The Daily News

LFCA Latest Issue: Friday, September 25, 2009.

Latest Post on BlogHer: Parenting after Infertility.

My Status: Fed Josh's almonds to the squirrels. They needed them very badly.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

What If I Can't Control My What Ifs?

When I enter my anxiety zone, my husband gives me a limit on my daily what ifs. But just because he allots how many hypothetical situations he's willing to address doesn't mean that I stop thinking about them. You may lead the conversation, but you'll never lead my mind! This is the point in the comic strip when the voice bubble states high-pitched cackling indicating that (1) the speaker is the winner or (2) the speaker is incredibly fucked in the head.

Let's guess which one I am.

This is what is on my mind today: the endless abyss of what ifs you can fall into during treatments. It began when I read Serenity's post about what ifs yesterday. She's in a much better space today after some yoga and visualization (Serenity--your boy sounds beautiful. Hold onto that image). Then, I was reading Falker's book and she had a long argument about day-3 or day-5 transfers that didn't (1) come down on either side as preferable but (2) introduced a whole new world of what ifs.

What if you transfer on day-3 and end up using too many embryos and need to do selective reduction (because, if I am going through IVF and paying $10,000 minimum, I am not going to transfer one embryo. Now, if the insurance company wants to provide full coverage for IVF, I would be quite happy to have my embryo transfer capped. But as long as I have limited chances due to finances, we are giving each one the best shot possible). What if you try to wait until the embryos go to blast and end up losing all of them (and by the way--don't think that Falker didn't point out how cultures are still behind uteruses in terms of quality. Oh, and another by the way, you can use either uteruses or uteri--I looked it up because I'm literally that anal)? What if what if what if.

Some (like, perhaps, my husband who has to live with me) would tell me to stop reading. But not having information doesn't stop the what ifs. The what ifs only stop when everything falls into place and all of your fears are not realized. What ifs without reading are perhaps even scarier what ifs because you come to a realization that you don't even know the right questions to ask.

And I'm not saying that what ifs control my whole day. There are even full days where no what ifs exist. Those are usually the ones where there are no decisions to be made. But when you feel like you're walking through a minefield, you pay attention to every step. Because you don't want to have regrets. You don't want to look back and wish you had taken a different route. And there are days where I can do my Domar exercises and imagine the ocean waves coming onto the beach. But there are also days where I start thinking about how every decision affects a possible outcome. makes me long for a lack of choices.

But then I think if I had all choices taken away, I would go equally crazy.

And then there is what if's equally frustrating cousin, could it be. Could it be is what happens during the entire two week wait (could that twinge be a sign? Could that blood be implantion bleeding? Could I be pregnant?), but she is currently rearing her ugly head as I try to sort out where I stand in order to make the best choice. Could I have a clotting disorder? Could I have decent FSH levels (okay, not bloody likely, but...still...when you haven't had a day 3 drawn for a while, you start hoping that things have somehow changed. For the better. Even though I know these things go up instead of down)? Could we pull the money and resources together for adoption? Could could could.

Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's just summer closing and the transition of fall (which is actually my favourite season). But sometimes I wake up in the what ifs. And then I spend the day with the could it bes. And then I get into bed at night and think about the what ifs. I need to stop saying that I'm going to try yoga and actually get a video and start trying yoga. My Rosh Hashanah resolution (that's New Year's for all my non-Jewish friends...)?


serenity said...

And don't forget - there's always "should have" and "shouldn't have" too. Usually I get those in tandem with AF's approach or the BFN at the end of a cycle.

For me, the yoga and meditation doesn't make the what ifs, could bes, and should haves go away totally - it just helps stop the spiral into madness for a short time... and helps give me some perspective. A break enough to take a deep breath and try and focus on something else.

Because really, there are so many decisions to make, so many what ifs that it could make it hard to make ANY decision at all. For me at least, it's almost paralyzing.

So much of infertility is uncertainty - and the worst part is that we really do not have much control over the outcome. One woman's day three transfer of highest grade embryos might turn into a chemical pregnancy, where another gets pregnant with twins. Unfortunately ART is at best still, well, an art more than a science.

So it's all about coping with the what ifs, could be, and should haves.

Obviously I have found that yoga and guided meditation work really well for me. I do hope that you find that it works for you as well. If not - keep searching! Anything that can free your mind for a little while is SO helpful.

At least, that's the way it works for me anyway. :)

Piccinigirl said...

My whole life is "what if" , it was the reason that I have made a life changing decision (it sounds soooo important doesn't it) to stop reading the ends of books before I read the 2nd chapter.
It's been the hardest thing (next to IF) that I have ever attempted and 6 months now ..ENDING FREE...I can't tell whether it works or not. I "Feel" better but in the long run is this going to "help" me?

I agree with Serenity in that I can take all the what if's if I knew a good outcome was likely. It's that ENDING that makes me crazy, keeps me up at night, haunts my days. The better stops the spiral , but the "what if" is still waiting at the bottom .

C said...

"What if" kept me awake all last night. What if we make the wrong decision now, and everything we've done is for naught? What if I can't live with myself for making the wrong choice? It's enough to drive you out of your mind.

Anonymous Infertile said...

I hate the 'what ifs.' I hope you can get through this patch of them with a shred of your sanity left!

Lately, I have chalked them up to some minor OCD - obsessive compulsive disorder. It may have just started with the IF issues but now, once I get started with the 'what if's' they start to encompass everything. I can't make any decisions, even small ones, without wondering if I should have decided differently.