My first child was born 13.5 years ago, when I was 20. I got pregnant while using a condom, no shit. No one wants to believe that, but it’s TRUE. I got pregnant with a condom. Something went wrong, probably user error, or the condom was old and had been in some wallet pocket getting sat on for years, because when it was removed, it was ripped and leaking. My BF looked at me with the ‘oh shit’ look and held it out. I glanced from the leaking slip of latex in his hand to his dumbstruck face, shrugged and said, “What are the odds?” As in, don’t worry. As in, it’s so unlikely, it shouldn’t even be a thought. As in, puh-leaz, it’s not going to happen. As in, I’m hungry, let’s go get some lunch. Fast forward 6 weeks and no period later, and you guessed it – I’m Pregnant.
When my husband and I decided to start trying to conceive our second baby (first bio baby for him), I was nearly 31 years old and more than ready. I had convinced him to stop using protection for the previous year, hoping that we’d get lucky. I was so fertile with my first baby that I got pregnant WHILE using protection, for goodness sake! This was going to be easy. But, after a full year of just-having-fun-unprotected-sex, we had yet to see that coveted double pink line. We didn’t worry about it too much, but decided to start paying attention to fertility periods and having planned sex during a specific 10-day span. I wasn’t getting any younger, and I knew B wanted to have two more children, for a grand total of three. I began to notice the quiet ticking of the clock.
We had planned sex for the next year. Some months, we were more diligent than others. Some months I felt bitter about having to plan sex, and it made me not want to do it. I was still secretly hoping for the fun-sex-accident-baby. But nothing was happening. I started wondering if there was something wrong with me? I was pushing 32, maybe something had gone amiss? Maybe I wasn’t ovulating? Maybe B had slow swimmers? Maybe we just weren’t compatible for making babies? Maybe we needed to see a specialist?
Meanwhile, many of our friends were getting pregnant and having babies willy nilly. Our favorite neighbors had had baby #1 and were pregnant with baby #2, while I was still planning our sex calendar, complete with “fertility period alerts” for B. Ugh. We finally coughed up the dough to see a fertility specialist. We did the cheapest test first, and B had a semen analysis (one of the most uncomfortable experiences of his life – ejaculating into a cup with a fill line in some weird office with magazine pictures of women). His swimmers were fast and dense, the morphology better than average, and there were no other abnormalities. Looking at him, we should have been expecting baby #2 by now as well.
Which meant I was the problem. Me. The infertile one. The broken one. I felt suddenly old and betrayed by my body. I imagined my ovaries as dried up desert wastelands. I cursed my hormones as dysfunctional machinery. I imagined the pH of my vagina to be so acidic, it killed sperm on contact. I pictured my cervix as a tightly closed fist, incapable of letting anything past. I knew my reproductive system as faithless and failing. I was desolate and angry.
We signed me up for my first fertility test, a transvaginal ultrasound, and a fertility consultation. According to the doctor, there was no reason for me to be having any problems. I had conceived before, I was healthy, B’s swimmers were good, nothing looked amiss on the outside. We went into a procedure room for the ultrasound. It was awkward and uncomfortable to have an ultrasound wand up your vagina for a look around, but everything looked normal. We saw plenty of dark spots in my ovaries that were ovum, ready to be released and meet their sperm. Again, there seemed to be no reason we were not pregnant yet. The doctor reinforced me and said not to worry, and to keep trying. He gave me the paperwork to call to schedule a hysterosalpingogram, if I wanted further testing.
I went home and tried to relax. For the next few months, we didn’t think too hard about timing sex, but it was never far from my mind. I find it utterly ludicrous that people expect you to “stop worrying about it” when you’ve been trying to conceive for 20+ months with nothing to show for it. There is no stopping worry, it’s always on your mind. Every month, when your period is due in a week, 5 days, 3 days, and there are already 15 negative pregnancy tests in the trash. There is no stopping worry, just like there is no stopping hope.
I did become pregnant within the next few months, but I miscarried at 7 weeks, 4 days. It was heartbreaking, and the first of three MC’s before my successful pregnancy. The worry never stopped, but my baby girl arrived healthy and strong, two years after fertility testing, as the clock tick, tick, ticked away.