(Graphic: Helen Jane Hearn/TueNight)

Peeing on Sticks: When Your Body Just Won’t Comply

I’ve learned on my journey to parenthood that I have fertility issues and it’s very hard for me to get pregnant. Also, I am prone to miscarriage. After my most recent (third) miscarriage, I asked the doctor if there’s a correlation to having both issues, like maybe one makes you more likely to have the other. She replied with a simple and direct “No.”

My uterus gets a big fat C-.  It gave me one beautiful, intelligent son, so it doesn’t get a total fail, but I did nearly lose him at 17 weeks.

This third miscarriage was just brutal, both physically and emotionally. I was just about to enter 10 weeks in my pregnancy when I received the awful news that there wasn’t a heartbeat any more. Getting pregnant in the first place was difficult because I don’t ovulate monthly. It’s more like quarterly. And after that pregnancy had ended I begun the cycle of getting pregnant all over again.

Seriously, how can my reproductive organs just not work? It’s unknown why! They just don’t work and that’s all there is to it. You need to ovulate to get pregnant, and apparently my ovaries didn’t get the memo. Why ovulate monthly when you could just do it quarterly? It’s a great plan, except if I want to get PREGNANT! And then, on the rare occasion that I do, in fact get pregnant, well then my uterus will likely just be like, “Nope!”

So, now my days are filled with peeing on sticks. Lots of them. I’m so freaking good at peeing on sticks that I should get a badge. About three days into my cycle, I start peeing on sticks to see if I’m ovulating. Once I get a positive, I wait a week to take a blood test to see if I did, in fact ovulate. About that same time, I start peeing on sticks to see if I am pregnant. Even if the blood results for ovulation are negative, I still pee on sticks. Even though intellectually I know, I KNOW that it’s too early to tell, my brain starts whispering “What if…“ So no matter the results or how early it is, I start peeing on pregnancy tests so that I know as soon as possible if I’m pregnant. Then, I have three potential outcomes:

  1. Pregnant: This results in elation followed immediately by that cold, thick fear that runs deep in your veins. I will continue to test daily or maybe every other day until I can see the baby on the ultrasound.
  2. Not pregnant and I get my period on time: Time to start over! Call the doctor and dig out the ovulation tests.
  3. Not pregnant and no period: This is the most likely scenario, in which I continue to test until I’m about two weeks late. Then I go to the doctor, where I get a prescription to start my period and she also does an in-house pregnancy test to verify what I already know.

My struggles have taken their toll. I have lost that innocence and joy that comes with seeing those two pink lines on a stick. Now they only mean that I’m pregnant, not that I’m going to have a baby. My thoughts around pregnancy are forever tainted. Every month is an emotional roller coaster as I work my way through the phases of my monthly cycle. Stress over whether or not I ovulated turns into anxiety and an abundance of pregnancy tests to find out if I am actually pregnant. Every trip to the bathroom is filled with dread and fear that I will see I have lost yet another pregnancy. Because of my experience, I have become just as worried that I will see a positive as I am that I won’t. A positive test means I could lose this one too. Chances are I will. Statistics don’t lie.

I have become just as worried that I will see a positive as I am that I won’t. A positive test means I could lose this one too.

I envy women who post adorable announcement photos because they’re so confident in that little stick. They’re so sure that their bodies won’t fail them and that everything will go as the generations of women before them have promised: a beautiful, uncomfortable pregnancy with the reward of a perfect little baby at the end. I see them walking down the street looking so happy and carefree.

I’m not angry at seeing other women pregnant or pushing around strollers with their tiny little newborns. Sure, I get a pang of jealousy, but I retain the feeling of happiness for them because, well, it’s a baby! No, all of my anger is turned inwards at my own body’s failure. I resent the tests and the medications and the procedures. I watch the weeks slip by, thinking things like, “I would have learned the gender this week” or “second trimester would be right around the corner” while I sip my double espresso because, unfortunately, I can have all the caffeine I want.

And please, please don’t give me your pregnancy advice. I’m working closely with a doctor who specializes in this stuff. She knows my limits and my body, and she’s just plain nice. I don’t need anyone’s advice but hers. And don’t say dumb things like “these things happen” and “it’s for the best” and blah blah blah. It’s my baby that’s gone. MY BABY. A piece of me. And I know all of those things you are trying to tell me are true and come from a good place, but it doesn’t fix anything. It doesn’t fill the hole in my heart. I wanted that baby, and I have to be reminded daily for nine months that it’s not happening. If you don’t know what to say, then just say, “I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry.” That’s all that can be said. Before I go back and try again.

So, if you’ll excuse me I need to go pee on a stick.

(Graphic: Helen Jane Hearn/TueNight)

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