Quiet Expectation

One of the hardest things about not getting pregnant is the quiet expectation from our friends and family members for us to just be pregnant already.

I see it in the quick glances my sisters-in-law give each other when I say “I’ll just have water.” And then the subtle disappointment that emerges on their faces when I say “actually, I’ll take a beer.”

I see it in the Christmas cards family members sent us with notes like “Can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for you?!”

I see it in the long stares my friends give my glass during parties, like they’re willing the liquid it holds to be some sort of fake wine or decoy drink.

One family member straight up asked us “Are you guys even trying?!”

As if we could just make it happen – and the fact that we haven’t made it happen yet means we’re lazy. Or really bad with calendars.

Now I realize some of this is our doing since we aren’t broadcasting our infertile status to everyone we know. To me, it’s deeply personal. And something I don’t want everyone around me involved in. It’s hard enough for the two of us to hold our breath in two-week increments, I can’t imagine the constant public disappointment we’d face if everyone we knew was holding their breaths too.

Which means the people all around us will continue not knowing just how much we really are trying and how incredibly bad we want this. If only wanting it bad enough could equal a baby. We’d have five.

And this constant, expectant wondering, the continuous open question marks on the ends of ellipses written on all their faces: It’s heartbreaking.

Slightly because it’s a recurring reminder that for so many of them – for the majority of people out there – to make a baby, all they had to do was try (and so often not even that).

But the real reason it’s so truly heartbreaking is that this baby, this fictional, not yet existent so hoped for baby, has this entire collection of awesome, loving, wonderful people who are ever so quietly waiting for it. And it may not have the chance to ever know how incredibly lucky it is.

My best friends are all phlebotomists

The ladies at my local Quest Diagnostics laboratory now know me by name. And that name is Hun.

“Hey Hun, you’re back.”

“Hi Hun, how’s your day today?”

“Hi Hun, which arm this time?”

Each time I visit, they remember my referring RE, my insurance provider, and that the veins in my right arm are way better than the veins in my left arm. And I’ve learned a lot about them too.

Meg,* the older woman with thinning brown hair can get a needle in my vein with only one stick and have a tube full of blood ready to go to the lab people in about 5 seconds flat. All the while, I’m thinking about why Kraft Mac & Cheese powder is orange. I mean seriously, why don’t they just let it be white or a pale natural color and leave the food dye out. Who are they fooling with orange? And before I even get to thinking that all this food thinking has made me hungry, she’s slapping that cotton ball and tape on my arm. Yeah, Meg. Yeah.

Meg’s been married once. But that ended a while ago. And this bum she was dating recently moved right on into her house and stayed there even after she dumped him. Awkward. Last I heard, he was still there. Double awkward.

Then there’s Tameka.* She’s in room number 3, which is where we first totally hit it off during my glucose tolerance test. Recently, Tameka treated herself to some new pots and pans, and since then, her cooking has really transformed. Sauteed chicken, her fav, is so much more tender inside and crispy outside. I told her about this mustard chicken I like to cook every once in a while for the husband and I, and she wants the recipe. I think we’ll be pinterest friends. Tameka also really like Doritos. I know this because there’s always a snack-size bag sitting on her desk. Or maybe she hates Doritos and it’s the same bag that never gets eaten, in which case, we can’t be friends.

She was also very impressed by how quickly I could chug that special glucose drink. Because seriously, I took that thing down! Just saying.

And then there’s a late 40-something woman who’s name I don’t remember, so for now, let’s call her Nameless.* Nameless has a daughter in college and very comfy sneakers. And that’s all I can say about Nameless. She must work part time.

One of these months, I’m going to be able to stop seeing these ladies so often. At least I hope I’ll be able to stop seeing them so often. Not that they aren’t lovely ladies.

And when that month comes, I wonder if they’ll wonder about me. I wonder if they’ll ever ask each other in passing, “hey, where’s Hun these days?”

Though…probably…hopefully, they’ll know. That the reason I’m not there is because I’m on my way to holding a baby in my small-veined arms. And that I’m making mustard chicken for my new family.

*Names slightly changed to protect my favorite phlebotomists

The Dragon Lady

I’ve started seeing a Dragon Lady. At least, that’s how my husband and I refer to her when nobody else is around – as in “hey honey, I’ll be a little late tonight because I have to see the Dragon Lady.” Or “The Dragon Lady told me no cheese.”

The Dragon Lady is actually a fertility acupuncturist who comes highly recommended.

I want to first say that the idea of acupuncture has always given me the creeps. Because I imagine that it must entail a giant empty room, with only a wooden board that I would need to lay stark naked on while an Asian man in a pointy hat sang chants and prayed to the Gods while slowly placing needles in my shaking bare body.

But I’m desperate. And I know some friends who know some friends who know some friends who had a cousin that this really did work for. And who can argue with that?

So I call the Dragon Lady’s office. And I schedule a “consultation.” I’m optimistically terrified.

When I arrive, I am pleasantly surprised to find myself in a somewhat normal looking waiting room with a normal looking receptionist. After about ten minutes, a thin Asian woman, who I now understand to be the Dragon Lady, marches up and says “You. Come.”

Translation: I should follow her.

So I do. Into a small treatment room big enough for a massage table, a hutch and two chairs. She shakes my hand, and immediately starts yelling.

“You hand cold. Purple. You anemic! See my hand? Warm, no purple. No anemic. You! Cold hand, tired arm, tired knee, bad sleep. No blood…no hormone! No hormone…no baby!”

Translation: It seems I am anemic and that means bad things.

She quickly sifts through my paperwork, which lists things about my medical history, lifestyle, exercise, diet, etc, and where I had mentioned that yes, I eat meat, but that most days I could take it or leave it. The yelling resumes.

“Meat! Eat meat! Good for eggs. No meat, bad eggs. No eat salad!!!! Salad not a meal, just lettuce and cold.”

Translation: I should be eating more meat.

She keeps going.

“You drink cold water?! No cold water! Drink warm drink. Asian women drink warm tea, Asian women have baby.”

Translation: no more cold water.

“And no run! You run, you move hormones up and down up and down, all bad. No run. Exercise, fine. No run.”

Translation: I should stop running.

But that’s not all.

“Two babies die, you no hormones and no blood. Bad eggs. You all yin, no yang. You eat yang food, move blood, good eggs, healthy baby.”

Translation: I miscarried because my eggs are bad. My eggs are bad because of the lack of blood and hormones getting to them. I need to eat more yang food to increase my blood supply. Note to self: look up what the hell yang food means.

But it gets worse.

“You worst case I see. 15 years. China. Germany. U.S. You worst.

Translation: Things aren’t looking so good.

“But I fix. You, I fix. I fix woman who 45. She have baby. See, baby.”

She points to an adorable baby photo on wall in the midst of dozens and dozens of adorable baby photos placed together in a giant frame – one of about 50 similar arrangements scattered around different parts of the office.

“I fix woman who go through menopause. She come. Take time. But I fix. Baby.”

Translation: There may be hope for me yet.

“You. It take 3 month. Or 4. Lot of work. No try to get pregnant for 3 month.”

Translation: Secret hopes of this getting me pregnant this month are out the window.

I sit there like a stunned deer, unable to speak. Not just because this crazy Asian woman is yelling at me. But because this is the first person to give me a reason for all of it. A reason that isn’t “Well, you just have shitty luck.” Or “who knows why this is happening, but here, take these pills that will also make you dizzy and hot all the time.”

And some of it even makes sense. A lot of sense, actually. My hands and feet have always been ice cold. My fingers and toes go numb if I spend more than 2 minutes in the refrigerated section of Whole Foods. I drink tons of cold water, more than normal people – my coworkers continually comment on how often I take my giant water bottle into the kitchen for a refill during the work day. I run. I have freakishly low blood pressure – something I simply attributed to being so fit. I don’t sleep very well. I eat lots of salads and other things I’ve always considered to be healthy.

So basically, what the fuck have I been doing to my body all these years?

And this woman. This crazy Chinese woman who is yelling at me. I hate her. I love her. I want to kill her. I want nothing more than to impress her – to show her how devoted to this cause I can become. I want to yell at her. I want to hug her. I want to slay her on Yelp and social media. I want to invite her over to my house for dinner.

I don’t. but I do the next best thing: I schedule my first treatment.

For those who have asked, here is an unofficial yin/yang food chart got from the internets.


I’m not crazy. I’m pregnant.

Those were the exact words I announced to my husband the morning of Thursday September 18th. He was in the shower, and I had just peed on a stick. It was the fifth stick I’d peed on that week. And against my better judgment and the advice of probably every commenter on every pregnancy forum out there, I stared at that stick until it would tell me my fortune. Yep, I stared the shit out of that stupid little blinking digital indicator that held not just my future, but my sanity.

Because I already knew I was pregnant. I’d known the whole damn week I was pregnant. Scratch that, I’d know for going on two weeks that I was pregnant.

We’d been trying for five months, and nothing was happening. Then in September, seven days after a different stick had told me I was ovulating, twinges in my abdomen told me that this month was going to be different. Then came the lightheadedness, the oily skin, the sore boobs and all the other things that all the same commenters on every pregnancy forum out there say were their first symptoms. And I know this because, also against my better judgment, I’d spent hours upon hours scouring those sites hoping they held the magic answers I wanted. Sorry, work.

When the day came for my period to show up, and it didn’t, I confidently stepped up to the toilet, stick #1 in hand and let if flow. I spent the next three minutes picking out baby names and paint colors, and then I looked back at the test. Negative.

I tested the next day, then the next day, then the next day. All negative. Still no period. But a whole lotta pregnancy symptoms.

I called my doctor’s office, hoping for some sort of …something. And all I got was a nurse who insisted that I must be imagining that I was pregnant.

So that Thursday morning, when that damn blinking digital indicator on stick number 5 finally stopped blinking and showed “pregnant” I jumped pants-around- my-ankles for joy and held up the stick to my naked showering husband. Because it not only meant that we were we going to have a baby in nine months, but that I was officially sane enough to care for it.

That afternoon, I called and scheduled my first prenatal appointment. I traded texts back and forth with my husband about this secret we now shared, I googled my due date. May 28th. And then I started bleeding.

After a couple of blood tests, an excruciating weekend of not having any answers and a small meltdown in the middle of a CVS, I finally got a call from my doctor telling me the pregnancy had ended. I had had an early miscarriage.

“Just bad luck,” my husband and I told ourselves. “Everyone has one of these at some point.” “At least now we know we can get pregnant.” “We’ll get ‘em next time.”

But then it all happened again. In November. Exactly like the first time. Except less heartbreaking, because now we were emotionally prepared for it. But also heartbreaking in a different sort of way, because it meant something was definitely wrong.

Thus launched a barrage of doctors appointments, conversations with specialists, tests, more tests, even more tests. And somehow, we’ve ended up with more questions than answers.

In the last few months, my diagnosis has gone from Habitual Aborter to now Infertile Due to Diminished Ovarian Reserve. Like, Crazy Diminished Ovarian Reserve.

I’m 34 and in excellent health, but somehow I have the ovaries of a 49-year-old going through menopause.

So now starts my quest to change all that.

Screw you, Stork

Hey Stork,

I’ve seen you. Flying around couples having one-night-stands. Poking that smug beak of yours into houses already filled with six kids. Loitering around high schools. And all the while skipping the deserving houses on your route – the houses who have been waiting for you for years and years.

That’s pretty shitty, Stork. If I were your supervising manager, I’d fire you on the spot. Reason: erratic tendencies and irresponsible behavior. And don’t even think about asking for severance.

Hey Stork, did you know I’m 34? That I’m a runner? That I floss, take my vitamins, and eat healthier than anyone I know? Bet you didn’t know I’ve never had a medical issue, not even stitches.

Oh and Stork, we bought a big new home last year. With five bedrooms. In one of the best school districts in the nation. With nearby parks and nearby kids and nearby everything. It’s one of those homes my husband and I both dreamed about growing up in, ourselves. Did you even know that, Stork?

Yo Stork, do you care about the fact that I changed jobs? That I went from a crazy but prestigious 80-hour-a-week position to a predictable nine-to-five gig, all so that I could spend more time at home?

No, stuff like that doesn’t matter to you, Stork. So you just keep flying around with your weird little hat and occasional bowtie. And if, when you’re flying around all irresponsible-and-erratic-like, you happen to irresponsibly and erratically land anywhere in the vicinity of our house, well, then let’s just forget we ever had this talk.

Got it, Stork?