Where to start to 'fix' us?

This is my first post here after discovering that our 3rd and final (due to my age - 39 and finances, as we have had to self fund) IVF cycle was unsuccessful last week. In a sense I feel some relief that we haven't got to go through the process again but am at a bit of a loss as to how to start processing the fact that we now have a childless future ahead of us. At the moment if someone asked how I felt about our situation, my answer is that I'm not sure how I feel! Surely I should feel something after 5 years of infertility, 2 miscarriages and 3 failed IVF's! I don't think my situation is helped by the fact that I work in ultrasound and spend 80% of my week performing pregnancy scans. I had 2 days off work over the test result last week, but have been back to work since. I wonder the fact that I feel like I have to 'zone out' at work and put a barrier up to psychologically and emotionally get through my day is just numbing my feelings to our situation overall. The only good thing with my job is that I am aware that not all pregnancies go to plan and I can comfort myself in knowing that our treatment didn't work because something was not right.

My husband has been a massive support throughout, but is now struggling with the finality of this last result and has been signed off work for a month, as was feeling angry and numb at work.

We have a counselling session provided by our IVF package which is arranged in a few days time, but at the moment the only way I seem to be coping is trying to arrange future holidays, getting life back to a normal routine (work, gym etc) and supporting my husband (who is a classic non-talker!) I am worried that I am not actually dealing with the huge life changing decision that we have just been dealt and where do I start to deal with this 'properly'???

Many thanks for taking the time to read and listen to me rant. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

14 Replies

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  • Hi Higaze, you're in the right place as many people on here are going through/have been through very similar situations. It's great that you are seeing a counsellor although often the clinics only provide a couple of sessions which often isn't enough to work through everything you have been through so I would suggest booking in more sessions with them or looking at bica.net to find a good alternative one.

    There is no easy answer, you are going to have good and bad days but just take one step at a time for now and don't expect too much from yourself or your husband. Holidays are a great distraction although you will still be sad/angry/upset sometimes when you are there, but if you can have some proper together time too it's definitely worth it. Going to the gym is also good as sometimes we can be mean to ourselves when we are going through difficult times when actually what we need to do it look after ourselves - so well done on keeping that up.

    I'm sure lots of others will have some good advice too but hopefully knowing that you are not alone will help for now.

    Here if you need anything,

    Cat

  • Hi higaze,

    I had my 1st counselling session last week and it has made a huge difference to me after just one hour. Having the opportunity to talk to someone who isn’t directly involved but understand what you are talking about is a great help.

    We are just starting our 2nd attempt at ICSI and my head was everywhere, my anxiety levels soared and I was an emotional mess for the past 4 weeks but in that hour I had with the counsellor she really help me to understand my feelings and recognise that’s it’s ok to feel how I had been feeling. Understanding where the emotion was coming from and why it was hitting me has helped me a lot, I’ve only had 1 breakdown this week as opposed to one a day 😂

    I wish you all the luck and hope you find it as helpful as I did xx

  • Hey higaze

    You’ve been trough a traumatic journey but as the others have said we are all here to help and listen as you go through the next stage to help you the below website is extremely helpful to search on but if you want a fact sheet to email to any friends, colleagues, family etc to help explain how you feel this was so helpful for me when I just couldn't talk cause I was so upset about it all. Hope it helps xx

    fertilitynetworkuk.org

    Click on how can we help you

    Click on those trying to become parents

    Click on information

    Click on emotional impact

    Click on families, parents, friends & colleagues

    Then on your right hand side there is a fact sheet to download

    Xx

  • Hi Higaze I am so sorry you and your husband find yourselves in this situation. We have been through it too. It's around 3 or 4 years since we came to the end of our ivf process. Your numbness is exactly how I felt. The rollercoaster of ivf is so draining that as you say there is almost some relief in not going through all those ups and downs now. I think the numbness is actually part of an overall grieving process for all the life experiences we know we now won't be a part of. It is very early days for you in coming to terms with your new situation and you will both experience this differently and over different timescales. I'd highly recommend you take a look at Gateway Women which is a really supportive place to meet others who find themselves childless not by choice. You are doing the right things by getting on with your life. And counselling will help I'm sure but as with all grief there will be a process (not necessarily linear) which will help you deal with the loss of the life you expected and planned to have. Over time you will 'deal' with this 'properly' and you're already doing it by looking after yourself. When you're ready take a look at the Gateway Women website and Jody Days book Living the Life Unexpected. Big big hugs to you and don't apologise for one moment for ranting. You have been through a really really tough time with ivf and there are lots of us here who completely get how tough it is to get to the end if an unsuccessful ivf process and begin to adjust to a life we hadn't planned for. Talk as much as you need to and ask any questions you need to. There are friends here happy to give you as much support as we can. Xxx

  • Thanks for your post Caudalie11 - I checked out the gateway women website and ordered Jody Day's book' living the life unexpected' - am 2 chapters in and finding it useful already ......thank you x

  • Brilliant. Doesn't it make you feel more normal. I wish I'd found GW sooner. Maybe I wasn't ready though. I've decided to go on Judy's reignite weekend too which is a major step forward as I find meeting new people pretty scary. But I just want to be with my tribe as I'm so sick of being amongst the mummy tribe......

  • They do look really interesting - you'll have to let me know how you find it. Good luck xx

  • Thank you to everyone that has taken the time to message. It is so nice to hear from people who just understand what we have been through.

    We had our counselling session this morning and am feeling totally drained from it. Probably didn't help that I went into the session feeling absolutely exhausted from coping with work and not sleeping properly. Nice to know the roller coaster feelings from one hour to the next are normal though.

    We have also found a male counsellor for my husband to see, so hopefully that may help him. Might need to look into some more counselling for myself as the hour provided with our package barely scratched the surface! I have realised that I have got a hell of a lot of processing to do/ sad/ bad and angry days to deal with before we can come out of the other side of this and was naively thinking if I just stayed strong enough I could 'skip' that bit and head on to the good stuff (holidays and fun times). It just feels like I have spent the last 4 years either grieving, slightly depressed or just sad and generally I like to think I am quite a strong, happy, positive mental attitude type of person - I just want to get back to being me. But I need to understand that there is gonna be no quick fix to this.

  • Yes, an hour can only scratch the surface. I've had 7 weeks but still don't seem to feel like anything is fixed. Unfortunately my husband has refused all offers of help to both his and my detriment, so it's great you are both seeking support.

    It's frustrating isn't it how many years you seem to waste in a state of limbo and still nothing to show at the end except grief and a broken heart. It is hard to find a way back to being the happy person we all once were. I wish i could give you a magic answer.

    What I would say is that you clearly threw everything you had at this and can feel proud of how committed you were. We tried for 5 years or so but only had ivf once before things all new up in our faces. I'm never 100% sure if there's even anything wrong with either of us or if more tries would have worked. My husband isn't up for doing it again (prob because he still hasn't dealt with the last failure). As a result i will never know and may always regret and also resent him.

    You sound really strong and you're taking positive steps. Just be patient and kind to yourself and each other.

    Keep in touch xx

  • Hi Min Min,

    Thanks for your post.

    I'm so sorry that you are having a rough time too. This is such a hard process to go through - and one that I don't think you can fully understand unless you have been there. Being in limbo is exactly how it is! Life is just put on hold while you have the endless wait of tests, results, 2ww and then the waiting for time to heal and recover from the lost hopes. Makes you wonder why we put ourselves through all of this in the first place! Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that we tried so that I don't have to live with the constant wondering, what if? But sometimes all the heartache and emotional anxiety seems such a price to pay.

    Don't give up on getting support if you need it. Asking for help is something I have issues asking for ( and most guys do to!) but at the right time, taking that first step to asking for advice/ help can be really empowering.

    Take care x

  • Hi Higaze,

    I just wanted to say hello and I think you and your partner are amazing. To go through this much and to start the grieving process together and both seek help is a massive step in the long road to recovery.

    Its with hindsight I now look back and realise that the pain of the last failed IVF cycle was as painful as my miscarriage. A different and more hidden pain but still as devastating. I think you always have a little hope that it will happen one day. The last failed round is an end to that hope and a big void to the future. Its also a time when your years of trying and years of intervention all come tumbling on top of you. Living with infertility is as stressful as living with illnesses like cancer and HIV. And the end of the road of fertility is the long road of grieving for all those years lost in hope.

    I too returned straight back to work and carried on. It was only a month down the line that I realised that I was still emotionally very vulnerable and could not deal very well with additional stresses and pressure.

    Its now 8 months on and I have now lost my job and am not rushing back to find work. I am grateful for this time to be off and have alot more awareness of how broken I still am. Being busy at work can help distract your mind and be good, but I was also running on empty and am using time off work to get back myself. Like you my happy, sanguine nature has been rail roaded and I still long to be myself again. I would highly recommend taking time off after failed IVF cycles. Its one of the first pieces of advice when I googled 'how to recover failed IVF'. I think it also helps you to grieve at a similar time with partner. Something me and my husband have really struggled to do.

    Lots of love xxxx

  • Hi Fuzzy_winker

    So sorry to hear your story (although it is so nice that we can help each other through what feels like isolation with our stories and thoughts)

    You are right, hindsight is a wonderful thing. In retrospect, I realise I should of had some time off after our 2nd failed cycle as I was angry and resentful at my work and at the patients I was seeing - which I so not the person I am. Also as you say I am getting to a point of running on empty. So in a bid to learn from my mistakes I have seen my GP today and been signed off on reduced hours and I have a whole week of leave next week. I hope this will allow me to work through some thoughts and work out where I am at, without the pressure of work.

    I hope your time off, although not through choice, allows you some respite to grow stronger. The only thing keeping me going is the knowledge that these feelings are only temporary for now and that things can and will improve. Yes it is horrible to have to plough through what feels like thick mud right now but as we get stronger with time I remain confident and hopeful that the path will get easier to tread.

    Wishing you well x

  • Dear Higaze

    Thank you for your post and for sharing your situation. I am sorry to hear that your final IVF treatment did not work.

    Coming to terms with ending treatment and facing an unknown future is a huge life event and can be emotionally overwhelming. I think the impact of this situation can be very unrecognized by others and it can be difficult to know just how to move forward.

    It’s not unusual to feel the numbness you describe. It is still very early days since your last treatment cycle and it will take time to come to terms with all that you and your husband have been through. The physical and emotional impact of fertility treatment itself should not be underestimated and when you add in having to deal with your final unsuccessful cycle, it must all seem very difficult to process.

    The losses you have, and are, experiencing are often difficult to articulate. But they are very real losses and you will need time and space to grieve and to talk about them.

    I can imagine there is a huge compulsion to ‘do’ something and to make decisions about the future in order to ‘move on’. As with any life-changing event, you will need time to re-group, both as individuals and as a couple. Of course if you feel that planning the future would be helpful for you then you should go with your instinct. But if you find yourself going around in circles or feeling stalled then it might be a sign you need to take the pressure off yourself, take time to talk and to grieve.

    It is good that you are going for some counselling. Fertility treatment and any subsequent disappointment can become an all-consuming focus both for individuals and couples. Counselling can help you reconnect with yourself and as a couple. It is important to find a space in which you can both listen to each other - to how each of you is dealing with your sense of loss. Each person can go through the grieving process differently and often at a different pace.

    It sounds as though it might be helpful to talk through your feelings about your job to someone who will listen without judging and without any agenda. Being able to externalize your thoughts and feelings about working with pregnancy scans – a kind of a ‘de-brief’ - might be helpful.

    The hopeful thing is that people do come through such a life-changing ending and all the uncertainty and pain that brings and can emerge with a new vision for the future. There is no one-size-fits-all way of doing this. It’s about giving yourself time and kindness, (re)engaging with the things that make you tick and seeking the support that you need in order to recognize your potential and explore all your options.

    Please do get in touch again should you need to.

    Take care

    Kind regards

    Deborah

    Volunteer Counsellor

  • Hi Hun. We're in a similar position. We had our final bfn in July. I just don't want to do any more cycles. I've taken each day as it comes so far and have just let myself feel whatever I feel on any given day. We're just beginning to discuss adoption/fostering although we're not sure how we feel about it. We're considering going to some introductory sessions at some clinics to see what we think and feel. Some days I feel it so deeply I feel my heart will explode and other days I feel totally numb. Some days I feel just ok and think about being able to retire early and enjoy life in my 50s and 60s without having to worry about uni fees. I think it's a rollercoaster and we just need to ride it. I don't know if that resonates with you but thought I'd share my experience of giving up. xxx

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