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It’s 7:00 am on a Sunday morning.

In other words, yawn.

Why am I up, writing this?

One word.


What does the word “monitoring” mean to you? What image does it produce? I know what it means to me. Early morning doctor visits to ensure everything is proceeding according to the doctor's plan. Why the word “monitoring”? Am I some lab rat, summoned to be inspected? In many ways, yes, I am like that lab rat. I, too, am subjected to different hormones to achieve a certain result, but in a sense I am different. Instead of the mad scientist injecting me, I inject myself. Glamorous, I know.

Sigh.What does the word “monitoring” mean to you? Those maddening injections. In the beginning, I had thought it would be a task that gets easier with each passing day. Surprise! It doesn't. Each evening, as I am about to prick myself with the sharp needle, an image arises in my head. I see a cackling, frizzy-haired man in a lab coat, rubbing his hands gleefully as he prepares to inject the latest cocktail of goodies into his unknowing subjects. Only it’s me, I'm the cackling madman. I am doing this--willingly, I may add--to myself. I am placing myself under the bright lights, begging to be toyed with.

Okay, so I might be going a bit off topic here. Back to the monitoring. What does it mean to others? Thank G‑d, I have a very supportive network of family and friends. This is something I find crucial to surviving the month-to-month rounds of hope followed by disappointment. My mom and sister know about the times I am down and are always there to catch me when I fall, and for that, I am eternally grateful. However, it wasn't until recently that I realized that no matter how supportive they are, they know so little about what I am actually going through.

It was a dreary morning, and I was at the doctor's office waiting to be seen for routine blood work and an ultrasound (a.k.a. monitoring). I was texting my sister, Cipi, and when I told her I was at the doctor, she asked me why I was there. I replied, "Just here for monitoring." In Cipi's typical manner, she sent back about 45 questions. "Monitoring? What are they monitoring? Your heart? Your blood? How long do you have to be there for? How often do you do this? Is everything okay? Are you dying?" I literally laughed out loud, probably causing the stony-faced women around me to sniff in disapproval. It was at that moment that I realized that while Cipi was there for me at every moment I needed her, she actually understood so little of the life I was leading. A part of her had imagined that fertility treatment meantI'm the cackling madman! being hooked up to machines, since that is what the word “treatment” produced in her overactive mind. Therefore, the word “monitoring” most likely produced gruesome images of me lying on a cold steel table.

And I can understand that. It makes sense that when you are not a part of something, you have no idea of the intricacies involved in that process. There are many different challenges people face throughout their lives, many hurdles G‑d throws their way. You can try to sympathize with those that are going through all different sorts of troubles. However, remember a few things: A situation that you may deal with beautifully can cause someone else to crumble. Never, ever, belittle someone else's pain. On a different note, something to keep in mind is that even when you feel you understand or truly know what another person is going through, remember: Each person feels differently in each situation. Never assume you "know" what someone else is experiencing, because you don't.

So what can you do to alleviate a loved one's pain?

The best thing to do is to let the person know you are there. You are there if they need you now, and you will be there, on the sidelines, should they ever need you in the future. Don’t be intrusive. Be understanding. But all this is just my advice and what I have found works for me. You may have your own way of dealing with struggles, and that's okay. Because we are all different, aren't we?

by Zehava Deer
Zehava Deer is the pen name of a woman living in Brooklyn who is having trouble conceiving. Her column, “Pregnant with Hope—My Journey through Infertility,” describes her journey, and how she strives to remain positive through her pain.
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nidhi india February 28, 2014

awakening i can understand very well what u must b going through. in a way you have described what i have been feeling for the past couple of years. always flooded with advice from all corners, seeing sympathy in the eyes of the people around me, everyone telling me that everything will be ok make me feel like screaming out to the world. i feel like trapped with no one to share what i truly feel like. no one and i will say no one can and will never understand the pain of a woman who is going through fertility treatments. early morning visits to the doctor, daily scans, medicines, injections, it feels like there is nothing else left in life. n to top it loosing everything when it feels like after all we will have a happy ending. it maddening to the extreme. right now i am too broken emotionally and physically to think about anything else. but i do hope that future holds something good for me, for you and for so many other women going through this painfull time. Reply

Dana ca August 18, 2013

It´s sad ! People are suffering from lack of knowledge !

Before starting any new medical treatment, try to change the lifestyle:
-no bread (no wheat), no palm or canola oils, few sweets,
-but yes, olive oil, rice, oats, also eggs..

I see the change in my patients in just few months.

Dana. M.D. immunologist Reply

Dolly Murley Fair Haven, MI. August 16, 2013

same pain different problem Thank you for allowing me to see your problem and then letting me use that situation to face my own problem. Mine's different but, others do not understand. I can not undertand this computer internet. Oh, it's so easy, I'm told. Then why do I cry and shake BECAUSE I WANT TO UNDERSTAND. I stumble every day, make some headway but then a different stumble. Thank you for your thoughts and the ability to put into words the feelings of wanting something others say "it's SO EASY". Reply

Kelly Brooklyn August 16, 2013

Touching What an eye opening piece. Thank you for opening the window into your world and allowing me to peek in. Your positivity is so inspirational. Keep on writing, I can't wait to keep reading. Looking forward to the happy ending , G-d willing very soon. Reply

Anonymous Jerusalem August 15, 2013

I empathize My daughter decided to have a birth at home with the help of a midwife. But while she was screaming in pain, my thoughts were with the neighbor downstairs who was trying to get pregnant for seven years. So I prayed the Ribbono shel Olam: "How can you do this to her (to the neighbor)? As opposed to feeling worried about my own daughter or getting excited about a grandchild. But she got pregnant that year and had a child on my birthday. And two years later, another one of my daughters had a child on my birthday. Is this coincidence? I don't know but perhaps you should send me your name and mother's name and your email address. Kindest regards Reply

Anonymous Brooklyn , NY August 15, 2013

I SO understand what you are going through -- I am in the same boat: self injections, monitoring, two-week waiting... The only difference is that none of my family and friends know about this. They have no idea if we are even trying for a baby. We are past what's referred to as optimal fertility age, and I find that privacy has served us well -- I don't want to hear any comments (negative or positive) from anyone. I prefer to see the positive result and only then share the good news. I am still hoping and praying for that although on some days I am ready to give up and think that I am crazy to still want to try and get pregnant. Reply

Anonymous Delray Beach, FL August 15, 2013

Been there, done that You need to decide whether your problem is infertility or childlessness. If it's children that are important to you, move as quickly as you can for adoption. If the primacy of your own genes is what matters to you, keep on with your treatments. Sometimes they even work. It's been 35 years since we adopted, and--do believe me--nobody remembers that our daughter was adopted. (Sometimes I even have amusing false memories of being pregnant!) Reply

Rivka St. James August 15, 2013

I don't have to imagine... I don't have to imagine. Those words are all I can speak with heartfelt love, compassion and understanding. I had a very, very dear friend who went through all of what you are going through now. She has a beautiful little boy who is 7 years old & now she has a wonderful little miracle of a daughter who was born prematurely in order to try to save her mother's life. Her mother, my friend had made the ultimate sacrifice to bring her children into the world. She had fertility injections that caused massive cancer to spread quickly throughout her body but didn't find any of it until her 6th month of pregnancy. Her daughter is B"H is fine but neither her nor her brother will ever know their mother's love again. She made the ultimate sacrifice to bring her children into this world. She gave her life for theirs out of love. I hope & pray that you will have a much happier ending, but you are truly knows how you feel but they should be there for support...always. Reply

ladyn usa August 15, 2013

Beautiful This was inspiring, and true. Hope the best for you. Thank you for sharing. Reply

Sientje Seinen chillwack. B.C. canada August 15, 2013

re fertility tests Why not try to adopt some unwanted child, many couples have found after adoption they usually have no problem conceiving. wish you all the best . Reply

valerie usa August 15, 2013

'awakening' what ARE you actually going through??? everything about it is unimaginable to me (except that people know so little about what another is really going through) . please know i wish you well, and will say prayers that this new year will bring you many blessings. Reply

auntie August 14, 2013

you make me so proud!!!! Reply

karla tonini São Paulo, Brasil August 14, 2013

Dear Zehava, my sincere wishes for success and endless joys.
: ) Reply

Anonymous rochester, ny via August 14, 2013

Hope and Faith My heart goes out to you. My struggle was yours 52 years ago, when modern medicine was not as advanced. I was blessed with 3 children after a long struggle and many losses. Two are DES and my daughter had the same struggle.
Don't give up, be determined and have faith.
Hold tight to your husband, don't let walls go up. There is a light at the end of the tunnel,
one way or the other.
Stay strong and many hugs. Reply

bepositive ny August 13, 2013

in the same boat. davening for all of us it should be open and revealed good for all of klal yisroel! Reply

james cooley kansaS CITY, s August 13, 2013

early morning It is toooooooooooooo early this morn to reads alllis, but
Hannnah went 2 synogouge[Eli]- to pray 4 son,
I Sammuel Reply

Naomi Tzfat August 13, 2013

I have been in your shoes, but B"H, after 25 years off marriage, we were blessed with a princess. It's all in G-d's timing. Still praying for the barren of Iisrael! Reply

Anonymous Israel August 12, 2013

May G-d bless you with wonderful children! I'm undergoing fertility treatments as well. May it be G-d's will to have mercy on all Jewish families that are lacking children and to bless them with lots and lots of righteous offspring. Reply

Shifra Jerusalem August 12, 2013

Awed Zehava, you've written a most beautiful piece. Since I'm bh blessed with two children, infertility is a world I'm not privy to. Your post opened my eyes to appreciate my blessings and also understand your pain. May you see your personal redemption very soon! Reply

Anonymous August 12, 2013

Thanx so much! It's so inspiring and refreshing! I'm going thru the same thing and the way u put it down is amazing! Funny yet so true! Reply

Infertility is often a silent struggle, making it all the more difficult to connect to others trying to conceive. I am a woman living in Brooklyn, who is having trouble conceiving. Throughout my journey thus far, I have tried to remain positive, and I strive to find some humor amid the pain. (I usually do.) I aim to give readers some hope, laughter, and sympathy.