An alternate universe

Yesterday morning, I went to get my monthly negative blood pregnancy test drawn. I knew it would be negative because I had already started spotting and I could just feel that I wasn’t pregnant. And also because the Dragon Lady had felt my pulse on Monday and said “you start period soon.” And if the Dragon Lady says you’re getting your period, you’re getting your period. Like she ordered it up special for you.

Still, my doctor ordered a blood pregnancy test in order to start letrozole again this cycle, since crazily, letrozole will help get you get pregnant but if you take it while you’re pregnant your baby is guaranteed to come out with four eyes and eight knee caps.

As the new, cheery phlebotomist at my local Quest Diagnostics lab removed the needle from my arm and slapped the bandage on, she innocently wished me a cheery “Good luck!”

“Oh honey,” I wanted to say. “There is no luck here. Just a body that can’t keep a pregnancy going and has now decided it won’t allow a pregnancy to even begin. And there’s the knowledge that this month was yet another failed month. And there’s despair. But luck, there is none of that here.”

I didn’t of course. I politely thanked her and went on my way. But as I drove to work, I allowed myself to wonder what it would be like to be a woman with possible luck in her near future. To just be a woman who missed a period and needed a blood test as she came to wonder, “could I be pregnant?” To be still curiously, optimistically unsure, waiting for my doctor’s office to call that day with possibly life-changing results. I let myself imagine what it would be like…

At 2:30, my phone rings. It’s the nurse practitioner from the fertility clinic, asking how I am feeling. I tell her I feel fine. And she tells me she only asked because my blood pregnancy test came back positive. I tell her she has to be fucking shitting me. And then I apologize for just saying “fuck” and “shit”, but then proceed to say both three more times before hanging up.

I tell my co-workers that something has come up and I have to leave on a personal matter. They assume I have diarrhea. But I don’t even mind as I run home to immediately down the progesterone I stopped taking on Monday and shoot myself up with the blood thinners I also suspended back when I was sure I wasn’t pregnant.

But none of that happened. Not outside my head at least. As expected, the call came through with the negative results. And I sent it to voicemail, knowing it’d be easier on both me and the nurse practitioner if we didn’t have to have another conversation that started with the word “unfortunately.”

I stayed at work that day, a non-cussing, non-diarrhea-having, secretly heartbroken unpregnant worker. To everyone else it looked like any other day. But to me, it was a day where in some alternate universe, some other unlucky version of me was for once getting a little long-awaited luck.

The world according to my nipples

My nipples know things. Good things. Bad things. Things that could change my life. They know. And so every month around this time, I consult them. I ask them for their secrets.

What do you know, nipples? Show me my future. Any little humans growing inside me?

Today’s answer: outlook not so good.

They’re like little bastard children of the magic eight ball clinging to my chest. And they tell lies too. Last month, exactly 7 days after my first IUI, they told me it was THE month. They got big and super tender. And I got excited and super confident.

For the next seven days, I could not stop consulting them. I consulted them in the shower. I consulted them in the bathroom stall at work. I consulted them in the middle of the night when I got up to pee. I consulted them in the car while nobody was watching. I even consulted them in the gluten-free aisle at whole foods. Trick: pretend you have an itch in the middle of your arm, if your scratching arm hits your bra and causes pain, consultation complete!

It got to be where pinching through the outside of my bra just to make sure the tenderness was still there became an automatic reflex. Every 20 minutes, it just had to be done.

And then, little by little, the tenderness went away. I kept pinching though. Nipples, are you sure? Nipples, are you just getting used to the pain? Nipples, have you been lying to me?!

My beta 14 days post IUI confirmed it. My nipples had been lying the whole damn time.

But still….I cannot turn my back to the secret wisdom of the nipples. Now, 8 days past IUI number 2, I still feel they hold all the answers. And sure, they said “no” twenty minutes ago. But excuse me while I touch my boobs again.

Yep, still “no.” Those little fucking shits.

Excuse me while I freak out a little bit.

What do you get when you add two shitty ovaries, 987 autimmune issues, a crapload of medicine, a 3-month window to conceive and two failed cycles? A major freakout by yours truly. So major, I had to drop off the grid for a couple of weeks to lick my wounds in peace. But I am back now to take my freakout to the public. You’re welcome, internet.

Back in May, Dr. Kwak-Kim gave us three months to conceive on her every-drug-under-the-sun, this-just-might-work protocol. Mainly because one of her magic drugs, prednisone, can diminish kidney and ovarian function. And since my ovaries are already about as diminished as ovaries can be without being glued to an old lazy boy recliner eating soggy raisin bran, we need to be straight up knocked up pronto.

And I just watched cycle #2 on her protocol, a paperwork-perfect cycle I felt so incredibly sure was going to work, come and go with no second pink line. How are we supposed to find out if her magic combination of wonder drugs will keep me pregnant if I can’t get pregnant to begin with?

So now, things are looking pretty desperate. I’m desperate, the husband is desperate. Even The Dragon Lady is feeling the desperation. A couple of visits ago, she told me, “I run 500 miles if it make you pregnant.” This, coming from the woman who once yelled at my face, “no more running!”

With only one cycle left, I feel my it-will-all-work-out-in-the-end attitude starting to leave my body.

And I know that this is exactly what the Karate Kid and Mr. Miyagi felt like when they were seconds away from being taken out by that pimply kid Johnny, and had just one last chance to claim their destiny. Assuming, of course, that Ralph Macchio was on all kinds of mood-altering fertility drugs and getting weekly checkups of his uterine lining. And also assuming that Ralph Macchio’s character was a real person with feelings and a future and a family who was counting on him.

So yeah, assuming all those things, right now is that exact moment when I need to find the power for one, single, massively epic crane kick to Johnnie’s face.

If only I weren’t so scared to open my eyes.