How long have you been TTC?
What are your and your guy’s current ages?
My husband and I are both 28 years old.
Before you started TTC, how long did you think it would take you to conceive?
One month – was so naïve! I was convinced that the first time we had unprotected sex that there was no way we wouldn’t be pregnant.
What made you and your guy decide to start TTC?
We had dated for nine years before we just recently got married and so the timing just felt right. I have been excited about having kids for a while now and my husband starting getting the bug, too.
How has TTC affected your marriage?
We are lucky because this process has only brought us closer – both physically and emotionally. And, the sex has not yet become boring or just for making a baby. We’ve continued to keep that part fun. But, I have definitely had some breakdowns where I didn’t feel like he quite understood what it was like to be wondering if I was pregnant every five minutes and in his defense, how could he? But, one of the charms of my husband is that if you tell him that he needs to be doing something differently, like being more involved with the emotional side of this journey, he will, so once we got on the same page, this process became “ours” instead of “mine.”
What are some wives’ tales that you’ve heard about TTC and do you believe them?
I’ve heard that you definitely WILL NOT get pregnant if you are stressed out at all, which I think is a big misconception that only makes those of us TTC even more stressed about trying not to be stressed! Stressed women get pregnant all the time – a majority of our society is ultra stressed out and to think that at least some of the women who are getting pregnant don’t fall into that category is ridiculous.
Do you believe that stress can stop a woman from getting pregnant?
I used to, but I don’t anymore. I’ve come to accept that it is natural for us to be stressed out about this process – it’s wonderful to be trying to make a baby, but man, is it hard. I think a healthy amount of stress due to this process is to be expected. I do believe that you can be too stressed out where it is affecting your chances of getting pregnant because your body and mind are tense, but even in that case, I don’t believe that it’s just simply the stress that’s prohibiting the conception, it’s really about the deeper issue that’s making you stressed out in the first place (work, money, relationship etc.).
Do you have friends who are also TTC with whom you can talk to?
No and that is one of the hardest things for me. I have no one else to talk to who really gets what this process is like. I can explain it to people, but they just don’t get it. They still say, “Well, it will happen when it’s supposed to,” which I can’t stand hearing anymore. It’s one of those things that I can say, but no one else is allowed to say to me! After my husband and I had been TTC for about three months, two of my close friends decided to start TTC and I was excited about it and thought how perfect it would be that we could all sort of lean on each other and then they both got pregnant after their first try!
Do you talk to other friends who aren’t TTC?
One friend (who’s single) will talk with me about it and ask me, “Where are you in your cycle?” and she’s usually pretty good about listening, but every now and then, she’ll throw out some comment like, “I think if I was going through it, it wouldn’t bother me that much.” But again, I can’t expect her to totally understand. Another friend of mine (who’s married), is really good about asking about it and how I’m doing, but even she has made a comment like, “Oh, I’m so disappointed that your period came again this month.” Again, not that it’s right, but I can say it, you can’t! This is why I totally miss having a girlfriend whose also going through this.
What is it like talking to guys about TTC?
Mostly, they either avoid talking about it at all or they are totally direct and like my neighbor, who yelled at me in passing, “Are you pregnant yet?” I do have one guy friend who is an exception and asks me about it and says sweet things like, “I know you’ll be enjoying your own child soon.” Ah, those exceptions – they make up for the all of the rest.
Do you feel like people are more open about their TTC experiences while they’re TTC or after the get pregnant?
I have been shocked at how hush, hush TTC is between us women. I was appalled at the lack of books on the subject (that weren’t fertility and science-based). I feel like women will open up on the Internet chat boards, but rarely in person. And I get it, it’s not like you’re just sparking up conversations with every stranger you meet about TTC, but it does sort of feel like this is a very underground thing.
I think after women get pregnant after TTC for a while that they are a lot more apt to talk about their experience because they’re on the other side of it now. It’s much more comfortable and safe to talk about once you’re not a part of it anymore. And that’s the shame of it all because it makes it that much more isolating while you’re going through it.
Do you know what “charting your cycle” is and have you done it at any point while TTC?
Yes, I learned how to chart my cycle from the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility. I started charting around month three, when I still believed that I had even the tiniest bit of control over getting pregnant, I started religiously charting my cycle. It was cool – I really liked having data to compare with each month. It made me (falsely) feel like I had a grip on it. Then, after about three months of charting, I stopped, cold turkey. Aside from the annoyance of having to stick a thermometer in my mouth first thing every morning, it was a daily reminder before I started my day that I wasn’t pregnant yet. And as obvious as it may seem, it took me these three months to realize that no matter how much I charted, in the end, it didn’t affect me getting pregnant. Sure, making sure that we were “maximizing” my fertile phase did have an affect, but after I got the hang of when I was most fertile, it was pointless to me. But, I would still recommend charting to other women because everyone’s different and it may help some women and they may see it in a completely different way.
What TTC-related books have you bought?
At first, I didn’t think I needed any books – sperm meets egg and boom, we’re pregnant, right? So, after that didn’t happen, around month three, I bought Taking Charge of Your Fertility and read it in one sitting. It felt so good to read something about what I was going through, even if it was a purely scientific approach and didn’t address my emotions at all. I definitely learned a lot from that book and would recommend it for learning the facts of our cycle, but what I didn’t like about it was that it tricked me into believing that my fertility was something that could actually be taken charge of. The title made it sound so easy – I remember reaching for it on the bookshelf and thinking, “Wow, it’s just this simple.” Wrong. On a side note, if you’ve ever read the book, there is this picture section in the middle that shows all kinds of cervical fluid to help you determine which phase you’re in and I’ll admit that I still get a laugh out of stuff like that and showed it to all of my friends (yes, I have the mind of a 13-year-old), but if you get your hands on a copy of it, please notice the length and color of the nails of the woman “displaying” the cervical fluids. Was that the only hand model they could get? Actually, there’s probably not a lot of “talent” out there looking for a gig like this, so yes, that’s probably the only hand model they could get.
A few months ago, I bought The Infertility Cure. It’s about Traditional Chinese Medicine and sub-fertility. It made me want to move to Houston and become a patient of the author whose specialty is sub-fertility. I’m really into alternative medicine, so it was right up my alley. Since I don’t have any kind of condition or problem with my cycle (that I know of), I really wanted to read more about non-medical means of “boosting” fertility. It also caused me to start going to acupuncture.
Have you set an age goal for when you want to get pregnant by?
Yes, ideally I wanted to have a baby when I was 27. It was kind of an arbitrary decision – I knew I wanted to be a youngish mom and my husband and his mom have a wonderful relationship and she had him at 27, so a part of me thought, “If I do the same, I’m bound to have a relationship like that with my child.” So, now I’m 28 and if I am to get pregnant anytime soon, I would be 29 when I had the baby. I guess it’s not what I imagined. I have always wanted to have kids while in my mid-20’s, but it just wasn’t realistic. And, I’ve accepted that it does not matter what age I am. I still feel like I have the mind and maturity of a 14-year old, so I know I will be this way regardless of my actual age.
Do you think that women over 35 are less fertile?
Not necessarily. I think we are led to believe this, but one of my friends who got pregnant on their first try is 35 and I’ve heard other similar stories. I think people’s degree of fertility is really similar to how people age and how they take care of their bodies and minds – there are people of every age that look their age or older and then there are some that look five or ten years younger – everyone ages differently and I think the same is true with their eggs.
Have any friends or family gotten pregnant while you’ve been TTC?
Yes, two of my close friends and a few distant friends. I thought that I would be jealous immediately, but I wasn’t at all, I was basically just happy that someone around here was getting pregnant! It’s been fun to see them go through it because I can sort of vicariously live through them, like when my friend lets me feel the baby kicking. Honestly, I really feel lucky that they have gone before me because when I do get pregnant, I will finally have friends who know exactly what it’s like. I tell them that they are paving the way for me and doing all the leg-work with trying out strollers, diapers, car seats etc.
It’s strange because people close to me becoming pregnant does not make me jealous or angry, but hearing strangers talk about it sometimes does (depending on where I am in my cycle), unless I know they have struggled like us. Like one time, my husband and I were out to dinner and it was one of those places with tables really close together and one of the couples next to us was pregnant and they were talking about it with some friends throughout the whole meal. I think my period had just arrived and I was a little bitter, so I ate my dinner at lightening speed so we could get out of there.
Do you and your guy have sex throughout your cycle every month or only while you are ovulating?
Sometimes we have sex throughout the cycle, but most of the time we don’t. After my period is done, we will sometimes have sex once or twice before “go time” (ovulation phase), but usually, we are either gearing up for “go time” or then refueling after “go time.” It feels like we have so much sex for about five days that I really can’t have sex again for another two weeks!
What is the most number of times you’ve had sex in a 24-hour period while TTC?
Four. But it wasn’t strictly for upping our chances of making a baby. We were on a vacation and just had one of those days.
Have you gotten pregnant and miscarried at any point during this time?
Yes. It was month seven of TTC and we did end up conceiving during that vacation of love that I mentioned and what later happened was sort of not a regular, full on miscarriage, though. What happened was that after we got home from our vacation, a few weeks later, I got my period, so I thought that we weren’t pregnant. Then, I was waiting to ovulate and I could tell that it wasn’t happening, so the thought crossed my mind that maybe we got pregnant but I still had a period – I’d heard of that happening. Then, out of the blue, I started to bleed again during the time that I should’ve been ovulating. So, I took a pregnancy test and it came out positive, but just barely. The line was really dim. A lot of friends told me that their line was really dim too, but what scared me was that I was bleeding which I didn’t think was a good sign. I went to the doctor the next day and had an ultrasound and they said that I was no longer pregnant and that it looked like there had never been a growing embryo in my uterus at all but my human growth hormone levels were up like I had been pregnant. My doctor said that yes, we conceived, sperm and egg met, but that it sort of fizzled out after that, so no baby ever grew. So there was really no “miscarriage” of a fetus or anything, but they still called it that and also called it a “chemical pregnancy.” We felt pretty fine about the whole thing, just disappointed and tired of seven months of no results. But, I was so glad that we didn’t find out until when we did that we were pregnant, because had we found out sooner, when I wasn’t bleeding, we would’ve got all excited and then it would’ve been that much worse. Since I was bleeding when we found out we were pregnant, the whole time we knew that it might not be healthy, so we didn’t get our hopes up. The thing that was the toughest though is that I bled for another week and it was pretty crazy, especially for a non-formed embryo. The one awesome part of this is that my husband and I found out that our sperm and egg could actually meet! And, my doctor assured me that miscarriages are super common and that most all women have something like this happen, but they usually just “bleed” it out during their period, so they never know. But in my case, it just took some time to work its way out.
My doctor told us to wait for a couple months before we started to try again because some fertility expert had said that that was the right thing to do. We didn’t take her advice. Our feeling on it was that whatever is supposed to happen will and if we want to have sex, we’re going to. How many women don’t even know they miscarried and then get pregnant the next month and deliver healthy babies? I’m sure a lot. And, I have also learned not to buy into the scare tactics of doctors. Yes, I think doctors are invaluable in many ways, but in the end, I listen to what my body and mind say is best for me in situations like this.
How many people do you know who have ever miscarried?
What is your sanity level like during your cycle each month?
Before ovulation, I am always excited and hopeful about the month ahead. During ovulation, I am the same except for I worry a little bit about if we timed it right and “caught the egg” or not. Then, things start to go downhill in the two weeks before my period is scheduled to start. At first, I try to put it out of my mind and I usually can for a few days, but starting from about five days until my expected period, I am pretty anxious. I find myself thinking about it more and trying to eat better, take my vitamins more and not have the few alcoholic drinks that I sometimes have. In those days, I sort of treat myself like I am pregnant. And, sometimes my period arriving is somewhat of a relief because then I finally just know and can move on and prepare the next month. For me, the not knowing is so much harder than the knowing. And, since I did get pregnant once, but still had my period, I can really never rule out my period as the deciding factor of if this is our month or not. It’s really not until my fertile fluid comes again during ovulation that I can totally rule it out.
How many pregnancy tests have you taken during this time?
Seven. Because of having conceived, but still having my period. I have been testing more so that I can get an answer without having to wait until the next ovulation time. It’s funny, I tell my husband everything, but sometimes when I take a pregnancy test, I don’t tell him because for some reason, I feel guilty – like I peeked at my Christmas presents or something! Then, I usually end up telling him and he, of course, has no problem with it and wants me to do whatever makes me feel better, but deciding whether to test or not is such a mind game with me. And, every time after I test and it’s negative, I get this remorse like, “Why did I test? I knew it would be negative? I just wasted $8!”
Have you ever taken a pregnancy test even when your period has arrived because you still think you may be pregnant?
Of course! Because I had been on the pill for 10 years before we started TTC, my cycle was changing and so even though I would have my period, when I would start to feel an unusual period symptom, I would forget that the reason for the strange, new symptom might be my system getting used to working without the pill and I would think, “Maybe I am pregnant!” and have to take a test. There’s really nothing as disappointing as getting a negative pregnancy test. For me, that’s worse than my period arriving. Because of how it makes me feel, I have tried to stop taking them except for in emergency situations like the time I started bleeding instead of ovulating, but sometimes I just give in and test.
How do you center yourself and cope with this process?
I talk to my husband about it. He is so good about making me feel better about it all. And, taking a bath or doing yoga always makes me feel more centered afterwards.
But, one thing that I think is totally therapeutic to do every once in a while is have a pity party. About a month ago, my husband and I starting talking about it all and we both just started venting about our frustration and the injustice of it and it was amazing how great we felt afterwards. We had been walking around with these feelings slowly building up inside and getting to vent about it just released it all and put us back at “empty.” When we fill up again, we’ll have to release it.
Did you decide not to tell some people that you are TTC?
At first, it was like our little secret and since we thought we’d get pregnant instantly, there was really no reason to tell people because we thought we were going to be telling them that we were pregnant shortly thereafter. After that didn’t happen, we started telling people as it came up. But, we still haven’t told a lot of family because we just don’t want to be asked about it all the time and family have a funny way of having no tact sometimes. I always feel a little funny telling people that we’re TTC because I just don’t think people get it and maybe I need to have more faith in people, but I just have this feeling that when we see them again, if we’re not pregnant, they’re going to be all let down.
Did you ever come into contact with a stranger who was also TTC and have a bonding moment?
Yes, I had the best experience ever while in a cosmetics store. Somehow, it came up that my husband and I were TTC and this woman told me her story about how her and her husband had tried for over two years and how difficult it was and how she just put it out of her mind because she was over this (I still don’t totally get how she did that), but then it just happened. This was the first woman who made me feel like I wasn’t alone and this actually happened to other people. I am so thankful that she opened up like she did.
While TTC, have you ever sworn you were pregnant, but weren’t?
Only every month! Seriously, every month I feel like I’m pregnant. I don’t know if it’s the sheer hope that I have or what, but it feels like every month I have some kind of false symptom that makes me feel like I am. I’ve learned that I cannot trust my gut on this because it had led me astray so many times!
What kinds of symptoms do you look for every month as signs that you might be pregnant?
I notice how often I’m peeing, if my boobs hurt or look or feel bigger, if the veins are more pronounced, if my lower abdomen looks or feels different, if I am getting a headache, if I feel nauseous, if I’m eating more, if smells are bothering me, if I’m being irritable, if I’m constipated, if I have diarrhea… the list just goes on and on. And, it’s not that I’m looking for these things necessarily, but it’s just that if I get a headache, I’ll think, “Maybe it’s because I’m pregnant.”
How do you react to your period arriving every month?
Surprisingly, I am usually so sick of the guessing game that by the time it comes, I am just happy to have an answer of some kind. When I see the first trickle though, I always hope that the next time I go to the bathroom there will be nothing and it was just pregnancy spotting. But, there is something therapeutic about bleeding, cleaning out and starting over again.
When you started TTC, had someone told you that it would take you at least this long to get pregnant, what would you have thought?
Absolutely, no way! I would not have believed a word of it.
Do you ever buy baby clothes (for this baby you’re TTC)?
I had held off until about four months ago. I was with a pregnant friend of mine and we were in the baby section and I fell in love with these two little outfits. I asked her, “Am I a creep if I buy these?” and since she’s such a wonderful friend, she said, “No. You will soon have someone to fill them – I say get them!” I loved her for that. I bought the outfits and have them hanging in our closet and look at them every morning as sort of a sweet reminder of what is yet to come.
Do you already have baby names picked out?
Not totally. We have a few for each that we like, but we’re not set in stone yet and I’ve told myself that I have to wait to actually be pregnant to buy a baby name book! In the beginning, we talked about it a lot, but it’s been about six or seven months since we’ve even talked about it again.
Do you own any pregnancy-related books?
Yes, a friend of mine gave me What to Expect… as a gift in month four of TTC. I started to read it right when I got it and then tucked it away. I didn’t want to read too much now – I still want to have it be fun and new when we do finally get pregnant. Also, I have this superstition that having too much of that stuff around – jumping ahead of where we are in the process – isn’t good. Another friend gave me Belly Laughs as a gift and I was dying to read it, but again, I tucked it away, out of sight, for when the time comes.
Do you feel like your guy understands what you’re going through?
For the most part, but it took some explaining at first! I just don’t think a guy can fully understand what it’s like to be reminded of it every time you go to the bathroom – when blood appears or spotting or nothing – in any case, I wonder what it means – I’ve always been an over-analyzer. And, all the little things that our bodies feel and how it makes us wonder if we’re pregnant or not – guys can’t possibly know how that feels and how frustrating it can be. But, I have to say that my guy has been a huge support for me.
How is your guy coping with this process?
I think the better question is how will he cope with not having all the TTC sex once we are pregnant! For the most part, he is enjoying this time because finally my sex drive has caught up with his a little bit – thanks to getting off of the Pill. He has had his disappointed moments too, but the thought of all of the sex associated with trying again next month usually pulls him out of it. Although, he has said that it makes him sad to see me when I’m so upset by the disappointment. As these months have turned into a year, the disappointment is starting to get to us a little more.
Have you noticed that you’ve been more or less in the mood for sex since TTC?
Partly due to going off of the pill, my sex drive has been great and I have been more in the mood since TTC. And, there’s something about finally having the chance to make a baby that can suddenly put me in the mood! But again, as this process gets longer, it does start to etch away at the spontaneity of it all.
Are you ever not in the mood at all when you have sex?
No and I am so thankful because I thought for sure there would be times when I’d just have to grin and bear it for ovulation’s sake, but that hasn’t happened. We only do it if we’re both in the mood (or we help each other get in the mood).
Has your guy ever not been in the mood to have sex while TTC?
Never. In some ways, this is the happiest time of his life!
Do you ever think about conceiving while having sex?
Yes, and it’s one of those things that I try not to think about and the more I try not to think about it, the more I do. Even when I think about it, I still orgasm, so I’m not worried that it’s stressing me out. Clearly it doesn’t get too in the way! But thinking about it right then is enough to make me feel like I’m totally obsessed. But, I think it’s only natural. Whatever I try not to think about usually has a way of popping into my brain somehow.
Have you ever elevated your hips or legs after sex to help the sperm get to their goal?
Yes, a few times. The longest was for 30 minutes. Not only does it not feel “right” to do that immediately after sex, but it hasn’t helped us so far, so I don’t do it anymore. I also heard that doing that can make the sperm pool on your cervix and block everything.
What kinds of insensitive things have people said to you while TTC?
“You want me to be honest? I don’t think you and your husband are going to conceive for about two years.” This one came from a woman I’d known for about a week. There was no pause for me to answer her question, “You want me to be honest?”
“How is the baby-making coming along?” to which I responded, “Not so easy,” and she responds with, “Don’t worry, it will happen when you stop thinking about it,” which made me want to say, “Well then stop asking me about it and maybe I’ll can stop thinking about it.”
“Are you taking notes?” This one was said by a man referring to my place in the baby-making line as I was giving a friend a foot massage in the delivery room about and hour after her baby was born. No good deed ever goes unpunished.
Not a comment, but one thing that I thought was pretty insensitive/cute was that last Christmas (month four of TTC), there was a present under the tree from our grandma for our future baby. It was a Pillsbury Doughboy fork and spoon that she had sent away for by mail. Gotta love Senior Citizens. It made me feel hopeful, but it also packed on the pressure a little bit.
Did you ever lose it and just have a good ole pity party?
A few months ago, I had two dreams that I went to the doctor and my friend found out she was pregnant and I wasn’t and then they told me that I didn’t produce a hormone that I needed to make babies and then in the other dream, a doctor told me I did produce the hormone, but that I had cancer cells in my uterus. Needless to say, I woke up very sad. When I first woke up, I couldn’t tell if it was a dream or not, so it took me a long time to shake them. I ended up crying to my husband about it.
The other day, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed – I was irritated and emotional. I went to acupuncture and just cried as I laid there with the needles in me. “Is this necessary?” I thought (and they had just raised their rates substantially). I just felt so helpless and confused about whether to see a specialist or not. I really don’t feel like that’s necessary and in my heart, I don’t want to go that route, but am I just being naïve? What if two years go by and we’re not pregnant? When my husband picked me up, I just lost it. I was weeping. That was the first time that had happened in this whole process. I just sort of let myself be sad for however long I wanted and then by the end of the day, I felt better.
Did or do you buy sexy lingerie for TTC?
Yes – that was fun! At first, that was one of the most fun parts – tons of sexy lingerie. But as the months have gone on, we only pull out the lingerie about once every two months.
Did or do you ever think that you or your guy might have an infertility issue?
Not seriously, but you can’t help but let the thought cross your mind when you’re having tons of sex and not getting pregnant. Aside from having a “normal” cycle with tons of fertile fluid, when I had my ultrasound for the miscarriage, they told me my ovaries and uterus looked healthy, so I truly don’t think we have any fertility issues.
I guess there’s a little thought in the back of my head that my husband should get tested, but he’s so ultra-healthy (he’s a vegetarian that runs like 10 or more miles per week) and did get me pregnant once before that I just feel like it will be a waste of time and money ($250!). My husband and I talked about him getting a sperm test and we came to the conclusion that finding out his sperm count and motility etc. would not change what we’re doing. He’s already taking vitamins and supplements that happen to have the same nutrients recommended for sperm health, so if we found out his sperm needed help, he’s already doing what we would do to help it, so knowing about it wouldn’t change anything except probably make me worry more.
But, it’s hard to not immediately think that something is wrong with you if you aren’t pregnant after the arbitrary deadline of one year. A friend of mine told me something that I think of often that makes me feel better – she said that her mom was telling her that back in the 70’s, when she was trying to get pregnant, there were no real fertility drugs and it was just commonplace that it would take some people one month of trying and some a few years or more of trying before they were pregnant. And, if you were one of the people for whom it took longer to get pregnant, it was normal and you weren’t looked at as “infertile.” I have to keep reminding myself of that when I start to feel like something’s “wrong” with us, when in my gut I know there isn’t.
Have you sought help for infertility issues?
The only thing I’ve done is start going to acupuncture. Around month 10, I started feeling like I wanted to be doing something more about TTC, but I’m realizing that as good as it feels, it’s not going to get us pregnant. Perhaps if I had a known cycle disorder of some kind, it could help get me back on track, but just in general, acupuncture is not going to make a sperm meet an egg. I’ve learned that aside from messing with fertility drugs, nothing is going to make that happen. I’ve had to surrender this over to the “universe.” The ONLY things I can do at this point are continue to keep myself healthy and have sex. That’s it.
As the months and years go on, I might feel different about going to a specialist. I’m always open to my thoughts changing, but as of now, I do not believe that it’s necessary for us. I really don’t think a specialist would even know what to tell us. I feel like we’d just get a prescription for Clomid and be labeled “unexplained fertility” and I don’t even take Tylenol or anything like that, so I definitely don’t want to be taking something that messes with my cycle like Clomid. And although I am choosing not to go that route as of now, I know for a lot of people, Clomid and other fertility treatments have given them hope of having a child that they might not have had without it, so I know that these things have their place and are around for a good reason.
Having said that, I’ve done a lot of soul-searching about this topic and I feel like as a society, we are too into instant gratification and getting things the minute that we want them and I’m just not sure that that’s the right way, for me, at least. Just because we have a drug that can make you release more eggs and therefore up your chances of getting pregnant, does that mean that we should use it at the drop of a hat (which does happen – my own OB offered it to me if I got “too impatient” with the process)? I don’t have the answer to this, but it’s a question that we should be asking rather than just focusing on getting what we want. These days, we are so impatient with life and I don’t think life is all about the destination – it’s mostly about the journey. If we all got everything we wanted when we wanted, we wouldn’t grow as people or learn to be sympathetic to others.
Also, I do believe that the baby has a say in when it comes to us by picking when it’s conceived and when it is born. And, I have to wonder that if by giving into our impatience and “forcing” ourselves to get pregnant when our body isn’t naturally ready is not somehow undermining the path of our future baby. I don’t claim to know the answer, but it’s something to think about. And in the end, I feel that whatever someone chooses to do is right for them, but I think that this process can wear us down so much that we get so focused on the goal that we forget that there is also a road to that goal – I know I have been guilty of this. Sometimes it’s hard for me to stay firm in these beliefs because 99% of people ask me if I’m going to see a specialist and cannot understand why we wouldn’t – “If it could get you pregnant, why wouldn’t you?” People are not comfortable hearing that we’re just going to wait for when it’s supposed to happen. It’s like they have to solve our “problem” for us – see a specialist, take this supplement, try Clomid etc. Personally, if I had the choice between taking a fertility drug and getting pregnant next month or waiting another year and getting pregnant without the fertility drug, I would, hands down, wait the year. But sometimes I do get caught up in the fear and think, “We better see someone because what if two years down the road we finally do and they find a problem and then we’ve wasted all this time?” and then I have to tell myself that it’s not wasted time – nothing we do is wasted time. It’s making me and my husband who we are and helping us learn about ourselves. Of course, five years down the road I may feel differently!
Do you dream up scenarios of how you will tell your friends and family that you’re pregnant when you finally are?
In the beginning, every month I would think how I could break the news to family and friends depending on when we would all be together. Lately, I have stopped doing that because again, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. When we finally get pregnant, I want the experience to be new and not already planned out. And I feel that thinking about these things every month only makes the disappointment that much more.
Have you attended a baby shower since you’ve been TTC?
Yes, I went to one for one of my close friends and it didn’t make me feel funny at all. And in fact, another woman and I got into a discussion about TTC – of course, we were low-key about it, but it was a nice diversion. And yesterday, I threw one of my best friends a baby shower and it was fine too – the only thing was that I had had my “breakdown” during acupuncture the day before, so the timing was a little bad, but it turned out to be a great time because that friend is such a treasure.
How do you think your family has treated you regarding you TTC?
I haven’t really told most of my family that we’re officially TTC. Again, I just don’t think family knows what not to say sometimes and I want it to be more of a surprise when we do get pregnant. It is nice to still have it be our little secret from at least some people. But as people start asking more about it, I can’t help but sort of clue them in that we’re trying, but that it’s taking some time. Like one family friend said, “When are you guys going to have kids?” and I said, “When the universe gives us a little help.” So, I’ve subtly made comments like this.
How do your pregnant friends treat you regarding you TTC?
I have two pregnant friends who are very different. One of them often asks me where in my cycle I am and she is an excellent listener and seems to always have time and patience to hear me out about this process and even though she hasn’t gone through struggling with TTC, you would think she had because she almost totally gets it. She is so level-headed, sweet and sensitive that she never says the wrong thing. She always makes me feel better. The day before the baby shower that I gave her, she called to chat and I told her I was sort of having a hard day about TTC and she was thoughtful enough to say, “Oh man and my shower’s tomorrow, that must be hard.” But, I don’t like to complain to her too often because I don’t want to take away from her amazing experience. My other pregnant friend rarely asks me what is going on with us TTC. I think she is a little uncomfortable about it and doesn’t know if I would want her to ask or not, so she just doesn’t, which I can respect. But, sometimes it makes me think that she doesn’t really realize what we’re going through, but again, I don’t want to take away from her experience either, so I don’t want to bring it up and I’m really okay with that. And, lately, we’ve talked a little more about it since I’ve been going to acupuncture and that’s something that’s a little easier to talk about than cervical fluid.
Do you prefer a friend that asks you about how it’s going or one that doesn’t bring up your TTC at all?
That’s a hard one because some days, when I want to talk about it, I would love for my friend to bring it up and ask me about it, but when I’m sort of “over it” (i.e. when my period comes), I really don’t want anyone to ask me, “Are you guys pregnant yet?”
Have you ever slowly sipped on an alcoholic beverage at a get together just so people wouldn’t ask you if you were pregnant yet?
Of course! That’s one of my main defense tactics at big, family functions.
Have you found any books, online resources, etc., that have helped make this process easier on you?
Sadly, not really. The Internet sites are great to remind me that I’m not alone, but I can get so engrossed in reading the posts that I almost get too caught up in it. But, I think it’s awesome that women have at least somewhere to share these experiences since everyone else is so hush, hush about it.
Are there certain things you won’t do after you’ve ovulated each month just in case you’re pregnant?
I usually won’t have that glass of wine. I usually try to drink enough water, not skip vitamins and am somewhat more careful about what I eat. I also try not to do rigorous abdominal work. Although, sometimes I don’t know why I do this because I believe that if a baby’s meant to come, it’s going to come and stay regardless of a glass of wine or some stomach crunches.
Do you feel you’re obsessive about TTC?
There have been moments when I thought I was. Around month three or four, it was on my mind constantly, but lately, surprisingly, I’ve been a lot more relaxed about it. As the months go on, I feel like our odds keep getting better and better. That’s just the optimist in me.
When do you think you will actually conceive?
If not this month (I told you, I always think we’ll get pregnant every month), sometime in the next couple of months. But then again, I’ve been saying that for a year!
Do you have any advice for others TTC?
This is hard because there is really no advice that can help you get pregnant, but there is comfort of knowing that you’re not alone and millions of women who were in our shoes now have babies. And, that you are not crazy and obsessive – this is a hard time for us and our husbands and feeling stressed about it is natural.
Did you start TTC in a certain month so that your baby would be born in a certain month?
In my naivety, we started TTC in a month that would produce a summer baby. I have a winter birthday, so I wanted a better life for my baby – a summer birthday! At this point, I don’t care when it comes, as long as it comes! I would love to still have a Gemini baby, though.
Have you changed your eating or exercise habits since you’ve started TTC?
At first, I ate really well and never missed a vitamin. I don’t drink a lot of caffeine anyway, but I steered totally clear of it. As the months have gone on and especially during and after my period, I love to indulge in a Coke. That’s almost one good thing about getting my period – I can have a Coke again! Not that I think a Coke here or there is bad if you’re pregnant, but I’m just trying to be on my best behavior!
In the past couple of months though, I have really been trying to eat more (I am so busy that sometimes I skip meals) and drink more water, so in a sense, I am glad that I have the opportunity to get my body the healthiest it can be BEFORE I get pregnant.
What things have you learned about yourself during this experience?
That I have to give up control and just have faith that it will happen when the time is right. For those of us who like to plan things and are very self-motivated, this process is especially hard because we have to just sort of sit back and wait and I am not used to doing that. I have learned a lot about patience too, although I know I haven’t even come close to perfecting it yet.
I have learned to think outside of the box and not just follow what everyone else is doing. Going through this process has really made me get in touch with my intuition and listen to it. It also has made me stronger in sticking to my beliefs even if most of society is following different ones.
I have also developed a passion for helping other people who are struggling with TTC. I know how amazing it makes me feel to connect with someone who’s in my shoes, that it makes me want to somehow provide that awesome feeling to every other woman who’s also TTC.
Do you feel that you’re going through this for a reason?
Definitely. At first, I was like, “Why us? We’re ready!” And now, I know that this process was to inspire me to help other people who are going through this same thing. I have never really felt as passionate about helping out a certain group of people as I have about helping other women who are struggling with TTC. And for that, I thank my future baby for waiting until that flame lit inside me.
I also think that part of this waiting time is for me to get my body to its healthiest state. I have always had stomach issues (IBS), but ever since I’ve been eating better, drinking a ton more water and listening to my body, my digestion has never been better. So, I feel like that was a by-product of doing things to boost my fertility and health.
I also think that this process is a big test for me in terms of how I will continue to live my life. Do I take doctors’ words as the end all? Do I give in to my impatience? Do I listen to my gut over my brain? Do I let fear guide my decisions? How do I deal with others’ scare tactics about infertility – do I stick to what I truly believe? How do I keep calm and centered? How do I keep my faith that this will happen for us? Do I really have the strength to give up my control? Can I handle struggles like this with grace? How I handle all of these things will determine how I continue to grow as a person and how I will mother my future child.
Imagine getting a positive pregnancy test, how do you think you’ll feel?
I almost can’t even imagine! I don’t think I’ll believe it! That is the happiest thought, though.
During this process, have you had any dreams that have stood out?
The two I mentioned earlier and a few nights ago, I dreamt that I was holding I baby that I had just “had,” but it was the size of a small, plastic doll and I knew that something wasn’t right about the situation, but I was happy to have it, regardless. My mom had already started making a photo album with pictures of this tiny, fake-looking baby.
Sometimes, I will ask my future baby to please come to me in a dream and tell me anything he or she can to put my mind at ease. But, as of now, they haven’t. And of course, my optimistic self thinks, “Maybe they can’t because they’re inside my belly right now!”
Do you feel that the media does a good job of creating a forum for discussion regarding TTC?
Absolutely not. I feel like I see a lot about infertility treatments, but never about the mental anguish that the process can give. I feel like unless you’re experiencing it or have experienced it that you just don’t get how hard it can be and because not a lot of women talk about it while going through it, it probably doesn’t even seem like an issue to anyone outside of it. Also, I don’t think anyone in the mainstream media wants to really be the first to come out about it because no one wants to be thought of as “broken.”
Who do you trust more – your doctor or your intuition?
Definitely my intuition (except when trying to figure out if I’m pregnant or not early on)! I think doctors are valuable in a lot of ways, but I could write pages about the scare tactics and arbitrary time limits that I think our society and the medical world put out there regarding fertility and especially pregnancy, but I’ll spare you.
Were you using any form of birth control before you started TTC?
Yes, the Pill for 10 years. Getting off of it was really tough, especially since I’d been on it for so long. My cycle was so irregular at first and I had all kinds of things going on… constant headaches, throwing up etc. to the point that I thought we were pregnant (that was before we started TTC), but it was just my body adjusting to life after the Pill. The hardest part was that we started TTC about two months after I got off the Pill, so I really didn’t have a regular cycle to compare to every month, so every month new things would happen to me around the time of my period that I had never felt before, so I would always be so confused as to if I was pregnant or if it was just my new, pill-free cycle. That’s probably why I didn’t mind my period coming because it was at least an answer! It’s only in the past six months that I feel like I have a normal period again.
Have you done anything to try to boost your fertility?
Aside from acupuncture and the herbs that they give me, I haven’t really tried anything else except trying to live a healthy lifestyle with more organic, nutrient-rich foods. One of our friends told us that she read that orange juice is good for guys to build up their sperm, so my husband has been drinking a lot of it, but again, do I think that that alone is going to get up pregnant – no. I also make sure that he or I don’t put cell phones in our pockets or anywhere next to our reproductive parts. I don’t know if it even matters, but I’m just being on the safe side.
Anything else you’d like to add?
This past month and a half, something amazing has happened to me. After finally realizing that getting pregnant is not in my control – I mean really accepting it – I have completely surrendered my chokehold on this process. I realized too that everything I tried to do to get pregnant like planning when we have sex, going to acupuncture, even eating really healthy, were just ways in which I was still trying to control this thing. Even though those things are not really negative, they still give me a false sense of control which made not being pregnant every month that much harder because instead of feeling like it just wasn’t our time, for whatever reason, I felt like I didn’t do enough. And after coming to this realization, it hit me that for all of us going through TTC – and especially those of us that tend to be more controlling (like myself), this issue of control is super important and by letting go, it can almost completely change this process for us.
The way I surrendered was to say, out loud, “Universe, I am giving this up to you. It is not in my hands and I will not try to pretend that it is. You have given me so much so far that there is no reason I shouldn’t trust you.” And that was it. It really didn’t feel too different after I said it, but what happened next DID feel extremely different.
It just so happened that that month, at one of my last acupuncture appointments, my acupuncturist was taking my pulse and she said to me, “Oh, you have the pulse of a pregnant woman.” I had read about how they can take your pulse in many different ways and one way can tell if you’re pregnant or not. I didn’t get too excited, but I really felt like this could be it because my period was also a few days late. Because I had surrendered it, I didn’t really let myself play the mind game of trying to tell if I was pregnant or not. I spotted for about three days and was sure that this was our month – it felt so much like it that I even let myself even calculate the month I’d be due which is something I haven’t let myself do in eight months or so. I even peeked in our guest room and imagined where I would put the crib and what the room would feel like with the presence of a baby in it.
Wouldn’t you know, the next night, the blood came. When I saw it, I immediately swore the top shelf swear word. And then the strangest thing happened. I didn’t feel sad. My logical mind was telling me, “You should be disappointed, angry, frustrated, sad…” but my body was like, “You don’t feel any of these things and therefore you’re not going to go through the emotions of them.” I remember that I laid down to go to bed and it was almost as if I was trying to make myself cry while I was telling my husband how disappointed I was (or thought I was), but I couldn’t cry. It was as if I didn’t have tear ducts – my body wouldn’t let me cry. And as I laid there, I worriedly thought to myself, “I’m never going to fall asleep. I’m going to be up thinking about this all night,” and within about thirty seconds, I was fast asleep. The next day, I felt great. I wasn’t sad at all. The surrender had really worked. The emotional side of my body had held me to my word and had not let me get upset about something that I had no control over and had given away. It really blew me away how smart my body was in this. It gave me a new respect for my intuition, which I felt had let me down recently after every month of feeling like “this was the one.” My brain was trying to sort of trick me with logic, but my body was not going to let it happen. (Which made me also wonder, how many times in life – in other cases – does our mind tell us something totally different than our body? Just food for thought.)
I ovulated about a week ago and as it crept up on me, I was not feeling in the mood at all. My husband and I did have sex a few days before the start of ovulation, but it was not for the purpose of babymaking. As part of this whole surrendering thing, I was also thinking that unless we are both in the mood to have sex, regardless of if it’s to make a baby or not, we should not force (read control) it. But, that was easier said than done. As my fertile fluid showed its face, I just kept hoping that my sex drive would rev up, but it never did. It killed me to not have sex while I knew I was ovulating and I almost gave in a dozen times when I thought about how much it would boost our odds if we did, but I stuck to my guns and did not give in and little did I know, but that turned out to be the most liberating feeling in this past year of TTC. Wow, I can NOT have sex while ovulating – I’m free!!!
Because of truly surrendering, my mind feels like it’s in a different place. I am not thinking about every little thing that could be a symptom anymore. I am not analyzing my cervical fluid every time I go to the bathroom. I am not counting my cycle days. I am not holding back on having one glass of wine. I have stopped being a control-freak about TTC. Honestly, I never thought I would get to this place and I’m a little ashamed that it took me a whole year to be here, but really I’m just happy that I got here at all. And, I do not believe that this surrender will get me pregnant – I was not using reverse psychology on the universe! But, I do believe that this surrender will help my emotional state during this process, which will affect everything else in a positive way. I still believe that my baby is coming at the same time it has been planning on coming all along, I just know that now I’ll be in a better place when it does.
I also believe that having come to this new mindset will affect my future pregnancy(ies). I feel lucky to have gotten past wanting to control something I can’t because I’m know that when I’m pregnant, the nine months (and then lifetime of being a mother) will be full of things I won’t be able to control.