(originally written on August 22, 2008)
Back when I made the decision in mid-April , I mentioned in a blog entry that I stopped taking birth control pills. I initially went off the pill to let my body return to normal and "gather data" (if you will) about my cycles before MM and I would actively try to get pregnant sometime this fall. As part of my data collection process, I began taking my temperature daily and charting on a well-known website for same. After a couple of cycles, I decided to add ovulation prediction kits to the mix, just to "get more information" about what my body is doing.
Somewhere between the initial decision to go off the pill in preparation for trying to get pregnant in the fall and today, this enterprise has morphed into MM actively trying to get me pregnant ASAP. I don't know if this is due to MM's desire for instant gratification; my inability to "let go" and not plan things; or the misguided belief we both had that pregnancy happens to people who don't use birth control almost immediately or some combination of these . . . . but my fertility has become a frequent topic of conversation between MM and me and between my closest friends and me, too.
Let me not make this sound as though it's primarily MM's doing. No, I have been wholly complicit in the evolution of the current state of affairs.
As I am now mid-way through my fifth cycle off birth control, I have already come to the realization that I am obviously not one of these women who becomes pregnant at the drop of a hat. At the risk of over-sharing. . . . MM and I have sex almost every day, at least 6 days a week.
I think most people would believe that two adults who have almost daily sex without any form of protection would soon find themselves in a family way. Well, I'm here to tell you: 'tain't so! I know for a fact that MM and I had sex during my "fertile window" the past four months (& this month, but it's too soon to know the outcome there), and I am not pregnant.
All my adult life, I have labored (ha! pun!) under the misconception (ha! another pun!) that unprotected sex would result almost immediately in a pregnancy. I have been extra-careful over many years to take my pill every day and on time, to use condoms, and to keep track of my periods. I have spent sleepless nights worrying on the rare occasions when I didn't use protection for some reason. I am beginning to wonder why I wasted the time, money, and effort on birth control. . . .
I've read the statistics on chances of achieving pregnancy naturally after age 35: according to the most recent study done, 60% of couples will succeed after one year of trying and 85% of couples will achieve pregnancy after two years of trying. We are certainly not outside the norm in having tried for four months and not achieved a pregnancy. I guess I was under the mistaken belief that I would be one of these women who somehow manages to remain super-fertile well into her mid-30's. My thoughts in that regard were not entirely without foundation: both my grandmothers had pregnancies after age 35; my mom and aunt both had unplanned pregnancies, attesting to the fertility of the women in our family.
At this point, I've moved beyond simply being annoyed at not getting near-instant gratification to being genuinely concerned at my lack of fecundity. I'm sure that my advanced age is a factor in this, but I can't help also wondering if something more is wrong, either with me or with MM. That possibility concerns me a great deal.
Neither of us is willing to go to the limits of medical science in order to become parents: we are both opposed to the idea of IVF (not to mention not wanting to spend $10K+ for the mere possibility of having a child); I am unwilling to do anything that involves shooting my body full of hormones (let's face it: I have enough trouble coping with daily life some days as it is!). MM is not particularly interested in the idea of adopting; the primary aim of becoming a parent for him is to have his own child who is genetically related to him. Because we both place significant limitations on the way in which we are willing to become parents, some of the options that might otherwise be available as a path to parenthood for a couple who cannot conceive naturally will not be open to us.
Meanwhile, all around us, people are getting pregnant and having babies. Just since I went off the pill--only a little over 4 months--three friends have announced their pregnancies and two have given birth. MM's surveillance officer partner's wife is pregnant with their second child. . . and the felons who MM supervises are regularly impregnating their partners. (MM was telling me last week that one of his probationers has been out of jail only 3 weeks and has already managed to knock up his girlfriend. They are both 19, and she has one child already with a different father.)
Although I've been overweight to some degree or another my entire adult life, I've always had a perception of myself as healthy. My "failure" to get pregnant quickly and easily has shaken that perception.
Also, I've never before had a goal that I can really do little to work toward. MM and I have done everything "right" for four months: well-timed intercourse; I've totally given up alcohol and nearly completely given up caffeine; I've been eating healthfully and exercising regularly; I take daily multivitamins and fish oil supplements. And still nothing.
ANYWAY. . . . I am not looking for advice on how to maximize our chances of conception--God knows, I have devoted hours to research of this subject over the past few months, so I doubt there's much anyone reading this can tell me that I don't already know. I am CERTAINLY not looking for anyone to tell me "relax, it'll happen." (In fact, I'd be apt to bitch-slap anyone who tells me this or its corollary: "it'll happen when you least expect it!" Please.)
Just wanted to get these feelings out there.