When should you stop trying for a child?

By Nina Steele 

This is a very difficult decision that I am afraid everyone who has been trying for a child for some time will have to make at some point. The very thought of it I remember used to send panic and fear in me. I could not bring myself to imagine that day. A few months before we made the decision to stop trying, I remember sitting in the fertility clinic waiting area and having to pay yet another bill this time over a £1000, when my husband turned around and reminded me that we ought to seriously consider stopping at some point, otherwise he continued, we might end up with no savings. I knew deep down that he was right, however it still felt like he was giving up too soon. I wasn’t ready yet, definitely not. I told him that I thought we should give it two more attempts after the one we had already started then we would stop. I said it without much conviction at the time, as I secretly hoped to convince him when the time came to keep trying.

There was no way I was going to stop trying for a child. I had visions of a little girl running around in our garden and convinced myself that we were meant to have at least one child. To add to this was the fact that some years ago, my mother who is a traditional African woman, went to see a clairvoyant who told her unambiguously as these people often do that I was going to have two children, a boy and a girl, how romantic! And so there I was totally convinced that whatever happened, there was going to be at least a child in our life. The thought of considering a plan B, namely that we might not have children, never occurred to me. I suppose you can say that I was living in a fantasy world.

It is funny how people change. Overnight, I went from not imagining our life without children to suddenly feeling angry at myself for spending 9 years of my life chasing a dream, as opposed to appreciating the blessings that were already in my life. You see, being originally from Africa and growing up with not much, moving to Britain has changed my life in ways that I would never had imagined. For example, I was able to work while also studying for a degree in business with the Open University and graduated last September. There are also the countless job opportunities that I would never have had, had I not moved to this country and so I have always made a point of being grateful for my current existence.

Suddenly trying for a child threw all this out of the window. There I was feeling sorry for myself and my husband for not being able to conceive, while forgetting that he and I are among some of the fortunate people on the planet. I suppose you cannot make anyone change the way they see their life unless they are themselves ready for change. Had anyone told me even a year ago to stop trying for a child, I would have called them many names. I had to be ready for change and this is key. No one can be made to see their life as a blessing, unless they are ready to see it that way. Unfortunately some people never recover from not having children and go through life feeling perpetually bitter with a sense that something is missing in their life. Fortunately, we were able to turn the page and move on and I hope that our story serves to inspire anyone still struggling to come to terms with not having children.

male infertility


  1. It will be different for each individual, but it’s important that you get yourself tested to find out why you can’t have children. Some will find that they definitely can’t, and are therefore trying for nothing, whereas others will learn that there is some hope. The degree of hope will make a huge difference, without a doubt, so it’s absolutely vital that they are checked. When it starts taking over your life and becoming more of a burden than a joy – that’s when to give up.

    • Even if you learn that there is some hope, you still have to decide when to stop. I suppose you could say that I could have become pregnant had we kept trying since my husband is infertile and I am not, however, even I had become disillusioned with the whole process and decided that enough was enough. It was taking over our life and we had literally put it on hold until we had children and once I realised what a burden this had become I could no longer bear it and made the decision to stop.

    • Julez Fitzmond says

      Testing is absolutely essential in my opinion. A friend of a friend struggled to have children for a number of years, and her partner left her because he assumed that it was her “fault” (if that is the right word – you know what I mean). She then remarried and now has two children, whereas he ex partner has none – so if they had been tested then it would almost certainly have come to light that he was either infertile or had a low sperm count; then they could have decided where to go from there.

  2. Julez Fitzmond says

    It must be such a hard decision to make. In a way, I think it is harder for the people who have a small amount of hope than it would be for those who have none – because at least you can be absolutely certain about what the end outcome is going to be. But I wouldn’t want to be “trying” for more than a couple of years, as it would take a lot away from your relationship. It should always be a good and positive thing, and when it is not I don’t think it’s healthy to carry on.

    • I agree that it is harder to make the decision to stop when on paper you can still have children. Some people also cannot understand how you can stop trying when again on paper you can become pregnant. Yes I could have become pregnant had I tried IVF again, but then had I tried and failed then what? It is a vicious cycle of hope and despair and the quicker you get out of it in my view the better.

    • Dawn Kells says

      What would you call “a couple of years” though? It takes some couples a while for a number of reasons, and often there is no clear reason that it doesn’t happen. It must be hard to make that choice when there’s still a chance, however slim that chance might be.

  3. I have had the choice taken away from me. I am angry and confused and I have cried. It will probably never sink in that I cant have children and that I was given no choice in the matter. I know those that have the option to stop trying also face a difficult decision when to do so, but to me it’s not fair that I havent had that choice at all.
    I would have loved to have tried, but that isnt the plan for me. I suppose in the end I havent had to make that difficult decision

    • Julez Fitzmond says

      I am in the same situation – it has never been my choice. Different to you though, in that I feel that some of the pressure has been taken off me. Because no, I can’t have children – but I don’t have to go through the process of making that decision and then stopping trying, which must be upsetting for people who do want children. I do hope that you manage to find happiness though. I am certain that you will.

    • Dawn Kells says

      You think that it will never sink in, but I promise you that it will. You only have to read through some of the truly inspirational stories that are on here to show that you can have a wonderful life once you decide what you’re going to do with it. It will be hard to get to that point, but honestly, you will.

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