Expectations (or lack thereof)

My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.
~Michael J. Fox

Last week, as I walked into my baseline ultrasound appointment, I was expecting to hear that my body was not responding well to the birth control pill.  I was expecting to hear that I had another cyst and would need to stay on the pill for another few weeks.  When that was not the case, I was pleasantly surprised.

It’s a strategy that I’ve used for as long as I can remember.  Hubby calls it “negativity”; I call it managing expectations.  I can’t be disappointed if I’m already expecting the worst to happen.

The problem I’m facing now is that this coping mechanism is turning into a kind of magical thinking.  If I keep my expectations low, the result will be that I’ll get good news.  But I don’t think it really works that way.

It would be silly of me to think that tomorrow’s monitoring appointment will turn out the way the first monitoring appointment of my last cycle did, given that I’m on much higher doses of Follistim and Menopur than I was then.  And yet, I’m afraid to think it’ll go any better.  Because what if it doesn’t?

What I really want, as an end result of this cycle (besides to become massively pregnant–with twins!) is to have more healthy, genetically normal embryos than we did last time.  (For no other reason than to have the chance at multiple FETs when if the day 3 transfer doesn’t take.)  Of course, I have no control over that.  Maybe these higher doses of meds will help, maybe not.

So I’m trying, as best I can, to have no expectations.  Nothing about how I feel is giving me any hints.  I’m trying to keep an open mind.

Savannah scatters and the seabird sings
So why should we fear what travel brings?
What were we hoping to get out of this
Some kind of momentary bliss

I waited for something, and something died
So I waited for nothing, and nothing arrived

It’s our dearest ally, it’s our closest friend
It’s our darkest blackout, it’s our final end
My dear sweet nothing, let’s start anew
From here on in it’s just me and you

I waited for something, and something died
So I waited for nothing, and nothing arrived

Well, I guess it’s over
I guess it’s begun
It’s a loser’s table, but we’ve already won
It’s a funny battle, it’s a constant game
I guess I was busy when nothing came
I guess I was busy…
(When nothing arrived)
I guess I was busy…
(When nothing arrived)
I guess I was busy…
(And nothing arrived)
I guess I was busy…

I waited for something, and something died
So I waited for nothing, and nothing arrived
I waited for something, and something died
So I waited for nothing, and nothing arrived
Nothing arrived

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18 thoughts on “Expectations (or lack thereof)

  1. I totally get where you’re coming from. I have always been the same, constantly preparing myself for bad news. MY hubby has always called ME a pessimist, but I correct him and tell him I’m a realist. I realize that things don’t always go the way we want them to. In fact, they *often* don’t.

    On the other hand, though, there’s nothing wrong with allowing a little hope to slip in. (For the record, though, I’m not very good at doing that, so I’m kind of a hypocrite as I type this.) Hope makes the days leading up to a big event easier. And I have learned that no matter how “prepared” I am for the worst to happen, it still hurts like hell if things go wrong. I tell myself it will be easier if I don’t dare to hope, but in the end, I’m not sure that’s true. You know?

    Wishing you a great appointment, friend! I hope, hope, HOPE everything is exactly what you want them to be, and so much better than you fear! xo

    • It’s the same way in our house. Hubby is the “optimist” and I’m supposedly the “pessimist.” I correct him the same way!

      I’m also really good at being hopeful for others but not so much for myself. Last time around, even though things weren’t going the way they were supposed to, I had still convinced myself that, in the end, it would work. I’m not that naive this time, but I do hope that things turn out differently, as scary as it is for me to do that.

  2. Some call it negative thinking, I like to call it being realistic. I think I’ve been especially negative lately to protect myself, but can we take it too far? I remember reading a book once about the power of the mind in stroke victims. They would refuse to use their affected arm until the use of their good arm was taken away. Then, through sheer will power, sweat, and tears, they could actually regenerate the part of their brain that was damaged, simply by forcing themselves to use the bad arm. They would be told to visualize themselves moving it, and then would be given no choice but to do so. If only making follicles grow were that easy (or probably pretty hard if you ask the stroke victims haha)! Anyway, I think negativity IS a double edge sword. You want to prepare for the worst, because then it hurts less when you’re let down. You don’t want to be too positive because then you get angry at yourself for playing the fool, for putting it all out there. Yet thinking back to the month I got pregnant I remember thinking about those stroke victims when I was lying on the acupuncture table. I decided to visualize the sperm meeting the egg, over and over and over again. Whether or not there’s a correlation between me getting pregnant that month and my little meditation on damaged brains and sperm, we’ll never know. But I will tell you one thing, I’ll be visualizing the hell out of some twins for the both of us over the next few weeks. Negativity can suck it.

    • Maybe I should tie one ovary behind my back to make the other one work even harder! 🙂

      Whenever I start to feel hopeful or picture myself pregnant or (gasp!) parenting, that’s when the “realistic” part of my nature kicks in and reminds me that this is far from a done deal. I think, after the last cycle failed, I now know first hand that things can go wrong, and there isn’t always an explanation as to why. I’m trying to keep that in mind while also hoping that the small changes we’ve made this cycle will make all the difference.

  3. I’ve been in a similar place. The whole time thinking that if I don’t get my hopes up, then the crash won’t be as painful. The problem I faced was that I didn’t allow myself to connect with the good aspects of the cycle. Ultimately, what I thought of as stealing myself for the worst only lead to a downward spiral of depression and being convinced that I was somehow unworthy of being a mother.

    I’m not saying that you need to go into this all cheery and absolutely hopeful, but what I would encourage is taking some time each day to acknowledge that you’re doing everything in your power to make this cycle work. It’s a hard thing to do (trust me, I still struggle with it), but I think ultimately it will allow you to come through all of this in a better state of mind. After all, you are doing everything within your power to make this work. And that should not be minimized.

    • I had a really hard time connecting with the embryos that were created last cycle. I felt very outside that process. And I was still devastated when neither of them implanted. I like the idea of acknowledging everything I’m doing to make this cycle successful, and I will definitely try to do that.

  4. This really struck me: “I call it managing expectations. I can’t be disappointed if I’m already expecting the worst to happen.” I do the same thing. The only problem with my brilliant plan is that I AM disappointed, no matter how much I expected the bad things to happen. And then I read the comment above me (from Cristy), where she said this: “The problem I faced was that I didn’t allow myself to connect with the good aspects of the cycle. Ultimately, what I thought of as stealing myself for the worst only lead to a downward spiral of depression and being convinced that I was somehow unworthy of being a mother.” And ouch. That struck a little too close to home. Thanks for the good post, and I have my fingers crossed for you.

    • It’s true. My brilliant plan rarely results in bad news just sliding off me. My therapist tried to convince me that it would never work out that way, and yet, I keep trying. I want to be hopeful, but those thoughts tend to hang out somewhere in the back of my consciousness, while the more “realistic” ones take over.

  5. I do this too. I kind of think that anyone who’s gone through multiple cycles of IVF has to act this way in order to maintain their sanity. I’ve definitely seen bloggers (not you) who were very optimistic and sunshiny (not in a bad way) during their first cycle turn much more pessimistic in their second or third cycle. My aunt used to tell me to “expect the best, prepare for the worst”. I think I’m now in a place where I’m expecting the worst, preparing for the worst, and pleasantly surprised if something different happens.

    • Yeah, I wasn’t crazy optimistic about the last cycle, but given the stats that our RE kept vomiting up, I really thought it would work. Now I’m much more in “expecting the worst, preparing for the worst” mode.

  6. I so totally get you on this. I remember when I went for my baseline on my first IUI and I had a cyst… I cried. Seems REALLY stupid now considering, but I think it was because I didn’t know that could happen. I wasn’t prepared. Like others have said, it’s realism, and a totally appropriate coping mechanism if you ask me! If you know the bad things and you’re ready for them, you are either going to meet your expectations or be pleasantly surprised. Makes the whole thing more palatable.

  7. I used to be an optimistic person, but years of infertility and loss have taught me to ‘manage my expectations’ as well. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being in self-protection mode. Hugs…

  8. As ridiculous as this sounds, I *wish* I could take that approach to things…No matter how many disappointments we face, and no matter how strongly and vocally I deny any expectations or hopes on my part, there is always a small but strong little part of my brain, my spirit, that holds this insane belief, each time, that ‘this will really be it for us!’. And, well, of course it is exhausting each and every time the comedown arrives. But there is this small part of me-the-eternal-optimist that refuses to die.
    As much as there is nothing we can do to control or influence or divine, I hope that this – all this, the whole cycle and beyond – will be the thing that really defies your negative/realist expectations.

    • There is a small part, even in my realistic mind, that knows this does work some of the time, so it just could work for us. Especially considering my RE’s ridiculous 75% success rates. (Of course, as of June, I’m officially beyond the 34-year-old cut-off for those stats.) I wish I could be more optimistic–and lord knows Hubby wishes I would be, too!

  9. I do the same thing – prepare for the worst and keep expectations low. I do it to manage disappointment and hopefully be pleasantly surprised. My husband thinks I should be a little more optimistic and positive. We all have our ways of coping. Good luck with this cycle!

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