Realism and Fatalism

I was never one for philosophy. I did have to read the usual tomes of Socrates and Plato and I found them excessively boring and long-winded. Give me a good bodice-ripper any day over those. Frankly, I think Socrates (or So-crates as Bill and Ted immortalized) would probably have prefered a good bodice-ripper to waxing eloquently about the foundations of modern Western philosophical thought. Who knows, maybe he drank the hemlock because there were no good bodice-rippers coming out that year.

Unfortunately, I had to dust off my philosophy the other day to ponder the difference between realism and fatalism. I had to dust it off because Sweetie accused me of being fatalistic about our upcoming IVF cycle when I was expressing to him my concern that the more money we put into this, the harder the fall will be should the cycle fail. Note I said, “should” not “will”. First a refresher:

re·al·ism (n): concern for fact or reality and rejection of the impractical and visionary;

fa·tal·ism (n): a doctrine that events are fixed in advance so that human beings are powerless to change them; also: a belief in or attitude determined by this doctrine.

I’ve always felt that I approach our infertility and treatments with realism. I understand that treatments are not always successful and that it may take quite a few trys. And, despite the very optimistic odds that Dr. Uterus gave us for IVF, I don’t expect that this cycle will fail, but I also don’t expect that it will work. Is that fatalistic? I don’t think so. I think it’s realistic. We know the odds and even though they may be on our side, that doesn’t really mean squat. We thought the odds were on our side when we heard that amazing strong heartbeat on the monitor and then four weeks later, it was gone. So, we ended up in the 10% who get a D & C and karyotype despite hearing a heartbeat instead of being in the 90% who hear a heartbeat and go on to have normal, healthy babies. If that is not getting the short end of the stick, I don’t know what is.

I am also realistic as a means of fighting off the tyranny of hope. Hope is such a loaded concept in infertility. You hope that this cycle will be the one, or that next procedure will finally do it. I firmly believe that it is possible to get addicted to hope. At the same time, though, I also think that a small amount of hope is absolutely required if you go down this road otherwise, you are just kind of blowing in the breeze.

In the end, I just take it one day at a time because I can’t do anything about what might happen in the future. I hope that I can be realistic, though, when things do happen.

4 thoughts on “Realism and Fatalism

  1. I don’t think hope is such a bad thing. I have had cycles with lots of hope and some with very little hope. While the shock of failure struck harder when I had more hope, after the initial hour or so the grieve and disappointment are the same. Why not have a few weeks enjoying the possibility? I can almost guarantee you that you won’t feel any worse if things don’t work out, but if they don’t you will be glad of those days of glorious hope.

    BTW, I am a pessimist at heart.

  2. Well, I can see why you got the Thinking Blogger award. You’ve already made me think this morning, something I’m usually able to avoid until at least after lunch.

  3. Fatalism usually breeds passivity or is used as an excuse for passivity, and you are actively working to change the situation you’re unhappy with. So I vote for realism: reality is what it is, regardless of how much or little hope you feel. I like Kami’s approach of living with the potential happiness if it doesn’t make the possible disappointment worse.

    I’ve personally sworn off hope for the time being, though oddly enough I’m not depressed. It just seems so silly to me at the moment, getting all hopeful about something completely out of my control. But ask me again in a couple weeks… 🙂

    Thanks, Mrs. X, for the book recommendation you left. It sounds like a very interesting read.

  4. My husband is always saying that I am too negative and I expect to be disappointed, but I agree that realism is a different thing. I keep saying to him that I’ve already had two failed IVF’s so you have to balance the very real possibility that it won’t work again. If you go in expecting it’s all going to magically work you are setting yourself up. It’s a tough call because at the same time I do think that without any hope it’s really an impossible journey. Let hope we all find the right balance!

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