Svadhyaya is a word in Sanskrit that translates to self-study or self-exploration. It is part of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, which act as kind of a moral, ethical and physical prescription for living a meaningful life. That's the Cliffs-notes version. Svadhyaya is one of the Niyamas, which means observances, and it's also the name I gave to one of the embryos I transferred last year.
I was doing a lot of yoga around the time I was going through IVF with my sister as an egg donor, so it just seemed right to give my little embryos Sanskrit names. We transferred three embryos, Svadhyaya (self-study), Santosha (contentment), and Ishvara Pranidhana (surrender). But none of them made it. All I had left were these hard to pronounce words and their meanings, which were nearly impossible to live by at that moment. (Contentment? Yeah right.)
It's been almost six months since that IVF cycle, so I have some space to reflect now. Last night I was reading a book, by a fabulous therapist in New York, Helen Adrienne, who specializes in infertility counseling, mind-body work, and hypnotherapy. (If you live in NY you should check her out, she also does mind-body stress reduction groups for infertility). Anyway, I was reading a chapter in her book On Fertile Ground and came across this passage:
"...Since the unmet longing for a child upsets the psychological balance of who we are, personality traits become exaggerated as we scramble to cope with the uncertainty of infertility. At the same time that infertility disrupts the status quo, there is an opportunity to get a grip on how to be a better you."
This resonated with me. My personality (the good, bad, and the ugly) has ABSOLUTELY been exaggerated since I took up residency on IF Island. Feelings in general often get super-sized. But with all the intensity that comes with living with infertility, also comes this opportunity to get to know ourselves. It's an opportunity to learn to sit with what is, as it is, and to examine how we think and how we make sense of a situation that often makes no sense. It's an opportunity to become more patient and more loving towards ourselves and others. It's an opportunity to learn ways to cope with challenges that are out of our control. It's a true opportunity for Svadhyaya, which will make us better people, better significant others, better children, better siblings, and eventually better parents.
None of us on IF Island asked for these "opportunities," and many of us would much rather have some other "opportunities." But being in this for as long as I have, I can see how my experience thus far has changed me--in many ways for the better.
Part of my self-study was recognizing how much fear I had. Fear that each new procedure wouldn't work, fear that we would lose tens of thousands of dollars, fear that the process was going to be painful. All those things happened, and I'm still standing. So I'm not afraid anymore. I don't fear that I'll never be a mother, because I will. I just don't yet know exactly how or when.
There will be different (hopefully more exciting) "opportunities" for all of us in the future. But for now, we can try to explore the ones we have right in front of us. Chances are they will help us become better in some way.