This is a drive-by post, especially fast because I am about to get dressed and leave the house to enjoy the sunny, breezy, 64-degree weather before it departs and we are reminded, once again, that this is JANUARY. But: 

My period started on Monday (and it’s been consistently heavy, but not at all crampy! I think this is better than the reverse). That makes last month a 27-day cycle, which is fast becoming the New (Old) Normal for me. I am, again, assuming that the weight loss is responsible for this shift, and that the weight gain, which was gradual but dramatic between 2002 and 2007, was responsible for my cycles getting shorter and shorter.

Speaking of weight, I’m down a little more, to 162.5 as of this morning. After all of my dithering last post about not wanting to lose more weight, I’ve decided that my goal will be only to get down to 158, a total of 40 pounds lost, and then see if I can maintain for at least six months (or until I get pregnant). That will put me at a BMI of 25.9, only one point away from “normal.” Which, given that I don’t want to completely get rid of my curves, or change sizes AGAIN, is okay with me. I think 158, which after all is very close to my weight in college and graduate school when I was a pretty effortlessly fit person, is a healthy place for me to be. In 2008 I am all about a healthy relationship to food and exercise and the scale.

So that’s my body-related goal. The professional goal, or goals, that I alluded to in the previous post probably deserve an entire post of their own, but in brief: I’ve decided to become an Intellectual and Creative Powerhouse. Hmm, that’s the first time that I’ve phrased it in quite that way, but I think it’s fairly accurate, although a less brazenly egotistical way to put it would be that I’ve decided I want to live up to my fullest intellectual and creative potential.

This means that I want to produce, and publish, more and better scholarly work, and that I also want to write and publish fiction. Of course, I think it may take me a while to get to the point where I am producing publishable fiction, so that part of the goal is on a different plane than the first part is. Publishing more and better scholarly work mostly requires me to find time to put to paper the things I have already been thinking about–although the “better” part also implies that I will have to think harder, be less lazy, and take more intellectual risks. Which is what tenure is for, I think, so I’m in a good position to do it.

My other 2008 goal, which hopefully does not conflict too much, timewise, with these professional goals, is to love life, and especially to love the people whom I am lucky enough to have in my life, even more than I already do. I am spreading the love in 2008!

I think maybe all of these goals go together, really. What I want to attract in 2008 is physical, intellectual, and emotional abundance, joy, and power. I hope that spiritual manager of mine is listening.

As promised, I’m back with more on why I’ve decided to stop trying so hard to conceive. Warning, spiritual woo-woo talk ahead. But first, a practical update:

All that frantic working last week seems to have gotten me down, healthwise–for the past three and a half days I’ve had a nasty cold. It came on fast Saturday afternoon while we were at our second baby shower in three weeks (unanticipated plus: no time to angst over my fertility when I had a newly scratchy throat and runny nose to focus on), and forced us to cancel plans with my in-laws on Sunday. I dragged myself to school on Monday in spite of the cold, since due to Rosh Hashanah we had the rest of the week off anyway, so I knew time to rest was forthcoming.

I’m feeling a lot better today, but it’s CD14 and G and I haven’t had sex at all yet, which may make getting pregnant this cycle a tad difficult. Maybe we’ll manage some “I’m healed” loving tonight, though. He’s a bit depressed right now–about issues completely unrelated to sex/babies (more on that in another post)–so I don’t know whether he’ll be up for it, but we’ll see.

Anyhoo, on to my “not trying” plans. As you know, I’ve been reading this book, which talks about the idea of a universal Law of Attraction. From the book:

Every thought vibrates, every thought radiates a signal, and every thought attracts a matching signal back. We call that process the Law of Attraction. The Law of Attraction says: That which is like unto itself is drawn. And so, you might see the powerful Law of Attraction as a sort of Universal Manager that sees to it that all thoughts that match one another line up. (25)

(Yes, they really do italicize Law of Attraction every time. You get used to it)

What this boils down to is that if you want something, the best way to get it is to “hold yourself consistently in vibrational harmony” (25) with your desire, so it will come to you. In other words, what you focus on will manifest in your life. The tricky thing, of course, is that often when we want something, say, more money, we focus on our current lack of money rather than on abundance and prosperity.

I have a lot of relatives who habitually say things like, “I am always/so broke.” According to the ideas in this book, if your constant focus is on how “broke” you are, how little money you have, then you’ll continue to attract that state of being, even if what you really want is to have plenty of money. But focus on the abundance that already exists in your life, the theory goes, and you will attract more of that to you instead. So changing your way of thinking and talking to something like, “I always end up having money when I need it” might start the process of attracting money instead of the lack of money.

I’ve seen this work in different ways in my own life, but I definitely have had trouble translating it to fertility. One thing that seems clear is that repeatedly focusing on infertility is only going to attract more infertility–and yes, I’ve considered changing the title of my blog–but I’m not exactly clear on what to focus on instead. How do you focus on something as nebulous as fertility? Or should I be focusing on pregnancy? As I’ve never been pregnant, this one is particularly hard. Should I focus on the joys of parenting, even though I haven’t experienced these yet? Or maybe on the joyful presence of babies and children in my life?

(See how easy it is to adjust to overuse of italicization? You probably didn’t even notice)

OK, so I still haven’t quite figured that part out. BUT, I did read something that rang very true to me. The book’s authors say, imagine yourself as head of a large corporation, with thousands of people working for you and helping to make your business successful. But imagine that you have almost no personal contact with your employees–instead you have a high-powered manager who does this work: “So, whenever you get an idea about something, you express it to your manager, who says, ‘I’ll take care of that right away.’ And he does. Efficiently. Effectively. Precisely. Just the way you like it” (280). Many of us, they suggest, might think to ourselves–I wish I had a manager like that for my life! To which they respond:

And we say to you, You do have a manager who is that and much more. You have a manager who works continually on your behalf called the Law of Attraction, and you have only to ask in order for this Universal Manager to jump to your request. (280)

But as the book points out, most of us don’t see things in this way. We “have this manager, but [we] continue to hold the responsibility in [our] own heart[s]” (280). In other words, we might accept the idea of the Law of Attraction, but we still assume that we have to do all the work. Which is like having a high-powered manager that you pay to sit on a beach somewhere while you hustle around doing everything yourself. And what is the point of even having a manager if you have to do everything yourself?

So, they write,

[S]etting goals is like delegating to the Universal Manager And achieving the vibration of allowing is like standing back and trusting your manager to set things into place, trusting that when something is required of you, your manager will bring your attention to it. In other words, when another decision [or action] is needed from you, you will be aware of it. (281)

This makes a LOT of sense to me, perhaps because I am a control freak who has a very hard time delegating anything. It’s in my nature to want to manage everything myself, which may explain why I was all over TTC from our first month of trying. A lot of people spend a few months NTNTC (not trying not to conceive), just having sex and “seeing what happens.” Not us! I’d been charting for 3 months before we started trying, I was using OPKs from month two or three, and scheduled sex was de rigueur for us from month one.

In other words, I was busy managing the process instead of trusting that it would happen for us.

Now, let me be clear–I’m not trying to say that infertility in general is merely a matter of people not trusting the universe enough, or vibrating wrong, or whatever. That would be more than a little presumptuous of me, and I am not so far immersed in the woo woo that I’m unable to acknowledge the role that medical issues like anovulation, hormonal imbalances, male factor, etc. play in 85% of infertility cases.

But it’s clear that I was not working from any such concrete diagnosis when we started trying, and yet I never really gave “just see what happens” a fighting chance. I’ve tried to control the process completely from the very beginning, mostly (again, speaking only for myself) out of fear that if I didn’t, it wouldn’t work. Which means my focus has, from really early on, been on potential problems with conceiving rather than on… well, whatever I’d do better to focus on that’s the opposite of infertility. I don’t have to run through all those italicized terms with you again, do I?

So, I’ve figured I will chill out and let “my manager” do some work for a while. That’s what I’m paying him for, right? I have totally been letting my manager lounge on the beach while I worked my ass off as head of this TTC corporation. No more. That guy is going to start earning his keep!

As far as I can tell, unless/until the doctors tell us otherwise, the only thing truly required of G and me to get pregnant is that we have sex (even I am not enough of a believer to trust my universal manager with an immaculate conception). As I said, we haven’t done much of that so far this month, but then, I don’t think I’ve ovulated quite yet either–the earliest I’ve ever ovulated, to my knowledge, is CD15–so hopefully rising above the mucous to fit in some sex tonight, and maybe tomorrow, will fulfill our end of the bargain.

And then I’m just going to sit back and let the universe do its thing.

Saturday night, G and I went to see The Bourne Ultimatum, which was amazingly entertaining, if terrifying–it really highlighted the ability of the powers-that-be to track our every move, via increasingly ubiquitous public surveillance cameras, as well as ever-improving technologies for tapping our cell phone calls and email messages. Scary. Maybe that wasn’t the message I was supposed to get from the film, but it’s certainly what I noticed most. Well, that and the little mole above Matt Damon’s lip that stands out when he is looking particularly serious and emotionally tortured, as he did most of the movie. Mmm.

Ahem. Sorry, I may have drifted off there for a minute. I’m not even a Matt Damon “fan” like that, at all, but something about that controlled-yet-vulnerable Jason Bourne character really gets me going. How COMPLETELY embarrassing.

Of course, the actual point of bringing up Bourne was just to say that the 8:30 show we’d planned to see was sold out, so we had some time to kill until the 10:15 show–part of which we spent in good old corporate book giant Barnes & Noble.

While in B&N, this book caught my eye. For some reason, it was displayed on one of those tables near the entrance, where the New Fiction and New Non-Fiction, or the seasonal table displays (“Back to School” or “Mother’s Day is May 15”) usually are. Although I can’t imagine why it was there, this particular table display was all about New Age philosophy–I recall seeing a couple of books on Tarot, some on meditation and visualization, including a reissue of a favorite of mine from college, Shakti Gawain‘s Creative Visualization, and even the downright ancient classic Think and Grow Rich on one corner of the table. Maybe August is kooky hippie month.

I was big on New Age stuff when I was younger, but for a number of reasons have drifted away from conscious practice of it in the past six or seven years. Something about the Hicks book stood out to me, though, and I was moved to pick it up and flip through it. One of the first passages I read was this one:

We would describe the sensation of desire as the delicious awareness of new possibilities. Desire is a fresh, free feeling of anticipating wonderful expansion. The feeling of desire is truly the feeling of life flowing through you. But many people, while they are using the word desire, feel something quite different. Desire, for them, often feels like yearning, for while they are focused upon something that they want to experience or have, they are equally aware of its absence. And so, while they are using words of desire, they are offering a vibration of lack. They come to think that the feeling of desire is like wanting something that they do not have. But there is no feeling of lack in pure desire.

Now, I don’t think I have to tell you what this got me thinking about. I can’t remember clearly what my feelings about having children were when G and I started TTC in October of 2006, but I do know that as time passed and we didn’t succeed in our efforts, I definitely began focusing on NOT being pregnant, and on what we didn’t have–namely, a healthy embryo growing inside of me, on its way to becoming a child of our own.

As I continued to think about this, I even realized that I recently had stopped believing that pregnancy is in my future–every time I would fantasize about, say, getting a positive pee stick, a voice in my head would remind me not to go too far, would state almost audibly that “this really may never happen for you.” Seeing a visibly pregnant woman wasn’t an opportunity to remind myself “that’ll be me soon!” so much as it was a chance to feel frustrated, by focusing on the fact that I wasn’t there yet and might never be.

So I tried an experiment, standing there in B&N–I tried to imagine myself pregnant. Not just pregnant, but very pregnant, about to pop. I even tried to imagine going through the pain of childbirth, and the exhilaration of meeting our child for the first time. Further, I attempted to think of that imagined pregnant self as someone I genuinely expected to become, rather than someone I feared was not in my future.

I was surprised to find that this little bit of visualization felt not only refreshingly new (obviously I’d never let my mind go there before) but incredibly joyous and peaceful. It made me smile! At the movies, later, when I saw the inevitable baby bumps on women in line with us, I tried again, this time to think along the lines of, “wow, I wonder what I’ll look like when I’m that far along?” and “I’ll definitely be bigger than that when it’s my turn”–and again, I felt a thousand times better than I normally do when I see pregnant women and look away in envy.

Believe me, I know it’s completely Stuart Smalley of me to stop and read this book–especially since I eventually decided to buy it–but something in what I read in the store rang true, at least for me. I guess I haven’t entirely grown out of my attachment to New Age philosophy.

Of course, who knows whether changing my thinking to focus on expectation and anticipation rather than lack will have any effect on my fertility, but it seems like a worthwhile thing to try, given how much happier even the most basic experiments in it have made me feel. Since I seem to have never stopped believing that “thoughts are things,” I might as well start thinking something good.