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Thursday, July 06, 2006

An Ode to my Lady-When-Waiting

The first thing a Stirrup Queen needs after receiving that infertility label is a lady-when-waiting. Yes, the same concept as a lady-in-waiting—a confidant who is there to help guide you when making decisions as well as lend a shoulder for crying (because there will be crying). A type of personal assistant who can help you along during a grueling IVF cycle. But SHE is not “in waiting” for anything. Or, more realistically, her “waiting” is not of the infertility variety. The best type of lady-when-waiting is one who is completely there for you when you are waiting and does not expect a reciprocal effort on your part. And this is an important point.

Ladies-in-waiting are the friends you turn to in the chat rooms. The ones who are also doing the two-week-wait and are as anxious as you are. A lady-when-waiting will not be someone you lose because they become pregnant before you. They are someone who will be your rock. Who will be there for you from the first treatment until you hold a baby in your arms. Because the lady-when-waiting also realizes that your needs do not end with a BFP. A pregnancy post-infertility has highs and lows that make Everest look like a joke. That lady-when-waiting may need to be there for you even after you hold your child because Stirrup Queens have a higher rate of Postpartum Depression than the average female population.

*Yes, I am writing a very exclusionary entry that is aimed solely at the friendships of women because I have no idea at this point on the needs of men. And my husband is playing with his iPod (that isn’t a euphemism for anything—he actually is busy playing with his iPod). But I can say that even though he can talk something out with me for hours, at the end of the day, he is a man, and he probably would rather have a basketball partner than a lady-when-waiting. But he will post more on that later.

In England, the lady-in-waiting is traditionally someone related to you. Blood brings trust (unless…you know…you’re the bitter sister and you want the throne and you’re plotting on having family members knocked off). But we all know that our hearts tell us who would be the best person to support us. Sometimes it is a family member and sometimes it is fictive kin—a woman who knows us better than we know ourselves. Go with your heart.

Now here is the question—can you truly ask for this level of support or does someone need to give it before asking for it to be meaningful? Hopefully when this book is published, it will give people that level of understanding so they can give before being asked. At the same time, I think sometimes you need to turn to someone and tell her exactly what you need in terms of support. And people generally step up to the plate. If you do not have this person in your life…I don’t know. I feel like we should start a support program where you have that person in your life.

And now the ode to my Mommy. Because my Mommy is my lady-when-waiting. I am very lucky because I actually have two ladies-when-waiting. The other one will be serenaded in a later post that ties into a different idea. But this post is about my Mommy.

My mother also went through infertility. It took her eleven years to build her family through adoption, fertility treatments, and natural cycles. She weathered a huge storm in a day and age when fertility treatments were limited in their scope. Since we started this book, she has shared more and more of her emotions over infertility and parenting-after-infertility. But when we were going through infertility, she made it about us. She shared stories from time to time to let me know that I wasn’t alone. But reading back through old emails, I never realized how many times she sent words that were just for us when she could have delved back into her own pain through our experience.

Early on in our journey, I started to worry. Things just felt…wrong. I don’t have the best intuition and have certainly not predicted many other things in life, but I was certain before we ever started trying that we would have difficulties. A half a year into the process and my mother slipped into the role of my lady-when-waiting…

Infertility is determined after a year of trying. I know you don't want to wait that long to see. This website is wonderful. Helpful without creating panic.
There are other sites I found but start with this one.
Love, Mom

(Yes, Mom, I do save all of your emails. Okay, most of your emails).

At the turning of the year, she made the phone calls for us and got us an appointment with the best fertility doctor at the best fertility clinic in the area (she researched it and presented us with two choices and the pros and cons of each choice). If she was going to the store, she picked up some things for us so I wouldn’t have to go. I could use those saved minutes to relax during a stressful cycle. She made phone calls for us and baked us banana bread. She sent emails that were short and heartfelt and got me through my day.

Hi hon,
I'm thinking about you and Josh. It seems unfair and such hard work just to conceive a baby. I'm always here if you want to talk.

When we got pregnant, we waited three days to tell her so we could confirm it at the clinic. It was torture not to tell her because she was my lady-when-waiting. She had gotten me over the chasm. I wish there were moments that you could record—not just visually, but through every sense, every emotional pore—to play back over and over again. Telling my parents I was finally pregnant was one of those moments.

She was by my side through the pregnancy, even sleeping at our house the night that I started bleeding heavily while at work. Josh out of the country on a business trip. She was so angry that I hadn’t told her to meet me at the doctor’s office. She met me at my house and fed me and put me to bed. I am still her daughter, even in my thirties. It gives me hope that my daughter will always be my little girl.

She has been there for me as I parent after infertility. Because it’s a different playing field at times. The pediatrician berates us for some of our decisions, acquaintances snicker. Some of our good friends who haven’t been through IF never understand. But my mother just stands by us and lets us make our decisions remembering the choices she made in order to hold onto our babyhood one day longer. She gets it. And even if she didn’t get it, even if she had never been through IF herself, when she signed on to be my lady-when-waiting, she signed on to support me.

The reality is that if we want to have more children, we will need to dive back into that awful, tumultuous sea and step back into Infertility Land (where I still have a time-share) to try again. Starting with just the infertility drugs and then moving to the procedures or adoption. And she has already stated how she will be my lady-when-waiting when we become brave enough for that travel. When she tells me what she’ll do, she makes the enormity of the situation so much more manageable.

And she did all this for us without asking. I know there are people who will say that every mother would do this for her child. But you and I both know that not every mother is cut out to be a lady-when-waiting. I hit the jackpot. If you do not have a mother who can be your lady-when-waiting, choose a friend or an aunt or a sister. And the whole point of this book comes from this concept—how to mold a Lady-When-Waiting (as well as the male equivalent). I learned from a pro. I would be honoured to pass along to your lady-when-waiting what I learned from my mom. I love you. Thank you so much—my lady-when-waiting.


Hopeful Mother said...

You are truly blessed to have a lady-when-waiting like your mother. I wish mine was mature enough to understand - that's why we haven't told my parents...

Ruta said...

You are very lucky to have a mom like that. :-) I too have a mom who was very supportive -- in large part, because she also went through infertility and *KNEW* better than anyone what I was going through.

Anonymous said...

I have a dear work friend who is my lady-in-waiting. I could not have made it this far without her. From my HSG to the time I almost ripped my boss's head off when I had the "Clomid Crazys" she has been with me every step of the way-keeping everything in perspective (example- "well now you can go the Pearl Jam concert and not have to worry") and never, ever once tellign me to "just relax"
Allison M.

Melissa said...

My mother is also my lady-when-waiting. She has been my rock throughout our journey. My twin brother and I were conceived during my mom's first cycle on clomid. So, she can definately understand the heartbreak more than anyone. She has said that she prayed that none of us would have to experience what she did...but it has almost brought us closer. Something we share in common-when we sometimes butt heads. Although I wish this problem would disappear, I'm glad my mom is there for me and can whole heartedly understand what I'm going through.