The Rollercoaster stood before me in all its radiant glory. I had examined it. Towering above me the sun shone behind my Everest with its scarlet paint job and sleek lines; it was my Goliath. I had waited for this time for what felt like forever.
Adorned with a neon LA Gear fanny pack and a liberal spray of Aqua Net, I stood there; my moment had arrived. That day the Viper Rollercoaster at Magic Mountain welcomed me in, as my head finally reached above the designated height to ride.
I stood below the ride and anticipated my chance to walk through the turnstiles. I had waited long enough for my cheeseburger to digest so that I would not lose it, and I had chosen my riding partner. I was ready.
Finally my group was at the front of the line. I stepped into the cart, pulled the lap belt across my lap, and wondered how that small strap was going to keep me from flying into oblivion when we plummeted down. I wondered why this moment had caused me so much anticipation and questioned what on earth I was doing.
As the train inched forward, my palms started getting sweaty and the cheeseburger didn't feel so settled anymore. We reached the first crest, and I could see all the splendor of Valencia in Southern California. Anticipatory panic met jitters and a healthy smattering of consternation. I was ready for the thrill of a lifetime.
We passed over the top of the hill and plunged down several stories to what felt like our death below. Much to my surprise, we survived the fall and progressed along the track to the double look and corkscrew. In a matter of forty-five seconds, I experienced a plethora of emotions that left my legs weak and my adrenaline clamoring for more punishment.
Little did I know that years later I would be standing toe-to-toe with another behemoth. It carried with it a similar allure and beckoned me with a promise that my dream would come true--a dream that my quiver would be full. I had watched others enjoy the same ride. I felt like I had been patient waiting for my opportunity. The time was right.
Fifteen years after my moment at Magic Mountain, my husband and I embarked on another adventure, with hands clasped, unaware of what was ahead.
As we strapped in for the ride, we knew the possibility of bumps and hoped for nausea. What we did not fully foresee was the overabundance of emotions that would confront us along the way. This new rollercoaster did not boast a forty-five second ride; instead, it was a twenty-eight-day cycle.
I rode the ride and subsequent emotions consecutively for months on end. Days one through fourteen, I was blissfully hopeful. I harnessed into the rollercoaster with butterflies in my stomach, awaited the journey ahead, and anticipated that this would be the month. The dream was birthed anew at the start of every cycle, and I would be daily optimistic. A glutton for emotional punishment.
Then came the sex. The we're-making-a-baby kind of sex that was a juxtapostition of "I've never felt so connected to you" and "This is just a means to an end to make us a family of three" and every complexity in between. I would approach the first crest of the rollercoaster and would wait, about to drop into apathy, fear, and emotions masquerading as hope.
I would arrive at the corkscrew, and upside down, I would go. I didn't know which way was up anymore. I would covertly touch my breasts throughout the day, hoping I would find some new tenderness. Nausea and exhaustion were welcome guests that I may have psychosomatically generated in my hopeful reality. I remember wishing that my husband would notice changed emotions and extra hormones, suggesting that we had triumphantly changed our lives. For the first time in my life, I hoped that my pants would be too snug. I remembering wishing that that was a more obvious signal that would announce one's womb was full of life. Why couldn't my belly button just turn purple, my eyes change color, or my perspiration smell like a lily field? No? Too much to ask? Awesome, I'll just pee on a stick instead.
Inevitably, one of two outcomes happened. Either my monthly visitor obnoxiously arrived, much to my chagrin, or Aunt Flo was postponed and we dipped into our lifetime supply of pregnancy sticks to test the successful meeting of my egg and his sperm. Those moments squatting over the plastic stick confront you with their own set of optimism and fear.
If the stick reads pregnant, off the roller caster you go, skipping arm-in-arm into your future dream come true. If the test reads not pregnant, then you have to endure the pain of your menses while you wait in line to get back on the roller coaster.
Each month the cycle and the romanticism of the process lose its appeal more and more. It becomes less of an experience to dread and more of a practice of dread.
Each woman on this rollercoaster shares the experience of the cycle. What differs, however, is how she experiences it and what emotions she encounters.
-Excerpt from "Not Pregnant: A Companion
for the Emotional Journey of Infertility"