Every 28 days, always around this time in my monthly cycle, my hope gene starts working overtime. Yes I do have a very regular cycle, thank you for noticing. In case you are unaware, I can tell you that the hope gene encodes the hope protein which, in turn, triggers the hope activatory pathway. Even though many doctors have told me I almost certainly won't get pregnant, the hope gene has not been switched off and it certainly hasn't resulted in, what I'd really love, hope protein down regulation. Which, in an ideal world, would bypass the hope activatory pathway altogether.
Nine days ago an egg, or ovum if you want to be all fancy about it, left one of my ovaries, travelled down a fallopian tube (I'm betting it was my right one) and, whilst on its journey, may or may not have met up with one or more of my husband's sperm. What we can be pretty sure about is that, if they did meet, the big egg and the little sperm almost certainly didn't hit it off. I don't know who's got the issue and, if I could, I would get them together in a room or, as my embryologist does, a petri dish and force them to be friends or, better still, lovers.
And now, one week and two days after the magical release, I can't stop thinking "could I be pregnant?", even though deep down inside I know I'm not. This treadmill of hope and despair has continued now, with a brief interlude for an ill-fated pregnancy, for two years and seven months. It doesn't seem to matter how many times I sit on my toilet seat and watch transfixed, with tears in my eyes, as the blood red spots fall onto the soft white paper. But every single flaming time I pick myself up and I get over it. I promise myself that when it happens again, which it inevitably does, I will be stronger, better, harder, tougher. Blow it, I say to myself, next month I am going to be the Jane Eyre of infertility - there may be a crazy lady in the annex but it ain't going to phase me - until, of course, it does.
Last month I promised myself that, when I finally yield to the call of the little white siren hiding in the bathroom cabinet, I wouldn't dream of two perfect pink lines popping up instead of the usual lone crusader. I don't want to fantasise about a pregnancy that never happens, even if it is for just five minutes. But here I am dreaming on my sofa once again and, even as I am typing these words, my internal voice is whispering "this time you really might be". And of course it's right, I might be - except I know I'm not. So I could be pregnant. I could, I really could.