The Daily News

LFCA Latest Issue: Friday, September 25, 2009.

Latest Post on BlogHer: Parenting after Infertility.

My Status: Fed Josh's almonds to the squirrels. They needed them very badly.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dinner Plates Stretched Thin

This is the best way I can describe it: imagine that I am constructed out of 10 dinner plates.

There are twenty or so chicken breasts on the counter and each plate has a nice assembly of rice, steamed broccoli, and a potato dish. All that I need to do each day is plate ten chickens and send my plate body off to the dining room where patrons will oooh and aaah over being served a delicious meal off my plate body (how does she do it? Does she use dishwashing detergent or shampoo when she hops in the shower?).

And this works well enough. Sometimes a plate is dropped and dinner ends up on the ground. Other times, I spin through the double doors and amaze everyone with a fantastic meal served up on a plate body. All is well if I don't stop and think too much about how stressful it actually is to work in the restaurant business. It is stressful, but the stress is a known entity, therefore, I can deal with it.

One day, I come into work and my boss says, "you know how we always have these extra chicken breasts on the counter and you're complaining about how we never use them? Well, today I want you to plate eleven chicken breasts."

At first, I'm excited beyond belief. I've been bitching about those leftover chicken breasts for quite some time. And I feel like I really have my shit together and I can do this strange form of math where eleven chicken breasts need to end up within ten place settings. So I start juggling.

I move this chicken breast here and I shift around that rice and I come up with this plan to leave double broccoli on one plate and no broccoli on the other. Finally, I give up and balance the additional chicken breast between two plates, knowing full well that this is a precarious position but not really knowing how else to make this work.

I look down my plating station and I notice another coworker who is trying to balance eleven chicken breasts on her ten plate body and she looks like she is really struggling. She starts the long walk through the double doors into the dining room and I can feel myself getting ill watching her plates clank against each other, that lone chicken breast threatening to bring all the other plates to the floor. She disappears into the land of patrons and I can't see her anymore so I'm not sure whether she has gotten all the plates to the table and if diners are happily chowing down on roast chicken or if everyone is staring at a trainwreck of a dinner sprawled across the floor.

But it doesn't really matter if she has gotten her eleven chicken breasts to the table because now I'm doubting my capabilities. The stress of serving eleven chicken breasts is, on one hand, an unknown entity. I am building my belief on both known and unknown information. The Known: being a waitress and serving the food on my own body is stressful. Balancing too many things at once usually means that many things end up on the floor. The Unknown: how does it feel to serve eleven chicken breasts? Maybe I truly do have unlimited reserves to deal or die.

This is, of course, an analogy. I am not, if you were confused, constructed out of ten dinner plates. Though, if I were, these dinner plates are certainly ones that would be appropriately Melissa-like. What is real is that the same week that I re-started treatments is the week I got the call that the book was going to be published. And while my initial reaction was a gulp and an "oh well" attitude about the timing, seeing a friend trying to balance twins and a newborn has made me second-guess my own abilities. At the same time, I don't know if there will ever be a "good" time for a new baby therefore, I should just probably suck it up and go for it.

Balancing all of this out is that treatments are both a known and unknown entity. Known: I have done them before. Unknown: I have never done them while two people depended on me.

Most people who are not infertile practice family planning. They try to space their kids based on whatever criteria is important in their life or they only have one child because it works for their life. They pay attention to what is happening in their life and how prepared they feel.

I don't think infertile people or couples use true family planning. I think we plan based on a sense of hysteria. We're like women on a tight budget shopping for Christmas presents during an amazing sale. You feel like you can't pass anything up because who knows how else you'll afford Christmas. And there is a lack of ability to focus. I think when you're frantically shopping, you're not really enjoying it, you're pushing through it. And in pushing through it, you're distracted and feel like things are racing and wonder about what other shoppers are snatching up on other ends of the store. That's how having this child is feeling and I don't think I'm really alone in that sensation. I think anyone who is having or has had child number one through treatments immediately begins focusing on having the next child (if they want a next child) based on whether they can/will have another vs. is this a good time to be having another. Perhaps this is uncharitable and I'm sure there are many infertile women who waited until it felt right.

Perhaps I am speaking only for myself.

Right now, if you look at my life, it is not a good time to be having a child. Josh just started a new position at work and he is working insane hours. As much as he is my equal partner in parenting, he also needs me to take a greater share of the work right now because my schedule is more flexible. And then you add on my stuff:

I am raising twins as a stay-at-home mum who bakes her own bread and makes all meals from scratch. I keep house. I tutor once a week, write for BlogHer once a week, and do MotherTalk every day during naptime and evenings. I keep the Lost and Found 5 days a week and post on Stirrup Queens probably 4 or 5 times a week. I read and usually respond to around 150 emails a day. I volunteer writing the newsletter for an organization, take the kids on playdates, and go out with my friends from time to time. And now, I have laid a book on top of the pile.

Everything always gets done--it's like waitressing--everything in my life right now is a known stress. And because it is known, it seems more manageable than any unknown stress. I could drop things, but I think we all know that anything that can be dropped is not the true stressor. And the things that can't be dropped demand the most time and energy. Beyond that, there gets to a point where I can drop things, but then I won't be living Melissa's life. For instance, it would be profoundly un-Melissa to buy a loaf of bread. Would that be a small solution? Of course, it would if I was comfortable not being myself. So many of the solutions offered at this point have been to essentially not be myself. I could call up Martha Stewart and explain patiently that if she's stressed for time, she should stop wrapping her gifts so nicely because people just tear off the paper anyway and it's more work than it's worth...but then would Martha be Martha without the gorgeous wrapping paper?

Still, I can shave everything to the bare essentials, but at the end of the day, it still won't be enough because the bare essentials are still eleven chicken breasts balanced on ten plates.

Last night, I had a dream that I went back to the University of Wisconsin and went up to the seventh floor of the Helen C. White building and found my former professor sitting in this large, brightly lit office. I told him about the book and he started crying so I started crying. When I was at college, he was definitely like a father figure and he gave me this long hug and it made me feel as if things would ultimately be okay even if things didn't feel okay right now.

Sharing the office was a man that I knew from graduate school, Matt, and, in real life, he is actually the son of a friend of my father's. He is this huge bear of a man and he is someone I equate with safety, who may not have been a close friend, but was someone who was very protective and I knew I could go to him if there was ever a problem. Again, I know him from graduate school, not college, but he was there in this office with my old professor and he started to lead me through town. I think Matt, for me, is a symbol of success. Many people from my graduate class have published books, but he is someone that I would hold up as a success story from his books to his professorship. I know in real life, there are parts of his world that I covet. In my dream, all I wanted was a copy of his new book so I could get him to sign it before he disappeared again. I was in town giving a reading from my own book and he was telling me about all of the places that closed and how the town looked different. And though it looked completely different and things were missing and I was sad about all of the changes, I didn't feel uncomfortable. I still loved Madison and I was happy I was there.

Writing down this dream right now actually made me psychoanalyze myself. I think Matt was a stand-in for Josh and I think Madison was a stand-in for my life. A new child would change things and there is a lot I would miss--the simplicity of getting up and going with the ChickieNob and Wolvog, sleep, the breathing space I've built for myself. There would be gains too--as my friend said, for the rest of her life, she will have three children. And that's what she focuses on when she's juggling three kids right now. Ultimately, I would be comfortable in the new town because it's still Madison, only changed.

So I just scheduled my day 3 blood work and ultrasound and as I heard myself making that appointment (at a terrible time that will affect Josh's work schedule for the day), I doubted the sanity of all of this. What am I doing? I have no business trying to plate eleven chicken breasts on ten plates when there is a very important party in the dining room. Wait for a night where the dining room contains friends and family who will be understanding if dinner ends up on the floor rather than people who have paid hundreds a dollar a head for dinner to see roasted chicken served on the amazing plate girl.

I really don't know what to do.

With that last post, a few people hit it on the head when they mentioned in the comments section that I sounded sad. I am sad right now. Not depressed, per se, but definitely feeling like things were coming to a head and a decision had to be made to press ahead or hold back. All choices were making me sad. I really didn't like any of the four options we outlined for ourselves. Since last Wednesday, we have been discussing whether or not to continue right now with treatments. Since last Wednesday, I have been crying pretty much every evening.

I don't think it's an accident that when I dream about children, people from the writing world pop up in unexpected places. For me, these two sides of my life are completely connected. I gave up on writing to start a family. I am forever trying to balance writing and that form of creation with family and that form of creation. Unlike teaching, writing, for me, isn't just a career path. I would not teach without being paid--at least not a daily, make-the-lesson-plan sort of job. But I would write without being paid--I obviously do that here daily. I have dedicated long amounts of time to each endeavour. We've currently put in 3 1/2 active years of trying to form our family. I've currently put in 8 active years (and if we want to be honest, more like 12 active years) to get a book on the book shelf. I think when you've sat with something for a long time, it's difficult to walk away.

And we've sat with both for so long.

I think I am someone who is obsessed with fairness. In my heart, even though I have been plugging away at building a writing career longer than I have been plugging away at building a family, I had committed to returning to treatments before I got the book contract. Therefore, it felt unfair to bump treatments. It got the first foothold, the two were just going to have to share the ride.

I was set to go in for my day 3 blood work tomorrow and I spoke to my mother this morning. Beyond my actual best friend, she of vodka-stealing fame (my theft, her vodka), my mother is my best friend. And the long and the short of the conversation, since the reasons are numerous and invite a lot of have-you-considereds, is that we are going to wait a few months to continue treatments.

How do I feel about this? Well, I'm wavering. There is a part of me that wants to call the clinic and get back the appointment we just cancelled. There is a part of me that thought happily about the idea of renting a house with my sister at the beach and taking the kids on a week-long vacation. There is a part of me that thought about how we'll be able to afford to go to Chincoteague this summer too. And there is a part of me who felt guilty for being happy about that. There is a part of me that started to panic at the food store as I passed magazine after magazine at the checkout line announcing Matt McConaughey's baby and Angela Jolie's secret pregnancy and Nicole Richie's child-who-saved-her-life. That part of me wondered what I had just done. There is a part of me that wonders if I made the right choice or if I'll have regrets. There is another part of me who thinks that this path will allow me to give my best to the ChickieNob and Wolvog as well as Josh and at the same time, take advantage of my dreams that have fallen into my lap and demand my attention lest they float away again.

In the end, I know that we ultimately made this decision. No one made it for us. So I have to own it. There is a part of me that feels like it is not my right to mourn because I made the choice. There is another part of me that feels like I should mourn and get it out and be angry that I tried for a year and a half with nothing to show for it and family planning be damned.

I don't know. So much of infertility is about truly having every last bit of control taken away from you. And being grateful for whatever you get to try and pay any amount--financially or emotionally--along the way. Pulling back and telling my boss that I just can't balance eleven chickens on ten plates feels like I've taken back a little bit of the control I gave up during this process. That has to be a good thing.

It didn't feel strange to take a break from writing to create our family. But it feels ten kinds of wrong to take a break from family building in order to write. Forgive me in advance if I revisit this topic again. And a request from anyone reading this: please don't tell me about the other paths I could have taken or why I should have taken them. Please don't tell me that you know I have it in me to balance all those chicken breasts. There is nothing worse than having others believe you can do something when you know in your heart that you can't do it. It is like a whole other level of loserdom, and I am feeling raw and embarrassed that I have to admit to my inabilities and short-comings insofar as my ability to parent and work. Please don't make me repeat my known foibles over and over again as my defense.

I just felt like I needed to write something to explain why I wouldn't be injecting that refrigerator shelf full of Follistim into my belly this month.


Stacie said...


The path we take on this road of infertility isn't something that should be judged, and it pains me that you feel you may be. We do enough of that nonsense to ourselves--we don't need anything or anyone to add to that.

Inevitably, we all need to do what we see as the right thing for ourselves at the time. What the right thing is will change as time goes on, and so will the path we take.

Bravo for doing what is right for you and your family right now.

Lori said...

Oh, dear sweet Mel, thank you for this raw, stark post.

Like Stacie said, I cheer you for making the decision that is right for you. I have wondered for months now how you do the 10 plates when I, a mere mortal, manage only half that.

I know there is mourning that goes with your decision. Let us sit with you while you go through it.


Lori said...

I forgot to say that I liked the picture!

And that my sister has written a short article about finding balance here:

Maybe you'll find something there that resonates for you.

nancy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephanie said...

I think you are so brave to make that difficult decision, and I appreciate that you took the time to post about it.

I can only imagine how scary it is to back away, if only a few steps.

Seriously, I am in awe of your plate balancing skills, I don't know how you do it!

bleu said...

Just sending love.

serenity said...

Honestly, Mel, I know we've talked about this before, but I really think that breaks are good. They're healing. They give you a chance to focus on things other than infertility for a while.

(Though I suppose your book about IF and your blogging is a job in itself and really you don't get to escape it for that long, eh?) Hrm.

Either way, it takes COURAGE to say "this is too much right now." And if there's too much on your plate, then it's right to step away. Just for a little while.

Hugs and love to you. I hope your days brighten soon.

LJ said...

Ok, everyone else is gonna go the smarter route, being very reflective on your post. I am going to attempt to make you laugh.

So what kinda of kinky stuff are you into, wanting everyone to eat food off your body?! Dirty Dirty Girl!

I'd like to add one more plate though...a plate of a shared something or other at *Bucks and coffee. We haven't done that in a few weeks. I may love you, but I'm not eating it off your plate-body. I hope you understand. :)

loribeth said...

Personally, I've always been amazed at how well you juggled those 10 plates & 11 chicken breasts too. But eventually, your arms do get tired -- you are only human, & eventually something will give, whether it's treatments, writing, your health or whatever. It's not for any of us to tell you which plate you should put down first, & there will always be some second guessing. (((hugs)))

By the way, I always find I get a little depressed at this time of year too. Late January/February is so blah & cold & dark, & we're always so busy at work. I hope you'll take some time to do something fun for yourself! More (((hugs))).

Caro said...

Wow big decision, well done for being brave enough to admit that you can't keep all the balls in the air and to juggle successfully one of them has to go.


nancy said...

That delete was mine... I didn't like the way it was worded, it came off as being snotty and I totally didn't mean that.

Let me rephrase...

I won't say any of those things you don't want us to say. But I will try to bring something "good" to light - I'm happy you have this as an option. I would hate to see you wanting to go this route, but not being able to due to time limits, etc. The good of this is that you can do this. And that's good, right? (rewording doesn't seem to be helping!)

I ~am~ sorry you have so many chicken breasts and one less plate. I'm sorry that you even had to make this decision. And I'm sorry that what you had been looking forward to focus on is something you are having to sideline for a few months. But I am happy for you to have this this option. And I hope this decision will work out perfectly for you. I hope that in a short time you can put down one of those plates and pick up that other chicken breast with ease. :)

Ellen K. said...

Ok, I'm glad to know I'm not the only one saying "I don't know how Mel does it all!" I believe in breaks, and I believe that legacies come in many shapes, not just those of children.

Waiting Amy said...

I am lucky if I can juggle 3 plates with only 2 chicken breasts.

You need to do what will work best at this moment in time for your family. I very much wanted to cycle this past fall, but if successful it would have been a disaster for our family as we were facing the big move cross country. I wasn't happy about postponing, but it turned out to be the right thing for all of us.

You will find ways to make this work. And you know what? You will still be Mel, even if you buy a loaf of bread. :)

Dreamer4agift said...

You are in my thoughts and prayers, and I'm not just saying that. You're doing what you feel and know is right for now, and that in itself is wonderful and takes courage.

Please don't be afraid we'll judge you. You'll find none here. At least not from me. I will not give you ideas on "what you should've done" b/c what you have decided is the right thing. Feel free to mourn, cry, yell, and revisit this topic any time you need to. Even if it's tomorrow.

I am extremely happy you're following your dream of writing. I, too, have felt like I've rushed and rushed, pushing aside other dreams, only to have nothing happen, except disappointment in myself. So, with that said, good luck with the book. Here's to chasing ALL of our dreams, each one being pursued and caught when the time is right.

Kathy V said...

Oh Mel,
I am so sorry that you had to struggle with this decision in the first place. These are the kind of decisions that no matter what is decided something is gained and something is lost. That is what makes them so hard. Whatever decision you and your husband made was the right one for you at the time. You are right infertility is all about losing control and trying to gain some of it back both through financial and emotional aspects. Sending hugs your way.

Meg said...

Thinking of you......

JJ said...

I enjoyed reading every line of this post...I always appreciate your honesty.
We are approaching that decision as well--if we are to back away for a while--its seems so hard to let go even if for a moment.
You are in my thoughts as you balance ALL the things in your life.

Ms Heathen said...

This must have been such a difficult decision to come to.

My heart goes out to you.

Beagle said...

I know it sucks when none of the options seem to feel quite right but you have to choose one anyway.
I'm proud of you.
(And as one who dropped her plates some time ago . . . I'm kind of in awe too!)

Tina said...

Finding balance in life is so, so hard when there are so many things you want to do and accomplish. I applaud you for knowing when to push forward with those 11 chickens - and when to pull back to make sure you are emphasizing "quality" not "quantity."

I am so glad I took my long TTC break - although I did not take it to accomplish things like writing like you are, it was a secure time to allow me to find myself and my focus again. I know you will have regrets no matter what area you decide to plate later - but, in the long run, it will probably be the best decision made.

Will be thinking of you... And, I think all of us will certainly support you in whatever decision you feel is best for you now.

katd said...

You summed it up perfectly in saying that infertility is a total loss of control. My sister in law is currently waiting to get pregnant around a May vacation. She wants to be sure she'll be able to have fun on the trip, so she can wait to try. She has at least a little control over the when, the how many, etc.

I think it's amazing that you know yourself, your family, and your situation well enough to know what you need to do. Breaks can be great for the soul.
Sending hugs!! :)
And nice picture, by the way. It made me giggle.

Julia said...

See, Mel, I really believe that whatever decision we make, having weighed our options in the moment, is the right one. For me, it goes in the bank as the right one, not to be second guessed later. Because whatever happens later, in the moment, you were honest with yourself and your family, and you made your decision. Not to say there is no loss associated with the decision you make, and not to say you shouldn't mourn when there is. There is, and you should. I think that will help you own the decision. Or maybe that's just me.

I hope you begin to feel better in some way as you assimilate what this decision means to you, and as you adjust to this new reality.

r_is_moody said...

Mel, i'm so sorry you had to make such a decision. Having to decide between two things that you love and want so badly is so hard.


BethH6703 said...

God it sucks to have to continue to make decisions about a thing that most people don't even have to think about. But, let's not even get started on the unfairness of it all....

Without sounding too cheesey, can I just say how proud I am to call you a friend. You have the strength to balance those 10 plates and 10 chicken breasts all the time, and the self-awareness to know that, at least right now, 11 is too many for you. Bravo darlin, for making the tough decision.

Hugs and much love being sent your way.

Jess said...

You know, Mel...

You are doing what you think is best for your family, and that's never the wrong decision. You can go back to treatments. You can try again. But right now Chickie and Wolvog (is that right?) are here right NOW and they are most important.

I agree with you. Traditional family planning gets thrown out the window (and run over with the car) somewhere along the way for sure. Oh, pregnancy and adoption? Sure! And even still, even BEFORE Ethan was born I was talking about the frozens. When? Should we try at all beforehand naturally? Even in the EFFING DELIVERY ROOM I talked about it. What do we do? What do we do?

It's definitely a sense of hysteria. I don't even know if we WANT more kids or when if we do...and now is not the time for more or for a pregnancy. Yet, am I on any sort of contraception? Nope. Because what's the worst that can happen, I reasoned. Another pregnancy? For free? Give me a break!

But your post made me think...I mean, maybe we should be more careful...these kids are here right now and need me now.

But the truth is, it'll probably be a cold day in Hell when I decide to go on birth control. :)

You are amazing, Mel. You do SO MUCH and yet you feel guilty for taking one thing off your plate (har har, plate)...don't worry. You're doing what's right for you. No regrets, ok? There's always tomorrow. And if there's not tomorrow...well, you'll have lived today fully.

Bean said...


I'm a second-guesser by nature, I wish I wasn't but I am. Nevertheless, I truly believe that for most of us infertiles the number variables and options presented to us, the choices we must make, and the paths we take all leave room for so much doubt that it's almost impossible not to second guess ourselves. The seeming loss of control over my life is one of the most frustrating aspects of infertility. There are many moments when I tell myself that there are many choices my husband and I make everyday, including many about our path to building our family, and as you said, we have to own those choices. Still, I feel that we've been forced to choose from some pretty crappy options, and that makes me both incredibly angry and incredibly sad. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us and thanks for your honesty. I'm sorry that you've been forced to make a choice that leaves you frustrated and wondering, and I'm sorry that you've been so sad. As I said, I'm a second-guesser by nature, but sometimes just finally making a decision makes me feel better. I'm hoping that having made the decision you can start to focus more on the pros of it than on the cons. BIG HUGS to you.

Dianne/Flutter said...

Mel, I wish I could give you a hug. It is all OK. You've made the right choice for yourself and your family. And it will be OK.

Anonymous said...

Big hugs to you Mel. I also struggle in making choices - sometimes even small ones - let alone really big ones like this. I'm trying to come to terms with the idea that saying "yes" to one thing means you have to say "no" to something else. I always want to do it all. I think it is much healthier, less stressful, if it's possible to make a choice and let go of something for awhile. it's not forever, it's just for now. When you are caught between fundamentals like your life-long dream of writing, and your life-long dream of children - well, there's no easy choice. But I hope you will find peace in the direction you've chosen. If life is a bit less stressful & hectic, handling tx is that wee bit easier.

Hugs again!


Frenchie said...

Oh Mel,
You are such an amazing person. (And I am so impressed that you make your own bread from scratch!) ;0) I can barely find time to make THE BED--and I only have one child! ;0)

You hit the nail on the head when you said an infertile's family planning is a state of panic (to loosely paraphrase). I feel the same way.

You are doing what is right for you. And that is absolutely right and courageous. Thank you for being so willing to share with us so openly.

megan said...

what a hard decision, Mel. not to mention brave. sometimes the hardest things to do are those that are the very best for us in that particular moment. but you know that already. i often wonder how you do as much as you do even with only 10 chicken breasts to plate. i don't even have children yet and can barely manage 4 some times. you're an inspiration.

thinking of you, and sending lots of good energy your way. i hope you can settle well into this decision. we're here for you while you do so...

MLO said...


No one can do everything. Even when we wish we could. I learned this the very hard way with pneumonia. I don't want you or anyone else to learn that way!

Treatments are hard on our body, our minds, our souls, and those around us. Sometimes, we have to step away from something. I'm really sorry that you have to step away from this. It is not a good thing and it is not a bad thing. As my husband says (and it usually pisses me off), "It is what it is." We just have to live with the choices we make and the choices that are made for us.

And those of us dealing with infertility have had a number of choices made for us - whether we like it or not.

You are doing what you need to do for you, and that is all that can be done. After all, "if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."

smiles said...

The decision on when and how to do treatment is never easy. It is very brave of you to make this decision-you are doing what is best for your family. I was very overwhelmed when we decided to go down this road again-it hasn't been easy-and sometimes I wonder if this was the right decision for us.

Summer said...

I went through something similar in the last year to year and a half of my graduate studies. I knew I couldn't do what was necessary to graduate and pursue our options for IVF at the same time. I was afraid to putting off IVF because I felt like I already waited to long to try to have children and missed my opportunity to have them without ART. If I put off IVF, will I miss my chance to be pregnant completely. Ultimately, as you may remember, I decided to put off IVF. At the time I didn't know how long it would be before I could start treatment, but I finally graduated and with all the time and energy I put into starting our treatment, I realized it was the right thing to do and I think I somehow knew that about myself. That this was the right way to do it for me.

I think you know yourself pretty well, Mel. So, if this feels like the right thing to do, despite whatever reservations, then trust yourself.

Yoka said...

You are in my thoughts!!! This must have been a really difficult decision to make.

sltbee69 said...

I don't know what to say other than you know what is best for your family and that it is not my place to judge. I am thinking of you and hope you can find some peace soon. I know sometimes that is a struggle as I have mental wars in my head on a constant basis regarding if I am doing the right thing not doing every thing I can to have another child. I wish I could give you a real hug but cyber (((HUGS))) will have to do.

Barb said...

I definitely believe we plan based on a sense of hysteria. Very well put. DH and I are in no place financially for a child now (in large part thanks to treatments :eye roll:) but we don't care. We will try every chance we get.

And I know you know this, but you certainly have the right (and should!) mourn. If you don't, it will just bottle up inside and cause problems later. You're only human.

By the way, I am obsessed with fairness (and perfection) as well, so I can see where you've been pulled in so many directions by your thoughts.

Lots of hugs.

Southern Comfortable said...

Thank you so much for sharing this post with all of us. Foregoing treatment, even for a time, is such a hard decision to make. D and I were all set to start back up last August, after a break since last May, and when it came time to start a cycle, I just couldn't do it. My reasons, I think, are very different than yours, given that I've no book and no twins and plenty of time to juggle treatments with my job. I just wasn't ready to do it again. It must be all the more difficult for you to have come to this decision, given that you WERE ready to start again.

Thinking of you.

sharah said...

I think what you said about infertiles not (or not being able to) practice family planning is very true. Once you start treatments, there you get caught in this panicked whirlwind of "I have to do this right now!" It's hard to step back and take a breath and choose to hit the pause button.

I'm 5 cycles into not trying, and it's hard to do. For me, making the choice to not have sex every month when I know that I'm ovulating sends me into a tizzy. There's this whole anguished thought of, "But what if this was the month I had the egg that would become the baby?" But what gets me through is that if I weren't infertile, I would have no qualms about it -- this is simply NOT the right time.

I guess that's all the advice (assy, I know) I can really give. Look at your situation as if you were not infertile, and see what choice you would make. It makes it a little easier to hear what your heart is telling you, instead of your ovaries drowning everything out.

Good luck!

Sunny said...

I am glad you shared your heart. HUGS! I am always in awe of you!

Jamie said...

"I don't think infertile people or couples use true family planning. I think we plan based on a sense of hysteria."

I totally agree.

We are so afraid that we won't get the chance again that we push ahead even when we may not be ready or the timing may not be right. The truth is -- the treatments will still be there a few months from now.

chicklet said...

I'm with Serenity (and many others), and I think a break is good. If this isn't the right time for it, then it's not, done deal. Sometimes we have other focus, and I think it's kinda cool that right now your other focus is a different thing you've wanted for so long, and that one you know you're getting. Hang in there.

Kim said...

What an impossible decision that is. I like your Christmas sale shopping analogy - I used to explain to people that the hope of a new cycle is addictive. It's hard to step back and make the decision to take a break sometimes - even when it's for the best it's hard to get that monkey off our backs.
I was forced to take a break when we moved. I first felt frantic and then a sense of relief washed over me. A big wine, sushi, soft cheese, and coffee wave of relief.
I hope your wave comes soon and carries you until it's the right time for a new cycle.

Anonymous said...

oh mel, I'm sorry you've had all this weighing so heavy on you, and that you've been so sad. for what it's worth, I think your decision is wise and loving and brave. you have to do what's best for you and your family. I also think breaks can be healthy, esp. when they're self-imposed. I know it's a really hard decision, but it could give you the time you need for your family and your book. and I think it will only make you stronger. plus it could even be restorative.

balancing the needs of family -- however large or small -- with the rest of life requires a lot of energy and hard choices. there is only so much mel to go around for you to continue to be the incredible woman you are. Aside from all you do here, it's absolutely amazing what you do at home -- I am still astonished that you make all meals from scratch. I try to live sustainably but can't do that, and I have no kids at home to distract me. that's hard work.

finally, you are absolutely right that i/f takes away our control. it's so frustrating that we can't just make babies the old fashioned way when we feel like it. I hear you on that suckage.

I hope you can be at peace with your decision and find all kinds of beneficial ways to enjoy this time you have created for yourself. (at the risk of sounding trite, a few months isn't that long in the scheme of things, you kwim?)

B said...


It is hard to decide to take a break..... especially once you've started those darned injections.

You are brave not to hold yourself ransom to treatment. I know I do. Ploughing on with the next cycle against all common and uncommon sense. The promise of hope can make us blind to our own needs and our families....... it is very addictive and merciless. You are strong to see clearly what you need.

I'm sad and happy for you.

TroxelTribe said...

We all have to do what is best for us, and I agree with 'serenity' that sometimes breaks are healing and necessary. We are more than our infertility and sometimes I feel like we get caught up in it and that's all we (or at least I) become. I know you said that you feel quilty for looking forward to the things that a break will bring - know that none of us think that you should feel that way (but it's easier said than done). Every month that goes by, I try to come up with different reasons why it's a good thing that we didn't get pg that month. Personally it helps me not put all my eggs in one basket and look forward to other things in life. Take a deep breath, we all support you.

Bea said...

Mel, that's a lot of plates. Or not enough plates. Or too much for the plate. I think you've handled the plate metaphor pretty well already.

The point is - something has to give at some point, and sometimes you have to choose the best of whatever bad options you have.

And you're right - infertility is the opposite of family planning. "Plan" implies some level of control.

I won't say you can handle it all as such - but I do think you can handle it insofar as I think you can made these kinds of decisions so the chicken doesn't all end up on the floor all the time. Sometimes handling it means saying, "These plates can only get so full."


calliope said...

the fact that you sat still and listened to your body and your mind and your heart and was able to make a choice is huge.
I can't tell you how many times I stormed forward and halfway through treatment WEPT because I just needed to be effing not on fertility meds.

So many of us don't take stock of what we need and suffer because of it. Thanks for reminding me that it is OK to not have to bounce right into a cycle.

sending love

jodie said...

So say we all. IF sucks on so many levels. I picture a can of silly string sprayed over our lives – it touches every aspect. You push through it all until you just can’t anymore. I’ve had to take two breaks; life was becoming as unbearable as the IF. I propose a toast to everyone who is way too familiar with all the suckage. All that can, drink one for our sisters. Hug your family and yourself -

Michell said...

Just wanted to let you know I was thinking of you and to thank you for all that you are and all that you do for others. And good for you for doing what is right for you and your family right now.

Aurelia said...

I haven't read all the comments, but I used to work in TV & film, and FYI, Martha does NOT bake her own bread.

She has a staff to so many of the dozens of things she needs done at work. She lays out the construction blueprint, but she does not dig the ditch herself.

Take care of yourself and your family first, and keep your eyes on the prize when it comes to what you want in life. If you can't do the zillions of things on this site that you want to, that is okay, you know. Other people can take up the slack.