Climbing a Wall

There is nothing quite as cleansing as a good cry. Hot tears streaming down your face, broken sobs, and heartache pouring from the container of your body which has tried for too long to hold it all in. In the past year I have had my fair share of these humbling, healing moments. Last night was another.

Anxious and tired at 11pm, I crawled into bed, switched on my heating pad and placed it over my belly. Thoughts from the day, and anticipation about the coming weeks swirled through my head. My legs had stopped throbbing from the downward pull of my monthly moon cycle, but an ache persisted in my head, my throat and ear. I don’t want to be sick again, not this month, please just let my body be healthy. Please let everything be perfect, let it all work out so that we don’t have to keep doing this. Let me hope my hardest just one last time, and for once not feel the crushing blow of disappointment. Then the image of the wall.

I used to teach yoga at a rock climbing gym. It was one of the best places I ever taught, but I was never much of a climber. I could do the easy stuff, and there was no better feeling than reaching the top of the wall, triumphant. But my skill topped out quickly and the more challenging climbs always felt out of reach.  For awhile I tried to get better, to conquer more difficult climbs. I remember the feeling well, of clinging to the wall, unsure of where to place my foot next, or what to reach for. I could see the top of the wall, high above me, and people all around me gracefully moving towards it, reaching it. I could hear my partner down below giving words of encouragement, or advice. But on the wall it was me, and my strength, my endurance, my will alone. My body would start to tremble with fatigue, and inevitably I would let go and hang there, eventually repelling down to start again. I would stand at the bottom feeling defeated, ashamed, less-than all of my agile and strong bodied friends.

So when my reproductive specialist gave the analogy last week of pregnancy achievement being like climbing a wall, he struck a chord even I didn’t know existed within me. He compared a monthly cycle to climbing a wall. On Day 1 you are at the bottom. By Day 28 or so, you have either successfully climbed the wall to the top, or you haven’t, in which case you return to the bottom to try climbing again. He told us that after a year of climbing month after month, most couples will reach the top (achieve a pregnancy), but some will be left down at the bottom, less likely to ever overcome that wall on their own.

So here I am. It’s been over one year. I’m still at the bottom. And yes, most of my friends have reached it to the top.

Infertility is lonely. It’s one of the most bone-achingly lonely experiences I have ever had. Like climbing a wall. Even with my partner down below, holding the rope tight to prevent me from falling to my doom, shouting words of encouragement at me, it often feels like me alone, holding on for dear life.

A good cry is cleansing. It is also exhausting. After a year of good cries I have reached a place where I feel as though I can’t keep climbing alone. This month we will do our first ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology). We will do a medicated IUI cycle.

Leading up to this choice I have not written much about our struggle. The truth is that the loneliness and sadness feels too dark to share at times. I don’t want pity. I don’t want to complain. I don’t want to burden. But, I do want to speak my truth. We are blessed with one child, and we would love to have another. (Though I am consciously working on being ok if that doesn’t happen). This is one of the hardest things I have ever been through, but it’s not broken me, and it won’t. And certainly, there are much more tragic things happening all over the world everyday.

But with that preface, I would like to use this space (since it is mine after all), to share our story.

Today is Day 3. Today I had an ultrasound and blood work done to establish a baseline. Today I will begin taking Clomid, a drug which stimulates follicular (egg) growth and development. Today I feel exhausted. Today I feel a sliver of hope. Today I am focusing on staying positive, and healthy. Today I am stepping back on to the wall. My arms are tired, my bones lonely, but my partner is by my side, and my friends are calling to me from the top.


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