Alyssa Himmel wearing a denim jacket and black jeans, smiling while posing on a mountain terrace.
Photo courtesy of Alyssa Himmel

Oh, I'm Sorry, Is My Infertility STRESSING YOU OUT, Hubs?

Romper's Trying project follows five women with very different stories through a year of trying to conceive. Where discussions about fertility often focus on the end goal, they'll document what it's like emotionally, physically, and spiritually before you get there — the anxiety, the hope, the ovulation kits, the tests. How do you function when getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term isn't a given? Read on for one woman's answer to that question.

Alyssa experienced a miscarriage during her first pregnancy, and she and her husband are still trying. This is the four installment of her Trying diary; to read the previous installment, go here.

According to my cycle tracking app, today is the first day of my “fertile window.” I roll over, reaching for my thermometer, one eye cracked. My husband rouses to a shrill beep — the indication of my 97.7-degree temperature. He asks if I’m sick, if I have a fever. “No,” I say, with an eye roll. “I’m calculating my basal body temperature.”

He’s a deer in headlights: “Basil what?”

It’s little moments like these I’m reminded of just how far removed he is from this process. It’s times like these — fortunately not often — when I feel like the loneliest person in the world. A little while back, after the miscarriage, my husband had a momentary infertility freak-out. He said he was “overwhelmed,” and I’ve since found myself internalizing some details of conception. (Imagine: A man overwhelmed at the minutiae of childbirth!) At this revelation, I laughed, shook my head, and declared men wusses regarding feminine body ailments and chose to keep certain aspects of TTC to myself moving forward. God forbid I overwhelm him. Frankly, I’d gladly trade bleeding for eight weeks straight, developing a fear of going to the bathroom, unsure of what may come out for... "overwhelmed." If my giving him updates has the power to overwhelm and alienate... might he go catatonic if he were actually going through this?

If I didn’t know I was capable of becoming pregnant, if I hadn't gotten pregnant and then lost it, the process of “trying” seems like it would have been carefree and fun. I’m very black and white — it's the former athlete in me — and when I want something, I give 110 percent. Having something ripped away from me so quickly, almost before it began, makes the longing nearly unbearable.

Basal body temperature: 97.7 degrees.

Ovulation test: Negative.

Prenatal vitamin: Check.

CM: Egg-white. (Yum. Did someone say breakfast?)

Weight: I only realize I forgot to step on the scale before my morning commute. Sh*t. I plan to record it later.

You want to talk overwhelming? My daily routine of monitoring my body’s functions is cataclysmically, terribly overwhelming. But wait! You can’t stress! That will decrease your chances of conception!

Later, my husband comes home with flowers and cheese board — clutch — as a peace offering. He apologizes for not being able to completely “get it.” (He’s a good one, I think I’ll keep him. And… not to beat around the bush… he’s a crucial factor in, y’know, getting pregnant.) Wait — is dairy good or bad for conception? Don’t care. I’m eating the block of cheese in its entirety.

When you’re as in-tune with your body as I am, every little twitch, cramp and shake keeps you high on a mix of anxiety and hope: somewhere, deep down, a baby could be developing.

The two-week wait/obsession between windows is very real and quite taxing. It’s all-consuming. As much as I try to distract myself, or immerse myself in work, I can’t! According to my app — how strange to say — we timed intercourse appropriately this month, so we have a pretty good shot!

Outside of the fact that someone needs to confiscate every single one of my electronic devices — I obsessively Google during idle time — it’s going well! (If someone took a look at my search history, I’d be committed.) When you’re as in-tune with your body as I am, every little twitch, cramp and shake keeps you high on a mix of anxiety and hope: somewhere, deep down, a baby could be developing. I search endlessly for affirmation that a cramp is implantation. A twitch flares for longer than usual and I’m running for the pregnancy test.convinced I’m pregnant. Quieter days at the office send me down rabbit holes; once, I somehow wind up on a forum titled “I May Have Gotten My 17-Year-Old Cousin Pregnant.” Annnnnnd it’s time to sign off. (But, you know, not before reading the entire post. Spoiler alert: He got her pregnant.)

I’m starting to think all of my friends and sisters dread the two-week wait as much as I do. I reach out to them constantly, anything to take my mind off these dragging days. My best friend from home — a nurse who isn’t shocked by my lack of filter, dear reader — is the same way. I text her, rapid fire, during the gaps. Our long-standing friendship verges on the unspoken acknowledgements: She’s one of the few who, without a word, empathizes with my need to control the uncontrollable. She is waiting for an engagement ring, and I, a baby. Friendship in your 30s? Thy name is: Anxiety-Ridden Together. Patience isn’t our best quality. My real-life Siri, bless her heart for not judging my 5:00 a.m. text asking, “Will taking Zyrtec affect implantation?”

I fill the calendar with daily plans to divert attention from the fact that I still can’t take a pregnancy test for a week. I calculate dates, punch in calendar plans and take notes like a mad scientist, racing against time for a cure. (You can’t stress! It will decrease your chances of concep — shut up!) I do my best to remain levelheaded, but I’m in my own head and we all know that telling an anxiety-ridden person to calm down is a one-way ticket to hell and back. We persist.