One of the many perks of being a woman is the ability to get knocked up and give birth to a baby, or so I have been told. Sure, the idea of having a little mini-me perpetuates the narcissistic strand we all have in our veins. And some of these infants are rather adorable. However, the idea of painfully pushing one out, only to have the little whipper snapper suck the life out of you, and then grow up to be an ungrateful twit makes me wanna say, "Hey! Where do I sign up?"
In all seriousness, I see what children have done to my friends, ie: their parents, and it's pretty magical. Based on that, I certainly wouldn't mind a baby or two at some point.
However, up until 26 months ago, I did not think it was possible.
It all started some 18 years back when I awoke to discover that I was now a woman. Well, at least a girl who had to start wearing Genovese brand diapers, or what my older sister called, pads. At the ripe ole age of 12, I had gotten my first period. It was no surprise what was happening, as I was fully prepared on what a period was, thanks to my two older sisters and Blossom.
Anywho, I remember getting it for the first time and expecting some sort of party. I mean, that's what happened to Blossom when she got it. Her father took her out to dinner. I don't really remember anything special acknowledging said event. Not even cupcakes!
What I do remember though, is that, as the years went by, my cycle would never mirror those of my friends. While they would talk about getting cramps, having to work around the 28 day waiting game of hell, and making embarrassing purchases at the drug store, I would observe and listen. Simply because, I could not relate. You see, between the ages of 12 and 28, I had roughly seven periods. Seven. Seven in 16 years. That's, on average, one every 2.2857143 years. I had missed out on approximately 185 visits from evil Aunt Flo. And I was pretty ok with this. I mean, there were times that I felt left out, wanting to have legitimate reasons to eat chocolate, yell at boys, and cry during the "Snuggles" fabric softener commericals (all which I did anyway, but it would have been nice to blame it on 'that time of the month' as oppose to my overall girlieness).
The lack of monthly reminders of my baby making skills didn't start to scare me until I was in my mid twenties. Me and my long-term boyfriend at the time had entertained serious ideas about having a baby. At the time, the idea of procreating with the one you love, all the while not having any real game plan (or financial means for that matter) seemed completely feasible, yet, objectively speaking, made just as much sense as wearing stilettos over a sidewalk grate: tip toe all you want, your gonna fuck something up, either your ankle or the shoe.
However, thanks to outside influences:
I was convinced that love could in fact pay the rent and beat the odds! I was also convinced "love" would also be able to raise a baby while I slept in on Saturdays.
Clear indicators that I was MORE than ready to be a mom.
In any case, I decided to make an appointment with a good ole gynocologist, to figure out what was going on and what I needed to do to have a baby. It was a cool February afternoon in 2006, and I felt incredibly optimistic about the meeting.
After all the testing, poking and prodding, it became apparent that I had something called polycystic ovarian syndrome. This is essentially a hormonal disorder that causes infrequent cycles. And, apparently, chin hair. Basically it means that ones hormones are completely out of wack that it becomes impossible for ovulation to occur.
PS--All I heard from the doc's mouth is that I was infertile.
How the HELL is that possible? My hispanic mother has 6 kids and the woman claims she got knocked up by exchanging glances with my dad. In fact, plants of all kinds flourished in the tenement apartment where I grew up, and, rumor has it, it was all due to my mother's fertile aura. So how the heck can I be infertile?
Gyno McKill-Joy proceeded to throw scientific mumbo-jumbo at me, while I zoned her out and kept dwelling on the inadequacies that made up the productive system currently taking up space in my lower abdomen. After she stopped speaking, we sat silently for a few seconds.
I went into panic mode, which, for this blogger, means I start to plan. I mean "bat-shit crazy, excel spreadsheet, laminate the gmail calendar" plan. I began with questions.
Me: "What are my options?"
GMKJ:"In-vitro. That has proven to be successful when it works."
WHEN it works?
GMKJ:"It's about $12,000 for the procedure."
I should point I was just staring aimlessly at her at this point. I did not know what to say. Where to begin? How is this possible? I also started to see panic in her face, which was a clear indicator that she thought I was about to either cry, laugh, or stop breathing. Or all of the above.
GMKJ:"You know, you could try dropping some weight. Studies show that extra weight also throws off hormonal level. At least we could assess the severity of the syndrome once you are at a healthy bmi."
Not only had the woman just told me that my ovaries were acting as freeloading squatters with useless capabilities and that I probably would have to sell one of them (and possibly a kidney) to fund future baby of love, but NOW she was saying I was fat.
I so desperately wanted to run into the arms of my heart's desire.
Oh wait. You thought I meant my future "mixed and seasoned in a pietri-dish" baby daddy? Then you obviously have missed the whole point of the blog.
I came home after the appointment holding on to my 38 DD's a little tighter (much to the delight of the Mariachi band on the uptown R train). I just needed to remind myself I was still very much a woman. I broke the news to my boyfriend, who took it rather well. I don't really remember what he said, as my mind was haunted with the voices that were calling me a fat, sterile disappointment. I decided to put it aside and keep moving.
Some years later, Future Pietri-dish baby daddy and I parted ways. So I was somewhat grateful my ovaries had become meaningless parasites, as I'd probably have 5 kids right now asking me for ovaltine and making me put away this blog (and the hot toddy I am enjoying). It was after this departure that I decided to lose weight.
It took me about 9 months to lose 50 pounds. And, I kid you not, the month after I lost 50 (July 2009), I got a period. I chalked it up as Aunt Flo making a rare appearance, kinda like the chupacabra, and didn't really give it much thought. I noticed a few things, though. It was a pretty short and uneventful visit. Usually, like said chupacabra, the rare period would come in with a vengeance and would stick around for at least 2 weeks. I would do my loved ones a favor and hide out in my bedroom with enough food to survive, and enough Alanis Morrisette to entertain the rage against the male species that brewed within.
This time, though, I was a very proper and pleasant "Emily post" for period model. And then, something amazing occurred. 28 days later, I got another. And a month later, another. And another! And another!
I don't know what I was more surprised of. That my ovaries decided to get off unemployment, or at the price of femenine products! Duane Reade was making a killing!
I gave it 4 months before I called Good Ol' Gyno. I updated her on my life and all the changes of the last year, including the purging of 50 pounds of fat and 260 pounds of boyfriend. I also told her about the monthly visits I was getting. She had me come in, and ran some tests. After the exam, I sat across from her in her office waiting to hear the prognosis. She had this rather annoying grin on her face. It sort of said:
to which, I replied with a passive aggressive face that said:
Her smugness was warranted. All tests came back proving her correct. Thanks to the great weight loss and healthy insides, I was now as fertile as can be! I realized, at that moment, that weight was more than just fitting into a pair of jeans, sitting comfortably in between two strap-hangers on the N train, or being ridiculed by a child when ordering two slices of pizza at Frank's. All very important components of feeling good about yourself, of course. But health never ever occurred to me. Ever. I thrived more with the visual satisfaction that stared back at me from my mirror than with what was actually happening to me within my organs and veins.
I sat in her office silent, once again. Just staring back. This time, though, she didn't look panicked, nor did she look smug. She looked very happy for me. And I finally exhaled.
Since then, over two years ago, I have had a pretty regular cycle. And I feel really lucky. I will say, I don't know how you gals do this! Between the mood swings, the food cravings, the crying over "Cars-For-Kids" commercials, and the physical symptoms that make you want to hide under a blanket with a bottle of scotch and a heating pad, I almost wanted to run back into the arms of a past love to make it all better:
But I only feel this manic desire for 5-7 days a month. I eventually snap out of said moment of weakness and realize it just isn't worth looking back. Keep it moving, one healthy (and ovulating) step at a time.