A brief preface: everyone’s story does not read like mine. If you are pregnant, or have never experienced what I address below – this is not meant to make you feel badly. If you have experienced something much more difficult – this is not meant to be comparative. I don’t pretend to know the ins and outs of everyone’s experience on this topic. What I do know, is it’s sensitive. It’s personal unlike anything I have experienced before and that is tricky. It can also be a little lonely. So I will tread lightly and share my own experience. I’m hoping only to make it a little less lonely – for me, and for some of you, too.
If you’re anything like me, you make decisions carefully. It’s a no stone unturned kind of thing – I want every possible factor considered before leaping into a commitment. Moving to a new city, marriage, buying a house – the big life decisions – all fall into this category. And in the order of things (as per childhood rhymes, anyway) you know what comes next. “First comes love, then comes marriage”… next up on the docket: a baby.
And what a big decision that is – to try to bring a child into the world. There are so many factors to consider! The world itself, for one. Your relationship with your significant other. Your family. Your other children. Your home. Your salaries. Your day to day. A baby affects ALL THE THINGS. And so – we considered all the things. We decided we were ready. We arranged our love life accordingly. And then we waited.
Here’s the thing. We prepared in (what felt like) all the “right” ways.
And today, I am not pregnant.
I’m not saying I won’t ever be, because I don’t think that. I’m not going to detail the number of months we’ve tried or the disappointments we’ve experienced or the next steps from my doctor, because that’s not what I’m talking about here. I am not pregnant. That’s what I’m talking about. Between the deciding you want to be pregnant, and the actually becoming pregnant, there is another stage I never considered, honestly. Another state of being. Being not pregnant.
What that means is this:
Every day, I pay attention, vigilantly, to what my body is doing. I’m peeing on sticks and watching for symptoms and tracking temperatures. I am aware, all the time, of what is happening in my body. There is no break – from beginning to end of every cycle, and then starting again at the top, I know, because I track. I eat, sleep, work, and watch Netflix through a constant, low-level awareness of where I am in the fertility cycle. I am tired. And I am not pregnant. So I keep going.
This means at the end of each month, we have worked hard to achieve a goal that we haven’t yet reached. I experience a rush of disappointment every time my period comes and have to share it with my spouse, effectually causing that same rush for him. And thus far, it comes. Because I am not pregnant.
This means, because we don’t live in a vacuum, people wonder if I am pregnant yet, and each time they ask I feel like I disappoint them, too. There comes a point where they stop asking. Because there is no good response to “No, I am not pregnant.”
This means I am on Facebook and text chains with my favorite people announcing their pregnancies. And each time, I cheer, I send all the appropriate emojis, and I try not to cry. And it’s not because I’m not excited. I feel your excitement and I want to celebrate alongside you, because that is the person I like to be, a person I know you deserve me to be. But by no fault of your own, your joy amplifies my uncertainty just a little. Because you are pregnant. And I am still stuck in the not.
I don’t mean this to read as a sob story. I don’t want to whine or complain. My experience in the in-between pales in comparison to many women I love dearly who have struggled with fertility. I am hopeful, still, there will be a day where all this energy and vigilance comes to fruition in 2 little pink lines on a stick that I’ve peed on and stared at for 3-5 minutes – a day when I am pregnant. But today, I am not. I don’t know when, or with absolutely certainty if, that day will come. And today, that is something hard.
On the other side of every disappointment, every negative test, every period we hoped wouldn’t come; there is another day. A new one. A fresh one. A new chance to share in a friend’s excitement that maybe yesterday felt too raw. One where it might be easy to stay in bed and feel deeply, painfully, not pregnant – but one I will fill instead with all the many good things that bring me comfort and joy and hope in the midst of waiting and worry and stress. I have hope. These are things that are good.
But the fact remains: I am not pregnant. There is no pretty bow to tie on that to make it sting less. And so, we feel the sting. We take a deep breath. We face another day.