Finding Contentment in the Ride by Amy McCarter

It is day 30, and I wonder where my period has run off to. Not that I pay much attention to the calendar these days, but it seems like it has been a while. I check the calendar and count the days since the last one, passing day 25, then day 27, then 28… huh? Figuring yesterday would be the day, I just let it go, but then today nothing again, making it officially day 30 of my cycle which is a rarity. Even so, I doubt I’m pregnant, yet the thought sends me more into a panic than stirs excitement. No, it cannot be, we are adopting! Why now? I let it go, knowing I’ll feel cramps at any minute.
My head begins to ache early in the day and I pop a pill to make it stop, but it’s not effective and the headache worsens. It is not until after that I begin to wonder if I should have taken the pill, you know, just in case I am pregnant. But the worry is fleeting, because really, what are the odds of that happening? Only a few months ago I would have forgone the pill, falsely Hoping I was pregnant, letting myself believe it could possibly be true only to be crushed when it was not. Today I was 99.9% sure I was not, never believing the sweet song that Hope was trying to sing to my heart.  If I have learned anything practical, it is not to let in false Hope.

I sort through medical charts at work, grabbing those of three years ago for storage across the hall. My head aches and I admit to myself that I want the strong stuff, the good stuff.  I want Imitrex.  But should I take one since my period has not made an appearance and this is definitely not a pregnancy safe drug?  Damn.  How strange that I find myself, in this moment, wanting the drugs more than my period. What is wrong with me?

After work I swing by the pharmacy, feeling hungry, grumpy, and guilty, but most of all full of the penetrating pain of a migraine. I have to wait far too long to pick up the magic pill, but in spite of my impatience for relief, I choose to be responsible and throw a two-pack of home pregnancy tests on the counter too. The plan is simple: pee on a stick, take the pill, and then fall asleep.  I already know it will be negative, but just to be sure…

I unceremoniously rip open the all too familiar test, pull down my scrubs, and pee.  I am a pro at this now – how many sticks have I peed on over the last year? Never expecting anything other than a big fat negative, I pull up my drawers, let the dogs in from outside, heat up my leftovers, and then check the test.  Negative.  A taunting “told you so” echoes in my head.  Without missing a beat, the test is thrown away. I pop my magic pill, eat my lunch and then fall asleep for two hours.  When I awake my headache is gone.  The guilt is not.

What is wrong with me? How can I have wanted so badly to be pregnant for so long, only to freak out at the possibility that it may have happened?  I had struggled with the constant frustration, anger, grief, and envy over not being able to get pregnant, and yet in a move that seemed odd and completely out of character for me, I found myself wishing not to be pregnant this month.  I was so confused.

I had worked so hard, grinding my heart muscles down to a bloody pulp trying to find acceptance in my infertility, and I guess all that work had paid off. Somewhere between August and today, my desires had morphed into another form without me realizing it. I was now set on and looking forward to our adoption. This path toward parenthood just feels right. Each day I make phone calls or mail some piece of paperwork off to the agency, read books or organize our adoption photos, all the while working toward bringing our baby home. A baby that may not even be conceived yet, but a baby that one day will be ours.

After more than a year of having the dream of pregnancy crushed over and over and over again, it seems as if that once bright flower of Hope is now just a dried up, brittle, dusty relic. There is no life in what was once a beautiful bloom. How can I expect to feel anything other than scared at the prospect of having to rise up from its ashes yet again, when I have finally found comfort in another way of life?

The brief panic of today probably stems from a plan that has been laid out in my head, one that at this point involves adoption and not pregnancy. A plan that grew from the death of our son and secondary infertility, and has been showered each day by our tears. We have made a financial and contractual commitment to the agency. We have sent off for federal review of our fingerprints. We have chased paper for a couple months now. We have dreamed about our adopted child and birth-mother, so how could I possibly switch back to considering pregnancy without suffering through mixed emotions? It just would not fit the plan that is in action, the one that gives me a false sense of being in control. Emotionally I have opened up completely to this new plan, letting go of the dream of pregnancy as much as possible. It seems I am unable to let both live in my heart at once.

But letting both in is exactly what I need to do. Somehow I have to believe what will happen will happen, and open up to the possibility of either or neither actually occurring. This is what it feels like to live on the very edge of not knowing.

What would I have done if the test had been positive? Who knows, but crying is surely the number one response I would have expected.  And after a panic attack and some more tears, I probably would have felt happiness and my plan would once again have changed; because in all honesty, somewhere, deep down inside, I really do want to get pregnant again… someday.

But not today…


Author Bio:

Amy McCarter lives in North Carolinawith her husband and two greyhounds. Their only child, Liam, was born alive and apparently healthy on September 25, 2007, and was the joy of their lives. Liam died soon after birth due to unexplained/unknown causes, shattering their world and their hearts. Amy uses art and writing as an expression and release of her grief, and a way to honor the memory of her little man who is missed beyond words. She and her husband now hope to adopt domestically, and are waiting for their child to enter their lives. She maintains a blog showcasing her Creative Everyday Challenge at Surviving the Day Everyday ( as well as a blog of her adoption journey at Butterfly Kisses (

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  1. I remember this day. It seems so long ago! And I remember submitting this piece in Spring 2011, when our dreams of parenthood seemed so far way. Our adoption journey was silent. Our infertility present as always. I was quickly reaching a place of hopelessness again.
    It’s interesting to read how I thought I would react to a positive pregnancy test. Perhaps it was timing. Maybe desperation of another year or two added the calm I actually felt. I don’t know, but in August 2011 when I was late and took yet another pregnancy test fully expecting another negative but actually saw a positive I did not cry. I was not overcome with much of any emotion other than absolute disbelief and happiness. I laughed! I repeated the same words of shock and amazement over and over and over. It was not until November I actually cried tears about being pregnant … and those tears really let me begin to believe it was happening.
    Thanks for reading about my journey.

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