Posted by: Kate | February 14, 2008


Yeah, yeah, Valentine’s Day.  I’m neither here nor there about it; the kids and I make cards for their classmates, and they wear red to school.  Willem and I don’t exchange gifts, because he’s been well and truly indoctrinated into my mantra: “Flowers on some random Tuesday mean a lot more than a gift on a commercialistic arbitrary holiday that Hallmark has been reminding you about for a month.”  I’m not bitter about it, just not impressed, either.

But red does figure prominently in my day.  As has been mentioned before, Willem passed his comprehensive exams.  This is a big deal for him, both because it reaffirms his competence and intelligence (he seems to be the only person on earth who had any doubts about either one), and because it’s the last one-try-only hurdle for grad school.  He still has to pass a few classes and complete a minor and write a dissertation, but each of those carry the possibility of drafts and do-overs.  So the end is in sight, and everything on the first try.  Wicked smahhht, as we say in the Northeast.  Plus I can safely ignore him whenever he gets pessimistic about his likelihood of failure ever again for the rest of his life.

It’s also a big deal for me, because it means that we have a green light to try and increase the world population by one.  (We won’t consider the possibility of twins, because while I know I could handle it, the idea scares the bejeezus out of me.)  I’d been waiting, before, because when Willem is studying for comps,  he gets isolative and stressed, and frankly when I’m pregnant I want a little extra attention and fawning when I’m growing another human being.  Not to mention chocolate and foot rubs.

With this in mind, I thought I’d throw out a warning, to those of you with faint heart or weak stomachs.  This is my blog, which reflects most of the most important things in my life, not to mention any number of unimportant things.  And one of those things is the whole pregnancy experience.  I plan on writing about it, because it’s going to consume my brain for a good long time anyway, and sometimes I’ll be fairly blunt with it.  I won’t go out of my way to gross you out, but I’m also not going to censor myself for fear of upsetting a delicate temperament.  So, just, read with caution.  Fair enough?

Because this morning, my body gave me its own little Valentine’s Day present: my first period since April 2007.  Back then, my job changed insurance carriers, and my regular birth control patch went from $10 a month to $50 a month.  Way too steep, when there were other, less exorbitant options out there.  So I switched to a pill called Kariva; similar to your average birth control pill, except that there’s no week off or sugar pills – you take a pill every day of the month and get estrogen’n’stuff every day of the month.  In theory, this could have led to fewer migraines for me, but in reality we haven’t been able to identify a trigger for the headaches and I was getting them at the same rate as ever.  But whatever, it kept me from getting knocked up when I didn’t want to get knocked up, so I stuck with it.

After a few months, though, I noticed another side effect: I stopped getting periods.  At all.  I still had a week of emotional dysregulation and odd cravings (um, yeah, PMS) once a month, but no period. Which could be nice under some circumstances, but I’m of a mindset that if the body is set up to do a certain thing on a regular basis, then I’d kind of like that thing to happen as scheduled.  I have no idea why this happened, whether I wasn’t ovulating or my uterus was on vacation or what.  It just didn’t happen, and my OB-GYN knew about it and was unconcerned, so I dealt with it.  I knew we were planning to try to conceive sometime this year, so I didn’t want to spend a few months trying different pills only to drop them altogether; instead I just dealt with the oddness of it all and went on with my life.

So, a month ago, I took my last pill.  And waited.  And waited.  And used some small latex accessories during marital relations because we weren’t quite ready to conceive just yet, and Willem and I have a bit of a reputation for overfertility.  All five previous pregnancies (two kids, three losses) happened while I was on the pill, so it kind of feels like a bit of a farce, like we’re pretending we have some control over the situation but really we’ll just end up with more kids whenever the universe so dictates.  It’s a running joke that there are certain times when we don’t dare make eye contact or wash our underwear together, just in case.  But, for once, this time, we didn’t get pregnant when we weren’t planning on it.  (Interestingly enough, aside from the very first time when I was 19, each pregnancy – successful or not – was immediately preceded by a “Hey, let’s think about having a (nother) baby,” and before the month was out, BANG.)

And here we be.  I’m not pregnant now, and I know this for sure because in true V-Day style, my girly parts have revved up and started doing their thing once again.  I’m not thrilled, because frankly it’s neither fun nor comfortable, but I’m also very thrilled, because it means things are working as they should be, and that means that maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to plan a pregnancy for once.



  1. When I was younger I used to intentionally skip my period all the time by skipping the inactive pills in the pack and starting a new pack of active pills. It was nice to have some control over that little inconvenience once in a while.

    Hubs and I are trying to get pregnant for the first time right now too (well, not RIGHT now – I’m at work). I look forward to reading your adventures in pregnancy, as heaven-willing, you and I will be experiencing this at the same time.

  2. Good luck Kate although it sounds like you may not need it. Gotta tell ya! I can’t say how happy I am that since my surgery, I no longer surf the crimson wave! w00t! yaya!

  3. I feel as you, about forced flowers and gifts. We part, in part, as you know, on Christmas. I’ll say this, if I knew it was important to someone, regardless, then what the heck, time to shop.

    Gee, I’m glad that it requires more than sitting around making eye contact for us all. Hardly fun. Although demanding, Look At Me! during an argument would take on a whole, new meaning.

    The eggs are rolling again, go look at Willem 😉

  4. Ha, we’re on the same cycle. Hopefully, you won’t have to deal with it again for nine months or so.

    Happy V Day!

  5. We are part of the fertile crew too. Steve and I are scared to shake hands certain times of the month. I can’t wait until another baby comes into your & our lives. Waiting for the pregnancy stories already!

  6. I remember the days when having a monthly visitor was a wonderful reminder of maybe more children. And I’m so totally a Sicilian peasant that it doesn’t take much to knock me up.

    Now, it’s just irritating. I hope you get everything you hope for out of your vacation.

  7. A nice little November baby???

    Let the fun begin. We’ll be pestering you in a few week to test!!

  8. The concern I always had about going months and years at a time with no period was that when I finally *did* have one, it would basically flood the world. I mean, that stuff builds up, doesn’t it? Or is that all in my head?

  9. Thanks for the good-lucks!

    Beverly, I say the same thing to people if they ask – “Well, yes, we’re trying… but not *right now*.”

    Paul, I hear you on the shopping for the other person – if Willem was all mushy and Valentinish, it’d be off to the store. But I wouldn’t be able to resist rolling my eyes.

    Stephanie, a Sicilian peasant! Hee hee hee… I hadn’t heard that particular term, but I know precisely what it means.

    And Markira, it does creep me out. I worked hard not to think about it.

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