By Emily Harrington
There are certain topics you remember from high school health class. It’s hard to forget when your teacher (the same man who taught you to parallel park in driver’s ed) said words like “vagina” and “penis.” Enter immature giggles. Or when the boys basketball coach taught you and your peers that every 28-days a woman has a period, what the reproductive organs look like and different forms of birth control and STDs. Awkward.
But there are a lot of holes in those lessons. I don’t remember a “birds and the bees”-type talk from my parents — thank goodness. But, I do remember sitting in health class looking at the graphic images displayed on the wall from the overhead projector. I remember the intense focus the teachers placed on how not to get pregnant. The teacher made it seem as though it would be so easy to get pregnant. But it’s really not as easy as it seems.
In our adventures to conception my husband and I have learned we really knew nothing about reproduction after all. For instance, we did not know:
- You can only get pregnant three or four days a month — only when the woman is ovulating. Did not know that!
- Sperm can live inside a woman for up to four days. No clue.
- Ovulation takes place approximately 11 to 21 days after the first day of your last period. I thought you could get pregnant right before and after your period.
- A menstrual period can occur even if ovulation has not occurred. Really?
- Ovulation can occur even if a menstrual period has not occurred. Could it be any more confusing?
I didn’t want to have to “try” to get pregnant. I didn’t want an app or an online calendar to track my fertile versus non-fertile days. Don’t even think about talking to me about testing my mucus levels. I just thought it would be easy. Wham, bam, preggo. It turns out that “not trying” has become trying. Fate doesn’t really determine if you become pregnant like I thought. It’s not in the stars; it’s much more grounded in science.
It never occurred to me that it would take time — and patience. At first I thought I wasn’t in a hurry; I wanted to take our time and enjoy the journey. But with every passing month our friends’ and families’ questions increase, and our own curiosity is peaked. If I don’t have a cocktail in my hand at a party or appear overtired— everyone wonders. Everyone is watching.
My husband and I are also wondering when I will become pregnant. I find myself asking my friends exactly how long it took them to get pregnant. Are we the norm?
Emily Harrington is a 28-year-old townie on the cusp of full-blown adulthood. She’s a wife still in the honeymoon stage and a mom of a borderline psychotic mini-Australian Shepherd. She has a full-time job in communications/marketing and a full-time life outside of work.