36 Years Old and Waiting for Motherhood

June 29, 2015 | Cycles TTC – 8 | Cycle Day – 23 | Days Past Ovulation – 10 | HPT – Negative

I’ve never considered myself maternal.  I am empathetic, and loving, but I was never the kind of woman to go gushy over babies.  I didn’t babysit as a teen, I didn’t take care of younger siblings, and kids make me a little uncomfortable.  But, I always believed I wanted to have children, or a child…eventually.  It wasn’t something I was in a hurry to do, I wanted to live my life first.  Still, when I was younger I assumed I would have had children by now.  So how did I get to be 36 years old without children?  It went like this:

When I was 21 I met a man and fell deeply in love with him.  When I was 25, we got married, bought a house, and started a life.  I was doing my apprenticeship to become a hair stylist, and he worked hourly for Whole Foods.  We struggled a lot to make ends meet, but we loved each other.  Fast forward 4 years, and we started talking seriously about starting our family.  Unfortunately, by then things had changed, I had changed.  I realized that I cared very deeply for my husband, but I wasn’t in love with him.  Nothing catastrophic happened, we just grew into different people.  People who wanted different things out of life.  People who were roommates, not lovers.  It was incredibly sad.  So at 29 years old, instead of having a child, I got a divorce.

Not long after that, I met another man.  The man I’m still with today.  He was different from my husband in unexpected ways.  He was extremely honest and open about his life, his emotions, his baggage, everything.  He was incredibly vibrant and full of energy, and we had things in common I’d never had in common with my ex.  We were both musicians, we liked the same artists and books, we were on the same wavelength.  We became inseparable quickly.

One problem, he didn’t want children, ever.  I wasn’t worried about it at first, because I figured it was just a fling, a rebound relationship.  But when we decided to get serious, it became an issue.  We even broke up a couple of times.  When we finally got back together for good, I told him children had to at least be on the table.  He said he already knew that, and he wouldn’t have come back to me if he was unwilling to consider it.  This was good enough for me for awhile.  I was freshly divorced and in no hurry to get tied back down.  Our life together was so exciting.  We were always at a club or bar or restaurant.  John was somewhat of a local celebrity, and he had the hook-up where ever we went, we knew people everywhere we went, every day was an adventure.  Soon I started playing music again too (in my own band), and we became a local music power couple.  I felt like I was getting to live my 20’s again, the way I should have.

During that time, I went back to school for my english degree, so that was a 3 year period in which getting pregnant was out of the question.  I was working as a hair stylist, going to school full-time, and playing in my band.  I was putting in 80-90 hour weeks.  I was just trying to get through it.  After I graduated, I bought into the salon where I was working and became a partner.  Things were going well, I was 34 and ready to start talking seriously again about starting a family. I started reading and tracking my cycles. But that summer something happened that changed things significantly for me.  I was in a car accident.

A man ran a stop sign and totaled my car, and my right foot.  My foot snapped over the break pedal with the force of the impact.  It broke in 5 places, and all of the ligaments and tendons were severed.  It was what they call a catastrophic injury, meaning my foot would never be the same again.  I had 2 surgeries, spent 4 months in a cast, and 2 more months in a walking boot learning to put weight on the foot again.  That’s 6 months off my feet, on heavy doses of pain killers, pins sticking out of my foot, so working as a hair stylist was out of the question.  My business partnership, which was already rocky at that point, quickly deteriorated and then fell apart.  I had to leave, sue my partner to get my money out of the company, and go on unemployment. The accident forced me to hit the reset button on my entire life.  I lost my job and all of the clientele I’d spent years building (not to mention my body, my active lifestyle, my band).  So now I had to start over.

John has never made much money as a musician. He gets by each month, but we’ve always relied on having two incomes.  So I needed to get back on my feet financially before we could consider getting pregnant.  I wanted to open a business.  It was something I’d wanted to do for a long time, and I didn’t want to go back to working for someone else.  So as soon as my foot was healed, we began looking for a space to open my own salon.  I was on a time crunch for several reasons.  I desperately needed to start making money again, and by this point, my biological clock was tick-tocking so loud I could barely hear anything else.  I was 35 and I needed to get the business open and stable, so we could have an income, so I could get pregnant.  I didn’t want to attempt both at once.  Opening a business was stressful enough on it’s own.

By Christmas of last year, our path finally felt clear of obstacles. The salon was open and stable.  My foot was as healed as it was going to be.  My relationship was happy and healthy.  And I wasn’t getting any younger.  It was time.  It was SOOO time. So we stopped preventing and started trying.  Within a few months we discovered we had low sperm count and motility, and that getting pregnant was going to be much much harder than we’d assumed.  And here we are.  8 cycles in and still trying. And I’ve gone from being terrified of motherhood to desperate for it.   An atheist trying to figure out who exactly I should pray to for a child.  A woman afraid that I waited too long, missed my window.   A women who never felt maternal, hoping to become a mother.

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What Kind of Game is This?

June 24, 2015 | Cycles TTC – 8 | Cycle Day 19 | Days Past Ovulation – 5

Dear Universe,

What are you trying to tell me?  What?  I can’t help but notice you’ve been putting babies and pregnant women in front of me in unusually high volume this last month.  Yes, I’ve had babies on the brain for the last 8 months while we’ve been trying, and yes, since that time I’ve certainly been more aware of other people’s bundles-of-joy, but since Aunt Flo came 19 days ago, the sightings have increased dramatically.  I’ll give some examples.  The day I got my period, we went to see a live performance of The Kids in the Hall and they did one skit about a couple with a new baby and another skit about menstruation. This is a comedy troupe of all dudes, so that was surprising. How nice they were able to channel their feminine side just for me.  Then we went home and watched some reruns of How I Met Your Mother, which just happened to be the episodes where Lilly and Marshal start trying to get pregnant.  All this on the day it’s confirmed that I’m not pregnant.  Are you trying to torture me?  But that was only the beginning.  A couple of nights later I was flipping through cable TV to find one of my favorite cult classics Singles.  I turned it on to the scene where Kyra Sedgwick and Jim True find out they are pregnant, using that super old-fashioned pregnancy test with the test tube.  I changed the channel.  A couple of days after that, a character on another show we watch, Halt and Catch Fire, found out she was pregnant.  Our waitress at brunch on Sunday was so pregnant she was about to burst, the salon I own has at least one super pregnant client a day, and one of my stylists called me this week to tell me she wouldn’t be in because she was having a miscarriage.  Which is super hard and I am sympathetic to her. But she had no idea she was pregnant, nor did she want to be.  She is 42 years old, pre-menopausal and her boyfriend recently had chemotherapy.  They’ve only been together 6 weeks.  What the hell are the odds on that pregnancy?  But that’s all in addition to the seemingly record number of baby and pregnancy announcements on my facebook page, which I know show up on everyone’s news feed, but it seems excessive lately.  It’s strange to see so many babies on facebook because I’m not your typical 30 something with a corporate job and a two-car garage in the suburbs. John and I have always lived an unconventional life, our friends are musicians and artists with tattoos and weird hair who work service industry jobs or work for themselves.  They’re not necessarily the settle down and start a family type, but it seems that they are all pregnant now too.  I’m not kidding, there must’ve been a dozen new babies and bumps in the last 6 months. Not that I’m not happy for them, I really am.  It’s just hard to look at every day.  So I ask you universe, what are you trying to tell me?  Are you getting me ready for baby, or are you just fucking with me like a cat batting a toy mouse?  What is this game?  I don’t think I want to play.  It’s mean.

Sincerely,

Me

Moving Forward

June 18, 2015 | Cycles TTC – 8 | Cycle Day – 13 | DPO – Today!

Here are some things not to say to a person you know is having difficulty conceiving:

1. So, are you pregnant yet? — If I haven’t told you I’m pregnant, it’s for one of three reasons.  Either I am, and I’m not ready for you to know, I’m not and probably feeling sensitive about it, or I’m in the two week wait, and I don’t know if I’m going to be excited or disappointed at the finish line.  Which brings me to:

2. My wife knew she was pregnant right away, before we could even test. — Good for her.  But the reality is, the symptoms of early pregnancy very closely mimic the symptoms of PMS.  A cruel little trick that most of us who are TTC have been burned by before.  So I make zero assumptions, and I don’t want to hear about your wife’s baby 6th sense.

3. Don’t worry, it will happen when the time is right. — Honestly, I hate this one.  It implies there is some force out in the universe waiting to deem me fit or worthy for a child.  Meanwhile there are 14 year olds out there accidentally getting pregnant before they finish the 8th grade.  Was the time right for them?  I decide when the time is right, and it’s now, and it isn’t happening.  So shut up.

4. Kids are a lot harder than you think.  You can kiss goodbye to sleeping in. — Gee, kids are hard?  you don’t say?  Thanks for that dose of reality, all this time I was thinking they pooped rainbows and never cried.  Thank you oh sage of parenting.  I recognize that you have far more experience parenting than I do, honestly, and I know you think you’re helping.  But before you became a parent, you were in my shoes, and you managed to figure it out and make it work.  I’m sure I will too.

As you may have guessed already, I’m not pregnant yet.  Getting my period this last time was more disappointing than usual for some reason.  It seems to be getting harder and harder each time.  There were a lot of tears.  Even John was super disappointed; the man who said he never wanted children. Who spent the last 7 years we’ve been together getting comfortable with the idea.  And now he gets depressed with every negative pregnancy test too.  After 7 months of negative results, it’s beginning to feel like Einstein’s definition of insanity.  Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

We met with John’s urologist last week and discovered he has a varicocele.  It’s a varicose vein in the testicles that causes the blood to pool, heats up the testicle, and causes poor sperm production.  It’s common, roughly 15% of men have it, and it’s responsible for 40% of male infertility.  I was aware of this condition, but I didn’t know John had it until last week.  They also found white blood cells in his urine, which could indicate an infection also affecting the sperm quality.  We will know more next week when his blood test results come back.

A varicocele can be fixed with surgery, but here is the fine print.  If you don’t have insurance (John’s insurance situation is complex, a topic for a later blog) the surgery costs roughly 10K, and there is only a 50% chance it will actually improve the sperm quality.  And if the surgery is successful, it will be anywhere from 3 months to a year before the sperm comes back to normal numbers.  That’s not great odds for that amount of time and money lost.  I’m getting older and broker by the minute.  I don’t have either.

So we’ve made the decision to move forward with IUI.  I was really hoping we could get there without major medical intervention, but the important thing is that we get there.  John’s count and motility make our chances of conceiving naturally very low, but we are good candidates for IUI. I can’t take the month after month of heartbreak.  I need to try something else. We are continuing to try the old fashioned way this month until my appointment, but I’m not holding out much hope of success. I’m worried about the money, and i’m nervous about the drugs and procedures, but the moment I made the initial appointment at the fertility clinic, I began to feel better.  Here’s to moving forward.

My Trip to the Hippie Store

May 28, 2015 | Cycles TTC – 7 | Cycle Day – 16 | Days Past Ovulation – 5

Having entered month 7 with no luck in the conception department, I was beginning to feel like I was living Einstein’s definition of insanity.  That is, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.  Anyone trying to conceive for any length of time knows what I’m talking about.  So I decided to try something new, which is how I ended up at the hippie store a couple of weeks ago.  You know the kind of place; they sell herbs and crystals and tarot cards and fairy pendants and other nonsense.  But I had a friend who bought a fertility talisman and wore it on a chain around her neck, and it brought her a miracle baby.  Okay, not so much a friend as someone I saw on TV.  Whatever, don’t judge me.

Now, on a scale from wow-man-I’m-really-digging-your-earth-mother-aura to Jesus-christ-what-the-hell-is-the matter-with you-hippies, I generally fall somewhere in the middle.  I like astrology, I have used tarot cards on occasion, I have saged a room once or twice, but I also enjoy deodorant, I don’t wear crocheted shoes, and I hate jam bands or, god forbid, new age music.  I mean, I’m an aging punk chick for god’s sake.  I can only take so much positive energy.  but I figured, what the hell, it’s not going to hurt to try.  Maybe wearing some fertility stones will help put my mind in the right place to make a baby.  The power of visualization and all of that.

The moment I walked into the store I was greeted by a woman in a homemade jumper with dreadlocks down to her butt and armpits bushier than most of the men I’ve ever been with.  I, somewhat hesitantly, asked if they carried an fertility pendants.  “Of course!” she exclaimed, skipping over to the jewelry counter and pulling out a tray full of pendants, armpits flowing in the breeze.  I breeze you want to stay upwind of, I might add.  As she pull out the jewelry, I immediately realized there is no way I could wear a figurine of a ripe woman with heavy breasts and a round belly around my neck.  I didn’t want to have to explain that to people.  Plus it’s too literal for my writer’s heart.

“Do you have anything a little more metaphorical?” I asked.  She looked at me confused.  So I pointed to a silver pendant with a flower bud, apparently symbolizing new life.  Plus it had rose quartz in it, which I’ve read is good for love, healing and fertility.  She also sold me a moonstone to pair with it, saying that moonstone has powerful female energy. Then she asked me how many months we’d been trying and I told her 7.

Fertility Pendant

“Oh, you’re so golden, sweetie,” she said, “you are going to be just beautiful.”  She told me I needed to clear all the clutter from under my bed so as to clear a welcoming path for a new spirit to enter our space.  Okay, cleaning out a little clutter is never a bad thing to do, I thought.  Then, she said, I would need to go outside at night and bathe my belly in the full moonlight to signal to the goddess that my womb is ready.  Hmm… yeah, I’m probably not going to do that… Then she asked, “Have you built your baby alter in your room yet?”

“Baby alter?” *blink blink* This conversation might be starting to go off the rails a bit.

“Of course!  you know, photos of babies, candles, offerings.  It’s very important,” she said.

“Oh, yeah, sure, that baby alter.” Jesus, I can only imagine what John would think if he came home to this in his bedroom.  No way I could build that with a straight face.   

And then she told me that my partner and I would need to sit naked on the bed, facing each other and holding hands, and then pray to the goddess to bring us a new soul.  At which point I may have laughed a little and said, “there is absolutely no way my partner is going to do that.”That was when the middle aged woman next to me piped in with “don’t worry sweetie, all you have to do is say the word naked and he’ll do whatever you say.”  Yeah, clearly you don’t know my partner.

The hippie woman walked me around the store and gave me two more stones to keep on my night table, saying that they got her co-worker’s wife pregnant when he forgot he’d left them in their car.  And then she sold me some tea.  Whatever, the stones were $3 and I like tea. What’s it going to hurt?

So I’m wearing my pendant, and keeping my stones by the bed and drinking my tea.  I even saged our bedroom.  John thinks it’s all silly, and it probably is.  But I figure, there’s nothing wrong with a little hope. Maybe I’ll read my cards next.  But don’t expect to see me dancing naked in the full moonlight.  I live in the city.  I have neighbors.

Boots

May 16, 2015 | Cycles TTC – 7 | Cycle Day – 4

The dreaded Aunt Flo showed up four days ago.  Damnit.  I really thought this cycle might have been the one.  So I went out and bought myself new boots.  Expensive ones.  Because fuck this week 😦

Boots

Symptom Spotting is Bullsh*t

May 7, 2015 | Cycles TTC – 6 | Cycle day 20 | Days Past Ovulation – 7

A few unusual things so far this cycle.  Post-ovulation I’ve been having vivid dreams; violent, sexual, strange.  I’ve been very hungry the last 3 days, eating every couple of hours. Some minor cramping.  And 3 days ago I had terrible diarrhea immediately after eating a bowl of ice cream, which isn’t typical, I’ve never been lactose intolerant.  Other than that I feel normal.

In general I make a concerted effort not to symptom-spot.  It will make you crazy, and so far, I’ve been entirely wrong each time.  My general rule is to totally dismiss all possible symptoms if they can possibly be caused by something else.  So, I could be hungry due to normal fluctuations in my metabolism.  Minor cramping is probably gas.  The diarrhea could have just been a fluke, or some kind of bug.  The dreams?… I have no fucking idea. I’m not sure I want to know what’s lurking in my subconscious.  At least 3 more days until I can test, and realistically more like 7 days, so I’ll just have to sit tight.

I go and read these websites and forums and all these women are so convinced they are having symptoms.  And then I read the BFP stories, and women list off every insane symptom they’ve ever imagined for every single day past ovulation.  I saw one woman say that at 6DPO she was so exhausted she spent the day in bed.  Seriously?  That egg hasn’t even implanted yet, that shit is all in her head.  Here is the kind of BFP list I want to see:  1-5 DPO – nothing. it’s still in my fallopian tubes. 6 DPO – I had some cramps, it was gas.  7 DPO – Super tired.  I also worked a double shift on my feet, so there’s that.  8 DPO – Threw up this morning.  I also went out to the club and did about 6 shots with my friend who broke up with her boyfriend.  10 DPO – sore breasts. they always are at this point in my cycle.  11 DPO – more cramps, still gas.  I feel like this would be a more honest list.

Yesterday I spent some time talking to a friend of mine with 3 kids.  She got pregnant with all of them either immediately or accidentally, so she had no idea about any of this TTC crap we’ve all gotten so used to.  She didn’t know the term TTC.  She didn’t know what a temperature chart should look like, or how many sperm should be in an ejaculate.  She’s never had to stretch her own cervical mucus.  I was able to amuse her for awhile with my hilarious stories about the ridiculous things that become commonplace when you’re trying to conceive.  If I can’t be pregnant, at least I can be funny.

Milk Machine

May 1, 2015 | Cycles TTC – 6 | Cycle Day 14 | Days Past Ovulation – 1?

Today I’d like to offer my reenactment of last night’s attempt at procreation:

Soooo tired…  I’m ovulating…  Must. Go. Have. Sex.  Can’t keep eyes open on couch…  How much of “The Good Wife” have I slept through?  No idea, John’s asleep too.

Me: Hey babe (lazily taps John on head), we gotta go do it.

John: Again?  didn’t we just do it last night?

Me: Yeah, but we gotta do it again tonight.

John: Jesus woman, I’m not a milk machine.

Me: Very funny… zzz… zzz… huh, what? I’m up

John: Okay, let’s do this, but don’t be offended if I fall asleep in the middle.

Me: Don’t worry, I’ll do all the work.

Bed so soft… must not sleep… must get penis working…

Today’s Reality Check

April 26th, 2015 | Cycles TTC – 6 | Cycle Day – 9 | Days Past Ovulation – nope, not yet

Since my last post, aunt flow showed up, as expected after my BFN 11 days past ovulation last cycle.  John and I opted to get out of town for the weekend and relax, which helped to take my mind off of things. A couple of nights at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park; it felt good to be somewhere different.  Somewhere we could just focus on each other. Truth be told, it was the first time since we started this process in December that I haven’t felt devastated by getting my period.  Maybe I’m just getting used to the disappointment.

On a more positive note, I’m feeling encouraged by John’s latest sperm analysis results.  His motility has gone from 11% to 36% in one month of Operation Swim Team.  We’ve gone from “no chance”, to “it’s possible” as we head into my next ovulation cycle.  I have short cycles, so I expect to ovulate in the next 1-3 days.  We started doing the deed yesterday, and will continue every other day until I ovulate.  I used a Soft Cup and Preseed.  Nothing more dignified than stuffing a plastic jelly-filled cup in your vag with your legs in the air trying not to flex or sneeze for fear some of it might run out.

John has been playing out all week, which means a couple of drinks each night for him.  He is trying to keep it to a minimum, but every drink he has makes me anxious about the quality of his swimmers.  Nagging him about isn’t helpful for either of us though.

While wasting time on Facebook today, I discovered one of my staff members has also been battling infertility.  She posted an article titled 27 Things People Struggling With Infertility Want You To Know, and I got curious, so I poked around her page a bit.  I found photos of her IVF procedures dated several months back, so I have to assume they were unsuccessful.  I felt empathy for her, and I realized there are people all around us dealing with infertility, people we see every day and care about, and most of the time we never know it.  It’s something so many of us are experiencing, and very few of us feel comfortable talking about it.  Including me.  Why do you think I started an anonymous blog?  I’m considering reaching out to her, but I’m also her boss, and I don’t want to violate her privacy.  It’s just a reminder to be sensitive to others, you never know what the people around you are dealing with in their lives.  And it’s a reminder that it’s not all about me.  I don’t know what her journey has been, but I’m sure it has been longer and more difficult than mine has to this point.  So many of us are trying to overcome things beyond our control.

Operation Swim Team

April 16, 2015 | Cycles TTC – 5 | Cycle Day – 21 |  Days Past Ovulation – 11

I took a HPT this morning.  Negative.  I’ve come to expect these, and I look as quickly as possible, throw it away, and move on with my day.  I’ll test again in a few days, but I expect the same results.  I haven’t felt any symptoms this cycle, apart from having a terrible cold for the last week.  I know some women get sick when they conceive due to a lowered immune system, but it this case it would appear that a cold is just a cold.  Oh well, a capricorn baby would have had a little trouble in our aquarius household anyway.  Maybe we’ll have more luck making an aquarius baby next cycle.

On the up side, we got the test results back from John’s 2nd SA and it shows marked improvement!

Test 1 March 13th: 12.2 mil/ML, 27 mil total.  11% motility.  Morphology unknown.  Total of 2.9 mil swimming/sample

Test 2 April 10th: 16.5mil/ML, 36.3 mil total.  36% motility (!!!), Morphology 6% (should be better than 3%). Total of 13.24 mil swimming/sample.

Operation Swim Team is working!!!  In just one month, his numbers have gone up significantly.  Here is what OST consists of:

Daily vitamins and supplements: Fertilaid for Men – 3 pills, Count Boost – 2 pills, Motility Boost – 2 pills, Chinese herb blend from our acupuncturist – 6 pills, Fish oil – 2000 IU.  He breaks these up into morning and evening doses.

Weekly acupuncture with one of the city’s top fertility acupuncturists

Additional lifestyle changes: switched from boxer-briefs to boxers, laptop no longer kept on lap, no seat warmer in the car, cooler showers (he took extremely hot showers). He doesn’t drink coffee, so there wasn’t much caffeine to cut down on, he only smoked socially, but has cut that down to just a couple cigarettes a week (yes, he should stop entirely, but there are only so many battles I’m willing to fight).  And finally, and most importantly, the drinking.  John has been a heavy drinker for many (20+) years.  I woudn’t go so far as to define him as an alcoholic, as he only drinks in the evening, and rarely loses control of himself, but others might see it differently.  He is a musician and plays 1-3 times a week.  On those nights he would have up to 8+ drinks.  The rest of the week it was closer to 4-6 drinks/night.  Since we began Operation Swim Team, he is down to 3-4 drinks on nights he’s playing and 0 drinks the other nights, with the exception of the occasional drink with dinner if we go out to eat.  Of course no drinking would be best, but this is a huge step for him.  It hasn’t been easy on him, and he is being an extremely good sport about it.

This week’s test results have left me feeling hopeful.  Significant improvement in just one month.  In a couple more months, who knows?  We are going to keep trying and hoping.

Top 5 Things People Who Get Pregnant Right Away Get to Avoid

April 8, 2015 | Cycles TTC – 5 | Cycle Day 13 | Days Past Ovulation – 3

Here are the top 5 things people who get pregnant right away get to avoid:

5. Taking your temperature every day.  Setting an alarm to wake up every single morning, at the exact same time, to make sure your basal body temperature is taken and properly recorded.  And you can’t use just any thermometer, it has to be just the right type of thermometer.  If your temp is wonky, all over the place, or not generally what you’re expecting, you start to get nervous.  Are my cycles normal?  Did I take my temp wrong?  will this throw off my chart?  maybe I should throw this one out, it doesn’t look right…but I want to chart accurately…whatever, forget it. So you look up to make sure you’re doing right, wondering how in the hell it can be so hard to take your temperature, and the instructions tell you to take your temp vaginally if you’re not getting accurate results.  Um… vaginally?  Nope.  that’s where I draw the line in this process.  I’m not sticking a thermometer in my lady parts every morning.  I have limits.

4. Learning about cervical mucus.  I don’t know if I’d ever even heard the words cervical mucus 5 months ago, but now it seems to be a regular part of my day.  I had no fucking idea the consistency of the liquid leaking from my vagina each day played a roll in my ability to procreate, but now I know way more about it than I ever wanted to.  Never in my life did I imagine myself examining my cervical mucus every time I use the bathroom and asking myself, is this the consistency of raw egg whites?  Maybe?  I guess?  So much for dignified.

3. A daily cocktail of supplements.  John is taking roughly 10 pills per day to improve his sperm count and motility.  And I am taking at least 6 supplements per day myself.  But not just that, there is the weekly acupuncture where we get to have needles stuck all over our bodies, and small electrodes hooked up to them and turned on.  There is nothing like spending the afternoon turning yourself into the villain from Hell Raiser.  And don’t forget the monthly semen analysis for which my sweet John has to jerk off into a plastic cup in a tiny room where hundreds of men have jerked off before him, while a nurse waits on the other side of a very thin door.  There’s nothing to make you feel more like a man.

2. Using accessories in the bedroom.  You’ve probably heard that keeping your legs and hips elevated after sex can increase the chances of conception.  Let me tell you, when you’re dealing with low sperm count, that shit is amateur hour.  When your ovulation kit turns positive, it’s go time, and for us that doesn’t just mean lots of sex, it also means some helpful aids.  Specifically, Instead Soft Cups.  Somewhat bizarre plastic domes you insert to hold the semen up against your cervix, that way you don’t get any spillage.  They were actually made to catch menstrual blood, but someone figured out they work for conception as well.  Prior to this, I had never needed to find or touch my own cervix.  I had to watch several youtube videos to figure out how to use these things.  One night I started coming down with a flu virus at the same time I was ovulating.  I was in no condition to get busy, but I didn’t want to miss my window, so I asked John to make a “deposit” into a soft cup, in leau of doing the deed.  If you are reading this and thinking: Jesus, sounds like you’ve sucked every ounce of romance out of the process…  You’re right.

1. Constantly peeing on things.  People who get pregnant right away, or accidentally, pee on one thing, a pregnancy test.  For the rest of us, it is a constant barrage of urine. Ovulation predictor kits (opks) tell you when that little egg is in prime form, but it requires peeing on a stick or in a cup once or twice a day for a good 7 days a month.  Some people take them even more often.  The sticks are expensive, so I buy them in bulk, which means peeing into a cup and dipping a strip. This is messy.  Women don’t aim.  It splashes.  Hand washing is necessary.  It’s gross.  Also, your partner loves finding tiny strips covered in dried urine all over the house. And then there are the pregnancy tests.  One at 10 days past ovulation (negative), again at 12 dpo (negative again), 14 days dpo (damnit, I guess I’ll need to pick up tampons).  What’s even better was this conversation my partner and I had in the grocery store:

Me: We need to go to the bathroom section so I can get some small plastic dixie cups.

John: For drinking water in the bathroom?

Me: No, for me to pee in.

John: Gross.

Me: Yep.