Every day in America a high school girl misses her period. She stares at the two lines on the stick and wonders what to do. A middle aged news anchor who thought she was beginning menopause looks at a similar stick, she got the pricey digital kind, and wonders how she should word her request for a sabbatical. For each of those two, probably another ten or more women of more standard child-bearing age gaze dejectedly at a stick with only one line. I can't tell you which is more depressing, but I avoid those sticks at all cost.
When I start bleeding this time, tonight or tomorrow, I'll move on to page 28 of the journal I started when I quit taking birth control pills. Every page is a monthly cycle. I circle the minus sign that represents a negative home pregnancy test on the chart. I draw a red line through the day of ovulation and write "O" in the upper right hand corner to separate those months from the months I didn't.
It took a long time to even get one of those "O"s. After that, I was more positive. I started to have severe pain the first day of my period, laughingly pointed out my failure. I would lie in bed with the heating pad, taking pills and feeling dejected.
Then PMS symptoms started to appear 10 days before I was due. My breasts would get painfully heavy, I would grow irritable, crave salty snacks and snap at my husband. All those typical early signs of pregnancy fooled me for a while.
I learned about herbs that regulate the menstrual cycle and started drinking a tea of red raspberry leaf, red clover, nettle, and oatstraw every day. The PMS symptoms began to abate.
I had blood tests drawn. My estrogen and progesterone levels were completely normal, but my TSH was high. My body wasn't making enough thyroid hormone. I started taking Synthroid every day. I learned that hypothyroidism causes infertility and early miscarriages. New hope.
Now my thyroid levels are normal too. My nurse practitioner says I'm healthy a horse. I keep taking my prenatal vitamins and drink the herbal tonic every day. This month, I don't suffer from PMS. Instead I start having strange dreams. In one my husband is shot by police. In another an itchy skin rash that I really have grows into an occlusive mass of growths, covering my body completely. Even my husband says I must be pregnant now. But today there is old brown blood on my panties. I'm sure I'll start bleeding soon.
I sound depressed about it and sometimes am I. But mostly, I'm just happy for a good life and a second (28th) chance to make it happen.
Life is good.
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