It seems like forever ago.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. This one is more. Thousands of words, prayers, tears, and moments when it’s not possible to muster any of those.
This is a picture taken on January 29, 2017. It was the first morning of monitoring before our first IVF cycle. We were on a Shabbaton for couples experiencing primary infertility in Connecticut and we only knew one other couple of the 180 that were there that Shabbos. It was the most amazing and most depressing weekend all at the same time. We left the Shabbaton and drove two hours to the office in New Jersey for a blood test that would only take a few seconds. I hadn’t davened yet so I put on my tallis and tefillin in the place where I’ve never experienced more discomfort. I’ve been to many sad places before, but none have elicited the feeling of pain and despair quite like these waiting rooms. Even with the free coffee, the comfortable chairs, and the humongous fish tank. To me, the fertility center waiting rooms are the most depressing places. It’s always early in the morning, well before you have to put in a full day of work. Or school. Or both, as I was doing at the time. Everyone has the same fatigued look on their face. For some it’s the time of day that makes them look that way. For others, it’s the fact that they’ve been in this room hundreds of times waiting for the same result that has yet to come about. For many it was both. Some of them already have children and are hoping to have more. Some have none. We’re all there together. Waiting. Praying.
And then, in my case, sleeping…
This is a picture of fatherhood and so much has changed since that exhausting morning three years ago. We’ve been blessed with two incredible children who challenge us, yet give us more than we could’ve ever imagined.
This past Shabbat, we read of the Jewish people’s punishment of having listened to the slanderous words of 10 of the 12 spies pertaining to the land of Israel. Their punishment was that they would continue to traverse in the desert for 40 years before ever reaching the promised land, the land of their destiny. Those who had remained faithful in their belief that the report of the spies was incorrect were blessed to eventually make to this land. I can’t imagine that when this Divine punishment was levied upon the Jewish people that these individuals of emunah were keen on the elongated trip to the place that they’d heard so much about. Ultimately though, I think once they made it there, setting foot on the soil and breathing the air, they may have felt different. The years of toil and trekking in the wilderness had brought them to where they need to be, although the experience lasted longer than they anticipated.
The more rabbinic literature I read about Jewish courtship buttresses the notion that our responsibility to each other is to bring about new life. For many, that’s easier said than done. Thank God, medical technology today is blazing new trails for couples with fertility issues. One such expert says that in just the last 10 years more scientific ground has been covered than in decades past.
It seems like forever ago that the crying in our house didn’t come from our children but came from us as we tried to build our family.
It seems like forever ago that the appointments we rushed out the door to weren’t for well visits or for immunizations. They were for us, mainly Estee, to be poked and prodded to ensure that our course of treatment was progressing properly.
It seems like forever ago that I’d wonder what it would be like to be a parent, when now I can’t remember life being any other way.
When I think about our fertility challenges, the ups and downs, the frustration, the exhaustion, the roller coaster – this is the picture that I think about.
Getting to where we are now feels like it took forever to get here. We hope that for those struggling that their “forever” will come to an end very, very soon.