Head F*ck

I sat in the chair in the hallway, leg vibrating, eyes shifting nervously. I turned on my phone and entered the passcode clumsily, messing up on the first try. I loaded my reader but there were no new posts. I scrolled quickly through my FB feed but there was nothing I hadn’t already seen. I checked my email but there were no unread messages. I finally went into my Photos and just scrolled through a set of shots I took that morning, my son smiling back at me in thirty almost identical ways.

One minute. Two minutes.

I put down my phone and stretched my neck. It cracked loudly on one side and then another. I rummaged through my purse, not looking for anything really, just trying to kill time.

This is silly, I thought. Why are you so afraid? You only asked to put your mind at ease, but you already know the answer.

But what if that is not the answer? What if?

The nurse swung around the corner and smiled. The test is negative.

I take a breath, a gasp really, and put my phone back in my purse. As I stand up to leave I realize my heart is pounding.

Thank god it’s negative. I repeat over and over again. I shove my hands in my sweatshirt pocket to keep them from shaking.

*  *  *  *  *

The Thursday before we left for St. Louis I felt really bloated, crampy and emotional and I realized my period had been due earlier that week. When I say due I mean, it had been 24 days since the first day of my last period and my cycles are generally 20 days long. With the bloating and cramping, I was sure my period would come the next day. It didn’t. Eventually I lost the bloat and stopped feeling crampy and my period still didn’t show. On Friday night I tore the scar tissue from my first labor, creating an open wound. I made an appointment for Monday morning, just hours before our flight boarded.

I was super busy all weekend packing for our trip, but I was constantly aware of the fact that period still hadn’t shown. By Monday morning it was CD27. I almost never have cycles that long without changing my diet, adding supplements and getting weekly acupuncture treatments. Still, this was only my third postpartum cycle, plus I’d been on the stressful trip to Disneyland right around when I would have ovulated, so there were two likely, non pregnancy-related reasons my period was late.

We had also been very careful that month, just like we always are. We had used protection the two measly times we had had sex. There really was no way I could be pregnant. And yet, that is exactly how I felt the month we got pregnant with Monito. After that random week of BCPs messing up my cycle, I wasn’t even sure I ovulated that month, and if I had it had happened FOUR DAYS after we had sex. I was sure I wasn’t pregnant that month, but then I was. Now, again, the uncertainty weighed on me.

I haven’t really written about it here but I am so thankful for that “surprise” BFP. That was always a dream of mine, to get a surprise positive pregnancy test, but since we never had unprotected sex when we weren’t officially trying, there was no possibility of that. In the months while we were trying for a second child a substantial (it felt to me) number of IF bloggers I read announced surprise BFPs and each one was like a sucker punch to the stomach. I wanted that so badly and I knew I would never have it. We would ALWAYS be trying until we got pregnant and we’d never leave a third child up to chance. I had missed out on something that seemed so incredibly magical.

But then I did get to experience that, in a way, because we hadn’t really been trying that month and I really didn’t think there was any way I could be pregnant, and then I was. And it was amazing. And I’m so grateful I got to have that experience, of getting pregnant against all odds, when I we hadn’t had timed sex and I hadn’t been tracking symptoms throughout the 2WW. I was just waiting for my period to come so we could finally start trying again after our shitty diagnoses and my HSG. I never in a million years thought we might be pregnant.

That surprise pregnancy was a gift, one I never took for granted. But now I realize it also instilled something else in me: the thought that I might get pregnant even when it seems impossible to me. I can’t tell you what a head fuck that is, after years of perfectly timed sex NOT resulting in a pregnancy, to be worried that protected sex might somehow result in a pregnancy. It feels like a cruel joke.

It’s also a head fuck to not want to be pregnant. Especially since *I* would like to be pregnant, but I know my partner would not. We’ve had some painfully difficult conversations about having a third child. The “A” word came up and it’s clear that our differences of opinions on what we’d want to do if I did end up pregnant again could lead to the end of our marriage. Every time I wonder if I might be pregnant I’m faced with the reality that another child, one I would whole heartedly welcome into the world, could destroy my relationship. I am reminded that my husband and I feel so differently about this that we probably couldn’t find a common ground. It sucks to have that possibility invading my thoughts.

That is why my heart was racing and my hands were shaking, not because I was so relieved not to be pregnant, but because I was so relieved not to have to face that reality. I was so relieved that I didn’t have to have that heartbreaking conversation with my husband, the conversation that might dismantle our life together.

I hate living this way. I hate that there is a chance and that I have to fear it. I hate that my body is just fucked up enough to make late periods a probability, but not common enough that I can shrug them off. I hate that our diagnoses make it almost impossible for us to get pregnant, but that there is always a chance, no matter how small. I hate that I’ve never gotten pregnant without drastically overhauling my diet, taking tuck loads of supplements and getting acupuncture for months, and yet I’ll always assume that it might happen, that anything is possible.

I picked up a brochure for the copper IUD at the doctor’s office that Monday. Mi.Vida is planning on getting a vasectomy but I doubt it will happen any time soon. I don’t really want it too, to be honest. The finality of it scares me, it shuts a door that I’m not ready to be closed. In the meantime I might get an IUD. My NP suggested Mirena, since my cycles are so short, but I hate the idea of putting hormones into my system when there is another way. I’m going to research both options and I’ll probably give one of them a try.

Getting an IUD feels like putting a bandaid over a gaping wound, but it’s a step in the right direction, or it’s a step in some direction anyway. And I need a direction right now, because I can’t stand being in this place, where my current mindset seems to disrespect our past struggle. I can’t stand not wanting to be pregnant, when that’s not really how I feel. I can’t stand holding my breath and hoping the test comes back negative when I prayed for a positive for all those years. It’s just too much of a head fuck and I don’t want to deal with it. So I need to create a world in where I know it’s not an issue, and hopefully later I’ll be more prepared for the finality of actually letting go.

{In case you’re wondering, my period finally showed the following Thursday, on CD31. Took long enough.}

What are your current or future “birth control” plans? Do you think it will be hard/is it hard to be in a place that is so different from actively trying? Are you and your partner on the same page about when your family will be complete?

11 responses

  1. Wow. So stressful.

    We always wanted two kids and both felt good about that decision. Not gonna lie, I feel myself wavering sometimes now that #2 is here. But also not sure I could go throw all the stress of trying and fear during pregnancy again. Not that it is a question. My husband is pretty firm in his two kids stance.

    As for BC, I was given a prescription for Mirena. Just haven’t filled it yet or booked the appointment to have it put in.

  2. We’re on the same page here, just waiting and holding off on #3. Like you, a pregnancy right now would not be the best news, so I’m on BC. I won’t chance it, even though we’ve never had a surprise or reason to believe we could. Getting pregnant naturally also leaves our embryos in storage forever, which neither of us wants. If there is a third for us, he’s coming out of the freezer!

    Given your situation with MV, and the A word (shivers!), I’d take care of it STAT. Like – today. Men can’t be trusted to take care of it.

  3. You’re right, that is a head f*ck, and I’m sorry that you were in that position. Since I don’t cycle on my own, really at all, I know that I will need to be on hormonal BC after Lucy is done breastfeeding to reduce my risk of uterine cancer. We also know that Lucy is our last child, so we could do something permanent, but it would have to be a vasectomy for Jon, but if I NEED to be on BC anyway, it doesn’t make sense to me to have him be sterilized.

    I think with what you described between you and MV, it might be best to use a BC that isn’t permanent, until you have some more time before doing something permanent.

  4. Since we’ve been trying over two years for our first, the idea of ever having to use BC feels too alien to even consider. It helps, though, that my husband and I both originally said we’d like four children, as I sure don’t see us ever getting there! If we are blessed with one, I figure we will be careful for the first three months, but then I don’t ever see us preventing. In fact, we’ll probably be praying we’re one of the lucky couples that having a child “cures” our infertility (we know I have endometriosis).

  5. I am so sorry you had to go through that and have this situation with your husband. If I were you, get the IUD ASAP. I have the Mirena, and was concerned about the hormones, but it has been wonderful (very light periods, and I didn’t experience weight gain or any of the other horrible side effects you read on the internet.) the copper one may be a better option for you since it lasts up to 10 years. Hugs, friend.

  6. I had no desire to put any hormones in my body, so I went with the paraguard IUD. I’ve had it for … a month? And so far zero side effects. Maybe 2 days of spotting after it was inserted and that is it.

  7. We desperately want a second child, but I never, ever, ever, ever want another miscarriage. We are currently pursuing Fost/Adopt.
    I had been planning on getting Essure, then changed my mind about the finality of it. Got pregnant, made it farther than any other except my son and miscarried anyway. Then our insurance changed (Thanks Obamacare!) and we have NO coverage except catastrophic. In otherwords, I can’t get an IUD, can’t get Essure, can’t get ANYTHING unless I pay for it out of pocket.

    So we are using condoms. Which I hate, loathe, and despise, but the idea of getting pregnant again is worse. I have an appointment next week and will discuss paying for the implant out of pocket and is it something I can afford. Ugh.

  8. That’s an intense entry, and I’m so sorry you’re in the position that you are. I don’t comment often, but I read your blog and this one really hit me.

    While I’m in a different place in my life and not actively trying to conceive, I do have some experience with IUDs (having just had one inserted not long ago). I also didn’t want extra hormones in my system, as I was coming off a high-dose hormonal birth control pill. However, after talking to the doctor she told me that there’s a higher rate of failure for the copper IUD than the Mirena, the cramps are worse than they were before insertion, and the cost (at least at home in Alberta) is astronomically different, especially since the copper one is usually not covered by insurance. I definitely do not regret choosing the Mirena and while I’ve had some side effects (spotting the last three months sporatically, more face breakouts than before), the feeling of being protected is fantastic, and I have no doubt that the side effects will settle after my hormones have some time to regulate. I was on the pill for 10+ years!

    Good luck to you, Esperanza

  9. I’ve been in that situation, sort of. I wouldn’t have faced the end of our marriage but the end of our adoption journey since our home study provider put you on pause for a year after giving birth if you got pregnant, so for awhile it was my biggest fear that we wouldn’t be able to bring Miss E home.

    Right now, I ran out of the pill and haven’t gotten more. I need to be on birth control because OUCH the cramps otherwise can’t be tolerated, but as for actually controlling births I’ve been rather cavalier lately. Not that we want a baby or that we even believe a live baby would ever result from a pregnancy (no matter what the statistics say) so really I’m just being dumb and not calling the gyn for infertile-PTSD reasons. I’m glad you got your period and totally get the mindf*ck of reversing your wishes from where they were in the past!

  10. We are currently using the “pull and pray” method, which my bff makes constant fun of me for because it’s the birth control of idiot 15 year olds. But my vagina does not appreciate condoms, my mental health doesn’t allow for hormones OF ANY KIND, I’ve had a non hormonal IUD, and as much fun as 3 weeks a month of SEVERE cramping, and 12 day periods sound, I’d just like to avoid it. So until we are 100% positive we are done, at which time one of us will get ‘fixed’ this is what we have. That being said, do to the fact I have a polyp on my uterus and our shit luck with living babies, I spend about 5 days a month groping myself hysterically wondering if my boobs hurt because of pregnancy hormones or pms hormones, hoping for the former until I have some sort of miracle antidote guaranteeing me a successful pregnancy.

    You are so lucky I don’t have your phone number because the texts you’d receive during those 5 days would make you wonder how we were friends in the first place.

    I have never claimed mental stability to be a strong suit.

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