This morning I threw three impressively-sized wads of used tissues into the garbage on the way to my car. As I dug through my purse for wayward pieces I realized that these were the last remnants of this month’s attempt at starting a family. The rest of the evidence is also in the trash: a digital pregnancy test with the words “NOT PREGNANT” glaring from the window and a life’s worth of hopes and dreams.
I don’t usually test before DPO 13, when a dip in my temperature will let me know a day before my period if I should even bother. I tested last night (DPO12) because I had a feeling it would be negative and I wanted to deal with the fall out that night in therapy and not the next morning on my way to work. Turns out there was more fall out than I anticipated.
Two hours of crying and three wads of used tissue the size of my fist later, I was exhausted but emotionally more stable. I realize that I have gotten “better” since I started on this journey. Starting a family is no longer an obsession in that it does not occupy my every thought. I do feel I can glean meaning from the coming months even without a + on a pregnancy test. Ironically it was my ectopic pregnancy that allowed me to find some peace in that respect. It also helped when I realized that I would never be the young mother I thought I would be. Somehow I fooled myself into believing it was still possible, up until I turned 29 just weeks after my ectopic pregnancy.
While I do feel emotionally stable, I do not feel particularly good. I feel upset, I feel angry, I feel exhausted. I feel so incredibly frustrated. I loathe having no control over the one thing I care most about it; it makes me want to question everything I’ve ever learned about life. The reality is, I have.
We are taught from such a young age that if you work hard, you can achieve anything. I believed that. It has served me well. I wanted to go to Berkeley more than anything, so I worked really, really hard and got in. I wanted to speak Spanish so I took classes, lived in Spain, read only books in Spanish, watched Telenovelas and I became pretty good at it. I decided I was going to be a teacher and I completed an insane credentialing program in 1.5 years and I currently have a job I appreciate very much. But now I’m working on the one thing that matters most, and no amount of effort can truly effect the outcome. It doesn’t matter how much I want it or how hard I try. That it such a humbling experience. I really don’t know how to accept it.
And it’s not for lack of trying. I’ve read so many books on acceptance. Hundreds of pages on a concept I can understand the importance of but don’t know how to practice. Sometimes I think I can accept my situation. Sometimes I even feel grateful that I’m being forced to see the world in a profound and important new way. But other times, when I think of how things might play out, I feel completely overwhelmed. I truly doubt that I’m strong enough to keep going. Accepting the uncertainty is just an insurmountable task. This too is a supremely humbling experience.
So I’ve been humbled… and it’s taught me a lot about myself. I now see how important consistency is in my life, how much I value the idea of hard work = goal reached. That equation feels fair to me and fair is of the utmost important. But there is nothing fair about infertility. Nothing. It’s so incredibly unfair, I just want to write that over and over again, but still I wouldn’t do it justice. I’ve also learned that I deal with issues by taking action. I’m a problem solver. I can’t get pregnant? Well, what can I do to solve that problem? Turns out, not a whole hell of a lot. I can make certain choices and take certain supplements and take care of my body in certain ways, but in the end, none of it matters. It’s just the luck of the draw, and you can have shit luck over and over and over again. I also cherish the idea of control. I don’t think I ever realized how important the illusion of control was in my life. I also didn’t realize it was an illusion. Actually, it’s not an illusion, not entirely, and that is the realization I made last night, with the help of my therapist. I think I’ll save all that for a later post.
The oscillations of this post mirror my emotions perfectly. One minute I feel overwhelmed and the next I feel like I will be able to get through this. There is a Buddhist story about the day the Buddha achieved enlightenment. As he sat under the bodhi tree he was attacked by thousands of spears that became flowers as they showered down upon him. One interpretation of this story is that your enemies only exist when you allow them to exist. Obstacles can be opportunities if you allow that transformation. You can choose to be tormented by your problems or to be taught by them; you just have to open yourself up to the pain and accept what comes your way. I know this experience is teaching me more about myself than I ever could have known. I want very much to open myself up to my pain and learn to accept it. I hope I will continue to find meaning in the obstacles I face. The only alternatives are disappointment, frustration and despair.