Coping

Today’s post is going to be raw, emotional, and probably painful for some of you to read. In truth, I started not to publish it. But this has been sitting with me for awhile now, and so I wrote it out in hopes that it would bring me some comfort and closure. I didn’t write it to seek out sympathy, or to evoke any particular emotion for my readers. I simply wrote it for me. Any of you who have ever suffered with infertility will understand that sometimes, crying it out and exhausting all emotion is the only way to pick yourself and move on, to give yourself enough courage to take the next pill, the next shot, or the next test. That is what this post is for me.



I’m sitting in the bathroom floor, legs tangled beneath me. The towel I’m crying into smells of Brian’s body wash. A nervous cat who managed to get closed into the bathroom with me sits by the door, tail twitching, waiting for a chance to escape. The digital pregnancy test still sits on the counter where I left it, the words “NOT PREGNANT” in stark analog print, breaking my heart again.

It’s 4:30 in the morning.

Last night, we sat at the kitchen table, holding hands, the truth of the situation like ashes in my mouth. “I’m 15 days late,” I say.

“I know,” he replies.

Like a sorrow-filled waltz, we dance around the topic of conversation. He asks me if there are any signs of impending doom. I show him my ovulation calendar. We talk about the “peak fertile days” we managed to hit in the last month. Hope blossoms like spring flowers where one would think the roots were dead.

“Should I take a test?” I ask him.

“Maybe. But let’s wait until morning,” he replies.

And so we walk through the rest of the day, preparing meals and cleaning dishes, hugging cats and laughing at sitcoms, until the time for bed arrives.

As I brush my teeth, I rummage through the cabinets until I find what I’m looking for: a box of pregnancy tests, one left, waiting for the chance to make our dreams come true. I set it out, unwrap it, and stare at the blank screen, wondering what judgement it will have for me. I spit in the sink, and a spot of toothpaste lands on the digital screen. I wipe it away with my finger.

An hour later, my husband sleeps deeply beside me. I slide the bookmark between the pages of my current novel and turn out the light. My cat snuggles up on my chest, and I pet him while I think about what the morning might bring. So many possibilities. 

I try to keep myself from thinking it, but as usual, the laundry list of those possibilities begin to rattle off in my brain. If it’s positive, I could have the baby by Christmas. If it’s positive, I’ll want to schedule an appointment with my doctor as soon as possible. If it’s positive, I want to tell my parents first. If it’s positive, I’ll have the chance to tell Jenna in person this weekend. If it’s positive, we’ll have to do something about that middle bedroom. (I’ve always loved the idea of a Dr. Seuss-themed nursery.)

If it’s positive, will it be a boy or a girl?

If it’s positive, I will cry and laugh and dance and celebrate.

If it’s positive.

I fall asleep with visions of round cheeks and tiny feet dancing in my head.

When I wake up with a full bladder at 4 a.m., my whole body comes to attention. I slide out from beneath the covers, leaving husband and cats undisturbed. I take a deep breath and do my duty, waiting the unbearable 2 minutes before allowing myself to read the screen of the pregnancy test.

And the new, more familiar laundry list of possibilities take over. If it’s negative, I will not beat myself up for days on end. If it’s negative, I will not let it ruin my week. If it’s negative, I won’t tell anyone about it, because I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. If it’s negative, and of course it will be negative, I will mark it on my calendar and move on.

If it’s negative, I will mention it to Brian over breakfast and we won’t talk about it anymore.

If it’s negative, I will let myself cry, but only for a few minutes.

If it’s negative.

I give myself ten minutes to mourn the baby that never was, and then I wrap the test, that thing, in toilet paper and throw it away. I toss the box and instructions away, too. I wipe down the counters, the sink, and the mirror just for good measure. I splash my face with cold water, blow my nose, and brush my hair. I never look at my reflection because I know I’ll only see misery and regret. I turn out the light and open the door, freeing the trapped cat from the confines of his prison cell. I tiptoe back into the bedroom and ever-so-gently lower myself back into bed.

His voice pierces the night.

“Negative?” he asks.

“Negative.” I reply.

And we wrap ourselves in each other and cope.


10 thoughts on “Coping

  1. Danielle Amos

    what’s a little biology? love is thicker than blood anyway . if DSS will approve me as a foster parent then I’m sure you and Brian would have no trouble . there are so many children out there with nobody to love them and the 2 of you have so much to give… just food for thought I’m sure you’ve already considered this and have your reasons for doing it or not doing it but maybe consider being somebody’s hero and turn the table on a child with the odds stacked against them ? Love you!

    1. Abby Chamberlain

      Adoption is definitely on our list of options. Now that we are in a position to do so, we’ve made an appointment with a fertility specialist in hopes that some answers will be revealed. We haven’t ruled out natural conception yet, but adoption is most definitely on our minds. Thanks for your support, Danielle!

  2. Jenna

    I’m glad you decided to go ahead and post this. It’s beautifully written and, while completely heartbreaking, it’s also powerful and real. I feel like you should be allowed to mourn a negative test just like you would mourn a lost pregnancy. In both cases you’re mourning the loss of so many hopes and dreams and possibilities. I only say that to say that I hope you never feel like you’re not allowed to mourn or to be sad or that you have to get over it in ten minutes. Writing this may have been theraputic for you, but it could also be really helpful for someone else who’s feeling these things but feels like they don’t have a right to those emotions (and I hope you’re not one of those people).

    1. Abby Chamberlain

      Thanks, honey. It’s such a difficult subject to talk about for me that it’s much easier to write about it. You’ve seen me try to have conversations about it–I just wind up crying instead. Being able to write about it is a great coping mechanism for me. If it helps someone else along the way, that’s just an added benefit. I think anyone who’s gone through any sort of infertility could write a blog just like this one, and we would all nod our heads and say, “Yes, I’ve been there.”

  3. WritingPassionsThoughts

    Oh Abby I felt your hopes and your pain. Whether naturally or adoption, or maybe even both, you and Brain will make wonderful parents when the time comes. HUGS and thank you for sharing this part of you with us.

    1. Abby Chamberlain

      I’m glad that came through. Adoption has always been something we have talked about, and in truth we may adopt even if we are able to conceive naturally. We have so much love to give. We’re just waiting for that opportunity to arise.

  4. Tina

    You and Brian are amazing, loving people and I am so very glad to know you. I hate that you are both going through this, but I KNOW that one day you will be parents. You will be AMAZING parents. Jason and I will do whatever we can to help. We can cry together, do fundraisers for adoption, research, what ever it takes.

    1. ThatGabbyAbby Post author

      Thank you, sweetheart. I haven’t lost all hope yet, and having a support systems with friends like you makes it easier to cope. ♥

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