June 12, 2006

The troubled teens make it look so easy.

Around this time last year, Sam and I first agreed that we might possibly be almost kind of ready (more or less) to bring a new human being into the world.

On paper, we seemed like the sort of people who could be reasonably successful at raising a child. Stable employment. A happy marriage of several years. A house large enough to share.

We ditched the birth control and decided to let nature take its course.

"We're not exactly trying," we would tell people. "We're just not not trying."

We reviewed the checklist of things we wanted to do before becoming parents. I finished my master's degree. We took an alcohol-soaked tour of Western Europe with our friends. I bought a car with four doors. I quit smoking. I practiced ordering Diet Coke at bars while my friends drank beer.

Sure, we were nervous. But we reminded ourselves that nobody ever feels 100 eady.

Months passed.

Anticipation subsided into something else.

We watched our friends make the same decision, get pregnant a few weeks later, and settle into parenthood.

I got discouraged. I talked to my doctor. She gave me a quick refresher of the reproductive health class I had in junior high school, complete with a plastic uterus containing detachable parts.

"If you don't ovulate, you can't get pregnant."

My health class never mentioned women who didn't ovulate. As far as I remember, one could get pregnant from oral sex, slow dancing, or impure thoughts.

My doctor ordered some blood tests and snagged me a spot on the three-month waiting list of a local fertility specialist.

Three months seemed like a long time before I would even know what my defect was. I started smoking again. I got bummed. I was too bummed to even blog about it.


That brings us to this morning.

The long-awaited appointment.

I don't know quite what I was expecting, but it looked different in my imagination.

The office was large, more comfortable and richly decorated than a standard clinic. It had oversized couches and a wide variety of magazines. Journey's Don't Stop Believin' was playing in the waiting room. Sam was amused.

The doctor chatted with us for a few minutes. He was nice, despite the autographed photo of himself with George W. Bush and the Anne Geddes calendar on the wall. I tried to determine which one frightened me more.

He gave us the abridged version of the junior high health seminar, then asked us a couple of questions.

"If a perfectly healthy 28-year-old woman has sex on the day of ovulation, what are the chances that she will get pregnant?"

Still in my junior high mindset, I guessed 75 percent.

The answer was 20 percent.

By the time you reach my age, sex is a very inefficient way of getting pregnant.

And what are the chances if the 28-year-old woman doesn't ovulate?


A rather uncomfortable ultrasound confirmed what the doctor suspected from the moment I walked in. I have something called PCOS. It's a fairly common condition, and a treatable one.

In the nurse's office, we were given a preview of the weeks ahead.

It's a heavily regimented schedule that begins with pills. Then more pills. Followed by a third kind of pill, only available at two places in town.

From there, we will move on to injections. Ovulation predictor kits. And finally, once everything has fallen into place, there will be a fateful visit to the doctor's office at which time new life might be created in an exam room among the photos of babies in flowerpots.

I looked at the schedule, I looked at Sam, and I turned to the nurse.

"Where's the sex?"

She laughed.

"You don't need to worry about that. You can do the wild thing, if you want, just not on these days." She motioned toward the middle of the schedule sheet, those critical days when ovulation might happen.

And so we left, in awe of the complexity and weight of the journey that stretched out before us.

We had many questions.

How did humans survive as a species?

When did 28 become so old?

When was the last time we heard anyone refer to sex as "the wild thing?"

Were we really ready for this?

What about that clause in the paperwork we signed, saying that mistakes could happen, and the parentage and ethnicity of our child could not be guaranteed?

What if this doesn't work?

What if it does?

And so we venture into the unknown, taking a bold and irreversible step toward a new phase of our lives. I don't know where the story goes from here, but perhaps someday, I'll be relaying this tale to a brown-eyed, literarily inclined child.

Unless someone mixes up the vials.

No comments: