If someone would have told me, just three years ago, that I would be actively trying to get pregnant, I would have shamelessly called them a liar. Avoiding pregnancy and having sex used to go hand-in-hand, so using sex as a way to get pregnant seems somewhat strange. The pregnancy that gave me my son wasn't planned, so I wasn't actively trying to reproduce or, eventually, become a mom. I'm trying to be a mom to two children now, though, and I'm realizing that there are so many things I wish I knew when I starting trying to conceive.
It's strange to feel so out of control throughout an entire process that I, to a certain extent, have control over. I am the one choosing to have sex and I am the one choosing not to use protection and I am the one choosing to chart ovulation cycles and track periods and use positions that will help me conceive, yet those choices might be completely futile. I am doing things, yet it doesn't seem like I'm doing anything at all. I am putting forth so much effort (as is my partner) yet I am completely out of control of the outcome. It's exhausting. It's infuriating. It's sad.
It's also a story so many women know all too well. In the United States, an estimated 7.4 million women, or 11.9% of women, will receive infertility services in their lifetime. An estimated 1 in 8 couples have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy. Infertility is not uncommon, it's just not talked about at the rate, or volume, it warrants. That's probably one of the many reasons why I didn't know the following. That's definitely why, even though I know I'm not alone, struggling to conceive can feel lonely.
It's Not As Easy As You'd Think...
I don't think I've ever tried this hard to achieve a goal. Ever. I have been actively avoiding pregnancy for the majority of my life, scared that it would and could easily happen when I wasn't ready, willing or able to have a baby, and now I'm actively trying to get pregnant, to no avail (for now). While pregnancy is often talked about as the inevitable, unavoidable side effect of sex, it definitely doesn't feel inevitable (and most certainly feels like it's destined to be completely avoidable) right now.
...Or As Instantaneous As You Thought It Would Be When You Were In High School
Honestly, what was I so worried about?!
You'll Start To Doubt Yourself...
It's hard to stay positive when you're continually getting your period when you're hoping to get a positive pregnancy test. I would be lying if I said that I'm hopelessly optimistic these days. Instead, my mind tends to be unforgiving, and I start to think that maybe, just maybe, I'm not meant to have another kid. Like the cosmic cards are stacked against me, and for good reason. Could I handle two children? Could I do what so many mothers do already? Is this why another pregnancy isn't happening, because the universe knows I couldn't be a great mom to two children?
See? I told you. Unforgiving.
...And Your Body
I have endometriosis, so I'm severely worried (and for good reason) that my body just isn't going to be able to handle another pregnancy. In all actuality, I was very lucky to get pregnant with my son, and while that pregnancy was very difficult (we lost a twin at 19 weeks and I was hospitalized countless times for a slew of scary problems), it did end with a healthy, happy child. Perhaps that pregnancy was all my body could handle.
It Requires Constant Communication
Trying to conceive, and it not happening instantaneously or anything even remotely considered "soon," is tough for not only me, but my partner, too. He is starting to doubt himself and his body. He feels like this entire situation is completely out of his control. He feels like he's failing me which, while that couldn't be further from the truth, is a feeling I can understand. I didn't realize how important constant, honest communication between the two of us was going to be, but it has been the one thing that (I think) has kept my partner and I strong throughout this entire, taxing process.
You'll Start To Consider Changing Your "Plan"
It's still early, so we're still going to continue to try, but I can already feel myself re-arranging what I thought my future would look like. I am starting to tell myself that having one child is OK; that it's actually better; that it's what I really wanted, I just didn't know it. When you're trying to conceive, so many things feel like they're out of your control. It's nice to take ownership of the one thing I can, even if it's simply changing plans in my head.
Sex Will Seem More Like Work, And Less Like A Fun Thing You Can Do With A Partner...
Sex used to be this super fun thing that my partner and I did to connect with one another and feel freakin' amazing. Now, it has a very specific purpose and can feel more like a task, than a fun time. I mean, it's still fun, don't get me wrong, but there are also logistics involved that were never an issue when we weren't trying to conceive.
...Which Means That, Sometimes, Trying To Conceive Can Be Hard On Your Relationship
Because sex can feel like a chore, I find myself, at times, feeling disconnected from the entire act and the person I'm doing it with. I love my partner and want to feel close to him, but when sex is just a "job" that we're doing so we can have a baby, it doesn't feel like I'm very close to him at all.
You'll Research All The Things...
This is a bold statement, I know, but I am the best internet researcher of any researcher who has ever researched. Seriously. I know Google like the back of my hand, and know all the statistics and chances and possible complications and alternative methods of conceiving and the list goes on and on. I know that women with endometriosis have a 2 percent chance of getting pregnant without any assistance , but that IVF can only offer an additional 9 to 10 percent chance of pregnancy per treatment cycle. I know that, for women under 35, the chance of having a miscarriage in any given pregnancy is about 15 percent. I know that the average cost of an IVF cycle is $12,000, before medications, and that medications typically cost an additional $3,000 to $5,000.
...And That Won't Always Be A Good Thing
The numbers and percentages and potential costs of infertility are, well, exhausting. The fruits of my research labor are constantly swirling in my head, which do nothing but create additional fear and anxiety and pressure and stress. Sometimes, it's best to just, you know, stop. Stop Googling. Stop researching. Stop.
Other People's Pregnancy Announcements, While Exciting, Are Kind Of Sad
I am the most happy for my friends and family members when they announce their respective pregnancies, but I'd be lying if I said that happiness wasn't singed by a hint of sadness. I mean, I wish it was me. My natural emotional response doesn't take away from their amazing pregnancy or the joy I feel for them (the two feelings can exist together) but it's still hard.
Through it all, I know that this experience is only making me stronger. It's making me a better mother, as I have another line on a never-ending list of reasons why I need to cherish my son. It's making me a better partner, as I'm constantly putting forth effort to talk, listen to and support my partner. Is it an experience I wanted to endure? No. Am I determined to make the most of it, even when it's the absolute worst. Definitely.