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Friday, April 26, 2013

Waiting...


I love being in control. Which of course makes sense why I decided to become a writer....because I have SO much control over my career. (All sarcasm here). However, the greatest struggle in my life has not been finding an agent or an editor, though that hasn't been easy either.

According to the Center for Disease Control, 6.1 million women suffer from infertility.

Hello. My name is Christi Caldwell and I am one of the 6.1 million. Phew. It feels so good saying that. Or writing it. If I could run through the hills Julie Andrews "Sound of Music"-style then I’d be doing that right about now!

I was diagnosed with infertility more than five years ago and in those five years, I’ve had more IVF cycles than I can count on my hands. If you’re not familiar with the IVF process, it involves a good deal of waiting, appointments, procedures, needles, (lots of needles), blood draws, bruises from the needles and blood-work, ultrasounds, and phone calls. Oh, and money? Did I forget about the money?

Oftentimes infertility is very, very lonely. You're surrounded by a never-ending stream of baby announcements and births and through those joyous moments for others, you suffer conflicting waves of happiness, longing, and even the ugly emotion of jealousy just shreds you. If you are fortunate, you have a supportive spouse. If you are really, really fortunate then you find people who are going through and understand what you are going through. It makes this struggle less difficult.

The decision to post this blog in such a candid way isn’t an easy one. Infertility is many things. It sucks. It’s agonizingly painful. It’s awkward. Sometimes, funny…but it’s never easy. Your cycle consists of ups, downs, and waiting. A lot of waiting. The culminating point of the IVF cycle is the day of a woman’s transfer, when the embryos are placed back in utero.

April 21st-April 27th marks National Infertility Awareness Week. And in recognition of the day, I’d like to welcome you into a world shared by me and all the other men and women in the world battling this disease.

The following entry is taken from my fertility journal during one of 11 rounds of IVF. It was written as I awaited news on my transfer. It doesn’t matter which cycle.

___________________________________________________________
I’m really, really nervous. Sick. You know that feeling right before you are going to throw up?

I’ve played it cool for the past two months; cracking jokes about my under-producing ovaries, the needles getting jammed into my stomach, and butt. I told my doctor I didn’t want any information about my eggs or embryos--that I wanted to be surprised but that I accepted whatever happens happens. But that’s a lie. I do care. And I am scared. And it has consumed me for more than the past 3 months since I started the journey on my IVF cycle. It’s consumed me for years.

Never does the anxiety lesson. They say the IVF-fertility ride is a roller-coaster but those words are crap ones to describe the gut-churning anxiety, the paralyzing terror that each phone call brings, that each ultrasound yields. Are there eggs? How many eggs? Are they good quality? Did they fertilize? What is the quality of the embryos? Because of this, I didn’t want knowledge leading up to an embryo transfer but now I can’t play the coward any longer.

I sit and stare at the phone. Waiting for the dreaded call I’ve received once before; the one telling me, as I was on my way to my transfer, to turn around and go home because there is nothing to put back. The feeling of that…well, I have no words. As joyous as the moment I received the call telling me I was pregnant with my son, and as devastating as the call when I found out I was pregnant a second time with a chemical pregnancy, are both strangely of like-powerful emotions. You always remember where you were, what you were doing, when your world stopped.

The clock ticks, and I think of the 8 embryos growing in a dish. Are they boys? Are they girls? Do they look like me? Or maybe my husband and son? Who are they in those petri-dishes and what will they become. And I think of the 41 others to come before them who never remained anything more than cells in a dish and I dream of who they might have been and what they would have done in their lives.

When I was trying to get pregnant the first time I said to God, all I want is one, if you give me one, I’ll just be so grateful, that is all I’ll ever want. But just like I’m a coward, I’m also a liar because I want another child with such desperate longing that I can’t even accurately capture those sentiments and put them into words. One isn’t enough. I would have taken all 41 of those other children, truly.

And only if you’ve had countless rounds of procedures, over 1000 needles, and 80 phone calls from doctors, could you maybe understand that.

So at this moment, I don’t know what will happen. I just know that I’m sitting here waiting. And I’ll continue to wait for these embryos. Or, for the future child, who will someday be ours.

To Be Continued….

I've been blessed to have an amazing network of supportive individuals in my life. (They know who they are).  Friends who support me unconditionally through this process.

Question:
Who in YOUR life picks you up and provides you with the sometimes much needed support?! And how do they do it? 

28 comments:

  1. Thinking of you, Christi ...

    I would be nothing without my closest friends, whom I can tell anything and know I won't be judged, and who will always hold me up when I need it.

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    1. Thank you Hannah. I find that life struggles help define who those steadfast, loyal friends are. You know? The ones who are at your side through anything and everything.

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  2. Christi,
    What a beautiful blog. I'm so sorry for the struggles you and your husband have gone through and that 6.1 million people experience. Sometimes it seems like the most loving, wonderful parents are the ones dealing with infertility. :(

    My husband is my rock, and I try to be that for him in return. We've really leaned on each other during the hard times in our lives. But in addition to him, I have wonderful co-workers with hearts the size of Texas. Then I have my lovely friends in my writing group and my childhood girlfriends. There are six of us all together and even though we don't see each other often since we're spread out all over the US, we're always there for each other.

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    1. Samantha
      You sound incredibly blessed with a beautiful marriage but also amazing friendships. And thank you for your kind words. I know it sounds cliche but this experience has made us stronger and it has taught us to appreciate our son so much more. He is a miracle in so many ways.

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  3. Christi,
    This post brought tears. I understand your struggle in a way that any outsider does, but I don't "get" it because I've never experienced the heartbreak of infertility. I know several women who are going through what you're facing, and it takes a toll one every one of them. You're all in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs.

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    1. Thank you Andris. The process takes a physical and emotional toll on those going through it but it becomes your norm and all you know. What always amazes me is how many people are in fact effected by this struggle.

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  4. Christi,

    Your strength amazes me. You are so unbelievable brave and passionate for your family and yourself. I am so fortunate to have you as one of those people who pick me up again when I need it.

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    1. Thank you Lauren. I'm so honored that you feel that way and I believe you know that your crit support and friendship over the years has been invaluable.

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  5. Hi Christi: I can certainly relate. I, and so many of my friends and relatives have struggled with infertility issues. It took me four years, much medicine, shots that cost $1000 per shot not covered by insurance, and surgery until I finally became pregnant. I was happy when friends became pregnant, but jealous and angry at myself. My husband just didn't understand, even though he was supportive. Nowadays there are such miracles. You are a great mom, and a strong, loving person. You already have one miracle with your son and I hope for another one for you. Sorry to run on like this.

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    1. Oh Nancy,
      I think you sum up so accurately how so many of us feel but then we are besieged by guilt for our feelings. And you are NOT running on...I believe others feel strength in knowing others have been there and they're not alone.

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  6. Christi,

    What a heart-breaking post. I can't say I know what you're going through, but it did take us nearly a year to get pregnant, and I know how hard that was, wondering if it was ever going to happen. I know that stab of jealousy when your friend shows up and announces they're pregnant -- "oh, and it was a total accident, and I don't even know if I'm happy about it!" Great. Thanks. Let me go cry myself to sleep now.

    But obviously your struggle goes far beyond that, and I can't even imagine what it's like. HUGS!!

    For me, my hubby is definitely my first line of defense. He's my best friend and my rock. After him, I go to my critique partners. Somehow, you ladies know me better than anyone else in my life (other than the hubs, of course) I'm lucky enough to have wonderful real-life friends who are there for me when I need them, too :)

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    1. Jerrica,
      Your struggles were no less significant or painful than mine or any of the other men and women out there. I've learned a year can stretch on for an eternity and the pain and uncertainty of that year is not to be poo-poohed. I too have cried myself to sleep many times.
      Thank you for sharing and connecting. I know there are a lot out there who appreciate when people have felt/feel what they are feeling.
      And thank you for your support over the years. I adore you.

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  7. I am so sorry you have been dealing with this. I wish I could take your pain away. I will be praying for you.
    Have you considered going to a Naturopathic Doctor? Just thought I'd mention it. It helped me.....I had lost my cylce for 5 months and after quite a few rounds of accupunture and changing my diet to a low sugar dit, my cycle returned. sometimes they also look at diet/food allergies, etc....Maybe this doesn't make sense since i don't know your specific fertility issue, but I thought I'd mention it just it case it could be helpful.
    Hugs and prayers
    Kim Crowley

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    1. No, Kim. It DOES make sense so thank you for sharing what you've gone through. My issues are complex in that their are no clear explanations other than something deeper than we can see is wrong. I believe in a naturopathic approach to medicine. Especially because I've also learned that modern medicine doesn't always have the answers we think they should. Do you know what I mean?

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  8. Christi, I'm so proud of you for sharing this part of your life with the world. It's something that people often suffer through in silence.

    I've got a great group of friends who I can talk to about anything, and who love me and support me through all of it. That's been my saving grace over some very emotionally trying years. :)

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    1. First, thank you for supporting me in putting this out there. I hesitated and your encouragement was what I needed to remember that this isn't a dirty little secret, even though it's as some people say almost taboo to talk about infertility in our society. I believe the more we talk about it the more help we can receive.

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  9. Thank you for such a beautiful and moving post, Christi. I am fortunate to have my husband as my support and a wonderful group of friends whom I have known for decades. And, of course, the support of my fellow writers. :)

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    1. You are so unbelievably blessed, Lily. That support makes all the difference. And I too am so fortunate to have found an amazing group of writers who help me at any and all costs.

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  10. Good for you for sharing, Christi. I know there are many women who can relate to what you are going through. ((hugs))

    My husband and though it may sound trite to some, my relationship with Jesus, help me get through lots of things. Things that I thought I'd never overcome or put behind me. :}

    lots and lots of hugs to you!

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    1. It does not sound trite at all. My faith and my relationship with Jesus is also what helps me to get through this process. I trust that there is a path and he has plans that include me, even if I don't understand them.

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  11. I understand what your going through. I had four pregnancies and one live birth. You're always in my prayers, Christina. Tweeted.

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    1. Ella,
      Thank you so very much for sharing such an intimate piece of yourself. And thank you for your prayers.

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  12. Christi, this is a wonderful post and you don't know how many women you may have helped by talking about something so deeply personal. It takes a brave woman to do that, and a brave woman to go through some of the things you have gone through so far. The thing that makes me so angry is the unfairness of it all. I see young women every day with children they don't deserve, children they had so very easily for all of the wrong reasons, children they are not raising as only a loving mother and father can. You and your husband are such wonderful parents, so very deserving. As I said, completely unfair.

    The women in my writing groups keep me going when I get ready to give up on this writing thing. You are all so supportive, encouraging and even bullying when needed. And you all make me laugh, which is a great gift at the end of a long day at a job I despise. Thank you for that.

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    1. I don't know what to say Louisa. First, you have some of the greatest talent that I've ever seen and I know we'll soon see you in print. As my Nana says, I put my money on you! : ) And thank you for your kind words. I don't feel brave a lot of time. Infertility oftenmakes you bitter and jealous and so you question the things that others see as positives. So thank you. Hugs

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  13. Christi, what a heart-wrenching blog. I teared up reading your journal entry. You are such a strong woman, and your husband has been wonderful. Stay positive!

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    1. Thank you Marie. My husband has been wonderful. I don't think you can continue through this process as long as we have without having a loving, supportive, and strong relationship.

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  14. Thank you for sharing that moving post, Christi. I cannot say I know your pain, but I grieve for you having to endure and deal with this every day. You are stronger than you know and I pray that strength will continue to carry you through this unfortunate journey to a wonderful conclusion. Prayers sent out to you.

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    1. Jenna,
      Thank you so much. When people offer to pray for me I always say "I can always use more prayers!"

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