Photo courtesy of Alyssa Himmel

Thanks To Zika, We're Putting Off Trying This Month

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

My husband planned a work trip to Mexico during this month’s fertile window, which just so happened to cover my 30th birthday. He asked me to come along, but I’m understandably paranoid: I won’t be contracting Zika any time soon.

It’s frustrating to start off the month knowing it’ll be a total wash. It’s also depressing to find yourself wishing away the days, counting them off one by one — like some sadistic Advent calendar — until you can “try” again. How am I to enjoy the present when my top priority is becoming a mom, which can only happen on a handful of days every month?

After my miscarriage, I changed my OB-GYN to someone more suitable for my needs, which are minimal and focus more on honesty and open lines of communication. My OB-GYN advised me to stay clear of territories which pose a Zika risk; doctors still don’t know enough about the virus to advise otherwise. I’ve always been prone to a surplus of mosquito bites in warm weather, so I decided to sit this one out. (Is Zika still a thing? What about Swine Flu? Mumps?) I read that the male is the carrier of the virus, but I’ve always been one to err on the side of caution. My husband works hard and deserves the reward. It would be selfish of me to ask him to stay home. With a promise to wear bug spray with DEET at all times, my husband bids me farewell.

As is to be expected, the days preceding my 30th birthday bring a rollercoaster of emotion. Okay, a damn bungee jump of emotion. You’d think that being sans-husband as I turned 30 would’ve been depressing, alienating and infuriating, but it actually allowed me to get introspective. Most of my friends — both the single and married but childless alike — were overwhelmed by entering a new decade. I surprised myself by being even-keeled. The “proper” timeline we allow society to write for us is a farce though some still allow it to drive us into a panic-driven frenzy. Sure, I feel the wheel of time like anyone else, especially during this whole emotionally draining and mentally exhausting TTC process, but I feel unaffected. Like Mick Jagger once sang, time is on my side; I can still conceive a healthy child naturally. Thirty, after all, is just another birthday.

I’ll probably feel differently at 40, but for now, I have so much to be grateful for and so much to look forward to. I have an incredible support system, a fantastic and generously-paying career, a beautiful home, my health and my family. I feel like I’m more hopeful at 30 than I was at 25, headed into the most trying chapter yet. As much as I can, I kiss apprehension goodbye. This is going to be my year! (Currently accepting Hallmark sponsorships.)

To celebrate my energizing self-reflection, I paint the town red with a close girlfriend. This brand new carefree attitude and fresh outlook on conception evaporates pretty early on — like, 20-minutes-in early. In trying to execute the most daring of Cirque Du Soleil maneuvers — walking — I trip over my own two feet, brace my fall awkwardly, and land on my hand. I know instantly that it’s broken. I’m pissed at my carelessness but don’t let it ruin my night out. That’s how revitalizing a shift in perspective can be. Bone breaks be damned! I plan to deal with it in the morning.

Well… good morning, beautiful. I wake up to an incredibly bruised and swollen hand, not to mention an uber-uplifting text from my fertility app:

Quick question: did you have intercourse yesterday?

(No, you bastard. The hubby is sipping mezcal, poolside.) The pain, coupled with a light hangover and the poorly timed alert, sends me into hysterics. Fifteen years of broken-bone-free gymnastics and I break my first bone by tripping? #ThisIsThirty.

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Himmel

I drive one-handed to the orthopedist like some sort of wounded T-Rex. The doctor confirms a break in two areas and casts me for two weeks. Nothing says 30 like a wrist cast. So much for that fresh, new chapter. Did I mention it’s my right hand? The one I use for work and, oh, most other primary daily functions?

I’m genuinely excited to see the look on my husband’s face when he comes home. Nothing says “Welcome home, baby” like a wrist to forearm hard cast. Having sex with this thing on should be interesting. Maybe we could go all Eyes Wide Shut and give my husband a mask? This is what I get for being selfless and encouraging. No good deed goes unpunished.

At least it’s not Zika.