On Being Good and the *other* cycle

Another cycle begins, with the promise that maybe this time is it.  This will be the time that we get it right, that the universe takes it easy on us.  I’m not talking about the cycle that begins with a follicle and ends with double pink lines.  It happens to coincide with that one, but this cycle is a little different.  It’s the cycle of being good.

It starts off well: eating my veggies and sticking to (or, more likely, starting) a moderate exercise routine–walking and yoga, something I can continue when there’s an embryo growing in my belly without doing any harm to my maybe-baby.  I take my vitamins and supplements every night before bed.  I think only positive and uplifting thoughts.  Hopeful thoughts.  This is going to work!

By mid-cycle, doubt starts to creep in.  The reality that we have a shitty sperm count and no idea how much longer my early-ovulating eggs will last.  That no amount of timed intercourse or cervical mucus is going to end with a positive pregnancy test.  That I can eat as much sugar and caffeine as I want because it’s not going to affect an embryo that has no chance of existing in the first place.

But then.

The worst two weeks of the year.  Every 23 days.

I talk myself into believing in miracles.  I waver between nonsensical hope and crushing defeat.  One day I eat nothing but organic kale and almonds.  The next, it’s gummy worms and Dr. Pepper.  I lie on the couch, already resigned to my fate as a fat, childless shut-in.  Then I become obsessed with lifting weights.

Eventually, the cycle ends, in my case, with spotting a couple of days before the big event.  Or I take a pregnancy test because I’ve let the crazy take over, which leads to immediate disappointment.

Kristin at Return to Go declared it a holiday of sorts.  Feed your sadness with carbs.  Drown your sorrows in cheese.  And beer.

And start the cycle all over again.


All this being good has led me to ask: Are we ever really good enough?  Can we possibly do everything right?  Follow every doctor’s order, every old wives’ tale, every superstition and pseudoscience that supposedly leads to a healthy baby?  Can we ever truly be worthy of what we all so hopelessly desire?

I know–in the sane, logical part of my brain–that it doesn’t work that way.  That no amount of being good is going to get me the result I want: to hold a healthy baby in my arms.  My healthy baby.  It doesn’t matter which vitamins I take or how many vegetables I eat or how much I walk.  None of it matters.

Crack whores, abusers, homeless women, the violent, cruel, and depressed get pregnant all the time, without even trying.  Your ovaries aren’t keeping score of your good deeds or your bad.  Your uterus doesn’t care if you stab your boyfriend with a pair of scissors.  Nature’s a bitch.

And still, I convince myself with a kind of magical thinking that by doing everything right, I can control my destiny.  I can whisper in the ear of the universe, and she will obey.  And if I can’t do that, there must be something wrong with me.  Because it happens to other people all the time.

Other people get pregnant with impossibly low sperm counts.  Other women conceive with one tube and a scarred uterus.  Other couples find out they’re expecting their own biological child weeks after signing the adoption papers.  It happens, right?

The truth is, we’re in this predicament not because of karma or because we didn’t eat our veggies or say our prayers.  It’s not because we trail a list of criminal acts, in this life or a previous one.  The truth is, it all comes down to blind, dumb, bad fucking luck.  And no amount of goodness can change that.

What can change it, though, is that evil little grain of hope, a team of doctors, a support system, and yes, a bit of good luck on our side.  I have to believe that’s enough to change our fate and break this vicious cycle.

9 thoughts on “On Being Good and the *other* cycle

  1. this is so well written and so honest. I’m somewhere in this same cycle right now, trying so very hard to control *something* about this whole process that feels so out of control. You hear all these stories of things working, of things not working, and somehow it feels like this should be evidence for you – ‘let’s keep hoping!’ or ‘there’s no damn way…’ all I can say is thinking of you, and hoping that somehow there’s some good/better news this month (great that you guys are moving to treatment, by the way!)

  2. You’re right — it is all about luck, or the lack thereof. Which sucks. Immensely. But I think the good news is is that your luck can change at any time. And I’m really hoping that you guys are well on your way to winning the baby lottery!

  3. I loved this piece, and I agree with you. This is all about luck. I don’t believe that anything I do, short of running ultramarathons or endlessly binging, will make an ounce of difference. It is just merely a matter of luck. I wish we were luckier people. Hopefully this is your miracle, lucky cycle!

  4. Pingback: If he can’t drive with a broken back, at least he can polish the fenders « Play It All Night Long

  5. I came to a similar realization recently. The fact that this one thing has zero to do with how hard you work at it and more about luck/biology/chance is so very true. I think realizing this is freeing in a way, because it means that suffering with infertility or loss is not reflective on you as a person.

    Hang in there. I’m hoping for you.

  6. There are not words to adequately express my love for this post. “I lie on the couch, already resigned to my fate as a fat, childless shut-in. Then I become obsessed with lifting weights.” Brilliant. I really, really felt like I was reading my own head for a lot of this post, and thanks for the reminder that this isn’t influenced by karma, good deeds, or bad behavior. If it was down to desire and effort put in, we’d all be building Duggar-sized houses.

  7. I think by thumbing your nose at all those things you are already beginning to break that cycle. Sometimes “Dumb fucking luck” is the best possible way.

    Being the child of a drug addict or a crack whore is its own kind of horrible and sad “dumb fucking luck” the flip side of that is, if it works for them, why cant it work for you?

    A more rational response is, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So why wont it work in your favor?

  8. So, so true. We can’t do everything right and we can’t control the outcome of each cycle. It’s just luck! Hopefully we can all get some good old fashioned luck soon!

  9. You’re trying to justify “deserving” a baby – and you really can’t do that! For starters, you already deserve one! You don’t need to do anything special or extra. (And for the record, some people really don’t deserve to breed – but I guess that’s something I’ll leave for the Universe & Karma to figure out!) Whether or not this is *the* cycle (which, of course, I hope it is) you are on the path, sister! Appreciate every precious step of this miraculous journey! Wishing you all the luck & peace of mind – xoxox

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