My husband and I have been through not one, but six failed attempts at IVF. It’s been, quite simply, a soul-wrenching process. While I knew IVF wouldn’t be easy, the impact of each negative result has been greater than I expected. Until you’ve been through it, I don’t think it’s possible to appreciate just what an emotional toll it takes.
Yet it’s the happy moments, rather than the hurt, that have surprised me most about our IVF experience. Amongst the anguish, there have more been positive experiences than I anticipated. It’s a side of IVF that isn’t often talked about, even when you dive into the subculture of online forums where there is seemingly endless discussion about the IVF process itself.
Here are some of the unexpected lessons I’ve learnt through my own experience of successive IVF failure:
1. Our IVF experience has strengthened our marriage.
I feared that IVF could at some point create a fissure in our relationship. There’s nothing sexy about the routine of nightly injections, the hospital appointments, or the grief. However, the reality is that what we’ve experienced has been uniting. We’ve seen each other raw, and been kind to each other at critical moments.
2. My appreciation of family is now next level.
If we can become parents, I know we’ll experience the same frustrations as others, but I honestly believe that we’ll always hold the opportunity of parenthood on a bit of a pedestal. That we’ll retain a greater sense of gratitude than most, knowing that the whole experience is only possible because we’ve cheated nature’s intentions.
3. We’ve made the most of our unplanned child-free years, taking risks that we might have otherwise avoided.
Although it’s little solace, our inability to have children has given us a few more years of freedom in our working lives that has quite drastically altered our careers for the better. We’ve been able to take risks and chase opportunities for passion rather than financial security.