Acceptance and the art of letting go are some of life’s trickiest sons of bitches. They are topics I often work on with clients and I, myself, practice daily. They also seem to be some of the most difficult hurdles in the infertility journey.

The acceptance of my childfree, yet childfull, life does not mean I do not have the losses. It does not even mean that I like it most days. Acceptance is simply practicing my work every day to accept what is, what I cannot change and how to be okay despite the lifelong losses of infertility.

I am beyond thankful that infertility education is continuing to be in the spotlight and therefore hopefully fertility compassion will continue to grow. However, I believe, some of the messages being delivered by some voices with a huge platform are contributing to the loss of ourselves to this painful, difficult, long and oftentimes heartbreaking journey of infertility.

One of the biggest punch in gut messages that is probably one of the most spoken is the never give up message. Time and time again we hear celebrities or families with the “traditional” happy ending (read baby) saying   never ever give up.

I do not believe this to be a message of hope and light but rather one that dims our light and can leave a lot of us in the dark. Because, sometimes it is okay, and the healthiest option for us, to say no more and to accept what is. And, I don’t think this is giving up in the least but rather fighting for and finding our ever upward.

And so, here are what I think are the 9 biggest untruths in the never give up message:

1. Minimizes the difficulties.

  • Infertility is expensive, and in most of our cases, we don’t have endless resources and our insurance does not cover it.
  • Every cycle can feel like a loss. We live by the timelines and the waits. We oftentimes feel like no one understands and try to cope with it all on our own. The emotional difficulties of infertility feel endless.
  • The money, the losses, the stresses, all of it are so hard on our relationships. If we do the work to turn towards one another then many times our relationships gain strength but for many infertility will do undeniable and sometimes even irreparable damage.

2. Breeds comparison

  • It seems like no two infertility stories are the same, causes, medical and family history, treatment protocols, etc. and yet we compare so much.
  • Add to that that not all of us have the same financial resources, faith or religion, family and social support.

3. Triggers shame

  • Some of us did make the choice to stop treatments. Some of us do not choose adoption. Some of us choose to keep trying. These are choices sure, however, more times than not they are choices between two shit-ass choices.

4. Puts stress on the relationship

  • How long do we try? What if one partner only has one more round in them? What if one partner is not open to full IVF? What then?

5. Denies some truths

  • There are some of us that the all ends of the earth in fertility treatments will never work. Sometimes there are genetic or chromosome issues, sometimes our bodies completely betray and fail us, sometimes we will never get to know the reason.

6. Invalidates those who define their enoughs and everythings

  • Only we can determine when enough is enough and what our everything is. For some of us, that is only a the first step in the infertility treatment road but not full IVF treatments. For some of us it is two rounds, for others it may mean 8.

7. Makes us doubts ourselves and abandon our truth

  • These pressured messages, that may be completely inaccurate for ourselves and our situation as stated above, make us completely deny and abandon our truth, what we want and who we are.

8. Reduces us to our numbers, our losses, our ability to procreate

  • We must be so much more than this. We deserve to be so much more. We are so much more.

9. Sometimes it is okay to stop

  • This does not mean we are giving up but rather defining what our own happy ending is. This is finding and moving ever upward.

As both a survivor of infertility and a mental health therapist who works with clients every day I see the lifelong devastation that is created by the infertility journey. Every day I see people who have lost their light and lost themselves somewhere along the two week waits, the waiting rooms, the pokes, prods and meds, the losses, the judgement, the loneliness, the gravity of this battle. Every day I see people who are making decisions out of fear that are resulting in more pain.

The conversation must change. The education must continue. The compassion must grow. There are simply too many casualties to the infertility journey.

It is not about never giving up on treatments or the dream of parenthood but it must be about never giving up on ourselves. This is the hope of this journey, to not lose ourselves to it and in it. The hope of never giving up on our happiness and health, no matter what our ending may be, we must do the work to define it as happy.

www.everupward.org

This is the work. To stop proving it. To truly own it. Embracing it all. Living wholeheartedly brave. Owning it all.

This is my story. This is our story. This is ever upward.

23 thoughts on “Acceptance in Infertility: 9 Untruths in the ‘Never Give Up’ Message

  1. gsmwc02 says:

    Another incredible piece. You truly are moving “Ever Upward” with your work getting better and better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you friend! I hope to be fighting for, finding and moving ever upward always, in work, relationships, myself, everything!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you! I fee this often, especially around this time of year when all these lists come up about what to do to live your best life , that “never give up on your dream” is always somewhere near the top and it just makes me feel awful. Sometimes giving up is the best thing to do, but that is not easily accepted in our society.. I counter it with the thought (attributed to Buddha but who knows?) about all that matters is how much you loved, how gently you lived, and ofhow gracefully you let go of what was not meant for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I love that Buddha quote! Thank you so much for reading and for this reminder!! Justine

      Like

  3. I think of the most important things to remember is your last point – it is okay to stop trying and to start looking at life differently (i.e. adoption or child free or surrogate or gestational carrier etc.). And it is okay to eventually embrace a different life then what is “normal” or what we thought we’d have one day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! We must do the work to create and accept our new normal.

      Like

  4. tianavandyk says:

    Reblogged this on Tiana Van Dyk and commented:
    Very well said.

    Like

  5. tianavandyk says:

    Excellent post. One of the hardest parts of infertility is explaining to people why it isn’t just having a little trouble getting pregnant. But the harder part is justifying to people the choices you make in your treatments. Obviously you don’t need to justify to anyone, but that doesn’t stop people from asking “why don’t you just do IVF, it works for everyone” or “why don’t you just adopt.” This post opens a good dialogue, thank you.

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    1. Thank you so much for the reblog and for this comment. So important, I’ve written about this concept a lot in the last year, it is nice to feel understood and maybe validated by others. But I am not sure this will be the case for most in infertility however we also must educated and ask for what we want and need in order to build that compassion. Thank you for reading and for commenting! Justine

      Like

  6. Obviously there are many emotional and psychological aspects to repeated unsuccessful rounds of IVF … BUT are the long-lasting or permanent physical effects as well? Perhaps you’ve already answered this in another post … if so your you give me the link or maybe it’s a possible subject for a future post. I don’t think many people consider the physical aspects of repeated IVF either — at least not the people going through the process themselves.

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    1. I totally think there can be physical effects, the most notable probably the weight gain from all the hormones that so many of us experiences. For me it was like the protocol literally changed everything about my body, that why I change so much after choosing to work my recovery, as I wrote about in Chapter 4 of the book. It will be interesting to see the research in years to come on these effects. Thanks, as always, for reading and commenting my friend! Justine

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Jane says:

    Thank-you. It’s difficult being brave & owning it. but I am finding that as I practice self-care & acceptance that others are more ready to accept me this way too. I am so grateful for that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Jane! Self-care and acceptance are huge in this journey! Keep an eye out for my self-care companion ebook to Ever Upward! Thanks again! J

      Like

  8. loribeth says:

    Thank you for this! I too am tired of the “never give up” mantra, for all the reasons you’ve listed. I remember reading an article once titled “Follow that dream — right off a cliff.” 😉 I thought the headline said it all. The article was about people who quit their jobs to open their own businesses or become consultants, etc., & wound up horribly stressed and in debt, but I thought the same message applied to infertility. Not every dream needs to be pursued relentlessly to the end. Sometimes you need to find a new dream to focus on instead.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is ever upward! Redefine, sometimes we must let go in order to actually walk into and accept the next dream. Thank you for reading and commenting! Justine

      Like

  9. jasmine shei says:

    “It is not about never giving up on treatments or the dream of parenthood but it must be about never giving up on ourselves” Love you said there. So true. The end is to find happiness and health in the journey.

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    1. Jasmine, Thank you so much! It is actually about this journey and about ourselves in the end. Much love, Justine

      Liked by 1 person

  10. cR says:

    My motto? Tomorrow is always another day TO GIVE UP!

    Relentless positivity is a big bore.

    Relentless sorrow is a big bore.

    What’s interesting is seeing the big picture. As much of the big picture as you can. Infinite complexity mixing positivity, sorrow, and everything in between.

    If you’re alive, the possibility of seeing the big picture is, ummm, possible.

    Fasten your seatbelts and enjoy the ride, ladies!

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting! Justine

      Like

  11. Mary Smith says:

    What a very moving piece. Thank you for sharing your very personal story. I struggled with fertility issues for years. It was a hard road filled with doubt and self-loathing. All we wanted was a baby and we tried for years to have one. I tried every medical and old wives tale I could think of to try and get pregnant. I even slept on red sheets to promote fertility. It was starting to get crazy and I was overwhelmed. My husband found out about California Fertility Partners through a good friend. I was skeptical because I thought we had tried everything but I was wrong. My first IVF transfer at the clinic was successful and I am 5 months pregnant! Anyone who is struggling to get pregnant should check this clinic out. https://www.yelp.com/biz/california-fertility-partners-los-angeles

    Like

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