My husband and I have been trying to start a family. I suppose that’s the ‘delicate’ way to say we are trying to get pregnant. Or maybe its that I am trying to get pregnant and he is just being…ahem…supportive.
The old-fashioned way to get knocked up is, theoretically, the easiest way to go about it. And things are not going as planned in that department. Not at all. I can’t believe how much time I spent trying not to get pregnant and now I am faced with the Murphy’s Law of pregnancy.
Teenagers are getting pregnant all over the place, to look at the statistics. Every seven seconds a 16-year-old, low-income minority teen conceives a child just by talking to a man, if the conservative media is to be believed. The developing world is turning them out assembly-line style.
In the midst of wars, natural disasters, genocide, political upheaval, terrorism, and incredible poverty with a lack of basic care and sanitation, women are banging these kids out right and left. There are even shows that showcase women who have an awfully hard time not staying pregnant constantly, or who get pregnant on a ridiculously grand scale with multiple embryos. Even our friends who also waited to settle down and begin families are just popping them out like a row of champagne bottles. Our Facebook explodes with daily and monthly reports of their current and impending offspring.
My husband and I are not included in this explosion of obstetrics. I am not getting pregnant. No-one knows why and so no-one knows how to fix it in a way that does not involve medical/surgical intervention or the taking of large amounts of hormones, none of which we’re keen on. We will give this the old college try, we decided. But so far, nada.
I have read articles with titles like ‘The 10 best ways to get pregnant after 30’ and visited websites showing happy, fecund women in the sidebar proclaiming: “I gave up ___ and conceived after 10 years of infertility!” They are more depressing than helpful. I’ve read books with titles like ‘Pregnancy and the Older Mother’. They mostly leave me with visions of me finally conceiving but needing an ambulance during delivery that can accommodate my walker and that has a holder for my false teeth.
Most people’s advice is shit. Telling us to relax, not think about it, to let nature take its course. Bullshit. Nature and I are at odds 90 percent of the time. I think it’s trying to kill me which is why I stay out of the rural areas and stick to the city where the human animal is the one thing I am sure of.
They recommend cutting out cigarettes (no problem) and alcohol (problem). Try acupuncture, some Reiki, perhaps? Being stuck with needles and having hot oil poured on me from an angle is just not my thing, so I’ll pass. Apparently, I should keep an ovulation chart (the romance of statistics), take my temperature regularly and check my…um…discharge, to monitor whether “conditions are optimal”, as though conceiving a child is akin to deciding whether or not to take a long journey by sea on a small raft.
My poor husband has been ridden enough (literally) without the medical community’s infantilization of his genetic material by referring to his sperm as ‘swimmers’. He is supposed to wear loose underwear, not take hot baths or showers, not smoke pot, and not drink refined or processed foods with their insidious anti-sperm ‘toxins’. My husband and I both now share the indignity of examinations full of plastic cups and “wands”, medieval looking tools put in uncomfortable places, and tables covered in paper roll.
See, we thought this whole ‘buns in ovens’ process would be a lark. We thought it would take six months tops and we’d be on our way to weekends full of puke and dirty diapers. So we stupidly told our families we were trying and for the first year we’d get excited talking about the prospect of parenthood with them. Well, maybe we shouldn’t have done that. It’s backfired and taken a lot longer than we imagined it would.
Things are also getting weird, more for me than for my husband. I feel alienated from my body these days. As if it has disappointed me, gone off to do its own thing and left no forwarding address. My body has always done what I’ve needed it to do, except for cartwheels . Never was able to do one of those. Now, I feel let down. I am making a ‘hospitable environment’ for baby and baby doesn’t want to live there.
Even though I’m happy for them, I have begun to get sad when people I know let us in on their ‘joyous news’. I have a bit of a sinking feeling when I experience a ‘moment’ in my job (I work with children) and wonder what it would feel like to be a mother. My husband is sad too but he keeps it to himself. Truth be told, we are both in disbelief at this whole mess – there’s even an undercurrent of slight shock. We never imagined anything like this would be an issue. We are both physically fit, happy with ourselves and each other. So: what the fuck?
We’ll keep trying, for now, and then evaluate our options. But if nothing happens and I find out it’s the water supply or the bisphenol A in my fucking plastic kettle, I’m burning this motherfucker to the ground.