How I got from TTC to DE, Part 2: The first try

September 22, 2009

I’m continuing to chronicle my journey from not wanting to start a family, to trying, to where I am now. I know that some of the things I recall from my diary notes and write down here are going to seem absolutely horrible, but I am just being honest. I believe that if I felt these things, then many more women must have taken the same journey and felt the same way. So bear with me… obviously I get there, in time!

September 13 – 9:30 am

It’s Friday 13th and I’m at the office of Dr. S—, my first visit to this OB/GYN. Always unnerving changing doctors, but she’s the same gender and she’s young. As I fiddle with my scheduler, I notice the staff cooing over a wall-sized poster board with baby photos covering it from top to bottom. Oh puh-leese, I think to myself.

Dr. S— walks into the exam room and immediately gets down to business: why am I here, what do I need, how can she help?  I dive right in: “I just stopped taking the pill and we’re working on getting pregnant.”  Actually, what I want to say is, “Please tell me this can be a totally drug-induced painless process! …. that pregnancy won’t interfere with my life, my goals, my dreams. …. that I won’t get disfigured. Tell me I won’t be a walking hormonal nightmare.” But instead I ask, “Can I still eat sushi?”

“Actually, I just had a baby,” she says.  I gasp audibly.  “Really? You look fantastic!” I blurt.

“Thank you!” she beams. “Well, as a doctor and from personal experience, let me assure you that you don’t have to worry about any old wives’ tales. Go ahead and get drunk, eat sushi, have great sex!  Come see me again if you’re not pregnant in six months.”

And that’s it – my pregnancy consultation. This is going to be a walk in the park, I think, as I breeze out of her office.

Later that night, I tell the husband all about Dr. S—and how great she looks, how wonderfully charming she is. “And the best part,” I gush, “is that we don’t have to be like all those annoying desperate couples who give up their lives to eat, talk and breathe pregnancy.”

“That’s great!” he enthuses. “Anything to help you get pregnant.”

One thing the husband and I agree on is that desperation is positively loathesome. We absolutely do not want to be an obsessive couple that can talk about nothing except positions, timing, and temperature. So many friends with babies have told us how awful conception sex is. Since both of us agree that great sex is important for a good marriage, we’re hoping to avoid any and all stereotypical impositions on our personal life in our effort to conceive.

September 26

I can’t get out of bed. I’m exhausted. Whipped. Cannot move. Groaning, I pull my legs over the side of my bed. Half-way up… just push up on those arms, I coax myself, and get out of bed.  I absolutely cannot miss work today, and besides, I’m doing a photo shoot. Photo shoots are like Get Out of Jail Free cards.  Slight nausea overcomes me.  And my breasts are swollen… ouch, they hurt!  So this is what it’s like to have a C cup, I think. Wait, what’s going on? Ohmigod, I’m pregnant. A slow dread fills me up and depresses my diaphragm, almost cuts off my windpipe. Breathe, I command my lungs, breathe….

At a child care center in Harlem, my photographer Beth dances around the kids like a leaf in the wind. They love her, can’t get enough of her approving smiles, playful cajoling. Oddly enough, they don’t inspire a wellspring of emotion in me. I just lean against the wall and smile wanly.  At least Dr. S— says I don’t have to cut out my coffee, which is key, because I cannot take another step without caffeine. After the shoot, I find the nearest Starbucks, then rush to my office and find a desperate voice mail message waiting for me. But that can wait.  I call E-, my best friend in New York. She’s a fellow expat – but isn’t everyone in New York?

“Hey, I think I’m pregnant!” I tell her. I rhyme off my symptoms. “Yep, sounds like it,” she says. “I didn’t know you guys were trying.”  So I explain and she tells me to go to the drugstore on my way home and pick up one of those pee-on-a-stick tests.

With that off my chest, I turn to my voice mail but stop listening when I feel a long wet drip in my underpants. I send E- an e-mail with no message except the subject line: “False alarm. Phew.”

Smiling, I feel I’ve cheated biology this time. I shouldn’t be happy but I am. Supposedly I’m trying to get pregnant, but secretly I rejoice that not this month, not yet.

At first, I was afraid to even hint at my reaction to the husband, afraid of his accusing glare or worse, creating a divide between us. The husband analyzes my reaction and thinks it’s natural – a fear of the unknown. I am willing to admit that fear of pregnancy exists. In my mind, pregnancy, although a “natural” event, is fraught with life-threatening danger and I don’t buy into the natural birth/midwife/doula movement. Medical progress is a good thing and I oppose anyone who willingly reverts to the middle ages. In any case, my fear of pregnancy only lies in the birth part. Of course, I don’t want my body to change and never return to its current condition. Of course, birth is painful and I’m afraid of it, just like most reasonable women everywhere. I let the husband muse about my fear, but I know better the truth of my reaction.

The problem is that I’ve never wanted to have a baby, so this sudden about-face is disconcerting to me and my brain is having trouble adjusting. Whereas other women seem to be racing against the clock to get married and get pregnant, I am cavalier about the option bestowed by biology. In fact, I don’t recall ever wanting to get married. Love, yes. I dreamt about an all-consuming passion that would fill me up and take me to unimaginable heights. But that fantasy did not involve an exchange of vows. Yet here I am, married – happily, I should add – and presumably on the road to motherhood.

Why? That’s a good question. Again, we’re back to that cavalier, devil-may-care attitude of mine. My mother has always warned me against my tendency to jump before I look.  I vaguely remember something about planning for children and taking out the trash in our marriage crash course, but we were both too busy to allow the priest’s message to sink in. While everyone else worked on common goals and values, we worked on a moving plan, job hunt, wedding guest list and band or DJ. The wedding itself had sprung upon us quite unexpectedly. The welcome mat put out by US Immigration was wearing thin. Realizing it would be much easier for us to stay together legally, we took the plunge. It also made our parents happy and hey, the fact that we were in love made the plan seem so much more reasonable.

And the husband so much wants a baby. It has to be his baby – well, our baby – he’s not into adoption. A baby is the only reason to get married – he stretches the argument to the reason for living itself. Which is a bit precious for me. There are plenty of reasons to live, I tell him. For instance, as part of society, shouldn’t one of our goals be to better humanity in some small way? Leave this earth better than we found it? Make some sort of small impact on our community that will, like a domino, make little ripples that will join all those other positive ripples until we have a river of good? “Don’t be ridiculous,” guffaws the husband. “Life is a random accident.”  Hmm… well, the amount of discussion, planning and effort in having a baby that most of my friends have undergone doesn’t seem random at all.  I can’t explain to him that his wanting to procreate is as irrational as my wanting to avoid it.


2 Responses to “How I got from TTC to DE, Part 2: The first try”

  1. Jem Says:

    OMG, are you inside my head? You absolutely described my attitude – not wanting a baby and now wanting one. What?

  2. freshfreerange Says:

    I know, I know! It’s crazy. It’s like my dirty little secret, not from my husband, but from other women. I feel like I’d be judged harshly. But we can’t be the only two out there that have felt this way. There have to be more of us!

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