Sunday, October 3, 2010

On the art of waiting

Some people decide that they want to have a baby, and then they do, right away it seems.  There is very little waiting involved, as far as one can see from the outside.  A pregnancy, from this point of view, is actually very short lived.  I could have had another whole pregnancy, from last menstrual period to term delivery in the time that has passed since I have lost Adrian.  That is, if it had been in the cards for me to get pregnant the traditional way.

In the infertile world, things don't quite work like that. Time simply seems to expand. First, after every miscarriage, one needs to wait for three months (or two natural cycles) to pass before any further attempts.  At least that is what my clinic requires.  Then, because I have an incompetent cervix, I can only have one embryo transferred at a a time, in order to avoid the added risk of twins.  That means that it usually takes a long time for any one cycle to be successful, as the chances of any embryo taking are about 20% when by its lonesome.  

The two weeks between the embryo transfer and the pregnancy test are awfully long.  I sometimes count the hours, not the days.  Then, if I do get pregnant, the waiting for the beta HCG hormone to increase (it has to double every two days) to make sure it is not a chemical pregnancy is also long, but at least the hoping begins, and therefore it's not as bad.  The waiting for the first ultrasound, that shows a heartbeat, usually done at 6-7 weeks gestation, is pretty unpleasant as well, but again filled with anticipation and good expectations (unless you've ever had an empty gestational sac before, in which case you will most definitely expect the worst again).  Then, for someone with incompetent cervix, there is the worry that you will miscarry after 16 weeks or even earlier, when the dreaded cervical weakness starts to show.  The period of time to fetal viability is as long as a lifetime (24-25 weeks), and I expect that after 28 weeks, when a fetus has a good chance to survive and thrive, one probably can relax a little.  

In the fertile world, many people who don't know how many weeks along they are in their pregnancy.  That is the kind of pregnancy that goes smoothly and almost imperceptibly, where time flies in the absolute faith that things will go well.  Alas, not the kind that my reproductively challenged sisters and I can ever hope for.  When you count the minutes, the hours, the days and the weeks, you realize that time goes awfully slowly.  And when you are in between treatments, like I am now, time STOPS dead in its tracks.  Two months until November are as long as a whole year would have been before I started trying to reproduce. 

This is an illustration of reproductive relativity theory, which states that time flows in inverse relation with how far one is from having a live baby.  However, why does this happen?

I think it comes from our inability to embrace the little things that make up daily life.  When one's focus is on a very desired outcome, a goal, then anything else fades away unnoticed.  This brings on a sense of emptiness (since our life is only filled by those things that we pay attention to), and emptiness equals boredom.  Boredom is what really makes time stand still.

If infertility can be considered a teacher, then the most important lesson to learn is that life happens now, every day, that I am alive even when I am not pregnant.  That I deserve to live even when I have not achieved my goal.  That in times like this, when I feel as empty as a black hole, noticing the red leaves on the patio and the taste of the chai tea in my cup are the little details that make up the fabric of my life.  This, in a nutshell, is what I call the art of waiting.  

1 comment:

  1. You are right, grief has so many lessons to teach us.

    Thanks for this.

    Mrs. S.