Sitting in the doctor’s office after my last miscarriage, Jack on one side of me, the doctor on the other, I felt as if I was part of an intervention. Don’t be so hard on yourself, Jack said shaking his head and patting my hand. Dr. D nodded, In your life when you put your mind to something you’ve accomplished it, but in this matter there’s a lot that’s out of our control. She’s right. Since I was a child, the lessons imparted to me by my parents, teachers, society, was If you work hard enough you can achieve your dreams. And this was true, until now.
In the realm of infertility and pregnancy loss, I can take my Metformin to keep my insulin in check. I can pop the baby aspirin to thin my blood so it won’t strangle a future fetus. I can take the prenatals and make sure I’m eating a balanced baby friendly diet. I can try Clomid. IUI. IVF. I can jump on to lovenox after a positive pregnancy test. I can work as hard as I can and while I should keep my feet moving I have no control over whether any of this will work. This is hard to accept. Perhaps this is why I start sign hunting by checking my boobs, debating the degree of nausea and exhaustion during each two week wait. But sign hunting won’t give me the end result, its just a maddening way to waste two weeks (and in my case often longer) of your life.
Things such as sign hunting and the devastation that follows when you see blood made me think of stepping out of the baby making game for a while until I had my head in the right place emotionally. I told my therapist this thinking he’d agree because if anyone knows how much of a wreck IF has made me, it should be him. I was surprised when he disagreed. You’re in the game and I think you should keep moving, you need to learn to handle the challenges better but I don’t think you will take a time out. I think its an intellectual exercise to debate whether you should or not, you’re too deep in to step back. I think he’s right. I could never stop. The challenge for me is not taking some time off, but learning how to co-exist with my infertility. To walk side by side with this challenge and not let it wear me and turn me into a one dimensional person.
In an effort to co-exist with my IF I decided to focus on things in my control, so I can keep on moving on in this journey but not be paralyzed emotionally while I do so.
No more Sign Hunting. What do I get out of checking my boobs and gauging my levels of exhaustion? If I’m pregnant I am and I’ll find out soon enough. Some people say its good to have your hopes up and be positive. Maybe this works for some, but for me getting my hopes up means they are crushed in a bloody heap at the end of the cycle. Most people get that a miscarriage is sad, but most non-IFers don’t get that the end of a cycle that did not work is heartwrenching too. It is also a loss. I’m not sure how I’m going to succeed here but I’m not googling for signs and symptoms anymore and the goal is to firmly tell myself not to read into things when the urge strikes. If that means chanting a mantra you’re not pregnant, stop it! or Google is not a fortune teller. So be it.
Focus on the things I have control over like . . .
My fitness and nutrition. Exercising burns adrenaline and calms me but when I’m stressed or depressed the last thing I want to do is go for a run. My neighborhood is full of rolling hills and my plan is to stick on the iPod and power walk. I’m also considering yoga. With PCOS losing weight is challenging but its possible. Its time I took greater control.
My hobbies. I love to read. Scrapbook. Try new recipes. Write poetry (of questionable merit). Instead of imploring Dr. Google to predict my future status of motherhood I will do things I enjoy.
My writing. Though my writing is technically a hobby at the moment since I’m not paid to do it, I have a finished manuscript that I’m revising one last time before submitting to agents. Since the miscarriage issues I’ve neglected it entirely. I need to update my query letters, and pursue this dream.
Reflecting. A dear friend reminded me how important it is to take advantage of silence and down time to contemplate and reflect. When she first suggested this I wondered what I needed to reflect on or contemplate, but after a few days of plugging out for a few hours from TV, music, cell phone and internet and just taking a walk, or making dinner in silence I saw what she meant. The world comes into sharper focus. I realized its hard to really think clearly when you’re always plugged in. This act of taking time out for silence each day is helping me in ways I could never have anticipated from the simplest areas of appreciating things I never thought to appreciate such as the brilliant orange of a carrot I’m cutting for dinner, the sound of its crispness as I slice through it, the sweet flavor of homegrown tomatoes. Being plugged in, you can end up just doing things by rote and not realizing. It’s not always easy to co-exist with silence because sometimes thoughts that are unpleasant that I’ve tried running from also make themselves known, but now at least I can begin tackling these thoughts instead of pushing them away, because the truth is, even if we don’t think about things and reflect, they are still there, poking us under the surface, stealing our peace of mind.
My Marriage. Its easy to take Jack for granted. He’s my best friend and he’s always there for me. While I’ve gotten better about dumping all my IF issues on him, I still can’t forget when he said he wanted his wife back. I hope as I try to flesh out the other parts of me that go beyond my desire for motherhood, Jack will see his wife returning. I cannot control all aspects of my marriage but I can control my end of things.
I hope by focusing on the areas of my life I have some measure of control over, I can take away the tunnel vision on IF that has taken over my life. I accept that no matter how much control I take over my life, IF sucks and failed cycles will always hurt, I just hope that I will bounce back faster and not allow IF to take over all of my life. The best I am praying for is it to co-exist with my infertility and not let it wear me as it has for two years.