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The Waiting Cringe

I would probably classify myself as an “initial optimist.”  During the first few hours, days, even weeks of a wait (completely dependent upon the expected wait time.  If I expect to hear something by the end of the day, I’m optimistic for a few hours.  If I don’t expect to hear something for months, I’m optimistic for a few weeks), I am extremely positive.  I’m daydreaming about the goal, I’m fully expecting to hear good news, I believe all the facts I have on-hand.

Maybe even the most hardcore optimists go through moments of doubt, but I call myself specifically an “initial optimist” because I am also a “secondary pessimist.”  I literally do a 180, lose all sense of hope, and immediately go into a place mentally where things won’t work out, where I won’t hear good news, where I will be disappointed or devastated.  Even when my worst fears aren’t realized, it does nothing to change the cycle during the next wait or even to process the wait that just happened differently.

For me, these two phases go hand-in-hand: initial optimism/secondary pessimism.


I am usually waiting on a whole host of items at the same time.  Some of them are long-range goals that don’t have a set delivery date, such as family building.  Other items are less emotional in nature such as freelance work that I’m waiting to hear about by a certain date or an answer to a question that you’d expect to receive within a time frame.

There is no rhyme or reason to whether the waiting bothers me.  I can be extremely busy and simultaneously anxious about the wait.  And I can be extremely busy and not paying attention to the wait.  And of course, all other options are equally true.  Compartmentalizing seems wholly out of my control — I can’t stop myself from being anxious some days and more than I can make myself anxious when I’m not feeling particularly worried about something.

I’m not sure why we think emotions can be controlled towards one direction (not being anxious) if we know they can’t be controlled towards the other (making ourselves anxious when we’re not worried).  I mean, if I can’t force myself to be anxious, then why do people believe that we can just deep breathe and make ourselves calm?


You know there are all those what ifs where you talk about the things you’d do to get one more hour, one more day, one more week of life?  We obviously cherish life because people are willing to do some pretty insane things in order to gain even a few more minutes of time with people they love.

And what do we do with that time?  We wish it away.  We wish time would hurry up and bring us whatever we’re waiting for.  We wish time would speed by so we can have the answer and be out of limbo.

Perhaps it would be more helpful if we could defrag life like a hard drive, eliminating out all the waits and shoving moments together in order to clear up space for more productive things.


What are you waiting for specifically right now?


1 MommyInWaiting { 03.24.11 at 7:41 am }

I am waiting for my first scan. BFP on IVF#4 and trying so hard to just enjoy every second of finally being pregnant and not wish the time away to when I can see my baby! So hard living int he moment!

2 Tara (TIMO) { 03.24.11 at 8:01 am }

I am a pessimist right from the start but Nav is like you, an initial optimist and secondary pessimist. Thanks for putting a name to how he is.

We are waiting on the other shoe to drop on some family drama that will impact our upcoming vacation. I want to hope it’s a soft bunny slipper so we won’t even notice it happened but I really fear it’s going to be a big wooden clog of a bang.

3 HereWeGoAJen { 03.24.11 at 8:56 am }

I’m waiting for the new normal, but I am also not sure I am ready for it yet.

4 Delenn { 03.24.11 at 9:00 am }

I think that I am an intial realist, then pessimist, then optimist, then I jump back to realist. (I like to organize and plan and make lists, etc. so that often means I am fairly on top of things that I can control…)

What I am waiting for…my husband starts a new job and my daughter starts pre-school–On the same day — April 4th. We will be in a better situation financially once he has been at the new job for a while–but until then, I have to kinda wait on some improvements that have been put off because of the tightness of the budget…oh, and then my little one is going to be THREE at the end of April…

So, yeah. Lots to plan for, organize and WAIT for.

5 BigP's Heather { 03.24.11 at 9:08 am }

I would LOVE to be able to defrag. I’m waiting to cycle. We won’t cycle until later this year, Nov/Dec maybe? Maybe. Depends on BigP’s work schedule. I hate waiting to try. I feel like here is this precious time and we are wasting it. I won’t get younger. My eggs aren’t getting any better. My clock is ticking like crazy. And I have three baby showers in a months span. Cruel.

6 KLTTX { 03.24.11 at 9:41 am }

I am waiting to bring our newest son home from Rwanda. The process is taking longer than we had initially thought and the pessimism has set in big time.

7 a { 03.24.11 at 9:50 am }

I’m waiting for my car to be fixed today. Tomorrow or Saturday, I’ll be waiting to hear that my husband’s helicopter flight over Iraq landed safely. After that, I’ll be waiting for him to come home.

8 lis { 03.24.11 at 10:06 am }

specifically? i am waiting/hoping/dreaming that i will make it past 20 weeks with my new little ones inside of me. i am kind of a mix of optomist and pessimist right now, trying to ignore all of that and concentrate more on eating, sleeping, working.
waiting sucks, i am impatient. i am soooo impatient normally. right now though, luckily for me, i get to truly enjoy each moment along the way with my passengers. it makes the waiting so much sweeter.

9 Kat { 03.24.11 at 10:15 am }

I am in the middle of my first FET cycle, so I’m waiting on the next milestone in this long drawn out FET process, which is still 3 weeks away. (The wait in FET seems worse than the IVF–at least with IVF you’re “doing” something with all the daily injectibles). In fact, I was ridiculously excited to go into the RE’s office yesterday for my Depot Lupron shot–at least it felt like something was happening. I’m waiting to see what happens over the next few months so maybe I can feel like DH and I can start to make plans again beyond “when can we cycle again?” I hate feeling like our life is on hold.

10 loribeth { 03.24.11 at 10:31 am }

Waiting for this stressful week to be over. 😛

Waiting for my company’s annual meeting to be over.

Waiting to take some holiday time off after that.

Waiting to be able to retire & leave this rat race behind me. (Five more years… five more years…!)

11 Cortney { 03.24.11 at 10:31 am }

Today I am waiting to hear if any of my embryos made it to blast stage so they can be biopsied for genetic screening.

In general, I’m waiting for the results of this IVF cycle so that I can move on with my life. Like you, as the projected result date draws nearer, I am more and more convinced that it’s not going to work. Since we agreed this is our last IVF, and DH doesn’t want to pursue other avenues, I guess I’m waiting to be officially declared childless so I can get past the pain/anger/bitterness/sadness and move forward.

12 loribeth { 03.24.11 at 10:31 am }

(That wasn’t supposed to be a smiley face…! )

13 Kate { 03.24.11 at 10:34 am }

Not waiting for anything right now, but from January 14th until last friday (March 18th) we were waiting first for my husband’s cancer surgery then for the final pathology report on wether or not they got the whole tumor.

I think I’m quite like you – at first I’m optimistic, but as crunch time comes I become more of a realist then a pessimist. I was sure just after his diagnosis that we’d beat cancer, then just before surgery I wasn’t sure – the odds were in our favor but you can never count on that, and between surgery and the path report I was certain that they weren’t able to remove all of the cancer and that we weren’t going to beat it. Turns out they were able to get it all….

14 manymanymoons3433 { 03.24.11 at 10:39 am }

I am an outward optimist but an inward pessimist. I like others to think it’s all going to be ok, but in my own mind it’s all dark clouds and thunderstorms. While I do believe in the “fake it till you make it” theory for some things, in this case it never seems to work for me.

15 flmgodog { 03.24.11 at 10:41 am }

I am waiting to just feel better emotionally (all the time). I am wishing away the weeks until the end of tax season, next vacation, this summer when we may start trying again….
Waiting, waiting, waiting…it’s my life.

16 Tigger { 03.24.11 at 10:44 am }

I am waiting for my son to decide he’s ready to be born. Sunday will mark a full 40 weeks, a point I never thought I’d get to, and I am completely done with the pain involved in being pregnant – something I was NOT prepared for. My doctor gets back into town tomorrow and we are going to have a chat about what to do with this kid. I’m fairly certain he’s standing on his head, one hand on either side of my cervix, feet hooked into my ribs, chanting “Hell no I won’t go” like a 70’s protester.

My husband is also waiting for this same thing. The waiting is taking it’s toll on both of us. It’s not that we’re in a hurry to have our son on the outside, just that we’re done waiting!

17 Denver Laura { 03.24.11 at 11:14 am }

I’m waiting for the phone number for the newly assigned adoption social worker. Then I’m waiting and hoping we are the ones chosen to foster the kiddo. Then I guess we’ll be waiting to see if the daddy has been found. Then we’ll be waiting another 6 months until adoption? It’s weird. We’ve been wanting kids for 4 years now and it waiting doesn’t seem as stressful. I guess it’s becuase it’s no longer dependent on a bio-clock.

I’m also waiting for tomorrow’s blog roundup.

Waiting for 5 o’clock to roll around…

18 Liana { 03.24.11 at 11:30 am }

I’m waiting for my sister-in-law’s wedding this weekend. Bringing our nine-month-old because my husband’s family all expressed disappointment when I said I had no intentions of bringing him. I cannot handle feeling like I’m disappointing people, so I agreed to bring him. As I usually am when confronted with a situation, I was full of confidence that I could handle it. Then, as the details of the weekend started to form, I had a total meltdown, as I usually do. Now I’m in the process of putting things together and letting lots of things fall by the wayside so I only have to handle the essentials, which is usually what happens. Bringing the baby so people can see him in a cute suit for a few minutes is causing me to miss out on a lot and I’m waiting for the weekend to be over so I can stop feeling bitter and sad about that.

19 Esperanza { 03.24.11 at 11:30 am }

I’m waiting for it to be summer so I can spend 8 long, lovely weeks with my daughter. I’m also waiting to start TTC again, though I’m less impatient about this as I originally was. Seems raising one baby is challenging enough! I’m actually writing a post about this today. It’s more about how… well maybe you can stop by and read it. 😉 (should be up later this afternoon, California time).

Finally, I would have to say that I’m also an initial optimist and a secondary pessimist. Only I add a layer of intense anxiety to both. You know me, I like to keep things interesting!

20 Barely Sane { 03.24.11 at 11:33 am }

I’m waiting for the gov’t to deal with my daughter’s immigration application so she can finally be a Canadian citizen. I was hoping we would have this sorted out by now but nope. Nothing seems to happen with any speed up here when talking about the Federal gov’t.

I’m waiting for the final chq (from the FED gov’t) for my dad’s company so I can get his estate wound down for good.

I’m waiting for 3pm so I can take my daughter to gymnastics and watch her. She’s so fun to watch!!

Hey, at least one thing didn’t involve a government agency!

21 Trinity { 03.24.11 at 11:43 am }

I am waiting for the end of this day, my last day of work, because tomorrow? Marks the end of my miserable three weeks back to work post maternity leave and the beginning of having more time with a certain three-month-old whose babyhood feels so fleeting and precious to me. Especially in the wake of what it took to conceive him.

My optimism vs. pessimism pattern is manic. I’m either unflappably optimistic or seemingly irreversibly pessimistic.

22 Lori Lavender Luz { 03.24.11 at 11:47 am }

“I mean, if I can’t force myself to be anxious, then why do people believe that we can just deep breathe and make ourselves calm?”

I think, if I wanted to, I could create the sensation of anxiousness in my body. Breathe hard and fast, worry, think about something worrisome, picture my heart pounding. Yes, I can make it happen.

The thing about finding calm (rather than making yourself calm, the force itself defeating the calm) is that through the breath, you bring yourself to the present moment. In this place there is no worry for the present or hurt about the past. Just the I AM, the ohm. of. this. momtent. Which is all there really is. Just a series of nows (which, as you point out, we tend to waste).

I like “All is” on the inhale and “well” on the exhale. The point is to control only my childish, frenetic mind. Because really, that’s all that’s within my sphere of control.

BTW, this subject of controlling ones self is very pertinent to what I’m observing with Tessa these days.

23 Kate { 03.24.11 at 11:59 am }

Waiting to hear if our adoption agency has reviewed our dossier documents yet and if they’ll be sending them off to China tomorrow. Then I’ll be awaiting our official Log In Date, and hoping we get it in time for the April update to China’s list of special needs kids (and then waiting to find out if we get a match!). I find I cycle frequently between optimism and pessimism during waits like this, obsessing over any little nugget of information.

24 Bionic Baby Mama { 03.24.11 at 12:04 pm }

i’m waiting for breastfeeding to get easier. sheesh.

thank you for the observation about “making” yourself calm vs. anxious. while i know there’s something to the fake it til you make it physicality of calmness, your point nevertheless rings true. i’m feeling a little messed up about parts of the labor process — basically that i should have been able to handle more pain with less screaming — and maybe i can try to apply that same idea to my situation. as in, how could i have made myself feel less pain with only my mind when i know full well there’s no way i could put myself into that kind of physical agony mentally.

25 Pam { 03.24.11 at 12:20 pm }

I’m waiting to finally have the finances to be able to do our final, last FET with our one shot with donor embryos. I spend September to January just waiting for the clinic to tell me they finally got the report from the cousellor. Then waited from January to this month for the clinic to send us DE profiles. I finally got impatient about the waiting and poked them. But now we’re waiting because we can’t financially move forward. It’s not a lot of money but we’ve got other financial committments. Meanwhile my body/age isn’t waiting….I’ve got a very finite window of time in which we can do this FET because of my age….hope the waiting isn’t too too long.

26 Justine { 03.24.11 at 12:47 pm }

wow, Mel. Exactly: wanting more time, and wishing it away.

I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop at work … maybe waiting for myself to decide on a future for myself, too.

27 Bodega Bliss { 03.24.11 at 1:13 pm }

“I mean, if I can’t force myself to be anxious, then why do people believe that we can just deep breathe and make ourselves calm?” I’ve never thought about it like that! Suddenly, I have such a better reason to keep feeling anxious! 😉

28 sunflowerchilde { 03.24.11 at 1:19 pm }

I’m actually waiting for my couch to arrive! But seriously, in my life, I am waiting for a lot of things … waiting for the weekend, for things to get a little easier around here, for my in-laws to visit, for me to be able to get back to doing some of the things I used to love to do, waiting for the summer when I can go outside with these two babies and not be stuck inside all day. Waiting for our next trip to Italy. Waiting for a chance to spend some time with my husband. I think the most frustrating thing is not knowing when some of those things will happen (including when the stupid couch will arrive). In my mind, it’s easier to have a deadline. Although now that I think about it, without a deadline, I find it easier to live in the moment instead of always wishing the time would pass faster.

29 It is what it is { 03.24.11 at 2:00 pm }

I am exactly the same, an optimist in the beginning turned pessimist by some sort of time line dependent date stamp.

I am waiting for our home inspection on Sunday so that our home study will be approved while concurrently waiting to be matched to a birth mother.

Waiting? Not my strong suit. Not.at.all.

30 Jenn { 03.24.11 at 2:25 pm }

I’m exactly the same way. Waiting for O right now, my cycles go something like this.

CD 1/2 – DEPRESSED. Majorly and utterly depressed. DH avoids me.
CD 3-10 – Hopeful because I just KNOW this is the month. I mentally list off the reasons why we messed up the last cycle and how we will do better this time.
CD 10-O – Extremely hopeful, visualizing the outcome, looking up baby stuff, telling myself “This is it!”
1DPO – 6DPO – Can’t believe I am PG!
7 DPO – 10DPO – So many symptoms! But wait are they? NO they are. Wait no they’re not. This is the worst time in my cycle as I go back and forth about every five minutes.
11 DPO – AF – I knew I wasn’t PG this cycle. Why would THIS cycle be any different than the last 8 years? We should just give up. Then AF starts and the cycle repeats.

It’s SO much fun.

31 Kristi { 03.24.11 at 2:35 pm }

The safe arrival of my daughter.

32 geochick { 03.24.11 at 2:43 pm }

Oddly enough, S and I were talking about this last night. In waiting for a life changing event it’s really difficult to be in the moment. Anxiety levels are at an all time high. Deep breathing and yoga are doing nothing to help.

33 Tonggu Momma { 03.24.11 at 3:43 pm }

A referral. After almost five years of waiting, I am just days away from receiving an adoption referral from China. I feel very out-of-sorts lately. This morning, I had an epiphany – I’ve been waiting for so long, I’ve learned HOW to wait. Now that the wait is nearly over, I don’t know exactly what to do or how to feel. It’s almost like I feel guilty for feeling excitement and anticipation. Weird, huh?

34 Allison { 03.24.11 at 3:53 pm }

I’m a pessimist. To the point of – if I dare to dream about a positive outcome, I’m convinced I’ve jinxed it and then endlessly blame myself if the Bad Outcome occurs.

The upshot? I’m truly, utterly flabbergasted when good things happen. Which they do. All the time, if I’m being honest. I’m very blessed. But I never, ever expect the Good Things.

What I’m waiting for? To feel my baby’s next kick. At almost 18 weeks, I’ve felt a couple of sporadic movements. I never thought I’d be here, and now I’m trying my damnedest to not get my hopes up that this will be an easy-breezy-take-home baby, because the devastation of jinxing it would be too much to handle.

Messed up, yes?

35 Marissa { 03.24.11 at 3:55 pm }

My ultrasound. Please let there be a heartbeat. Please.

36 Jean { 03.24.11 at 5:16 pm }

I’m waiting for all of this grief to diminish to the point that it doesn’t have such a firm hold on me. I’m waiting to be healthy enough, both emotionally and physically, to start another round of TTC. And I’m waiting for our finances to turn around so I’ll actually be able to afford medical care if/when I get pregnant again.

37 RenovationGirl { 03.24.11 at 5:16 pm }

Our unexpected IUI cycle after we did our “final cycle ever” last month…waiting to get off of this roller coaster ride permanently!

38 Grace { 03.24.11 at 6:52 pm }

Waiting to see if we will be able to adopt our kids.

39 Mrs. Gamgee { 03.24.11 at 7:33 pm }

As silly as it seems, I am waiting for spring. I’m dealing with a lot of cabin fever these days and long for the sight of green grass and the feel of a warm breeze. Ginny and I have been cooped up in the house for far too long and it’s beginning to affect my overall mental health.

40 Shadow of My Former Self { 03.24.11 at 7:50 pm }

I am waiting to “welcome” back AF after a miscarriage. In the meantime I am trying to normalize my feelings of anxiety about the upcoming stresses of more waiting. At this rate I don’t know how I’ll manage waiting for an actual baby to arrive!

41 Seriously?! { 03.24.11 at 8:12 pm }

Oh that is soooo me!!!! Total sunshine, then rain. Rain like it’s a freaking monsoon kind of rain. I blame it on my loss, I was much better before that crap entered my life.

Waiting. I hate waiting. I’m a get-er-done kind of girl and hate waiting for others to finish paperwork. Patience.

So, I’m waiting for our social worker to call this week saying that she’s completed our report and that we’re approved to Adopt. Then I’ll be waiting to finsih my big book. But that’s not really waiting. Then the agency will be waiting for me…for once!!!

Great post. We’re all waiting for something!!!

42 andrea { 03.24.11 at 8:25 pm }

I”m not waiting. That’s the sad part for me, to be honest. No shots, no cycles, no blastocysts, no embryos (ok, just 2 not so good ones), no pregnancy tests, none. As hard as infertility is, being out of it feels worse right now. But I know this will pass.

43 Barb { 03.24.11 at 10:08 pm }

I am SO the same! I’m waiting for understanding and for much bad news. (not pessimistic there.. just a horrible inevitability). Things have been hard for those I care for lately.

44 Cathleen { 03.24.11 at 10:11 pm }

I just got done waiting for my bloodwork to come back in to tell me if I ovulated during my FET or not. I didn’t! So we are sitll on for a transfer in one week. I didn’t do a single thing at work while I waited all day but this kind of waiting means I move closer and closer to my goal, so bring it on!

45 Mali { 03.24.11 at 10:49 pm }

Andrea, it does pass, and eventually not waiting becomes a good thing.

I am always waiting for my next holiday (in US English, that means “vacation”) … 😉

and waiting for my husband to get a brilliant job offer somewhere exciting, so I don’t have to find a job beyond what I’m doing now

46 Anke { 03.25.11 at 2:59 am }

I am waiting for my hubby to come home today. I am waiting for my babygirl to fall asleep, so I can read more of Melissa’s ‘Life from Scratch’ on my Kindle. Really enjoying the book Melissa! You inspired me to start my Blog again!

47 Queenie { 03.25.11 at 3:33 am }

I am waiting for the work week to end, so I can do all of the cool things we have planned for this weekend. I’m waiting for my husband to make some decisions about some things he is doing-and when!-so I can plan our vacation in Italy. I’m waiting for AF to finally return so we can start TTC again (it’s been 2 years, between being pregnant and nursing!). And as stupid as it is, because I am in a cool dream place doing a cool dream job, I am waiting for the next few months to go by, so I can find out what I’ll be doing next.

You can’t make yourself anxious? Am I alone in my neurotic ability to whip myself from normal to troubled in 60 minutes or less?

48 Merry { 03.25.11 at 6:14 am }

I’m waiting to get past next Saturday, the first anniversary of my sons birth – and then the 13th, the anniversary of his death. And then I’m waiting to get to the 19th, which is the day I get to go and pick up my Clomid prescription as I’ll have been ttcing for a year since his loss. And then I’m waiting for the 28th, the anniversary of Freddie’s funeral and then I’m waiting to find out, as I expect, that it isn’t ovulation that is the problem and that Clomid will make no difference and that I’m going to have to do another year and another Christmas without a baby to begin to put us right.

Every month I feel half positive until about day 16 – and then all hope fades. And it is hard, especially when, before the babies who died, this used to be so easy.

49 mash { 03.25.11 at 8:15 am }

My tenant to pay her rent which is a month late… and wondering if I should start filing legal claims against her. Sigh. Hate doing that, but have to pay the mortgage somehow and have no other choice!

50 m. { 03.25.11 at 8:25 am }

Waiting to hear back from a handful of job applications that are floating around out there for me. I’ve had initial interviews for some but not all. I have a feeling they are all going to be long, drawn out processes.

Waiting for my husband’s anxiety to subside and for him to decide whether or not a new path he has undertaken is really for him, or is even sustainable. Accelerated pre-med classes plus full-time job = a whole lotta stress and angst over here. I know he CAN, but I’m waiting to understand if he really WANTS to do it. Do I want him to do it? Waiting for someone to just come and tell us what to do with our lives.

Waiting for M’s sister’s little girl to be born and for both mom and baby to be healthy and safe.
Waiting for my mom’s hips to heal enough for her to return home.
Waiting for my dad’s radiation treatments to be scheduled so I know what I’m doing with my life in the short-term. Here? There? Some hints would be nice.

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