What no one tells you about trying (and struggling) to get pregnant
Motherhood—and mothers’ voices—should be celebrated every day. But that also means having conversations about the complexities of parenting. In our weekly series, “Millennial Moms,” writers discuss the simultaneously beautiful and daunting responsibilities of motherhood through the lens of their millennial experiences. Here, we’ll be discussing things like burnout from the several side hustles we work to provide for our kids and pay our student loans, dating app struggles as young single moms, rude comments from other parents at daycare, and so much more. Stop by every week for a judgment-free space on the internet where women can share the less rosy aspects of motherhood.
I’ve always fancied myself a mother. I’m not sure when I knew I’d be a mom; it’s just always been in me, the same way I’ve always been a writer. It was innate.
And, naively, I thought becoming a mom would be easy: I’d wait until I’d found The One. We’d get married, we’d buy a house, and then, a few years later, we’d start our family. That was the plan, but as it turns out, there was another plan waiting for me.
At the time of this writing, it’s been eight months and four days since my husband and I started trying to conceive, or TTC, as it’s known on all the fertility apps and message boards. But I mean, who’s counting?
Granted, eight months is not that long in the grand scheme of things. We’re young; we’re healthy (aside from my history with fibroids). I know that these sorts of things take time—years, even. And that’s if they happen at all.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 6.1 million U.S. women between the ages of 15 and 44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant. But you wouldn’t know it based on social media, where pregnancy announcements and baby shower photos abound.
“About 6.1 million U.S. women between the ages of 15 to 44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant. But you wouldn’t know it based on social media, where pregnancy announcements and baby shower photos abound.”
Trying to get pregnant can be an emotional and isolating experience for people who have trouble conceiving. Admittedly, I feel a bit of guilt. After all, I’m the one who wanted to postpone starting a family while I focused on my career. My husband and I got married when I was 27 and, at the time, agreed we’d start trying to get pregnant when I turned 30. But at 29, I had a change of heart. Essentially, I wanted to wait until I was at a director-level position with a competitive salary and a decent parental leave package.
Once we finally had our ducks in a row, so to speak, I just assumed I’d get pregnant in the first few months. I was wrong. See, the thing nobody tells you is that you have to be physically “ready” (in quotes because apparently no one’s ever really ready) for it to happen on the first try. But it could—and often does—take longer.
The emotional rollercoaster is enough to send any rational person into frenzy, despair, or even outright depression. Here’s what I wish somebody had told me:
You will become acutely aware of every baby bump within a 10-mile radius.
At times, it will seem like everyone and their mom is pregnant except for you. In the span of one week, I learned that two coworkers, a friend, and a family member were all expecting. And that’s just counting my IRL community, not to mention all the classmates and bloggers I follow on social media. Pregnancy is everywhere, and it’s hard to watch what you want so desperately seem to come so easily and naturally for others.
The Two-Week Wait (or TWW) feels like an eternity.
After you ovulate, you wait…and you wait…and you wait some more. It’s hard not to constantly check the calendar or over analyze every would-be symptom. Are my boobs sore because I’m pregnant, or because my period’s about to start? Only time will tell…
Getting your period is the absolute worst.
No one warns you about the rage, the frustration, and the disappointment of getting your period when you’re trying to get pregnant. There’s no other way to say it—it just sucks.
Amid these frustrations, here are a few things that have helped me cope:
Leaning on my faith.
Not to sound like a total cliche, but I often find myself pulling on my faith in times of crisis. About a month ago, I started reading a devotional about infertility. It’s helped me learn how to trust God and understand that this delay is not a denial.
Listening to fertility meditations.
Recently, I completed “Surrender to Fear Around Fertility,” a 10-day meditation course by Ashleigh Grooms on the Insight Timer. The course features helpful coping techniques, tools, and mantras for when you feel overwhelmed by the process. The instructor also walks you through ways to give up control, which, for a highly ambitious Type-A control fanatic such as myself, is often easier said than done.
I’ve always been an open book, but the ability to be candid with friends and keep them updated on our journey has been therapeutic (in addition, of course, to actual therapy). There are a few women in my circle who’ve been where I am and understand what I’m going through, and they’ve made it to the “other side.” They give me hope and pull me back up when I’m feeling down.
I’ve asked them to pray for me, I’ve asked them to follow up with me after that next doctor’s appointment, and I’ve asked them to drink with me when I learn that this month isn’t the month either. I’ve also recently joined Fertility for Colored Girls, a support group for women of color who are struggling with infertility. People legitimately want to help, but it requires you to a) let them in and b) share explicitly what support looks like for you.
There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to dealing with infertility. What works for me may not work for you, and that’s okay. Experiment with your own ways of coping, but remember that you don’t have to suffer in silence and that, moreover, you’re not alone.