The Predetermined Path

“I’ll be right back,” the doctor told me. My feet in stirrups, my sit-bones teetering over the metal edge of the table, my lower back and upper ass stuck to the paper sheet. Call me hysterical, but I do not much enjoy the spread-eagle position while my gynecologist leaves unexpectedly to do something mysterious elsewhere.

I know I shouldn’t have, but I’d stayed up late the night before, reading everything on WebMD about the fertility-confirming procedure I was having, called a hysterosalpingogram. Vast numbers of Internet commenters warned me it could be painful. Very painful. Like screaming painful.

So why couldn’t I go under for it? Why didn’t they offer me Valium? What if they shot that dye into my tubes and we found out — the hard way — that I was all blocked up? Why couldn’t they send a robot camera in there? It was the year 2001, for God’s sake. Perhaps we lacked spinning space stations staffed by silent women serving serious men to the strains of The Blue Danube, but we did have some nifty medical tech.

Instead, no. I sat there fully conscious and trembling for at least 20 minutes, without a soul to check in on me. I spent that time increasingly certain that my wild-oat-sowing past would come back to haunt me. That everyone on the gynecology floor of Kaiser would know: BARREN. WOMAN. ALONE.

My husband was not there with me that morning. Nor was he there for the two IUI’s — aka Intrauterine Inseminations — I did, to hurtle his somewhat sluggish sperm toward my blessedly unblocked tubes. That’s right. They were fine. And the procedure did not hurt. But I didn’t have someone there to hold my hand. To relieve my fears. To accept me despite my well-sown oats.

I always assumed my path in life was predetermined. I would do well in school, do middling in my career, pretty okay in love. I’d trap and marry someone well-enough-off to support me while I bore our requisite 2.675 children.

I strayed a bit from that conformist route. Did well in school, check. Work had gone fine, too. But in love – mostly lust – I exceeded expectations. I left a trail of hearts and bodies. Dropped mine, couldn’t find it, married someone for their soul and intellect, felt safe for a while.

Tried to get pregnant.

Dreamed increasingly of old flames and new crushes. Cheated. Didn’t tell a single soul, not my therapist, not even my bestie, who insisted, “The reason why you’re not getting pregnant is because you don’t want his seed!”

She was right, in a way. We were divorced a year later, thankfully before any children were born.

I’ve come to realize my reasons for leaving him were twofold: FOMO (I settled too early) and out of anger about our unresolved infertility. I loved him, he loved me. But I would never forgive him for failing to accompany me through the scariest detours on our journey as a couple.


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