Thursday, September 23, 2010

Letting Go of "The Plan"

I am a planner. I like to know everything in advance so that I can be prepared for whatever it is I'm doing. I can research it, have my talking points in line, have a schedule put together, and everything will work out great. Or at least it's supposed to, right?

This planning streak has gotten me into trouble before. As a young 20-something I had it in my mind that I should be working right after college, live with my boyfriend no more than 2 years before getting married, get married at 24, and have my kids by 30. I was right on track with my plan. I got my job at Scholastic within weeks of graduating. I moved in with my boyfriend that fall and was married 4 months after turning 24. I was totally planning on having those kids by 30, but I hit a snag in my planning when my husband at the time decided that we should wait and so I got my master's in education instead. My plan was going great, but my life was awful. I had married someone who was, to say the least, not a good partner for me. I had friends coming to me in tears begging me not to marry this person because of the way I was treated, but I did it anyway because I was in love and of course things would change for the better. And, shamefully, because breaking up and starting over on my own was not in my plan. I was living an unhealthy life of tiptoeing and avoiding the truth of my situation because going outside my plan was unthinkable. Well, then multiple, long-standing infidelities were revealed and a lightbulb went off--I deserved better than The Plan! I would jump into uncertainty and get divorced in the midst of student teaching and leaving the safety net of my job at Paychex! I would abandon The Plan! It was terrifying. I turned 30 as my life was upside down -- this marker for having children was already here and I didn't even have a good, loving partner to consider conceiving with. I was starting over as many of my friends were having their first or second babies.

So I let go of The Plan temporarily. I decided to "take things organically," a phrase I repeated over and over in hopes that I would feel more comfortable operating planless. I met my husband, Bryce, during this uncertain time--horrible timing that a plan wouldn't have supported, but because I was sans plan I went with it. I tried very hard to get rid of preconceived notions of timelines and waypoints in our relationship (although I was the instigator for just about every milestone we hit, including getting engaged since I was the one who proposed).  I am very lucky for my husband. He treats me with love, care, and respect. He is incredibly supportive. He is patient with me when I don't necessarily deserve it. He makes me laugh. We have a wonderful time together, with or without a plan.

Now, though, I want a plan in the worst way. Infertility has robbed me of the ability to even attempt to plan. Here is a situation where I can research the topic to death and be as well-informed as possible, set up timelines and schedules for treatment, and it won't matter. Not one plan I have made for when treatment would happen or how this would go in general has actually been viable. You simply can't plan anything when in infertility treatments. You can't plan vacations (a time that seems good now could mean packing needles in your bag, needing to be in the office for a procedure, or not being able to relax because you're in the stressful 2-week-wait later). You can't plan for when these procedures will be, because they are entirely dependent on how your body responds to drugs--and that is completely unpredictable. One month you could be on medication for 17 days, another it could be 12. There is no way to know. You can't even really plan for future cycles--I wanted to get a date on the calendar for our next IVF cycle but can't until I hit day 1 of my next cycle and have a test done (I advocated for a saline sonohistogram to check out the interior of my uterus--I'm not paying a gazillion dollars to try again if they haven't checked out my uterus fully). I have pages and pages in a notebook of plans I tried to make for when we would do different cycles of different treatments and they just didn't happen when I wanted them to. I have to fill in the rest of my plan book with dates for school because I was thinking if I planned for being successful with our first attempt in August, I would go out on leave in mid-May. So I didn't fill in anything past the first week of May because I wanted to plan for getting pregnant with my first IVF. That plan didn't work either. It is so frustrating!

I am trying my best to let go of this need to constantly plan. My body has a plan of its own. The little tiny human that will call me Mommy has a plan of its own. Somehow I have to give up wanting to control this process and just let it happen. I have made one step towards that--I have decided to plan cycles for when I can next do them, not around school calendars or other obligations. They will happen when it's the right time for the procedure, not when I decide it's the right time for my schedule.  I will not plan my life based on a "what if?" situation, I will take it as it comes. Maybe if I stop trying to control every part of this process it will actually happen for me. Oh no, did I just make a plan for not planning? I think I'm going to need some help with this...

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