Monday, 7 April 2014

Flights of fancy

For the past month, I've been transfixed by the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight 370.  I'm not the only one, if the 24/7 news coverage on CNN is any indication.  The idea that an entire airplane could disappear without a trace, along with all 239 people on board, is profoundly unsettling.  In those first few confusing days it seemed almost possible that the plane and its passengers might actually be found somewhere in one piece, although this would have required several creative leaps of logic and a whole lot of luck.  Personally, I kept returning to the principle of Occam's razor: the simplest solution is usually the correct one.  Which meant that the plane was more than likely already at the bottom of the ocean.

And yet, when reading or watching news coverage of the event, I continued to be struck by the insistence of the passengers' friends and family that their loved ones might still be out there, and could still come home safely.  That it might not all have ended as horribly as seemed increasingly certain to everyone else.  As sympathetic as I was to the plight of the families, as the days passed I found myself wondering how they could possibly still believe that everything was going to turn out all right.  How could they not recognize that they were deluding themselves?  Didn't they realize, deep down, how crazy it seemed to hope that their loved ones were still alive out there somewhere?

MH370 disappeared on March 8.  Or CD27, in my little world.  For the past two years, I'd watched my cycle slowly dropping in length to an average of 26 or 27 days.  I hadn't had a 28 day cycle in at least a year, and nothing longer than that since probably before I went on the pill a lifetime ago.  After my chemical pregnancy in February, I'd told myself that I wasn't even going to bother timing my cycles anymore to try naturally.  There was no point.  And yet, as the days dragged on and my period still wasn't showing up, I started to wonder if the old wives' tale about being more fertile the month after a miscarriage might not be true.  CD28 came and went, then CD29.  I got out a calendar and counted backwards.  If I'd ovulated on CD10 (as was the norm for at least the past year), then we'd had sex once in my fertile window.  Sure, I'd had a headache the night before last, which usually preceded my period.  But it could also be an early pregnancy symptom, right?  And yeah, I was spotting, which always happened before my period too.  But people also spot in early pregnancy!  

I toyed with the idea of taking a test, but I knew that even if it was negative I would find a way to doubt.  Perhaps the test would be faulty, or I would be one of those mysterious women who wouldn't get a positive HPT until six weeks into a pregnancy.  Whatever happened, I knew I wouldn't be sure until I saw blood.  Only then would I be able to let go of the hope that this cycle wasn't going to end the same way they've all ended, for almost three years.  When my period finally arrived on CD30, I felt a mixture of sadness and relief.  Sadness for yet another chance lost, and relief that I could finally let go of the hope that I'd always known, deep down, was false.

I try to imagine myself in the position of the MH370 families.  Can I really fault them for refusing to believe all of the evidence in front of them, when I do it myself every single month?  Can I blame them for desperately hoping that their loved ones are alive, just as I hope against all odds to create the life of one that I will love?  If there's one thing that infertility teaches, it's that hope is a double-edged sword that can cut you as easily as it defends you against despair.  For the families of the missing, it seems that all we can hope for now is the bittersweet relief that would come from debris in the water.

14 comments:

  1. Aramis- this is such a great post. I'm thinking of you my friend. As I was reading I was so hoping you'd have said something else at the end... hope is something that I have so much of for you! XO

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  2. Holding on to hope for you and praying that a take-home-baby is not far off for your family.

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  3. Such a good post! I totally do this. When it's CD36 or something, but I have all the symptoms of my period starting any minute, I somehow convince myself I must be pregnant - even though it's never happened before. I probably would have been a family member that refused to believe my relative died on the plane as well, and was just missing instead. I like to torture myself with hope. Thinking of you!

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  4. I think you are so strong for holding onto hope. I am going to continue holding onto hope for you too. I can't wait to read more about your research into egg donation in the Czech Republic, I think there is a lot of hope for you there too!

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  5. I know the feeling, Aramis. I know it quite well.

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  6. Thanks for your attention to this story, and giving much more dignity to the tragedy than what CNN is doing with their coverage. It is striking that in this day an age we can't locate an entire plane full of people! It is so unsettling for those families to have to accept that their love ones are probably dead, which is not the same as knowing that they have died. It sucks just as much when our bodies seem to be Lucy holding the proverbial football and we're Charlie Brown falling over and over again.

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  7. I definitely see the parallels. Hope is a strange thing. I'm sure many of us have walked that tightrope between hope and delusion. But sometimes, when it's all you have, you have to cling to it as tightly as you can. Unlike the families of those 239 people, though, you have every reason to hope. You still have a very real chance at the family you've wanted and worked so hard for. And I'm very hopeful you'll get it!

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  8. It's impossible not to have hope, even in the face of adversity. This is a very interesting comparison, and I see your point... it would be so much worse to know my loved one was missing, than to be able to bury and mourn for them. A definitive answer. I remember a weird sense of relief after my D&C because it demarcated the end of the event - in the week preceding, I was still stubbornly holding onto hope and stuck in a sort of limbo. So even though it was so, so awful to go through, having that closure was also therapeutic.

    But as for the hope... yeah. It's impossible to shake, at least for me it is.

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  9. The mind is such a funny thing--even I hope every month we might get lucky. I, too, can't blame or judge these families for having trouble accepting what seems so obvious to everyone else. Without proof, it's so easy to hold on to hope.

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  10. Each time you get your periods, you think you get better at getting your expectations right the next time, but that never works does it? More so when you are "trying to not try too much" during your natural cycle, the mind does not stop asking the what if questions. Hold on girl, there's still light at the end of the tunnel for us!

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  11. I so understand what you mean about the hope coming back whether or not it makes any sense rationally. I struggled with this (I like to think I'm a rational person) and finally accepted that as a human I'm going to feel things and hope is one of them. And that's not a bad thing. Sometimes we need everything we've got to keep going, whether in comes from the rational part of or brains or from somewhere else.

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  12. Great observation. We have a difficult relationship with hope, we infertiles. I very much hope that yours will, eventually, come true.

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  13. I think we need to have hope in order to keep going down this road. As painful as it is, it keeps us going. I very much remember how often I tried to convince myself that my pms symptoms were pregnancy symptoms. I am sorry you didn't get to be that urban legend, the story all us infertiles cling to, but I'm glad you still have hope.

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  14. I've been thinking of you Aramis. Hope truly is double edged, but yet we keep on hoping. I continue to hope for you as well.

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I'm needy and your comments validate me. Help a sister out!