Ending fertility treatment: How we knew when enough was enough

“I’m happy with just you,” he whispered into my ear as I lay wrapped in his arms that day.

My amazing husband and co-pilot on this journey of infertility reassures me of his love for me on a daily basis. However, his words on this decision day traveled even deeper into my heart, into my personhood as a woman, and into my identity as a wife.

I was laying there allowing myself to just receive his words knowing that our recent decision to not continue with our infertility treatment did not just affect me. He had the grace to accept. I, too, wanted to ask for this same grace.

Let me share with you how we arrived at this decision:

I have shared in past posts about our infertility treatment journey including five years of different NFP doctors, testing, blood work, ultrasounds, medication, hormone treatment, etc. We were blessed for the past two years with an amazing local NFP doctor who had some more extensive options for us that she dubbed the “closest treatment to IVF for Catholics.” Over the course of the past year, we had decided to go through three “rounds” of this particular treatment. My doctor recommended to do up to six!

It was a blessing that after one round of treatment, we met our health insurance out-of-pocket maximum so everything else was essentially “free.” Due to timing of schedules, over nine months, we still were only able to do three rounds.

While the first two rounds brought more of a peaceful demeanor with them, it was this last round that was particularly difficult in the sense that while were we doing the treatment, both my husband and I developed horrible two-week long colds. I then had issues with my sciatica acting up. My chronically ill husband coming down with a cold always knocks him out. He also had started a new job and was dealing with the stress of transition. Oh, and we were carpooling to work now, so he was bringing me to early morning appointments. There were some major hurdles that we were presented with – I won’t go into further detail.

The results of all three rounds did not end in pregnancy, however, my doctor still said she believes I had finally ovulated. The next appointment was one I was dreading, because I knew she would ask me if we would like to move forward with another round.

I know that we are not the only one faced with this fork in the road: to keep going or not to keep going? How am I supposed to decide this? I don’t want to play God. What does my husband think? How do I know the long term effects of medications on my body? There were too many unknowns. Even further questions emerged like – if we stop treatment, do we pursue adoption? Or are we not called to pursue children at all? How do we discern this process as a couple?

“I’m just happy with you.” Those words my husband has said to me over and over again were now being said by our Lord to me. “I’m just happy with you, my child. You do not need to be a mother for me to be proud of you.”

For us, there were some clear confirmations that happened to help point us to the decision to end our treatment and not pursue adoption. I want to emphasize here that there is not ONE way to discern and that everyone’s decision is personal and we need to respect that fact.

For our discernment, we took into consideration our finances, emotional, physical and mental health, and what God was speaking in prayer. We were careful not to invite in too many outside voices, if any at all. (This can be tricky because the more you disclose with your loved ones, often times the more opinions they have about it.)

The best book on life discernment that I have ever read is called What Does God Want? By Fr. Michael Scanlan (past president of the Fransican University of Steubenville).

This book helped lead me into prayer. I was recently reflecting on the scripture from Luke about asking:

“And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened.” – Luke 11:9-10

For most of my life, this scripture always translated into – Ask God for what you want, seek it out, then it will be given to you. Easy peasy. But….not in this situation. I had been asking for years for God to grant us children and nothing. However, this recent prayer time He had revealed something different to me:

God never says to us – Ask for want you want and if you seek it out, I will grant your request. He does not get that specific with us. He just says, “…it will be opened;” or in some versions, “…you shall receive.” He does not say WHAT will be opened or WHAT will be received. He only promises us that we will receive something.

I realized that day that God does have good things in store for us and God does want to grant us gifts. It just may not be the exact thing I was asking for, but maybe God just wanted me to ask. Maybe that is what I had been misinterpreting all along. The focus shouldn’t be on the gift, but on the asking. Because asking for something encourages me to trust the giver. In asking, I have to first acknowledge that I am in need, then know what I need, and then how to ask for it.

I realized that God had been asking me to trust Him to give me good things.

This brought me back to that moment with my husband. I was able to ask God for the grace to accept. This was the final step in our discernment: to accept that this is what God has for us.

And if God is not providing for us here, where is He providing? Where is He leading? Where is He making space? These questions are still being answered in my life. It is an overwhelming feeling to be able to better receive what God has for me and where God is leading me, instead of clinging to what I want for my life.

“Jesus, I desire to grow in trust of your deeper care for me. By asking you, I trust you will provide even though it may not be what I want, but more so what I need. Amen.”