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Hopeless or Hopeful

I often get emails asking my opinion on different matters relating to infertility. I’m always honored that people want to hear my thoughts on any topic as lord knows my mother-in-law doesn’t.

Recently, I received an email from someone who has a friend who is currently having major fertility issues. She didn’t specify the details. She just said that her friend was spending thousands of dollars on infertility treatments, that they haven’t had any success and she wanted to sit her friend down and tell her that it was time to “let it go”. The writer asked what I thought.

Short of writing back, “Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!”, I told her that under no circumstances should she ever tell her friend to let it go, give up or move on. Of course, I don’t know all the details but I DO know that if you’re trying to have a baby and you’re having a difficult time with it, it’s for you, your doctor and your partner to decide when enough is enough.

I should note that although this person didn’t tell me whether or not she herself had children, I can’t help but suspect that she not only does, but that she most likely didn’t have any issues getting pregnant. Otherwise, she wouldn’t even consider having this chat with her friend. No one should ever tell anyone else to give up hope.
I’ve often joked that I’m in an abusive relationship with hope. Hope has been known to f*ck people over and it’s also been known to drive people towards their goal. It’s a tricky thing and I still have yet to totally make peace with it.

This all makes me think about a series of unique anniversaries I’ve had recently. On Memorial Day last year, it was the transfer for my third in vitro and on June 10th, 2011, I found out I was pregnant. This year, in honor of these two occasions, I took a moment, held my son and made sure to fully appreciate how far I’ve come and how very grateful I am.

It’s humbling to look at MJ and remember all that we went through to get him. It’s also down right overwhelming to think of him as a little 8-cell embryo; the only one that survived out of thirteen eggs. Last year, right before they did the transfer, they showed me a picture. I looked at it and asked the doctor, “Since I only have one, do you think we should have done assisted hatching?” He answered, “Not with an embryo this perfect.” At the time, I had such little hope that I didn’t think much of that statement. Now that it’s a year later though, I can’t help but agree. He was a perfect embryo… and now, he’s a perfect little baby I’m able to hug and kiss (which I do often).

My husband calls MJ the human equivalent of Prozac. He is truly a smiley, giggly guy that easily can make a whole room of people laugh. I think of the people my husband and I were last year during that third cycle. We spent a lot of time in separate rooms depressed. We were hopeless, isolated and at odds with whether or not we could afford or even bear doing any more infertility treatments. These days, things are just so different. We’re usually all in the same room, together, laughing and deeply appreciative that we finally have the child we dreamed of. It sounds disgustingly corny but I honestly think that at least twice a day, one of us will turn to the other and say, “Can you believe this? We have a son!” He is our miracle.

I’ve gotten a few emails asking why I still write about infertility when I could be writing about being a new mom. After my experience, they go hand in hand. I am a new mom after struggling to get pregnant. I can’t speak for everyone but for me personally, like it or not, infertility has effected how I am as a mother. I don’t believe I would have been as patient or as “in the moment” if it wasn’t for our fertility issues. I would have taken it more for granted, I would have complained more about the lack of sleep and I wouldn’t have fully appreciated how freaking lucky I am to have this sweet baby in my arms.

It’s fitting that I was asked to be a judge for the Sher Institutes, “I Believe” Video Contest (click here) The winner of this contest would win a free IVF Cycle. If you have a moment, I urge you to check out some of the videos as they range from inspirational to heartbreaking to hopeful. I spent two nights just watching them all and it reminded me once again that hope can be both torturous and motivating. It also reminded me how many people’s arms are still empty. I related and remembered so much of what many of the couples shared and it pained me to the core that I can’t do more for them. They should be applauded for sharing their stories. If this were a fair and just world, they should also all have babies.

In these videos, you see first hand accounts of what hell so many have gone through but here they still are: ready to try again. This is why I believe that those who deal with infertility don’t get the respect they deserve. There are no promises or guarantees. There is only a whole lot of hope. Hope that this time, it could work. That’s a strength worthy of deep respect.

Today, for a myriad of reason, I’m actually a little down and maybe it shows in this blog posting. My day job has been an uber bummer lately and since I’m a writer at heart (here’s a piece by the way I wrote for Fertility Authority called, “Get Out of My Womb”: Click here), I’ve been shopping a book around on infertility only to be told time and time again that the topic of infertility is too depressing. It kills me that there are countless books on the holocaust but somehow, the topic of trying to get pregnant is considered unworthy of a book topic. (Note: I don’t mean to compare my uterus to the holocaust but hopefully, you get my meaning).

Having my son has changed me in many ways. One of the most noteworthy is that since something so positive has entered my life, it makes all the negative less tolerable. I don’t want to spend my days doing something I don’t enjoy. I’d rather make my life more meaningful and somehow, in some way, contribute something real to the infertility world as it’s become something I deeply care about. It’s an issue that’s dismissed, ignored, swept under the rug and often misunderstood. If I could spend my time changing that, I really would want to. I just don’t know how yet. Especially when people keep telling you infertility is too sad. And here I always thought I made it funny. Well, bearable at least…

I did have a thought earlier today though that, believe it or not, ties all of this (hope, work, infertility, etc.) together. I was thinking about what I’m going to do with the rest of my life when I thought, “I don’t know if I have faith in the future, but I have faith in me.” I’ve thought this before and I’m always happy to remember it because it’s true. Whether it’s your job, getting pregnant, your marriage or anything you’re unsure of – that is the bottom line. You need to have hope in you. No one knows how things will go but you know yourself and you have to believe that you’ll know what to do, the right path to choose, when to keep going, when to give up or what you ultimately want. Perhaps a cautious form of hope… but hope nonetheless.

37 thoughts on “Hopeless or Hopeful”

  1. Agreed. You are truly a great writer Jay – you put so eloquently to paper (errr…screen?) the words that we all feel.

    "There is only a whole lot of hope. Hope that this time, it could work. That's a strength worthy of deep respect." — Amen.

  2. Great post chicky! as always though lol. I think you should keep trying with the book, there is a market out there, it'll just take the right person to have it come across their desk. And when it does & it gets published I want to get my copy signed;)

    I know what you mean about wanting to help those that are still having a hard time. I've been saying that for a year, I want to do something but I don't know WHAT. I've chosen to go back to school for nursing, and to work in a fertility clinic (hopefully, but this will take years!) And hopefully be that nurse that makes a difference. I know you've already made this process much more bearable for many people, you should be so proud. Anything you choose to do you know you have a huge support group behind you.

  3. I hate that people are telling you infertility is too sad. Well yeah it's sad but many, many women are going through it and they need help! I tried to find books to read earlier this year because reading helps me get through the tough stuff and there is not a large selection at all. Keep trying.

  4. Love this post, and I can relate to your feelings about wanting to make your life more meaningful somehow. Some of those same thoughts have been in my head since the birth of our boys in January. (So far, for me, they are just thoughts and will be for a while–since our family is heavily dependent on my income–but here's hoping you are able to put those thoughts into action.)

  5. I have just finished reading your blog from start to finish. First of all, THANK YOU! Thank you for being funny, honest, snarky and everything else that you are! Secondly, keep pitching that book! I spend countless hours seeking out blogs like yours and reading them. Infertility isn't pretty, it isn't upbeat, but that doesn't stop people from wanting to READ about it! The comfort I have felt by reading the stories of others helped me through a very dark period of infertility. Don't ever stop writing and don't settle for a job that doesn't fulfill you. I hope to take that advice someday!

    Thanks for writing such an awesome blog! Congratulations on your gorgeous son!

  6. I was thinking of you this week. Thinking about what happened a year ago and how so much good has come. I thought about you as I prepared for this FET, remembering that even during this dark time, when things didn't seem to be going well, there was hope. And with that hope came the news of MJ and all the joy to follow. Lady, I wish you, Sam and MJ many, many years of happiness. And thank you for the reminder to not give up. Because, somehow, someway, things do work out.

  7. Also, I just read your post on Fertility Authority. It's fantastic! My favorite quote: "If God judges the wicked, then the position has very much been filled. Move on." Amen!!!

  8. I love this post. Thank you. As someone who went through infertility for 2 years and now has an almost 4 year old son, I can totally relate. What I find amazing is how prevalent infertility is (Out of 4 thirty-something coworkers in my coffee group at work, 3 of us had serious fertility issues). Everyone knows what IVF is these days and the topic has been discussed on pop culture shows such as Oprah and Dr. Oz. I wouldn't give up on your book – I think the time is right for an amazing book on this topic. I also hope to do SOMETHING abotu infertility but don't know what…good luck : )

  9. @Babymadness I don't consider myself to have conquered IF since my ovaries still don't work and I will still have to do IVF/FET to have another child. So, IF is both my present and my past. It was even before I had children since I was diagnosed at age 17 with POF. I'm sorry you feel as if you don't have any hope but others with IF do. Maybe not all but a lot that I have met do.

  10. I am sorry but I disagree. How can you say there is no hope? Of course there is hope, why would we all be going through treatment if there was no hope? DH and I recently miscarried twins after out 1st attempt at ICSI & PGD. As you can imagine, this has been such a difficult time in our life. We have been on this journey now for 4 long years. Lots of things get us through each day but the main thing is HOPE. We have hope deep in our heart that one day our dreams will come true and we will hold our baby! Hope is at the center of our journey! Thank you to the two week week for sharing such a beautiful post x

  11. Beautifully written J as always.

    I strongly disagree with Babymadness mind you. Sure, things may look different from the other side of the infertility battle, but when you are in the middle of the fight all you HAVE is hope. Hope that it works. Hope that your dreams come true. Hope that you can keep fighting even when you've been knocked down time and time again. Hope that your heart has the strength to keep going through the loss and total sadness that comes with this journey.

    "To live without Hope is to Cease to live" ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky

  12. Hope is an interesting thing for me. My most recent IUI cycle, I sorta gave it up. After we'd confirmed the process and started the cycle, my drugstore called me up to tell me that the insurance would only cover 100$ of it, because we'd reached an unpublished infertility maximum drug benefit limit. (On the phone call with the insurance company, they actually had the nerve to tell me to let them know if I didn't get the drugs, so they could reclaim their hundred bucks — for me, of course, so I could use it in the future.) Even if the IUI worked, (and why would it? It hadn't the previous bunch of times) I'd probably just miscarry again. So hope? Not so much. But I told myself, just do what you need to do support this pregnancy. Even though I already know it will fail, I want to be able to look back on this moment and think, "Whatever the failure was, it isn't because I didn't do everything I could think of to support this potential child." I didn't think it would work, I didn't hope to ever be pregnant or to carry a child to term, but I didn't want to be able to point to any particular thing and say, "well, if I'd done this better, or smarter, or made different choices, then maybe…" And despite my lack of optimism, despite my bad attitude and my lack of hope, I was able to get pregnant and carry to term.
    So hope and I have a challenged relationship. And when people tell me I have to retain a positive attitude about the whole thing, I don't really feel like that's true. Sometimes all you can do to get through the day is keep walking and following your path. Even if you don't think you'll survive long enough to make your chosen destination. Even if you're sure you'll fall off the path or lose your way, or be attacked in the dark by wild animals or bandits. Even when there's no light ahead of you and only darkness behind you, sometimes you have to just keep trudging forward in the dark in a place with no hope. And I don't think losing hope is a crime. I think we often lose hope and find it. Whether you walk down the road with the wind at your back and a song in your heart, or with your heavy head, dragging your feet in tattered shoes, the important part is the progress you make on the road.

  13. Here's the thing: I absolutely understand and relate to where the comment comes from. I've said quite often that when I was in the thick of infertility, I would not have wanted to hear the, "Keep hope alive! cheer at certain points in my journey. It's difficult to be hopeful when you've experienced loss or when the road seems endless. However, hope is a personal thing and it's for everyone to choose whether or not they want to have it. I'd be, and forgive my bluntness, a total asshole if I wrote, "I struggled with infertility. I have a baby now… but you shouldn't have hope." Not only is it not my place to tell someone whether or not to have hope but frankly, to tell someone to give up isn't A) my way or B) very helpful. This post was my personal take on being hopeful or hopeless and frankly, given your options, I think having hope is better than having none. Why do anything or go on if you have no hope?

  14. I agree and disagree with Babymadness. I've battled IF for 22 years now-had all the treatments including 2 failed IVFs-and never got pregnant once. Even after all of this I still feel hopeless with twinges of hope occasionally. I always say that as long as I have a working uterus I am plagued with hope-only to have that hope ripped to pieces when AF comes. Sometimes it's easier to be 'hopeless' or say that you have no hope because having said hope can hurt like the depths of hell when you see that BFN again for the millionth time. I am a mom today because of adoption. My son will soon turn 6. My dh & I are not actively TTC but still I can't help but have the 'what if' thoughts when we have sex during what could be my ovulating time (our IF problem is my crappy eggs-we could make embryos of our own but they only lived 3-4 days-there's nothing wrong with my uterus, I would've been able to carry a pregnancy with possibly no problems). For me, hope can be an awful 4 letter word and when I was in the TTC trenches, hope nearly killed me.

  15. I have to disagree too. Yes, I am on the other side now, but if I didn't have the tiniest flicker of hope while we were in the trenches, I would have given up early on. Hope that something would work or we'd be parents somehow, some way was the only thing we had.

  16. My comment was not meant to upset anyone, especially not Jay or anyone else that has overcome IF one way or another. My comment is simply a very sincere feeling of hopelessness whilst living with IF in the present.

    @Rae, thanx for your brutal honesty in your comment. You really capture the essence of the pain when you say: "hope can hurt like the depths of hell when you see that BFN again for the millionth time" OR when you miscarry for the n-th time.

    @Hope2011, I also miscarried twins at 10 weeks after our first IVF/ICSI cycle. I have never felt so much grief in my life.
    Hope is a double edged sword, and in the case of IF it is like "Dreaming with a Broken heart." Sometimes it is also that naive hope that everyone wants us to have that bring us to make decision after decision that causes more pain.

    Sometimes, giving up on that hope can open up the journey to other avenues to finally reach the dreams and goals that one may have not even been aware of: such as adoption, etc.

    There is a fine line between hope and being stuck in a moment forever!

  17. @Babymadness Thank you SO MUCH for coming back and reading the responses. Truly. It's a very difficult debate but one that comes up often. Again, even though I haven't experienced everything you've been through, I do know what it's like for 'hope' not to be your friend. I do think hope though can take different forms, like you said. Any which way, I have read your blog, you were dealt quite a blow and at the end of the day, whatever you need to do to stay sane (that's always my motto – how do I stay sane today?), is for you to decide. For now, I wish you much, much luck, happiness and strength.

  18. I think I should clarify-I do know the pain of where the comment comes from-but maybe she should have just referred to herself or worded it differently. Hope during IF hurts, but it's also a vital part of the process especially if you want to continue ttc. When I was ttc, I loved reading/hearing stories like Jay's because it did give me a little extra hope that maybe it could happen to me too. And Jay, even though I am no longer ttc, I still LOVE this blog AND your story. You have helped me to believe in miracles again:-)

  19. Jay, thanks for your understanding. Ampnd thanx for taking the time to read my blog. I truly appreciate that gesture 🙂
    I hope (there's that  word creeping in again!) that you can see that my comment was not ill-meant.
    Now that you have read my blog you may understand that my hopes have been crushed and I am still in the  process of dealing withe the pain (consequence of all that hope!)
    I think I just felt the need to say that being hopeful is painful at times. And that it's OK not to be hopeful. Dealing with the pressure of IF and recurrent disappointment is hard enough to on top of it have the pressure of having to always keep the hope alive!
    Thnx for your wishes and support though.

    @Doogie, a very special thanks to you for that beautiful post. It really hit home. Sometimes you just get through the days, hope is not what gets you through necessarily everyday. I would call it resilience. Instinct. Survival.
    Hope comes and goes and there is nothing wrong with losing it from time to time.

  20. I think it is awesome and amazing you came back and responded. I'm afraid I was too glib in my reply to you. On any given day during our 4 years in the trenches, I could have easily said I had no hope. Dark feelings come easily to me & that time was truly the most awful time of my life. However, even through all the darkness, somehow a tiny, tiny shred of hope was there. Sometimes I ignored it. Sometimes I let myself acknowledge it. But it was there.

    In a million, trillion years I would never tell anyone how to feel & honestly, as someone who tells people it's ok to acknowledge their pain, I'm kind of surprised I replied in the affirmative about hope. Maybe it was resilience or stubbornness more than hope.

  21. For me, like jay, when I was cycling I did not want to hear from people “you need to stay positive" or "keep the hope." Even though I kept telling myself "this has to work," "Mindy, keep hoping and wishing, your dreams will come true." I think I did this to protect myself; if I get all excited and tell myself "with this next IVF I will get knocked up" and I do not get lucky, I will take the failed cycle harder than if I tell myself that "this is not going to work."

    Fighting IF for four years, being 31 with diminished ovarian reserve, two failed iui's and 3.2 failed IVF's, never having more than two eggs retrieved, I still hang onto the hope we can get pregnant. Most likely this will not happen without assistance, but if we can come up with the money to move forward with IVF again, we will cycle with our OE's because we are holding onto the hope that things can work out for us!

  22. Thank you KeAnn.

    I am happy that my comment started a small debate. Obviously J's post touches a very sensitive subject, and my sincere thanks to her for opening up the discussion!

    As long as we are going through IF, and particularly if we have not had any children, we are always walking the tight rope between HOPE and HOPELESSNESS. At any given moment, our emotions can make us plunge on one side or the other of this fine line…

    I wanted to share a story with you ladies:
    Yesterday I received an email from a very close childhood friend who has been battling IF for 9 yrs. She is finally pregnant with the help of IVF (first time ever). I think I went through every emotion possible in the time that it took me to read her email: joy, excitement, sadness (for me), fear (for what could happen to her, as it did to me), envy (yes, I admit I felt that momentary feeling of "why her? anmd not ME? What's wrong with ME?), GUILT (I felt a lot of guilt for feeling that towards my darling, deserving friend)…etc, etc, etc…BUT HOPE was not among the feelings…these days I have to actively force myself to have HOPE. It doesn't come naturally, it's not spontaneous, and it hurts.

    I once read a psychology article say that studies show that women suffering from IF, especially long-term IF, suffer from depression comparable to that experienced by cancer patients (!!)

    Having dark days is OK, IF is very hard, and making it through hope or not, is enough!

  23. This was really a touching post. Glad to have found you. Hope to be like you once my second IVF takes hold. 🙂 As for the previous comment aboutr grieving like a cancer survivor … Whoa. That's heavier than I signed up for. ICLW #36.

  24. I COMPLETELY agree that no one should ever tell someone that they should or should not pursue a particular treatment that they have decided is worth it. It took me five years of trying to have my oldest. I then has a completely spontaneous (read no periods in between) set of indentical twins.

    After my divorce, and remarriage, I had a lot of people give me their opinions, mainly that I should be happy with the three children I had, and not to put myself and everyone around me through trying for another pregnancy. It was harder that time since my new husband and I both had seperate infertility issues, but I wouldn't trade our daughter for anything, no matter how much of a toll it took on us at the time.

    I have several friends who have similar PCOS diagnosis, and I know it is exceedingly painful for them to see me having children when they still don't. One even told me that she thought I was being selfish with all my children. (I know it was the pain of another failed attempt, and not really at me she was frustrated with. I always think of those times as yelling at the universe.)

    So, no matter what someone is struggling with, and where they are on their journey, I always make sure to ask more questions and give less advice. The only thing is I am kind of pushy about people not being pushy. 😉

    Feel free to visit me at


  25. I am going through a similar journey as a new mom/ history of IF kinda lady. I haven't been to visit in awhile.

    I really agreed with this part especially:

    "Having my son has changed me in many ways. One of the most noteworthy is that since something so positive has entered my life, it makes all the negative less tolerable. I don’t want to spend my days doing something I don’t enjoy."

    Happy ICLW!

  26. Wow, seriously if one of my "friends" told either myself or my husband that it was time to hang it up and stop trying for a baby – they wouldn't be my friend much longer after that.

  27. Jay, this was an awesome, thought-provoking, heartfelt post. As I'm sure you know from the comments it inspired (and who are these idiots who won't acquire your book?? Ugh, maddening).

    I remember last summer, being out at the beach with my laptop waiting for updates from your beta on your blog. I think I screamed when I read the news. I know I cried. I hoped for you and was so happy when that hope came true.

    And I feel the same way about the effect of IF on my parenting. It's like this extra bank of patience and joy I can draw on when times get difficult. It doesn't make things easy, but it makes *me* deal more easily with them. I can't say I'm grateful for the horrible two years and the loss that led to Smudgie's birth, but I am grateful for what they led to.

  28. Jay-
    Just as you are telling others not to give up, I don't think that you should give up on your book idea! Time and again, yours is the blog I turn to for support and a laugh. I connect to your writing, and I think so many others do too. You have a distinct knack for finding the balance between humor and poignancy. I do not think that should be taken lightly. Go get 'em girl.

  29. Thank you for reminding me to have hope in me. My friend sent me a link to your blog at the start of this week and I went back to the start and have been reading a few posts each day. I have laughed and cried and identified with so much of what you have written. You have inspired me to start my own blog…I have written two posts and am already hooked on the therapeutic value of writing. I am not sure who I am writing for, or who would even be interested in reading it, but I thought I would share a link with you:

    I hope that is not overly self-promoting – I am still figuring out blog-etiquette. Thank you again for reaching out, sharing your experiences and helping people connect and support each other x

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