Bryan and I talked about waiting a year after getting married to try to get pregnant. He had initially wanted to try earlier, but I was pretty set on a year. A conversation I had had with my dad on a bike ride back in the day had stuck in my head: “Sandy, you and your siblings were the best things that ever happened to me. But when you get married someday, just enjoy being married for five years or so before you have kids. Because once you have kids, your lives are not your own anymore.” Fast forward a decade or so, and getting married at 33 years old threw a bit of a biological wrench into the wisdom of my dad’s family planning timeline. Still, a year seemed like a decent compromise.
However, as the months of that first year of marriage ticked by, I started to get a bit antsy: What if it took us a while to get pregnant? What if we ran into problems? I started thinking about the many women I knew who had encountered unexpected hardships in their hopes of having a child. It took one of my best friends over two years to conceive. Another friend wept as she told a group of us that, after trying to get pregnant for some time, doctors told her and her husband that they would never be able to conceive naturally. Seeing that suffering up close scared me.
So, I talked it over with Bryan and we decided to start trying to get pregnant just a few months earlier than planned. We arranged a last hurrah trip to Italy for the final two weeks of September 2015, then planned to get me knocked up asap.
I remember how fun it all was at first. We would joke excitedly about making a baby, sex took on a new meaning, a new feel, the anticipation in waiting to take that first pregnancy test was nearly unbearable. But after about three or four months of one pink line in the little window instead of two, things started to change. Anxiety and fear began creeping in. Sex became pressured, high stakes, unenjoyable–like a standing meeting with the principal where you knew you were always going to end up getting in trouble. It took some hurt feelings and a lot of communication and understanding to work through all of that. But, we did. Finally, we found a schedule and flow that alleviated the stress and worked for us. Still, I was feeling more and more worried with each negative test result. It also didn’t help that just about every woman on the face of the planet seemed to be announcing their pregnancies. At the sight of yet another glowing pregnancy post on social media, my heart would stop, then fill with an ugly mixture of rage, jealousy, and disappointment. A minute or two later I would scold myself, remind myself to be happy for this friend’s wonderful news, then click the “love” button and type something like, “OMG! The best news! So happy for you!! xoxo.”
I did a bit of research and found that the medical world recommends that you wait a year to seek medical help regarding fertility if you are under 35 years of age. Once you reach 35, they slash that holding period in half to six months. I was only months away from my 35th birthday and we had hit the six month waiting period. I decided to make an appointment with the fertility clinic to see if something might be wrong. Having an action step helped to temporarily relieve some of my anxiety (hello, control freak!).
As I waited for the doctor in the fertility clinic exam room a couple weeks later, I passed the time by studying the walls. They were typical doctor office walls: diagrams of organs and body parts, encouraging health messages and serious warnings, pamphlets on procedures and drugs. But these walls also held up two big bulletin boards crammed with photos of wrinkly newborns and beaming parents and cards scrawled with notes of gratitude. I wondered how many moments of grief, suffering, and hope were behind the journeys I was getting a silent peek into from the exam table. I wondered if I, too, might have a glowing photo with a message of thanks hanging up there someday.
Then the door opened and in walked Dr. Lin–a tiny, aging Chinese woman with thinning wisps of gray hair that floated up from the top of her head, kind of like Doc from Back to the Future. I liked her immediately. She smiled warmly and her speech was accented and a bit sing-songy, as if she were sweetly talking to her plants as she gardened at home. She put me at ease.
After an ultrasound confirmed that my uterus and ovaries looked ok and decently stocked with eggs, Dr. Lin and I met in her office. She began by explaining how babies are made (flashback to awkward 5th grade health meeting), describing the “many many mile journey” the sperm have to travel to reach the egg, and that we want “soldier sperm” (aggressive little guys) as opposed to “gentlemen sperm” (those who stand back politely, waiting). “Too many gentlemen sperm, no good.” (I now loved her.) Dr. Lin explained that her strategy is to have both the man and woman do a number of tests, then meet with us both to discuss the results and plan next steps. Sounded good to me. She also explained that one of the tests that I would do was more of a brief procedure, where I would go into the hospital and have a catheter inserted into my uterus. Then, a nurse would inject a dye as a doctor would observe how the dye moved through my uterus and fallopian tubes via an X-ray machine of sorts. Dr. Lin commented that some women end up conceiving after having this procedure done because it can simultaneously clear out mucus that has built up over the years and is now blocking the sperm’s path to the eggs. (Yummy, I know.)
Fast-forward a couple of months. I had completed all of the required tests and we’d soon be scheduling our follow up with Dr. Lin. I had been feeling pretty at peace with all of this pregnancy stuff, probably due to the fact that Bryan and I had come to a calm, healthy place with it for the moment, and I was taking practical action steps toward a potential solution.
Then, one Tuesday evening in August, I was driving home from my weekly routine of playing beach volleyball for a few hours after work. On the ride home, I realized that I could probably take a pregnancy test that evening and get an accurate read. After getting home, I grabbed a glass of water, plopped down on the couch, and caught up with Bryan about our days. I slammed one more glass of water so that I’d be able to pee, then went to the bathroom about 15 minutes later.
After peeing on the stick, I placed it on the counter and didn’t look at it for a few minutes (I couldn’t stand watching the test as it worked). Finally, I picked it up and looked. Two dark pink lines. Two lines. Not one. My heart started to race. My stomach turned. I covered my mouth with my hand and whispered, “No effing way. No effing way” over and over into my palm. After sitting there in shock for a few minutes, I hid the test behind my back, walked silently into the living room, and stuck the test in front of Bryan’s face.
“Wait…what…what does that mean? Wait…are you serious?” I looked at him with wide eyes. There was no movie scene of laughing, jumping up and down in each other’s arms, joyful crying. It was more like this: Bryan stood up and hugged me, we laughed nervously, and then sat on the couch together for 30 minutes or so, looking at each other with stunned disbelief. I think we were more scared and in shock than anything that first night, but over the next few days the news slowly sunk in, taking root in our hearts, and our excitement and giddiness grew. We had this incredible secret, hoped and prayed for, and the rest of the world had no idea.
We were going to be parents! AAAAAHHHH!!! After eight months of anticipation, frustration, fear, anxiety, disappointment, and hope, we found ourselves blessed with our hearts’ desire. And in my journal I wrote, Thank you, Lord! It’s hard to believe that I’m pregnant and going to give birth to our baby. Like, I can’t even wrap my head around it. But I’m so excited! AH!