Lindsey Price Jackson is an attorney at a child advocacy nonprofit in Connecticut, where she lives with her handsome husband. Lindsey spends many nights on her laptop, either teaching Online Seminary or writing the next great American novel! She is a cancer survivor who celebrates the beauty of life through endless ice cream cones, day hikes, and sunflowers.
Ovulation day: show time. I see my microscopic baby girl smoothly drifting along towards life. On this day, everything changes.
Headache? Suck it up, no more medicine.
Sorry, I can’t eat these eggs, the yolks are undercooked. Sorry, I can’t eat this meat, there’s still some pink inside. No more sugar. No more caffeine. No, no, no! Organic, organic, organic!
Weight lifting? Stick with those dainty 1-pounders.
Fish? Make sure it’s the low mercury kind.
Take deep breaths; mind that stress. Visualize the implanting egg; don’t psyche yourself out.
Today I should start my period.
Tension builds. Could it be?
I push the thought to the side with a grand gesture, closing my eyes and flicking my hands in the air. But secretly, I count out nine months from now and wonder what kind of outfit I will bring her home from the hospital wearing.
My breasts are tender—more than usual? Definitely more than usual. The internet says that signs of early pregnancy and signs of PMS are virtually the same. Seriously, who’s sick idea was that? But this doesn’t feel like PMS… And don’t I usually break out at this point in my cycle? If you ask me, my skin looks pretty good. Radiant, even? Glowing?
1 day late.
2 days late.
3 days late. Okay, deep breaths. Don’t get too excited. We’ve been here a million times before. Besides, no sense in freaking out now, there is only one pregnancy test left out of that giant multi-pack, just wait until you are sure you won’t be wasting it. But okay, indulge in some covert Pinterest baby searches. And secretly keep counting out 40 weeks.
4 days late. How long will I wait to tell them at work? How long will it take before I show? How expensive are maternity clothes? Maybe I should stockpile now since I found a sale.
It is dinner time and I am preparing my sugar free, hormone free, pesticide free, gluten free meal. After eating, I use the restroom to find—no. The internet says that there can be spotting at implantation. Spotting; just a little bit of blood. This is normal. Hours pass. This is not spotting. This is menstruation. Impossible though it may be, I am certain I can see my speck of a baby girl flushed down with the muck. The blood of my defeat mocks me, it laughs at me for getting my hopes up. It shrieks that there was never a little egg floating along. It screams that I am an infertile waste of a uterus. It sneers that I will never be a mother, I will never understand, I will never share that joy with my husband. Never.
My husband sees my gloom. I cling to him and cry. We lie together as he smooths my hair, telling me that these things take time. But we have given time! I know exactly how much time we have given, though I no longer count my failure in months. I count my failure by the number of Costco-sized prenatal vitamin bottles I have finished. Four. I have finished four giant bottles.
There is only one word for what I do next: wallow. It is pitiful.
I try to distract myself with work, but all I can see are the case files of 17-year-olds who are pregnant on accident. On accident? I cannot fathom it. Everyone, including doctors, tries to encourage us, saying that things must be perfectly timed and perfectly balanced, blah blah blah. But I see these drunk teens with no concept of ovulation having no trouble getting pregnant whatsoever.
I try to distract myself on Pinterest once more. But all I can do is look at my Secret Board smattered with baby things. I cry some more.
I try to distract myself on Facebook, but just see all the stupid videos and stupid pictures of everyone else’s stupid kids doing stupid stuff and I hate them all! Sorrow breeds anger. And now comes numbness.
My husband announces that we are going out. Just the two of us—our friends can’t go because they can’t get a babysitter on such short notice, because their toddler is sick, because they haven’t slept in months and it is too late at night, or because the kids are already asleep.
Taking heart, I put on my heels and leave. Do you have sushi? I prefer thresher shark. Do you have brie? Why yes, I will take another dessert.
The next morning, we lounge in bed past 10:00am. When we finally awake, nursing late-night headaches, I raid the medicine cabinet—don’t we keep the real stuff in the back? We walk to the café across the street for runny Eggs Benedict and strong green tea. The food consoles, the freedom heals. We dash to the city with just our wallets. No diaper bag, no bottles, no car seat, no nap time deadlines, no baby.
Although it is not our first choice, we embrace the simplicity of our lives together, just the two of us. Embrace it, that is, for about a week until I humbly dig out my thermometer for daily basal body temperature readings, and the cycle begins again.