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Is the Timing Right to Start Fertility Treatments Again?

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday about a friend of hers who’s about to start seeing a fertility doctor, and my advice to her friend was: “Tell her to go into it with eyes wide open.” I thought I went into my infertility journey with eyes wide open, but after all I’ve been through I realize now I didn’t have a clue what I was getting myself into. And I’m not even sure it’s possible to have your eyes wide open with something you just can’t fully understand until you get there. It’s like telling a mom-to-be to go into motherhood with eyes wide open. Can anything really prepare you for parenthood? Can anything really prepare you for IVF?

The twists and turns take you to emotional and physical places you could never anticipate. And since no two infertility experiences are the same, you can’t go by someone else’s journey. The only research I did before I started seeing a fertility doctor was talking to friends about their experience. It was helpful, but our experiences turned out to be quite different.

I’m not gonna lie, lately I’ve been questioning whether we should move forward with this right now. I’ve taken the last few months off and am finally feeling like myself again. Jumping back in is scary. I’m nervous to go back to that place—a place that can be very dark and emotionally (and physically) draining. After our last failed frozen embryo transfer in January we decided to switch doctors, so I went to see my new doctor for an initial consult a couple weeks after I got negative pregnancy results back in January. I thought we were better off starting over with a clean slate and a new doctor who would design a new protocol for me. He’s one of the top fertility doctors in the country, so I’m very confident with our decision. I have many friends who’ve gone to him, with positive results (i.e. babies).

But I needed to give my body a break, so we decided to wait at least a month before starting up again. One month turned into three months, for a variety of personal reasons. I kept telling myself to call the clinic to set up an appointment, but a few things were holding me back: 1. Fear. Fear of putting myself through it again, and it possibly not working. Fear of the physical toll it takes on me, and fear of the heartbreak. 2. Uncertainty. Was the timing right, with both of us self-employed, and me looking for a new job, and all the stress I was under as a result? Stress is a big factor in this, and unfortunately stress has played a big role in my life lately. If I'm going to do this, I want to be in a stress-free state. 3. Insurance. I was still covered under my former employer’s insurance plan, which—unbeknownst to me—had changed. I went from having 70 percent coverage for up to 4 IVF cycles, to only $2k total for infertility, over a lifetime (which I found out about two days before my last transfer, one of the things causing the aforementioned stress). 

So it’s been three months of me sitting on the bench, taking a time out from infertility. A lot has happened in those three months: I started a new job recently, that I'm still getting comfortable with; my husband had back surgery, that he’s still recovering from; and then I had to go and turn 38 last week. On the one hand, it hasn't felt like the right time to start a new cycle of fertility treatments, but on the other hand? I just turned 38!

The big question now is: Should we or shouldn’t we? Turning 38 last week definitely puts things in perspective—my window of opportunity is obviously closing. But is age enough of a reason to do it if the timing isn't quite right? Preston's also not getting any younger—he'll be 3 in August. The longer we wait, the bigger the age difference between kids. I'm less worried about that one, but I still think about it.

There's a small part of me that wonders if maybe we were meant to have only one child. My son is the biggest blessing in my life—there are no words to describe how lucky we feel, and how amazing he is—it's his awesomeness that makes me long for another baby. But I can't help but wonder if I'm tempting fate a little. Am I pushing my luck? Should it be this hard? Is our inability to conceive naturally with no. 2 a sign?

My mom, who stayed with me to help take care of Preston after Jay’s surgery, says I’m “burning the candle on both ends.” That's her way of saying I'm doing too much; I have too much on my plate right now. There’s a lot of pressure on me at the moment, and as much as I want another child, I’d be lying if I said I thought now was the absolute perfect time to do it. I have to stop and think about whether this is the best thing for me right now. I know in the long run it's what we want. Will the timing ever be right?

Do you ever worry about timing when it comes to having children? Or do you just go for it, with the notion that whatever happens, happens, and you’ll make it work somehow? I wish I could think that way, but infertility eliminates the "whatever happens, happens!" part. I wish I could throw caution to the wind, like I did the first time, but everything is so calculated with these infertility treatments. Sometimes I think we should wait until things calm down a little…until my husband's feeling better...until my work schedule is more manageable...until some other things in our life are back on track...but will things ever calm down? What if they don’t, and I lose the little opportunity I have left.

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