An Open-Ended Letter to my Nemesis

Dear 2021, 

It would be very easy for me to sit here, give you the middle finger and go to bed at 10pm, turning my back on you as you make your departure tonight. But, that’s not really fair to you, is it? You lived your mere 365 days of existence to the fullest, giving me quite the wild ride that I was NOT expecting. 

I went into you knowing it would be another year of change. While your predecessor brought about a career move, I thought your change was going to be me going back to school. I bet you got a good laugh at that one, didn’t you? Stifling your snickers and biding your time as I researched graduate programs and mentally prepared myself for an onslaught of studying and essays. Did you already know that I would, in fact, be always writing, but that it would be blog posts rather than educational research papers? Sneaky. 

Your summer was riddled with uncertainty and fear. I spent most of July, August, and September worried there was something deeply wrong with me, visiting doctor after doctor with no real answers. I don’t know why, but I picture you as a soothsayer, peering into your crystal ball with a full mind and knowing eyes, but tight lips. I assume that when the doctor mentioned the C-word, you already knew it was a hormone imbalance.

I have a few more questions for you. Did you do your research on me? Did you bother flipping through my file? If so, I’m sure, as you thumbed through 39 years worth of data, you would have stumbled on the fact that Autumn is my favorite time of year. I have always felt most alive as the air crisps. I read books full of magic to match my mood. Like Anne of Green Gables, I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. 

If your existence was a roller coaster, October was the first loop. Making the decision to give fertility drugs one last try left me feeling like I was stuck upside down and wishing on every distant speckle of a body spectator that the seatbelts wouldn’t break. (Because when you’re upside down, you can’t even see the stars.) You stole the magic of October from me. Because of the uncertainty you hand delivered to me, I couldn’t even stomach reading one mystery novel this fall. Do you see what you have done? You reduced my reading to trashy romance novels and hallmark-esque love stories! 

If October was the loop-to-loop, November and December were a series of slow ascensions and long, steep plummets. This is where I take real issue with your tight lips. You sprinkled hope like confetti. You let me buy baby clothes and a tiny stocking. You allowed me to plan holiday pregnancy announcements. You convinced me that every drug side-effect was a sign of new life growing inside of me. Hell, you let me talk to a baby that didn’t exist before ripping it all away just in time to watch other people’s kids open Christmas presents. Nothing so strongly reminds you of how much you are not a mother like Christmas. 

Maybe you don’t deserve all of this. Maybe I am simply using you as my scapegoat, because it’s easier to blame you for allowing me to get my hopes up rather than taking an introspective look at myself. 

And I suppose if I’m going to so easily dish out the hate, I should also give you a little credit. Through the painful rollercoaster that was your lifetime, you taught me a thing or two. 

For starters, I have learned that I am stronger than I ever thought I was. End of story. Most days I feel like I am one day away from breaking. But, every morning I wake up in one piece and that feeling is still one day away. 

As an introverted control freak I process (and handle) everything inside–where I can control it. You taught me that it’s okay to let others in. And even when they say “the wrong thing” it is almost always coming from a place of love and an attempt to help. I think this was your biggest lesson, and something I am still learning to embrace. 

You ensured my tear ducts are still in working order and confirmed that my heart is still made of glass. 

And today, the very last day before you are laid to rest, you gave me the gift of a second confirmed ovulation. For that, you have my deepest gratitude. While most women get this monthly gift naturally, it is something I hold most precious. And something I don’t take for granted. 

Thanks to your parting gift, your successor is beginning her time with the dreaded TWW (two week wait). Please sit her down and have a talk with her. Tell her I’ve done everything right. Tell her I am counting on her. Remind her that all of my eggs (literally) are in her basket. 

It is with all of these thoughts, and through a mixture of happy and sad tears, that I wave goodbye. 

Thanks for nothing and thanks for everything, 


(twelve. thirty-one. twenty-one)

Curtain Removal

I held off on writing anything over the weekend in anticipation of this post. I knew it would be the happiest or the hardest one I’ve yet to write. Recently, we decided there are so many people “in this with us” at this point, that if it works out, it would be cruel to keep it a secret for too long. Plus, the whole point of this blog is to tear down the curtain that keeps infertility struggles a secret. 

Well, I wish I had better news. But, I do not. 

Round two failed. And, I’m working really hard at saying “this round” failed, because as I sit here this afternoon, it feels an awful lot like I failed

I went in for blood work yesterday, and this morning my doctor’s sweet nurse called with the  results. I wish I could put into words the feeling you get when you’re sitting in a meeting and see the fertility clinic’s number pop up on your phone. Excusing myself, I ducked into the nearest empty classroom and prepared to meet my fate. 

“Hey Stephanie, it’s Beverly. So, I have your lab results …(long pause)… and it’s negative. You’re not pregnant. I’m so sorry.”

What do you say to that? Thank you? Okay? Are you sure? But why not; I did everything right

To be honest, I don’t really know what I said. I think it was some jarring combination of “okay”, “it’s fine”, and those weird hiccupy tears that hit when you try too hard to fight them back. You know the ones that sit at the back of your throat with the sole purpose of disrupting the cadence of your voice giving away that you are not, in fact, “okay” or “fine.” 

There was some more information and numbers shared, I agreed I wanted to continue, and then we hung up and I just sat in that empty classroom and cried until the bell rang. 

The cruelest twist of fate is that the side effects of fertility hormones (coupled with stress) present themself in your body VERY similarly to pregnancy symptoms. And, in my heart of hearts, I knew I was pregnant. So much so, I would have bet the house on it. Over the course of the last week or so I have purchased five (gender neutral) baby onesies, the most precious little booties you have ever seen, and a tiny baby stocking. (Because how cute would that be to surprise people with an extra stocking on the mantle?) 

It’s a good thing I’m not a gambling woman, because I kinda like having a roof over my head. While I may be emotionally tough… physically, I am a wimp and totally wouldn’t survive in the wild. (Also, don’t ask me why if I bet my house and lose it, I go straight to the wild, Naked and Afraid style. That’s just the way my mind works.)

Turns out, 2021 just didn’t have it in the cards for me. I hope 2022 is more agreeable. 

Thank you to everyone who continues to read my words week after week. And whether you believe in prayer, positive energy, or the kindness of an encouraging word or a smile, I appreciate it all. More than you’ll probably ever know. 

I feel like this post lacked the eloquence of its predecessors, but that’s what happens when you tear down the curtain. It’s not always pretty.

(twelve. fourteen. twenty twenty-one)

Don’t Judge Me, Google.

How did we do things before Google? No, this is a genuine question. Maybe, as a society, we “wondered” more? Who was that one guy in that movie where he had a baboon heart? (Answer: Christian Slater) I know I did it–survived on gaining knowledge through card catalogs and an encyclopedia set purchased at a garage sale. I am part of the Xennial generation- a micro-generation of those born between 1977 and 1983 that, trait-wise, doesn’t fit with either GenX or Millennials.  We grew up analog and were the first generation to get computers in our houses “as kids”. We are the generation adept in both worlds. 

I say all this because I find myself Googling EVERYTHING. I am in the infamous and dreaded TWW. 

Every community has their own lingo recognizable only to those who are a part of it. The infertility, or TTC*,  community is no different. I don’t remember online support groups through Facebook being “a thing” the last two times we went through all of this. Maybe they were and I was trying too hard just to handle it all on my own. This time, I am embracing everything throughout this entire process. I am talking about it, writing about it, and accepting help and support. When I joined these online groups, I felt like they were speaking a different language. These ladies conversed almost entirely with acronyms and colloquial slangs which left me Googling every other word in an attempt to translate. At first, I thought that these people must be “more infertile” than me. They’re knee-deep in it, and they know how to talk the talk. I didn’t. 

I’m a quick learner, though. I found charts of the acronyms, read them repeatedly, and kept them for reference. I now can read the posts without assistance and I realize that infertility, though different for everyone, is not measured on a Richter scale. We’re all stuck in the same bucket of suck together. 

Have you figured out what the TWW is yet? No? Let me help you out. The TWW is the Two Week Wait. Among those in the TTC community, this is basically purgatory. During this part of each round, there is nothing to do but wait. There is nothing scientifically proven that I can do to increase chances of conception. Nothing. I am, admittedly, a bit of a control freak, and this is a tough pill to swallow. 

Shouldn’t that be easier, Stephanie? You’re not having to chart and graph every spike in temperature, dose of medication, and BD*. First of all, tell that to my mind. Second of all, look at you using the lingo already. You’re obviously a quick learner too. 

I would be embarrassed to show you my Google search history, but let me just give you a small sampling of the types of things I have Googled this week:

  • What are the earliest signs of pregnancy?
  • Can the sniffles be an early sign of pregnancy?
  • Does constipation post ovulation mean I’m pregnant?
  • Are vivid dreams a sign of pregnancy?

And those are just some of the least embarrassing things I have Googled. 

I know all I can do is wait. Think positive thoughts. Continue with my life and don’t stress. I am no Hallmark card though, and I am never not thinking about it. And while I’m not stressed, per se, I am anxious. I am wondering how two weeks could possibly be passing this slowly. But I am also relishing this time that I can be positive and hopeful. Those moments are hard to come by. In the meantime, I am crossing every finger and hoping every hope for a BFP* while trying to prepare my heart for another BFN*. 

*TTC: Trying to Conceive
*TWW: Two Week Wait
*BD: “Baby Dance”…also used to mean “Baby Dust” when wishing someone good luck
*BFP: Big Fat Positive
*BFN: Big Fat Negative

(twelve. four. twenty twenty-one.)