Friday, June 11, 2004

Catching flies with chopsticks (from 5/17)

Right now, I have to pee. Not like a lady: like a racehorse. And I'm thirsty. And I'll feel this way again tomorrow--sip, hold, hold, hold, hold, hold, pee!--and probably the day after that. A very small, if uncomfortable, price to pay to track down that ever-elusive ovulation--one small if crucial piece in the diabolically complex jigsaw puzzle of fertility.

My question, after trying since last August, is not, Why am I not pregnant? My question is, How does anyone ever get pregnant? It seems freakier to me with every passing day.

First, there's all the requisite sex. DH and I are fond of each other, but after seven years, we don't lie around thinking raunchy, hot thoughts and find ourselves going at it like baboons in springtime; we lie around thinking about the invasive iceplant vines we need to pull in the rosebed, the strange thunking noise coming from the washing machine, whether we should start our summer roadtrip by driving to Vancouver or Colorado. Sex, when we get around to it once or twice a week, is something between a treat and a chore, sometimes leaning one way, sometimes another. Regardless, we do make the effort during that purported "fertile window," so that's our first (somewhat grudging) checkmark on the TTC list.

Then there's that damned ovulation. I am fortunate; the OPKs work for me and my temperatures are clear: I ovulate regularly and at nearly the same time every month. We can time sex fairly easily. Another big X on that checklist.

J's sperm, at least according to the pathetic home semen analysis kit, appears to have an adequate count, so that's maybe half an X for the list. (An aside: The home SA kit is called "Baby Start"; the logo is two eggs lined up at attention. I kid you not.)

The rest of the steps seem to be almost entirely out of my control, and this is where it starts to seem like a poorly-plotted action-adventure movie.

To start with, there's that pesky cervix, which I always think of as a too-cool bouncer at an A-list Hollywood nightclub: "Listen, all of you, you can wait here all night but you're not getting in." And the sperms are so disappointed--no celebrity sightings, no phone number from a botoxed beauty--that they simply wander into the street.

That street is hostile--spermicidally acidic, in fact--and my particular alleyway doesn't have any well-lit eggwhite alcoves where those brave sperms might take solace and regroup for another try; instead, it has a wall of mustachioed thugs who beat to death any particularly manly sperms who were not brought low at the outset.

Now, in the highly unlikely event that a specially plucky sperm or two somehow snuck past the too-cool doorman while he was having a smoke, that's still just the beginning of the story, which I envision starring a marginal actor along the lines of Keanu Reeves or Keifer Sutherland. (It's just too implausable for someone like Harrison Ford or Denzel Washington; their agents wouldn't even show them the script.)

For beyond the cervix challenge lies the maddening method by which the few, fortunate sperm--I'll call our lead Keanu; the supporting actors will, of course, die valiantly for the quest--must swim, swim, swim to meet the intimidating, unapproachable egg, then improbably align and attach himself perfectly to her specially constructed surface, like a barefoot parachutist landing on his shoes. And then the egg (Sandra Bullock?), once over the shock, has to accept the invading conqueror; The Body (picture a panel of nine secret judges in black masks) has to approve of the union, and the new unified Keandra must then blindly grope its way to the uterus, wherein their lives (life?) depend upon finding a miraculously unlocked door into which they can retreat, feast, divide and metamorphose into an actual embryo. If they're really, really, really lucky.

I simply don't know if I believe in that kind of luck. I mean, right, would you rent the movie?

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