Miscarriage, Pregnancy

“I can’t do this anymore” Knowing when to stop trying

After our first miscarriage, nobody suggested that we stop trying for a baby. After our second, people encouraged us to keep going – after all, you can only have so much bad luck. Now we’ve had a third, I have noticed a subtle but very definite shift in people’s attitudes. 

“Maybe you should wait for your test results before you try again.”

“Have you thought how long you’re going to keep trying?”

“I can’t bear to see you go through this pain again.”

Everyone’s comments come from a good place, I know this. But taking them on board would mean having the “what if this doesn’t happen for us” conversation and I’m not sure I’m fully prepared for that yet. 

A change in mindset

Yet, with more frequency these days, I find myself looking at families with young children and instead of thinking “that will be us soon” I find myself wondering “will that be us soon?” A small change in language, but a massive shift in attitude. 

No longer am I certain of the things that come so easily to many other women. When there was a delay in my period returning after my third miscarriage, I wondered if this was the start of the menopause. When my OPKs didn’t show a positive reading last month, I wondered if I was developing an ovulation issue. Normal everyday processes of my female body have become one more way things can go wrong, one more way in which my body can let us down.  

Attitudes to pregnancy

When I was younger, getting pregnant seemed so easy, so automatic. As a teenage girl with little understanding of the conception process, I was convinced that if I had unprotected sex just one time, I would definitely become pregnant. Pregnancy, I was led to believe, is the thing that happens to you when you’re not paying attention.

This way of thinking was reinforced when I had an unplanned pregnancy in my early twenties, caused by a split condom during sex that happened the day before my period came. I shouldn’t have been able to get pregnant then, but somehow I did. That only showed me that pregnancy was too easy, and was something to protect against, because it would find a way to happen whether you wanted it to or not. 

When I finally started trying to conceive at 38, I still held on to some of these misguided ways of thinking. We decided that we wanted a baby, I prepared for it, then based on childhood beliefs and early adulthood experiences, I thought it would just happen. When it didn’t in the first or even second month, I felt let down. 

Reality sets in

As my assumption had always been that getting – and staying – pregnant would be easy, deciding how long we’d try before throwing in the towel wasn’t even a consideration. That’s why I find myself here, unprepared and undecided what compromises I will need to – or even can – make. 

Through the 19 months of our pregnancy journey (so far), I’ve realised just how unaware I was at the beginning. Now, I’m so much more conscious of the women who find it impossible to get pregnant at all. The women who endure years of trying to get pregnant, involving expensive supplements and fertility treatments. The women who (like me) can get pregnant, sometimes, but then they can’t carry a pregnancy to term. And the women can get pregnant on every try, but then miscarry again and again. 

So now when I look at my future, I suppose I don’t let myself believe that it will actually happen for us. I see IVF with donor eggs, adoption, surrogacy, and wonder – are these things we’re going to have to investigate now? Will they be our only chance of reaching our end goal? 

I struggle daily with the possibility that we may not have a genetic child of our own, that little person that’s 50% me and 50% him. I know that we would love any child, as the most important thing to us is raising a family together.  But the letting go of a dream held for 40 years is going to be a struggle.

And that’s why, for now at least, I continue to hope. To cling to the possibility that the next pregnancy might just work. Because my heart isn’t quite ready for the alternative. 

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