December 14, 2013
We had been trying for eight months. Not long enough to be classified as having fertility issues, but plenty long enough to watch as Facebook convinced me over and over that other couples were much more fertile than I. With captions like, “honeymoon baby” and “our family is growing” or pictures of a woman standing sideways with her hands on a belly that was smaller than my un-pregnant one, claiming to be growing already at just six weeks.
When Mike and I were younger, I naively stated that we would be fine if we couldn’t have kids. That we would accept this reality in stride and look to our future filled with more money and travels and no obligations to seven year old birthday parties. But at the time I wasn’t thinking about the fact that you don’t just get handed a paper with a yes or no on it, rather the only way to discover whether you are fertile is to try having kids. You have to face a negative pregnancy test many, many times before they will deem you “infertile.” And even though the doctor told us that we were within “normal range,” it didn’t stop us from wondering if it would ever happen. And within this unknown, fear grew like mold on last week’s casserole dish.
So I did all the things that I read. Increasing my sweet potato intake and decreasing my wine intake (ok, the latter just isn’t true). I vigilantly avoided all the foods that I’m supposedly intolerant to, took my morning temperature and measured the length of my luteal phase. I even knew what a luteal phase was. And I tracked all of this on a friendly little app on my phone that put cute little hatching egg icons on my calendar to indicate my most fertile days. We knew our probability of 20% every month, but we sure as heck were trying to maximize our chances. People with a tendency towards OCD should not be allowed to use Google when trying for children…
And all this time, you can’t see what’s happening in there. You can’t know whose parts work and whose might not. Whether there’s any mingling of genetic code actually happening or if the egg gets stood up every time. You begin to feel guilty, wondering if you are the one to blame. As if you have failed or discovered that your tarot cards have nothing but misfortune written on them. But you don’t know what to do with those feelings when you wash complete acceptance over your partner when they too worry they are the one that might not be able to have children.
Eight months. It isn’t long. It doesn’t compare to years of trying, to women who have been told a pregnancy would be nothing short of a miracle. But each month would pass, each pee stick dumped in the trash due to negative messages, and my heart would sink a bit further. You begin to say things like, “Well if it isn’t meant to be…” and you feel an empty space form next to the photographs on your future mantle. No kids, no grandchildren. Just us. You know in your heart that it should be enough. Like Aloe Blacc says, “life is a game made for everyone and love is the prize.” So haven’t we already won?
After seven months of doing things right, I inadvertently gave up. We were planning a trip to Mexico to see my beautiful friend Clarrissa tie the knot. The basal thermometer and prenatal vitamins got left behind as we packed our bags for some sunshine. Within that week I ate dairy and I’m sure that some gluten snuck into my food too. I got three massages. Three. THREE! I drank margaritas, I danced my butt off and I soaked in enough Vitamin D to last me the Portland winter. And despite us sharing a room with my brother in law, my hubby and I managed to fit in some alone time. It was literally (said like Chris Traeger from Parks and Rec) a dream come true.
Back in drizzly Oregon I returned to work, vowing to reduce my drinking again and really try to get pregnant this month. But mostly, I just jumped back on the train that is life and began watching time whiz by like trees and telephone poles and graffiti covered bridges. Barely discerning which was which. Monday became Friday. November became December. But soon something caused me to look up from my forward transport. I began to feel a little funny. And by funny I mean I began to feel like an angry raptor one second and the next like a blubbering baby.
Every month for the past eight months, I was convinced that I must be pregnant. But as those months came and went, I started to view pregnancy tests as a way to prove to my mind that it wasn’t true. Like a parent who checks under the bed for the hundredth time to show their kid that there are in fact no monsters under there. See I told you, they say, now go to bed! So that unassuming Saturday, I pulled out the box of pregnancy tests I kept under the sink and peed on the stick just to tell my brain to let it go. I went and switched the laundry to the dryer and then returned to a sight I did not expect. Two lines. Two! Not one this time. Not a blank oval or a “not pregnant” digital let down. Two f-ing lines.
My brain took a few seconds to catch up to my racing heart. I immediately ran to the other room and grabbed my phone. Within this moment there was no space to concoct a cute way to tell Mike, like Becky did on Full House by making a whole meal of baby-themed foods for Uncle Jessie. I needed to say it out loud to him to hear that it was true. The second he answered the phone I breathlessly yelped, “I’m pregnant!” My calm, straightforward husband replied, “cool…” And then I proceeded to ramble on and on about why I took the test and how I couldn’t believe it. We talked next steps as I shook from head to toe. My life had just turned on an unexpected dime. At that moment, I had no idea what this thing that I had wanted so much for so long would really mean.
© 2014 D. Willson