Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Never give up"?

Thanks to S. at Misconceptions About Conception for highlighting this article. Although it's about cancer treatment (& overtreatment), I found a lot of parallels with infertility (not for the first time & not for the last, I'm sure).

Once again, I was reminded of Barbara Ehrenreich's book, Bright-Sided, which I recently blogged about. There's a chapter in the book about positive thinking and medicine. Ehrenreich first began thinking about this subject when she was diagnosed with breast cancer some years ago.

Sample passage from the article:

The American way is "never giving up, hoping for a miracle," said Dr. Porter Storey, a former hospice medical director who is executive vice president of the hospice group that Morrison heads.

"We use sports metaphors and war metaphors all the time. We talk about never giving up and it's not over till the fat lady sings .... glorifying people who fought to their very last breath," when instead we should be helping them accept death as an inevitable part of life, he said.
Sound familiar?

Fertility clinics are great at offering us all the latest in infertility treatments & protocols -- moving us along the conveyor belt from clomid to IUIs to IVF to donor gametes to surrogacy -- offering us different drugs or different protocols when one option doesn't work. And most of us going through treatment are only too happy to grasp at whatever straws they can offer us next to hang onto.

However, clinics (and even support groups) aren't so great when it comes to helping us know when, perhaps, the time has come to say "enough" -- & supporting us through the transition from treatment to adoption or (especially) childfree living.



  1. Oh, you said what I have been thinking and pondering for so long now. We stepped off the treadmill before getting to IVF - the next step among our choices. And ever since then, I have second-guessed myself. I have thought of myself as a bad infertile. I have wondered what could-have-been/should-have-been. Every time I read of a woman who is embarking on her umpteenth cycle of IVF, or one undergoing a frozen cycle, or even those who persist with medicated IUIs....I wonder why *they* could do it, and we couldn't. And it makes it hard - as you say - to live with our choices. We chose to remain childless. We chose to step off the treadmill. And still, I second guess our decisions. Thank you for posting this - despite my distaste for the "at all costs" attitude in American medicine, I hadn't drawn the parallel that you so neatly did.

    [Hope you survived G-20...]

  2. One day a few weeks ago I was watching a Canadian TV in which a group of fertile women were discussing infertility with three IF'ers. All of the IF'ers had gone on to conceive (through expensive ART treatments).

    While I was glad that this show was drawing attention to infertility, I thought wearily to myself, "Oh man, now everyone watching this show will become convinced that infertility is curable."

    Why not host even one childless/childfree woman? Because fertiles don't want to see women whom they've perceived to be 'quitters'? I don't know.

  3. I totally agree with you here, and like your parallel with the end of life. You hear about people who say they want to die with dignity. Having watched my father die, he had to submit to having others care for him, and he did so. When he knew there was no option, he didn't fight against it. To me, that was dignity.

    I also volunteer with women who are sometimes forced to decide if they should step off the rollercoaster and live their lives without children (as I do). Everyone has different limits - for some it's IVF, for some it's a donor egg, for others it's adoption. But I don't think anyone can call it "giving in" when so much is involved in that decision.