Growing up I had a plan of how my life would go. I’d go to college, move to a big city for a few years, then meet the man of my dreams on a blind date (set up by friends, of course), get married, move back to my hometown, and have three children before I reached my 35th birthday. My husband would go to work and I’d be fortunate enough to stay home and raise our perfect children. Actually- my plans sound a lot like the path my mother’s life took (especially those perfect children!) – although she probably had something completely different in mind while growing up.
Of course, as everyone except idealistic teenagers knows, life rarely goes the way you’ve expected. Plans change, dreams change, people change. I changed. I ended up moving farther from home than I ever thought I would – 5 hours by car. It might not seem far to some of you but I grew up in the town my father’s family has lived in since they got off the boat, literally, in the 1730’s, and I always thought I’d end up back there one day.
Instead of meeting my husband through friends, I met him online - another twist in my autobiography that I never could have anticipated. We stayed in the Boston area, at least for now, and while there’s always a chance that we could end up back in my hometown, there’s also a chance that we could end up moving even farther away. We married when I was 28, a few months from 29, and I was 30 when Little Paul was born (a few months from 31). I figured at least I could get the plan for 3 kids before age 35 crossed off my To Do list, even if every other “plan” had changed. I expected that I’d have no trouble getting pregnant, and that our children would be two or three years apart.
I turn 34 in a month and we’re not much closer to having more than one child than we were two years ago. That dream of 3 kids before 35 is getting fuzzier and fuzzier, less likely with every month that goes by. There’s still a possibility, I suppose, that I could end up pregnant with twins and give birth before I turn 35 but I’m not holding my breath. I’ve learned not to over the years.
For me, this change in expectations and life plans has been the hardest part for me to accept in this whole fertility test. (And it really does feel like a test sometimes. One where you don’t know the answers or how to find them. Where you think the teacher knows what they’re talking about but maybe, perhaps, they don’t. Or where maybe there just AREN’T any clear answers, like those horrible essay based tests that seem completely subjective. Oh, and it’s a test of your mental ability, your physical stamina, AND your emotional capacity.) I’ve been working, every month, at not expecting anything. It’s somehow easier to expect nothing at all than to expect the best and to be disappointed repeatedly. I find myself shutting down a bit every month, towards the end of the two weeks of waiting to see if this month will be IT. I busy myself with activities, cleaning, cooking, and parenting so that I don’t spend all of my time wondering and worrying and waiting.
Beyond my belief that we’d have no trouble conceiving, I expected that we’d have three children. When Paul and I decided to get married we planning on three - we both have two younger brothers. I’ve recently realized though, that this is another expectation that I have to release into the atmosphere. Unless we do have twins, chances are that we won’t have three children. Paul will be at least 40 by the time our next child is born, and he doesn’t want to be 60 and still have a kid in high school. We both want to be young enough to enjoy our children AND to enjoy our eventual retirement. As much as I still hope and wish and pray for three children, I know that it’s unlikely, and I’m working at coming to terms with this change in plans.
After the holidays we’ll be embarking on the next stage of treatment. I met with our reproductive endocrinologist last week and it turns out that it’s not just my reproductive system causing the trouble for us. Without going into too much personal detail things were labeled “borderline.” And so now we move on to doses of follicle stimulating hormones (FSH) and intrauterine insemination (IUI). It all becomes very clinical and is full of even more tests and exams for us to pass, complete with instructional videos on how to inject myself with drugs.
Hopefully this will be the answer. I’m not counting on it though, and I’m going to try my hardest not to obsess about what lies ahead. I’m tired of spending my time counting down the days from one month to the next, holding my breath for good news. For my family, and for me, I need to live in the here and now, the what’s happening today part of my life, and stop dwelling on lost dreams and changed plans. It sounds easy on paper, but I know that it won’t be. I’m not very good at letting things go and just relaxing. I’m very good at worrying and researching and charting and planning. And so I know that this will be difficult for me – it HAS been difficult. And I’m sure there will be times when I completely fail at my plan to stop expecting things to go a certain way. I know there will be days when I’m just angry and pissed and frustrated and lonely. I’ve had many of those days already, as hard as I try not to. And much of the time I pretend that I’m ok, but when the darkness falls and everyone is asleep, the ice-cream bowl full of self-pity and self-loathing comes out and I chow down.
In my good moments and hours and days I know that even if my life today isn’t what I expected when I was one of those naïve teenagers, it’s a good life – a really fantastic one, actually – and it will all work out the way it should. So I’m going to work on that in the New Year. Screw all the typical resolutions I make: the healthy diet I’ll start and keep, the goal to clean out the basement, drink 8 glasses of water a day, cut down on sweets. My only resolution this year is to be done with expecting things, at least until I’m told that I AM expecting. Until then, I’m going to love on every baby I come across, knowing that other people having babies isn’t taking a baby away from us. I’m going to kiss and hug and snuggle and breathe in their little baby smells, even the stinky ones (and don’t worry, I’m not completely mental, I won’t grab strangers’ babies). And one day, maybe next year, maybe not, but one day, some day, I’ll besniffing my own baby’s poopy diaper, and appreciating every single minute of it, all the more for all that we’re going through now.
And really, with this little man in my life, how can I NOT focus on how wonderful my here and now is?? It's freakin' fantastic!