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Monday, January 08, 2007

Twenty Questions--Part Three

A book I was reading on pregnancy loss tried to differentiate between a focus and an obsession. In my opinion, trying to have a child the "natural" way is like trying to juggle a busy schedule. Trying to become a parent through fertility treatments or adoption or third party reproduction feels like you're spinning plates. Not only do you have to keep track of your cycle or what you must do at each step, but (at least in our experience) our RE was depending on us to help him analyze our cycle and look for clues that were pointing towards a reason for a cycle's failure. It meant a keen focus on my body--how I felt, what was happening, what I did during the course of the treatment. Therefore, it was impossible to not think about infertility. Ignoring it was like trying to ignore a big white uterus in the room.

At what point does the focus to have a child become an obsession to have a child? Are they one and the same and using two different words just puts a positive or negative twist to the same idea? Or is a focus something entirely different than an obsession?


Anonymous said...

I think they are just a positive and negative way of saying it. In the 2oth century we have tried to "rise above" the biological imperative, which is great, except that we have done it by denying it completely.
Whether we go through IF or not, what's wrong with having a chunk of our lives devoted to reproduction? Our legs are meant to be used for walking, our voices are meant to be used for speaking, but noone would ever suggest we simply not use our legs for walking because it takes away from our brain power!
And if my legs were paralyzed, and I devoted my life to curing paralysis and walking again, and made it through a marathon, I would be praised and celebrated everywhere.
Why are my uterus and ovaries different?
I don't think they are!

TeamWinks said...

How can you not become consumed with this? Whether going through infertility treatments or adopting, you have to be your own advocate, look our for you own interests, and make sure you stay on top of your game...all in fear that you will receive less than adequate care, be overlooked, or slip through the cracks.

Another blog that shut down: One of our own. Archives are all still there over at:

So sad. Especially the last lines. My heart hurts for them.

Zee said...

Personally, I think the longer it goes on the more it becomes the same thing--it's just that the words you choose give it a positive or negative spin, as you pointed out. Vikingboy and I had a blowup about this a few months ago, when he referred to me as "obsessed," and I freaked, declaring that "obsessed is an ugly, ugly word," and affirming that I am, in fact, merely "strongly focused." (Interesting that you and I chose exactly the same words!) VB later claimed English as a Second Language as an excuse for the terminology faux pas. But, having thought about it for a long time, I realize that he may actually be right. In certain ways I am obsessed (but I don't feel as pathetic as the word seems to imply--well, not always.) I focus A LOT on having a baby, and it has changed the way I live my life. So I guess it's really open for interpretation. I guess it depends on whether you're rooting for me or whether you feel I should just get over it and get a life.

Anonymous said...

At what point does the focus to have a child become an obsession to have a child? Are they one and the same and using two different words just puts a positive or negative twist to the same idea? Or is a focus something entirely different than an obsession?

Hmm...I think the difference is the amount of anguish created by the focus.

Anonymous said...

I think it depends on whether you are the one "obsessed/focused" or the one on the outside describing her. But I like what Aurelia said. Part of my body doesn't work the way it should. I'm trying to fix it.

Carlynn said...

I think it depends on your position. I think I am focused. I think I need to be focused so that I can best attack this problem and try to achieve a goal that is very important for me.

I think some of my friends think I am obsessed and that if I just relaxed, I would fall pregnant with a nice healthy little pregnancy. It is possibly because so many studies have been done on the relation between stress and conception and pregnancy and the publicity they have received.

If I was devoting this much time and research to my career, people would be impressed but as I am devoting a lot of my energy to having a baby, something is supposed to happen so easily, the fertiles feel that it is too much energy and call it obsession.

Who is right? I think we both are (but I am more right, it is focus dammit.) It just depends on your priorities. My priority is having a baby. My uncle says, "Is it worth it?" I think it is.

Anonymous said...

For the most part, those that use the word "obsessed" are simply giving their opinion on the correct level of attention one should apply to a certain subject, and placing you on the "too much" side of that line. They're telling you that, in their view, your level of focus has become unhealthy.

Nuts to their opinion.

Bagloads of progesterone make me unhealthy. OHSS makes me unhealthy. Having another chemical pregnancy makes me just sick. Grief makes me die, just a little. It's not my fucking level of focus. Get your causalities sorted out here. I'm thinking about things a lot because I'm trying to find a way through - both in practical and emotional terms.

If a professional diagnoses me, after due deliberation, as having ill mental or physical health *because of* my focus on a subject, then we can start legitimately using the term "obsession".

So... to sum up, I think I would say "focus" is constructive, whereas "obsession" is destructive. Trouble is the lay person underestimates the impact of infertility and therefore gets confused between the chicken and the egg.


Anonymous said...

I liked Bea's thoughts. For someone who is fertile, they would think I was obsessed. For someone who was infertile, they would think I was focused.
I know I was obsessed. And the word does have a negative spin to it...but regardless, I can admit that I was obsessed. For me that meant, reading every article and every statistic I could find on the internet, researching things so much I was suggesting things to my doctor, and recording every bodily function I had that could possibly be the answer to my infertile-ness. I would say that is obsessed. LOL

Anonymous said...

What did the book say? (I'm curious...)

Obsession does have an unhealthy negative ring to it (as in "Her obsession with large flashy toe-rings led to chronic hangnails"), and it does imply that it's all you think about to the exclusion of everything else (including basic hygiene).

But an obsession can be a good thing, when it leads to our hearts-desire.

Anonymous said...

i'm not sure. getting pregnant is definitely a focus. if i would say it meets the criteria for obsession i would almost have to add compulsion to that for me. it's an automatic response. how do you stay balanced? how can it NOT creep into every last area of your life? frankly, it has become a second career. and it is seriously competing with my first career.

i still try to find joy and distraction in things other than fertility and conceiving...i walk the fine edge but for the most part i don't think i am quite obsessed. but i am obsessed with staying balanced. and exhausted by it all.


the_road_less_travelled said...

I think it depends on if you are fertile vs infertile. If you've gotten pregnant easily then we're obsessed. If you understand the excitment, dissapointment, and the thin rays of hope that comes along with TTC, then you're focused.

Anonymous said...

I actually think I can be a little of both. When I'm doing research, reading books and calling doctor's offices to get answers I know that I am focused on how I'm going to have a baby. However, there are times when I'm blogging and on message boards that I begin to think I could be a bit obsessed (not all the time just when I've realized I've spent more time doing that then actually working!).

Karaoke Diva said...

My dh asked me about this exact thing not very long ago. He asked me if I were more obsessed with having the child or just getting over the infertility. That, to me, is the difference between focus and obsession. But I can't separate the two. In order for me to have a second child in my life, I had to overcome the IF. And I can NEVER forget about the IF because that means I forget my meds, my appointments, my u/s, my procedures, my blood draws and all the 50 million other things I need to do in order to complete my family. Yes, it is an obsession and you have to know yourself well enough to know when it's time to step back and re-evaluate your priorities and your sanity.