Getting pregnant. It’s a momentous time in any relationship. Inevitably, there will be excitement and anticipation when the conscious decision is made to conceive a baby. For some, they simply decide it’s time to try, and within a year they’re headed to labor and delivery to welcome their new family member.
For others, they will be just starting down a long road of learning, trying, and trying some more. For these people, their spare bedroom remains empty. Their closets bare of adorable onesies and toys. Their arms and hearts aching to embrace a child.
The reality is, trying to conceive a baby can be an absolutely gut-wrenching experience when it doesn’t go as planned. There are so many factors which can make the process truly challenging. Sometimes, it just doesn’t happen like we expect it to, and it can very easily become an all consuming mission for the women who want nothing more than a child to call their own.
To anyone who has not personally struggled in their efforts to conceive, it can be extremely difficult to accurately explain the emotions involved. Quite frankly, it’s difficult to put that kind of longing and frustration into words. It might seem foolish to some people. That’s understandable.
After all, these women generally have their health and a partner who loves and wishes to spend life with them. But, to yearn for something so deeply that the world tell us is our right (to have children), and be denied that opportunity while it seemingly happens for everyone around us with ease, well, that just plain sucks.
The pain can be crippling. So, knowing this, it’s easier to understand why some women become absolutely laser focused on the mechanics and specifics involved in trying to conceive. The following is a list of 15 confessions from women (we’ll refer to them as Jane, because their husbands still don’t know how much money they spent on pregnancy tests) obsessed with conceiving a baby.
It’s fairly common knowledge that ovulation occurs in the middle of a woman’s menstrual cycle. This is simply an average, though. Each woman is unique. Many people do not realize that for successful conception to occur, intercourse needs to occur within a specific timeframe around ovulation, which is the release of an egg able to be fertilized by sperm resulting in conception.
According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, even if timing is perfect, each month a healthy, fertile 30-year-old woman only has a 20% chance of getting pregnant.
Rachel shares: If there was a way to find out if I was ovulating, I tried it. I kept track of my temperature, and even took them sporadically throughout the day just to get excited if it was over 99 degrees. I took OPK (ovulation predictor kit) tests every single time I peed from cycle day 7 on, and I was constantly checking for other signs that ovulation was near.
I would even pay attention to pains on either side of my pelvis, convinced I could feel the egg pop a few times...I still think I was right a couple of months.
Oh, the joys and horrors of pregnancy testing. The typical pregnancy tests seen in retail stores are quite expensive. A box of three, high quality tests can be as much as $20 or more. However, bulk test strips are readily available online, and many women become obsessed with testing for pregnancy due to the ease and convenience of doing so in the privacy of their own homes.
Joice shares: It was utterly ridiculous how often I was testing. I would convince myself every time I peed that my positive was just a test away. I would run out of tets and Amazon Prime order more just so I’d have more by the time I got home from work that day.
Sherry shares: I confess I promised not to test until after my period was supposed to come, but I went through a box and a half already and still have 5 days to go.
Sara shares: I confess that I dig through my trash to see if my bfns (big fat negatives) magically transformed into bfps (big fat positives).
Alley shares: I confess I always take my tests into different rooms to see if the light is better in there. Maybe with sunlight, instead of artificial light, I’ll spot a line...
Chances are, you’ve seen movies or multiple media versions of a vomiting woman who realizes in a moment of glorious clarity that she’s pregnant! For some, pregnancy can progress to the point that obvious symptoms are the first clue of a bun in the oven.
But, for women obsessed with the process of trying to conceive, they’re watching and waiting for symptoms from the minute they finish doing the deed. In fact, they can become so hyper aware of their bodies that they start noticing things that have always happened, but since they’re paying extra close attention, will convince themselves are bonafide pregnancy symptoms.
Tammy shares: I confess I check Google way too many times a day to see if my "pregnancy symptoms" can be felt this early on, or if I'm just reading into things too much. I mean seriously, did you know that just about anything you can dream up can be an actual pregnancy symptom?
There were months I convinced myself that I had a metal taste in my mouth (actual symptom), then there were others where I was positive I was colder than normal which just had to mean my body was working extra hard to keep a tiny implanting embryo warm.
For many couples who have been trying to conceive for any length of time, the actual lovemaking process can take a bit of a hit. It’s not that intimacy itself becomes less appealing, but the act of arranging it in order to coincide with ovulation can really take a toll after a while.
Jane shares: I began to really resent my husband for not being available, or super eager, to be intimate when I knew ovulation was occurring. In my head, I knew I was being unreasonable, but I was so hurt if he didn't make it the number one priority immediately upon me announcing a positive ovulation test.
It got to the point that I was hesitant to tell him about my OPK (ovulation predictor kit) testing, because it seemed more natural if I just pretended I was in the mood...I know he saw right through it though. A random session at 7pm on a Thursday evening was hard to pull off past our first year of marriage.
For many couples, there’s a bit of honeymoon phase involved with beginning to try to conceive. At first, they’re giddy and optimistic. After all, no one wants to believe they will join the ranks of those battling infertility.
And, we’re told our entire lives to use protection, that we can become pregnant the first time, and that babies happen every time we hit the sheets. Wrong. As the reality of month after month of negative tests sinks in, many women report feeling disbelief and an odd sense of denial.
Kendra shares: I confess that I didn't think it would take nearly this long to get pregnant. I also confess that I made wish lists on amazon, pinned baby ideas on Pinterest, and picked out a name within the first couple weeks of trying. I told everyone we were trying to get pregnant like it was something that would be accomplished by the month’s end. I feel so foolish now...two years later.
For some couples, open communication can become difficult as the long, emotional months of trying to conceive drag on. Sometimes, the process itself can becoming so taxing and stressful that the desire to continue trying begins to wane. One spouse may worry that the relationship is suffering in an attempt to achieve pregnancy, and those can be valid concerns.
Amanda shares: My husband finally told me after almost two years of trying that he wasn’t so sure he wanted to keep actively pursuing it. He thought it would be better to just stop and let it happen if it was meant to be. I on the other hand was researching fertility specialist and doctors for consultations in the nearby area.
We were on two totally different pages, which made bringing up seeking professional help that much more intimidating. Thankfully, after he realized how important it was to me, he was on board too, or at least he pretended to be.
Jordana shares: My amazing husband has wanted a son for as long as I can remember. My darling daughter is 10 now, and I'm trying to tell myself that this is for the better (if we have another one). Would I be happy if I had a son...sure. But I don't no how to tell him that I'd be perfectly ok without another one.
The app store is a magical place for all things TTC related. There are countless programs available which claim to help a woman track her cycle, log intercourse sessions, spot symptoms, and more. While helpful at first, many of these apps can become an addiction and definite source of anxiety.
As the days count down to what the app says should be a positive pregnancy test, women become more and more anxiety ridden.
Holly shares: You could not tear me off my cell phone when I was actively trying to conceive. I could tell you at any given moment which cycle day I was on, the number of days until predicted ovulation, and probably the same info for the last 12 cycles. There was absolutely nothing random about my period or my attempts at conceiving. I was as informed as I could be.
Fabbie shares: I had so many TTC apps and pregnancy apps installed on my phone that I actually put a passcode on it for the first time, because I didn’t want my husband to see it and think I’d gone off the deep end.
Women trying to conceive are naturally going to become more efficient planners. Chances are they’ve become informed about the importance of timing in regards to intimacy, and many become super organized out of necessity to facilitate more lovemaking. So, knowing the potential due date of any baby conceived during a given month isn’t too difficult, but some women admit to taking it to a whole different level.
Barbara shares: After I knew I’d ovulated, I would start plugging the date into various due date calculators online. I’d sit and dream about what it would be like to bring home my December baby, or I’d envision the theme for my baby shower and nursery.
At first, it gave me an escape as I anxiously waited out the days required to start testing, but eventually it just began to depress me more. I would realize my chances for having a baby within the same calendar year were fading or gone, and I’d get super down. That’s when I knew I had to stop.
Maya shares: I was so knowledgable about the timing of my cycles and ovulation date that when we finally did conceive, I went into my early, dating ultrasound and told my fertility doctor how many days pregnant I was. He humored me with a laugh, started my vaginal ultrasound, measured the baby, and apologized for doubting me. 6 weeks 5 days, buddy. I told you so.
There is a TON of information, first hand experiences, anecdotal evidence, and general advice available on the internet regarding the trying to conceive process. Combine that with the mind of a woman who can barely think of anything else other than her attempts to become pregnant, and you have the perfect recipe for an online addiction of a serious nature.
Linda shares: I confess to spending way too much time scouring the internet for tips, tricks, and stories from others about TTC. I was literally obsessed. If my boss had checked my internet history at work, I would have been fired, big time. I browsed forums all day and was constantly researching common causes of infertility. I could literally think of nothing else. It was a dark time for me.
Danielle shares: I had to make a habit of clearing my internet history every night, because I didn’t want my hubby to see the things I was researching non-stop. Sperm count, mobility, cervical mucous checks; I was practically a PhD in reproductive matters. The poor guy would have been horrified, since he still thought we were just having fun and having lots of intimacy in the hope we’d get knocked up as a result.
Jealousy happens. It’s not pretty. It’s not nice. It’s not always fair, but it’s hard to watch women around you becoming pregnant with a sneeze when you’ve been trying your heart out for a year or more. Add a potential early loss or miscarriage to the mix, and you can be left with some serious pregnancy envy. It’s understandable and natural.
Kelly shares: At first, I had no problem being thrilled for and celebrating my pregnant friends. I was okay. But, after the months and then years began to drag on, it was just plain impossible. I know it sounds petty, but sitting at a baby shower and smiling when every fiber of your being is heartbroken is not easy.
Believe me, I was still happy for them, but I’m not that good of an actress, and I didn’t want to bring them down on their big day.
The online community of women actively trying to conceive is an incredible one. There’s something very unique about the experience of trying to conceive that enables women to support each other in a way that is both beautiful and powerful. While there are always exceptions to the rule, most women online are willing to listen to the ugly, raw, and real emotions that result from the experience.
Ashley shares: As soon as I knew a cycle was a fail, I’d literally run to the girls I’d met online who were also TTC. My husband was supportive, and my mom cared, but they truly understand. They wouldn’t feed me the pleasantries and canned lines. They understand, and we could just be miserable on our periods together, until it was time to dust ourselves off and get geared up for next month.
One of the more miserable aspects of trying to conceive is the feeling that you’re letting others down when you’re not successful. Impatient parents (read: eager-to-be grandparents), siblings, and friends often ask when you’ll be having kids, and if you’ve clued them into the idea that you’re actively trying, they can get pretty persistent with their inquiries.
Mandy shares: It got to the point that I was avoiding calls or social situations because I was so depressed about not being pregnant. I didn’t want to speak to my girlfriends when they’d call, because they were all single and their goal was not getting pregnant. I felt so alone, and it made me an angry person at times.
Kendra shares: My poor mom was such a champ. She put on such a brave face for me and was always encouraging when I’d tell her I’d tested negative or started my period. I knew her heart was breaking too, and she wanted nothing more than to become a grandma.
As the years wore on, I began to avoid talking about TTC with her, other than just telling her what the doctor was suggesting. In the end, it just made taking her with me to the first ultrasound that much more special.
Implantation spotting refers to small, often times inconspicuous amounts of blood that a woman may experience as spotting toward the end of a cycle, which is the result of a fertilized embryo embedding into the uterine lining during the process of implantation. For true implantation spotting to occur, a pregnancy must be confirmed.
However, many women experience bleeding of any kind and hold onto every hope that she has conceived.
Samantha shares: My period would start as usual, but I would convince myself that it was implantation spotting. I would deny the fact that it was as heavy as normal, with accompanying menstrual cramps and convince myself I had a super embryo digging in. I’d text, see a negative, and after a few days accept that the month was a bust. Anything to hold out hope.
Iris shares: There are so many stories online about heavy implantation bleeding. I would just refine my Google searches to only read those types of stories with happy endings. It was rough. I feel like I could have saved myself a lot of grief by just accepting that my period had started and moving on, but hindsight is always 20/20.
At this point, it’s easy to see why the start of a woman’s period while trying to conceive is such a devastating blow. Up until the moment it arrives, she’s been able to hold out hope that she still had a chance; hope that she might be the one waving a positive pregnancy test in her partner’s face and screaming for joy.
Vanessa shares: I confess I'm always nervous to tell my fiancé when AF arrives because I hate disappointing him. He's not upset with me; I just know how ready he is for a little one.
Lacey shares: There were times I would just sit on the toilet in the bathroom and sob. I am not an extremely religious person, but I talked with God more then than any other time. I wanted to know why, why I couldn’t have the one thing I wanted so badly. I cried in a way I’ve never cried before, and I’ve experienced loss in my life. This was different, and it was brutal.
There’s something amazing that happens every month for the hoards of women trying to conceive. They try, they fail, and they dust themselves off and get back to it. It’s truly remarkable the willpower involved in proceeding.
Fertility treatments, plans, and appointments aside, these women are brave. But, would we expect anything else? After all, they’re the very women who will someday be mom. Powerful and full of love.
Teresa shares: Almost every month, I would tell myself, “That’s it! I’m done. I can’t do this anymore. I’m sick of it.” I’d pack up my OPK’s and HPT’s, hide them away in cupboard, and tell myself I was over it. Then, a few days would pass, my period would end, and I’d quietly put everything back in the bathroom drawer and start testing again.