Anyone on this journey can tell you how hard it is to live in the now, not the past and not the future. Our brains just spin with emotions tied to what has happened and what hasn’t happened and what we hope to finally happen that we have difficulty living in the present. Or is that just me?
I spent the past year second guessing buying new clothes because I hoped that the next outfit purchase would be one that my pregnant belly would fit into. Every time I enter the dressing room that question runs through my head: what if I get pregnant, do I really need to buy this ________ (fill in the blank)? All stinking year. Then, as I head to the counter to purchase the item the nagging voice in my head is saying, “you won’t be able to wear those if you get pregnant” which competes with the voice of doubt who encourages me to buy until my heart is content because the past has shown me once not to be hopeful. Standing at the register, the hopeful voice retorts, “we created a baby once, so why isn’t it plausible that it could happen again?” Still, I pull out the plastic and walk out of the store with the new shirt or jeans or whatever because the other voice says, “remember what’s happened in the past? You can’t plan for a pregnancy that isn’t actually happening. You just can’t live your life that way.” But, I wonder if this last voice is the past haunting me or the voice of reason.
So how do I get off this merry-go-round of emotion? How do I focus on the present and not allow the voices of the past and future wreck my right now? That’s my goal for this year. I feel it with every decision I make-not just purchasing clothes. I timidly make plans for taking trips or taking on professional opportunities with those voices in my head forcing me to second guess or be doubtful that I will ever get out of this cycle with what I so desperately want. I wonder if I will be able to do a road trip this summer to Texas because I might be too pregnant to travel comfortably, then that voice of doubt comes in and diminishes my hopes. I wonder if I’m taking on too much, though it means professional growth and brings me joy, because it could also mean stress and stress could keep me from getting pregnant. I questioned painting the spare bedrooms this summer because I was unsure what those spaces should be. All I wanted to be doing was making a nursery, not a guest room and an office. So what do I do? I select paint colors that I want in my nursery in hopes of what could be. And on and on it goes…
Immediately following my last failed IVF, I went straight to the voice that said “screw this” and declared that if I was going to have a childfree life, then I would start at that moment living for myself and only doing what made me happy. No more spending time stuck in the middle of a life that felt incredibly stagnant and suffocating. Living for the next round and the next test result and the next heartbreak. I declared that life was over. I enjoyed a self-indulgent expensive meal and got knee-walking drunk. With every sip of alcohol, I was still focused on what the future would look like and wasn’t focusing on the present. I pictured us traveling the world, having golden tans, tied to no one and no place, doing what we wanted on a whim. It was an extravagant life I conjured up out of the ashes of failed attempts and heartbreak. In the morning, it felt just as far fetched as our journey to a baby had been.
Being in the now is something that I’ve struggled with my whole life, so I can’t really blame it on infertility, but I think in many ways infertility has made me hyperaware of my tendencies. Perhaps that is a silver lining to all of this. Perhaps if anything this has allowed me to do the introspection I might not have done otherwise. That has to be worth something.
This is a new year and a chance to do things a bit differently. I won’t call it a resolution, because we all know what happens with those. My goal is to live in the present and deal with things as they come, not as they have happened in the past or how I have imagined. I will do them if they bring me joy and because in the moment it feels like the right thing to do, regardless of unknown possibilities or impossibilities. This is not the same flipping the universe off attitude I had at the end of our last round. It comes from somewhere else; a place where I want to be at peace with what is happening in the present and not acting out against uncontrollable forces that hold my future or wounds from the past, because truthfully, you just can’t live your life that way.
What are the goals you’ve set for yourself as you enter this year in regards to your fertility journey?