In what feels like a great cosmic, ironic joke, I spent the majority of my 20s trying not to get pregnant, only to spend much of my early 30s trying everything I could to become a mom. Despite celebrities like Madonna and Janet Jackson becoming pregnant later in their maternal lives, the common assumption (backed up by science) is that the older you get the more unlikely a positive pregnancy test will be. This "time crunch factor" only adds to the pressure, and is one of the many things about trying to conceive I'd like to forget.
Making a concerted effort to get pregnant transforms a natural and spontaneously romantic event into a clinical procedure (sometimes literally). It's no wonder that trying to conceive (TTC) can be stressful for both partners which is no doubt exacerbated by some of the insensitive and ignorant comments you may have to endure. A quick poll of my friends revealed that while TTC, they had to listen to such words of perceived "wisdom" as, "Maybe you're not meant to have kids," and "Just relax and it will happen when it's supposed to happen."
I offer all the friends and family members of any couple trying to conceive, a piece of unsolicited advice: please don't say anything. Instead, just listen and offer hugs. Along with some of the hurtful comments I endured when I was TTC, there were some other moments I would be happy to pay good money to forget, including but certainly not limited to the following:
When I Had To Schedule Sex
Nothing zaps the romance right out of intimacy like too much planning. Knowing I have to do it "right now" just makes me want to rebel and run away. Staring at my fertility calendar and knowing I am not in a fertile range also dulled my desire like nothing else.
When I Had To Take My Temperature Religiously
When I was deep in the thick of TTC, I would take my temperature and record it on a spreadsheet every morning. Doing this first thing and at the very beginning of my day, before I had even fully woken up, meant that it was never off my mind. Sometimes, that felt suffocating.
When I Had To Do Post-Coitus Yoga
I am not sure there is much evidence to prove this theory, but there is a long standing piece of advice that says putting your legs up in the air after sex helps with conception.
So, all over the world women hoping to get pregnant can be found in strange positions with their legs akimbo, hoping something sticks.
When I Had To Endure The "Two Week Wait"
Ugh. The two week wait is the worst. If you had two weeks on a tropical island vacation, it would pass by in a blur. But two weeks waiting to see if you're pregnant? Yeah, that's the longest period of time known in existence.
When I Kept Getting My Period
After waiting through those agonizing two weeks, getting your period can seem like a real kick in the teeth. Every time this event rolled around for me, it felt like I had failed. It was physical proof that I was no closer to having a baby than I was before all the counting and measuring, and it was more than a little depressing.
When I Had To Pay Too Much Attention To Bodily Fluids
Many women who are trying to conceive are encouraged to take note of their cervical mucous (CM). The consistency and amount can be important factors in determining what stage of the fertility cycle you are currently experiencing, then allowing you to figure out when you are ovulating. I am all for learning about myself, and think more of us should be aware of exactly what's going on in our bodies, but measuring your CM just seems to be a little too much for me.
When I Was Being A Nag
Because I was trying so hard to increase the chances of being able to conceive, I must admit I became a bit of a nag to my husband. I would lecture him on how many beers he had consumed, ask him what underwear he wore, and everything in between. I am actually surprised he wanted to spend time with me at all.
When I Kept Seeing Babies Everywhere
For some reason, the more you want something the more it seems to manifest for everyone else. Seeing yet another baby shower announcement, when getting pregnant yourself seems like a remote option, is disheartening to say the least.
When you are TTC it can feel like it will never happen and there really isn't any advice that will change what is, after all, just a numbers game. Just remember that you're not alone.