A few times over the years, I’ve waited with baited breath while friends watched a little plastic stick for the appearance of a second line. That little line — or the absence of it — has the power to change lives. I’ve waited with friends who were not ready to be mothers and prayed fervently that their missed period was a fluke of nature. And I’ve waited with friends who had tried for years to conceive a child and hoped that this was the magical month.
But I’ve never waited for myself. As a lesbian who has never had sex with a man (TMI? Sorry.) I’ve never had occasion to worry about birth control or pregnancy tests. I’m well read on the issue, because I feel that birth control is an important feminist and human rights issue. And because I like to know how my body works, I’ve read plenty on natural family planning and fertility. I talk openly with friends about their birth control choices and know the pros and cons of each method. But I’ve never used any form of birth control, and I’ve certainly never worried that it’s failed me and been forced to wait the interminable minutes to see if a second line will appear.
This month, for the first time, I’ve started tracking my cycles. Because we plan to start trying to conceive in the next 6-12 months, it seems like now is the time to start taking notice of my fertility. I’ve begun the process of making better choices for my body: eating better, cutting back on caffeine, trying (unsuccessfully at times) to get more exercise, taking a daily pre-natal vitamin. There might have been an incident last month when I threw myself into this routine wholeheartedly — cutting out caffeine completely, adhering to a strict diet, and going cold turkey off the mood-regulating herbs I’ve had such success with. And this might have led to a complete meltdown one weekend complete with sobbing and followed by sulking. But we don’t need to talk about that. Ahem.
Anyway…the point is that I am following a more reasonable health plan now and am quite happy with it. I’m also researching a few more herbs that I will be incorporating into my regimen. I’ll post about those in detail later.
The most interesting change in my routine has been tracking my cycle. This involves taking my temperature daily with a basal body thermometer before getting out of bed and plotting those temperatures on a website that makes charts for this purpose. It also means testing my urine with an Ovulation Prediction Kit (OPK) when I expect that I might be ovulating. I started early this month, because I didn’t want to miss it. So for ten days, I dipped a tiny strip of paper into a little plastic cup of urine and waited for the ink to spread. For a whole week, there was no change. Not ovulating. Even though I knew this was to be expected because I had started early, I was still beginning to get nervous as the day’s passed. What if I never ovulated? What if there was something wrong with me? And then there it was: the second line.
The reality is that it means nothing right now. We aren’t trying to conceive yet, and of course, a positive OPK is not a guarantee that we’ll be able to conceive when the time comes. But in that moment when I saw the second line appear and then darken until the test was unmistakably positive, I had a glimpse of what the future holds for us. And it was pretty awesome.
Aside: I didn’t explain all of this to C.S. before I started doing it. She does not enjoy discussing “female issues” and really does not care what I do with my body as long as it ultimately ends with us having a baby. So it was pretty funny to watch her as she pondered the myriad of reasons for the thermometer’s lingering presence on my nightstand until I eventually clued her in. I can’t wait for her to find the OPK strips in the trash can.