I made the decision to try and become a single mother by choice in February, after less than wonderful fertility testing results. This is what I’ve learned so far…
1. You Start Using the Dreaded Lexicon. Sure, it’s infantilizing – “baby dust” and “BDing” (baby dancing, or sex) – but pretty soon, against your will, you’ll be Googling each dpo (day past ovulation), looking up signs in the TWW (two week wait), complaining about sore bbs (breasts), and stressing over CM and whether it’s EWCM (cervical mucus, egg white cervical mucus), hoping for that BFP (big fat positive). You POAS (pee on a stick) and scrutinize the lines to see if there are two somehow. TTC (trying to conceive) is no joke, yo. It’s exhausting. Which is where the abbreviations come into play, I assume.
This will prepare you well for the mommy websites, where people talk about SAHMs and WOHMs (stay at home moms, work outside the home moms) and their DS, DD, and DH or OH (dear son, dear daughter, dear husband, other half). It’s like high school, all over again, with the in-crowd knowledge.
2. TMI? What’s that? Nothing is too intimate to discuss once you start “trying.” You talked with your RE (reproductive endocrinologist) or ob/gyn about artificial insemination (AI) and kept a straight face about “social” egg freezing and “samples.” You tell your donor about your cycle in detail – “Come over today! Positive OPK!” – and you obsess over every little twinge with friends over phone and text. You text them pictures of your feet in the air after insemination, and about any mishaps with bodily fluids. (Hey, bodily fluids are gross … especially if they spill onto your hand). Researching when to have an orgasm is just purely business stuff at this point.
3. Your Doctor’s Office Probably Hates You. I know the doctor’s office is there to answer questions. I used to work in one. But I also know it’s possible to go overboard. It’s hard not to ask about every little thing, though, when it feels like something so minor can MESS UP EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS CYCLE. You want nothing left to chance, nothing to be in question. Because, dammit, you will conceive this time. So you call about vitamins. And then call again because you forgot to ask about a supplement. And then because you’re a caffeine fiend, you want to make sure your eggs aren’t swimming in coffee, so you call to ask about acceptable levels. And then call about progesterone. Once you have the progesterone, you call back to make sure it’s the right kind. And then again to double check the day you’re supposed to start. By this point, the nurses are hoping as much as you are that you get knocked up already, so you can stop calling … at least for the time being.
4. Your Therapist Knows Way Too Much. At this point, my therapist is as familiar with my lady bits as my gynecologist is. Not Biblically, of course, but my vagina does enter the conversation. You know it’s bad when your therapist says, “What, we can’t talk about vaginas?” and asks if you’re ovulating yet … because she has a sense of your schedule. You’ve explained the home insemination process to her, so she knows about your sexytime with the syringe and follows up with you to see how it went.
5. And Speaking of Syringe Sexytime … You become adept at inserting the sperm-friendly lube, then sucking up the semen with the plastic syringe with minimal air bubbles, and then finding the exact angle at which to insert and depress the syringe – not too fast, because of “splashback” (as if it weren’t messy enough). You’re so intimate with the syringe that by the third month, you feel like you ought to name it. I mean, really. This is as much action as you’ve gotten in months now.
6. Your Friends Start Multiplying Like Rabbits. All of a sudden, your Facebook feed becomes a minefield. Your sorority sisters and friends have been busy all winter, because now come all the announcements and births. And what’s with the sudden rush to have #twounder2? And how 3 is the new 2? No one’s having just one anymore, it seems. You start to wonder how everyone’s affording this and begin to have panic attacks. After yet another negative pregnancy test, these announcements become tiny little stabs in the heart, begging you to “like” them. Suddenly, “baby dust” doesn’t seem so dumb anymore.
7. Fertility Meds Are No Joke. It was a bitter pill to swallow, no pun intended, that I needed assistance anyway. But with a low ovarian reserve and a short luteal phase, I first went on progesterone for half my cycle, and then this past month, did Clomid for days 5 – 9. Nothing prepared me for my first hot flash on the subway. Close quarters, full of people, sweating through my shirt, feeling like all the fluid in my body was dripping down my face, nauseous … sexy, right? And then the chills that followed. Repeat that throughout the afternoon, and that was my fourth day on Clomid. The next and last day, I was so bloated, I was a mama hen searching for a nest where I could sit and lay my eggs. Mood swings turned me into a monster. Another Duggar is pregnant? RAGE. Seeing women pushing baby strollers on the sidewalk? RAGE. I won’t even get into the weepiness that would strike out of nowhere, at everything. ALL. THE. FEELS.
8. You Are a Slave to Your Ovaries. I had to tell an out-of-town friend I couldn’t have coffee with her on Friday because that was “one of my insemination nights this week.” Those were my actual words. To her credit, she didn’t even miss a beat before sending me the dripping faucet emoji. My donor can only come (haha … pun intended) at night, so this week involved some scheduling. My life revolves around ovulation, peeing on sticks at certain times, and my donor’s availability. And after that week of scheduling, waiting to pee on more sticks.
9. You Start Noticing Single Moms More. I grew up with both parents, so I never really paid attention to single-mom households. As I grew older and became a feminist, I paid more attention to it. Now, trying to become a single mother by choice (not that I have to defend or explain my situation, but in a nutshell, I haven’t found a partner yet and I was diagnosed with low ovarian reserve, which moved my timeline up), I’m noticing single moms (by choice and circumstance) and seeking them out. Parenting is hard. Trying to become a mother is hard, especially without a partner. Emotions are high and it can get lonely. Besides, I need to know how I’m going to explain this to people when they ask!
10. You Will Do Anything. I am not a crunchy person. I am a logical, methodical person with education in the medical/health fields. But I have a fertility mala bracelet. I burn those votive candles with Mother Mary on them (and I’m Jewish). I listen to a download of fertility affirmations. There are three apps on my phone to track my fertility. I cut out microwave popcorn, drastically cut down on caffeine, cut back on candy and sweets, and drink so much water, I’m always in the bathroom. If I have to move on to injectable fertility meds, I will do it in a heartbeat. I do visualizations of the egg implanting into my uterine lining. I pray. I do all of this, hoping that it works and I become a mother soon. I did not expect any of this.
It’s that damn baby dust, I’m telling you.
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