Excerpt from the memoir “How to Get a Girl Pregnant”

Excerpt from the memoir “How to Get a Girl Pregnant”

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Can I fill up the day with sixteen separate tasks so that I don’t think about waiting? Teaching, grading, meeting, walking, eating, gossiping, flirting, farting, joking, reading, riding, writing, running, sweating, drinking, breathing. Keep breathing. It seemed like a good insemination. The technician conducted an ultrasound on me as the doctor slipped the sperm inside. The doctor said she watched the little bright cloud of sperm swimming in the right direction. Sometimes they don’t swim the right way, like a school of fish, abruptly changing direction for no apparent reason. The doctor watches the fish swim away across the computer screen, a failed insemination, $1000 down the drain, for no apparent reason. I wonder what the doctor says to the woman in that case, with her legs up in the air harnessed to the stirrups. She told me, with great confidence, that the sperm swam the right way. But would she have said that if it wasn’t true? Does she simply stand there quietly if the perfectly planned procedure dissolves before her eyes?

Waiting is second-guessing every detail. I wouldn’t know if she was lying to me. She said it was a good insemination. I don’t know her or the profession well enough to understand when you need to be lied to. Perhaps I have a better chance at getting pregnant if I believe the sperm swam the right way. They’ve probably done research on that. Placebo pregnancies. In that case, I hope she did lie to me.

But the numbers were good as well. 3.5 x 10 million sperm. 89% motility. They’re excellent numbers. My egg at 1.86 cm, just on the verge of releasing. Those are great numbers. Add them all up and I’ve got an excellent chance at getting pregnant. None of those numbers were weak. Those are numbers that make the doctor smile when she talks to me. If I have all the right numbers, I should have a better chance at getting pregnant.

But all of the right numbers together don’t mean I will get pregnant. It takes something else. Something magical. Something bigger than numbers. I don’t know how to get it. All I’ve got are numbers running through my head. When I’m waiting, I count the numbers. I’ve always had an excellent brain for numbers. They stay perfectly clear in my mind, the curves, the sounds, the patterns, the relationships of the numbers. I can remember them for a lifetime. When I’m waiting, I trace over each one and remember its significance to the project. I especially remember the weak ones. They trouble me when I walk down the street, and I wish I could change them, make them stronger, and more useful. But this time, this waiting period, there are no weak ones.

The only thing that saves me is that I know the date I will find out. They give me the date of the pregnancy blood test before I leave the insemination. It is the most solid number I have. I can depend on it.

Pregnancy Test (two weeks later): Negative (-)

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