By Rowena Goodman
All you have to do is look at sperm and you’ll get pregnant. That’s what was rammed down my throat by teachers, parents and Byker Grove alike. My experience of being sexually active before trying to conceive was littered with occasional pregnancy scares, despite never failing to use birth control.
“I’ll have my implant removed in June, so we can have a March baby!” are the exact words I texted to my husband after we’d decided it was time for us to procreate. I look back on this fondly now, with an oh-sweet-summer-child aura. How naïve you are, past-Rowena.
The first time we had sex after I had my implant removed, I was utterly convinced that I was pregnant. I’d had unprotected sex; therefore, I was pregnant. That’s how it works. That’s how Mrs D, the should’ve-retired-years-ago drama teacher, explained sex to us teenage girls. She also told us that if we have sex before the age of sixteen, our tiny young cervixes would bruise, causing cervical cancer and immediate death.
I watched endless videos on YouTube of women taking pregnancy tests – video after video of wobbly footage in messy bathrooms, voices lowered in case the husband or children hear, red plastic cups filled with sacred FMU (first morning urine). Fast-forward through the chit-chat while they wait for the test to develop. Your heart pounds with theirs as they lift the test. Your heart sinks with theirs as they read the test. Every once in a while; a positive result.
I found some videos of women who used their blood instead of urine on home pregnancy tests, claiming that you could get a result faster due to the levels of HCG (the hormone produced after implantation of a fertilised egg) in blood. This prompted a back-and-forth in my head: no, obviously I’m not going to try that. I can wait another week and test. But then, if I’m pregnant – which I must be; I’ve had unprotected sex – then I would get a clear answer right now. Why wait?
Cue prising razorblades off fresh Bic razors to prick my big toe and create an accidental, literal bloodbath in the bathroom. Do you ever have moments in life where you take a step back and question: am I okay? That was one of those moments. The tests showed a negative result, anyway. I bandaged up my toes (yes, I jabbed both toes and bled over multiple tests) and threw the tests away. For the next few days, each sore step was a reminder that not only was I not pregnant, but also; I had cut open my toes to bleed on pregnancy tests and that really isn’t normal.
Turns out, you can do all the right sex in all the right holes at all the right times of the month and still not get pregnant. I found this to be a total shock to the system. The first month we started trying, I spent over £50 on pregnancy tests. Over fifty English pounds on sticks I peed on and then threw away, because I was absolutely convinced that they were inaccurate. After that month, I stuck to bulk-buying cheap tests off Amazon.
When you have sex with the expectancy of immediate pregnancy, it’s really disheartening when it doesn’t happen. You start to wonder what’s wrong with you. Why isn’t your body co-operating? I remember on Month Six, looking down to where my ovaries are and through gritted teeth, “What more do you want?” I wanted to grab them and shake them and demand an explanation.
It took seven months of fruitless boning for us to get pregnant, which in the grand scheme of things; isn’t very long at all. Though when you’re in it – “it” being the all-consuming ache of broodiness and the desire to conceive – a fortnight (specifically the fortnight between shagging and testing) lasts approximately eight years. Finally, after five-days-in-a-row (also known as Five Days in Row! Teehee™), the fruit be bless-ed.
This essay was written by Rowena Goodman. Follow Rowena on Instagram to keep up with her latest work!