Follow me on the crazy, hopeful, discouraging, funny, and ultimately successful (one way or another) path to parenthood while facing infertility.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Balancing Joy and Reality: Goodbye, Pollyanna

I can be wound really tightly.

I can make arbitrary deadlines and goals and timelines for things that I have zero control over. (I can also do this for things I have lots of control over, and that goes really well...)

I can be optimistic to a fault.

There is a teacher I work with who calls me "Suzy Sunshine." She says it kind of like a slam, and one afternoon after a frustrating day said that I could be downright delusional in my hopes that some of my students will turn things around when it comes to work completion or behavior or motivation. I like to think that I just never give up hope. SOMEONE has to keep the faith.

I loved the quote attributed to Churchill, "Never, never, never give up." I use it with my students all the time. I used it as a mantra and had it as a magnet, holding up protocol calendar after protocol calendar after protocol calendar on the fridge.

I STILL believe in "Never, never, never give up." I am not giving up on parenthood. I am not giving up on my quest for motherhood. I am not giving up on bringing a baby into this house. I DID have to readjust how that was going to happen, and it was HARD. Hard because I clung so tightly to the idea that I could change what can't be changed, that if I just hoped hard enough I could influence the universe and my uterus and make it be so because I thought I could. I had in my head dates, "surely we'll be pregnant by THIS date," and "if it happens HERE, then I can go out on maternity leave THERE!"

And I was always disappointed.

I think I might have been smarter when I was younger, when my best friend and I agreed that, "It is always better to be pleasantly surprised than to be bitterly disappointed." This after both of us experienced divorced parents and the disappointing events that follow divorce -- promises that can't be kept, visits that don't happen, parental behaviors that make you realize your time as a child are over. Counting on things becomes almost silly.

Somehow, when enduring fertility treatments, I lost that bitter edge. Maybe because I thought that it was possible that the hard times were over, and now that I had the husband I deserved, surely things would work out positively from now on? Each loss did not teach me to be cautious. Each disappointment and setback and piece of bad news somehow didn't break my optimistic hopeful nature, which I stuck to like a Pollyanna chump. In some ways, it's a strength to remain doggedly optimistic and hopeful in the face of such continual tragedy. And in some ways, it's not facing the music that is rising in a crescendo to the end of the piece.

I felt freed when we finally realized that treatments were a vicious circle, and not a single or concentric circle, but a spiraling pattern leading down, down, down, down a drain. Once I realized that I couldn't hope anymore, that it was feeling pretty futile, that the disappointment train had taken its toll and Pollyanna had morphed into Debbie Downer, it was easier to realize...this was NOT our path. Bryce got there sooner, but he fluctuated, too. And once I could put my energies into a new process, I was a lot happier, and had hope again.

But...

That hope is tempered. I can't have my optimism at top speed, careening towards heartache. I am different now. I am changed. I have learned my lesson.

I look at my adoption journey, and I am full of hope. But I am also realistic. I refuse to put an arbitrary date on when we might bring a baby home. I won't even put a firm date on when I think we should be home study certified -- I hope it's by the end of summer, but who knows what can happen? Better to accept. Better to realize that things will happen when they will happen. I can set dates and hope all I want, but the truth is... our baby could come sooner or later than we think. And it will have nothing to do with anything we do, attitude-wise.

I could hope that because our fertility journey was so dismal, that our adoption journey should be a breeze. But I know that's not a correlation that is accurate. Just because pretty much anything that could go wrong, did go wrong with that pathway to parenthood, doesn't mean that adoption will be smooth as silk. I expect false starts. I expect failed matches. I expect a long wait. Not because I don't have faith in the process, but because I can't be Suzy Sunshine when it comes to becoming a parent anymore.

I would rather be pleasantly surprised than bitterly disappointed.

And so I let go, in a way I never could with fertility treatments. I loosen my screws and accept things as they are. I am not catastrophizing, but I am not naively thinking that I will be matched and have a baby for Christmas, either. I hope for the best, but know that the worst could happen. And I live in the now.

Right now, we are waiting to be eligible. We have our classes in two weeks. We are that much closer to having our home study finished and approved. We are closer to being parents than we ever have been before. But we are NOT parents yet. And we don't expect an easy road.

We're just taking it one step at a time, and I think we will be more sane for it. I feel a slight loss of innocence and mourn a little bit of the Pollyanna I used to be, but I know that I will manage this journey better for being cautiously optimistic, emphasis on the caution. I always tried to live in the now with fertility treatments, and I couldn't do it. But it taught me something...

Now is all we have. Preparing for a someday baby that IS coming is a good thing, thinking that it could be in 2015 is maybe not. FutureBaby will come when he/she comes. And that will be amazing, and joyous, and change us forever. But until then... all we have is now, and each step as it comes.

Joy, and reality. Reality, and joy. Walking that line will bring us to our family without losing our minds.

14 comments:

  1. I don't know how you could not be cautiously optimistic at this point... but it's clear that you still have a little Pollyanna in you, just minus that innocence. I am so excited for you to meet future baby... that lucky kid!

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    1. Can't pull the sheep over your head! Hard to squash that sunny Pollyanna, but I'm trying to be more balanced. Thank you for your thoughts!

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  2. You sound, emotionally, in a good place. Frankly, I would worry if you were like, "I just know it will happen by X date." I think taking things as they come, realizing it will unfold in its own time after your work is done, will keep you from some of those highs and lows.

    I was talking about gambling last night with the twins while we were driving, and somehow we got on the topic of family building. And I had to admit to them that it felt a lot like gambling. Especially the addictive side of gambling where I was always saying, "this time could be it."

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    1. Thank you -- definitely taking things as they come is the way to go. I really need to let go of this false sense that I can control things I can't. Yes, yes, yes -- family building is definitely like gambling. I always felt like this next roll could be it, and was so disappointed to find that I came up a loser every. single. time. I'm so glad I walked out of that casino and am on to something different!

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  3. You last sentences really summed up what I was going to say. You're looking forward with joy, but you're being realistic. I think hope is often pushed but can be unrealistic - hope without reason or knowledge or research or logic or science doesn't necessarily help us, but hope with these things can be postive but entirely realistic.

    Sometimes too refusing to hope is simply unrealistic, because again an entirely negative point of view isn't always realistic either. There's almost always hope for something good in the future - we just don't always know what that something good is.

    Oh, and thanks for your lovely comments about my post on Mel's Round-Up.

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    1. You are so welcome...well deserved! I definitely have fallen victim in the past to unrealistic hope, and tried to be the grumpy negative nellie but fail miserably at that, too. I am trying to do the whole "live in the moment" thing with more fidelity.

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  4. Tempered hope is a difficult balance! It is trying to stay positive while being realistic. Releasing ourselves from expectations can be freeing. And as you pointed out, living in the moment and being present is so important. Great post and great reminder! Sending you strength and patience and happiness!

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    1. Yes...freeing! Thank you for the strength and patience and happiness!

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  5. I found the adoption path easier to walk than the IVF path in a lot of ways because at least with adoption you know there will be a child at the end of it. That being said, of course there will be twists and turns along the way (in our case the countries we were choosing kept closing) but still...

    Sounds like you are in a really good place right now. Good for you!

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    1. Thank you -- it definitely seems like less of a gamble for that piece. The twists and turns are scary, and I do expect them, but I'm trying not to either count them out or completely dwell in an Eeyore-way on their possibility. Oh no, countries closing is awful--I have a friend that happened to after she was matched and it was heartrending. As long as in the end it is all okay, I can be at peace with the twists and turns. Thank you for your thoughts!

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  6. Wow, Jess. It sounds like you are doing a great job of being grounded in how things actually are, yet open to possibilities. It's not easy to bring together those two things, and I admire how you are managing to do both.

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    1. Thank you so much! I am trying to manage to do both, and so far so good. We'll see what happens when the ball truly gets rolling and we're no longer waiting to wait. I appreciate your thoughts and support!

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  7. I really like how you took us inside your head here. You show how one kind of hope can be a trap, but exchanging it for a different kind of hope can be liberating. And sometimes we do just have to live in them moment because that's all we truly have.

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    1. Thanks -- hopefully it's not too cobwebby in there. :) It's true, we're only guaranteed this very moment, right here, and nothing else. I have had a love-hate relationship with hope for years and years, and it's nice to kind of feel like I have a handle on it, for now. Thanks for your thoughts!

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