One of the most difficult issues that individuals struggling with infertility face is that of regret. Whether it is about treatment decisions, or decisions about when or with whom to start trying to have a family, regret can be very difficult to tolerate.
I think I have always been particularly sensitive to feelings of regret because even as a young child, I was very aware of my maternal grandfather's own regrets about his life. He always regretted not pursuing higher education when he had the chance, and expressed bitterness about his choices. In my own life, I have used these memories as a constant warning. I frequently find myself thinking about how I might view my decisions in the future. Although I feel that this has helped me make some good choices, it has hardly made my life regret-free.
I have come to the conclusion that despite our best efforts, it simply isn't possible to avoid having regrets entirely. The cliche that hindsight is always 20/20 is oft-repeated because it is true. But in addition, I think that no matter how much research we might do, and no matter how much we weigh the pros and cons of things, we sometimes only learn things the hard and painful way. There is little more instructive than a profoundly painful experience; we usually learn the complicated nuances of that situation very thoroughly and quickly.
Of course, infertility treatment usually presents all sorts of complicated situations and decisions. The best course of action is often not obvious. So we must make decisions using the knowledge, abilities, and emotions we have at the time. When they turn out to be decisions we later regret, it is usually because we learned so much dealing with the aftermath of those decisions. We are now functioning with a whole new level of knowledge and expertise. With our new vantage point, we now see the better option. So in a way, without making choices that we later regret, we may be unable to develop the knowledge and judgment we will need to ultimately succeed. Feelings of regret are, in actuality, the "cost of doing business".
For me, I have struggled with regrets that I did not pursue IVF right away when I first learned I had infertility problems. My RE at the time told me that I was subfertile, not infertile (history has proven it otherwise), and thus I continued trying on my own, and then tried less aggressive treatments to no avail, for almost 2 years. Little did I know that each month, my FSH was rising and my ovarian reserve was declining at a rapid pace. However, at the time, I didn't really know to even ask about those problems. Once I figured out what was going on, however, I was able to change my attitudes about treatment, and eventually achieved success. Now, of course, in my work with my clients, this is an issue I investigate right away--because I learned about it the hard way, it is almost a reflexive response.
Thus, I think problems with regret arise only when the regretful feelings cause a person to become unable to move forward in their lives. Perhaps they now have a crisis in confidence, and feel unable to trust their decisions. Or as my grandfather did,perhaps they blame themselves for circumstances that were out of their control. In truth, my grandfather could not have pursued college when he was young because my grandmother became seriously and chronically ill, and he needed to make as much money as he could to pay her medical bills.
If you find yourself struggling with feelings of regret about decisions in your infertility treatment or family-building choices, it is important to keep in mind that regret is unavoidable. However, being stuck or paralyzed due to these feelings is something we can change. Forgiving yourself for not knowing then what you know now is an important part of this process.