Short Version*: I muse about the ability to plan your way through various stages of life, including pre-infertility, treatments, pregnancy and parenthood.

Long Version:

I used to be a planner. I was always dreaming big dreams, exploring my options months, or even years, in advance. And then came infertility. How many of our biographical musings contain that phrase?

Over the last couple of years I've learned not to think ahead, because thinking ahead is either overwhelmingly scary, or painfully disappointing. I've coped rather better this year by never thinking beyond the next step. In the end, I actually lost the ability to worry about anything more than one step away - though there's often been enough anxiety in that to keep me in goodly amounts of stress. But whilst this bite-sized approach has kept me from exploding vomitously up til now, I am starting to realise I'm in danger of... not eating the best meal. Uh, let's leave the eating metaphor behind.

At the end of the first trimester, people started asking us questions - important questions; ones we hadn't got around to thinking about because, you know, they weren't part of the next step. Do we want prenatal testing? Are we planning to find out the baby's sex? Will we be buying a delivery package or paying as we go? These have always struck both of us as being rather out of the blue, and we have floundered for a response, no matter how clearly we should have seen them coming. I'm starting to realise that, all going well at the detailed scan, of course, more of these questions will come: when shall we book prenatal classes? what are our preferences for delivery - room type? thoughts on various drugs and procedures? what stuff should we have waiting at home on the presumption that all will go well? what should we tell our families about when to visit? We don't have to start considering these questions yet, says my infertile mind breezily, but an insistent voice has begun to point out that my planning timeframe does need some adjustment. Perhaps, it says, I should start learning to think two steps ahead.

Immediately I have begun to try and think a frazillion steps ahead, just like I used to. Aside from the fact that I can't think about "happily ever after" without imagining an overwhelming range of tragic alternatives, it makes me wonder: how many steps ahead do you have to think when you're a parent? I believe one is good for infertility and two is fine for pregnancy, but between those telling me, on the one hand, that parenthood removes all spontaneity and everything must be strictly planned, and those telling me, on the other hand, that you can't plan anything any more when you're a parent because the kids will always throw a spanner in the works, I admit I'm a little confused.

But wait. Don't answer that yet - it's too many steps away. At the moment, I'm aiming for two. It's going to take some work to get it right.

*I'd forgotten temporarily about the short/long version thing. I'll have to get into a habit.


Geohde said...

Ah, I'd just think ahead as many steps as you can cope with.

I personally try the frazzillion technique and it always ends up in crossed and recrossed lists.


Mary Ellen and Steve said...

I try not to think too far ahead. One step at a time.

BethH6703 said...

See, now... if it were ME, I'd make a list of ALL those inevitable pregnancy steps. Questions to be answered, preparation to be done, personal decisions to make. THEN (being the nerd that I am), I'd put 'em in a spreadsheet, with due dates. THEN, after having "the big picture" all on one fancy little list, I'd decide how many "steps ahead" I had to go to stay somewhat sane. For me, knowing that I'm aware of the big picture, and yet only acting on pieces of it, helps keep me calmer.

But that's me.

For you... I'd say it's all trial and error. If you feel behind with 1 step, go to 2. If you try 4 and it's too much, go back to 3. You'll figure it out darlin'.

Somewhat Ordinary said...

I'm still only thinking one step ahead. Actually I try to think many steps ahead and it boggles my mind so I resort to 1 at a time. Before IF and pregnancy I was always a few steps ahead!

Jess said...

I had a similar experience. It was as if I woke up at 30 weeks and realized that DUDE...I think I need to register at the hospital.

I kept putting things off because it felt like jinxing. In the end, we didn't take any prenatal classes (though I'll admit we did have a baby at home already and one that we'd just SEEN BIRTHED, at that, so many were pointless) and I wish only that we'd taken breastfeeding because I have.not.a.clue about how. But I keep saying, well, the lactation consulatant will tell me. Or during labor they'll tell me when to do what anyhow, so why take a birthing class?

Things will get done. You dont' have to plan TOO far ahead...consider as you need to, if it helps get you through.

And sooner rather than later you'll wake up and be like...whoa. Nine months, huh?

steph said...

Hard to think ahead when you're FREAKING EXHAUSTED!! (0:
I thought I knew it all during foster care classes. And to toot my horn, I did know a hell of a lot! But then they drop this kid off at your house and you think holy shit I have no idea what I'm doing. So you live and learn and so does the kid.
And never ever ever underestimate the power of asking jeeves. That man is my salvation. How much should he be sleeping? Eating? Ailments, teething, motor skills, you name it, I have asked.

Oh yeah, so the question was how many steps ahead? As many as you can juggle without dropping the ball. And even then be prepared to switch strategy at a moment's notice~

Karaoke Diva said...

Don't let anyone push you into making decisions before you're ready. There's no reason you have to answer any of those questions at this point.

Now if you were swiftly moving through the 3rd trimester, I'd suggest you get your butt in gear, but where we are is a very different and much more uncertain place.

I have 2 things ready for my baby: I know the name I want and the hospital I will deliver in (and that I will have another c_section). The second is only because this is my second kid. The nursery is still an office full of computers, all the clothes are still in the attic and the crib is still dismantled in the basement. I'm not ready for all that yet.

Sarah said...

you may need to start trying to plan ahead more as a parent, but i personally think the habit of not worrying so much about what lies ahead, or at least accepting that what will be will be and you only have so much control, is of huge benefit in parenthood.

Aurelia said...

Do what you can, and remember, all the baby really needs to come home is you, a carseat, and a few clothes and blankets, and some diapers. All of which can be bought at the hospital, or by your husband while you are in there afterwards.

As for birthplans, etc, and prenatal classes, all they did was scare the hell out of me, and not one thing I ever learned there was helpful. Most modern hospitals don't do any of the weird stuff they used to do in the olden days, like shave women, or strap them to the bed. (Still have no idea what the hell that was for!)

Unless you were giving birth in c-section central like Brazil, or in one of those odd formula worshipping hospitals where they separate women and babies, I wouldn't worry about it at all.

Maybe tour the hospital? Get a book or two, watch a few TV shows or videos about birth?

Then forget about it, have some ice cream.

Rachel Inbar said...

I enjoyed reading your thoughts :-) I tend to think too far ahead sometimes, like I'm worried that we don't have any ideas for a name and I'm trying to decide what hospital to go to, when actually I have about 12 weeks to decide where to go... (though, to give birth in Jerusalem, you do have to pre-register at around 26 weeks, so I did that). I guess all plans have to include some flexibility too...

Pamela Jeanne said...

It's so true...planning becomes an anathema. Too many unpredictable elements to factor in so living in the moment is the best we can do. Looking ahead becomes something we need to learn to do all over again.

Barb said...

Ugh yeah. I can see how that would happen. God I don't even DARE think about beyond the two week wait of THAT CYCLE b/c it's just too much to take on.

It's really nice to see infertiles dealing with pregnancy and what crops up b/c if I ever do get pregnant, I know I'll be dealing with the same crap.

Thanks! :)

The Momcaster said...

so glad to know that everything went well with the "reassurance scan".

it's always good to plan. i like planning but it can only takes you so far. what you need to survive infertility/pregnancy/parenthood is flexibility...

Anonymous said...

I say wing it. You will figure it out.

Jenna said...

You can think on your feet. I say you'll do great!

Of course, if it were me, there would be flow charts and graphs all over the house to remind me of what needs to happen when.

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