“March of 2014,” I told my Rheumatologist last Autumn at my 6 month check-in.
“Okay, let’s get your blood work done today; I’m going to check your thyroid functions. Have you been taking prenatal vitamins?”
“Uh, no. I mean, I’m giving you a date, but I’m still so unsure,” I replied unable to make eye contact.
“Well, I would get on them just in case you get sure closer to March.” She smiled. March arrived faster than expected and I didn’t have the nerve to pull the trigger. My next 6 month appointment went similarly as the last:
“How are your symptoms?” Dr. T asked checking my unshaven knee joints for inflammation.
“Fine; just a little inflammation when it snows.”
“It’s March.” She declared ominously. Indeed it was March. I hadn’t started trying to have this baby that I wanted and didn’t want. I smiled awkwardly and nodded.
“So did you get ovulation strips and pregnancy tests? Are you all set for this journey?”
“Uh, negative. I plan to do this the old fashioned way–without planning/tracking.” I declared proud of my ability to remain completely nonchalant about the experience.
“People like you are the ones that get pregnant really fast; I’ll see you three weeks,” she joked typing up notes into her computer.
I left her office with her last words ringing in my mind. The Metro ride home questions filled the car. Do I want do this? Am I ready? Can I do this physically? What about my insane family? What will happen with my job? What about all things I still want to accomplish in my lifetime? How will I ever do it all? Will I want to be a mom only and quit my job and not look back?
I called an old friend who knew me before I even considered the idea of parenthood. AP told me something that still softens me today: it’s not easy; it’ll change you and your life in unexpected ways; it’s an experience worth having nonetheless.
It took me a month to decide that I would dive into possibility. I assumed it would happen with ease and little emotion. Naive, I began the process. That month, when I got my period, I sat on the toilet disappointed and surprised. It was the first time I admitted wanting it. Each month past with multiple Facebook feeds of pregnancy announcements and birth announcements. I slowly grew frustrated. It felt like everyone around me had this magical ability to conceive with ease, while I couldn’t. Talking to friends who were in the same stage, I noticed that we felt the same.
Conclusion: Every one shares when they are pregnant. Every one shares when they give birth. Not many share the journey to getting pregnant. One that is sometimes filled with frustration, fear, heartbreak, grief, and courage. I began to want to share this with the world, with other women, but each time I started to write about it, I chickened out. I didn’t want my family to know that I was considering parenthood. I could feel their pressure from the day I got married. Mom has dreamed about a grandchild for years now!
My need to share this process however became more important than hiding from my family’s pressures, when I discussed this with a close friend. Going through this alone feels wrong. So today I am writing to not just put myself out there, but to share its reality.
My reality exists in the four weeks of my monthly cycle. The week of my period is mostly filled with a relief that I get to continue my lifestyle without making any dramatic changes/sacrifices, with the exception of a day or two of sadness of not getting pregnant. The week after my period, I celebrate my non-pregnant body by drinking Prosecco, eating sushi, and going to all my dance classes. The third week in my cycle is when it starts back up–the hoping, the longing. I start dreaming about all the possibilities that motherhood could bring me. How it could change who I am for the better. How it could push me into a totally different career as it has for a few of my friends. Then there are the days leading up to my period. There’s only one daily question: do I feel pregnant?
The only truth I know through this process is I am scared of what this change will bring. I am scared of losing my oh so cozy lifestyle filled with the freedom to jaunt off for a writing weekend on my own. I am scared of losing the ability to plan an outing at the drop of a hat without feeling responsible in anyway. I am scared of losing friends. I watched so many of my friends become parents. All of whom love it and wouldn’t change it, but as a person without children it’s easy for me to see the freedoms it offers me.
I’m scared. Change is hard. Losing my freedom even harder. However, two facts that keep me trying month after: 1. I want to experience that love. 2. I want to be a better person and I honestly believe parenthood will allow me this growth. Both selfish goals, I realize.
So yes, the cycle is painful, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes filled with frustrations and fear. And yes, it feels like no one understands it, especially my husband just because it’s not his body that has to go through it. And there’s a possibility that it may not be in the books for me. Yet, I continue– knowing two roads diverged.
And I took the one that so many before me have taken, facing my fears and hoping that will make all the difference.