Some of us fertility patients want to know everything. Everything from every number on any bloodwork done to every measurement on an ultrasound to every detail in an IVF cycle, to every possibility of any procedure that might be necessary in the future. Some of us just find it infinitely more comforting to know the details and all the possibilities. We hope that then nothing can take us by surprise.
It's even more aggrevating, then, as a patient, when we realize that we can't know everything in advance. Can't plan around allthe known factors because things can change so quickly. Without a doubt, fertility treatment is a science. But it is also an art. Like a house of cards or setting up dominoes, one thing depends on the three or four or seven hundred and fifty things that come before it.
Since this seems to be my week for going out on a limb, here I go again.
The experience of infertility, fertility treatment and trying to conceive with difficulty sets us up very well for having children.
I spoke with my best friend the other day. Her younger son is in his first year of college. He is a really bright young man. Not surprising. He was a bright baby, bright little boy, and now, he is a bright young man. Like many of us, he had to listen to many conversations about not living up to his potential while he was in middle school and high school. Remember those conversations? Maybe you don't. I do. I remember hearing about applying myself and staying focused. Blah, blah, blah. He’s excelling in college. After all those years of dealing with expectations that weren’t met, they are now being surpassed.
My point here is that raising children brings up the unexpected. Over and over and over again. Sometimes just in the space of a moment or two. My point here is that we have expectations of what our children will be like from the moment that there is desire to have a child. My point here is that we have expectations that can take us by surprise, over and over again. We can be disappointed by what our children can and cannot do, want to and don't want to do.
And we think we have some control. Infertility sets us up to understand to expect the unexpected. To hear one thing and then find out that it's all changed. That a cycle that almost gets cancelled is the one that works. That the perfect cycle doesn't work, we don't get pregnant.
Infertility teaches us that control is something that we hold onto like a life raft, hoping not to drown. When sometimes what we need to do is let go. That sometimes, the tighter we clutch to the life raft, the most we miss the other opportunities to save ourselves.
My favorite joke, perhaps of all time, goes like this. A man is drowning in the ocean. He prays to heaven above, for the first time in years, to save him. A dolphin swims by and offers him a lift, he says no, he's waiting for a higher power to save him. He thanks the whale that offers him some help, but he's waiting for a higher power to prove itself by helping him. He turns down the rowboat, the ship and the yacht who offer him help as well.
You've probably guessed the punch line by now. Right, the man drowns, goes to heaven, meets his higher power and angrily asks why he wasn't saved. His higher power looks at him and asks.... who exactly did you think sent the dolpin, whale, rowboat, ship and yacht?
So as we’re clutching onto our floatation device, my advice to all of us, don’t ignore all the help that floats by. Help comes in some very unexpected ways sometimes.