Did you ever think of a spreadsheet when you thought about getting pregnant? Me neither. After two years of waiting to do this frozen embryo transfer (FET), I know I’m ready, but I still get a pang of overwhelm when I see the daily schedule of drugs I’m going to take. I try to switch from anxiety to hope and excitement, but it’s hard sometimes. I don’t want to be disappointed.
Nobody does, but it’s an inevitable part of life. I've heard people say that if we eliminate expectations, we won’t be disappointed. I get that, but I don’t think that eliminating expectations altogether is realistic, perhaps adjusting them is more so, as they hold us to a higher standard.
My initial defense mechanism to possible disappointment is to pretend I don’t want what I’ve been desiring all this time after all. This fertility journey has taken me through so many emotions, like when I started thinking about what it would be like to remain childless. It actually gave me some great perspective. There are obvious advantages to this lifestyle - freedom, in both time and finances. Those are huge. I began to understand why many people choose this path, and grew to respect it (since years ago, I couldn’t even imagine thinking that I would never want children).
I freaked out a little bit - is it possible that I don’t want children? I sat in that thought for quite some time. Then I read a discussion thread on Humans of New York about encouraging kids to persevere through difficulty, and teaching them the benefits of struggle. A Math concept might be hard at first, but working through it will teach you how to solve problems, and you’ll gain the confidence to conquer future obstacles. A teacher commenter said that if something was too hard, some of her students would act like they didn’t even care about it anymore - Math, the class, school in general. This comes from fear and a lack of confidence.
Do you stop wanting something because it’s too hard to attain or because you're scared? Fear of failing on the path to learning can be crippling. I’m listening to the audiobook Pursuit of Perfect by Tal Ben-Shahar, where he talks about perfectionists vs. optimalists. Perfectionists are defeated by roadblocks, and they experience anxiety, doubt, and self-criticism when faced with them. Conversely, optimalists know without a doubt that detours along their path will emerge, and therefore accept them, using them as learning tools. When you stop wanting something because you’re scared, you suspend the life you truly want: arrested development.
Now, this doesn’t mean that changing your mind isn’t a possibility. I’m learning to spot patterns in my behavior though, and I see that throughout my life, I have tended to recoil in the face of resistance. I tell myself that I shouldn’t have tried in the first place, because look, it’s not working. Why would I ever have thought I could do this? I don’t want to do it, I don’t even like this. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.
That last sentence might be true, but that doesn’t mean I can’t keep trying. After months of sitting in the space of thinking maybe I don’t want children, I came to realize that I do - so much. I’m just wicked scared of what might happen if I try and fail; I’m gripping onto the outcome of my efforts with white-knuckled force. When I do that, I mute my inner voice, which prevents me from hearing the powerful messages of my detour. Fear, l interrupt thee. We will build a family somehow, it is possible. Right now, I just breathe, and put one foot in front of the other, until we get there.