Waiting by Anonymous

Waiting by Anonymous

My alarm wakes me up at 5:45 AM. I get dressed and make my way down the stairs carefully to avoid the ones that creak. The last thing I want is to wake up my son at this hour. In the cold darkness I get into my car and hope I will make it to the doctor early enough that there aren’t too many women waiting already, because I must be home by 7:30.

But by the time I arrive and sign in, there are already around 20 other women. No matter how early I get here, it’s never early enough to beat the crowds.

I’m at the RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist), a doctor that helps people who are having trouble getting pregnant. I assume most of you have never heard of this specialty before because in the frum world the norm is simple. Get married, have a baby, repeat.

My husband and I were blessed with our first child within the first couple years of marriage, however years have gone by and here our firstborn is at the adorable age of five with no sibling in sight.

A specialist officially diagnosed me with “Unexplained Secondary Infertility” (USI for short), which means that for some unknown reason, following my first pregnancy I haven’t been able to get pregnant with another.

Yes, I have googled what I can do to help, I did that early on. “Eat more avocados!”, “Take fenugreek!”, “Do acupuncture!”, “Home ovulation tests!”, “Track your basal temperature!” said everybody in google land. However google land failed me, because nothing I tried worked. Which was what finally brought me to my RE, because despite how many avocados I ate, acupuncture I did, temperatures I took, OPK tests I performed, or fenugreek I bought from that sketchy online retailer, nothing worked.

So here I am, waiting. Still waiting.

It’s funny, you know, how many common household words have taken on new meaning since my infertility journey and treatments began.

Like the time I was at that get-together and those women kept talking about the recipes they’re making for Passover with “eggs eggs eggs.” They had no idea what kind of eggs they were causing to pop up in my imagination–the eggs I’m hoping to see on the ultrasound screen at my next 6AM appointment, or worrying how many eggs will be retrieved normally at the egg retrieval.

Then there was the time I called up my friend and all she could talk about was the extra freezer that broke down in her basement. Suddenly I was transported in my mind to the land of “the freezer” or cryopreservation, the option we will be given to freeze any possible leftover eggs or embryos after a (hopefully successful) procedure.

And then there are the comments. Those completely unintentional yet inappropriate comments that people have made to me over the years. Like this past Shabbos, when my son and I walked to shul together, past the double stroller parking lot and into the front door, as we made our way to the kiddush. As I sat with my son, a tall lady next to us struck up conversation. “Wow he’s such a zees! How many younger siblings does he have? He must be such a good big brother!”. “He’s not a big brother yet,” I responded, “but I”YH he will be one day”. Which prompted the woman’s equal-parts awkward and sudden realization that she needed to get up with her four children in tow to get more kugel. She went to sit in a different corner of the room.

Then there was the Shabbos we recently had at a relative’s home in New Jersey. One guest there noticed I was sitting next to my son and said, “Oh wow, you got the other children to sleep already, how’d you do it?” I just smiled and shrugged, trying not to make anyone feel bad or awkward, while my cousins exchanged looks and quickly tried changing the topic all at once.

Or the wonderful friend who asked us to be her kvatters at her fifth son’s bris. When I politely declined, she responded, “But you’ll be the only one there who qualifies.. who else could we possibly ask?”

Or that time we were at a friend’s bris, and some well-meaning bubby sat at the table with me and my son.

“Oh he’s such a tzadikel!” she proclaimed loudly. “How many kids do you have?”

“He’s our only child right now” I responded.

“Well,” the bubby pushed her chair closer to mine, musty perfume overbearing my nostrils, “You know you shouldn’t wait too long to give him a sibling. Studies show that kids do best with siblings closer in age! You really should think about it!”

I smiled and said, “Thanks.”

But deep inside it’s just another bruise, more salt added to this open wound. I wish I could shout out, “Do you know how many tears we’ve shed, how much effort, time, and money we have put into trying to have another child? How could you say such a thing?” But as usual I keep it inside, and privately cry on my way home when nobody else is around.

Because when people are experiencing infertility, it relentlessly takes over their whole world, day in and day out. From the moment the alarm goes off far too early in the morning, to crying out to Hashem on the way to the doctor’s office. From holding back the tears when we’re sitting in the same waiting room where we were, so hopeful, just one cycle ago, to the 1.5 inch needles ready and the syringes prepared to be injected. From the dark bruises caused by last cycle’s constant progesterone shots – our battle scars – still visible from last cycle, to walking around feeling pregnant from the immense bloating the medications cause.

It is our entire world, and no matter how happy and grateful we are for what we have going on in our lives; during a cycle there is always that lump in our throats where we are just one insensitive comment away from crying our eyes out.

My thoughts are interrupted, “Amy S!” The nurse calls out, all the ladies in the waiting room look up from their phones, one lady in high stilettos and bleached blond hair done up as if she’s walking down a runway stands up and walks out of the waiting room with the nurse. How she manages to get all dressed and dolled up for an early AM doctor’s appointment for the morning blood test is beyond me!

I suddenly glance at my watch – it’s 7:45, my husband must leave for work in 15 minutes and I haven’t even had my blood work and ultrasound yet. Then there’s the extra time it will take for the usual poke-a-few-times-with-the needle-until-we-find-a-good-vein routine.

After every cycle, all the shots, the medications, the tears, we then have the two week wait to find out if I’m pregnant. I sit by the phone, waiting. Waiting with baited breath for the hopeful news that this cycle led to a pregnancy. But the waiting is not over. We then anxiously wait for the follow up visits to make sure the pregnancy holds, and is healthy.

I silently pray – Hashem, please, put an end to our patient waiting and finally give all of us who are waiting the precious gift of a “b’shaah tovah”; awaited for so many years, very very soon.

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8 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this. So powerful. I am davening that your wait will iyH be over very very soon.

  2. Its so tough. Hugs. We are waiting and hoping with you, many of us are quiet and dont tell you so as not to cause you hurt, but we are aware that your are in a difficult and painful situation. We wish we could make it all better. Your description does give us a better glimps of what you go through.

  3. Hashem should give you strength. I find it incredible in today’s more aware society, that there are still people out there who will make such blatant comments, such as how many siblings are there, and you got the other ones to bed? There are the more innocuous comments that can happen accidentally, and for that I’m truly sorry and hope they don’t happen too often. But I really wish people would think before they speak.

  4. Thank you – this is very helpful! May you be blessed with revealed goodness!

  5. Thank you so, so much for sharing, in such an honest and bold way, a glimpse of what many women – more than “normal” people might think – have to experience. I hope that it can inspire others to act with more sensitivity towards women whose family situation appears not quite the “norm”.

  6. i certainly wish this wonderful author well! may the yeshuah come very fast.

    as a general comment NOT meant as criticism of the author:

    it is really not possible to always say just the right thing, no matter how sensitive everyone tries to be

    especially since “the right thing” varies very much with the individual

    you have one new widow who wants to be asked about her husband – that’s sensitive, then

    you have another new widow who wishes people understood that she can’t talk about her husband

    and so it goes down the list of painful situations where the rest of the world is supposed to know what to say and what not to say

    i am talking to myself here

    i too have my share of painful situations, for example a son in his 30s who will not be getting married (that’s why i removed my name just now… trying to be sensitive to him)

    and sometimes i want to talk about it and sometimes i don’t, and sometimes people say just the right thing to me and to him, and sometimes they are way off (not deliberately of course, they just don’t know…)

  7. when i say “I am talking to myself here” i mean that i too often say “the wrong thing” because i just don’t know

  8. Wonderful post and so raw. Please Gd you should be blessed soon. Your lack of criticism for those who are insensitive is so beautiful. You accept it as it is but don’t condemn as so many do, and you deal with it so graciously. May you merit to have such sensitive children one day.

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