Monday, October 28, 2013

Alternate life me

One thing that's kind of unusual about our wonky infertility journey is its start. Based on the spouse's health history we figured it would be hard to have a baby of our own. I don't think most people start from the premise that getting knocked up isn't so simple as it's made out to be in the media.

So we set out figuring a year trying was to be expected. Or at least six months. Then the spouse would be done with grad school and have a job and I'd be in semester 3 of 5 before that science teacher license was finished. 

Of course that crashed and burned and the fiasco that ensued was just astounding. 

But I've been thinking about Alternate Life Me who got up for that 8am chem class I dropped. Let me take a moment to point out the awful advising I got. I came in wanting to take music theory, French, and chemistry as possible majors. The person advising me first pointed out that the chem class met 5 days a week at 8am and "are you really sure that's what you want to do?"

And I went to a women's college.

I got advised only on the negative side of that chem class, not that it was a prereq for any health or science grad work, not that the 8am time was to weed out nursing majors who didn't mean it, not that if I was thinking about a science major I had to take it or gain a full year of college (the bio major sequence fit into 3 years but needed that chem class as a prereq too). I wish I knew what random prof I had as my advisor that day so I could send her an angry note. Even though I was considering 3 majors, French, music, and chemistry, the chem class was the one I was advised out of rather than the music class that was within a dying major (the last music major graduated with my class).

Anyway, I got influenced by a bad system that didn't advise me strongly into a science/tech field despite my interest.

Alternate life me, who took that 8am class, probably would have majored in chemistry because it's FUN. Perhaps not to people who aren't me or even most people, but I love it. Maybe alternate life me would have figured out the whole calling to be a pharmacist deal a bit sooner than 6 months post-graduation, but maybe not. Even if it had been that 6 months post-graduation revelation, I could have applied to start the next year with a spanking new chemistry degree. Alternate life me would have 3 or 4 years less of college. That's a lot of time I won't be working, or that I'll be working instead of retiring. Sigh.

 Of course, especially when the 5 year old is being a tornado of repressed-until-bedtime emotions at night and waking up for the day at 5:15am (seriously UGH), I think about what alternate life me would have decided about children. Knowing  what we did before we decided to try for a baby, would having a firmer grasp on school or another major so there was no giant life shift have changed what we decided, that trying young was important because we might not have much luck?

One of my high school classmates got that undergrad chemistry degree, went right to pharmacy school, did a residency, got the perfect job, and then bought a house and had a baby. Everything in the right order. Sometimes I worry that putting life in all kinds of a jumbled order has been detrimental. It would be a boatload easier to study with no screaming 5 year old stressed because she got confused and didn't get her after school snack at the program she goes to (and professes to hate after she claims she had fun right after the thing ends). We are surely much more broke because there are two girls hanging around, and we are also stuck here where the spouse's job prospects are now limited sharply. The benefit is that we can just move for my job when it exists, but that's sort of a lot of pressure to put on my fledgling career.

I wonder about all the folks around me who are delaying having children right now and if it enters their minds that children don't just turn up 9 months after you start trying. I know a friend with PCOS certainly does think about it but I'm not sure if it's good or bad that so many folks don't even consider the possibility of infertility or loss. On the one hand it is so much harder going through infertility when nobody has any idea how to react and everyone has helpful un-advice like Just Relax! On the other hand, it's kind of nice not to have everyone so knowledgeable that they keep asking about what's going on all the time. Sometimes it is nice that what you're going through isn't common knowledge. It provides at least a little privacy if you want or need it.

My high school class is having a get-together coming up soon and I'm excited or terrified. I think I'm still the only one with kids I'm parenting (one person had a baby placed for adoption not long after graduation, and yes, tiny high school...) so that's weird. I bet this time there will be less "oh how weird you have kids" and more "so how's that going? We're thinking about kids now too" than there was about 5 years ago when we got together last (maybe it wasn't that long ago but I don't remember clearly). Upside: I'm not the only person still in school! One of my classmates worked her way through community college in 6ish years and then finished a bachelor's degree in the next 2 and is working on an advanced degree now (unsure if it's just master's or masters to PhD). It mostly makes me feel old. Is this the end? The last baby? The last time I'm "young" or anything like it? Is alternate life me happier or more miserable stuck in infertility purgatory longer? I suppose it's better not to know. I do know that today is pretty all right.


  1. Ah yes, Alternate Life Me. It's an interesting thing to ponder isn't it? I have at least two strong Alternate Life Me possibilities and I can't help but think about them sometimes. So many what-ifs. I love your last line though... sometimes we just have to remember that today is pretty all right.

  2. My husband likes to play the alternate life game. Me, not so much. It's depressing!

    The chem thing makes me mad. I had similar experiences and marvel at how much gender bias there still really is. Not that I would have been a chemistry major, but I may have gone to medical school. I expend a lot of energy these days not going down those roads mentally. I DO, however, intend to work very hard on making sure that my daughter(s) see math and science as a fully viable path for her/them, and frequently remind my husband that though we're both in careers that are all about words, three of our four parents are/were in math/science oriented careers.

  3. I never really thought about this alternative life me thing... but there are definitely alternates out there since it was all tiny little decisions and happenings that landed me here in the DR, running a school, married to a British chap who I met in NY... after studying nothing related to any of that in Nova Scotia!

    Definitely odd to hear older friends or friends my age talk about waiting on TTC until they are more set in their career. Not odd in that I don't understand why, but odd in that, do they not realize it may not be so easy, especially the longer they wait?! :/ I, like you and your husband, grew up knowing I may have problems getting pregnant (due to really messed up, mega long cycles and months long AFs, etc.) so I never got to have that mindset of, "Oh we'll just have a baby when we want to!"