To hope or not to hope?

I am guessing that all fertility clinics are different. Some are better than others. So far, I don’t have any real complaints about ours. They seem competent. The thing that gets me are the comments that are made. They come from everyone: the Drs, nurses, and “sperm handlers” (not sure what to call the people who flip and twirl the sperm).

Right after our first IUI was done I asked the Dr. a question about the next time we come for an IUI. His response “Oh, there won’t be a next time. This will work.” Great. Thanks Doc. Nothing like creating unreasonably high expectations for a procedure that has less than a 10% chance of working!!!

The most recent example happened this morning. We were in for our 5th IUI and the “sperm handler” came in and said something along the lines of: “It’s a busy day today. Everyone must be ovulating. You should take a look at your neighbours in the waiting room because you will be seeing each other again in the delivery room 9 months from now”. Yes, because that is how it works. I am no mathematician, but I am pretty sure that 10 couples doing a procedure that ranges around a 10% success rate (depending of course, on whether they are on clomid or some other drug) does not = 10 couples getting pregnant. I think the sperm handler should recheck her math before spouting off such gibberish!

Now, I know they are all well-meaning. They are trying to give us hope. It’s all about staying positive, right? What they don’t understand is that hope can be a dangerous word in the fertility world. There are a lot of great infertility books out there that talk about the role of hope and how it is what keeps us going each month. If we didn’t have hope we wouldn’t be going through all of this. The problem that fertility patients face (IMHO) is trying to manage that hope. Not letting it take a hold too deeply so that if/when the next period comes we are a little less devastated. In my mind, it is a defense mechanism. As wonderful as hope is, it needs a leash, otherwise you will end up chasing it off a cliff.

So, when MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS say things that amount to a guarantee that “this time will work” it creates totally unrealistic expectations. Even if intellectually you know what your odds truly are, it is hard not to internalize those comments. Instead of thinking “this might work” you are left thinking “this will work”. Hope is running away and you are left frantically chasing after it.

From attending fertility support group meetings I know that everyone views and deals with hope differently. One woman stated that she lets herself get lost in the hope because she knows she will be devastated regardless. So why not enjoy the 2 week wait full of hope? I’d be interested to hear other peoples thoughts on this topic. Does reigning in hope during the 2 week wait help cushion the blow or is the blow going to be just as hard regardless of how much hope you hold on to?


5 thoughts on “To hope or not to hope?

  1. Hi there!! I believe the TWW is the most painful regardless. For me, I have found not to test early, as I will then be depressed from that time until the time I really should test. Needless to say, I know we have to have some level of hope. I know I also try to be pessimistic as to not get my hopes too high. At the end of the day, I do BELIEVE that God will grant us a child. It may not be this cycle, the next cycle, or the last 23 cycles we’ve tried so far… but I know God will grant us a child. That is my belief. Some cycles I have more hope than others, as I try to read into the signals my body gives me. But at the end of the day, I know I have to BELIEVE. Because with belief, I will have faith, and with both of those we will be blessed. Here’s to “hope”!

  2. Hi! I have really enjoyed your blog so far, I also just started one about our journey and it seems we are in a similar place in the spectrum of infertility. I am on my third cycle working with an RE, and go back in forth on the hope. The first letrozole/iui I had such high expectations, and then was completely devastated. The second cycle I tried to tell myself that it probably wasn’t going to work for the first week of the tww, and then tested every day from day 10-15, which somehow I think softened the blow. This month I am going to try to keep expectations low, but wait to test until the full tww is complete. It just sucks no matter what! Good Luck!

  3. Hi there, at this point we are in the 2WW for our 4th IUI. My husbands business picks up in the spring so he is really busy. I think this time around I have come to a place of surrender. I am powerless to the situation. I can’t control this cycle or the next. I think for me testing early and registering for baby growth tracking websites just makes it so much worse. I think staying positive is important. But realizing that this may not be the last IUI or the last exit on the road to becoming first time parents, is vital for my sanity. Positive not overly hopeful. That’s where I’m at this time around.

  4. Realistic optimism is where I like to be. I get that IUI doesn’t have a high success rate, but I do hope it will work for us. I’ve found the last few 2wws easier than some, but mainly because I’ve kept myself focused on other things. I always feel the most anxious as we approach test date, but I’m realistic in the sense that if I test at 12DPIUI and it’s BFN, I don’t go into my beta hoping for a positive. Why fool yourself? If in the end, a miracle occurs and it changes to positive, I will be so happy compared to the depression I would have felt by being unrealistically hopeful.

  5. I think that it is completely unprofessional what the medical staff at your clinic did. It’s one thing to say positive and hopeful comments, it’s another thing to say such definitive comments.

    I tried to keep my hope at bay this last time. I had been so hurt before by having hope that I didn’t want to have any. Yet, despite what I do, hope still finds its way in for me.

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