We have a doctor’s appointment in September and we are trying until then. However, the sex is very results-driven. And it seems like everyone around us is getting pregnant. We have two close friends who got ladies pregnant on accident. We have three first birthday parties and two baby showers to attend next month alone. Everyone has comments about us not having kids yet, but they don’t know that we are trying but failing. The reason everyone has comments is because we spent the last few years traveling the world and living the dream. We had such a great relationship before this happened, and now we are just so focused on babies.
I only go and drink when I know I couldn’t be pregnant. My husband bugs me about coffee and what I eat. He brings up what we could do in the “nursery” and when it is acceptable for boys to start playing football. We moved to a house with a great school district and own a big house that should have kids in it. But I don’t want to talk about kids we don’t have or their hypothetical post-college football careers until we are pregnant. So then my husband thinks that I am not as invested as he is. But it makes me want to cry to talk about it. We are well-educated, upwardly mobile, well-traveled, loving, organic-food-buying people. We are just so sad. What can we do? — Wishing for a Baby
First of all, people are not making comments about your lack of babies because you’ve been “living the dream”; they are making comments because they are thoughtless. And this is a good time to remind readers who may be tempted to ask their childfree friends — especially the married ones — when they’re going to have children, that it’s none of your business! Don’t ask that question. For all you know, your friends have been trying and trying with no success yet. Maybe there have even been miscarriages, and imagine how much it stings every time some well-meaning, but thoughtless, person asks why they don’t have children yet.
Now, back to you, LW. First of all, I’m glad you have an appointment with your doctor in September. I know he or she will give you the kind of advice I can’t. She will probably tell you that eight months isn’t that long to be trying to get pregnant and not succeed yet, though I’m sure it feels like it’s taking forever. I think for women under 35 in good health who have been off birth control for a while, six months is about average (don’t quote me on that; I’m going from what I remember reading when Drew and I decided to start trying to conceive). Depending on what kind of birth control you were on and how long you took it, it may take several months for it to even totally clear your system. Again, these are all things a medical professional will be able to talk with you about, along with tests you might take to rule out any issues, and alternative therapies you might consider (I have friends who have had success with acupuncture, for example). My point is that what you’re going through is normal. And your reaction, as well as your husband’s, is also normal.
It’s a stressful thing to want something like a successful pregnancy and have little control over when — or even IF — it will happen. When it’s your own body that seems to be betraying you each month, that makes things even harder. And when it seems like everyone around you is making and having babies — even people who aren’t trying to; even people who maybe shouldn’t be — it’s like the world is mocking you. And when that mocking and the monthly disappointment and just the overall stress of wanting something you can’t make happen on your preferred timetable — especially when you’re used to things in your life going pretty smoothly, as you probably are as a “well-educated, upwardly mobile, well-traveled, loving” couple — then the letdown is especially severe and can quickly become a wedge between you are your partner. I’ve seen it happen to friends of mine — people who bought big homes to fill with kids, only to sit in the empty space and be reminded every day of the space in their wombs they were having trouble filling. It sucks.
I’ll tell you what I told one friend in particular after over a year of unsuccessful pregnancy attempts: Enjoy this bonus time you have, just you and your husband. Sooner or later, whether it happens the old-fashioned way or not, you’re going to be parents and your life will be forever changed. It will be a very long time before it’s just the two of you again. Gone will be the days you could travel with such freedom, or even just leave the house spontaneously. Once you have kids, every move must be planned. Bags must be packed with a million essentials — even for a quick neighborhood outing. Suddenly, your vacation time is filled with visits to and from family members who want to see your offspring, rather than whatever glamorous trips around the world you’ve been used to. For better or worse, it isn’t the same. It will never be the same again. So, as much as you can, try to enjoy the remaining time you have with your husband before life as you know it sort of explodes in a confetti of wonderful but crazy chaos.
What may help, of course, is communicating to your husband how you’re feeling. If telling him yourself that you feel disappointed every month when your period comes but that it doesn’t help to have him questioning how you process and express that disappointment, questioning whether you’re as committed to having a baby as he is, you may want to consider meeting with counselor a few times to help you through what is, easily, one of the most challenging situations in a couple’s life. An unbiased, neutral party can help you communicate with each other about these feelings that are raw and loaded.
For your own sanity, it might help to go to that place you don’t want to go — to talk with your husband about your thoughts on parenthood, understanding that talking does not equal jinxing. It’s healthy to communicate your hopes and fears. It’s OK to discuss what you want to do with the “nursery” even though there isn’t a baby-to-be yet. It’s ridiculous to think you somehow aren’t entitled to make plans or have dreams simply because you haven’t gotten pregnant yet, or that as soon as there’s a second line on that pregnancy test or the minute you’ve safely reached your 13th week of pregnancy when the risk of miscarriage drops dramatically, then — and only then — can you finally embrace the idea of motherhood and let the realization that you’re going to have a baby fully sink in.
When you live like that, what you’re telling yourself, essentially, is that it isn’t OK to plan for something — or to even believe it could happen to you — until you know 100% that it will. And when you do that, you’re letting fear be your guiding force. You’re so afraid to fully desire what you already desire because the pain of not getting it is unbearable to think about. But you already do desire what you desire. You already feel pain when you realize each month that you aren’t pregnant. You can’t really protect yourself from that. And you can’t protect your husband from it either. What you can do is change your attitude. Instead of tiptoeing around the idea of a baby for fear of jinxing your chances, you can accept that you ARE going to have a baby, one way or another — you just don’t know when or how just yet. But you’re going to have one. So go ahead and think about that nursery. Think about names. Take notes at baby showers about what kind of gear you should put on your wish list. All of these things will put you in a maternal mindset and when your mind starts thinking like a mom, it will communicate that message to your body. I’m not saying it’s magic and that you’ll immediately become pregnant, but I don’t think it hurts to start thinking like a mother and doing what you can to shift some of your internal makeup. It doesn’t hurt to replace fear with excitement. And it doesn’t hurt to send a message to your hormones that you are ready to make this happen.
I’m going to end here and let readers who have traveled this particular course weigh in now. I know there are readers out there who have been where you are, know what you’re going through, and have words of wisdom for you to consider. Sometimes, just hearing some success stories can help change your attitude. So, readers, what have you got?