Sunday, May 1, 2011

I Just Know It Will Happen

Even though it is not technically still Infertility Awareness Week, I had one more myth to bust that has been weighing on me. It's the "But you're such a good person/You would make a great Mom!/I just KNOW this will happen for you!" frame of mind.

Before I get into it I want to be clear--anyone who says anything to me with good intentions has my sincere appreciation. Infertility is a difficult subject and for some reason it can make people very, very uncomfortable. Probably because there is no perfect thing to say. It is emotional, and visceral, and nothing someone can say will truly make it all better. But for the people who let their good wishes known, I am always appreciative. People want to offer hope and positive energy, and you hate to counter it with an ugly truth. But, to quote the X-Files, "The truth is out there." And it's not always pretty. Or easy to hear.

But You're Such a Good Person!
Unfortunately, nice has very little to do with it. I could constantly have bluebirds singing on my shoulders and be able to calm crying babies with only a wink and sit down among carnivorous creatures to read them picture books unharmed--and it wouldn't make me more fertile. I am a pretty freaking good person--I have volunteered, I give to charity, I love my career as a special educator, I am sensitive, caring, and giving to those around me. If karma exists, I should have lots of good fortune. And, to be honest, I do have more than my share--a wonderful husband, a challenging job in a crappy economy, a (very nice) roof over my head, supportive family and friends. I just want to add a baby (or two) to that good fortune. Unfortunately, PCOS and male factor infertility really don't give a hoot if you are nice or mean. They affect the sweet people and the miserable people equally. Mean people have babies every day without a hitch, so sadly me being a good person has nothing to do with it. It's an added bonus to my quality of life, but not a prerequisite for pregnancy.

But You Would Make A Great Mom! 
This goes along with when people tell you you are great with children and should have a ton of them. In this infertility journey, I have met a lot of women who have awesome "Mom" factor. They are caring, creative, soothing, loving, and just can't wait to direct that energy towards a child. Their child. But somehow, we are all childless (or can't seem to add to our families). There is no correlation between great Mom potential and the ability to get and stay pregnant. Just like plenty of seriously crappy moms (the ones you see in the news scarring and killing their children in cruel and unusual ways) have no problem getting pregnant. I know women who built their families in different ways and will likely never be pregnant, but they are awesome, awesome moms. So being a great mom doesn't guarantee that you will achieve successful pregnancy. I wish that a burning desire to carry a biological child and become a terrific, model mother would make it so, but it's just not how that works. (Just like I would like to think that going through this process will make me a better, more appreciative mother--but that argument doesn't necessarily hold water either. Maybe more appreciative, but not immune to frustration and impatience.)

I Just KNOW This Will Happen For You!
This one is super hard. Because I would LOVE to believe it. I would LOVE to say, YES! I can totally see this working out for me! That is my hope and my dream. That is why we put ourselves through this demanding process time and time again, because we truly believe it will. We can even see it. I have seen in my mind what my daughter would look like (don't ask me why I think I'm having a girl someday, no clue but that's what I see). But that doesn't mean it HAS to happen. It doesn't. There are so, so many people for whom it hasn't happened yet. Or for whom it never happened. For every miracle success story there are so many stories of people who chose another path (or for whom another path was chosen). When you hear "I just know this will happen!" it is really hard not to ask, "HOW?" Because if there is a crystal ball that shows that, I want to see. I wish I had that certainty but after 7 failed IUIs and 2 failed IVFs my capacity to be completely behind the "It WILL happen!" train is pretty limited. I wouldn't do all this if I didn't think it was possible. But to protect myself, I have to have a realistic view. I have to smack myself with the reality of my previous attempts and the reasons known and unknown for failures. When you go into a cycle dead certain it will work, it doesn't mean it will. IVF cycle #2 was like an experiment in this mindset--if I try to "think it true" am I more likely to get pregnant? Nope. Just more likely to be completely emotionally devastated. So I am going with a middle ground now, as we plan for IVF #3. I am feeling positive but I know it doesn't HAVE to happen. Just by probability alone we have a sickeningly high chance of failure. But we will concentrate on the possibility. You can't go into a cycle all doom and gloom and keep your sanity (or be sane in the first place--you would never spend this kind of money and torture your body in this manner if you thought you had a snowball's chance in hell--you have to think you'll be on the lucky end for once). But at the same time, you also have to (at least briefly) entertain the possibility that it might not work. Ever.

So that's my two cents. It may seem a little depressing, but it is actually really helpful to be rooted in reality and know what's possible and what's not. Infertility is a medical condition. Medical conditions don't care if you are an awesome person, you would make a great mom, or that you refuse to accept that this might not happen to you. People, on the other hand, do care--and for that I am so grateful. That people who aren't in the infertility microcosm feel so strongly that we will be successful for all the reasons above warms my heart. But it doesn't change the cold hard truth--infertility is a numbers game and it is largely about timing and luck. It is one big heartrending gamble. Going into it with a positive attitude is important--but you can't ignore reality and keep the wherewithal to stay strong on your journey, wherever it takes you.


  1. Hi Jess, that was an interesting message. To reference your comment "it's all about the numbers", I remember when Bryce was in college and just loving all his math classes, he would say to me on many occasions, math is in everything and then often times going about to prove it. Fingers and toes are crossed that the numbers all add up to the positive.

  2. Thanks, Nancy! Me, too. I hate being on the losing end of the numbers game!