In the Waiting Time

It is an honor to have my writing included in Emily R. Long’s book In the Waiting Time: Messages from Infertility Warriors. My letter posted below is one of 22 letters included in the book –letters written for, and by, individuals with infertility. I hope that our messages and our stories can help readers find community, validation, support, and hope as they navigate their infertility.

To my heartbroken friend,

Let me begin by telling you how sorry I am that you are experiencing infertility. I’m sorry you are hurting. I wish I could tell you some magic words to make all of this stop happening and to heal your hurting heart. But I can’t. After everything I’ve been through, I still don’t have the answers. Infertility is so hard and complicated. Instead, I will share some of my experience in the hopes that it will help you to feel less alone. I’m also writing in an attempt to give you hope that you will get through this, one day at time.

My infertility is a story of half agony, half hope. The agony was heavy, horrible, and heartbreaking. Hope was so hard to find at times that I wasn’t sure there was any left, but I knew I needed it to keep going. For so long I felt lost in a dark place with my heart broken, trying to collect all of the pieces and put them back together; trying to make sense of the mess around me and the uncertainty of my future; trying to keep functioning, despite feeling so broken, angry, and alone.

The grief I experienced during my years of infertility was overwhelming. Each and every cycle of failure was heartbreaking, and the accumulation of losses felt nearly unbearable. I grieved the loss of so many hopes and dreams; the loss of what I expected life to be like; the loss of my first pregnancy which was ectopic; the loss of friends who did not stand by me; the losses of time, energy, and money. My infertility was profound grief on so many levels. 

I had some really, really hard days. At times I failed to see the point of my life at all. I didn’t want to move or get dressed. I didn’t want to visit with friends. When I was drowning in grief, I simply had nothing to say and making small talk was unbearable. In between episodes of intense grief, I felt numb. I would go through the motions of my day, without real awareness or any enthusiasm I might normally have. I would try to be “normal” at work, try to smile or make jokes… then I’d return home and stare at the wall. I felt like I was living a lie, like no one could actually see me and the pain I was in.

It’s almost easy to forget how hard bad days can be once they are over… I had a lot of ups and downs during infertility, and each time I found myself having really, really hard days again I was amazed that I even made it through days like that before. I looked back at previous dark days and I wondered how the hell I got through them.

The only answer I can come up with is: one day at a time.

I don’t know the secret to getting through bad days. I don’t know the secret to fixing a broken heart or surviving grief. But I know that all of these are experiences I had to work through. There’s no detour for getting around this kind of agony. There are things I did to help myself along the way… but in the end, the only way out of a hard experience is through it — one hard day at a time. 

So one day at a time, I tried to take care of myself. I let myself feel sad. I sat around and cried. A lot. I turned down social invitations and ignored phone calls. I spent hours reading about infertility, about grief, about hope. I went to a support group, where I met and spent time with friends who understood what I was going through. I wrote in my journal. I blogged. My husband did his best to support me, and I was so lost in my own grief that I rarely even thought to ask how I might help him. Grief sometimes looks selfish, but it’s not; grieving is hard, personal work, and it must be done to find healing.

And one day at a time, I looked for hope. Everywhere. I learned to redefine what hope looked like when all hope was lost: what can I hope for now? I needed hope that my life would be beautiful again, that I wouldn’t always be living in the agony of infertility. And while we kept hoping for a living child, we were faced with the possibility of life without one, so we kept hoping that we’d be able to find peace with wherever life took us. I celebrated small things, everyday things. I went on walks and practiced yoga. I ate chocolate and drank champagne. I watched my favorite TV shows and colored intricate designs. I planted flowers and trees. I practiced gratitude. I looked for rainbows, for all of the good things in my life, the lights shining in the darkness: friends, experiences, moments.

Writing everything down like this makes it sound like I did a great job taking care of myself and navigating my grief, but that’s certainly not how it felt in the moment. It felt horrible and like it was never going to end. Trying to grow my family was the hardest thing I have ever done. I remember telling my mom that I wished I could just be sedated until it was all over, but that wasn’t an option. So I did what I had to do to continue on and get through each day.

I don’t know what you’ll need to do to get through your days while you wait, grieve, and hope; while you face hard decisions and an uncertain future. My hope for you is that you will be gentle with yourself and take care of yourself, one day at a time. Time is healing, and while infertility may always hurt some, it won’t always be this agonizing. No one knows how or when your infertility will be resolved, but you won’t always be in this dark painful place. In some way you will be able to move forward in a direction and things will get better. By taking care of yourself in many small ways, you’ll be able to get through this one day at a time.

It’s hard to be stuck in a place of half agony and half hope, and I know you might feel alone in the darkness — I often did — but there are others traveling alongside you right now, and there are those of us who have been there before. You are not alone. I see you. I feel your heartache, and I mourn with you. I’m holding light and hope for you, sending my love, and wishing you peace.


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More Books

Here are a few more books that I’ve read since my first book list post:


  • Silent Sorority: A (barren) Woman Gets Busy, Angry, Lost and Found; Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos
    This memoir was fantastic. She writes about her infertility, treatment, considering adoption, and coming to terms with her childlessness. For anyone wanting to know what infertility feels like, I highly recommend this book — she is so honest, and so many times times I felt like I was reading things on the page that I had been thinking myself. And for anyone experiencing infertility, I still highly recommend this book — it’s very validating, and gives me hope that we will survive this and be okay whether we have children or not.


  • The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood; Belle Boggs
    In addition to being a memoir, this book is also a study on fertility, treatment, and family building options. She shares her experience with infertility and her success with IVF, but she spends much of the book discussing research, data, literature and cultural observations that surround pregnancy, families, and parenthood. It was very interesting. It’s also very up to date — it was published in 2016, so the research she presents is current.


  • Infertility Sucks! Keeping It Together When Sperm and Egg Stubbornly Remain Apart; Beverly Barna
    This one is funny and sarcastic, and does a pretty good job of bringing some humor to the experience of infertility, but I definitely had to be in the right mindset to read it — some days I couldn’t even pick it up. When I was in the mood for a laugh, some parts of the book were really funny and made me laugh out loud; other parts weren’t as funny to me, and even made me cringe a little… but I think that’s to be expected in a dark humored book about infertility.



Pregnancy & Baby Loss and Trying to Conceive After Loss

  • Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: Surviving the Death of Your Baby; Deborah L. Davis
    I have some mixed feelings on this book. Some parts were really good. It had some really good chapters on grief, recovery, resolution, and trying again, as well as a good chapter specifically targeted at men. However, it also had a big emphasis on healing through having subsequent children, which was hard for me to get behind… It’s not always so easy or possible to just go get pregnant again; for some of us, it’s most important to find healing outside of another baby, whether or not we try again.


  • Trying Again: A Guide to Pregnancy After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss; Ann Douglas and John S. Sussman, M.D.
    Trying Again covers a lot of ground… It begins by discussing many reasons why a pregnancy might be lost, why a baby might die before it’s born, or why an infant might die after birth. It then addresses fears and anxieties, and provides coping tips for couples who are trying again after having experienced a loss. Although reading about these things might terrify a lot of people, to me it felt right to learn more about the things that can go wrong, to prepare myself with coping tips moving forward, and to share in the understanding of others who know what it’s like to try again. I thought this book was very informative and helpful.



In Vitro Fertilization (IVF):

  • The Couple’s Guide to In Vitro Fertilization; Liza Charlesworth
    This was a very helpful guide for preparing for IVF. It was published in 2004, so some of the statistics are out of date, but for the most part the process is still the same. I’ve done a lot of research for IVF already, but I thought this book would be worth reading too, and it was. It was very thorough and informative, answers a lot of questions, and shares a lot of advice and anecdotes from the author and couples she interviewed.


  • The IVF Journal; Stephanie Fry
    To be honest, I’m still working my way through this one, but I still wanted to include it. This one is kind of like an IVF workbook, and I’m not finished with it because we’re not finished with IVF yet! It includes some helpful information at each step of the way through IVF and has many, many pages of charts and notes ready to be filled in by the IVF patient. There are so many medications, dosages, times, appointments, and other things to keep track of during IVF, and this journal provides an organized space for everything to be recorded. I’m finding it quite useful so far, although I am wishing it had better binding (perhaps a spiral)!
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My Book List

I’ve read a handful of books on infertility and pregnancy loss… For anyone who might be interested in my book list, here are the ones I’ve read so far:


Trying To Conceive:

  • Making Babies; Sami S. David, MD and Jill Blakeway, LAc
    This was a good resource for me and I wish I had found and read this book much earlier in our journey. Their three month program did not work for me… but the information in the book really helped me to be informed about tests, procedures, and treatments when we started seeing Dr. 2.


  • Unsung Lullabies: Understanding and Coping with Infertility; Janet Jaffe, Ph.D., Martha Ourieff Diamond, Ph.D., David J. Diamond, Ph.D.
    Unsung Lullabies has been THE BEST written resource I have come across for infertility. It was so validating and explained infertility so well that I had Matt and my mom read this book too.
  • Love and Infertility: Survival Strategies for Balancing Infertility, Marriage, and Life; Kristen Magnacca
    I just recently read this book. Perhaps if I had read it earlier in our journey it would have made more of an impact… Some of the strategies resonated with me and some didn’t. Overall, I would still recommend it, especially for someone near the beginning of this journey.
  • Waiting for Daisy; Peggy Orenstein
    Note: this book also falls into the loss category, but I’ve decided to keep it in the infertility category in this list.
    This book was reviewed as a funny memoir of her experience with infertility… I wouldn’t call it funny, but it was honest, interesting, and I’m glad I read it.

Pregnancy Loss:

  • There Was Supposed to be a Baby: A Guide to Healing After Pregnancy Loss; Catherine Noblitt Keating
    This was a very, very helpful book for me after my ectopic pregnancy. I highly recommend it for loss mamas.
  • Our Stories of Miscarriage: Healing with Words; Edited by Rachel Faldet and Karen Fitton
    Our Stories of Miscarriage is a collection of essays, poems, and journal entries written by people who have experienced the trauma of miscarriage and pregnancy loss… it was healing for me to hear their stories and reduced the isolation I was feeling.
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