As part of #UnlockTheClock, we’re publishing real women’s stories of what the process of trying to get pregnant was like for them. We’re excited to share with you this guest post from our friend Cristina Toff from The Home and The Heart.
I almost didn’t believe it when I saw the faint line. It was the kind of moment that took me a little out of my body—the kind during which I hovered over myself and just kind of watched, in awe, at what was happening down below.
But let me back up. My husband and I were married for about five months when we started talking about trying to conceive. We both, of course, talked at length about babies before getting married and agreed we wanted to start relatively soon afterward and have a big family—three, maybe four kids.
I had done the math and, while I was still young, I knew that if we wanted to have three or four not too, too close in age, we needed to start soon. My mom had me when she was 35 and, while that was almost 30 years ago and healthcare has come a long way and while both she and I were healthy, it made me nervous to think about being pregnant past 35. Anything we could do to avoid complications—for whatever reason—we wanted to do. And starting young was where we began.
In the back of my mind, I always imagined I’d have trouble getting pregnant. There wasn’t a real reason I believed this, though. I did have an ovarian cyst in high school, but otherwise no issues that led me to believe I’d be at risk for infertility. There was no family history. No medical problems. In fact, when I mentioned this fear of mine to my mom, she had told me that she thought the women in our family were exceptionally fertile since so many of our ancestors had had many kids well into their 40s!
Nevertheless, I pictured the difficulties that many women have as mine and imagined the sadness I’d feel when faced with them. I was certain it would take a while, that we’d have a lot of time to prepare before we were expecting and that it would be a deeply emotional process. So that October, we decided we’d start trying.
Our plan was simple: I would stop taking birth control once October had begun and, hopefully—with any luck—I would be pregnant by the holidays. However, a very different story quickly emerged. We were traveling when I felt a little off—not sick, just off—and I thought maybe it was because I was pregnant. I ran to the nearest drugstore I could find and bought a pregnancy test.
I thought there was no way I was already pregnant—we had literally tried once, maybe twice—so I kept the box of two tests in my bag until there were more signs. But my curiosity got the best of me and early the next morning, before my husband had even woken up, I walked into the hotel bathroom and took the test.
I was disappointed, and I went back to bed and lied there for hours unable to sleep. We were finishing up a week-long trip down south, and the next day we were driving home. All I could think about the entire drive was that test. Negative. I shouldn’t have expected anything, but I did. I really did. Actually, my disappointment really surprised me, because I thought I’d done a good job of mentally preparing myself for a lengthy process.
We arrived home late at night and, the next day, I had managed to put the test out of my mind until I started feeling off again. I told my husband, and he suggested I take another test—just to be really sure. Maybe it was just too early the last time. I took the test. Waited the two minutes that anyone who’s hoping to be pregnant will tell you is the longest two minutes of their life up until that point. And couldn’t believe what I saw. Positive.
Tears filled my eyes and I walked into the bedroom where my husband was sitting. He, seeing my tears, assumed I was disappointed. “I’m pregnant,” I heard myself say. Another out-of-body experience.
While it didn’t take long at all and we had almost no time to mentally prepare between the time we started trying to conceive and the time I learned I was pregnant, I was right about one thing: it was a deeply emotional process. I was so excited and so nervous and kind of confused, but it was such an incredible moment that we as a new family of three shared together, and I’ll never forget it. I think we celebrated with some bagels (which I ate in mounds throughout the following 8 months).
I don’t know what my story will be the next time around. I don’t know if it’ll be as easy or as quick or as surprising. But I do know one thing: no story is the same and all—despite the difficulties or surprises, the sadness or the happiness—deserve to be celebrated (with or without bagels).