Inside the Bewildering World of Trying to Conceive
Until now, I have spent my entire adult life trying not to get pregnant, so it is a complete 180 to say I went off birth control.
How did this happen? The stars aligned: Our debt finally went down, not up. And more importantly, I finally felt ready.
Other factors are at play: my ob-gyn pointing out that my age is getting close to 35. My parents and in-laws aren’t getting any younger, either, and I want my kid to know all of his or her grandparents — something I didn’t get to experience.
I also made it no secret that I wanted to have a baby when I was done with school, so as my graduation date got closer, the prodding comments started up. Family members, coworkers, neighbors; it seems like everyone has come out of the woodwork to ask when we’re going to have kids.
I figured I could get pregnant right away, right? Just pop some folate pills and get to work. After all, I’ve spent the last two decades hearing about people’s accidental pregnancies.
When I was a kid, I heard people say, “We decided to have a baby,” and thought it was something you could just choose to do. I later learned about the birds and the bees, and ovulation and luteal cycles, and realized life is not as simple as it seems.
It turns out the first 1–3 months after I come off birth control are basically a write-off. Many people also have fertility problems they don’t talk about, and it can take years to get pregnant. A family member confided in me that, due to miscarriages, it took almost three years for her to have a baby.
There is a vulnerability to trying for a baby. We haven’t announced it to anyone, because we don’t know how long it will take.
And I know I’m starting relatively late. When I was a kid myself, I assumed I’d have two kids by my late 20s. Then the recession of 2008 hit, and that had about as much chance of happening as my dream of being an astronaut.
But everywhere I go, there are reminders of other people’s babies. I became acutely aware of people posting newborn photos to social media. It sometimes gets to be too much. I had to unfollow someone who posted multiple pictures every day.
I couldn’t even escape it even at the post office, where I was behind a very pregnant young woman who proudly announced she was buying stamps for her baby shower invitations.
Online forums were helpful in navigating this new normal, but the first one I found had an alphabet soup of acronyms. “Pee on a stick,” i.e. take a pregnancy test, is probably one of the strangest. But there’s also BBT, for basal body temperature, and OPK, which … okay, I’m still not sure what it means, but it has something to do with ovulation.
I finally found a forum that doesn’t use so many acronyms. It is a relief to type “period,” not AF (“Aunt Flow”) and see the word “sex,” not BD (“birthday dance”? Really?!)
I have been daydreaming about how I’ll announce a pregnancy to family, of who might give me their child’s old baby clothes, and of what I’ll need to buy. I look around the room that will be the nursery and think about what color I’d paint it, what pattern of curtains I’d sew for the windows. I think about what I’d sew for the baby. But it’s out of my hands right now.
Trying for a baby is one of those times when you realize how little control you have over your future, how much of your life is just a roll of the dice. You can plan everything perfectly, take all the right steps, and still, all you can do is wait for whatever comes next.