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.