Thursday, 8 August 2013

in it Not to win it

Perhaps it was inspired by my Ovidrel trigger shot, but I was overdue for an emotional outburst. I expressed to Husband that whatever is the outcome of our infertility journey, whether we are fortunate enough to have a baby or whether we continue our fabulous child-free life, there will always be a part of me that resents the fact that it was all so easy for Myrtle. (Please note, I don't resent her for it; I wouldn't wish infertility or pregnancy struggles on anyone. She was merely fortunate. I do resent her for her lack of sensitivity and lack of interest in the details of my fertility treatments, but I've covered that in previous posts) I expected Husband to tell me to get over myself and to move past it, but he said something that truly surprised me.

"I know you will." he stated calmly "It's because you're so competitive, and that's why I love you so much."

It was so obvious and yet so eye opening. However it finally made sense to me. For so much of my life, being competitive has been a good thing. Until that moment, I had no idea it endeared me to my husband. My competitive drive has enabled me to achieve so many of the accomplishments in my life. It never occurred to me that my competitive spirit could have negative consequences too. It has made me bitter and petty.

In my early adolescence, I had little self esteem and struggled academically. When I got to the 9th grade, the teachers in the maths department listed the top 5 students in each of their classes on their bulletin boards. After our first test, I looked at the board. The usual over-achievers were in the top spots, but there in a three way tie for fifth place was my name. With that small piece of validation, I began to believe in myself. Armed with my newly found confidence, I started working harder in all my classes, but especially in maths, as I was determined to stay in the top 5. Several years ago, I went back to my old high school to tell the teacher how much that top 5 list influenced the path that I was on and led me to one of success. "Oh, the top 5 list?" he noted "We had to stop doing that a few years back. Too many parents complained."

More recently at my last swim meet,  I was pacing around the deck trying to calm the butterflies before my 100 m butterfly. I was approached by one of our team's veteran swimmers. She was a child swimming prodigy in her home country of Japan, who was invited to swim on the national team, but burn-out had taken its toll and she stopped swimming for 25 years, until she joined our group. She's a relentless worker and she still dominates the backstroke events with her flawless stoke that she makes look so effortless. "I'm so jealous of you, Jane." she began "You always go out and get your best times in competitions." Perhaps it was the years of having so many expectations upon her that she struggled with her performance during the actual event. Where as for me, I carry no pressure, so I can just go out and race. Still, it was so surprising to hear that such an accomplished swimmer could have any envy toward me.

Since I was young, I have been living the virtue of 'set a goal, work hard for it, achieve, rinse, repeat'. This is something that I can't achieve with hard work and determination alone. I'm not in control of my own destiny to a certain extent. I can remember my tennis coaches telling us "Your level of play may not influence the outcome of the match" which is a covert way of saying, 'you'll run into someone much better than you, and even though you'll play your best tennis, you'll still lose'. It feels like I'm in that situation again. Despite our best efforts, we may still lose. It's up to the force in the Universe and is [literally] someone else's hands.  I realise that I will always carry these frustrations and resentments, it's the way I'm wired, it will always be a part of me, but I can work on learning to live with out them. To quote Amber at Old Lady and No Baby, "I'm okay coming in last place, just as long as I get my medal for finishing." I'm in it not to win it.


  1. This is one of the hardest parts about trying to have a baby the unconventional way for me too. With ART, it doesn't matter how healthy my body is, there is no guarantee the embryos will implant. In fact, I've had 6 embryos transferred into my supposedly perfect uterus and all BFN.

    It's the same thing with adoption. I can try my hardest to look like we'd be the perfect parents on paper, but at the end of the day, it will be someone else who decides if I will receive a referral for a baby or not.

    I'd like to believe that all of this has made me into a more patient person, but I don't think it has! hahaha

  2. I agree! One of those things that you just have to roll with. I am yet again going through another friend pregnancy wave and I just have to hang tight and try to stay positive. Positive.. Positive.. Even if you really feel differently. Positive...:)

  3. I totally get this. I am an EXTREMELY competitive person- example: I once raced my friend in law school when we were giving blood (I won). Yep. But I think infertility has softened that a bit. It's been hard to fall behind and get lapped by friends while no matter what we did (surgery, IUIs, temping, etc.) didn't work. But really, with having babies we can't judge ourselves against others. And you are right- as long as we get a medal, who the hell cares if you come in last.

  4. I have the same competitive nature and work ethic. So infertility does not work well with my type A personality. Thats why I decided on running - to challenge myself and achieve something during all of this uncertainty! I am glad teh same appproach seems to work for you too!

  5. Don't you just love those moments when you learn something new about the way your partner sees you, even after you've been together for so long and thought you already knew everything about each other? I think it's so romantic :)

    It's very wise of you to see both the positive and negative side effects of a competitive spirit. I've never been competitive with sports, but certainly academically and in most of the usual ways I do compare myself to others. It's hard for the journey to parenthood not to feel like a race, especially when our fertile friends and family so often present the image--whether intentionally or not--that they're winning and we're losing. But you are so right that it's not about being first or last when it comes to having a family; I think it's really important to remind ourselves of that since so much of the stress of infertility comes from feeling like time is wasting and others are passing us left and right.

  6. I don't often think of myself as a competitive person (I don't really participate in team sports or enjoy competitive races when I run) but when I do get involved in something, I have this crazy drive to be the best. Possibly arising from the fact that I was one of the "typical overachievers" whose name would have been on the top of one of your school lists (yeah, I suck, but I was also chubby and unpopular, so there's that). As a result I'm such a perfectionist, that I often get this feeling that if I can't be the best at something, there's no point doing it at all. It's a horrible attitude to have and I'm constantly working on changing it and reminding myself I don't have to be the best at everything. Good to know that I have infertility now to remind me every day!

  7. Omgoodness. Here I was nodding my head and thinking how we are so very much alike, when I get to the bottom and read that quote by none other than myself! Ha! I'm actually a VERY competitive person, but I imagine I wrote that at some point about running. I'm a terrible runner, but love running races. I know there's no way I'll ever come in first, so it is a major accomplishment to get that medal for finishing. I must admit though, that I take great pride when I do actually pass someone during a race. When that competition comes down to our fertility though, I absolutely agree, who cares if we come in dead last, as long as we get that "medal" for finishing. I really hope I get to cheer you across that finish line one of these days Jane.