When you shared that you were undergoing IVF, have you ever heard some variation on, “No offense, but I just couldn’t do IVF (or donor egg, donor semen, donor embryos or surrogacy)” or “I don’t believe in IVF”? If not, you’re lucky because plenty of people in our community have heard just that. Honestly, some people need a frontal lobe filter. Just because you think it, does not mean you need to say it.
First, if someone says that they are doing X and you don’t believe in X or think you would personally never do X, why would you say it. What good can possibly come from sharing your personal beliefs on something you likely know very little about when someone is already committed to doing it? Just saying… .
Second, it’s mighty easy to say what you would and wouldn’t do when you’ve never had to consider even the remotest possibility of doing it. Before I really experienced life, my list of “I would never ___” was long. The more I live, the shorter my list becomes. Heck my list of “I would nevers” just in relation to parenting could fill a book. Here are just a few big ones that have bit the dust:
- Use the TV as a babysitter. (I did not and do not believe watching TV is beneficial to kids. It rots their brains and shortens their attention span.)
- Homeschool a child. (I believe in public education, and we must support public education if it’s going to be good for all kids.)
- Pay for a fifth year of college. (By golly, college is expensive and they can jolly-well get through in 4 years, thank you very much.)
- Curse in front of my children. (Somehow the “S” word sneaks out on occasion without me even being aware, but I definitely didn’t and don’t believe in using foul language in front of kids.)
Raising four children has humbled me. As the parent of teens and beyond, my list of “I would nevers” is pretty much down to zero right about now.
Third, few of us entered into the family building stage “believing in IVF”, meaning that few of us believe that we will ever be the one that has to resort to IVF, donor egg, donor semen, or surrogacy in order to become a parent. We grow into this acceptance by gathering information, consulting doctors, and lots and lots of prayer and discussion.
So, here’s my response to those who feel compelled to share what they don’t believe in or would never do if faced with infertility (IVF, donor sperm, donor egg, donor embryo, surrogacy, or adoption):
Well, thanks so much for sharing. It’s so thoughtful of you to share your well thought out and researched beliefs on such a personal topic. Truthfully, I don’t believe in infertility, but hey, no one asked me what I believed in before I was diagnosed with this awful disease.
I do hope you’re never in the position to struggle with infertility and have to make this decision, but maybe you should consider that if you ever had to make this decision, you might see things differently. I suspect that if you ever found yourself infertile, regardless what route you finally decide on, you would likely go through the same 13 steps that most of us do.
13 Steps to Making Peace with Our Infertility Decisions
1st: Go to more doctors than you can imagine and spend more money than you have to find out what is wrong and your options for treatment.
2nd: Grieve that an easy conception is not an option.
3rd: Cautiously get educated on the risks and benefits of all your treatment options and all your other options for becoming a parent.
4th: Spend time paralyzed by fear of the unknown, and cut your budget to the bone to save as much as possible so you can afford whatever path to parenthood is available.
5th: Start with the least invasive, least expensive, and least scary option.
6th: Grieve that it didn’t work.
7th: Register shock at how hard it is to adopt, and slowly come to the realization that there are no easy answers.
8th: Grieve that all your friends are now parents and you feel left behind.
9th: Research your options, including adoption, some more.
10th: Maybe take a detour to the land of fear and indecision.
12th: Decide after much thought, prayer, research, and consultation with many experts on the next step—maybe a step that before all this thought, prayer, research and consultation you never would have thought you could or would take.
13th: Shake your head in disbelief when a friend who has never had to face this decision, has never given it much thought, and know almost nothing about infertility or infertility treatment, shares her uneducated opinion about what she would do in the totally unlikely event that she will ever have to make that decision.
Would you add any additional steps or responses?
First published: Jan. 2015 Updated: July 2016 Image credit: Jack Pease (sunset)
Add Your Comment
I have been diagnosed with POF (It means early menopause) and I am only 22. Before I knew what was wrong with me I had always been drawn to adoption. Now I don’t care. I want a BABY! I have been looking into adoption and I found out that right now it is an 8 year wait for MARRIED couples to adopt a baby through public child welfare organizations. If you are able to afford private adoption the natural mother has to pick you (so you may have paid thousands of dollars to never been picked to parent). It’s sad. Now I am considering IVF (if my eggs aren’t completely dead yet).
I am single, starting college and from a low income family. But I know I have little time to get pregnant (if I can even still get pregnant). Time is against me and it may already be gone. I am training to be a preschool teacher and I KNOW being a mom is all I want. I would love a partner but if I had to choose between being a single parent or a couple without a baby I would choose to be single forever.
Is it wrong to want to have a baby in college? I feel guilty about even considering bringing a baby into a less than ideal family situation (single mom, in school and working, less money). But I am very aware that if I am LUCKY I may still be able to have a baby NOW and if I am unlucky it is NEVER.
Is it wrong to seek out young single parenthood? POF is unique in that I don’t have time to wait. I am scared and sad. I don’t think I can be a preschool teacher and take care of other peoples children while painfully knowing I will never have my own family. 🙁 I am going to an endocrinologist in a month to determine if I can still have a baby at all and how much time I have. But based on my symptoms I probably don’t have much if any
Would I be a bad mom to aim for a child now? Or is it better to not having a baby at all?
There’s certainly a lot going on in your life right now, isn’t there? Thanks for sharing your story and being vulnerable. While no one but you can decide when and if having a baby is right for you, it is highly advisable to spend time talking with your family, your doctor, and maybe even some kind of counselor or spiritual advisor for some wise and balanced input to your decision-making process.
Creating a Family has a lot of great resources for the many questions you are asking here. One starting point you can head to is this show all about Premature Ovarian Failure – https://creatingafamily.org/infertility-category/premature-ovarian-failure-causes-and-treatment/
It’s a really comprehensive show and the related resources linked to the show might be useful for you also. Best wishes and thank you again for reading and sharing.
Have you ever written or reported on NaPro Technologies?
The success rates are far better than IVF and its much cheaper.
We’ve done shows on no-stim or “natural IVF”, but not on NaPro. We’ll consider it.
NaPro isn’t really a technology but more so a different way of addressing infertility. It isn’t more successful than IVF but comes from the religious community who oppose IVF. I think we should be clear about what it is.
I love this entry and I love you. I love you not only for providing me with information on infertility–all in one place–I also love your examples, time and time again, that demonstrates a quick wit.
Geeezzzz. Let’s see. I started feeling really awful in September when I STILL wasn’t pregnant. I had the worst gynecologist. He literally told me to relax and I’ll be fine, have a glass of wine. He said that. Not kidding. I was 39 in September. I didn’t even know what a RE was. So in September I started doing acupuncture. Yep, that’s how lost I was–went to a acupuncturist before seeing an RE.
I remember telling my niece who is an RN that I was going for acupuncture for fertility. She said, “oh, that’s ok. As long as it’s not IVF, I don’t believe in that. I think if you can’t get pregnant, it’s God’s way of telling you it’s not meant to be.”
Fast forward 5 months, I am currently undergoing a grueling, expensive, physically draining 4 cycle IVF banking treatment. No one in my family knows. Both my niece and my sister are evangelical Christians who are against IVF. Others in our families are just as opinionated. I don’t want to share with them. Mostly because I know my chances of success are very slim. I can already hear them saying, should they learn of a failed IVF treatment, that was Gods way of telling you it wasn’t meant to be.
Now this particular niece has just announced her pregnancy. I will be sure to be on an amazing trip with my husband when her baby shower rolls around.
That’s the thing that is so so so hard for me. The alienation. In my head, when my baby comes, I don’t even want to share it with these people–my family.
With my small chances of success, I have thoroughly thought through my next step should this not work. And that would be donor egg with my husbands sperm. I will, for sure, never share with these people my truth. I don’t think God would want me to.
Again, I can not thank you enough. I’ve devoured every episode of Creating a Family. Every episode is like therapy. When I’m finished with fertility treatments and have some extra money, I will donate.
Annie, thank you so much for your kind words. I absolutely would not share with your family, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need support–just not from them. Have you joined the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/40688106167/). If not you absolutely should. It’s a closed Facebook group so only those in the group can see your posts.
Great piece, Dawn! Thanks!
Yes. People tell you all kinds of things they would or wouldn’t do when it comes to infertility. People telling me infertility isn’t *really* a disease because they couldn’t relate to it, that hurt because it is very much a disease. Actually, the comment that hurt me the most was from people who had children who would say that I should just accept that I couldn’t have kids and move on. Easy for them to say because they did have kids. I would always ask them to think about how much they loved their children, how much their children meant in their lives, and then I would tell them to imagine that their children just didn’t exist, and never would. They couldn’t do it. I followed pretty much all of the steps you listed, but the one I would add is to seek counseling or a support group. After my third miscarriage (the pregnancy resulted from an IUI) I started seeing a grief counselor. That helped me immensely. And then, I was able to help others, so my friend and I began a little support group for women struggling with infertility and/or miscarriage. Great article.
Sara, I’m so glad you got help and that the counseling made you better able to help others.
I said it when we were only 6 months into trying. Little did I know…..3 cycles later and a lot of tears :/
Stephanie, yeah, funny how life has a way of teaching us lessons. 🙂
13. Find a supportive community that can understand your need to be sad and vent, speak your crazy RE acronyms, and help you weather the internal and external emotional storms.
AnonAP–Amen sister! Amen. The best one I know of is the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/40688106167/). It’s a closed Facebook group so that only those in the group can see the posts.