You know how some people need things like oxygen and food to live? I need to ask what ifs. I think that's why I dislike going to the movies--movies are just a two hour period where the person next to you expects that you're going to contain all of your what ifs. It's also why I like long car rides--what is better than being stuck in a vehicle with nothing to do but have my husband entertain all my fears? I don't know about you, but I hear that and think "good time!"
I knew I had found "the one" when I took my husband on a long canoe trip early in our relationship and he thoughtfully answered all of my questions about what if nazis invaded America. What if the nazis told you that you had to saw off your own legs to save my life? Would you do it? What if the nazis told you that you had to choose between me or your mother--which one would you pick?
During infertility, my what ifs reflected the tremendous fears that conception problems force you to face--what if it doesn't happen for me? What if I never get to experience pregnancy? What if I never get over this? Other people want to hurry you through those what ifs. They assure you that it will happen. But y'all know how I feel about making promises you can't keep. The what ifs that accompany infertility are legitimate because no one knows how their story will unfold--how they'll become parents or if they'll become parents. And how they'll feel after they're parents.
It's the not knowing that's the real killer after a failed cycle.
Taking time to sit with those what ifs are imperative because you learn quickly how important certain aspects of parenthood are to you. And what you're willing to do to experience them. Choices you never thought you'd make are suddenly more appealing because you realize that the things that have been holding you back aren't really that important in the grand scheme of your life. I think too many times we make choices based on the norms of society and what we're taught we should be feeling. If people took some time to think about those what ifs, they may choose an entirely different--and possibly faster--path to parenthood. Or they may remain on the same path with a greater confidence in their choices.
We were in the car a few nights ago and my daughter pointed out that it was dark (my lady-when-waiting dubbed her Captain Obvious because she likes to point out every fact that she can. This is an average walking-down-the-stairs conversation: "I am a girl. I am walking down the stairs. I am wearing pants. I am little."). I agreed and she continued: "Owls come out in the dark."
Me: "That's true too."
S: "What if me see an owl?"
Me: "Then we would invite it to live in our house."
She thought for a moment and came up with another one.
S: "What if owl kisses Mommy?"
Me: "Then I will love that owl as my own and ask him to sleep in the second bedroom."
I decided to ask my own.
Me: "What if the owl comes down from the tree and realizes upon seeing us that he is, in fact, not wearing any pants and becomes embarrassed?"
My daughter was silent for so long that I thought she had given up on the game. I had this huge urge to turn around and say, "don't quit on this! The what ifs are important! Facing the most far-reaching possibility head on and considering what you would do can give you a lot of strength. It's the impulse that made me give myself that first injection--because I had considered the what if and I had decided in that moment to do anything to make you a reality."
S: "Jump in a car. No see no pants in car."
And she's freakin' right for all of you who have considered driving around pantsless today. You cannot look in a car and see if every passenger is wearing pants.
I don't believe biology matters--I think this a stronger case for nurture vs. nature. She gets it--she understands that the what if is a game of problem solving. Of considering how far you would go. I love that I have a new person to exchange what ifs. It will come in handy the next time my husband enforces a three what if limit.