Let’s just be clear from the start. I don’t want anyone to only read the first few sentences of this and hurriedly offer congratulations. I am not pregnant. No fetus is in progress. Ian is still an only child.
Rich is not allowed to conceive a child while on the trial drugs from Sarah Cannon. I don’t think they would kick him out of the study for it, but there are lots of warnings in the paperwork. After his previous trial, he had to wait 90 days before he could conceive to ensure the meds were out of his system. He took his last pill on June 18. That means he was cleared to conceive as of September 19. We were already back at Sarah Cannon on September 15 discussing the next trial for which Rich was eligible.
I had stopped taking birth control pills in August in anticipation of trying again, but to say that we had a small window to conceive is an understatement. We went to the Jones Institute to freeze sperm on Sept 22 just in case. My window of fertility was the beginning of October.
We had a lot of sex. This is not standard “we’re in love and excited and going to make a new life” kind of frequent sex. There are IV lines and fistula bags and wound care issues. We have a five year old in our house and frequently in our bed. We’re flying to Nashville for medical appointments. I’m traveling for work. This is not for wusses.
I was so convinced that if we just worked hard we could make this happen. I looked for a midwife. I talked to our doula. But just like clockwork, my period started on October 12. At that point we had been assigned the week of the 27th through 31st for Rich to start his next trial drug. I would be most fertile that same week. It was down to the wire. This is not for wusses.
“Hey honey, let’s pack up all your TPN and wound supplies, fly to Nashville for a week where you will be examined and scanned and injected with mystery chemicals. And while we’re there, let’s have as much sex as possible to race to make a kid. Yeah, I know your fistula output just sky rocketed to two liters a day, but I’ll light some candles and play Sarah McLaughlin and it will be fine.”
We survived that week but only barely. Now we just had to wait and see if our hard work paid off.
It only took me one cycle to get pregnant with Ian. I stopped taking my birth control pills, which I had been taking for 17 years straight, and the next month we made a person. Pretty easy. As my friend says, I could have used Rich’s toothbrush and gotten pregnant.
This time, it’s been harder on many levels. If I managed to get pregnant, I would be 36 weeks when it was time to fly to San Francisco for the American Library Association conference. I would be seven weeks pregnant when I ran another 5K and half marathon back to back. I would be desperate to sleep all the time but still responsible for groceries, laundry, housekeeping, child care transportation, TPN delivery, wound care and that little thing called work. Oh, and logging all my blood sugars and food for 36 weeks. But it all seemed worth it to expand our family as we have wanted and do so without paying thousands of dollars to have it done by the Jones Institute.
Here we are, though, Monday morning of my period week and I’m most definitely not pregnant. That means our great pregnancy experiment has come to a close as quickly as it was put into motion (no pun intended). I’ll go back to the pharmacy and refill my birth control pills for next week.
I did some of my best positive thinking these last two months. I bought prenatal vitamins. I reactivated my account on BabyCenter to calculate a due date. I saved my pants that are too big for me. I let my alcohol supply get alarming low. I made a spreadsheet of my hours to see how many weeks I could spare next summer for maternity leave. If optimism alone could conceive a child, I would give Kate Gosling a run for her money.
But no luck.
I am mourning something that never happened, a life that never even started other than in my imagination. I would like Ian to have a sibling other than Cancer. But as someone told me, no sibling for Ian is worth having a mother who can’t pass a field sobriety test because of exhaustion. We are all stretched thin right now.
Don’t hide your babies from me. Don’t hide your beautiful round pregnant bellies from me. I’m hosting a birth circle tomorrow evening at our office where we all sit around and talk about birth stories, the excitement of pregnancy, the joy of birth, and the trials of motherhood. All those things are still important to me. I’m just cheering others on from the sidelines right now.
I’m going to spend the next six months or so reveling in the body I only recently got back from my first pregnancy. I’m going to buy new smaller pants. I’m going to restock the alcohol in the house. I’ll devour some unpasteurized soft cheese, gas station sushi, and questionable lunch meats. Maybe I’ll do all that while sitting in a hot tub. I’ll get a foot massage. I’ll keep training for my half marathon later this month and the one in March. I will revel in my bladder control. I’ll get my HbA1C back down to something reasonable before my next endocrinology appointment. I’ll keep everyone posted on the status of my #wasbutt.