focus on fertility: week 1

This post is part of an ongoing series of posts regarding my experiences working through the book Fully Fertile, by Tami Quinn, Beth Heller, and Jeanie Lee Bussell. For previous posts, click here.

During this first week, I learned that a newly-pregnant friend had miscarried. She had told me she was pregnant just a few weeks after finding out herself, back in January, and on Wednesday, when we were catching up, she told me that she had lost the baby the previous weekend. She told me how strange it feels to lose the baby, and have her hormones going crazy, when most of the world didn’t even know she was pregnant to begin with.

After we talked, I thought about how this is not unlike trying to get pregnant as a lesbian. It’s more than a matter of just peeing on a stick a few days a month and hoping that nature takes its course. It’s this way, too, for other women who use assisted reproductive technology for whatever reason. There are mysterious doctor’s appointments and absences from work, hours spent looking through donor profiles, and yes, peeing on a stick. It’s not something I would want to talk about all the time with a host of strangers — or even necessarily close friends — but it is still strange to be making such monumental decisions and changes about your life within the privacy of your marriage. Big things are happening, and the only one who knows is my wife. If I were a single woman doing this, the only one who might know about all of this is me.

In a way, though, this privacy appeals to me. One of the things that is lacking in a house with three children is privacy. Our decision to get married was conveyed to my wife’s ex-husband at the speed of light. A new car, re-painting the dining room, whether or not we are getting a dog. All of these choices and plans are shared with her ex before we know it, sometimes before we are even settled on them ourselves. It is fundamentally important to us that we never ask our kids to keep secrets from a parent, so this is something we have come to accept as a fact of life.

There are other things that travel through the gossip-chain of school age children and trickle upward to the parents. Recess is an extended game of “telephone.” Someone had lice (or bed bugs!), someone’s dad lost his job, someone got suspended for punching another kid. The restaurant down the street has roaches — someone saw one run across the floor — so we should never eat there again. It’s amazing how easy it is to have your finger on the pulse of a small town just by sitting down at the dinner table and asking, “So, did anything interesting happen today?”

But the flip side is an eerie feeling that your walls are made of glass. Because my wife’s kids pre-dated her relationship with me, this privacy was never something we really had. Our neighbor across the street heard that we were together from her 10 year old daughter. Once we told the kids, it was public information. So this private decision to have a baby, while we have mentioned it in a casual, offhand way to the kids, feels like a welcome bit of privacy in an otherwise transparent life.

So, while the first week of Fully Fertile focuses on the flow of life-energy (or prana), my focus has been on the flow of information. How do you feel less isolated without feeling like you’re on display? When is an appropriate time to tell your kids you’re pregnant, when you know it will immediately be conveyed to the person you would least like to share your private joy with? How do you navigate a demanding job during the process of becoming pregnant, let alone the first months of pregnancy when you are vomiting into the toilet every morning and falling asleep at 8 pm?

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