I discovered a secret to life.
The first half of the secret is that “choice yields unhappiness.” The second half of the secret is that “choicelessness yields happiness.” And the third half of the secret is that I’m doing it wrong.
At least this secret is true according to the dozen or so TED Talks I’ve been watching lately. They say, for example, that if the only pair of jeans in the world were Levi 501s, then you’d either like jeans or you wouldn’t like jeans, but your emotional connection to denim would pretty much end there. As it stands, though, you go into a department store and try on 5 different brands and 12 different styles in 4 different washes and 3 different sizes, and you leave with nothing except feeling short, fat, and out of sync with fashion. Hypothetically.
Translated into donor shopping, this would mean that instead of trying on 18 pairs of jeans, you pore through 5,000 donor profiles, and instead of leaving the store with self-esteem issues, you just pick someone.
That’s what I did. She wasn’t a perfect fit.
The TED folks would say that this is because I had 5,000 choices, which would naturally lead to 10,000,000 miles of expectation, which in turn would get me galaxies’ worth of disappointment. (Measurements are approximate.)
Honestly, though: what are the odds that I would have found her perfect? As anyone who’s sat across from me at dinner knows, I’m seriously picky, and that’s just with things that go into my mouth. Imagine how much more particular I am about things that go into my vagina?
But the premise of this TED-sourced phenomenon is based on choice, and the truth is that I no longer have a choice of donors. I had a choice 6 months ago, and I made it, so what choice is making me unhappy now?
To help explain what I’m babbling about, I’m going to babble for a moment about something else: grief. More specifically about Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief. And most specifically about stage three.
I’m a master at negotiation. And by master, I mean idiot.
First, let me give you examples of how normal infertiles negotiate:
If only I could have a baby, I swear I’d go to church every day, or
If only I could have a baby, I’d work harder on my relationship.
Here’s how I do it:
If only I could go back in time, I’d have tried to get pregnant when I was 30, or
If only I could go back in time, I wouldn’t have done all those inseminations, or
If only I could go back in time, I wouldn’t have “accidentally” had an orgasm 4 days after my second transfer, or
If only I could go back in time, I’d have chosen a different donor.
Yes, there’s a part of me that literally believes I will find a time machine and use it to travel into my past so I can make other fertility choices. Let me be clear: the time machine isn’t the variable that’s up for negotiation. The time machine is a given. The part I’m trying to negotiate is exactly how far back the time machine will let me go.
Now, since selecting a donor was my most recent choice, it’s most logical to negotiate for going back 6 months, because the possibility of successfully going back 10 years is obviously absurd.
And how does one pass the time while waiting for this time machine to manifest? One watches a dozen TED Talks about happiness and choicelessness. And in watching a dozen TED Talks about happiness and choicelessness, one inadvertently finds oneself getting grounded, being present, and breathing in the post-transfer, pre-pregnancy-test air.
Along the viewing way, I coincidentally happen to be dabbling with Kübler-Ross’s fifth stage of grief: acceptance. I’m finding it a little easier to accept that this donor is going to be my children’s genetic parent. Moreover, I’m actually accepting that I’d be lucky if this donor were my children’s genetic parent (because the alternative would be an emotional and financial disaster). And mostover, I’m tired of the trying phase. I just want a baby. And this is the likeliest way it’s going to happen.
The good news about my potential for happiness is that most of the fertility-related choices are behind me. Case in point: I didn’t choose the embryo that was transferred last week. Someone else did. There were 6 frozen embryos, and some random embryologist chose one, thawed it, watched it develop, and then put it in the catheter that was inserted into my uterus.
This is the embryo I didn’t choose:
This is the embryo I didn’t choose that I nursed through bed rest, the embryo I didn’t choose that may have successfully implanted, and the embryo I didn’t choose that could have potentially grown by now into the size of a sesame seed.
It’s also the embryo I didn’t choose whose endurance I’m hoping will be revealed tomorrow morning when I take my first pregnancy test.