I’ve always been a girl with a plan. I like lists and schedules and thinking things through and knowing what will happen ahead of time. And even though we know it’s futile, I approached baby-making the same way.
I got married when I was 31. We moved to Los Angeles after the wedding, and shortly after, I turned 32. I insisted I find a job before we started trying to get pregnant, which I did a few months later. I stopped birth control, and waited 3 cycles to load up on prenatals and folic acid, and to make sure I would receive full maternity benefits from work. And then we started trying.
I was determined to become pregnant by 33. Which I did. But I lost the baby 6 weeks before my 33rd birthday.
I then became determined to have a baby before turning 34. I became pregnant again, with a due date 6 weeks before my 34th birthday.
But I lost that baby too.
I then thought, ok well at least I’ll be pregnant again before I turn 34.
I turn 34 in eleven days and that’s not happening. So now I keep thinking, as long as I’m pregnant by the end of 2014, as long as I have a baby before 35….
These are self-imposed arbitrary deadlines, and they cause me so much stress and heartache.
I had a meltdown in therapy last week. About how I’m dreading my 34th birthday. About how I never wanted to get this old before having kids. About how my fertile years are slipping away. About how sad I’ll be if I’m not pregnant by Christmas. About how much I’m trying to make this happen for us.
She looked at me and pretty directly and said, “Alexis, you have no control over when you will have a baby.”
How could she be so mean? How could she say something so hurtful?
And even though the tears that followed were an involuntary reaction to those words, I knew she was right.
I fantasize all the time about letting go. Could I just trash my ovulation sticks, my basal body thermometer, never pay attention to what cycle day it is, or when my period is due? Could I ever just not care about when this actually happens? I know my therapist is nudging me in that direction. She wants me to acknowledge that this is out of my control, and to let go a little. She wants me to stop putting all my hope and desperation into each current cycle, and have faith that eventually, it will happen.
But how do you climb out when you’re in so deep? Every little bit of this is so loaded. I would just be pretending to not know the cycle day, or that I wasn’t anxiously awaiting the verdict at the end of the two week wait. Because I’m too scared to let go. Too scared that if I don’t try to control it in some way, it will never happen.
“The greatest suffering I see from people,” she told me, “are those that cannot accept the reality of their situation.”
I know that despite however much heartache it causes me, I’ve accepted that we’re fighting this battle. I pushed and advocated for our care every step of the way, even when doctors have written me off or rolled their eyes. I’ve accepted that we’ve needed help and that we had medical issues that needed to be fixed. And after the second loss, even though I was told over and over to “just try again,” and I wanted so badly to do exactly that, I accepted that it wasn’t the solution.
But what I still have trouble accepting, now that we’re fixed and primed and ready, is that I still have no control over when this baby will come. That every plan, every bit of effort, obsession, and desire, makes no difference.
And so I tried to think of it another way.
My baby will decide.
My baby is waiting for that perfect time to emerge. Waiting for the right time for its journey from zygote to the little human in my arms.
My baby is forcing me to get strong, to learn about perseverance, and patience, and faith. My baby is forcing me to learn when to exert control and when to let go. When to be assertive and when to be passive. When to perfect the art of equanimity and when it’s ok to meltdown.
My baby is waiting so that the joy of his or her arrival will be that much more overwhelming. Waiting so after all these tough lessons, I will be that much better of a mom.