This time a month ago, I was merrily conducting a pregnancy test every day, just for fun. This time last month, I was on heightened alert for every minute tweak and twinge, in case they counted as ‘feeling pregnant.’
This month, I am simply waiting for my period to start in two days’ time. There’s no point wasting good money on pregnancy tests. I didn’t even ovulate. And I certainly haven’t experienced any sensations at all that might be termed ‘feeling pregnant.’
All of which sounds rather more sulky than I feel. I’m going into this with pretty low expectations, and it’s a whole month until my first appointment with the specialist. I am, frankly, a bit bored of people telling me that it will probably happen miraculously if I take my mind off it. I know this is supposed to be comforting, but it isn’t remotely. Whatever you read in the bottom end of the women’s magazine market, infertile couples tend to conceive babies after a hard slog through a range of surgical and medicinal interventions. It’s patronising – if well-meaning – to conveniently turn your gaze away from the hard scientific facts of conception and offer platitudes instead.
This whole enterprise is one long process of managing expectations. Maybe it’s my slight ambivalence about what a baby would do to my life, but I can’t afford to get pie-eyed about an infant that may not exist for several years. I have not been making mooning visits to Mothercare (although I have checked out the maternity jeans in Topshop. Damn, they look comfy. I wonder if I could get away with wearing a pair now?). More than that, I can’t afford to get carried away with romantic notions about implantation magically occurring if there’s enough love in the room. If that was the case, I would have been pregnant years ago, trust me.
But I can’t allow myself to feel too helpless either, to rest myself too comfortably in the hands of the medical professionals. I only get to see them every few months, and if nothing else, I need something to pass the time. Plus, it’s pleasant to proceed with measured optimism, a healthy appreciation of the balance of probabilities.
Each stage in this requires a raft of decisions and research. This month, we’ve been choosing ‘sex every other day’ rather than ‘waiting for ovulation and then doing it as much as possible.’ In many ways, it suits us better – less panic, less pressure, less precision. I want to enjoy this, find opportunities within it to enhance our relationship, rather than to treat our marriage as a phase I’ve moved through now I’ve got my eye on a new prize. This is about us. I want to make a baby with Herbert specifically.
But I confess there’s something slightly gruelling about having sex every other day, just because it’s an obligation. All of our creativity has flown out the window, now that we must harvest that precious semen. This limits what you can do (just in case it all pops out early), and lends an air of weary traditionalism to the whole affair. I’m wondering about conjuring up a complex zoning plan for the month, in which we identify five days when we’re pretty certain I couldn’t get pregnant, and institute a free-range ejaculation rule for that week.
However, I suspect that if we did that, we’d both merrily end up taking those days off for a nice rest.
This post will self-destruct in two weeks.