Hi everybody! Eric here again, with a quick (and I hope interesting) add-on to my last post. Last time ‘round, I talked about how I thought one could, with some forethought, use planning and awareness of the future to actually try to enjoy your time in IVF treatment. A cool idea, I thought <pats self on back>, and if you haven’t read it, it basically said:
- IVF takes a while. Often a loooong while.
- So don’t put your life on hold.
- Rather, think of all the stuff you won’t likely be able to do for a while once baby comes
- So get out there and do some fun stuff while you can!
Since I wrote that post though, I heard what has turned out to be a remarkably useful piece of advice, and I’d like to apply it to IVF treatment and share it with you all as a follow up.
I really liked this new insight because it is even more clear, specific and actionable than my proscription last time. Now given such a useful thought, you’d think I would have remembered where I read it/heard it/got it. I’m embarrassed to tell you that, despite its utility and wisdom, I have absolutely no recollection the source by which this came to me, but I’ve tried it on myself and it’s been awesome. So unless it came to me in some Coleridge-esque dream and I can take all the credit for myself, apologies to whoever said or wrote this.
In any case… I’m paraphrasing, but here’s the general idea:
If you want to plan and do things that will really make you happy, improve your mood, better your attitude and possibly even fill you with joy, think back to the stuff you loved doing just before puberty came and messed up your whole life.
I think most of us would agree that we can remember some point in our growing-up when we suddenly went from the more-or-less unselfconscious fun and friendships of being a kid to the suddenly-awkward, spotty, socially complicated and incredibly stressful weirdness of teenagehood.
So think back to when you were old enough to have clear ideas about your independent likes and dislikes, the books you loved, the films you chose, the activities and friends that made you happy, but not quite old enough to have hormones come along and ruin everything. Now make a list of that stuff. If you’re like me, a few thoughts might very well jump off the page at you:
- Many of those things are things you still think are really awesome.
- You probably haven’t done much of them in quite a while.
- When you ask yourself why not, you don’t really have a great answer except “busy”, “work”, “life”, yada yada yada.
- If I said to you, “by quirk of fate, you suddenly have an unexpected day off but you can ONLY use it for the things on that list” would you be excited about that prospect?
Now, the actual list of things will obviously vary and be utterly unique to you. But to emphasize my point, I’ll toss my own 12-year old self up on the blackboard to illustrate by example.
Before social pressure, getting good grades and pining for Vanessa-of-the-long-chestnut-hair took over my life, here are just a sampling of three things that magnificently ate up my lazy summer days and weekend afternoons and bedtime reading.
- Running around in the woods (my street dead-ended in a richly forested state park); climbing on logs, fording streams, plinking old cans with pebbles from my slingshot, and toasting bagels on a tiny campfire.
- Reading books about old airplanes and the men and women who flew them. (I double-dog-dare you to pick up St. Exupery and not fall in love with the Wind and Sand and Stars.)
- Riding my bike down the streets of my quiet little town, reveling in the motion, the freedom, the independence and speed and wind in my face. I was my own person, seeing the world around me, smelling the fresh air, with no parents or other powers to tell me what to do or where to go.
I could go on, but you get the idea. These are three things that I loved to do with the endless and lazy free time that childhood seemed to offer. And you know what? If not for “busy”, “work”, “life”, yada yada yada, I could easily spend a day (OK, a month) gladly doing any or all of those things.
The advice was right, I thought to myself. The things that 12-year-old-me loved, the current mumble-mumble-year-old-me still loves, or would if I could remember ever making the time to do them.
So I started doing exactly that. There is, a small but lovely patch of forest at the end of our street, with streams to ford and logs to climb on, and I’ve run through those woods four times in the past two weeks. Not running-in-good-Nikes-to-burn-off-that-cheeseburger running, but up and down hills, over rocks, stomping-in-muddy-puddles-because-its-fun running. Tomorrow I’m inflating the long-flat tires on my old bicycle, and “Night Flight” just finished downloading to my kindle.
So that is my advice, and my punchline. The Three Things You Should Absolutely Do Before Baby Comes (also known as “stuff you wish you had done because now it’s too late and you’re all about the kid for a couple of years”) are whatever three things you choose. But this technique I learned has proven really powerful, at least for me. It turns out that the stuff I used to love before life got in the way are things I’d love to go back to. Well, you’re explicitly trying to get pregnant and have a(nother) kid, life is about to get waaaaay in the way. So ask 12-year-old-you what you’d love to do next weekend, and go make the time to do that. I did, and it’s been magical.