There is so much I don’t like about trying to get pregnant. Like the acronyms… TTC (trying to conceive), BFM (big fat negative), DPO (days past ovulation). I don’t like how easy it is to fall down a fertility rabbit hole online. I searched “IUI tips” on Pinterest and suddenly my feed is full of syrupy sweet IVF prayers and affirmations. I label each one “no longer relevant” as quickly as I could. I googled “implantation bleeding” and struck message boards that spooked me with their born-again-ism.
I don’t like how ignored I feel by conception narratives. I read a book about fertility nutrition by a Brooklyn-progressive “farmer’s daughter” and the whole vibe was so willfully straight and white it seemed to be trying to offend. Like the author only valued mirror images of her slim, pale self. So much evangelizing about raw milk. A proclamation about how your pregnancy will bring out a primordial protectiveness in your man.
And I don’t like having my life tie-dyed with uncertainty. The indecision that rose within me after round one was foreign and excruciating. I woke up the next morning certain I’m made a terrible mistake. I imagined this child hammering a stake between me and my wife. We’d break up. I’d be left a single parent, but worse: without mi amor para siempre. I cried to my wife and she smoothed my hair. That would not happen.
Twenty-four more hours and I was certain I wanted to conceive. And back and forth, and back and forth, and back and forth.
I knew my expectation that the first time would work was unrealistic, but … #shepersisted. What was, days earlier, theoretical, seemed inevitable. But then I saw a tiny dot of blood in my underwear. My body flushed cold. I’d lost it. But what was “it” even? Probably nothing. It felt like something and that’s when the indecision began to abate. I was picking a team. I wanted this. I want this.
These two week waits are excruciating. I spend too much time and energy trying to decipher every physical sensation. Not knowing is the hardest thing for me to bear, so what a test this all has been. I can do nothing but wait. I’m riding shotgun in my own body. I’m shocked at how little I know about my own biology. I google “cervix” when I realize I don’t know exactly where it is, or what it looks like.
It’s that small? A baby is coming out of there?
Mine has scar tissue from the removal with an electric knife of abnormal cells. Maybe because of that scar tissue, during the second round, it took the nurse so long to ease the catheter filled with donor sperm through that my legs started to shake.
But she “advanced”. Sample in. She turned off the lights, tilted my hips and told me to think good thoughts for ten minutes.
I remembered a little song my family sang to babies in the pool during long summer afternoons. “Motor boat, motor boat, go so slow.” You hold a little one by their swimmies and spin just slightly.” Motor boat, motor boat, go so fast.” You pick up the pace. “Motor boat, motor boat, step on the gas.” You spin them around with everything you have.
After my ten minutes were up. I met my wife in the waiting room and told her I’d pictured playing with our baby in the pool. “Aww,” she said and made a motion like she was dipping a baby’s feet in the water. I like the idea that we will play with our baby in my favorite of all elements.
I do like how witchy this is making me. The hippie I’ve always secretly wanted to take me over is beginning to emerge. My wife asked about activity on a credit card we rarely use and I had to admit I’d bought a pouch of crystals. I search “fertility altar” on the internet with surprising frequency. I made a mental note to ask my friend for the name of the acupuncturist she swears got her pregnant. I pick mint leaves from my little plant and brew tea with them in a beautiful, fecund, ceramic pot, because I’m trying to unwind with something other than gin and because I want to be intimate with what I can grow.
I feel lucky that I’m able to be on this journey. I’m healthy. We can afford the fees, for now anyway. I have a job that I can blow off for a few hours when it’s time to kick off my jeans at the lesbian-owned sperm bank ten minutes from our apartment. Two months is a long time, but it’s also only two months. One of my mother friends was trying for two years.
I’m wading into a stream running with life and time. I do not know when the current will take me or where we will go. But I’m drawn to the water, nevertheless.