Photo courtesy of Alyssa Himmel

I Tried Digital Ovulation Tests, & All I Got Was This UTI

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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 seventh installment of her Trying diary. You can read the previous entry here.

This is my first month dabbling in digital ovulation tests. Last month, I had thought my timing impeccable, but Mother Nature laughed in my face. It’s time to outsmart this chick. I compare the ovulation tests with my fertility app and notice about a week's discrepancy. Imagine how infuriating that would be: two months of trying to no avail, essentially time wasted. I’m relieved I can attribute our failure to timing and not something more troubling. These tests are expensive, but here’s to hoping they’re worth it for the accuracy alone.

Well, that was quick.

The stick seems to miss my “high fertility” times, pin-balling immediately from “not fertile” to “highly fertile.” Unless I’m suddenly sprouting ovarian superpowers, I guess it’s faulty tech. An empty circle indicates not fertile, while a blinking smiling face means you are in a high fertility window. A solid smiley face is “peak fertility.” The digital tests narrow my fertile window to two days, which makes planning — how romantic — for two full-time working spouses a lot easier! We do the deed — again: Shakespearean romance leaping off the page — and I even throw in a post-intercourse headstand for good measure. Competitive gymnastics: The gift that keeps on giving… but also, desperate times call for desperate measures.

I’m reminded that women are dealt the crappy hand in baby-making poker. Why is trying so hard and so painful?

There’s no scientific evidence that post-coital inversions aid in the conception, so don’t try this at home. (Or do?) The thought of my husband emerging from the shower to a butt-naked me in a headstand in the middle of our bedroom floor sends me into hysterics. This is a fate we avoid, but hypothetically, it would be impossible for him to not question whether or not he married a complete lunatic.

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Himmel

I fling myself from sleep at 1 a.m. — five hours before a work event I’m hosting begins — and know immediately that I have a UTI. Could there be a further inconvenience? Welcome back, oh pain of pains, a knife in my urethra every time I try to pee. I wouldn’t wish this type of torture on my worst enemy. This is what I get: I refused to go the bathroom after intercourse thinking it would flush out the sperm. (It doesn’t. I’m loony.) I writhe in pain, careful not to disrupt Keith. Sure, ‘til death do us part and all, but there’s no reason both of us should be sleep-deprived. I buck up and Uber to the only place open at this hour: urgent care. Yes, once again, I’m reminded that women are dealt the crappy hand in baby-making poker. Why is trying so hard and so painful? Where are the uneventful conceptions?

The receptionist stares at me blankly as I metaphorically light $250 on fire. (Emergency Room co-pays are no joke.) A urine sample, a 30-second conversation with the doctor about a prognosis I already know. I wait for the doctor to write me prescriptions for pain pills and antibiotics that will have me staining toilets an attractive shade of neon for the next 10 days. I stare at the linoleum floor and question whether or not I’m even cut out for this, for carrying a child. Hospitals force you to question yourself, your lifestyle, your intentions, especially when you pay a visit alone. Enduring letdown after letdown takes a toll, but physical setbacks such as these? Insult to injury. It’s exhausting, inconvenient, and it hurts my ego and my body.

It’s approaching 3 a.m., the small hours of the night when only the barely awake, either starting or finishing a day, roam the streets. I’ll get an hour of sleep if I’m lucky. Whether or not an hour is adequate to host an event where I’ll need to speak in front of a hundred employees? Different story. I have a routine for that, though: cold shower, cranberry pills, triple espresso, coconut water, out the door — with gusto, if I can manage.

I do.

But I walk into the conference center to see another corporate event going on next door at the same venue. A huge, brightly colored laminated sign at the entrance reads: “Babies & Bumps.”

You win this round, universe.

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Himmel