Shawangunks, New York
When I was writing in the heat of despair, the words just flowed. I was on a mission to vent. There was of course much to vent about. The need to express what was happening in my life through words, graphics, video pressed all my creative buttons. It's funny how pain can be so inspiring. It was like I would implode if I didn't get it out somehow.
Now that life has become semi-normal again I have a feeling my posts may not be of much interest as comments are dropping off and more and more Chinese spam coming in. The support I got from cyberworld was immeasurable. Not only was it such a comfort having people write me kind words about my struggle, it also felt supremely good that someone was enjoying my writing. I feel like my infertility awoke the writer in me that has long been asleep. My younger more bright-eyed self had once thought I would win the Pulitzer for journalism. I would then go on to write my novel or memoir. As the years went by, and more and more insecurity set in, I lost the will to write. So in some ways I have to thank my infertility for forcing me to write regularly.
When visiting family last month, there was a book on the table called Adversity Quotient: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities. The author is a climber, a rock climber. Being married to rock climber who pushed me to climb a 3 pitch mountain in the Shawangunks, I can take this to heart as a metaphor for life. The idea is that you are either a climber, a camper or a quitter. Those who quit are always thinking "It's too hard," "I am not good enough," or "why bother if I am going to fail." The campers are those who might climb until it's "just enough." They play it safe. They are content with plateauing.
The climbers are those who keep climbing in the face of adversity. They strive to reach their goals no matter how hard it might seem. They manage fear and make it through. These are people who don't look at adversity negatively. I am a negative person overall. I tend to see my adversities as unfair, burdensome, and down right infuriating. So needless to say I am more a camper than a climber. But when it came to my infertility, I was clearly a climber. I didn't stop. I didn't say, "This is good enough."I faced prospects of more and more loss but I didn't quit.
Anyone going through or finished with IVF can safely say that their adversity quotient is high. The past 3 years has made me look at painful experiences not as a set back. It's easy to say this in hindsight, but it actually sets you ahead. I used to be very jealous of a friend who's life seems to be adversity free. I can't even think of one thing that hasn't gone as planned for her. I use to think that was success. But now I know that a camper's life is comfortable but not necessarily that full. I can see that climbing gave me creativity, passion, spirituality, empathy, gumption, tenacity, perceptiveness, humor, compassion, expression, maturity, and of course, my baby.
I don't have the fuel of infertility these days, though the fire hasn't been put out. I still grow angry when I hear of people getting pregnant with their second child. I assumed now that all of my friends are turning 40 next year that all their eggs would also be crap, but apparently not. I still get jealous when I hear someone's IVF worked. It still hurts. It still burns that I had to choose a different path. But what's different is that I am learning to let adversity push me to design my life so I don't settle for the campground.
The book said that climbers aren't climbing all the time. They take breaks at the campground to refuel and then set sights on a new climb. So I see myself right now taking a break at the campground. I just finished the baby mountain which certainly gives me the right to rest. I would say that my experience with surrogacy and donor egg might be likened to reaching the peak of a mountain and then being asked to skydive off of it. So I am due for some singing by the campfire. But I just have to make sure I don't settle into a nice sleeping bag and sleep my life away. Ultimately, as I venture into my 40s next year, I would like to think that there is more to climb. I like to believe that staying persistent with something will make it blossom. So as I contemplate finding work this fall and think about possibly trying for baby #2, I know I have to apply the same adversity quotient. It's the highest quotient so far in my life and so I know it's strength. It's really the hidden pistol in our pockets. Just remember that as you look at campers who get pregnant at the drop of a hat, or gush about their pregnancy, or pity you.