When I Stopped Counting Days
The Path to Accepting My Infertility
I’m going away this weekend. A writer’s retreat. A weekend of sunshine and mugs of tea and cozy blankets.
I’m packing. Socks, sweaters, hairbrush, no make up. It’s all stashed in my little suitcase with notebooks, pens, and scrap paper. Writer’s weekend Tetris in a carry on bag. And then I ask the question that women packing suitcases ask themselves sometimes.
“Is my period supposed to start this weekend?”
I have no idea.
It wouldn’t be hard to figure out. A calendar, and a few important landmarks over the last month would do the trick. But right here, at my laptop, I have no idea where I am in my cycle.
Getting this lost has been a long time coming.
Two years ago, we finally admitted it wasn’t working. We wanted a family, but after two years of trying, it wasn’t happening.
Getting pregnant sounds like fun, doesn’t it? After years of being told to be careful, that sex inevitably leads to babies, the restraints are off! If the mood strikes over breakfast? Just do it! Tuesday after work? Bring it on! Saturday afternoon, just before company’s coming? We’re coming first!
The thing is though, when that doesn’t work, and the bloom is off the rose, eventually, like everything, sex becomes a little like work. I mean, planned sex is like leftover pizza. That’s how the saying goes right? It’s still good, but maybe not as good as its hot gooey predecessor.
If I ever have to say “honey, it’s Day 10” again, it will be too soon. I counted, and recounted. Tracked and backtracked. Every day had a number and a meaning. Day 1, Day 10, Day 13, Day 20, Day 26. The passion was there, but the fun was gone.
Breaking a habit is like stopping on an icy road. The will is present, but the mechanics take a while to catch up. When we stopped trying so much, I wanted to stop counting. Wanted to stop the little shivers of ‘what if’ when things synced up out of serendipity instead of what the little red lines on the fertility app said. I wanted to forget the numbers, and just let my body do its thing without my superfluous supervision.
I didn’t think it would ever happen. Those numbers were burned into my brain like our first phone number and my nine times tables.
The first time was just before Christmas. It was like being in high school again. I got to work and had that ‘oh shit’ moment. I scrambled to find my stash of back up tampons in my desk. It had been years since I’d needed them, because the regimented counting meant I was never taken by surprise.
I was so excited I texted my sister.
It was a happy and sad moment, to realize I wasn’t prepared for this. It feels like giving up on something, an acknowledgment that this isn’t my path. There’s freedom in it too though. Freedom from the disappointed hopes. Freedom from the powerless trying. We were doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. Our hypothesis was tested, and we didn’t get the result we wanted, but I think we have to accept the findings, modify our process, and try something new.
I’ve stopped counting days. I didn’t think it would ever happen, but now that it has, I don’t miss it at all.
Allison Temple is a romance writer, novice cat lady, and expert couch potato from Toronto.