So back to chronological order, because that is how my brain works best. Usually. In the spring of 2014, I got the a-okay to try to get pregnant from my doctor and stopped taking my birth control medication. I knew it often takes a few months for a woman’s cycle to self-regulate after being on the pill, especially for someone like me who had been on it for 16 years. Oh the horror of unregulated hormones! I was quickly reminded of why I was put on birth control at the young age of 16. The mood swings, the acne, the cramps that had me doubling over in pain. But surely this would be short-lived and soon enough I would get pregnant, and then I could complain about all that comes with those physical changes!
My husband and I had a week long vacation planned for our anniversary in June that summer, and we excitedly decided that that would be the “official” first attempt at trying to get pregnant. So off we went to Chicago and had the best vacation we had ever had! Somehow in our minds, we just assumed that we would be driving back to our southern Minnesota city, successful in all that we had set out to accomplish on that trip. We even bought a pregnancy test at a grocery store on the way home to our hotel in Chicago a few nights before we left. I knew it wouldn’t be used for another 2 weeks or so, but I bought it just knowing this would be the test making our hopes come true!
On the long drive home, we poured over our list of baby names that already existed. (You know, laid out in an Excel spread sheet with origin, meaning, and alternate Hebrew spellings. Everyone has one of those right?!?) We re-read the Hebrew baby name book on my smart phone and laughed at the ridiculous suggestions posed to each other. We arrived home and you would have thought two newlyweds had just returned from their honeymoon.
Anxiously, two weeks went by and it was finally time to use that magical test! Um, do you know how hard it is to pee on a stick at just the right angle without making a mess?! I would have thought that scientists could have come up with something better by now, but I digress. Waiting two minutes felt like an eternity. Do you watch the test? What if it starts positive and then turns negative? Go back to the bedroom and wait. The timer finally went off and we rushed into the bathroom to pick up our positive pregnancy test. Only it wasn’t; it was negative. Well maybe it needs the entire 5 minutes to fully develop, so let’s wait 3 more minutes and check again. Still negative. A little dream was shattered that morning. But Hal and I got a little more realistic, and realized it might take some time for this to happen.
I asked friends for advice. One of my friends, who was pregnant at the time, told me about this awesome smart phone app to track my menstrual cycle. So I downloaded that and started measuring my temperature every morning. Do you know what kind of torture it is to wake up to your alarm, and not be able to move or use the bathroom first thing in the morning, because you have to lie perfectly still and wait for a basal thermometer to beep before you can move a muscle lest you alter the correct reading by creating heat from body movement?!? But it was enlightening and helpful for timing events. One of my girlfriends who had trouble conceiving her second child was told to have intercourse every other day for an entire month. I wasn’t sure how that was possible, I was pretty sure that might break me! But we tried our best, because that was the suggestion that had gotten her pregnant. But we were getting frustrated, and intimacy began to feel more like a chore than loving and enjoyable. In fact, I began to dread the two weeks a month when I was predicted to be most fertile, because sex was no longer fun.
So I started reading some informational articles and books. I learned a lot more than I ever thought I would need to know about female anatomy and the menstrual cycle. I kind of wish I could forget some of it. I started to contemplate a self-diagnosed issue and set up an appointment with an OBGYN to discuss my concerns. Hal and I went together, felt heard, and made a plan. That plan required learning things that neither Hal or I thought we’d EVER need to know, and a lot more doctor visits to follow.