In the weeks and then months after E was born, we spent a lot of time at the hospital, first in NICU, then going back and forth to doctor’s appointments and tests. Every time I made the trip to the hospital, the route took me through a nature preserve marsh area. I’d often spot hawks, great blue herons, or swans.
One day, I saw a flock of white birds perched in the trees and logs. At first, I wondered if they were seagulls or more swans. They were quite a long way from the road, so hard to make out, but as I got a better look, I realized that a couple of them were wading in the water. They were storks. A whole friggin’ cloud of storks. This realization elicited a rather dark-humored chuckle from me, given the association of storks with babies.
“Really?!” I muttered incredulously to myself. “This is where y’all have been hanging out all these years, huh?”
I continued to see the storks all summer, and the next spring, I kept an eye out for them. Sure enough, the cloud of storks again descended on the marsh. I would watch for them as I went back and forth to my OB appointments in those early, tenuous days of my pregnancy with M. I saw them as I headed in with bleeding. I saw them after good ultrasounds. I got to the point where I was almost superstitious about it – if I saw the storks, everything was probably okay.
This summer, I waited to see the storks. While I’ve seen a few of them on and off, it’s nothing like the last two years. At most, I’ve seen three or four at a time, whereas in previous years, I’d see ten or fifteen easily. I’m completely aware that this has something to do with changes in the migratory pattern of the birds, but it’s a sort of strange coincidence how it has almost perfectly dovetailed with the volume of my anxieties and feelings about infertility.
When I was first diagnosed with infertility, the one thing I wanted to know was whether or not the acute distress of not knowing and the horrible limbo of waiting would ever end. I figured intellectually it would – and multiple bloggers/authors in this community with every manner of outcome testified to that – but there were days it felt emotionally like we might remain in the undecided, unresolved ether forever. In some ways, that was one of the hardest parts of fertility treatment for me. I could deal with the physical side effects, but the waits – waiting to start cycles, waiting for lab results, waiting for paychecks to pay for cycles, waiting for embryo reports, waiting for pregnancy tests, waiting for ultrasounds, waiting on those long weeks of hospital bedrest to see if E would survive – stressed me enormously.
For a long time, infertility has been a wound that has stubbornly refused to heal or even really scab over. We still have two frozen embryos, and with my history of subchorionic hematomas and the concerns with whether or not something in the IVF process possibly exacerbated the first one with E, there are some loose ends yet. Lately, though, I’ve noticed that while I’m not quite resolved, I’m starting to see that eventuality on the horizon.