You’ve made the decision to grow your family! Congratulations! This is an exciting, hopeful time in your life. Trying to get pregnant is one of the biggest decisions a couple can make together. What’s it really like?
You have a big secret. At first, trying to get pregnant is like keeping one of the biggest secrets in the world. You’re excited. After all, this could be the month! You might want to shout from the rooftops, “We’re trying for a baby!” But something inside you stops you from telling everyone you know that you’re having quite a bit of sex with your partner. There’s another part of you that knowingly smiles when a relative prods you and asks when you two will have a baby. Your heart and head scream, “Soon!” but you tell everyone, “Oh, someday.”
It’s really fun in the beginning… It is really fun to try and get pregnant at first. Frequent intercourse is important during the first months of trying to get pregnant. Of course it’s fun! It’s just what the doctor ordered! Your partner is equally excited about all the sex you’re having. It can be one of the most intimate times of your marriage.
…And really frustrating as the months go on. With month after month of negative pregnancy tests, you’ll become frustrated, sad, and angry. Your rational side will repeat “It can take a normal, healthy couple up to a year to get pregnant,” but the emotional side of you will start to wonder why it’s not working yet. You’re surrounded by friends who tell you they got pregnant in the first month of trying and others who say, “Oh, if my husband even looks at me, I get pregnant!” Listen to your rational side.
You’ll look for strategies for success. After a few months, you might start scouring the internet for a way to make this month the month. This is when you’ll discover basal body temperature, cervical mucus, and books like Taking Charge of Your Fertility, Toni Weschler’s book that is widely considered the “fertility bible” for women. You might start dabbling in fertility awareness methods, but as the months go on, you’ll be diligently tracking your temperature and looking for signs of ovulation. You may even invest in ovulation kits. This is all normal. Remember that rational side? Listen to her.
You might get jealous of your pregnant friends’ announcements. You may find yourself surprised at your reaction at a friend’s pregnancy announcement if you’ve been trying to get pregnant for more than a few months. Of course you’re happy for them! But you can’t help but think of what you don’t have. It’s normal to feel sad or jealous when you hear someone else is pregnant when you are trying, especially if you’ve been trying for a while. Be gracious and express your happiness for them, but allow yourself some time to feel what you do in a safe space.
Doctors can help. If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for over a year if you’re under 35 (6 months if you’re over 35), you might want to contact your doctor. They will likely refer you to a reproductive endocrinologist to run a variety of tests to check your ovary function, your partner’s sperm count, etc. While all of this may seem scary, keep in mind that these doctors are there to help you achieve what you’ve been working toward. They can do this through medication and a variety of fertility treatments. You and your partner can still make all the decisions about your family along the way.
You tell your secret. When you decide to pursue fertility treatments, you might decide to share your secret with family or close friends. Trying to get pregnant has consumed a lot of your time and your mind’s real estate, so you share your secret of trying to get pregnant. You may be surprised at who opens up about their own struggles and can be the most supportive to you and your partner.
I hope the trying-to-get-pregnant phase of your life is short and sweet. It should be fun and exciting. If you find yourself in the waiting room at a reproductive endocrinologist’s office, know that you’re not alone. According to the CDC, over 7 million women have received infertility services in their lifetime. As someone who tried fertility treatments, I know the infertility community will wrap you with support and love while you continue to try to get pregnant.