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Monday, July 17, 2006

Magical Thinking--Part Two

I am still thinking about this book (The Year of Magical Thinking)--mostly because I am spending large portions of my day reading about loss. Your losses. And the rawness of the book is reflected in the rawness of your responses. It doesn't matter how much time passes from the event. You may be able to discuss it without crying, but it doesn't make it any easier. Any less of a loss.

I was reading another blog last night ( and she covered the exact topic I was going to bring up today! A terrible little piece of magical thinking I love to do: figure out the due date. At the beginning of the cycle, I check the little chart included in one of my numerous pregnancy books (because there is nothing like reading about infertility through a pregnancy when you're trying to conceive). And, of course, you can't help but dream harder when the date lines up with an event that already holds meaning in your life--your anniversary (you imagine the romantic celebration dinner where you're staring into the eyes of your husband and say, "it's time to go to the hospital."), your birthday (big bite of birthday cake and then...whoosh! Your water breaks), or Halloween (okay, this was stretching it, but it's one of my favourite holidays).

The question all this raises for me (especially when my husband tells me to stop checking the due date) is how this dreaming differs from the games of House we played when we were little (men who are reading this blog--perhaps you have engaged from time to time in a game of House. If you haven't, you may want to ask your wife to dig out the costumes and Little Tykes cars so you can experience the fun that is House). House was essentially a developmentally-appropriate game where little kids dream and practice the life they plan to lead when they are older. It's a way to try out the relationships of husband and wife long before you are married. And in role-playing, you're essentially stating the kind of wife or mother you wish to be in the future as well as the kind of husband and father (father to your children--not your daddy) you hope to attract.

When I look at these due dates, they help me visualize myself in the future. The winter baby who will be wrapped in a snow suit on the way home from the hospital. The summer baby that I will push in a carriage around the neighbourhood. Seeing myself in these activities made me realize what kind of mother I wanted to be. Are these visions always true--especially when you add into the equation the realities of life? That you may not be able to breast feed or you may have to return to work? Do they have to be true? Don't they give hope in a space that desperately needs hope?

Isn't hope the oxygen we desperately gasp when we're drowning in IF?

I think these dreams are important. I think looking up due dates or whatever you need to do in order to visualize yourself in the experience and stay on course is important. These thoughts grow the hope that help you keep moving so you can make it to the other side.

Joan Didion speaks about her need to be alone on the first night after her husband's death. She needed to be alone so he could come back to her--in dreams, in visualizations, and--more importantly her emotional side hoped--in reality. I don't think I'm ruining the ending of the book for you when I tell you that he doesn't return. She makes it through the year with magical thinking. If it helped her process her loss, how could it ever be a bad thing? And unhealthy thing?

How could looking up a due date be construed as unhealthy thinking?

How could rocking in a chair and pretending I'm holding a child be unhealthy? (okay, so I am crazy. So what? That's not the point...)

Especially if it was what we were encouraged to do when we were little.

The games of House. The games of marriage. The games of parenthood. Our preparation for the future.


Royalyne said...

But how do you keep thinking magically when the magic passes you by? My husband constantly reminds me that what we have now is all we'll ever be able to get, that his job has no chance of advancement and very little in the way of pay raises. No way to save up the thousands of dollars we would need for IVF, and if there's anything that insurance doesn't cover for whatever treatment he needs then we'd start the next step of our TTC journey deep in debt. Magical thinking is hard when negativity is always thrown at you. And my husband thinks that he's doing me a favor by warning me and getting me prepared for the idea of never having children. Somebody needs to sneak in and force some magic on him, because he's not willing to use it himself.

Anonymous said...

My magic doesn't come from due dates, but from figuring out how we would tell people we are finally pg. Will it be a toast on Thanksgiving that we are thankful to be pg? Or a special gift on Mother's Day for the grandmas-to-be? Or like this past winter, a Christmas card telling how miracles happen at Christmas, but sometimes Christmas comes in July (the due date of the child we lost.)I have a million creative ideas on how to share the news, but after multiple miscarriages, the truth is we will probably keep it a secret long after most people would tell. But that doesn't stop me from dreaming....

Sami said...

At this point I'm avoiding any due dates or finding out dates that coincide with any anniversary or birthday. Seriously... I've found out twice on my husband's birthday that we were pregnant... and twice on my birthday which is 3 weeks after his that alas things weren't going to work out. I've had a due date of our anniversary and I've had a due date of my husband's birthday and we've found out that we were pregnant on our anniversary... apparently the three things just are not "good" omen's for us. So as for magical thinking... yeah no.

Lisa P. said...

This entry made me cry...

I've done the due date thing many times, in fact I know that this (coming) month my estimated due date would be my birthday, which is also my mother's. I can imagine the stories we'd tell my child about growing up sharing your mom's birthday and how special it is that it happened twice. In so doing I've just set myself up for the biggest disappointment, but somehow it doesn't stop me and it doesn't matter. I'm an extremely visual person, and I guess daydreaming about my life with a baby is only unhealthy if that's all I ever do.

Bea said...

For no apparent reason, I've just stumbled across this entry in your blog from, like, a year ago or something.

My blog was started late one night after a kind of argument (not a very angry one - hence the "kind of") in which I was trying to play these very games of hope, and Mr Bea refused. I got out of bed, switched on the computer, and set up a blog as a place to dream, to "play house" with people who understood what a joy, what a necessary thing it could be. With that in mind, I called it "Infertile Fantasies".