Cramping, bloating, a craving for salt and excessive fatigue let me know a week in advance that, once again, I've failed to become a mother. I try to ignore those symptoms, often hoping against all odds that they're early signs of pregnancy. My denial wanes as I watch the countdown on my fertility app, telling me my cycle should start in just a few days.
Still, that moment when I look down and see the pale red stains on my toilet tissue, I convince myself it is just implantation blood. But within hours, it becomes clear that that's not true; that's when I burst into tears. Usually, I place one hand over my mouth as I cry silently in the bathroom for a few minutes. Sometimes, I stop and pray, then question why God won't allow me to become a mom. I whisper, Have I not suffered enough? You saddled me with an autoimmune disease and PCOS -- am I supposed to take this, too?
On days when I have to go to work, I strip down, hop in the shower and try to hide my tears with the beating of the water from the shower. I often scrub my body free from any trace of blood. When I finally feel satisfied that I'm cleansed of negative thoughts and traces of my failure, I get out of the tub and get dressed like it's any other day.
Yet, over the course of the day, my disappointment grows. By 7:30, when I get home at night, all I can do is hug myself and try to sleep so the next day comes soon, hastening the end of my nightmare.
If my cycle starts on the weekend, I climb right back into bed after I clean myself up. I just lie flat on my back, staring at the ceiling, as warm, moist tears stream off the side of my face and onto my satin pillowcase. My thoughts always go to what I could've done differently -- if I should've taken more vitamins, watched my temperature more closely, if my app is wrong. Overwhelmed, I shut my eyes, trying to imagine the day I will wake up to a positive test.
Two days into my emotional hell, anger sets in. Sometimes I push on my stomach, trying to push the blood out. Every once in a while, I pound on my gut and scream. Mostly, I rub my midsection and pray that God will take pity on me and allow me to do what seems so easy for most women -- that is, give birth to a child.
Day four, as very little evidence remains of my inadequate reproductive system, I program the dates of my cycle into my app so it can begin a countdown to the next ovulation and fertility period. I talk myself out of giving up by reminding myself why having a child is so important to me: sharing love, my life and helping shape the future of someone. When I'm done, I'm ready to book another appointment with a fertility specialist. Then, I talk to the one friend I have who I know is going through a similar struggle; we commiserate about our pain. Somehow, only this heart-to-heart makes me feel less alone.