that everyone's position is unique. So it's interesting to hear all points of view - it's just the white sofa/exotic holiday thing does sound a bit.. empty. I could understand it if someone has another great passion - being - I dunno - a ballet dancer or a lion tamer. But pretty vases? Not really.

  12. That's a huge, powerful, important question. I have no idea of the answer and no words of wisdom, anything I say will sound glib and empty and it is such a painful quandry. Just wanted to comment and give you support as you work through this.

  13. Thank you for posting links to the essay and advice column. The essay was good for a laugh. have a habit of saving good pieces of writing, so I actually have an article from the early 90's (when, alas, I was in my early 20's... motherhood no where on the horizon though I knew I wanted it a part of my life). It was written by a woman ranting about childbearing and children (one memorable sentence went something like: "Something in nature is terribly wrong, when a panda bear gives birth to a creature that fits in the palm of the hand and a 120lb woman gives birth to an infant the size of an overnight bag. Science should drop everything and solve this problem!) But the writer, after all her angst, ended by saying, "Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there, from someone who wishes she were one." Obviously, her words had an impression upon me, having remembered them all these years. For many of us, the desire to have a child- children- is inordinately strong but sadly elusive.

    I am 41, got a late start on Project Baby, have been pregnant twice and miscarried twice. My health insurance (a US employer plan) will pay for unlimited IUI until I'm 44. So I'd not thought about the "when to give up" question before now, but I suppose not before that time. I can picture a life without children, but it seems empty, lonely even. It would take lots of dogs to fill the space in my heart, and even then... Nope. Still empty.

  14. I don't know. It's evidence of someone coming to a certain peace with things (of which I have not been capable). Though, maybe that's wrong. Maybe you reach a point where you're just tired. Where the decision becomes easier. Though, I'm guessing not easy.

    I once took great offense at my SIL, who told me that when going through infertility treatments one must draw a line in the sand in terms of when to end treatments. I could see her point, somewhat, but she was someone who got pregnant (with twins) on her fourth go. Where does one draw that line, exactly? And how? I think the line is different for everyone. I also think it moves. And that this is not necessarily a bad thing. Our perspective on things changes based on our experiences. Also based on what we know (or don't).

    You are describing exactly how I felt walking into my second IVF cycle. The positivity of the first one was gone (together with my focus on shining statistics, my anticipation, my plan-making about what would happen nine months hence). That isn't a bad thing, necessarily. It helps guard the heart.

    And the truth is that the second go works for many, many people. It sometimes works even when you're converted (ahem) and you feel like all hope is gone. The second time, though, we keep our feet more firmly on the ground.

    (Hopeful for you, Liz. So very hopeful).

  15. I don't know how you get there, I really don't.
    Her column is far less annoying than Mariella's though, perhaps because she doesn't have the rudeness to preach about something she hasn't experienced and hasn't a clue about.
    Really hoping number 2 works out for you.

  16. In my case, you don't. I never had the blue dye, just the buckets of blood, but we did what you are doing, gave ourselves a deadline, and even if we hadn't felt ready to stop we knew we were going to go ahead with adoption at that point.

    Having children never stopped my parents having long haul holidays (and it had better not stop us because otherwise they'll never get to see their birth family), there's Magic Eraser for the white walls and high shelves for the breakable objects.

  17. Tough question and one I'm sure each of us have asked ourselves. 1 failed IUI and and 3 IVF transfers cancelled, 2 failed - my hubby and I finally won the lottery with a baby girl.
    But over those 5 years that line was always looming. We didn't know exactly where it was but it existed.
    I think age probably helps, you end up with fewer years to have to deal with changing your mind.
    For me the line was set not on a date/timeline, but at knowing that if my relationship with my husband was being compromised that it was time to move on.
    Also my brother lost his fiancee at a young age and it really put into perspective that none of us know how much time we have on this earth. I want to spend my time living for all that I am so lucky to have.
    This all sounds trite and is so impossible to put into words (for me).
    But I do emphasize with your soul searching and truly, truly hope that you have the most wonderful of opportunities in becoming parents and that you need never to draw your line.


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