Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Gifts of Infertility #21: Embracing the unknown

Growing up, and even as a young adult, I hated uncertainty, and loved to plan. I hated waiting for things, even though I was relatively patient in other respects. I hated waiting for exam results, I hated waiting to find out if I was accepted for my student exchange, and I hated waiting to see if a boy liked me. I liked certainty, as I am sure we all do. In my 30s, one of the main things I disliked about all the international travel I did for business was the uncertainty it imposed on my life, and my lack of ability to plan. Maybe that’s why we all assume that we’ll be able to have children? Because we want to feel that life is certain, and that our futures can be known. Is the idea of not knowing just too hard?

Infertility, of course, was nothing but waiting and uncertainty. Waiting to find out if we would conceive, waiting to even be able to take a pregnancy test, waiting to find out if my pregnancies were viable, waiting to find out if I had an ectopic or trophoblastic disease, waiting to be allowed to attempt IVF, waiting between cycles, waiting to see if I responded to drugs, waiting to see how many eggs there were, waiting, waiting, waiting. Everything about our future was unknown. Everything, until that last fateful day, was uncertain.

But finally the certainty that I had craved had arrived. But it wasn’t the certainty I wanted. Getting that certainty in the knowledge that we would never have children – well, it was very difficult. Because it opened a world of uncertainty, of not knowing what was down that road less travelled. It meant that the direction of the rest of our lives was still unknown. I wanted a plan, but we didn’t have one. I felt rudderless and cut adrift.

The thing is, we still don’t have much of a plan. Life gets more uncertain as we age. We have responsibilities – not children, but elderly parents – and we can’t plan our lives the way I’d like to. We know too that we are very mortal. Who knows if we’ll be healthy this time next year, or in ten years, or twenty years? We’ve lost jobs. We don’t know what will happen to the economy, to our finances, to our future. We live on a major fault-line. Life is constantly an unknown. That’s for certain.

Having learned this one thing – that life is uncertain, and the future is unknown - I had no option but to accept it. And I realise now that I no longer mind this. We never know what life will deliver. We don’t know what tomorrow holds, let alone what we’ll be doing, and how we will feel, years in the future. And you know what? I’m okay with that.

It turns out that the unknown doesn’t really bother me any more. In fact, it even excites me. There could be something wonderful just around the corner. And even if there isn’t, looking for that something wonderful is exciting and a gift in itself. The unknown is worth embracing. Let’s do it together!


11 comments:

  1. This was a really insightful post. I can tell you one thing I have learned from ivf - patience. I am not normally a very patient person. I hate waiting for things.

    I think it is fear of the unknown that drives us to plan things out because in a sense, it makes us feel somewhat in control of our own lives and its direction. Infertility in this case can really put a spanner in the works because there is no sense of control, it isn't something you can easily fix and you definitely do not get a say in how it turns out. It is a loss of control.

    Someone (I can't remember who) once said, life isn't a certainty, neither is the future a guarantee.

    I hope I can embrace the unknown some day.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ha -- you've spoken to my heart. I am still in a place where I struggle with the unknown. Where I have a terrible time waiting, with things being up in the air. I am trying to find peace with this, with not knowing but not having it take over my whole day. It's hard.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I must be the opposite because I've become a controller and planner. I hate things out of my control, I think because my body was one of those things, so I try to compensate in other areas of life. And I LOATHE people who can't plan ahead, like for family gatherings. Drives me nuts when my mother in-law calls at 9 PM the night before something and wants me to bring a dish. Trust me, I ask ahead of time, but they are still deciding if they even want to do anything. I've gotten the point that I just tell her if she can't plan ahead, I'm not bringing anything and I will only come if I don't have something else to do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I think that would bug me too! I still like to plan. But the big things in life, the things I can't plan, are much less scary.

      Delete
  4. I'm with Carmody and Mel: I still struggle with the unknown. But infertility has taught me patience and that plan B can often ending up being a better option than plan A. Still, I envy this lesson you've learned. Hoping that with practice I can learn it too.

    ReplyDelete
  5. As of recently, I had a bad eye cancer diagnosis...with potentially a fatal future (they give it 50/50 odds). I think infertility has given me the ability to deal with this better than others. During the years of failed adoptions, I was a anxious/depressed/unhappy mess. With this, I have been able to calmly deal with the uncertainty and accept that I just need to live my life a little different than the "average" person. Sure, there are bad days, but overall - I can just embrace life as it is and the unknown is just that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, KT, I'm so sorry to hear that. But glad that you are able to embrace life as it is. Sending you my best wishes.

      Delete
  6. I too struggle with the unknown and cling to my comfort zones. A little too much, perhaps -- in retrospect, I realize I probably stayed in my last job too long and should have looked for something different at least four years before I was unceremoniously shown the door. :p Infertility treatment was actually one of the more adventurous things I've ever done -- and even then we hedged our bets & stopped short of trying IVF. I can't say I'm entirely OK with uncertainty these days -- but I do feel that I'm slightly more resilient and at least a bit better able to roll with the punches than I was before loss, infertility & involuntary childlessness.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wonderful post and well Timex for me. The part that spoke most to me was, "I felt rudderless and cut adrift." For much of the last year and a half I have experienced a similar feeling. I try to let go and go with the flow. It is a lesson I am learning again and again in different ways. To let go is to be free. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I so needed to read this today Mali. Like the others, you've spoken to my heart... Letting go of certainty is so difficult for me. I am going to try to look forward to/be excited by uncertainty... Thank you for this post!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Beautifuuuullll...I used to be the same: planning WAY ahead of time. I dislike changes (still do) and the unknown scared me shitless. I've grown to be more acceptable towards the unknown, though I can't say I'm excited about it (yet).

    ReplyDelete