The baby making started one Saturday afternoon, sitting in our very cool Seattle condo, the one with the herbs growing on the tiny lanai and the Trader Joe's across the street. Within walking distance was the gym where I spent no less than six hours a week, amazingly good and affordable restaurants, killer views, concerts, and half a dozen coffee shops. My husband and I did whatever we wanted. At 27, I felt the pressure of my biological clock. No one in my mother's family had made it past 20 before popping out at least one offspring. My mother-in-law had started referring to our cat as her only grandchild -- maybe because we kept the kitty's portrait in a gilded frame on the mantle of the flip-a-switch gas fireplace.
It was time.
Had there been a good movie playing that weekend, or a band we hadn't yet seen, or maybe a special on design-your-own burritos, we might have delayed our decision. Instead, on a rainy Saturday with nothing better to do, we decided to have a baby. Apparently, we were that bored. Who could blame us? We had spent endless days riding ferries and mountain bikes, while sipping coffee in every incarnation. We had enjoyed countless temperate evenings on the lawn under the Space Needle with those excessive burritos and craft beer. We had two jobs and one car. What more could we possibly need?
Once we had committed to the task, there was no retreat. We spent the first day of our journey engaged in lighthearted procreation banter and a few practice runs. The next day, we began preparing for our task in earnest, starting at the bookstore because this was long before Google. Try to imagine a time, less than 20 years ago, when every answer was not immediately accessible at your fingertips. In order to learn about a topic in-depth, you had to go to a library or a bookstore. And, boy, did we learn that day.
"It says here there is only a 20 percent chance of getting pregnant each month," I told John.
Suddenly, all those years playing defense against the ever-persistent sperm brigade seemed a monumental wasted effort. According to the drawings and descriptions of the complex and interdependent biological processes involved, getting pregnant was nearly impossible.
I became a woman obsessed. Oh, yes, this was going to happen. I am nothing if not an achiever. After consulting a few more books and a few friends, I decided daily sex was the answer. Ten days in a row, to be precise. We would practice the rhythm method in reverse. Because one never knows exactly when an egg will drop, I was determined to provide all-day-every-day access to sperm, whenever my egg decided to descend. All I needed was a steady supply of sperm for a three-day window before and after the projected ovulation day. It's a common calculation.
I might have made a spreadsheet.
John and I had heard it could take several months after I stopped taking the pill for me to get pregnant. No worries. Our concentrated sex schedule would pay off sooner or later. Surprisingly, ten-day-in-a-row sex is not that fun. Maybe a sure thing kills a mood, or maybe we just weren't that good at it. Regardless, after the first few days, the magic was gone. Still, we'd committed to the process.
"Come on," I said to him on Night Eight. "It's go time." By that point, conception was a mission. Lingerie and sweet words not required.
"Really?" He looked at me, at the bed, at my scrappy sweatpants. "Let's sit this one out."
Sit it out? Was he insane?
"You know the drill. Ten days in a row." I pulled back the sheet. "Do you want to have a baby or not?"
Suit up -- or in this case, don't -- or get out.
"So what if it's not this month?" he said.
Oh, no, buddy.
We had a system. We had a deadline. The project might have become less about getting pregnant and more about accomplishing a goal.
"Listen," I said. "We can skip tonight if you want, but when your child one day comes complaining to you that he can't go out with his friends because he doesn't turn 21 until next month, well, that's on you."
I'm seductive like that.
And so it was done.
A few weeks later, on a rainy Saturday, I peed on a stick and got the blessed two lines. Just as I had planned.
This is an excerpt from Lela Davidson's forthcoming essay collection, Faking Balance: Adventures in Work and Life, to be published in September 2015.