There are days — and thankfully fewer and far between — when I look at my reflection and I don’t know who is staring back at me. I’m surprised by how “normal” I look. I don’t mean that to be funny; it’s just that if what appeared in the mirror was a reflection of what was going through my mind, or my heart, then it would be ashen, bruised, exhausted.
My best friend gave birth a week ago. I was looking through her pictures and saw life in her eyes, color in her cheeks and a joy that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen on her face. It’s the kind of joy that’s in your eyes and in your soul. Unmistakable. More than just a smile. What’s funny about joy is that you can recognize it immediately. But pain—well that’s a different story.
That’s because pain hides behind a smile and behind, “I’m good.” Pain hides behind normal. Pain won’t show up in the mirror.
You can hide pain and you can fake joy. I’ve gotten pretty good at both. It’s an exhausting existence though. Also exhausting is the battle between joy and pain when they exist in the same space. When I look at my friend’s pictures, I am simultaneously caught in her joy and suffocating from pain. It leaves me craving and dreading. Thirsty and saturated. Full and starving.
I want to celebrate and love and at the same time it feels treacherously deceitful to my feelings.
I pick up the phone to call her because I want all the details and I want to hear how she is, and how the baby is. I want to gush and God, I miss her. But every time I pick up the phone, I freeze. My heart skips a beat and I’m reminded of what was lost and I can’t breathe. Joy. Pain. Joy. Pain. Joy. Pain.
I will call…soon. But at this moment in time, this is how I show love and joy:
Welcome to the world Aiden James and my sincerest love and congratulations to your wonderful parents.
Tomorrow is the day! I decided to have the surgery to remove this thing growing on my ovary. In honor of tomorrow, I wrote the sucker a letter.
It’s time we parted ways. You’re a little too attached to me. I mean, you’ve grown to roughly three times the size of my ovary. You are basically the size of a large Grade A egg. I would keep you around but unfortunately, I’m not competing in a state fair for the largest organically grown product. Tomorrow, you will be surgically removed, and you are not invited back. Thanks for playing. –Emily
Ah yes. The size of an egg – at least that’s what my Google image search for 7cm revealed. I’m horrified and, morbidly curious. I mean – I can’t grow a baby but I can grow a fluid-filled globe the size of key lime? That got me thinking…
Anyone that’s familiar with literature on pregnancy knows about the comparison of embryos and fetuses to foods. So here are some other comparisons: a large date, a small tomato, a red potato, a large strawberry. See, it’s not just the pregnant women who get to have all the fun!
My husband wants me to bring it home in a jar. I tried to explain that the surgery doesn’t exactly work like that. Thanks to the wonders of science, it will actually be sucked out through my belly button. Well, maybe not my belly button but some small incision near there. Either way, it’s not going to remain intact enough to store in a jar and put on display. And even if we could keep it in a jar, it wouldn’t match with our pillows and couch.
We have an empty room upstairs. It’s supposed to be the nursery but I’m seriously thinking about converting it to war room and calling it Operation Conceive. I’ll hang wall-sized basal body temperature charts and dry erase boards to track the changes in my cervical mucus. I’ll set up a computer and several monitors that will show my most fertile times of the month based on complex algorithms that take into account the date of my last menstrual cycle plus the variables of progesterone pills, consumption of conception friendly foods, and my desire to conceive. Think about the Mission Control Center at NASA. That’s what I have in mind.
I’ll arrange to have a police escort on standby so that the moment the stars align, I can whisk my husband into the bedroom and we can get down to business.
I shared this plan with a girlfriend who doesn’t have children and has no desire to do so. She said, “Gee Em. Conceiving doesn’t sound very romantic.” Uhh. No. This is a science. In fact, I can’t imagine anything less romantic than calling my husband and saying “My cervical mucus looks like egg-whites. Get home now!” Sex is definitely not recreational anymore.
After having success with the progesterone pills, I decided to buy my first ovulation predictor kit (OPK). I actually have no clue IF I’m ovulating. My body is giving me mixed signals. My cervical mucus is all over the place. So is my basal body temperature. I’ve had random pain around my ovaries for the past five months so I can’t rely on that as an indicator of anything. Sigh.
The good news is, I will go back to my doctor on Cycle Day 21. She’ll blood draw that will tell me if I’m actually ovulating. In the meantime, I don’t want to miss my fertile window so I thought an OPK would be a good idea. I didn’t however, take into account how depressing a negative result would result would be.
Every afternoon I sneak away around 2:00 to pee on a stick and wait an agonizing five minutes to see if a line will appear giving me the green light to shave my legs and pretend I really want to have sex. So far, it hasn’t. I’m depressed and my legs are hairy. How long can a girl live like this?
“We need to get you pregnant.” That’s how my doctor opened our last appointment. She knocked on the door, sat down across from the examining table, put her hands on her knees, leaned forward and said “I can help with that.”
So there I was, sitting with a paper gown around my naked lower half and thinking, ‘Woah. What just happened here?’
Yes, I do want to get pregnant…but how about a little “Hi, how are you? How have you been sleeping? How are your emotions?” My desire for emotional coddling was quickly overridden by the straight-forward approach though. After all, the whole reason I was at the doctor, was to find out what’s going on with my body and to figure out how to correct it as quickly as possible.
After recapping every blow-by-heartbreaking blow, including the fact that I was now on cycle day 44 with no sign of what I’m now calling ‘the second coming,’ the doctor and I agreed that there were at least a few things we could do right away.
First item on the agenda: blood work. “I’m going to test your thyroid function and your prolactin — both hormones can interfere with your body enough to stop menstruation.”
Second: Prometrium, a progesterone pill. “You’re going to take two a day for 10 days. Then you’ll get your period.”
Third: Cycle Day 21 blood work. “Come back on day 21 of your cycle. We’re going to test your progesterone to see if you’re ovulating.”
“And if I’m not ovulating?” I asked. “I can give you something to help with that as long as you’re OK with a slightly increased risk of having twins,” she replied with a smile on her face.
So that’s the action plan. I’m still waiting on results of the initial blood work (much like I’m still waiting on my second post-miscarriage period) but I did pick up my prescription for the progesterone supplement. I don’t know when I’m going to start taking it though. I’m going overseas for the next week and I don’t want to be on hormone pills while I’m in a different country. The last thing I need now is to find myself hospitalized while traveling. No–that wouldn’t be good. So I think I’ll wait until I return. What’s one more week in the grand scheme of things?