How long is a piece of string?

What do you classify to be an experience? How does the duration of that experience matter?

For example, to experience snow, is it enough to just step outside and feel the snowflakes falling on your cheeks? Or do you experience it fully when you build a snowman? What about if you stay outside for too long and catch sinusitis? Is that then the ‘full’ experience?

My brother once explained that a job interview is just as important as the job itself. I’ll elaborate. You could easily ask for a job and get hired; thus, missing out on the valuable experience of actually preparing for – and getting through – an interview. The outcome of the interview is irrelevant; it’s what you gain from the experience of the interview that counts and will help mould your future.

On that basis, it got me thinking about the duration of my fertility journey. I’m always questioning why this journey has chosen me. Why 6 years (and counting) of TTC? Lately, I’m beginning to realise that many of life’s experiences are lessons in disguise. So, what is the lesson in this for me? The more I delved in to it, the more my traits became stark and the more I admitted about myself. Knowing the way that I think, I act and I behave, I came to realise that I’m an achiever. An achiever who gets through it by putting in the work. An achiever who doesn’t take shortcuts without feeling guilty. An achiever who is willing to try many new things. An achiever who is not afraid. An achiever who will only feel satisfied when I know ‘I have done my best’. Of course, I falter and often question my path; but then I pull myself right up again and continue. This is me; this is my personality. You can call it a flaw(s), but this is my DNA. Therefore, in this warped mind of mine, I realised that if I experienced infertility for 1, maybe 2 years, before successfully conceiving, I would not have felt as if I ‘really’ experienced it at all. Perhaps I wouldn’t have called it a struggle at all.

(This is no disrespect to anyone out there. I am just explaining how I deal with things.)

So, if I don’t want a 1-year infertility journey, do 6 years make it viable? This brings up my next question: “Is a hardship deemed ‘hardship’ according to the number of years you go through it?”

How long is a piece of string then?

You know, when we first started TTC – when you’re at that stage where you are excited and naïve and sometimes spill your plans to an unsuspecting individual – this individual mentioned that it usually takes couples 1 year to fall pregnant. I was a little taken aback I must admit, as I thought it just ‘happened’ when you wanted it. (I have been told by a few couples that this has been the case for them.) But, I was ready to put in the ‘work’ for the year.

My grandfather always used to say that couples should try for a baby soon after marriage. Should we have tried earlier? Or would we still be in the same position as we are now, but with only more years under our belt? Or perhaps, would we have been blessed with our babies earlier? Hindsight. Plus, the notion that everything happens at the ‘right’ time. I know for a fact that we would have been different parents if we had conceived earlier or with little difficulty. Our thinking, our priorities and our outlook has changed dramatically for having gone through this journey. It’s inevitable. Perhaps, that is the lesson, laid bare.

Is part of the reason for going the ‘whole hog’, as explained in my last blog post of more IVF, (if that fails) donor treatments and (if that fails) ultimately, adoption because I am not ready to give up and willing to put myself through it all, because I know I can? (These are real thoughts that go through my mind. I could sit here all day and have a conversation in my head!)

This week has been particularly difficult for me because I’m preparing for an ERA test (more on that in another post), and have some horrendous side effects, so much so that I’ve had to remember 11 different time slots to take five different medications. I’ve had moments where it all gets too much. Then I remind myself of my commitment to the treatment, commitment to our babies and, most importantly, my commitment to my husband and to us.

But everyone has a threshold. Was mine the 6-year mark? Conceivably so because that was when I decided to pen my thoughts? Or perhaps not, because I’m still going through further treatment? Or actually, have I reached my threshold and now I’m on the home-stretch because in some way or the other (after our decision to adopt if we need to), we will get our babies?

In school, my two favourite subjects were Art and Physics. Art nurtured my creative side, and Physics nurtured my analytical side. It made sense. I wasn’t one for memorising or cramming. My favourite theory was Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. I tend to find that I apply it in my daily life. (As you do.)

Are experiences all relative then? Are experiences all that matter?

Early on in the TTC journey, around the time when I was going through my first IVF, I met up with a friend for lunch. This friend had also gone through some difficulty with conceiving and was successful in the end. They pointed out something that has stayed with me all these years. According to them, miscarriage is better than not getting pregnant at all. Their reasoning was that in a miscarriage, at least you know you can ‘get pregnant’. The chances of conceiving again are there. Your body has been able to conceive with your egg and your partner’s sperm. If it has achieved this once, it can (hopefully) achieve it again.

I have never been pregnant in all these years. Sure, I have been a few days ‘late’, but have always tested negative. I have had every symptom and sign under the sun, and then some. I have also had that ‘you just know’ feeling that many attest to. But, still no pregnancy. And I tend to agree with my friend’s point above.

During the last summer when we found out that the ET had not worked, my mum tried to console us by saying that the pain could have been worse if we did fall pregnant after having gone through all the IVF, but then miscarried. I can completely understand her point. Having gone through all the various treatments, then to fall pregnant and then to lose the baby is beyond awful. However, I related the story above from my friend and explained that at least then I would know that I ‘can’ get pregnant. I would at least have got to experience being pregnant, however brief it was.

(I am not in the slightest assuming that a miscarriage is easy. I am just honestly laying down my true feelings. I just hope that I am never in that situation to have to go through that too.)

On top of it, even though we only had an embryo, it was still our ‘baby’. The grief we felt is akin to losing a baby. It actually felt as if we had lost a member of our family. Grief, like love, is absolute and cannot be measured in time. Either you are grieving, or you are not. Either you love someone, or you don’t. You cannot half-grieve or half-love.

It’s all relative in the end. Our experiences are relative to what we know. And, perhaps, experiences ARE all that matter in the end. For without these experiences, how would we come to know what we know?

Lest we forget.

5 thoughts on “How long is a piece of string?

  1. We should think of life as a journey comprising of many paths taking us from one destination to another. To me, any religion one follows is a way of life – it is one path out of many we could choose to walk on. But by walking on a certain path, it does not guarantee that we will reach our desired destination. However, by not going on a certain path, you will never know whether or not you can reach your destination. Therefore, never be afraid of or regret taking a certain path. The experiences gained by choosing a certain path will always inform your decision when you take the next path. Also, if life were so simple and straightforward, would it actually be worth living? I’d like to think not. However, I would never wish for a tough life. Instead, I would wish for a life worth living 🙂


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