letting go of your ideal life timeline when you are infertile

When I was younger, I had a definite timeline for how my life was going to go. I wasn’t fanatically rigid on dates, but the general gist was laid out. I would be married by mid to late 20’s. Have my first child before 30 and last child by my mid-thirties. Work part time when the kids were little then full time with great child care after that. I know that I am a planner by nature, but I think most of us have a mental timeline for our life.

Unfortunately, in the midst of all our planning, life happens. And for some of us, infertility is a huge part of life and can through a huge kink into our life plans throwing our timelines completely out of whack.

If You Want to Make God Laugh…

You’ve heard the old Woody Allen joke: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” Another version of this sentiment is from my grandmother: “Wish in one hand, spit in the other.” Both expressions speak to the futility of planning, but I don’t completely buy it.

Often our plans do work out and without proper planning we would not be able to take advantage of them. We plan for our future by getting a good education and saving money. We plan for retirement by working hard and putting money in an IRA. We plan for home ownership by saving monthly.

But I also think that for me, planning gives me a sense of control, and the older I’ve become the more I believe that control is a myth we tell ourselves to help us cope.

Letting Go

One of the harder parts of infertility is the total lack of control. You didn’t ask for this disease, you didn’t ask to not find your life partner until your 30s, you didn’t ask for your finances to be in the dirt until after you were 35, you didn’t ask for any of it. Like I said, life happens.

Remaining Flexible

Planning is a part of my DNA. I couldn’t stop planning and making mental timelines if I tried. But life has thrown enough at me to make me take my plans and timelines with a huge grain of salt. They are just an idea of one way my life might turn out.

We received this nugget of wisdom from one of our online community in response to a question about what we would tell our younger self about infertility:

Don’t live your current life based on a past schedule/timeline. When I was 23, I thought I’d be married by 28, kids started at 30, finished having kids at 34. Well…didn’t get married till 32 and had a difficult time getting/staying pregnant. Now at 37, I’m 26 weeks pregnant and have loved the life I’ve lived…even the sad parts (in hindsight, not at the time). But I now believe this timeline is the correct one for me.

True words to live by.

If you are a planner and timeline maker, how have you coped with infertility?

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