Preparing for the arrival of a child involves a lot of waiting. Waiting at the doctor’s office. Waiting for the little line on the at-home test. Waiting on the blood work and the numbers. Waiting for the first ultrasounds. Waiting to learn the sex. Waiting to reach full-term. Waiting for labor to start. Waiting to hear the cry. Or, waiting on the adoption papers. Waiting to see if the agency or donor or carrier will come through. Waiting to learn how many eggs were retrieved. How many embryos will be okay to transfer. How many will stay put. Holding our breath while we wait.
It is very hard to wait. We used to be much more accustomed to waiting, and for much longer periods of time. Now, there are many ways to not wait. And we are used to many things happening right away. So, when we must wait, even just for a few moments, we take ourselves away from the waiting. We check our smartphones. While the latte is being made. While the pasta is boiling. While the video is buffering. While the dog is pooping. Waiting is too hard, we think, so I will gain some control over this situation by checking e-mail and very important digital things, like what other people are doing online, because they are having trouble waiting, too.
And there, we are rewarded for not waiting. “Congratulations! Your order has shipped! There are 4 new stories to read! 23 people have liked this status! Mary just posted 47 pictures of her bathroom renovations! Congratulations! We have received your online payment!”
Sometimes, we must simply wait. There is no way around it. Especially when we are preparing to create a family, however we are building it. There is so much that is out of our control.
Uncertainty and not knowing are very anxiety-provoking, but they are a part of life, and good things are often worth the wait. And, gaining a sense of acceptance around a lack of control can actually be very relieving. We do the best we can and gather all the information we need, and then, when we have done our part, we just have to wait.
There are ways to make the wait easier without leaving it. There are wonderful resources on this blog to increase opportunities for relaxation and wellness and to improve the wait. Turn off screens. Try to engage the senses. Admire a flower or painting; listen to the hum of a ceiling fan; smell or taste a ripe lemon; feel a hot shower. Notice, but don’t judge or dwell on, whatever thoughts come up. If these sound too new-agey, pick something that doesn’t. Find a supportive friend or therapist to talk to about the wait and to be with you in it. Carve out some time each day to be in the wait. You will find that it becomes easier and easier to survive it, and to even begin to be okay with it. And remember not to hold your breath.
Shara Marrero Brofman, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Greenwich Village, New York City. She has special expertise in perinatal and reproductive mental health, and she is also a regular contributor to APracticalWedding.com. She can be contacted at drsharabrofman at gmail dot com.