Friday, June 25, 2010

Do You Believe In Magic?

I recently came across a post about a message in a fortune cookie and how the writer hoped it was a good omen.  I suddenly felt saddened.  It was a reaction I found a bit surprising until I realized I was sad because I no longer believe in magic. It is like learning that there is no Santa Clause.  That the magic you thought was real was only just pretend.

If you had asked me earlier in our journey, I would have told you that I was not superstitious.  I might have admitted to being somewhat spiritual, but not religious.  If you asked me out right if there was a god, I would have told you, "I don't know, but I hope so."  I would have told you that I did not believe in magic.

But I did.

There was the time before our first or second IVF when Brad and I both got fortune cookie fortunes that seemed to predict a successful cycle.  There was the time when I biked to work shortly after an IUI when two geese - perched higher up on a rock than I had ever seen them - took flight just as I passed them and flew directly overhead.  There was the time 'the church ladies' (my affectionate term for the ladies I dance with) prayed over me.  There were the too-numerous-to-count times I meditated and visualized a baby coming into our lives and I felt it.  I believed there was an energy in the universe I could tap into.

I wanted and needed to believe that I had some control.  That maybe there was a being or 'energy' out there that had more power than I did.

Here I will ask my readers to please not take offense if you do believe in they type of magic I am referring to.  It is a wonderful thing and despite my strong views, I recognize I may still be wrong.  Even if I am right, believing in a magic that doesn't exist is probably worth it.

I know that I said that I became an atheist the day I realized Ernest was going to die, but in reality I let go of the hope in a god or power beyond me or magic much more slowly.  In retrospect, on that day I let go of a notion that there was God (with a capital G) who interfered - who took notice and answered prayers.  I had decided that, while there may still be some kind of spiritual energy, there was no direct interference.  Plus I wanted to believe there was life after death  - that I would see Ernest again.

As our infertility struggles wore on, I slowly let go of that belief as well.  I came to understand that the universe is wholly natural.  Life is as it is - just random chaos. There are times when I wish I could go back to believing in magic, but just as most of us never again believe in Santa Claus, I doubt there will be a time I can convince myself that there are other kinds of magic.

Now I read posts that talk about faith or spirituality and I don't know what to say, so I stay silent.  It's not that I don't appreciate the alternative viewpoint, but I can't really agree and disagreeing would be less than appreciated.  I guess I am saying, "It's not you, it's me."

The part of me that is still angry wants to add that I have witnessed miracles.  You know, a series of unlucky events that lead to a surprising outcome.  I just don't limit it to happy outcomes.  Why praise a god when it works out and not blame him/her when it doesn't? 

We conceived Ernest with less than 400,000 post wash motile sperm on an unmedicated cycle.  Most RE's won't even do an IUI with less than 10 times that amount and those cycles are usually medicated.  What were the odds?  One in a million?  One in ten million?  Then he died of an extremely rare non-inherited (based on the geneticist best guess) birth defect.  His chromosomes were normal (well, obviously not really normal but they looked good and there was the right amount of them. There must have been something wrong with the genes or how they were expressed).  What were the odds of that?  A miracle conception and a miracle death.

No, I'm not over it.  Yes, I am still trying to be happier


Lavender Luz said...

It meant so much to me that you stopped to comment, even on a post that didn't resonate for you.

I can certainly see how enduring what you did wiped away any beliefs you may have had.

And I have nothing else to offer here. Except that one's belief in something is not necessary to its existence.

(That is not to say that I believe in magic, either.)

Lavender Luz said...

I should have added that I believe in interconnectedness, and our ability to move strings that move other strings, the more conscious we become.

Dreams and False Alarms said...

I think magic and magical thinking work best when you don't have tragedy upon tragedy and loss. The kind of religion I could possibly get my head around is one where there is not interventionist god, but a presence that abides with you through your suffering. However, given my bent, I think that is an internal object relations capacity, one I don't posses! Do you know about Greg Epstein? His book "Good without God" is very intriguing to me.

battynurse said...

This is a fabulous post. I have no idea what I believe in but I know that I do tend to be superstitious (thanks infertility). I know I too once believed in the magic or the signs that made me think that I was going to finally come out on the good end of things whether it be pregnancy, finally meeting someone or whatever. I don't really believe in that so much anymore although I find myself wanting to. I also sometimes envy others faith that God is actively working in their lives because from my viewpoint it seems that God is just watching the world go by and some people just come out better on things than others.

Leah and Maya said...

I will never forget my first IVF cycle, and you know how they have that cool mail drop betweent eh elevators? I would ahve to mail something everytime I went there, one tiem I forgot it in the car but luckily my mom was with me and she went out and got it. You know I'm crazy but you know you are at the point where if there is anything that will help you do it. Never mailed anything there again.
Yes no posting religous stuff on my blog, alot of very religous people adopt, already one of my fun bloggy people did a positive obama post and it was not well received.

skrambled said...

This is a seriously thought provoking post. I have believed in ALL types of 'magic' along my years. I'll never truly understand why some things happen and others don't. I have my own faith at this point and I'm sticking to it. But I ultimately believe what will happen will happen. No amount of positive thinking will change the outcome. Its already been decided.

MrsSpock said...

I have moved more and more away from the magical thinking, though I retain a few vestigal idiosyncracies. I do not believe prayer or positive thinking can change an outcome- but science and logic can. My mother and priest uncles believe I have become pregnant both times from divine intercession they have asked for on my behalf. I am no fool, and know the true intercession happened with the medication I took the preceding months both times.

I also have the nutty idea that I knew my son was coming and that he was a boy- and I was right. I told Mr S a daughter was coming very soon- and time will tell if that hunch was right. I am totally open to the idea that it is just coincidence and that I am nuts, though.