Infertility is a seemingly endless time of waiting. Waiting for your period, waiting for signs of ovulation, waiting with your legs suspended up against the wall for half an hour after intimacy with your partner, waiting for those absolutely S L O W two weeks from ovulation to test, waiting those two minutes for lines to show. Waiting, with bated breath, hope streaming off of you…is it positive? Is there a line? You hold it up to the light, checking it against a white backdrop, take a picture of it and look at the negative *just* to ensure you’re 100% sure that there’s…not.
Then the wait begins again — a cycle, a rollercoaster full of hills and valleys, that you didn’t buy a ticket for but are on nonetheless.
There is no knowing if you’re on this damn ride for a few go-rounds, or if you should pack a sleeping bag and a book because you’re going to be pretty much camping out in that car-on-tracks. You see people getting off with happiness glowing from every inch of them. You see others get on, nervous and worried like you were at first. You might make a few friends as you zoom around the corners, gripping for each other when heading down, laughing at the rise to the top. Those friends might end up getting off after just a few turns, or they may be sitting beside you for the long haul.
You see people getting off with hope in their eyes, to return a short while later, part of them forever lost to whatever happened when they got off the ride. There are a few who decide to jump off as the cars are still moving, escaping, choosing a different way. A few have been here even longer than you…they’ve got roofs to their cabs, espresso makers plugged in beside them, books spilling out over the sides whenever the turns are sharp.
It wears on you. You start to try not to feel the ups and the downs, you can anticipate the curves, you see the valley’s coming from a mile away. It’s tedious — all you can think of, though you’re trying not to. It’s all you can talk of, and those around you are great for spending hours telling about their time on the track. If you try and engage with any of the seemingly endless people watching you from the ground, it’s a quick sentence or two, lost in the rushing wind as you go past. Might they have sort of heard you? Maybe? The problem is they have no idea what it’s like on this rollercoaster, can only observe from a distance, so really are unable to get just how dull the whole thing is — the endless waiting.
Some people on the ride want to be by themselves. These people are sitting there, staring straight ahead, huddled under a huge floppy hat, sunglasses, a scarf that covers them from sight. They don’t want to chat, and that’s fine. They are biding their time, hoping that they too will get off at the next turn. They choose to deal with this ride privately, sneaking covert peeks at the people around them, pulling their sunglasses off to check a quick message on their phone. Other’s are busy engaging those around them, passing out cookies, sharing books, handing out websites, phone numbers, information coming from them at all angles. They want to make sure they’re connected, and that’s fine too. They book support group meetings, write notes to each other, send meals and sprinkle ‘baby dust’ all over everyone.
You catch brief glimpses of white-haired ladies in pearls and cardigans and hear snippets of their conversations as you zoom by. They’re in a special observer section for those who have spent time on this roller coaster in the past. It wasn’t this full, you hear them say, and everyone back then wore hats and sunglasses. Some are shocked that there are those onboard who are so talkative. It was whispers and letters back in their day. Many are not sure which way is better. Everyone is concerned though that the numbers seem to be increasing every year, there’s a lot of speculation in the stands.
If it is your turn to get off at the next pause, you hurriedly pack up your belongings, a small smile of disbelief on your face. Is it time? Yes, please step off carefully. You look back into that cab, hoping, praying, wishing you’ll never see it again. The faces around you are all so different; some are smiling at you with only a hint of sadness behind their eyes, some are indifferent, some look away trying to hide the tears streaming down their face, a few are openly hostile and glaring at you.
Each step you take off that train is filled with a mixture of hope and fear. Hope that it’s finally happening to you, fear that it could happen to you…you could see those two lines fade to one, or lose the baby in the second trimester, or have a stillbirth. You’ve read the stories from other’s who have gone off the train, talked about in whispers, fingers crossed behind their backs, warding off the bad luck. The women who do have a loss sometimes sneak back on the train, sometimes walk on head held high, are sometimes never seen again.
If it isn’t your turn, you watch as the endless stream of people come and go and wonder what your fate will be. You spend the time on the tracks thinking, waiting, hoping, praying. Round and round. The only help on your trip is knowing that you aren’t on this ride by yourself.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash