Getting pregnant isn’t always easy.
In November, my husband and I will celebrate our two year anniversary. Since our wedding, we’ve been asked by friends, family and a few strangers for whatever reason, about our intentions to have a child and when we would start trying to get pregnant. Yes was and is always the answer. In fact, the topic of having kids of our own was a question I brought up early on. My husband has three kids from his first marriage, so before we went too far into dating I wanted to be sure having kids again was on the table, as I am desperate to be a mom.
Sometime after the craziness of the wedding had subsided we started to seriously talk about our next step to having a child, which for us was reversing my husband’s vasectomy. I will take a moment to pause and say that I think having a vasectomy in the first place is an incredibly amazing thing for any man to do for his relationship. You don’t go into it thinking you’ll have to reverse it though, so I give my husband major extra credit for doing it in the first place and then going through the reversal. And thankfully the surgery was a success – we have swimmers!
I think we all know the next step here – we actually started trying to get pregnant. I was fairly optimistic at the start. I am healthy. My husband is healthy. We had a successful reversal so I figured it was only a matter of time. And it is only a matter of time… but my timeline was 9 months ago, so according to that we are late.
Let’s pause on that phrase – my timeline. It should be obvious that you cannot plan when you will have a baby, that it is completely out of your control. And while I knew that, I don’t think I truly understood just how much out of your control it is. After about three months of trying to get pregnant, I started to google things to see if there was anything we could do to ensure success or in other words, anything I could do to gain some control. I’ve been taking prenatal vitamins for months so that was a good start. I read that I could check my temperature daily (not going to happen) or I could pee on strips to see when I was going to ovulate (good idea). I also googled common signs of pregnancy, which are oh so similar to just regular period symptoms, but I figured it was good to know anyway and that I would be able to tell the difference. I also read about lifestyle changes you can make to help your chances – more sleep, less soy, less dairy, less gluten, less stress – you get the idea. I wanted to know all the things I could do to try to get some control of the situation.
One would think all this information would be helpful. But for me it wasn’t. It was making me absolutely crazy. Peeing on strips daily made me constantly remember what I was trying to accomplish, and thus even more disappointed when I wasn’t pregnant. I also thought my “symptoms” were different the week before my period and thus on a few separate occasions I was so confident I was pregnant, I started to imagine how I would share the news with my parents. And again, when I wasn’t pregnant, I was devastated. I spent many an evening crying to my husband, that there was something wrong with me.
He recently asked me why I feel there is something wrong with me when we know the issue is on his side. While you can tell the presence of swimmers 90 days after the surgery, it often takes many more months for everything to be working as it was before the vasectomy. And, for good measure I recently went through a series of tests to ensure all was good on my end, and thankfully it was. So my husband had a point, and I had no good response. So we asked our doctor and he had an interesting perspective. Apparently women have some evolutionary animal instincts that make us basically freakout when we cannot get pregnant, because that means we cannot procreate and the species will die. It is then natural for us to care so strongly and get a little crazy. See men, we are crazy for a reason.
Hearing that from my doctor was rather helpful, but after nine months of trying to get pregnant unsuccessfully, there are some additional things I needed to change so as to take the pressure off myself.
- No more googling. Google is not my friend. Knowing all the symptoms, all the possibilities, all the options, has been making trying even more stressful; and adding stress definitely isn’t helpful to this whole process, nor is it helpful to my relationship.
- I need the support of my girlfriends. Have you noticed that women don’t talk about when they start trying, or if there are issues of infertility, until they have a baby? Once everything is ok is when you hear their story. To each their own, but that process isn’t for me. At the very start of this process, my girlfriend and I made a pact – we were each other’s person. Without her, and a few others to whom I have opened up along the way, I am not sure I would be as positive and hopeful as I am. I love my husband, and he is an incredible support; but my girlfriends “get it” in a different way than he does.
- I am recommitting to living in the present. This is perhaps the hardest. No more checking due dates online or peeing on strips. I am just going to live my life. We are both healthy, happy and have a wonderful, loving marriage. I am hopeful that being in the present is the mental shift I need to stop being so hard on myself and to start having more fun with this process.
This post was months in the making because I was afraid to acknowledge that I am not yet pregnant; it is still hard to accept. But by not talking about it, I just beat myself up for not being pregnant, which is crazy. By sharing my story to close friends and family, I have received incredible support, encouragement, and also validation that I am not alone in this struggle. And that gives me the courage to share it with all of you. Even though women tend to be good communicators, culturally we don’t talk about the challenges of getting pregnant. But this is life. This is real and raw and scary and amazing. I do not live or want to live in Pleasantville where everything is perfect on the outside, while on the inside we are in desperate need of support and practically falling apart.
So, please share this post with any woman who needs a reminder that she is not alone. In whatever struggles you face getting pregnant, know that you are not alone.
Photo credit the one and only Carly Fuller.