Everyone is pregnant but me. That sentence repeats ad nauseum in my head throughout the course of most days. Of course, these thoughts are all the more prevalent now that four – four! – women in my workplace have announced their pregnancies one right after the other. They chatter and laugh and rub their bellies while discussing baby names and maternity leave. I have to know all of this information, at least about their maternity leave. I’m in human resources, you see, so it’s my job to know these things.
I typically enjoy my job very much. Today is not that day. Today is the day that everyone is pregnant but me.
These women, who I count among my friends, are blithely ignorant that every time I see them walk past my office I want to cry. It’s not their fault. I smile and giggle with them and talk about their due dates and how to make the break room a comfortable and secure pumping station. I lie through my teeth and say how happy I am for them and their growing families. I clench my fists under my desk and pop more Tylenol for my cramps and wonder when this period bloat will turn into baby bloat.
Because, you see, everyone is pregnant but me–and my own body is not even at fault.
My husband accidentally got his girlfriend pregnant right before his senior year in college. He freely admits that neither of them was particularly careful. They were young and dumb and thought they were the exception. The girlfriend chose to keep it and my husband became a father at age 20. My husband and his girlfriend (who much later became his wife, though it wasn’t long before they were divorced – but that’s a separate article) stayed together. By the time my husband was 22, he chose to have a vasectomy for a variety of reasons; not all of these reasons were his, but he did opt for the procedure to take place. He had no way of knowing that ten years later, he would fall in love with a young woman who wanted nothing more than a baby.
I am not blameless, either. When I was 21, I had the opportunity to become a mother. I was pregnant and scared, about to graduate from college with a tenuous part-time job and a cheap apartment, uncertain of what sort of steady employment awaited me later on, if any. I chose an abortion. Even now, when everyone is pregnant but me, I’m glad I chose an abortion. I pause when the mean little voice in the back of my mind whispers, “What if that was your only chance?” I am still glad. My abortion reassures me that I am capable, at least.
The month before we got married, my husband and my best friend traveled out-of-state to see a specialist, who performed the uninsurable and complicated procedure that reversed the vasectomy. The doctor warned us that the possibility of success was lessened — the initial vasectomy had been performed, at that point, more than ten years before. The surgery was expensive and the recovery was painful. We were told that sperm production should begin to increase six months afterwards. It has now been nearly two years.
Doctors have given us mixed messages. One doctor suggested that, since motility was still low, he would advise a re-do for a hefty fee, with little to no chance of success. The first lab we went to stood to profit from poor results, so we retested at a different facility. The doctor who performed the surgery requested that we have the results sent to him so that he could analyze the findings. The news he gave us was better, but cautious: motility had increased, but not enough. We are to test again next month to see if the results have changed. We cling to next month because having that is better than having nothing; and you feel like you have nothing when everyone is pregnant but you.
The more reasonable part of my brain has logically laid out the alternatives — we could adopt, we could get donor sperm, we could use in-vitro with what little motile sperm there are. All of these options are expensive and unaffordable right now, though they are still possibilities. I try to stay optimistic around my husband. He told me about his vasectomy immediately after we started dating, thinking that I would break up with him. I told him that there were alternatives. I breezily explained away his concerns.
There is not much support for a situation like this. There are a few message boards with posts from two years ago and the occasional article discussing sterility, but nothing that I have not heard before. People who don’t know the entire complicated story often ask me when we will finally start reproducing (because it is no secret that I love babies). I try to tell myself that we have only been trying for two years and that it is still too early to be feeling this level of grief whenever I have my period or a pregnancy announcement pops up on Facebook. I tell myself that I have a great stepson, a funny teenager who loves (most) of my cooking and parkours badly across my backyard. I tell myself a lot of things.
But today — just today — everyone is pregnant but me.