what i really want

A few months without fertility treatments had an effect beyond guilt-free coffee drinking. I stopped noticing every pregnant person on the street.  I started thinking about other life possibilities, like hiking the Anapurna circuit, which costs roughly the same as an IVF cycle but involves yaks.

For me, and I imagine many infertile people, the goal of pregnancy can subsume the goal of parenting.  Getting pregnant – and then getting to the next stage once you are pregnant – becomes the sole objective.  This is most true at crucial moments:  the day before an embryo transfer, for example, or when waiting for the results of a pregnancy test.  At those points the fate of the universe seems to hinge on my fertility status.

It took me a few treatment-free months to reflect on this.  I started to question if I wanted to be a parent as much as I wanted to get pregnant.  Is it the difficulty of achieving pregnancy that makes me want it so badly? If parenting were the real goal, wouldn’t I be more excited about other options?

I’m tempted to say that fertility treatment has tricked me into wanting something more than I really do.   We already live in a society that teaches that childbearing – at least in the gender normative, biological style – is a marker of adult success.  Ironically, regimes of hormones and follicle monitoring seem to have made me more emotionally vulnerable to this myth, even as my political critique has sharpened.

But then I wonder.  What’s the difference between thinking you want something and really wanting it? Desires come and go, but that doesn’t mean they’re less genuine in the moment you’re experiencing them.

Last week I saw Dr. Stein for the first time in months.  He was his usual self—harried and tired-looking, rushing from patient to patient in the morning monitoring flurry.

We’re now preparing for a frozen embryo transfer.  As always, I am expecting failure.  But this time I promise myself that I will spend more time Googling Nepalese mountain treks than early pregnancy symptoms.

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One Response to “what i really want”

  1. What an insightful post. I think you’re right on some level that women battling infertility often focus on “pregnant” rather than “parent”.
    I’ve found myself pondering the same issues often. I’m especially vulnerable because I have this ingrained bit of crazy that once I decide to do something – I focus on it like a missile and don’t stop until I hit the target. And up until now I’ve ALWAYS hit the target, because I’m stubborn. So for me it’s sort of a “do or die” situation. Of course I want to be a mother. But for now I’m obsessed just with getting through the first trimester.
    I think there are a couple of issues to consider here. The first, is that it’s human nature to want something that is out of reach. If you can’t achieve pregnancy, you want it more. Wanting to parent, I assume, comes before infertility issues are discovered, and I think that desire takes a backseat if pregnancy can’t be achieved.
    The second is just human nature. We are programmed to want to procreate. It’s in our DNA. I doubt a woman living in ancient rome pondered “parenting”. She had a baby because that’s what human beings do – they are programmed to create offspring. The parenting is just as ingrained, but by nature, comes after the pregnancy.
    I think I’m getting a bit rambling here so I’ll just sum up by saying that in my opinion there’s nothing wrong with just wanting to get and stay pregnant. Demographically, most women dealing with infertility are in a stable environment – one far more suited for parenting than say, a couple in their early twenties just finishing college.
    (I know I’m making a generalization but you know what I mean)
    So it doesn’t surprise me that the issue of “parenting” takes a backseat to our natural, ingrained need to reproduce.
    Sorry – this was almost as long as your post! I’m done now, I swear! 🙂
    Good luck with the FET!

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