It was so easy the first time. The second month of trying to get pregnant, we were pregnant. I took a test the day before New Year’s Eve; in the event I was knocked-up, I didn’t want to spend the next day hung-over. There they were: two beautiful dark blue lines, perfectly positive. It was an easy breezy pregnancy and a smooth labor and delivery. We were blessed with a happy and healthy baby with a full head of hair. (No wonder I had so much heartburn.) And now that our little lady is 4, we’re trying for number two.
This time around, after a year of taking folic acid, just in case, and many conversations about finally being ready (emotionally, financially, and logistically) for another kid, we’ve been trying for a few months now, and it isn’t happening so easy breezy. I spent so many years of my life trying not to get pregnant—oh, the irony.
I’m now at the point where I am peeing on sticks more days a month than not. Those ovulation tests are much harder to read than the simpler, more exact pregnancy tests. I’m reading and re-reading suggestions online on how to get pregnant, like it’s a final exam I am studying for and hope I don’t fail. Starting a week after my period, should we do it every day or every other day? Definitely stay lying down for at least 20 minutes afterwards. What exactly is my basal body temperature, and how is the viscosity of my cervical mucus? Don’t drink, but maybe a glass of wine to relax. Don’t stress, or it won’t happen. Intercourse for the purpose of procreation sure does take the sexy out of sex.
I’ve got three different ovulation calculators as internet favorites and I am constantly double checking them all, like I did the weather forecast before my wedding day. Each one has a slight variation on dates, which I find mindboggling and somewhat infuriating. Why can’t tracking my body be an exact science? I’ve got 10 most-likely to conceive days circled on my calendar, and I am also tracking my cycle with a set of fertility beads. One of my best friends was working on a reproductive health project for family planning in the Congo a few years ago and brought me back a cycle bead necklace. You move a round rubber tracker around the beaded necklace. There are 32 beads. You start on the red bead the day you get your period, and then there are 6 brown, 12 white, and 13 brown beads. The white ones (glow in the dark) and are the days you are most fertile. The primary intention of the beads is to serve as rhythm method contraception, but I’m using them for the opposite purpose. They worked last time.
My rabbi recommended acupuncture. Another friend, now pregnant, suggested I go for a dip in the mikveh (it worked for her!). My sister sent me fresh pomegranates from her garden in California. Though I am not particularly observant, or really believe in God for that matter, I am extraordinarily superstitious. I’ll try anything and everything. I just hope I’m not jinxing myself by the mere fact that I am sharing with the whole darn world that I’m trying to get pregnant.
It’s an odd state of being, wishing you were with-child. When people ask me off handedly, “How’s it goin’?,” I want to shout, “Blarg! I’m trying to get pregnant and it SUCKS!” Every time I turn around I feel like I see another gigantically pregnant woman waddling down the street, and all my friends are having second and third babies back to back.
I know it’s only been a few months of trying, but patience is not one of my virtues. Now that I am going to be at an advanced maternal age, if I am even able to have a geriatric pregnancy, each month of trying and waiting feels like a trimester. I have much deeper empathy for women who struggle for years with infertility. After just a few months, I cry sad, bitter tears at the first twinge of menstrual cramps.
We have decided we won’t be taking any extraordinary measures to get pregnant. We were blessed with one and don’t feel like we can or want to afford IVF for a second child. Instead, I’ll employ every old wives tale and take any and all advice on how to be fruitful and multiply.