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EXCERPT: Escape Routes vs. Brick Walls


Navigating the LAND of IF: Understanding Your Infertility and Exploring Your Options (Seal Press 2009)

For some people, it feels scary to look ahead at Plan B or C -- as if it might jinx their Plan A. This, of course, is magical thinking. It's sort of like going to the movie theater and declaring that you don't want to know the nearest exit -- for fear you'll have to use it. But knowing the location of the exit doesn't change the flammability of the building. It does, however, mean that your chances of survival are greater for knowing how to get out quickly, and that you're not going to have to think on your feet if flames do start trailing down the aisle.

Sometimes a person intends to find escape routes, but what they're really doing is building brick walls.

Here is the difference:

An escape plan is not a STOP button. It's a segue into the next step or path. Escape plans are feasible and enticing in their own right. Even if they weren't your first choice, they are your best choice. And even if they are not choices that bring you joy, they are choices that bring you peace of heart.

Walls, on the other hand, serve a dual purpose of keeping things out and keeping you in. Limits cause more panic -- the internal promise, for example, that this is the final IVF attempt.

Where limits bring about second-guessing, escape routes bring about relief. The relief may be mixed with other emotions -- guilt, sadness, longing-- but it is relief nonetheless.

How do you know if you are building a wall of finding an escape route?

Walls have limits and negatives built into the phrasing: "I will never . . ." or "We will stop . . " or "We can't do .. " whereas escpae routes follow an if/then formation. "If the RE thinks I have a low chance of conceiving with my eggs, then I will start with donor eggs."

If you still feel uneasy about those alternative, backup plans, try this: Set up your next steps -- then tuck them away somewhere and revisit them only when the time feels right.

It can be freeing to know that a Plan B, C, and D exist, but it can feel overwhelming to focus constantly on those future plans, too.

Chapter 3: Planning Your Itinerary

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