If you’ve spent any amount of time living or watching someone else live an infertile life, you’re almost certainly familiar with the common complaint that, with infertility, life often boils down to a never-ending progression of waiting periods. For women with regular cycles (something I’ll NEVER understand) these periods are set at about two weeks. Menstruation begins, 2 weeks of waiting and tracking until ovulation takes place, 2 weeks of waiting and hoping fertilization and implantation takes place, 2 weeks of waiting for betas to get stronger and a gestational sac to be found in the uterus. My waiting periods haven’t been as predictable – anywhere from 45 days to 8 months to get a period in the beginning, dozens of cycles waiting for ovulation that never came, 4 months waiting for a useless rheumatology consult, a 9 week pregnancy that just stopped growing – but they still fit the pattern. I, like so many others, live me life in moments ordained by biology, medicine, and physician convenience. There’s not a moment in these past 4 years where I wouldn’t have been able to articulate what the next milestone was – the next surgery date, the next scan, the next doctor’s appointment, or the next treatment.
Having crossed to this confusing land of early pregnancy after infertility, things aren’t really all that different. As the news of yesterday’s strong beta washed over me, all I could think of was what Wednesday’s repeat draw might reveal. If I allow myself to accept that Wednesday’s might be fine, I open my calendar and start to wonder how difficult work will be the day of our ultrasounds, the day we might learn it’s another ectopic, that it’s growing too slowly, that it doesn’t have a heartbeat. I’m mentally plotting out ways to explain unplanned vacation time on the day the bleeding starts. I’m still living my life in pieces, but I don’t know what puzzle they go to. I arrange them all, keeping each in play, waiting for future clarity that may or may never come.
That’s not to say there isn’t tremendous joy in our life right now; it’s just that it’s a little different than some might expect. I called my aunt yesterday with our update. She spoke of fate and angels and having dreamt of babies and my dead mother the night before. She had joy, even as she commented through the phone, “Honey, you sound so sad.” Hearing her happy made me so very, very happy, but I’m not quite there yet. I’m happy to live her happiness, but my own will have to wait a bit longer. I just haven’t gotten to that chapter of the story yet.
But, where am I finding, if not pure joy, at least some relief? It’s really in the silly things, I suppose. After a night away in NYC for work on Friday, I returned home on Saturday exhausted and content from a day spent exploring the tiniest bit of what the city has to offer. I just wanted to put on my pajamas, curl up on the couch, and watch endless hours of television as cat#1 kept me warm, cat#2 kept me entertained, and husband#1 enjoyed his boy’s night away in a hotel with his best friend. It was while deciding what television series to gorge on that I realized I’m slowly starting to find some peace, or at least find ways to fill the void of another round of anxious waiting. I can’t speak excitedly to my aunt, and yesterday’s walk past the baby aisle in Target still caused sweat to bead up on my upper lip, but I can return to some shows left unwatched once pregnancy plot lines developed. I watched the first few episodes of the new season of Parenthood that I had all but given up on; I picked back up on Bones which I had declared unsafe territory mid-season 7; I added Call the Midwife to my cue (but still haven’t hit play). So silly to be measuring my mental state by television viewing choices, but I’ll take progress wherever I can get it. At this stage of the game voluntarily watching a show with a newborn is about as groundbreaking as buying that first onesie is for a “normal” pregnant lady.
Yet, I’m still living this life in increments. I’m still trying to get through each episode as quickly and efficiently as possible, knowing that at any moment the show may have to be dismissed from my Netflix cue.
I’m living this pregnancy like I’m watching these shows. Enjoying while they last, hoping to see the finale, but preparing for an unresolved end.