The Fertility of Determination

Those who have been following my blog for a while know that I am in the midst of the arduous process of working on my dissertation to complete my PhD.

This undertaking has challenged me to my core. It has challenged me to stretch my intellect further than I thought I could. It has challenged me to face the fear of letting dear friends, who have always been there for me, down when I need to keep my focus on writing. And it has challenged me to not give up when every ounce of me wants to.

Today I learned that it is perfectly normal to have 15 – 20 rewrite revisions of just the first chapter of a dissertation (there are five chapters in total). Yes, I am still at the bottom base camp for this Everest climb.

This climb has me thinking about determination. Where do we get it? How do we know that our reserves are deep enough to sustain us when we need to keep going and are so exhausted that we can barely put one foot in front of the other?

When I was a younger girl my Dad taught me about the word tenacity. From him I learned that giving up is not an option, that even when it hurts worse than you ever thought it could, and you think you can’t take one more second of the pain, you can. It is at that moment of desperation that you most need to push through. And when you do, you arrive stronger on the other side.

He taught me this lesson while teaching me how to excel in athletics. One specific memory I have was of the torturous wall sit. We would sit on that wall until our thighs burned straight through the skin. We would grimace and scream out and say we were going to give up, but we never did. We held on until he blew the whistle, then fell to the floor feeling pretty darn proud of ourselves, and usually in an explosion of laughter–joy and satisfaction like that can’t be held in.

When facing fertility challenges we sometimes need to remember just how deep our reserves go, and just how much pain we can take and still keep going. Each of us is strong, each of us has a back sturdy enough to carry this burden, or it would not have been placed there.

So when your heart is burning with a hurt so deep that you just don’t think you can stand it anymore, hold on. For one day the whistle will be blown and you will collapse to the floor in joy and satisfaction, knowing that you did what you once thought was impossible–you survived the searing pain and have arrived on the other side. You have graduated to motherhood.

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