on pins and needles

The last two Saturdays, I’ve had acupuncture. I’ve chirped about doing this ever since I started thinking about trying to get pregnant, for a few reasons. One is that it’s supposed to work. There’s lots of evidence that acupuncture and other “alternative medicine” can help with conception. Please don’t ask me for any of this evidence, though, because I’m not a scientist. I just know that there have been official sounding studies that say it helps. The other reason is that it’s supposed to be really enjoyable. Someone I work with who had acupuncture said it was as relaxing as having three massages in a row. This seemed to be universal among my small circle of acquaintances who have had acupuncture.

So, when I found out I wasn’t pregnant last month, I finally sucked it up and made an appointment. You guys, I hated it. I was so surprised! Really. I thought it would be so relaxing and lovely, but I forgot about the fact that the acupuncturist sticks needles. Into you. Lots of them. And I am actually not super-crazy about needles. And yes, they are teeny tiny needles, but in some places they hurt.

Here’s the other thing. Apparently, I am burning through all my yang energy with my crazy lifestyle, which is giving me all these symptoms. It seems its not actually all that normal to have stress-headaches, as I call them, multiple times a month. The headaches are good, because the acupuncture is covered by my insurance (it covers acupuncture for treatment of pain), but not so great because of how they are headaches.

Because of my yang exhausting lifestyle, my treatments are more “stimulating”. Which means not exactly relaxing. Also, did I mention needles? I found a few of the places she stuck the needles were quite sore and achey during and after the treatment, which made it even harder to relax. For the record, the sensitive points were the top of my left foot and the back of my left hand. Abdomen, head, ear, face, and other places I would have expected to be more sensitive were just fine.

Nonetheless, after the first session, I went back for more. I’m glad that I did, because it was much better. I wasn’t so nervous about the needles, and the sensitive points weren’t quite so achey. It was snowing, and quiet, and I tried to welcome our little one in a casual sort if way. You know, no pressure, baby, but if you wanted to make an appearance this month, that would be cool with us.

Monday, we inseminated for the 5th time. The timing was good, the insemination went fine, and most importantly, I had my blood drawn and the prolactin levels are finally starting to drop. During the insemination, I did something without thinking that I haven’t actually done with any sincerity since about 11th grade — I prayed. I have no idea where it came from; I’m not even sure I believe in god. Most of the time I don’t. But I suddenly realized I was silently begging god for this baby. We will try so hard. We will love him or her so much.

I have a little hope, but I am not as optimistic as last month. Things aren’t different enough to make me think this time will work when last time didn’t. And it’s getting a little old being disappointed all the time. But with each day that goes by, I keep thinking more and more … What if? We will find out a day before New Year’s Eve. Maybe it will be a little late Christmas present for us.

Today, at our middle one’s fifth grade chorus concert, my wife gave my hand a squeeze during dona nobis pacem. I leaned in, and she whispered, “I hope you’re pregnant.” Yeah love. Me too. Let the waiting begin.


This Saturday at noon, I was two days late. Maybe not by any normal calendar, but since I have started tracking, I realized that I always got my period precisely 10 days after I ovulated. Which meant spotting on Thanksgiving, period Friday. When that didn’t happen, I knew. I just knew I was pregnant. There was nothing, nothing there. It was the only explanation.

So my wife and I finished painting our son’s new bedroom, and packed up our car and drove to a small town in upstate New York. We walked around the town and looked in antique shops. We bought a coffee mug, and a $15 picture of a boat. We walked down to our inn and checked in. My wife handed me a pregnancy test, and I unwrapped it while I walked into the bathroom. I looked at her through the open door, as she sat there on the edge of the bed, looking back at me, holding the instructions that I already knew by heart. She read them aloud anyway.

When I sat down to do the test, there was blood. I threw the test into the trash, because I’d already opened it, and I cried. I crawled onto the bed and cried some more. I curled into the smallest possible position, completely inside my wife’s arms.

I have never had my hopes up like that before. I’ve always hedged, and knew there was a chance it wouldn’t work. I’ve never been two whole entire days late. The timing would have been perfect. I could have told my family in person, when they were here for Christmas. I would have had maternity leave during my favorite season. The baby’s birthday would have been nicely spaced away from the other kids’ birthdays. A million perfect stars, all lining up. Except that it didn’t work.