A failure to plan… is actually NOT a plan to fail

I have been doing a lot of thinking recently. Well, I think all the time- far too much than is good for me. But, in the last couple of weeks, if my mind ran on Duracell batteries, I’d have to sell up and move to a farm to accommodate all those pink, hopping bunnies.


Most of this takes place at night, in that purgatory that exists between being awake and actively doing something, and being in sleep cycles 1-4. The more you try and “empty your mind”, the more it seems to fill with STUFF. And it never seems to be mundane stuff , like, “Ooh I must remember to put the recycling bin out tomorrow morning; We’re running low on Tabasco Sauce – I ought to add to add that to the shopping list”. It’s the things in life that are causing you the most distress, and I wish to God I could stop it from happening. I even downloaded a Meditation App, that’s designed for the amateur to gradually build up their skills in the art of relaxation, but on being instructed to “empty my mind”, I just wanted to shout, “HOW???!!”. And on trying to concentrate on my breathing, all I could hear was the other half, contentedly snoring away. Then that got me thinking about the anatomy of snoring and whether I should buy him one of those mouth-guard things that push your jaw outwards.

But I did a bit of CBT-esque, constructive thinking on the way home in the car the other day. I was trying to thinking of my most relaxed, contented friends, and how they dealt with adversity. And it hit me – they just don’t try and plan life. They take each day as it comes.

I have a real need to be in control, and to know what’s happening in life. If I’m planning a trip, I like to have an itinerary. If I’m asked to go out with friends, I like the where, what time and to do what. And to a greater extent, this has been extrapolated to include life generally. I had it all planned – I’d graduate, I’d get married, and babies would follow soon after. I was even hoping that I’d fall pregnant in the winter, so that I could have a due date of August/September, which is the time junior doctors all move round into their new posts, and so this would have fit beautifully with timing maternity leave. I had it all planned!! And I think, to some extent, needing predictability and control is a normal, human phenomenon. I think I’ve overstepped the line into the “pathological” territory, though, and the tiniest suggestion of this being taken away sends me into meltdown. Now I know I’m a doctor, and people get ill suddenly all the time, right? Patients definitely don’t behave predictably. But I handle this surprisingly well and it’s almost like work is an adequate distraction from the chimp in your own mind. My husband refers to this phenomenon as, “counter-worries”, when something you were previously worrying about suddenly takes the back-seat when something else to worry about arrives!

I do wonder though, if this is an area to look at and tackle. If I stop trying to look at the bigger picture, and just accept that things will fall into place eventually, maybe I will be happier for it. There’ll be no plan that fails, because there’ll be no plan!

The annoying thing is that, fertility treatment, by definition, just isn’t a “fall into place” kind of thing. Already, I’m having to count cycle days on my calendar, to time the Provera and Clomid, and this is forcing me focus too hard on the task in hand. It’s no surprise that you hear stories of couples who have been trying for years, who finally resign themselves to never having children, only to conceive naturally within a few years. And it’s because you stop obsessing over “cycle days” and peeing on sticks, and what day to take what tablet!

So, my goal, from now on, is to be one of those happy, calm people, who wake up in the morning having done minimal planning, and just take each day as it comes. If I don’t get the parking space that I like at work tomorrow, so what? I’ll park somewhere else. If I’m asked to assist in a busy clinic when I’d PLANNED a day in the library, so what? It’ll be an inconvenience for a few hours, but the world won’t end, right? And if I don’t get pregnant this month, I have another 5 to go… and no amount of planning can change the outcome of that.

In the meantime, if anybody does invent an “off” button, please do keep me in mind and offer me a prototype.