So I’m supposed to be regaling you with the tale of my stupid friend who immediately upon becoming pregnant seems to have crowned herself Earth Mother and commenced with dispensing the kind of useless conception advice I’ve heard far too much of in the last 13 months thankyouverymuch (“Stop thinking about it!” “Don’t try!” “It’ll happen when you relax!”)

This inane bullshit, by the way, I doubly resent because, having struggled herself to conceive for nearly two years, you’d think she’d heard enough of and so would know better than to recommend such impossibile advice. Not try? Not think about it? Does it seem likely that at any time after panting and pounding away with my naked husband for 20 minutes (If he’s reading, 30. I mean 30 minutes.) I’m going to inexplicably find myself with a pillow under my ass and my knees in the air and be somehow confused as to why and how I got there?

Furthermore, what irks me more than the advice to take impossible action is the intrinsic meaning of phrases like “It’ll happen when you relax.” Does no one from whose mouth this phrase ejects understand that these words imply fault and blame? That there is an inherent hypothosis here that says, essentially, “If you do not relax, this will not happen. If you do relax, this will happen.” In other words: “This is all your fucking fault. You have total control over whether you conceive or not, and you’re choosing NOT to conceive because you’re choosing NOT to relax, you selfish, irresponsible, baby-hating asshole.”

Are you sensing my anger here? Imagine. I haven’t even gotten to the part where she questions the health of my marriage in a not very delicate comparison to an HBO series featuring fictional characters.

But I can’t get to that part. Not today. Because my jealousy-fueled anger is, in a rare display of oneuppedness, being overshadowed by another more potent infertility-fueled emotion: complete and utter despair.

OK, maybe I exaggerate a little. It’s not totally complete. I’m still about one slice short of a shit sandwich, but I feel confident that I do have at least the makings of said sandwich. It’s just that fate is probably going to wait until I’ve spent the last ounce of my hope and a good portion of our financial future on IVF before handing me the full lunch buffet of despair. So in the meantime, sure: Incomplete yet utter despair.

Maybe you’ve guessed already, but I got my period. I felt the familiar yawning ache stretch across the low reaches of my belly Thursday night. A flash of hot sweats followed. I countered with a prayer and six hours on the Internet vainly searching for “pregnancy symptoms masquerading as PMS” and “cramps worsening + pregnancy probability.”

At 4 a.m., the truth woke me from a dead sleep. Soaked in sweat and throbbing from the belly button down, I inched slowly to the bathroom. The minute my bare foot hit the cold tile, I felt the familiar wet slide from inside to out. My breath lodged in my throat. I turned on the light, took a deep breath and peered into my panties.

Three little crimson spots blinked up at me from the cotton.

I thought I’d cry then. I didn’t. I went silently about the business of stripping off my underwear, running them under the cold tap, changing my underwear, sticking a pad in the fresh pair, changing out of my sweaty T-shirt, sliding into one of my husband’s, all without so much as a whimper.

Then I crept back to bed, clicked off the light, and curled into—ironically I guess—the fetal position.

And then? I howled. Heartbroken. Again.


So another friend of mine is pregnant. I didn’t mind the first, oh, I don’t know, 21 people in a row I know who got knocked up the first time their husband sneezed in their vicinity within the last year. (Including the friend who had cancer not once but twice, endured chemo, a bone marrow transplant, was told by doctors to never even entertain hope of conceiving because her womb was as charred as gasoline-dipped marshmallow in a bonfire, then, one day, a year or two into her recovery, was alerted by her husband, who had two kids before meeting her, that her complaints of nausea, hunger and general malaise sounded less like a remission gone wrong and more like good lovin’ gone right. He was correct; a few months later doctors extracted an infant boy from her healthy, pink interior.)

But this friend is different. This one, like me, has been trying unsuccessfully for more than a year, with no luck, no answers, just a heap of vacant pregnancy test windows and one very tired vagina.

And then, just like that, with no warning and no permission slip, she abruptly left for Having-a-Baby pastures and abandoned me alone in the arid land of Have Nots.

Why did this one sting me worse than the dozens of others? Well, for one, she didn’t have cancer. The gal I know who did, then went on to have a healthy little ten-toed nugget of love, who can blame her? She didn’t have a baby; she birthed a goddamn miracle! Who begrudges a woman that?!!

As for the ones without cancer who became so easily fertilized by way of a husbandly sneeze … ? (OK, maybe more penetrable fluids were involved. I can’t be sure of such intimate details.) Well, maybe I wasn’t quite as wowed by God’s handiwork in these cases, but I certainly wasn’t standing like a wild-eyed witch in the middle of a lightning storm, shaking my fist at the heavens either. I was envious perhaps, curious why them and not me—but not angry, not devastated, and certainly not bitter.

But this one, this also-long-suffering friend who did the big reveal by way of a left hook (told a friend to tell me), followed immediately by an uppercut (“Turns out I was reading the pregnancy tests wrong the WHOLE TIME! Can you believe how silly I am!” FB message) … ? This one left me as bitter as if a nut fell out of a bitter tree, soaked in a cup of day old coffee, rolled itself in a lemon rind and pooped directly into my veins.

I know what you’re thinking. Why am I so pissy about the way she told me. Because I’m PISSED she’s pregnant, that’s why! There’s no rhyme or reason to this shit! I’m just fucking jealous and feel totally abandoned in the world of women “struggling with unexplained fertility” whose understanding about what’s actually going wrong in their uterus is about as insightful and enlightening as the three-paragraph brochure my ob/gyn gave me on the subject.

Honestly, she could have sent me a bouquet of Anne Geddes babies curled up inside tulip blossoms, and I still be pissed. (I mean, for a second I’d be touched. But then I’d be totally pissed.)

Anyway, before you start thinking that I’m just some venomous, covetous horror with a heart of stone and a soul of toxic ash, I’d like to point you to exhibit A, the scene in which I, putting my envy (mostly) behind me, took my barren womb and pregnant friend to breakfast to celebrate her news.

It was over an egg over easy (no, the irony is not lost on me) that the true source of my seething poop-veined bitterness began its unfettered flow. Unfortunately, because the very act of recalling it in lo, these last few minutes has sent my blood pressure spiking into my ears, I’m going to take a break and continue this post after I’ve done at least 6 hours of deep breathing, snorted a sachet of chamomile tea, and punched someone.

But I will leave you with this hint of the reason for my rage: It began with her “concern” about whether or not my marriage’s stability had yet been threatened by my “fertility problems.”

Because she’s seen that happen before.

To Charlotte and Trey.

Two characters on “Sex and the City.”

So you know that moment when you’re 38 years old, wearing a napkin like it’s a skirt, with your stocking feet perched in a set of stirrups and a bespectacled doctor grinning at you from over the top of your knees as he injects a spin-washed goober of your husband’s spunk up your uterus, telling you, “Yup, everything looks perfect! I think it’s gonna work this month!” But two insufferable weeks later, for the gazillionth month in a row, it clearly—in a bright red approximation of a billboard in the crotch of your panties kind of clearly—doesn’t work?

You don’t know that moment?

Then get the fuck out of here.

This blog is not for you. It’s intended for women who, for their 20s and most of their 30s, waited and wondered and tossed around the idea of having kids like a drunk college kid at a tailgate, until one day, when game time finally came and they wanted more than anything to play, and to win—not the Heisman, not the damn Superbowl, just one goddamn game-and they couldn’t even make it through the stadium gate.

No rhyme, no reason… OK, maybe a reason. Likely a reason. The reason: They’re too fucking old. Or more accurately, I’M too fucking old.

Right. Here’s the part where you interject about all the chicks you know who were 40, 41, 43 years old—hell, Halle Berry, 46!—when they had their baby. Yeah, well, come to find out, that’s not the norm. That’s damn good luck, damn good eggs, maybe a damn good salary that makes IVF and other such stretches of the budget and imagination worth the exceptionally tough odds. But it’s not the norm. Not my norm. Not yet anyway.

After more than a year of trying, 300-odd mornings of basal temperature taking, three rounds of clomid, and one round of sperm shot through a straw, I’m still not pregnant.

The obvious assumption——seeing as my husband’s sperm has been declared highly mobile and chock full of strong swimmers, my tubes and related parts have been certified clear and open for business, and we and the doctor have all been utilizing the correct opening in my nether region——is that I’m too old. Or more accurately, my eggs are too old. Maybe they’re missing chromosomes or actually getting fertilized but not implanting correctly or any of the millions of things that can prevent a baby’s making, but I can’t help but suspect it’s nothing that exotic or even plain unlucky. Worse than that, it’s a fate of my own making.

What I envision is simply this: My eggs’ mitochondria are wearing moustaches. And those moustaches are white and scraggly. Like Father Time. Or Sam Elliot.

Do you know what a desperate woman does on a Friday night? She doesn’t perch on a barstool with her back ramrod straight and her hair shellacked, sipping a Michelob Ultra on draught as she prays for a man to buy her a martini with a curl of lemon zest. No. A desperate woman goes to Rite-Aid on the way home for work, buys a pregnancy test from a pimple-faced teenager (whom she desperately wants to reassure, “It’s OK. I’m married. I WANT to be pregnant. Stop blushing.”) then goes home and pees on a stick.

Why take a pregnancy test after a long day’s work, you ask? Aren’t pregnancy tests meant to be urinated upon with that most potent marinating-in-your-bladder-all-night-long morning pee? Well, they’re also supposed to be taken the day of or after your missed period, but I didn’t pay any fucking attention to that either, did I?


And there’s a good reason for that: I’m prepping for the inevitable, the big fat stripe-less void of “no fucking way,” more commonly known as “negative.” You see, I set it up so that it’ll most likely be a negative: buy cheap, generic Rite-Aid brand of pregnancy test, check; pee on cheap stick in the evening, following several glasses of water; check; test at least 5, possibly 7 days before said period is thought to be due (though who really knows Aunt Flo’s ETA when you have PCOS, a few hits of Clomid, and an hcG shot coursing through your veins).

Doing it early, at the wrong time of day, and on a close approximation of a Dollar Store stick, I still have some hope. The kind of small, slackened hope I’m willing to allow in the room with me but upon whose neck I’m going to keep my foot so as to ensure she doesn’t rear back like a venomous cobra and bite me in the ass.

You see, this way, in the middle of the night, when I’m acutely aware that my boobs are swollen and throbbing, and my uterus teases with little “I’m stretching to make way for baby!” cramps, and I get up to pee, and I find myself alone there in the dark, a cold toilet seat under my cheeks and my messy dog’s discarded kibble under my bare feet, and I press my forearms against my aching chest to determine exactly how tender these swollen globes are, and I wonder,” Is this different? Do they hurt more? Am I molesting myself needlessly?” I can allow myself the brief, warm luxury of thinking, “Oh my God. I might actually be pregnant.”

After all, it WAS a cheapie test. It wasn’t my morning pee. And, hell, it could be 5,6, or even 22 more days until my period is supposed to come if you take into consideration that creepy month this summer where I waited for 55 days for that mother fucking mystery to appear.

And yet, as I pad down the hall and slip back into my warm nest of a bed and pull the covers up tight until they scratch just below my chin, I can also allow myself to recall that, well, my boobs pretty much hurt like mofos before every period. And I also get some pretty heavy PMS cramps. I’ve been waking up to pee in the middle of the night pretty much every night since I turned 33. And, oh yeah, my eggs are so fucking old they probably saw my husband’s sperm launch out of that IUI nozzle and decided they needed a nap before his little squigglers so much as THOUGHT about jostling them out of their Tempur-pedic La-Z-Boy recliners.

And, if every month in the 13 since we started trying is any indication, then no, I’m probably not pregnant.

Like any sports blooper involving a groin injury, this “I’m probably not pregnant” thought plays on a continuous loop, instantly replaying in my head to its own canned laugh track through the rest of my waiting days. And so, when my period, as it inevitably does, arrives, I am not so completely stunned or devastated. I am somewhat prepared for the news. I simply take a long, deep breath as I stare down into that inexplicable red mess in my panties and think, “Son of a bitch. Well, I guess I saw that coming.”

Which is why I took another test this morning, Sunday, at 5:30 a.m., less than 36 hours after the first. It was again, of course, totally negative—not even the faintest suggestion of a line in the necessary circle.

But really, can I trust that? According to my calculations, it easily could be 35 days from my expected period, or maybe 4, but maybe even that’s too early for an accurate hormone detection.

Because also, my boobs still really hurt. Really, really hurt. Plus, I’ve been hungry all weekend. And I felt dizzy once. OK, that was during yoga, following camel pose, in a 110-degree room. But still. I felt dizzy for at least a half-second.

And that negative test result? Well. It WAS just a cheapie from Rite-Aid, you know?

Word to the non-Mother..