Thinking Outside The IVF Box

One of the hardest things about being infertile - at least one of the hardest things I faced - was the fear of failure. That is, I was terrified that I wouldn't get pregnant and have a baby. I think many of us face this fear, or one like it: what if infertility treatment doesn't work for me? I know this is a scary question! I chose not to consider it, and instead buried my head in the sand and continued with cycle after cycle after cycle of infertility treatment. This is not always a good plan. Sometimes it's really helpful to face the tough questions; and not for the reasons you might think.

So, let me ask you: what if treatment doesn't work for you? Or what if it might work but you're burning out and can't face more needles, or you're running out of money? You have many options for becoming a parent (from donor egg or sperm to gestational care, embryo donation and adoption, just to name a few), and it's important to consider all of them, and what it might be like if you chose not to have children - if for no other reason than to take some of the pressure off as you go through treatment. Knowing that there's another choice or another path to parenthood can liberate you from that fear of failure!

I now realize that I might have been a lot happier if I'd never tried IVF and instead started building my family through adoption right from the beginning. Adoption may have been my second choice (IVF came first), but it was by no means my second best choice. Adoption is right for me in a way that I never realized or understood, in part because I didn't consider it as a family building option until I was on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

My last IVF cycle occurred while I was filling out my adoption paperwork and I have to tell you, it was the easiest, least stressful cycle I experienced (and I went through four inseminations, six IVF cycles and four miscarriages-talk about stress)! Knowing I had a game plan and a strategy for what I was doing if this cycle didn't result in a baby was huge step forward for my mental health. I had finally given myself some power back; I was in control of whether I was going to become a parent. So if you're having a rough day, explore some of the other options that are available to you. One of them might bring that baby home to you, or otherwise restore your sanity.

Elizabeth Swire Falker is the author of the bestselling infertility title, The Infertility Survival Handbook: everything you never thought you'd need to know (Riverhead 2004) and discusses family building options in Chapter Seven. Ms. Falker also runs an infertility and adoption coaching service and speaks regularly on these and other issues. You can buy the book, contact her directly or find out when she's next speaking by logging on to her website at

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