Saturday, February 25, 2006

Letting It Go

A little while ago I made a promise that I'm going to break.

I am not going back to the fertility clinic. No more tests.

I'm done.

Not necessarily done as in no second child ever, but done as in no needles in my ass again ever.

And it feels like a great weight off my shoulders.

I've been circling around this realization for a long time, without being able to see it clearly. If I'd really wanted to go the ART route again, I should have been back at the clinic a year ago, and I knew that. But something kept me from saying aloud that I didn't want to.

Partly it's that saying I didn't want to go through it all again feels like saying that my son wasn't worth it, which is of course not true — I would certainly do it all again, knowing I'd have him at the end. But doing it all again not knowing how it will end — and it could easily end in heartbreak — is something quite different. And doing it all again with him here is also different. I have realized that the question of what to do next is interfering with my enjoyment of the baby I have. When he's being adorable, I'm thinking in the back of my mind, this will be hard to enjoy when I'm distracted by treatments, or even when I'm distracted with a newborn. And when he's being hellacious, I'm thinking, how can I possibly manage treatment and him, or even two like him? It makes the good times feel watered down and the hard times more difficult.

It's also hard for me to admit that I can't handle much more than I have on my plate right now. It's not like my life is so tough — my job could be a lot harder, I could have a husband who doesn't split the home stuff fifty-fifty, we're all healthy — yet I'm not sure I could cope gracefully with much more. I've always had a problem admitting anything is too hard — I've got pride issues. And it seems somehow wrong to say that it's too hard to try for another baby; in an ideal world, I would like another, so if I can't do whatever it takes to have one, I must be weak.

As long as I'm admitting hard truths, I have to say that I don't find caring for a baby to be especially fulfilling. I adore my son, and somewhat to my surprise I love sleeping with him and breastfeeding him and singing to him and carrying him around. But I love when he heads off to daycare and I head to work, too. I don't daydream about staying at home with several kids — for me that would be more of a nightmare. When I am sleep-deprived and bored and isolated, I get depressed, and I don't mean down, I mean clinically depressed. Of course I wouldn't have to stay home if we had another baby, but I would certainly be more home-bound. I know this would be temporary, and it's hard to weigh a temporary bad thing against a possible permanent good thing. But then again, now is all I've got. I always tell my students, you have to decide what you want to do based on what you like doing every day. You won't find your joy by being miserable every day, even if you're working toward a goal you think will probably be wonderful.

Life is pretty wonderful right now as it is, and it's time to let all this go and just be here.

Feels good.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your current post expresses feelings/ideas that I harbor, but do not really verbalize to anyone. Thank you for your honesty. I am new to your blog and I am enjoy reading it, even though I do not have children.

ozma said...

I can't add anything to what you've said. I understand so well how one child and a challenging career can be entirely enough, with little room for more. So all I can say is that this sounds like a genuine realization, a moment where you made the right decision. Those are so hard to come by. I'm happy you got to that place of finality--because it's so hard to find it sometimes.

This part blew me away:

"But then again, now is all I've got...You won't find your joy by being miserable every day, even if you're working toward a goal you think will probably be wonderful."

I'm living my life following the exact opposite of this advice--even if I realize constantly what you say is true. I've never had anyone put this thought so precisely, said so clearly what I know and don't do. It takes work and courage to find your joy now.

I'm glad your life is pretty wonderful. I know Hellboy will benefit from your just being there, with him.

baseballmom said...

I totally hear you. I was looking at some of my oldest's baby pics last night and thinking how we just really took the time to ENJOY his baby years. With the second one, it took us six years to get pregnant again, and being seven years older when I had him was so EXHAUSTING. I feel really guilty sometimes that I don't have the energy for him that I had for the first. I have to remind myself to slow down and take time to enjoy him. Nothing like mommy guilt to take the joy out of the everyday!

thumbscre.ws said...

Wise, wise words. It's so tough not to live in one's head in general, let alone with time-sensitive stuff hanging over it like the Lupron Needle of Frickin' Damocles.

Melissa P. said...

You are a smart woman.
You know what you truly want and need.
You have one son whom you adore.
Why have another and not be so happy?
Your son will feel loved and secure.
And his mother will be a happier mom because she followed her heart.
Enjoy your time with him and enjoy your life.

punchberry said...

I like that you can write so honestly. More honestly than some people can be with themselves.

Feral Mom said...

Thanks for this post. I am so happy that you have arrived at a decision that feels right for you. Your little boy is very lucky to have you as his mama. All the best, and every happiness.

deborah said...

Oh, I soooooo hear you on this one. Thanks for saying what so many of us only think.

cluelesscarolinagirl said...

I adopted, but still had a working uterus and possibly functional reproductive system. The relief I felt after I had my uterus Bar-B-Qued (endometrial ablation) and cut off the possibility forever was...tremendous. You know, like finally dropping out of a school where you're failing and not even knowing if you want to graduate and work in that field.

MFA Mama said...

"You won't find your joy by being miserable every day, even if you're working toward a goal you think will probably be wonderful." Hmph. Can so.

All kidding aside, I've been waiting for this from you and I am glad. There is nothing wrong with doing what feels like the right thing for you and your body and your family. CONGRATULATIONS.

bihari said...

Oh, I hear you about the not being home all the time, the depression, and the discipline it takes to say wait, look, maybe I am going to just sit with what I have. You put it all so well, as is your wont.

I hope that whatever comes, it is good to you. You deserve it!

ALG said...

I LOVED "You won't find your joy by being miserable every day, even if you're working toward a goal you think will probably be wonderful." I'm 26 and I'm just starting to realize that even if I have no idea what I want to be eventually, if I manage to find joy and some measure of satisfaction in what I do every day, I will eventually find myself at some sort of now-unfathomable goal. At least, I hope that's how it works.

Anonymous said...

I am so happy for you -- I got pregnant twice with minimal medical intervention, no IVF. Even though my visits to the fertility clinic (aka the henhouse) were not numerous and ultimately successful, I found them utterly soul-crushing. You are FREE.

B.E.C.K. said...

What a great attitude. Frankly, I have flashes of this and aspire to it long-term. How cool that you're ready to live in the moment. Very liberating. I look forward to reading your posts as you make this shift. :-)

Mignon said...

You are a very very smart woman. I am going to write down that quote and keep it somewhere close. Good for you Doc. Good for you.

Orange said...

Congratulations on finding your equilibrium. I think this society doesn't lend a lot of support to any woman who feels that one kid (or pregnancy, or round of fertility treatment) is enough, so thanks for stating your feelings so eloquently that some other people can see how to put this in words.

For me, the decision is more out of my hands, but there's still a degree of choice in my decision to never try again. It doesn't forestall the possibility of adoption someday, but life is good right now.

Menita said...

Bravo.

Alexa said...

This was a lovely post. I think you are very wise, and though I know practically everyone commenting above me has quoted the same passage, I will quote it again because it bears repeating:
"You won't find your joy by being miserable every day, even if you're working toward a goal you think will probably be wonderful."
I have such a hard time remembering that. I should have it tattooed somewhere.

E. said...

Many of the other commenters have already said it so well: thank you for your honesty and for sharing with us this hard-won wisdom.

I find the decision of whether to have a second child a tremendously difficult one for a lot of the reasons you mention, even without the added difficulty and uncertainty of fertility treatments. Your child can be the best thing that's ever happened to you, but that doesn't necessarily mean having another is what will make you happiest.

Enjoy that wonderful life as it is right now, and congratulations on reaching this for-now decision.

Jo said...

High five, DoctorMama.

Midwestern Deadbeat said...

High five, indeed! Everyone has said what I wanted to say (Feral Mom particularly took the words right out of my mouth), but I'll say "good for you" and "how eloquently put" and "how honest" and "I'm so happy for you" and "thank you" for the 21st time. HellBoy has an awesome mama, and you have many, many bloggers who support you with whatever happens.

DoctorMama said...

Thanks for all the words of support. It made me a little sad to actually put this decision down in writing. But:
"like finally dropping out of a school where you're failing and not even knowing if you want to graduate and work in that field" -- yep, yep.

Melissa in TN said...

I hear you! I have been TTC for over 2 years. I've been to the RE, had four attempts before they found out my tubes were open with HSG (couldn't insert catheter), Clomid, progesterone suppositories, metformin, PCOS, ovarian cysts, OPKs, laparoscopy and a million blood draws.

We've decided to adopt from China while we still try for a little while longer. My RE has written a script for 3 months of letrozole to induce ovultion. When it's gone, we are done; no IUI or IVF for this girl. I CAN'T WAIT!

gingajoy said...

hello there. this is the first time i've read your blog, and what a powerful post to discover. although i have not gone thro' infertility treatment, your words have resonated for me on so many levels--especially as i consider adding another kid to the mix with my own HellBoy, and as i also confront the realization that although i would walk through fire for him, baby-caring is not fulflling for me either. good luck to you.

the grendler said...

As they say in School House Rock...

A man and a woman had a little baby.
Yes they did.
They had three in their family.

And three is a magic number.

emjaybee said...

Thanks for being honest...there need to be lots of voices out there telling the truth about how hard it is to find the best family size, and how no one can tell you what sacrifices are right to make. I'm reading a really good book right now, "Mother Nature" by Hrdy, a sociobiologist. She does a wonderful job of talking about how women and other primates try to choose their family sizes in exactly the ways you describe; how it will affect them and the children they already have. There's nothing wrong with conserving the resources you have (like sanity) to care for the child you've already birthed. Making that decision is part of the mother's job, when she's allowed to do it.

E. said...

Good perspectives, grendler and emjaybee.

And DoctorMama, I can understand why it would make you sad to put it down in writing. It's *such* a hard decision. I have a friend who decided to stop with her one wonderful five-year-old girl, and she said even though she knew it was the right thing for her and her family, she still had to grieve when the decision was really made.

I go back and forth on the second child question, and in my most zen moments I realize that I'm choosing between two good options. Having two would be great in many ways, but it also means a sacrifice of resources - financial, time, energy, attention. While a sibling for O. would be cool (provided they like each other), another child would be fun (much of the time), I think a lot about the one-on-one time I now have with my son that I would have much less of, I think about traveling with kids and how much easier it is with one than more than one. I think about my time alone while my husband is with the kid, and how important that is to me, and that there would be less of that, and less sleep, which I need more of as I get older...

There is no right decision here. But for me it helps to think of the one child versus two as a decision between two good options.

Leggy said...

How did I miss this post? I can identify with a lot of this as we are 97% there in terms of "just say no" to more IF crap. I guess the difference is because of hang-ups about only stuff (after losing a sibling), our decision has always been IVF vs. adoption, not IVF vs. nothing. So its not only wrestling with being okay with no more IF treatment, its being okay with learning a new, equally complex and overwhelming set of procedures. But I think I'm mostly there.

I'm glad you have found peace with your decision. I think I'm mostly there, but not quite.