We’ve all been there: what do we do? Just to get to this place in your fertility journey you had to make some tough decisions. Pull the goalie, now? Or after my sister’s wedding? Do we want a summer or winter baby? Do we buy the bigger car now or wait until we need enough room for 3 kids? Buy a house? With 4 bedrooms? But I want 3 kids, maybe we need 5 so we can have a guest room. But maybe now the questions are: when do we do that next round? Should we do ICSI? Do we want to live childfree? What about donor embryos? Do we take out a line of credit to fund our treatment? How long do we pay for our frost babies? Transfer 2? 3? Wait! 4 embryos?
No matter where you are in life, or your fertility journey, you have made some big decisions and still have many more to go. How have your previous decisions gone? Did you rely on your gut or analytics? Do you regret your past decisions, or do you believe all the choices you have made are important for your journey? Below are a few ways to approach all your big decisions. Not all approaches are appropriate for you and your situation, and sometimes you’ll use a combination to help you make the best decision for you in your life.
Got that gut feeling? Sure you can go with it! Just make sure you and any other parties involved (including your partner) are all in agreement with this decision. If you don’t know how to follow a gut feeling try thinking about one of your options. See yourself in that situation (but not too far ahead), look just after the decision. Notice how you feel? Do you feel anxious? Do you feel comforted? Or are you too comfortable and bored? Anxiety around a choice doesn’t mean it’s not for you, notice if that anxiety makes you feel awful about yourself or your situation. If you don’t feel great about it, then maybe that’s the choice for you. If the anxiety makes you excited, then maybe it is.
There are many ways to “logically” analyze a situation. You could do a decision tree (basically an if-then statement) slowly progressing your way down until you get to that desired result. A spreadsheet (or list) with requirements/costs is another way to look at the problem and then choosing the option that meets the requirements the best.
Most decisions require both a little gut feeling and analytics. For most big decisions in life, there’s often a large financial component that can have a limiting factor on your gut feeling decision. Write down what your gut is telling you, then analyze how that decision works for you. Know that the results may not be perfect, but it might be the best option.
Once you have one or two scenarios figured out, look a few steps forward and evaluate if that is where you want to be. If you decide to do a FET (frozen embryo transfer) this month using 2 eggs what happens if it takes, or if it doesn’t take? What would the next steps be for each decision? If you only have 2 eggs left and it doesn’t take that may mean doing another round of IVF. Are you ready to do that in 2 months? Or wait another year? If it does take and you want to have 2 children when would you do another round of IVF? What does this scenario look like if you transfer one embryo instead?
Sometimes we find ourselves in an analysis loop when there isn’t a decision to be made. We analyze a situation hoping the outcome changes or hoping we have control over how the scenario plays out. You’ve been told you have low ovarian reserve, you’ve been trying for 3 years without success, but you continue to try every wife’s tale hoping you get pregnant naturally instead of pursuing fertility treatments. It’s ok to be optimistic, but worrying over whether putting your feet up after doing the deed or when the full moon lands at the same time as your cycle this month, is not productive.
Looking a few steps forward is helpful, sometimes this is the same as the outcome, sometimes it’s not. Once you’ve found your best choices/options take a look at your possible outcomes. Do you like how it looks? Will you be happy? Will you be content? Will you be unhappy? If you have 4 embryos and your choices are put any or all of them in would you be happy with quadruplets? Would you be happy if you did 4 rounds and it resulted in a singleton? And what about all the options in between and no children from those 4 embryos? If you don’t like your outcome, go back and reevaluate.
You made your decision. Great! Now sleep on it, if you can. Take a look at your choice, how it feels, and what the outcome looks like after a good night’s rest. If you have more time, then give it more time. If you have less time, then do your best.
Making decisions is never easy. And also, there are a variety of ways to approach them. You just have to pick one or a few that fit the current dilemma.