I envied every mother, every pregnant woman. It seemed to me that every woman in town was with full belly and I imagined that all they needed to do was lay on the street corner and they'd conceive before the light changed. I lost perspective. I lost my mind. I became a woman I did not want to be. I was driven to conceive. Still my OB found me exceedingly patient. She declared that most women my age would rush to IVF without hesitation. Didn't I hear my biological clock ticking? Didn't I realize how much time I was wasting with IUIs? Sure we were getting the sperm up past my questionable cervix, but what made me think that would be enough?
My clear blue easy kit became my companion. She reassured me that my body was well, that hormones rose and surged as they should. Acupuncture needles pierced my skin twice a week and I daily forced down herbs that smelled like rot. Each month I ovulated, was inseminated, and then waited for the day when I could take that test. Month after month, I lay on the table and studied my ovaries, my uterus. Month after month, I lay on the table and received the needles that were meant to balance me. My blood was drawn regularly for hormone levels and for the ultimate news. Each month I learned that the answer was no, not yet. I was not returned to that mother place. And then I began to count the days all over again. Each month I waited longer and longer to take the test, no longer the first day possible, I'd wait until the day of my anticipated period. Without fail, it would come. After the procedure, bleeding was no longer an issue.
My acupuncturist thought I needed more time, different herbs, frequent acupuncture treatments. The RE stayed firm on IVF. My OB echoed the advice. No one believed I would get pregnant again this way. I tried to tell myself each month that this would be the month but I started to mistrust my body. I waited at the edge of the world of mothers, the old pains so close and fresh, my life scented with mother longing, my skin branded with mother loss. I no longer saw myself when I looked in the mirror. I began to lose myself piece by piece. My acupuncturist taught me how to use moxa so that I could heat the conception points daily. The herbs are rolled into a cigar and smell similar to marijuana. Aaron worried that people in his office might think he was a pot head. He asked me to do the treatments outside. I marked my body with a pen in each of the locations, then slowly warmed the dots. I tried to imagine that I cultivated the divine through this work. It gave me comfort and a sense of purpose. The herbs became stronger. I nearly vomited each time I brewed them. With the first sip, I usually did. I bribed myself with the promise of m&m's if I could finish the whole cup.
Nearly a year passed from the time when I had last conceived. That time everything was so easy. We wanted a child and conceived one. Now I was racing back and forth to the doctor's office to try to make our baby. Another month. My kit said it was time, so I called my RE. He was out of town so my OB agreed to "handle the situation." Aaron met me at her office. I crawled up onto her table. She told me that she preferred to use the tenaculum rather than just slipping the catheter past the cervix. Sweat immediately formed on my brow. Just hearing the word made me want to race from the room. I tried to lay still, to clench my shirt between my teeth. Aaron held me down. Memories of the cervical scraping haunted me. When it was finally over, my OB advised me to go home and have a glass of wine. All night, I bled. All night, I cried.
It was another cycle and I dared to hope. There was always something just a little off according to the experts. "Not enough yin, too much yang," said one. "Too little lining," the OB offered. "Too much stress," said Aaron and my friends. I needed a mother, someone to cement me together with some old-fashioned mothering.
This is where I was when I decided to advertise for a mother. As soon as I realized this, accepted this plan, my breath slowed. "Yes," I told Aaron. "I will advertise for a mother." If I could find a mother, then perhaps my child would come as well. All would be in balance.
I saw the mothers lining up, one after the other. I stood on that street corner and this time I would fall. I wouldn't linger there watching. I was stirred to tumble, to be swept into someone's arms. A mother's voice telling me all would be well: I needed it until I could find the reserves in myself.