I’m expecting my period to start any day now, which means it will be time to start facing the reality of the FET. I’ve been both dreading and wishing for it: the uncertainty, the fear of failure again, the craziness of supplemental progesterone.

This afternoon, after a brief jog, I conducted a mini-ceremony for myself, to say goodbye to a February of Avoiding Reality: I showered and sheared shaved my legs for the first time since before the retrieval. (R. has been thrilled with that, let me tell you.) It was a quiet time of tending to myself, my body. I suppose I might have gone to church and prayed, or at the very least given my little Ganesh statue a nod of recognition. Oh, well: I am an imperfect pilgrim. (Obviously, if I’m mixing my religious traditions like that.)

This current cycle has been a natural cycle, without even birth control. I felt ovulation; I know exactly where I am in the usual pattern. For me, the luteal phase goes a bit like this:

  1. Within a few days after ovulation, the cramps start. They are vague and fade in and out.
  2. I google “implantation cramps.” I wonder if it’s possible for them to start two days after ovulation.
  3. The cramps continue. If it’s following a medicated cycle, I feel some extra twinges off to the sides. It’s fading ovarian cysts.
  4. I google “ovarian cysts early pregnancy.”
  5. The cramps fade out for an afternoon.
  6. I wonder if I imagined them to begin with. If maybe this cycle is different.
  7. The cramps return.
  8. I google “early pregnancy cramps” and begin to believe.
  9. The cramps return. They fade. They return.
  10. I believe.
  11. My mood crashes.
  12. My period arrives.
  13. I cry, wondering how I can possibly have hoped, after all this time.

This cycle, however, is different. No, not in that way. It’s that this time, I haven’t googled. I’ve recognized the impulse to hope, to wonder, to ask if maybe just maybe. I accept that I want to be pregnant so badly that I’ll fool myself into thinking it could be, just to have a few days’ comfort in believing and dreaming.

And I have stepped back. Otherwise, there is nothing different about this cycle.

Somehow, I’ve found peace in that.

This is not the same as accepting that I’ll never have children. I still don’t know how to wrap my mind around that, and the idea of it is devastating to me.

But it is accepting this cycle.

Of course, the cycle isn’t over yet. Tomorrow, the next day, maybe Wednesday. If I had to guess, today’s the final lull before reality.

My hope this time is that instead of desperate hope, I can instead try for peace.