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The success rate of fertility programs refers to the ‘take-home-baby rate’, but for every one of these babies (the ‘success stories’) many more will have a near miss. One of the cruellest blows is when the euphoria of a positive pregnancy test turns to disaster when the pregnancy miscarries. After an assisted fertilization, things are monitored so closely that a pregnancy test is done just two weeks after the insertion of the embryo. Jenny recalled, ‘When they called me from the clinic to say that the pregnancy test was positive I was over the moon. Even though we tried not to get too excited, after a couple of weeks we just couldn’t help choosing names and making plans for this baby. We didn’t dare have intercourse in case it did something to risk the baby. When I started bleeding it was worse than a nightmare. It was like going through a death in the family. We were absolutely shell-shocked.’

So when is enough enough? The answer could well be, ‘How long is a piece of string?’ Of course, the decision to stop is a very personal one and there can’t be one hard and fast rule that applies to everyone. For some couples, the stress of their first attempt will be enough to let them know that they do not want to pursue it any further. One man said, ‘We tried one cycle and it failed. Although we had been told what to expect, we both found the whole process overwhelming. We talked it over with the counsellor from the clinic and with our specialist, then we talked between ourselves for hours. We decided that the most important thing for us was each other. We just accepted that we were not meant to have babies. We planned a trip overseas and we are going to concentrate on our careers. One day we might adopt, but we can think about that when the time comes. In the meantime we will be the world’s greatest uncle and aunt!’


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