When I was in college for my bachelor’s degree, my mother gave me a Gumby figurine. This wasn’t on the order of a usual gift, she explained. The Gumby figurine represented a reminder of how to cope with stress in my life. “Gumby is flexible,” my mother told me, “Sometimes he winds up tied in knots. Sometimes he stands tall. He bends – sometimes a lot – but he doesn’t break.”
I hate to admit this, but I’m fairly sure I rolled my eyes internally.
Despite my belief that this was a bit silly, I kept Gumby on my desk all through finishing my bachelor’s degree. When Arthur and I got married, he found a place in our new apartment. Gumby finally has landed a spot on our bookcase in the living room, near to the clock. Both of us glance at the clock regularly, and thus, see Gumby sitting there too, our visual reminder.
Gumby sitting on our bookcase
With infertility, remaining flexible is a particularly important skill that I continue to work hard towards mastering fully. It’s much easier for me to be flexible in other areas of my life, and I feel I’ve gotten quite good at it in a number of places. Infertility, however, is such a high-stakes issue that it’s a bit harder to be flexible there. I worry that if I’m too flexible, I’ll miss my chance to become a mother.
After my cycle was cancelled on Friday, a wave of “I can’t do this” swept through me. Again, my infertility situation had shifted underneath me just as I was finding a footing, without warning and it knocked me right back onto my rear end. Arthur and I had another sea change, one of several we’ve had to deal with since last October. Yet again, we would have to dust ourselves off, orient ourselves in a new place, figure out which way was up, and how we wanted to deal.
So I cried for a little bit. I called my mother, who was lovely and sympathetic. I let myself feel sad and overwhelmed for a few minutes. It sucked. I walked into the living room, with the intention of going to the adjoining kitchen to get a glass of water. Gumby caught my eye, smiling from the bookcase. “I really hate you,” I told him, marching into the kitchen to grab my water.
The reminder was helpful, however, no matter how resentful I felt at that moment for it (what can I say, my mother was right about Gumby). This isn’t to say I’ve picked myself up by my bootstraps and marched on – I’m still sorting out the surprise of getting the phone call yesterday afternoon that the doctor was cancelling my cycle and that this is the second cancelled cycle in a row (third, if you count the one that was cancelled at the outset for the cysts).
I’ve calmed down a lot about the idea of IVF if that’s what Dr. D recommends. I think some of my initial intense fear/worry was more of a reaction to the surprise and upset of being told my cycle was cancelled. I read blogs from people who have been through IVF cycles – both successful and unsuccessful – and recognize that if IVF is indeed where Arthur and I are headed, we are in good company. I am in complete awe of these many people who have written so honestly about their IVF experiences. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you. It helps so much.
In the end, all I can do is continue to try to be like Gumby. And apply plenty of metaphorical ice to those aching places when I just can’t be that flexible right then.