Stop saying DON'T GIVE UP! and how do you decide when it's time to stop trying to conceive?Oct 11, 2021
The advice DON’T GIVE UP is thrown out there so often, it’s basically ingrained in us from childhood. You can achieve anything if you don’t give up. Keep trying. Practice makes perfect. And the list goes on.
So, it’s no surprise that it’s a common comment on Instagram posts for those struggling with infertility too. It’s said by well-meaning friends as a source of inspiration and strength. But while it comes from a place of love, I always cringe a little when I hear or see the words being given as a piece of advice……especially to those on their fertility journey.
It may seem odd that I’m saying this, because I credit the main reason why my husband and I have two beautiful children today, is because we kept trying. It’s not that we never gave up. It’s that we kept trying.
This may seem like a case of semantics; however, this change in perspective is everything for someone who is contemplating whether to keep trying to conceive.
Here are a few of the reasons why I’m not a fan of DON’T GIVE UP.
Firstly, it insinuates that “giving up” is a sign of weakness. It puts a negative connotation onto it. Like you’re quitting. And in my experience, it takes a lot of courage to stop trying.
In my book, The Injustice of Infertility, I wrote -
“I’m conscious of throwing out the advice of “just don’t give up” because it gives the impression that walking away from your dream of having a baby is a sign of weakness. On the contrary, I believe it takes an incredible amount of strength to decide to chose YOU over expanding your family. My heart goes out to anyone who finds themselves at that fork in the road. Where they have to decide whether to keep pushing, despite it killing them from the inside out, or sacrifice their dream of becoming a mum to save themselves. It takes a level of bravery that I cannot even comprehend.”
Giving up is NOT a sign of weakness, it’s an indication of strength. I think a better word or phrase to use instead of “giving up” is -
Being free from.
Moving in a different direction.
Choosing another path.
The second reason I don’t like this phrase is because it may actually cause additional suffering.
In our case, we got our happy ending after 7-years, because technically we “never gave up”. And that may be the case for lot of other people too. I’m not saying that it’s wrong.
However, our fertility journey was tougher than anything I had ever gone through (and still is to this day). But I never told the people around me how much I was suffering. That I was dying inside. And every time someone said to me – JUST DON’T GIVE UP, they were essentially telling me to continue suffering and to continue dying inside.
We don’t know what other people are going through. They may be at the edge and need some coaxing back to the safety zone. And here we are telling them to essentially keep walking forward, and to just push through. It’s dangerous.
And thirdly, anyone who is suffering from infertility or who has endured pregnancy loss, carries a lot of guilt. We feel guilty that this is happening to us, that we can’t give our partner a child, that our body isn’t working the way it should, or that we waited too long. Receiving the advice of DON’T GIVE UP places additional pressure on us, and additional guilt too. It creates fear that if we stop now, our happily ever after may be just around the corner. And that leads to regret and self-punishment, which no one deserves to carry.
But ultimately, it’s no-one’s business apart from the people directly involved. You have no idea what someone is going through or what they have been through to get to where they are today. Especially if you haven’t gone through it yourself. And if you have experienced infertility, just because it worked out for you, it may not be the best advice for someone else.
Instead of using DON’T GIVE UP, try –
You need to do what is best for you.
You are amazing and courageous regardless of the choice you make.
This is your decision and your life.
You are worthy, no matter what.
Now that we’ve clarified that, how do you actually know when it’s time to move on and step off the fertility rollercoaster?
That’s a personal decision that only you can make. I wish I could make the decision for you, but I can’t. However, this is what I DO know.
THIS is a HUGE decision – probably one of the biggest decisions you will ever make in your life. So, you owe it to yourself to make that decision from a place of strength and clarity, rather than making the decision from a place of defeat.
So how do you make a decision from a place of strength and clarity?
First of all, you need to build up your strength. You’re at this crossroads because you don’t know if you can keep going, right? You’re probably exhausted, a shell of your former self, and deep in suffering.
Take some time out to focus on yourself for a change. Take a breath. Start looking after yourself and doing the things you WANT to do rather than the things you’ve been told you SHOULD do. Day by day you will find yourself getting stronger.
Look at all the things you have endured and survived up until now. You aren’t weak. You’re brave. You aren’t a failure. You are a warrior.
Eventually you will get back up. Then and only then, are you ready to look at your options and start to make a decision.
Firstly, try writing a list of pro’s and con’s for each path. What are you walking away from and what are you walking toward? Sit with it for a while and keep adding to your list. I find that writing it down and seeing it on a piece of paper can provide a lot more clarity, rather than having the thoughts bouncing around in my head on repeat.
Once you have your list, try each path on for size. Make a decision and see how it feels. Does it make you feel sick to your stomach, or relieved? And remember, you get to change your mind.
At the end of the day, you deserve to live your life for YOU. This is YOUR choice. And remember that you are strong, capable and amazing, no matter what. So, no matter what you choose to do, you can walk forward with your head held high. Because you were always worthy.
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