Archive for the 'Pregnancy' Category

Why trying to have a baby is not sexy.

I’m trying to get pregnant.

I’m not taking the “go off the pill and see what happens” approach. I’m taking a more active approach. I just turned 34, and I think I want to have two kids. I’m not exactly worried about making that happen, but I figure that all else being equal, it’s best if we knock out the first one as soon as possible.

It turns out that just by taking your temperature every morning, you can pinpoint pretty closely when you are ovulating. I started doing this in October, because I ran out of birth control pills. I thought my then-fiance and I would start trying to get pregnant sooner rather than later, and it didn’t seem worth it to go to the doctor and get a refill just to take the pill for a few more months. Instead, we just avoided having unprotected sex during the four or five days each month when I could have gotten pregnant.

We changed tacks in March, when we got married, and started having sex on purpose on those same four or five days. Like many other things about trying to get pregnant, having sex on a schedule can be really strange.

Most sources recommend having sex for the two or three days leading up to ovulation and the day of ovulation as the best strategy for getting pregnant. If the man has a low sperm count, every other day is sometimes recommended. But because we got pregnant—though I had an early miscarriage—our third month trying, I don’t think that is an issue for us.

So every day for those four days it is—or at least that’s the plan. It’s surprisingly challenging.

The first two months, we couldn’t do it. The first month felt like a warm-up, anyway, and it was right around the wedding, so we were really busy—spending time with guests, finishing work and last-minute wedding preparations, flying to Bhutan, etc. We only managed to have sex every other day. The third month, we finally managed four days in a row, and we got pregnant, though I had a miscarriage at five weeks.

So now, of course, I feel like we need to make it happen every day. There is a lot about getting pregnant that a couple can’t control, but this is one thing we can control. Why not tilt the odds in our favor as much as possible?

We started trying immediately after the miscarriage, but our hearts weren’t in it and it felt like a chore. My doctor seemed skeptical that I would ovulate so soon, and it seemed impossible that we would get pregnant two months in a row, so we were doubtful that anything would come of our efforts.

The next month, we were backpacking for three of the key nights, which added an additional element of difficulty. Aside from the fact that we were in a tent in a crowded beach, it is messy having sex every day without showers or bathrooms or even toilet paper. We were sandy and sweaty, and I felt leaky.

This month, we were inspired. It’s the third month since the miscarriage and we got pregnant on our third try before. At least, I was inspired, and my husband seemed cooperative. I am the project manager of Operation Fetus, though he takes the laboring oar, as it were. I tell him I appreciate his efforts, and he reminds me that he also wants to get pregnant. We’re on the same team.

So we started with renewed energy on day 10 of my cycle, three days before I usually ovulate. The first night was fun. Afterwards, I patted myself on the back; I had been a good team leader.

The second night, my mother-in-law was sleeping in the living room of our one-bedroom apartment. No matter; the air conditioner running in the bedroom would mask any suspicious sounds. We aimed for efficiency.

The third night, we were backpacking again, but instead of being on the beach we were high in the mountains and it was cold. We were both gassy from the freeze-dried and processed food—Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Deluxe, I’m looking at you—we’d been eating all day, and we were tired from hiking and all the fresh air. We tried to arrange our sleeping bags as best we could to cover us both and keep us warm. We had left the rainfly off the tent, and though it was next to impossible that anyone would stroll by, they would have been treated to a surprising view. I was not leaving my warm position on the bottom, where I was mostly in the sleeping bag. Without a soft bed with some give for me to sink into, I felt like I was being crushed. I tried to prop my husband up with my arms so that I could breathe, and we laughed a lot.

The fourth night was a business transaction. We were home, but even more tired after a night of fitful sleep on the ground, a second day of hiking, and a pint of beer at dinner. I felt nauseated, probably from the aforementioned factors as well as my exclusive consumption of cheese and crackers, Cheetos, and chicken strips that day. My husband’s breath smelled terrible. We considered these factors in a brisk negotiation, calculated the approach with the lowest chance of my vomiting, and got the job done.

I don’t mind any of this. I like projects, and this is an easy and interesting one with an exciting payoff. It’s just interesting the way it changes sex from a fun and voluntary activity to an item on our to-do list. I know it’s nothing compared to the challenges we’ll face when our sex campaign is finally successful, but I’d like to think I can take some heart in knowing that we can approach at least this small challenge with humor and teamwork.


An unexpected pregnancy side effect: fear of bears.

Here’s an unexpected side effect of pregnancy: I think it has increased my fear of bears.

I love camping, hiking, and backpacking, but I have a deep and irrational fear of bears. I may be the only person in Washington State that camps with bear spray. I won’t go backpacking in areas with grizzlies unless I’m with at least four other people.

I can usually manage my fear, but I’ve spent more than a few sleepless hours listening intently for bears. In my half-asleep brain, the sound of gentle waves on the shore of a lake turns into a thirsty bear lapping up water, and the sound of a windy night turns into a bear rattling the tent. My husband is used to me abruptly sitting upright in our tent, grabbing his arm, and whispering “there’s definitely a bear out there!”

Anyway, two weekends have passed since I found out I’m pregnant. We planned to go snow camping both weekends but we were rained out both times. I’ve been bummed about the rainy weather but also, in a secret part of my soul, relieved. When I imagine being in our tent at night in the middle of the North Cascades I feel a new sort of alarm. How bad is it going to be when I have an actual child and not just an embryo? We’re on again this weekend, so hopefully I can conquer this new uneasiness.

A new project.

Okay, I give in. I’ve been un-creative all week because my energy has been focused on one thing: I’m pregnant.

It’s the first time I’ve been pregnant, and I didn’t really believe it was possible after so many years of not getting pregnant (intentionally so, but still). Earlier this year when I thought I might be pregnant by accident I felt like a deer in headlights, but I’ve gotten used to the idea since then.

I found out about a week ago, and it’s still sinking in. At first I was sure I would get my period on schedule, despite the mounting pile of positive cheap pregnancy tests in my bathroom. Now I’m sure I’ll have a miscarriage, but I know the odds aren’t in favor of that. Instead, it’s highly likely we’ll be making room in our apartment for a baby in about eight months.

I’ve had a day or two of terror. I like my life now. It involves a lot of freedom and fun. I don’t feel any moral duty to breed. I don’t think it’s immoral either, I just don’t think the world has any particular need for my offspring. And I don’t feel confident that having children will make my life happier. I suspect that biological forces are brainwashing us into wanting to have children, but I can’t do anything about it. The forces pushing us towards having kids feel inexorable. It’s going to happen, and it’s too late for second-guessing.

On the other hand, it also feels like the most fun project I’ve ever taken on. I cannot wait for all of the new interesting experiences that are coming, and there are so many new things to learn. I think we are going to have loads and loads of fun. And I’m lucky to have a husband who, in addition to other good qualities, is exceptionally patient, reliable, and even-tempered. (He can’t exactly say the same about me, but he’s taking his chances). I feel really sure that he will be a good partner, and a good parent.

So. It’s interesting. And taking up a lot of my brainspace. I don’t know how I’m going to make it through the next two months. Work is slow, and I hope it picks up so that I have something to distract me until we can start telling people and planning.

I’d like a cup of coffee now, please.

Six days ago, something happened that made me wonder if I had accidentally gotten pregnant.

When I was much younger and having a baby was unthinkable, I regularly convinced myself I was pregnant and spent a few days freaking out. I could do this in the face of steep odds; for example, if I hadn’t, you know, had sex. At one point, in college, I planned to contact the Catholic church and secretly go through the pregnancy and give birth in a convent in Europe. Why Europe, I don’t know–I guess I figured I should get a free vacation out of the deal. But after years of successful baby-avoidance, I rarely gave it a second thought.

But last week I got really suspicious, so much so that I actually changed my habits, something I’ve never done before. I haven’t been drinking and I’ve been limiting myself to one small cup of coffee for the last six days.  I keep encountering things that are normal parts of my life, but suddenly seem fraught with uncertainty and potential danger–skiing, cheese, the sauna, an afternoon latte. I feel unsure of my body.

My world is quite different now than it was in college, when I used to worry about being pregnant. I’m actually planning to try to have a kid soon, so I would probably be happy if I found out I  was pregnant. But this afternoon I’m kind of hoping that I get my period, and I’m pretty sure that the first thing I’m going to do is make a cup of coffee and then crack open the bottle of wine in the fridge and pour myself a glass or two.

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