Thursday, February 28, 2013

one year, a retrospective, cycle 3, day 14

One year ago this week, C and I were on a romantic my-parents-are-in-a-bungalow-right-next-door-to-us getaway to St. Lucia. Even though we are still routinely mistaken for brother and sister when we travel with them[1]no, really, one queen bed will be fine we told the slightly-horrified-and-unable-to-hide-it Cambodian concierge – we’re not shy about accepting literally any freebie travel opportunity sent our way.

And because there’s just something about international travel that screams it’s-time-for-a-baby[2], we made a decision: we are going to start trying. I had just finished a pack of birth control and for the first time in more than ten years, I would forego a new pack. We even told my parents – which seems much stranger in retrospect than it did at the time.

Had I known then what I know now, would I have proceeded differently? Would I have ratcheted down my level of late teen/early twenty pregnancy terror by about eleventy billion degrees? Umm, YES. Honestly, I have no idea. On one hand, yes I would change everything. But on the other, bigger hand, what on earth would I have done? Besides never taking birth control and perhaps remaining completely sedentary, I’m not sure what realistically would have helped.

But hindsight is 20/20 so here are a few things I’ve learned in twelve months of seemingly futile trying.

(1) Becoming a mother is a journey, not a destination.

Sike. This isn’t a middle school health classroom poster (just replace “becoming a mother” with “life” or “happiness”. You know, in the same genre as “Math gives you wings!” and “What’s right isn’t always popular, and what’s popular isn’t always right” and you see where I’m going). But seriously, this is taking way longer than we anticipated. We’re like, um, terribly ready to be parents, thankyouverymuch.

(2) A middle-aged man with disturbingly blond hair considering his age no ovaries is more familiar with mine than I am

As profoundly expressed by the more astute among us, despite thinking of ourselves as devastatingly self-righteous self-aware feminists, many of us know shockingly little about this body we’ve called home for so many years.

Which is all very surprising because, you know, independent-woman-advanced-degree-etc. Seriously though. I was thought I was an A+ feminist in college. In between the peace sign patches on my backpack, I had a button that said I Believe Anita Hill; I wore a t-shirt from the 70s that said Liberated Women are Better[3]; I once marched in some kind of vaguely women’s rightsy thing holding a banana with a condom on it (we were clearly in need of adult supervision) for more than two hours.

(Faces obscured to protect the innocent.)
(Also, can we talk about just how unflattering a torso shot is?)

But I am here to confess: I was a fraud. I couldn’t have told you how ovulation occurs – just that I bled every month with disturbing regularity. I didn’t know about pituitary glands or fallopian tubes and the mention of anything called “cervical mucus” would have probably elicited super mature giggling.

What I’ve come to learn is that what I know about my body has almost nothing to do with the parts. What do I know? What refrain has been drilled into my skull since approximately fifth grade? Don’t get teen pregnant. Also, a penis can’t get stuck inside you and you can’t get pregnant from kissing (thank you anonymous fifth grade health class question series). But mostly, for the love of all things good and right in this world, don’t get teen pregnant. (Ed. Note: this was way before the veritable buffet of poor teenage decision-making that is the 16 & Pregnant/Teen Mom/Teen Mom 2 reality TV explosion. Back then, we didn’t even have Amber’s prison jumpsuit or Chelsea’s erratic, feathered hairstyles to deter us. Sigh.)

(3) Infertility means you see “baby” everywhere you look

The other day I was reading something for work – something harrowing and terribly upsetting about Sudan (my work is nothing if not uplifting) – and one of the refugees in the report was named Winston. For about five thirty seconds a very loud voice in my head went like this: Hmmm, Winston. Winston. Winston,Winston,Winston. Could that be like, a kind of cute, old school, hipster baby name for my as yet unconceived, unborn child? What kinds of Etsy inspired wall art would Winston’s nursery have? What kind of animal themed rain boots would Winston wear? What kind of…

And then it dawned on me that I am completely psychotic and must get a hold of myself have lost my ever loving mind.[4] Also, thank goodness we already have a girl’s name picked out.

The point is, when you’re riding the infertility train, everything is a nail. No wait, that’s not right.[5] Anyway, where was I: babies! Everywhere. All of the time.

(4) You’re stronger – but also crazier – than you thought[6]

Stronger: I’ve now weathered the no-baby-storm for an entire year; I’ve miscarried; and I’ve been through three rounds of the hormonal jujitsu that is Clomid +/- hamster ovaries. Although there have been days entire weeks of relationship-testing-attitude-adjustment-disorder, I can say sincerely that both C and I are stronger than we thought. We’ve endured a lot – and also like basically nothing at all relatively speaking, compared to everyone else in the world ever – and we’ve made it out the other side, with our incredibly dry humor and love for one another still in tact (I can get sentimental every now and then, right?).

Crazier: much. If you had told me one year ago that I would be regularly contorting myself into a post-coital headstand and blogging about my muffin top, then you sir ma’am, would be very mistaken. But here we are.

<And now, please imagine a witty and satisfying this-ties-it-all-together ending. I can’t do all the heavy lifting around here. >

[1] Take note future innkeepers of America and international tour guides – we are wearing matching rings. forgoodnesssake
[2] And that something is a voice that calls out mockingly – after you have a baby you will never travel again! <menacing laughter.>
[3] The best part of which was that when my hair was long, and not pulled back, it fell just so on my shoulders such that the shirt read “Berated Women are Better. Yes, yes indeed.
[4] Yes. This really happened. Don’t judge.
[5] I did promise that this would be a venue for showcasing my use of mixed metaphors. Promise kept!
[6] When did we transition to second person? I don’t know – just go with it. Think of it like a Junot Diaz novel or something.


  1. WELL THIS IS CRAZY, but I have been writing my one-year anniversary of infertility post in my head all day today. Because today/tomorrow is our one-year anniversary of trying, too! Infertility twiiiiiiins.

    But seriously, if I'm doing the whole "challenges are here to teach us things" mindset, I'm grateful for the things I've learned, which are a lot of the same things you've learned.

    Keep on keepin' on!

    1. ha, well, so glad we can share this special day! Look forward to hearing your deep insights :)

  2. Even though I can second everything you've written, I wish neither of us had this 'opportunity for learning'. If it's any consolation, I've just posted about how I think I'm actually conquering the crazy after all this time, but I hope you never get that far. Or I mean, I hope Winston is on his/her way very soon. Those duck boots will be adorable.

    1. OMG! Can we just talk for a second about how appropos and (not at all) funny it is that my verification code for that comment was 'toGynae'...?

  3. Your posts always bring a smile to my face! I love your writing style! The one year TTC anniversary sucked for me. But i am so glad that this has made your strong rlationship stronger. IF is the first time I understood the phrase "wha dosent kill you makes you stronger..."

  4. I am a queen of mixed metaphors, myself. Or sometimes just half metaphors (e.g., "two birds" is one of my regulars) or terribly shitty metaphors, because I always remember the meaning and forget the actual words.

    Anyway, these are incredibly befitting lessons for me, as well. Weirdly, yesterday was our one year anniversary of trying (in earnest), too.