One time, my husband made me watch a documentary about a strange contingent of the male population who were obsessed with My Little Ponies. It was strange. It was informative. It was unforgettable. I knew that these subcultures in society existed but rarely saw them in my every day life. The “bronies” as they liked to be called were united in their obsession and didn’t even seem to care that other people thought they were insane.
I stumbled upon another such group at the beginning of trying to get pregnant. I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome three months before we started trying and had done a bit a research but still didn’t know if it would effect my ability to get pregnant. Upon my diagnosis and our pregnancy efforts, I joined an online forum on some baby website that shall remain nameless. I would get nightly emails and could log on to hear others questions and success stories. Can i just say, I was unprepared for what I would learn!
You see, lurking beneath quite normal exteriors, there exists a group of women who make up the trying to conceive, the TTC. And lest you be certain they are harmless, they will reel you in with their encouragement and their stories of success. Some almost seem normal. And then the further I sank into the black hole of baby forums, I realized that these women were unbalanced. So singularly focused on creating life in their uterus’ that things that should never happen in polite company are shared and exulted. Y’all, I saw another woman’s vaginal mucus because she posted it to a chat group!!! I have never seen my own mucus and really could have gone my whole life not seeing anyone elses. My nephew gets snotty when he’s sick and it grosses.me.out. I refuse to look at my snot to see if it’s green and will be on deaths door with a sinus infection before I sneak a peak because you know who should look at mucus? Doctors paid six figures to look at mucus.
These TTC women throw out acronyms and abbreviations as if we are planning a Mars landing with NASA. I would read it and then have bring up my computer dictionary to understand what they were saying. And it becomes so second hand to them. ZIFT (zygote intrafallopian transfer) and 18 days past ovulation and waiting for the results of the IUI (intrauterine insemination) but first we have to monitor my HCG levels to make sure an embryo is viable. I mean, any woman who has struggled with infertility could probably make a very good nurse or OB/GYN on this lingo alone!!
Women would post pictures of their urine to see if other women thought it looked different. They would post all the home ovulation tests they have taking, asking others to affirm the faintest of pink second lines to say they were ovulating. Medications were thrown around as if I was in a pharmacy. Everyone had the perfect cocktail to take in order to get pregnant. The entire site was about helping others get the BFP, a big fat positive test. It was the only focus. And then there were the woman that really got your goose, who had tried everything you had and conceived while your womb was aching to be filled.
Sex, this amazing bonding thing, became scientific and calculated. I realize this is common for anyone who conceives and I’m not sure how those of us without the last name Duggar can make babies without getting a bit more obsessive about our love-making but c’mon! I hope that we can realize that we want a baby with this man because we love this man and not just his sperm. Our baby is half his genetic code and he is on this parenthood journey with us. That’s preachy but I cannot tell you how many times I have heard someone say “she wanted a baby, and I wanted it to be mine, so we had sex.” That’s not how I want to bring a life into this world. With a man feeling that he has to procreate with you or you will find the next best donor. But with these TTC blinders on, none of that is considered. You live and die by your cycle and this month’s tracking.
Guys, the worst part of it all is, somewhere in the midst of all of it, I realized that I was becoming one of these crazy TTC-er’s. I was counting everyday. There were so many cups of urine catching and so many home ovulation kits. I would read an article about the best positions and timing for sex so we would do it. Chad has said he was really happy during this part of our marriage, of course. I saw that blueberries and spinach could help make you more fertile so into a smoothie they went. Heating pads were not good so that stopped. Fetal alcohol syndrome is so prevalent that the CDC tells me not to drink if I am of pregnable age so I don’t! Vitamins, lubricants, medication changes, colder showers, herbs, you name it, and these TTC women, myself included, would try it.
In the course of all the plentiful sex, my husband somehow noticed that belonging to this group was not good for me. Others might be a part of it and just be trying to conceive but somewhere along the way, it became trying to control for me. And like a lot of things with the human body, infertility is not something that is within my control. Just as I cannot stop cancer cells from multiplying, or make my blood clot, I cannot make my body ovulate.
I am a woman so I have never had a great relationship with my body. I have never loved it and probably have often failed to take care of it the way I should. I drink too much caffeine, I eat too much junk, and I don’t exercise. None of those things am I proud of and all of those things are what I need to do to increase my chances of getting pregnant. So the shame and anger I feel at my ovaries for not doing what so many other women’s ovaries can do is both painful and embarrassing. Rather than pushing me to action, it pushes me to chocolate. I have however come a long way in my desire to control everything in my surroundings. Marriage has helped with that. Grief has really helped with that. And trusting Jesus in a way I never had before helped the most. I used to behave as if either God owed me blessings or that I could find them on my own and He would rubber stamp them and let me “have the desires of my heart”. Selling Him way short on my dreams, I settled for less because it felt better to control than it did to let Him lead. And then this computer nerd comes into my life, who is so beautifully different than any man I thought would be right for me and he changes everything. This geek and I weren’t all bliss from the get go. His house was dirty and we fought about it! He could be unfocused and grumpy, especially when he was hungry, and hated that. He was doing P90x and eating no carbs and that sucked! (It was also short-lived!) But underneath it all, was a safety and an assuredness that I had somehow fallen into exactly what God had always had for me. Even after mistakes and bad choices, he kept this guy for me. What’s more, this guy couldn’t be controlled. He called me on my neuroses. He teased me about my faults but he loved me like no one ever had. And i realized that if I loved him, I had to love him for who God made him to be, not who I wanted him to be and those two might never meet. Again, lest you think this was all roses, we were in couples counseling in our first year of marriage! Not that there’s anything wrong with that!!
To bring me out of my control nature that I had slipped back into, I had to dive back into a beloved Psalm. Psalm 139 has been a big passage for me when my anxiety and depression gets bad. I didn’t know that it would speak to me in my infertility battle as well. Psalm 139 is David’s beautiful way of saying the modern cliche of “God doesn’t make junk.” My body, like Sarah and Elizabeth before me, might be currently reproductively challenged. But, it is still designed by God for His purposes and He will use it. When I picture my ovaries, I picture dried up raisins but that isn’t what God sees. I think of my uterus and think of cobwebs but He sees possibility and fingerprints. Any baby that this body carries is already with Him and will be formed in my belly. Ladies, those are powerful powerful truths. And maybe, just maybe, if I am in my trying to control to try to conceive, I can miss that stuff.
I am 7 months into my journey so there is no guarantee that I might not slip back into control mode in the months to come. But I do hope that as God knits together the baby who will one day sit in that barren wasteland of a uterus, I am allowing Him to knit other parts of me together too. I don’t want to miss the magnitude of the Blessor because I am so focused on the blessing. But one thing you can take to the bank. I will never, ever take or post a picture of my mucus. Because, friends, there is no way to un-see that!