When I was a child I believed in magic. No big surprise there, most children do don't they? But I can still remember the anger and frustration and utter desperation when trying to make magic happen. Why wasn't the scarf floating? Why wasn't the spoon bending? Why the hell wouldn't that damn flower just disappear already? Why did it look so very, very simple on tv where children my age seemed to do it flawlessly, while here I was trying so damn hard and nothing, absolutely nothing was happening?
I would strain and concentrate, chant, wish, hope, pray.
Nothing would happen.
And sometimes, pathetically, I cried about it.
And this, my friends, is what infertility feels like.
When we were first married I knew, for a fact, that we would create a child together, and soon! We were young! In our early twenties! We had the marriage, the house, the nursery, the crib, the freakin' copy of "What to Expect When You're Expecting." All around me there was hope, and examples of countless women who've done it before.
Neighbors with babies, celebs popping them out, families recounting their conception, pregnancy and birth stories.
It was magic all over again, creating life out of cells, and yet again seemingly endless examples of people doing it all. the. flip. around. me.
And it didn't happen.
Month after month, prayer after prayer, test after test, nothing.
And I felt like a zero too.
When I was a child trying to work magic it made SENSE that the magic didn't work. It wasn't real! It was an illusion! And the frustration I felt was really just a part of life, a part of growing up and coming to terms with reality and the end of innocence.
But this didn't make sense, because people do get pregnant, near spontaneously, every day and all around.
And I couldn't.
I remember how I felt Googling every potential sign of early pregnancy, analyzing every twinge, praying to my future child, even, yes, chanting and trying to work magic as the months wore on.
I remember clearly going to the Dollar Tree and purchasing oodles of OPKs and HPTs. I remember the shame I felt, that I had to buy so many and not just the one lucky test that proved positive immediately. I remember the look on the cashiers faces as they glanced over me, an overweight 23 year old unemployed woman with straggly, unkempt hair and an awful fashion sense. I could almost see them wishing that the tests were all negative.
I was desperate, then. It had all been First Response and such from drug stores in the beginning but I turned to the Dollar Tree when it became clear that I'd break the bank if I continued buying the good stuff. I think my desperation showed.
The first time I bought a test I was grinning ear to ear. I could literally feel myself glow. The first time I saw one line I felt like a knife had stabbed my heart. The first time AF showed up afterwards, in the mall bathroom right beside Pottery Barn Baby... when I had to walk out and confront my husband about it as he was happily gazing at the cute baby display, soft knits and adorable stuffies... yeah, let's not even go there.
So I was desperate. And I was a mess.
I was a mess for a long time, actually.
I was a mess while trying to conceive, as those infamous double red lines eluded me. I was a mess while trying to convince people that we were fit to adopt despite our young age. I was a mess while waiting for the adoption to go through. And I was a horrible mess once we actually had a screaming, angry, highly traumatized toddler in our home because, dammit, this is not what we signed up for at all! This was not our original plan! Where the hell did our original plan go? Why didn't the magic work for us? What the hell had we done wrong?
Of course, becoming a mother changed me. The first year was hard. On his end we had trauma, a language barrier, a new culture, attachment difficulties and crazy new parents. On my end there was entitlement issues and post adoption depression. P and Nik bonded quickly, perhaps because Nik had been less affected by the whole infertility crisis and had been able to busy himself with work for the two years that I spent holed up in a dark back room playing The Sims 2 and eating mostly Totino's Pizzas and Tater Tots.
P changed me, though, and we bonded. Oh, God, did we bond! I could not imagine life without that boy. He is everything we wanted in a child: intelligent, compassionate, witty, funny and incredibly, ecstatically loving. His favorite thing to do is cuddle and share candy with me.
I took one pregnancy test after P came home from Ethiopia. I was feeling all icky in the tummy and I just worried, you know? What if we had become a cliche? I was so, so not ready for another and for the first time in my life I was actually flipping ecstatic to receive only one line! We wanted #2 to come through adoption, we were certain. We wanted P to have a sibling who looked like him. We weren't ready for a baby (as welcome as it would be, of course). And this is when my views really started to change, I think.
After P came home the need to be pregnant diminished greatly but did not disappear. It wasn't until A came home and I finally, pretty much, met peace with the possibility of never getting pregnant. I mean, yeesh, I got to experience a newborn! And nursing!
That doesn't mean that the want is totally gone, of course. I would love to get pregnant. I would love for that magic to work. But I'm not desperate anymore. I'm not straining, not concentrating, not crying in frustration.
That doesn't mean I'm not analyzing every twinge though!
Yesterday I went back to the Dollar Tree and bought a test. It was the first time in years. I had had a morning's worth of spotting that never got bigger than that and I was feeling a little yucky in the stomach. It could be a returned cyst (I'm a repeat offender in that category) or it could be a return to fertility or it could be nothing. Or it could be a pregnancy.
And I figured $1.08 and 5 minutes was worth eliminating that possibility.
So I went in with A while P was at school and bought a test. I found them easily and checked out. I still felt shy about it, though I'm not totally sure why. I'm a married woman with children and I deserve to know if another child is about to enter my family. I still hid the test under a cheese shredder though. For the record, I needed the shredder.... though I possibly still would have bought something of equal size to cover the test anyway :-P
I felt nervous when it came time to check out. Suddenly, I remembered the looks on the faces of my previous cashiers, the glance over, the feeling of guilt and shame and frustration and desperation.
For a second, just a second, I was transported back to that awful place, that awful magicless land where I was trying, so damn hard, to create a family in a world where magic worked for everyone but me.
And then... A laughed. And pointed. And spoke, something along the lines of, "Aglafflebackumbackumdepuiiiiiii!" And I giggled and tried to repeat it back to him. And he laughed and tried to correct me. We talked like this the whole time.
And next thing I knew it was my turn to check out and the cashier... she saw the test and she looked at me and she looked at my giggly, happy baby and... she smiled.
An "all is right with the world" smile. A "this woman is a good mother and if she has another baby that would be wonderful" smile. A hopeful smile. A reassuring smile.
And I couldn't help but smile myself as I left, holding my babe up high in my arms and walking to the exit, test in hand.
Of course it was negative. I kind of almost wish I could end this with a surprise BFP, but it is what it is, and really a negative test in one hand isn't so bad when you have a positive homestudy in the other hand and two kids laughing and playing outside the bathroom.
I do think that someday we will try to achieve a pregnancy once again, either naturally or through embryo adoption. The magic of pregnancy and childbirth certainly has a hold on me, and still appeals to me. But if we do try to work that magic it will, hopefully, be calmly and happily, already satisfied that our life is utterly and totally full of magic already, and that this would be just another one of the many tricks we could try to master.
Lily in a loafing barn
4 weeks ago