Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Losing Control

I am a control freak. This should not come as a surprise, as I have been pretty open about my need to try to control the things I can't for, oh, forever. So many people who I've met on the infertility journey--either in person, online, or through books--have said virtually the same thing when it comes to control issues and fertility. Infertility is this maddening entity that refuses to acknowledge hard work and perseverance. You can put amazing amounts of effort into your treatment to try to impact the results, but in the end you could do everything possible and infertility will still laugh in your face and refuse to give up that baby. But still, you do things to try to alter your odds in some way. It's a compulsion, an obsession.

I have been a ritual person throughout our (many) attempts. My best friend has said, "You're sounding pretty witchy, don't you think?" Yup. Some stuff has been one step shy of casting spells. I have good luck charms, things that make me feel like in some small way I can influence and appease the cosmos. I have my elephants, my owls, my red candles that must be snuffed, my vision board, my orange underwear, my good omens. This last frozen cycle was, in theory, a spectacular good-fortune magnet. It snowed the morning of our transfer (frosty goodness for my frosty babies!), it was a full moon (super fecundity!), it's still The Year of the Rabbit (good cosmic alignment for reproduction!), and when I took the baby elephant lid to my elephant teapot out of the freezer the morning of transfer, it survived the thaw crack-free (effigy intact!). Everything was lined up just so. I couldn't have planned it better.

But, oddly enough, it didn't work. I did all those things, I had the happy coincidences of snow and full moon. I wore my orange underwear and my orange shirt (giving the owls a rest). Did it matter? No.

I feel like I'm losing control (control I never had in the first place, blah blah blah). It makes me wonder if any of this makes any difference. It actually makes me wonder if some of my adherence to these rituals, to these good-luck charms, is harmful in a way. At first I thought it gave me something to focus on besides my follicles and my lining. Somewhere to put my energies and make me feel as though I have some level of control. But I don't. I did all kinds of stuff when we were pregnant with the ectopic and I wanted a miracle so badly--but whether I lit candles or not, that baby was still rooted in my tube. Nothing I did or didn't do would have changed that, as much as I desperately hoped it could. And for this last cycle I tried to loosen up a bit, to have my charms and rituals but not get too bent out of shape if a candle was blown out instead of snuffed, or I forgot to wear my orange underwear. Looser was better, but it still ultimately mattered not.

So maybe this loss of "control" is a good thing. Maybe if I let go of this notion that I can influence the process I can be truly relaxed and give in to the possibility that my pregnancy will happen in its own time. Regardless of my efforts. It's hard, because my fear is that all this stuff does help and letting go of it will result in total disaster. That's pretty conceited of me, actually. So far the rituals haven't worked out so well for me, so maybe this is the change I need. The fear is also that I really can't improve my chances--that making a baby, even in a lab, is purely chance. So many variables go into success--the right genetic material, the ultimate uterine lining, the environment and blood consistency for implantation. The hormone cocktail and balance. The emotional component. It all has to be just right, which makes it miraculous that anyone ever gets pregnant. But maybe that's it--just the perfect mix of variables, independent of everything else. I focus so much on making everything perfect, when so many of the successful cycles I hear about were anything but (like a single-embryo transfer that was 4 cells on day three that is now a third-trimester pregnancy).

I'm ready to give letting go of any semblance of control a try. I'm ready to let go and let nature (with a hefty dose of medical assistance) do its thing. Screw the candles and the orange panties. I'm going to attempt to put my faith in the process, and the process alone. Can I make it through a cycle without bringing the elephant into the surgical room and buying more onesies for a phantom baby? I think so. (No promises on the onesies.) I'm going to see where that takes us on this leg of the journey.

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