Tonight’s dinner table conversation actually started a few days ago:
My mom invited you over for fertility chicken, Chris said.
Part of me didn’t want to know, remembering a few years ago when mother in law’s experiment with spaghetti sauce went wrong. Very wrong. The other part of me has learned in the baby-making game to play along, pretend like you want it – all of it – you want to eat it, hear about it and entertain the thought of it because, I have learned, resistance will get you nowhere. For example, if your mother shares with you the details of her friend’s daughter’s ovaries, cysts, uterus, menstrual cycles or lack thereof – you could pretend not to hear this but it would be very difficult considering the fact that she shares this information every time she sees you.
Which makes me wonder what the heck she is sharing about me.
"We’re not even sure she has a uterus."
Back to the fertility chicken. I had to admit, I was curious about this delicacy but not so curious that I wanted to be the first to try it. Conveniently enter the sister-in-law who is also trying to make the baby. And could also use a serving of fertility chicken.
Monday night, Chris and I sat down for dinner. Which implies that I actually made dinner. I had an idea – at 9 am – that I should make dinner tonight. I don’t know what came over me but for some reason chicken chili sounded good. I started pulling up some recipes when I started to get confused by too many tablespoons of this, pinches of that so I said screw it. I’m just going to wing it instead. How hard could it be to make chili? I threw a bunch of stuff from the category of things you-might-find-in-chili into the crockpot. But not just any crockpot. Yes, folks, this is the crockpot that I won for placing 1st overall amateur at Steelhead over two years ago.
Crockpot: finally out of the box.
400 watts, 8 different cook settings and a timer. If only it could make coffee, it would be my dream machine. I pulled the behemoth of an appliance on to the kitchen counter and commenced chili making. Turned it on and about 8 hours later I had some good eating there. Not too shabby of a prize for 4 hours and 40 minutes of hard racing.
Chris arrived home and almost shat himself upon finding dinner made so we actually had a dinner conversation that consisted of more than just “what do you want to eat”, “I don’t know what do you want to eat”, “I don’t know, why does food have to be so hard”, “I don’t know” and this conversation usually ends in the same place with Chris saying:
This is where human kibble would come in handy.
No kibble tonight, we were eating chili.
My sister brought the fertility chicken for lunch today.
Inside I laugh. And I feel really sorry for her. It must be much easier to eat something like fertility chicken when surrounded by other infertile people. I should have been there for her and accepted a heaping serving. Then it hits me: I wonder if they made her eat double. Like there was so much left over she had to eat her serving and mine. Even worse, I wonder if there are hazards to eating too much fertility chicken. Superovulation? Growing a third breast? Twins?
How did she like it, I ask Chris. I have to know.
Chris pauses, looks up over his bowl of chili and says to me, grimacing:
It didn’t smell very good.
There’s a surprise.
What was in it?
Chris tells me he doesn’t really know but rumor has it that his grandmother went to the store the other day and came back with some tree bark, dried mushrooms and some stuff.
What kind of stuff?
He gets a little frazzled with all the questions: I don’t know, stuff that you put into fertility chicken.
His frazzledness doesn't stop me. I press on for more information. It's not every day that someone makes fertility chicken. So I need to know: how was it made?
He then explains the process: She steeped it all in a pot for about 8 hours and then added some….something like…soy sauce.
Wait a minute: Chris, do you really think the fertility chicken called for soy sauce?
He looks at me, quizzically.
Don’t you think that your grandmother just put in the soy sauce because she’s Chinese?
He looks at me with you’re-probably-right-eyes.
My mom wants you to come over and eat some of it.
And as much as I appreciated the gesture, I couldn’t lie. It’s going to take something much more than a chicken cutlet to cure me. If only it were that easy. I peed on seven OPK sticks this week and do you know I found? Yet again, nothing. NO – THING. Which means that all these years of cycles, all lies. LIES LIES LIES. Nothing is really happening. It’s like my uterus is an accessory. Like a purse. You put stuff into it but otherwise it serves no purpose. I’ve got me a Louis Vitton here.
The conversation turns, as it should when you discuss things like this over dinner, to basketball. Tomorrow night Chris is going to a basketball game. I give him a quick primer in what is basketball – tall men, orange ball, bounce up and down, run back and forth along court.
And, Chris? Ball goes into the hoop.
Chicken chili is consumed. Then Chris washes the pots and pans. Coincidentally, every time I get up to wash the pots and pans Chris says, no, let me do it and then I have to regretfully turn over a mess of pots and pans to him.
Turns out that I’m not very good at washing pots and pans. You should know that I’m also not very good at putting laundry away, taking out the garbage, taking Boss out after 9 pm on really cold nights, cleaning showers or changing light bulbs.
As Chris washed, I sat at the table thinking about fertility chicken. What makes a chicken breast…fertile? It’s existential questions like this that make me turn to the internet. I wondered if this fertility chicken was something everyone knew about so I did a quick search in Google. It turned up a fertility food blog with – you guessed it – a recipe for fertility chicken. The ingredients? Chicken, mushrooms and bell peppers.
Oh crap. Do you know what this means?
Grandma clearly mixed up bark with bell peppers. This is like using soy sauce in spaghetti sauce. Trust me, the results could be disastrous. If my sister in law starts growing a penis, I’d question the bark.
And this is how I found myself in The Fertile Kitchen. Better than any ordinary kitchen, this kitchen was a cozy online nook of pots, pans and estrogen. Endometriosis. Fibroids. Polyps. And other things that just make you want to run right out and cook up a batch of: Spicy Garbanzo Beans. True, they make you fertile.
After a few minutes of reading the site, imagine my disappointment when everything said to improve fertility involves giving up one of my favorite things; no coffee, no sugar, no dairy, no wine. In fact, they said that one glass of wine a week can decrease your chances of conception by 40 percent! In that case, just in this last week alone I’m already 120 percent in the hole.
It is news like this that makes me want another glass of wine.
DAMMIT! There goes another 40 percent.
Instead the site suggested I eat a giant helping of common sense: lots of whole foods, no white foods, avoid pollution and avoid stress. Eat the fertility foods. And lots of healthy fats. Cognitively restructure what I think about my own fertility. And add to it acupuncture, meditation, visualization and yoga. And then in the spare 3 minutes I have each day, have sex.
Ironically, the math works out just about right.
When I reached the paragraph about shielding myself from negative thoughts, I stopped reading. This can’t be that hard. It’s like making chili, do I really need a recipe? Screw it, I thought, I’m just going to wing it.
Chris, if you had to write the recipe for fertility chicken, what would you put in it?
He looked at me while washing the 10 foot cover that goes over the 10 x 10 x 10 crock pot capable of not only slowcooking for 9 hours but giving my dog a warm bath. Seriously, it’s just that big. Meanwhile, Chris takes the question seriously, as he does with most facetious questions I pose to him. And after a pause long enough to give the question adequate thought, he says:
A large animal’s cock and balls.
At the minimum.
As he continued to scrub the crock pot cover, he rambled on about the other ingredients which included adding the bark of something.
Every recipe for love involves a piece of bark, he said. I had no idea if this was indeed fact but he said it with such authority that if he told me it also required a dash of soy sauce I’d believe him too.
Bark...something about it making you strong as wood.
I laughed. Because what else can you do after having a conversation with your husband about fertility chicken. Or being invited by over by your mother in law to eat that chicken. Or hearing about everyone else's uterus. You can only laugh. Because the last I checked, fertile or not - laughter is – and always has been – the best medicine.
So, straight from my fertile kitchen here, if you are trying to make the baby, laugh. Laugh at yourself and with yourself. And if I wake up tomorrow pregnant, you know what I’m thinking..
I just found a new recipe to send to The Fertile Kitchen: Fertility Chili.