I Tried To Use Astrology To Get Pregnant. I Never Expected What Was Headed My Way.

The author with her partner, Andrew. "At the time Andrew and I were going to do IVF, the planets were up to something big."

“Any last questions before we start your IVF cycle?” my fertility doctor asked. I fiddled with my crescent moon necklace and scribbled a few notes onto the back of an envelope.

We ended the Zoom call, and I immediately consulted my Honeycomb astrology calendar, a spiral-bound notebook that tells me what the planets are up to. It was hidden the whole time on my lap, lest my doctor discover that his patient followed the stars the way he tracked my hormone levels.

I check my astrology calendar every morning, the way my partner, Andrew, scans the headlines in three newspapers. I’ve been into astrology ever since I went through my divorce seven years ago. To this day, I find comfort in the rhythms of planetary cycles and consider my astrology chart a road map for my life. I use it to take action. I might pitch an essay to a publication if lucky planet Jupiter is talking to creative goddess Venus. I’ll carve out time to meditate if rigorous taskmaster Saturn is in a Debbie Downer mood. Doing so makes me feel like I have more control over my future. (I have three planets in Virgo. What can I say? I’m a detail freak.)

Sometimes I’ll circle important dates in my astrology calendar, a habit I’ve often thought I’ve inherited from my father, a lifelong gambler who marks up his horse-racing forms in the same fashion. I wish he knew his birth time so I could do his astrology chart with more accuracy. As he likes to say: “If I knew it, I’d be playing it in the lottery.”

Although my dad didn’t like the odds of egg-freezing, he still bet on me and helped with the cost in the middle of my divorce so that I could do in vitro fertilization in the first place, which bought me more time to figure out my life.

Trying to get pregnant only deepened my interest in astrology. I discovered there is quite a bit of overlap between IVF and looking to the cosmo for signs or answers. In both, timing is everything. Ovulation occurs only at a certain time every month, and in IVF you have to take your medications at the same time every day. It’s the same in astrology. When planets align, you’ve got a window to make something happen. As it turned out, both were about to happen for me at the same time in a really big way.

When I was learning astrology, my mentor taught me to think about planetary movements in terms of stories: Whatever was occurring in my astrology chart would manifest somehow in my life. And as it turned out, at the time Andrew and I were going to do IVF, the planets were up to something big. The north node of the moon was about to align with my sun. In astrology, the north node represents evolution and growth, and the sun represents your identity. In human speak: Something pretty freaking big was heading my way. In looking at my astrology calendar and the timeline from the IVF center, I knew exactly what my story was: motherhood.

The author with her partner, Andrew. “At the time Andrew and I were going to do IVF, the planets were up to something big.”

Courtesy of Betsy Vereckey

I went ahead and ordered hormone shots. I picked up estrogen pills from CVS to regulate my cycle. I jotted down all my medical appointments in my iPhone calendar but was paying far more attention to my astrology calendar. The planets were lining up in tandem. IVF always felt so cold and impersonal to me. Having good astrological timing on my side felt like a behind-the-scenes gift from the universe, as if the stars had stepped in to help. You can prescribe the hormones, but we’re giving her the real magic!

I woke up one morning prepared to start my IVF cycle, but when I checked my phone, I had a bunch of missed calls from family in Ohio. My 80-year-old father had collapsed in the driveway and was in intensive care on a ventilator. He had a heart valve blockage and had been taken by an ambulance to the same hospital that had mismanaged my mother’s medical condition two decades earlier, contributing to her death.

Within a couple of hours, Andrew and I were on the road, driving toward Ohio. I deleted all the reminders for hormone injections and doctors’ appointments from my iPhone calendar. No need for them anymore. But my astrology calendar was still going, pointing me in a different direction.

After the doctors stabilized my father and took him off the ventilator, a doctor friend helped facilitate his transfer from our local hospital to the Cleveland Clinic, where we had rerouted my mother when it became clear that her condition was worsening. In hindsight, I always wished we had acted sooner with my mother. Maybe she’d still be alive if we had. I hadn’t known how to read an astrology chart back then. Would knowing the future have changed anything?

My mother hadn’t been admitted to the Cleveland Clinic with a heart issue, but when she was sick, my father and I slept on couches in that wing because it was one of the nicest spots in the hospital. One night toward the end of my mother’s illness, a nurse nudged me awake to tell me it was time to come say goodbye to her.

It surprised me how fresh those memories still were when I returned to the hospital many years later. I stood in line for coffee at Starbucks the way I had done back then, wandered through the same gift shop and paced around the fountain at the hospital’s entrance.

It rained the day of my dad’s surgery, which felt like a bad sign. I didn’t have an umbrella, and I arrived at the hospital drenched. A nurse gave me a pager and said it would light up when the procedure was over. I sat alone in the lobby and tried to meditate to take my mind off of the pager sitting in the middle of the table. I wondered what my dad’s astrology chart looked like that day, though I certainly knew what was going on with mine. The north node and my sun were making an alignment that very day.

After just 45 minutes, the pager rattled. How could his surgery have happened that fast? I was convinced that something had gone wrong.

I waited for an update from the doctor in a small, windowless room. A box of tissues sat on a nearby table, which felt like another bad sign. It occurred to me that I was supposed to be in a different hospital that day, having my own medical procedure. How wrong I was about my future.

The author with her dog Ronan, who accompanied her to Ohio, where her father was admitted to the Cleveland Clinic. "It surprised me how fresh those memories still were when I returned to the hospital many years later."
The author with her dog Ronan, who accompanied her to Ohio, where her father was admitted to the Cleveland Clinic. “It surprised me how fresh those memories still were when I returned to the hospital many years later.”

Courtesy of Betsy Vereckey

The minutes felt like hours. I nervously smoothed out the wrinkles in my black sundress, preparing myself for the worst. The doorknob turned. The doctor entered the room and shook my hand.

“The procedure went great,” he said. “Your dad is recovering right now. You can see him this afternoon.”

“Oh, thank God,” I said, grabbing a tissue.

I had been so sure that all the signs were pointing toward motherhood, and in a way they were but in a way I never expected. I thought I was going to have a baby, but in reality I was closing the loop on a story with my own mother, one that had haunted me all my life. By getting my father the medical care he needed, I was able to save his life, something I always wished I had been able to do for my mother.

Ever since, I’ve learned to loosen my grip on the future. I know where the planets are in the sky, but I’ve realized that I can’t control them. I still circle auspicious dates in my astrology calendar, but I don’t try to predict the exact outcome anymore. I focus on what could happen rather than what will happen. I’ve learned that it’s far better to leave some room for the universe to work its magic. The story you think is going to happen so rarely does, whether you believe in astrology or not.

I still don’t have children, and I don’t know what my future holds, but I believe in astrology more than ever. I believe that everything I’m going through will make sense one day, even if it doesn’t now. When I read charts for other people, I encourage them to stay open to all the possibilities. Astrology unfolds in mysterious ways. And for me, that’s the beauty of it.

Betsy Vereckey is an essayist, journalist and astrologer living in Vermont. She has recently completed a memoir. Learn more about her at betsyvereckey.com.

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