Is Never Give Up a Good Message for Infertile Couples?

Woman sitting on couch hugging her knees, thinking
You can drive yourself crazy wondering, "What if I tried just one more time?" Sometimes, moving on is the very best thing. JGI/Jamie Grill / Getty Images

Never give up.

You’ve likely heard this from friends, from family, and maybe even your doctor. It’s all over social media and on fertility-focused Facebook pages. Browse through any fertility inspired Pinterest board, and you’ll find Never Give Up in front of various images, in a variety of fonts.  I’m sure I even have a few of these on my Pinterest boards.

Never give up can become a mantra, something you repeat to yourself when things seem impossible.

Never give up. Never give up. Never. Give. Up.

But is it the right message?

Why Never Give Up Is the Wrong Message

Every so often, I see a story posted online of a couple who tried for years and years, exhausted all their financial resources, and after some crazy number of IVF cycles, got pregnant.

Never give up! usually follows.

I understand why these stories are shared. I really do. And I’m very happy for these miracle stories.

But the message sent is not really encouraging. It’s dangerous. And overwhelming.

Never give up implies:

  • Everyone can have a baby if they just keep trying.
  • If you bankrupt yourself, you’ll eventually get a baby.
  • Your emotional exhaustion and psychological well-being are worthy sacrifices for the baby you will eventually have.

Bottom line: if you never give you, you will eventually have a baby.

I’m sorry to say this just isn’t true. Not everyone will get pregnant.

Even the very best IVF odds – which is for those using an egg donor – are not 100%.

Also, money does matter.

You don’t want to be broke and then have a baby to care for. A lack of funds can also eliminate or seriously limit your ability to adopt, if that’s something you’d like to pursue.

Your emotional happiness matters even more. Your relationship with your partner matters as well. Yes, even more than the theoretical baby you may never have.

Never give up is terrible advice.

Instead of Never Give Up, Think Don’t Give Up Now

Never give up is simply unrealistic and unfair. But sometimes, you do need someone to say don’t give up yet. Or don’t give up now.

Thinking back, I can remember many times when I thought I should just stop trying to get pregnant. The stress felt like too much, and I was just tired. So emotionally exhausted.

One of those times, I really did need a trying-to-conceive break – and I took one. I spoke to my doctor and stopped trying for a year or two.

But there were other times when it was the wrong time to stop trying. I needed encouragement to keep going. One of those times was the cycle I finally – after six years – conceived my twins.

Now, what if I didn’t conceive that cycle? I honestly think I should have pushed for at least two or three more treatment cycles before moving on.

There is no way, however, I would have been able to do it if I didn’t have my doctor’s support, and statistics saying that it wasn’t time to give up.

How to Decide if You Should Keep Pushing Or Not

We aren’t always the best judges of whether it’s time for a break, to move on, or keep on truckin’.

Here are some things to consider.

Talk to your doctor: Do they think your odds are good, and that you should keep trying?  Get a second opinion if you're unsure.

Talk to a counselor: If you don’t already have one, find a therapist who understands fertility issues, and schedule some sessions. They can really help you think through what to do, and support you whether you decide to move on or keep trying.

Consider your finances: Unless insurance is paying (in my case, it was), money is a deciding factor in whether it’s time to move on or keep trying. Don’t forget to consider what your Plan B is, and if you need money for those plans.

Talk to your partner: Are they feeling burnt out as well? What do they want to do? If you disagree on whether to keep trying or not, meet with a counselor together.

What You Should Never Give Up On

The one time never give up is the right message is when it applies to your life.

You should never give up on your future happiness.

No matter what happens – baby or not – there is life after infertility. Your worthiness is not dictated by your ability to have a child.

Though it may be hard to realize right now, you can have a full, happy life without being a parent. You will need time to grieve, and I’m not saying the transition will be easy. But you will transition.

You will survive. You can survive this.

Never give up... on you.

More on coping with trying to conceive stress:

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