Three things have happened in the last few days to give me more optimism about my situation.
1) First (and most excitingly) I asked my favorite professor to be my Oral Exam committee chair, and she agreed!
(For those unfamiliar with the doctoral process, Orals are the qualifying exam that mark the point between coursework (classes) and the dissertation. At my university, they consist of three reading lists of 30-40 texts a piece (so roughly 100 works total) that you choose in conjunction with your three examiners (the professors who are your advisers, who administer your exam, and who will probably read your dissertation). You base these lists around your research interests, read and draw connections between them for several months, and then at the end there's a two-hour Oral Exam, wherein your examiners ask you questions about (potentially) any of the books you were responsible for reading.)
I am legitimately stoked to start reading and prepping for my Orals. Months to devote to delving deeply into Romantic and early-Victorian narrative poetry and novels just sounds like an awesome way to pass the time. My adviser is both brilliant and kind, and I am thrilled to be working with her on Jane Austen, Lord Byron, Walter Scott, and a bunch of other late-18th/early-19th century writers.
I had sort of seized on early February as my potential Orals date, but my adviser thought I could (and should) finish earlier. So now my mental endpoint is November. As in 9 months from now. As in, if I'm not pregnant right now. Which is great! Because if/when I get AF this month I can console myself with the fact that I don't have to delay my exam.
2) The second thing that happened is a result of my Lenten resolution to do nice things for pregnant people. I spoke with my friend E who (some of you may remember) gave birth the day after we found out we'd lost the m&m. E and I had a long chat, we talked about her baby boy, her difficulty breast-feeding because of thrush, and what it's like being a mom.
E also mentioned that her husband (a lawyer) is losing his job and has to find another one. They're looking everywhere--NYC, Colorado, even the Middle East. He was laid off just two years ago after the economy tanked, so this is not something they wanted to go through again, especially not with a new baby. E now most likely has to go back to work very soon, rather than getting the year at home with the baby that she wanted.
And instead of thinking yeah, but at least you have a baby (which in certain moods I might have), I thought I'm really glad I'm not in that situation. I was reminded of the fact that we've all got struggles that try us in different ways. And I know that I can handle mine.
3) The final thing that happened is so insane I hesitate to even mention it. So here goes: yesterday, at 4 dpo, I became convinced that I'm pregnant. I know. Madness. A little cramping does not a pregnancy indicate. I think I've forgotten what a regular 2ww feels like, since I haven't had one in almost six months. And then I woke up a little early this morning to pee. I don't even need a pee stick to make this diagnosis, right?
This is complete insanity that's going to bite me in the ass so hard it'll leave teeth marks. So it's a good thing I've got reason #1 to keep my dreams in check.