Braced for Catastrophe (#214)

The cat asks, “Is the glass half-empty or half-full?”

Growing up amidst divorce, minimal resources, and tragedy, I learned not to be optimistic. I was always awaiting the next crisis. If my husband didn’t answer his phone, I was certain he’d been in a fatal car wreck. I sniffled as I planned that man’s funeral at least weekly.

When my husband and I agreed to try to get pregnant, I worried constantly about both having a child and raising one.

My husband had none of these fears. I wouldn’t say his life as a first generation Chinese-American was an easy one, but it wasn’t as chronically traumatic as mine.

If I mentioned that certain medications might decrease male fertility, he pooh-poohed my fears. “My guys are fine,” he insisted.

“You don’t know that,” I argued. “Look at Stevie Hollywood and JM – her whole life, she knew bearing children would be iffy. And then it was Stevie Hollywood turned out to have sperm that were dead in the water!”

“My guys are up to the job,” Andy told me.

“Okay, but are you? Judgmental Genius Doctor Sister said that even though Georgia Boy was the one hankering for a baby, he folded under the pressure of constant sex.”

“Wait. I thought we were only supposed to have sex every other day. We’re supposed to have it constantly?!” Andy scooped me up and shouted, “To the bedroom!”

I pounded on him until he put me down. “Every other day IS constantly!”

“I know you’re a writer,” Andy said, before adopting Inigo Montoya’s accent and telling me, “But I do not think that word means what you think it means.”

“Dude. I know what the connotations of ‘constant sex’ are to most women and I’m pretty sure every other day qualifies.”

“Huh. Well, I do not fold under the pressure of this so-called constant sex. I relish it. Want another demonstration?”

Clearly my husband did not lack confidence in his sexual prowess or his sperm.

After a month of trying, I didn’t get pregnant. “See?” I told Andy. “There’s something wrong. We’ll probably never get pregnant.”

“We’re gonna get pregnant. Stop worrying.”

“You know, I bet it’s your sperm. Because my mom got pregnant while on every form of birth control and we haven’t even had a single pregnancy scare and we’ve had sex for years.”

Andy rolled his eyes. “You told me your mom wanted to get pregnant and sabotaged her birth control methods. You’re gonna get pregnant. Stop worrying.”

“But what if it is your sperm? I guess we could use your brother’s sperm instead?”

“NO!” roared Andy. “It’s only been a month, it’s going to be fine. My guys are good.” Andy stomped to the refrigerator and pulled out a beer.

I cleared my throat and said, “You know, alcohol can have a detrimental impact on sperm count and sexual performance.”

Andy opened his beer bottle and took a deep, pointed swig.


I envied my husband his optimism (and his alcohol). For all that I came from the most fertile of mothers, I became certain I’d never get pregnant. I knew the universe had a sense of irony and it liked to fuck with me. Now that I was finally okay with having a kid, of course I wouldn’t be able to conceive. I tossed and turned every night for the next month.

“Trick question,” laughs the cat. “The glass is about to SHATTER ON THE FLOOR!” Because catastrophe is inevitable. Right?

Meanwhile, Andy snored blissfully away next to me. He was secure in his knowledge that things would turn out fine.

I wanted to beat his obviously misguided optimism out of him with a pillow. I settled for punching his arm and telling him to roll over when his snores got too loud.

At the end of the next month, right about the time my period was supposed to arrive, I started cramping while Andy was at work.

“Ha,” I grumbled. “I knew it. Not pregnant again.” Before I started popping Advil, though, I figured I’d better be sure there was no chance there was an embryo that could be damaged by medications.

I took a pregnancy test. Then I took another one, because I am the queen of overkill.

I left the pregnancy tests in the bathroom.

When Andy used the bathroom that evening, he came out holding the pregnancy tests in his hand and said, “Really?”

I said, “Yeah.”

And that’s when I realized that maybe, just maybe, my husband hadn’t been so optimistic about conception after all. Because as he gave me a hug, Andy also said:

“My guys made it!”


Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

43 thoughts on “Braced for Catastrophe (#214)”

  1. It’s almost unsettling how alike Andy and my husband are, he’s also super positive about the whole pregnancy thing…. Meanwhile I have contingency plans for backup plans and spend the evenings researching infertility.

    1. Yes, it was the news we were hoping for. I don’t know if you can say good because with every pregnancy there’s plenty of stress and worry and pain. So maybe “momentous” news? Life-changing news?

      Queen of Caveats, that’s me.

  2. Wow we finally get the big news!!!!! Congrats!!!! ??? (Or is that weird to say so late? Haha)

    So it took 2 months?? That’s quite good! You fertile woman, you.

    1. LOL, I know, I felt like sticking a disclaimer on the end that says, “Hey, this happened years ago, so congratulate if you want but you can pretend you’re reading a memoir or autobiography if that’s easier and less weird?”

  3. I loved this! I’ve always felt like I was the queen of catastrophe, planning out what I would do if (but mostly WHEN) terrible things would happen. I think this lead straight into my panic disorder, so I’m trying to get out of that mindset, but I totally feel you.

    I’m not working at the moment, and even though I’ve never had issue getting a job, of course this time around when I start looking no one will want me or I’ll get into a place with the worst boss and coworkers…yeah, I do it too.

    1. Yes, it’s a very difficult mindset to escape. Sometimes, after I’ve planned our escape from a SoCal wildfire/ North Korean Missile/ Zombie apocalypse, I turn to my husband and say, “What are you thinking about?’



  4. I thought I was a worrier and a planner, but compared to you, I’m a very carefree and happy-go-lucky person hahaha. I’ve thought about the possibility of infertility before, but being sure about it even before starting to try to get pregnant is a bit too much for me xD Anyway, it seems Andy is a good counterweight for you!

  5. What a tease of what’s to come…as usual you leave us hanging and hankering for more. Andy seems to hide self-doubt and his fears very well, which makes people like that hard to read. But if you’ve got a good sense of intuition, you have a good sense of intuition.

        1. Andy is very confident in math, driving, and cooking. (These are all things which his parents suck at.) When you internalize your Chinese Tiger Parents — or the critical voices of any parent who finds constant faults in anything less than perfection — there’s always going to be self-doubt.

  6. Congratulations! You’re so brave! Best wishes! I am a 100% Chinese constantly having to deal with societal pressure yet I’ve decided to be child-free. If my husband decides to dump me for a younger woman one day, I’ll spend all my savings on round the world trip then settle down in a nunnery. I already have a well thought out plan 🙂

    1. GOOD FOR YOU! It’s not easy to go against society and parents, but I have such respect and admiration for those who actually give serious consideration to having children, rather than blindly following the dictates of society and biology. Really, the world needs more people like you. Also free birth control on every street corner.

  7. Wonderful news Autumn! And I am with you on feeling that catastrophes are seemingly doomed to strike me at times…but it’s always good to see something positive happening to someone I like. Cheers!

    1. Thanks, Jocelyn! Yes, you’ve had your share of catastrophe. I think those of us who lost a parent young are always swiveling our heads, trying to make sure there’s not another train of tragedy bearing down on us.

  8. oh God! I’m so excited for you guys! I’ve been rooting for your reading the recent posts and finally got the news you (OK, WE because I’m emotionally involved in this) were waiting for!

    I’m so happy for you I literally made weird, excited sounds in front of my work computer!

    Yay, yay, yaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

    1. Aw, thanks! There is no greater compliment than having someone make weird noises in public while reading your blog. It’s usually laughter, but hey, I take what I can get! 🙂

  9. Ever since the “let’s have a baby” talk started, I’ve been looking for clues. As soon as I read about Andy getting hurt, I was all over him: “What the heck Andy, how can you make a baby if you can’t move?” Then I realized that the timeline may be different, the accident seemed like it happened in current time, and the blog lags behind, so for all we know, you may already have a baby. And I got back at Andy: “WTF Andy! Be careful, people depend on you!” And then a bunch of posts with bunnies and oranges and other stuff came along. Oh, look, they stayed home during the holidays, even though Autumn likes snow. Maybe it’s because they have a baby and can’t travel. OR… it’s because Andy can’t f-ing move. He doesn’t walk the dogs, he doesn’t maintain his joint flexibility, he dehydrates his tendons with his beer drinking… But I was still hoping, waiting for the story when Autumn makes a cake and Andy finds a little porcelain baby hidden in the cake, or Andy finally can walk in the yard and he is crazy with joy when he sees a topiary in the shape of a baby, something Autumn has been secretely working on for a week, or at least he gets a blanket with “Start saving for my college, daddy” inscription. But all came down crashing under two pee sticks. felt great to read the “news” ! Well done, Andy! And now, please be careful!

    1. Oh, my God, that is a truly hilarious comment, Maple. I wish I’d thought of the topiary. That would have been brilliant except he would have said something like “Why does our azalea bush look like a basketball?”

      Yes, this year we stayed home because Andy couldn’t move. Probably because of dehydration due to beer drinking screwing with his tendon. Although when Jeremy Lin snapped his I did begin to wonder if it was a Chinese thing…

      1. Or maybe the compound effect of Chinese drinking beer:

        And I have to confess that I debated long and hard about congratulating both of you, given the fairies stories and such, so I’ll wait and enjoy your amazing writing during the journey! If you ever need someone to make sure your manyscript’s pages are in order, I gladly volunteer; remember, I have an eye for numbering in correct sequence 🙂

        1. Andy is horrified by Lin’s beer of choice and longer thinks it’s cool to have a ruptured tendon in common with him!

          Thank you for the very nice compliment on my writing. It’ll keep me motivated if I get stuck with jury duty again this week. It’s like I’m legally cursed, I swear.

  10. I told baby donor through a text message. As stupid as it is, I didn’t think I could get pregnant because of my weight. Surprise, surprise I was. I live with my folks; my mom suspected I was pregnant; me, In denial. Took one pregnancy test which came out positive and let him know through text message that I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. Went to a doctor and called to let him know that I am pregnant; said something along the lines of ” you are going to be a father.”. Because our son wasn’t planned, I don’t think he was thrilled at all at my news. All he worried about is school, and that I got pregnant at the wrong time.

  11. As far as I recall, he never expressed interest in pregnancy or talked about our future son; was never excited either. If you have had a successful pregnancy, I sincerely hope you didn’t go through what I went through…

    1. No, Andy was the one leading the charge to have a baby and he was thrilled beyond measure. Exactly the kind of dad any child should have. I am so sorry you didn’t. Do you think the sperm donor will be sorry some day?

      1. I hope so but doubt it…baby donor is in Guam right now, and only once a month,- yes once a month!- does he communicate with our son via Skype . Our son is almost two. He doesn’t email or ask about him other times.

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