She who pees on sticks

When you’re trying to conceive, it is easy to feel like much of your life is spent waiting. Waiting for a positive OPK. The two-week wait. It’s a frustrating cycle (pun intended) of wait. And for about as much time as I spend waiting, I spend an awful lot of time peeing on sticks, too. It’s kind of my job, for now. You could say I am an expert at it, in fact.

Until I’m not. Exhibit A… this afternoon’s failed OPK:

What the what?

What the what?

Seriously? I take this to mean, “you’re an idiot. Read a book.”


What to expect when you’re not expecting

For a long time, probably years before I was actually ready to become a mother, I have had a vision of purchasing a copy of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” the day that I find out I am pregnant. This book, to many women, is much like a bible for pregnancy. I’ve purchased copies for friends when they’ve announced their news, always secretly knowing that I would be standing in line at Barnes & Noble or Target with the latest edition in-hand when my time had come. I realize that the modern woman has likely moved past “What to Expect…” (there was that terrible movie after all). A close friend of mine who became a mama last year read, and adored, “The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy.” (I’m sure I’ll buy that one, too.)

IRL, I know one other woman who has been on a similar infertility path as I (a friend/former coworker). One thing that she warned me of, that I never in a million years would have otherwise believed, is that many women experience pregnancy-like symptoms while on Clomid. From an “outsider’s” perspective, this makes little sense. A round of Clomid lasts only about five days of the cycle (mine is days 3-8)… so why would I experience symptoms like nausea, headaches and fatigue a full 10+ days later (when I hadn’t experienced anything of the sort elsewhere in my cycle)? If you’ve done the math, the time inconveniently coincides with the TTW… exactly the time I want to be feeling the annoying symptoms of pregnancy. But this is exactly what happened to me following my first Clomid/IUI cycle. For any woman trying to conceive (TTC), this is maddening. I am already paying an absurd amount of attention to my body (comparatively to my level of attention when I wasn’t TTC), and then, Clomid, you want to lay pregnancy symptoms on me?! Not cool, bro. (I generally associate Clomid with feminine terms, but “Not cool, sister” doesn’t pack the same punch.)

Chalk it up to stupid, misleading and damn confusing. As I said, I never would have believed that phantom symptoms would be a thing. But it totally is. Ask the package of plain crackers I bought and devoured…

The shift

Sometime in the last hour my outlook on the day changed dramatically. That happens to me frequently, as I’m sure it does to most women trying to have a baby. That dramatic, sudden shift – the certain to uncertain – is a source of fear and loneliness for me, not to mention it can physically hurt.

This month I had my first fertility treatment – a five-day round of Clomid, paired with intrauterine insemination (IUI). These past 24 days have felt like some of the longest in my life. Never have three plus weeks crawled so unbearably slowly. In fertility lingo there’s an acronym – TWW (the two-week wait), of which I am more than midway through. TWW refers to the void of time between an insemination and the pregnancy test.

I’m scheduled to take my test this Friday, but about an hour ago, in the restroom, I feared that I wouldn’t have to wait out the calendar for another few days. Now my heart hurts. The last few days I had essentially convinced myself that I was, in fact, with child. Headaches, fatigue, nausea for no discernible reason… classic pregnancy symptoms. It’s a strange thing to be happy about feeling bad. Yesterday when I felt like I could barely keep down some fruit for lunch, turned my nose up at my large iced coffee, and then sat most of the afternoon at my desk with a box of crackers in my lap, I was feeling elated. When I packed my crackers in my desk drawer at the end of the day I thought gotta get used to this…with a smile on my face.

Yes, I know that a successful round one of fertility treatments isn’t that common. Tries three and four are more likely to work. I know. But, you see, I did some simple math and it added up to a sign. Insemination (and therefore conception) took place on my father-in-law’s birthday. We would find out if it “stuck” on the 13th – my mother’s birth date and (deceased) father’s lucky number. Then, 40 weeks later would take us to November 6th. A lucky six dead in the center of my husband’s lucky five and my lucky seven. That math just couldn’t lie.

Since that moment I’ve treated every second as though I’m carrying the child that I’ve waited for. The nurses tell you after insemination that while nothing is restricted, you should behave as though you are pregnant – stay away from alcohol, take good care of yourself, and the like. I have. I will. Until that little stick shows me one line or two. That stupidly small piece of technology that determines if I get the job as “mama.”

Right this second I’m less sure that I will get that job this month. I want to go back an hour and unsee the spot of red that suddenly, like a shot, made me feel hopeless and helpless again. Just as I have every month before.