When you're struggling with infertility, they stretch on forever. When you have slightly irregular cycles, it becomes a week-long limbo period.
Will this be the month? You ignore physical signs that your period is about to start, clinging to hope, knowing that it's likely only going to lead to disappointment. Do your breasts feel slightly tender? A slight wave of nausea crosses your stomach and you pray for morning sickness. Vomiting is suddenly something you wish for with all your might.
You sink into depression, certain that your period is about to start tomorrow, but you hold off on that glass of wine you use to console yourself until you see heavy blood.
You feel like a failure for being unable to do what your body is designed to do.
Your doctor tells you that there's nothing obviously wrong. Well-meaning people wink at you and tell you to "just relax" and "have some good times" with your spouse. Your mother laughs and tells you to not get up and shower so quickly. You clench your jaw and smile back. None of them know you started charting fertility cycles after the sixth month of infertility, that you've cut out caffeine completely, afraid that a simple Diet Coke might make a difference. Meanwhile 13, 14, 15 months tick by from the moment you went off birth control, hoping to start a family.
You look at the price of IVF and know you can never afford it in the face of your car loans, credit card debt, student loans. You look at adoption. The prices to adopt babies are even higher and involve invasive home inspections and interviews. The older children available for adoption from foster care in your area all need special circumstances that you can't meet.
You stare at your slightly messy house and think to yourself that it's a good thing you aren't having a baby as some days it takes it out of you to do laundry as it is. You hate yourself a bit for thinking it.
You spend your lunch break dreaming about holding a baby in your arms. You can't stop yourself from thinking what a baby might look like. You hate that you've picked out potential baby names in your head, with nicknames to call them when they are little. You picture phantom boys and girls at two, three, four and beyond. You imagine being a grandparent when you are old.
Your husband feels helpless and wishes he could do more.
You get your period and you cry for a while. You have a beer, which you enjoy and hate in equal measure. Then you call your doctor to get your monthly Clomid prescription, and try again, knowing that it will likely lead to the same sadness and despair. And you wonder how long you should go before you just give up.