Pencils Down!

My current test paranoia got me to reminiscing.  How many tests has Mrs. X taken in her 32.5 years? Let’s see, by my rough approximation here is the breakdown:

Academic tests: at least hundreds, if not thousands (counting pop quizzes)

Standardized tests: Oof. Three shots at the SATs, two shots at the ACTs, the PSATs, a wretched round with the GMAT, those stupid tests named after different states (Iowas, Californias, etc) used to determine placement in elementary and middle school = um, I don’t know, maybe 25?

Vision tests: too numerous to count starting in the third grade, although since I had Lasik in 2004, just one.

Driving tests: 1. Although, wouldn’t you know I woke up that morning with a terrible stiff neck and could barely look over my left shoulder. I still managed to make it through the obstacle course and turned a three point turn into a seven point turn, but hey, I didn’t hit anything!

Blood tests: since embarking on the Hotel California experience that is infertility, I’ve had quite a few blood draws. I don’t keep count, that would depress me, but I would venture to guess several hundred, including lots of beta draws – 7 for procedures and then one per week after each miscarriage (what a parting gift!).

The thing is, with the exception of vision tests, the outcome of each test I took before starting down the road of infertility treatment was solely determined by me.  How I did depended upon how much I prepared, how much I concentrated, how much I cared – and each test reflected that investment and was a statement of who I was a student, an individual, a driver, etc. 

With pregnancy tests, it is hard not to equate the (negative) outcome with some failing, some flaw in yourself or your overall self-worth.  After all, you prepared, you concentrated, you expended untold amounts of energy to affect the outcome and yet, you weren’t able to influence what happened. 

What does that say about you? In reality, absolutely nothing except that you tried and it didn’t work. It’s like buying a lottery ticket. You tried and it didn’t work and it had nothing to do with what color shirt you were wearing when you bought the ticket or whether or not you are a good and deserving person.  We probably don’t think about these things when it comes to the lottery because, let’s face it, who thinks they are actually going to win? In contrast, people everyday get pregnant with little to no effort and it is a natural and expected part of life.  So, when you don’t get that jackpot that so many others claim with little to no effort, it’s hard not to direct the question of why inward to find the reason.

Suffice it to say, I’m working against 30 years of treating tests as a measure and evaluation of my self-worth, intelligence, etc, and it’s going to take a lot to not view this test any differently.  I know, deep down in those dark places that I keep locked away with a key, that this has nothing to do with whether I am a good person, a smart person, a worthy person, a beautiful person, a good friend, a good wife, etc.  All it has to do with is whether two little embryos decided to snuggle in for a nice rest.  But, as I’ve said 50 million different ways before, knowing and feeling are two very different things.

image: dullhunk

5 thoughts on “Pencils Down!

  1. I hear you. I also feel that tests are an evaluation of who I am. I understand that the medical tests are different, that those tests are not who I am. But the pregnancy test always seems to get me, too.

  2. I say in the classes I teach on open adoption that this is one thing attain simply by studying harder, working harder, pushing through, willing, or any other strategy we over-achievers are prone to employ. Same goes for IF.

    Perhaps that’s the hardest part of all – -the lack of the ability to influence the outcome.

    BTW, I think the answer has to do with either pi or 5.

  3. You have a very good point about expectation and control over outcome in other areas of life. Maybe we should start calling them pregnancy indicators instead of tests?

  4. It is confusing to have the same term presiding over something that you are supposed to control (your performance on an academic test) versus something you have absolutely no way of influencing. The psychological resonance is undeniable.

  5. As an over-educated over-achiever who is harder on myself than anyone else ever could be, I absolutely love this post. The worst and most interesting part about the whole trying to get pregnant process is letting go of that illusion of control. It really is one of the more difficult challenges I’ve faced.

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