Sometimes with childbirth, the real labor part comes at the beginning and not the end
Driving across town with a vial of my husband’s freshly spun sperm staying warm beneath my blouse, I thought, “I must really want to have a baby.”
After almost three years of trying to conceive, I would have hopped down State Street on stilts and squawked like a chicken if I thought it would help us have a baby.
I practically did.
At least that’s the way it felt during the almost three years it took for my husband’s stubborn sperm to finally stop and ask for directions to my “playing hard to get” eggs.
Only the “baby making challenged” can truly understand the lengths one will go to get pregnant. When I think of all the years I spent trying NOT to get pregnant, and then all of the late nights spent talking about whether the time was right, not being able to have a baby on board felt like the ultimate indignity.
Anyone who thinks that trying to have a baby sounds romantic and fun should “try” for a few years. We “baby making challenged” people know that too much of a good thing can be awful!
And we were amongst the lucky ones. We both had minor little problems that rated us a B- rather than an A+ on the baby-making scorecard, but according to all of the experts, there was no definitive medical reason why we couldn’t conceive.
Hence the years of poking, prodding, testing and temperature taking. I was buying early pregnancy tests in bulk at Costco, and after dozens of false alarms, believe me, one-liners are NOT as funny as you think. I could almost feel my biological clock going tick-tock as the weeks of trying turned into months and then years.
Meanwhile my eggs were getting older and I saw babies and pregnant women everywhere I went. They seemed to be multiplying by the minute as my childless friends dwindled.
The sperm cleaning procedures and subsequent intrauterine inseminations were but a few of the medical interventions we tried to get pregnant. I was seeing the doctor so often that feet in the stirrups felt like my normal seated position and sitting upright felt kind of weird.
When plain old prayers didn’t work, we turned to the spirit world. My friends Ramey and Debbi Echt sent me a Kokopelli necklace (a Hopi fertility symbol) they swore had safeguarded their pregnancies. I wore it religiously even though its flute scratched my chest and it didn’t go with half my clothes.
I “stirred with a fork to expect the stork” and ate all kinds of disgusting food combinations to encourage fertility.
When my mom swore that cleansing our house with a sage and smudge ritual would “purify the atmosphere for us to conceive,” my husband and I (who are normally first in line to mock this sort of thing) giggled our way through the house with burning twigs and even smoked up our cars for good measure.
We were willing to try just about anything, but we were starting to run out of options.
With no solid medical explanation for why I couldn’t conceive, I came close to exchanging my dream of becoming pregnant for the dream of adopting a baby.
Then we decided to take some time off and relax.
No more taking my temperature and checking my ovulation cycle. No more answering “day 15,” when someone asked me what that day’s date was. No more hallucinations that the entire world was populated with pregnant women and every time I picked up the phone it was someone else calling to tell me their good news.
When I was just about ready to write the book on “What to expect when you’re NOT expecting” something unexpected happened.
There were two blue lines on my pregnancy test. The most beautiful blue color I’ve ever seen. I swear my heart skipped a beat, and I thought to myself, “I must really want to have a baby.”
Leslie, proud mom of a 7-year-old boy, can be reached at email
Originally published in South Coast Beacon on November 4, 2004.