I can feel it creeping in, slowly and almost secretly. It’s there like a shadow, always with me, but I can’t always see it. Do I acknowledge it? Do I ignore it and hope it goes away? If I speak it then am I giving it power? Anxiety. It is there as an undercurrent, but now a hurricane is slowly brewing.
This time is different, this time I know what the trigger is. This time I’m aware of the reason for my anxiety. Infertility.
If you’ve walked the journey that is infertility you know it is a winding road. If you haven’t, maybe imagine the thing that creates the most anxiety for you…then amplify it by ten, twenty, more. I often find it hard to put into words the way I felt in the middle of our infertility journey. I don’t know if there are words. I called everything, and I mean everything, into question and the prevailing feeling was defeated.
The Worry and the “What If”
We went down that long, lonely, all-consuming road several years ago and here we are, about to walk it again. This time we have a head start. We know what to expect, we have plans. Ah, yes “plans.” I think that is the scariest, most anxiety-provoking part: the idea that plans will work.
This is where all of the “what if-ing” begins. I worry and “what if” all of the places that something can go wrong. Our minds are wonderful at creating worry, at thinking of every scenario where something can go astray. All of this worry because I made a phone call and set a meeting; a meeting with my fertility clinic.
I want to be a statistic
IVF success rates are not what people assume. I have found that a lot of people are blissfully unaware of how the IVF process works and they believe that IVF = baby. Sadly, painfully, that is not always the case. There are so many steps between IVF and a live birth. (vials and vials of blood, genetic tests and lab work, waiting, shot after shot after shot, ultrasounds, multiple last-minute appointments, waiting, retrieval, fertilization, day one report, waiting, day five report, waiting, genetic testing, waiting. More waiting, more medications, more shots, more ultrasounds, transfer, waiting, and waiting and waiting. That is just to get pregnant, then there is a pregnancy to get through.)
That statistic, “successful live birth;” I just want to be in that number. I want my clinic to report my case as a success. I want to look at a CDC/SART report and say “that was me.” I want to be a statistic that gives another woman a glimmer of hope. Over 35. Own egg. Frozen Transfer. Live birth. I want to check those boxes, yet, in the back of my mind is that thought: ‘Look at the numbers. It doesn’t always work that way.’ Do I allow myself to hope? If so, how do I do it without this shadow of anxiety?
Here and Now
If only coping with this anxiety were as easy as all of the self-help/self-care/think positive thoughts books, memes, and advice make it seem. I know how to cope; I logically know what to do and how to do it. I have walked with so many others in their battle with anxiety. I have helped people through their anxiety. I’ve been here before, and yet, sometimes the logical part of the brain and the emotional part can’t seem to be reconciled.
I have to push those feelings aside. I put on that brave face. I focus on the here and now. That is how I cope with anxiety. This is what I do: Focus on here and now, on what is happening today, or if not today, this week. Don’t go down that road of worrying about every step in the process it will consume you. Save that worry for that day. So for now I will focus on here and now. I will make it my mantra. I will catch myself worrying and I will redirect. I will focus on what I can control, my own thoughts. I will only look slightly ahead to that meeting to get this ball rolling and work to push away thoughts that I’m Sisyphus.
Here. Now. Today. Breathe.