The Long Wait to Get Pregnant
So I have looked forward to having my own family, and a house full of children, from when I was still small. I knew one day I would be a great mother. I used to take care of my own baby dolls as if I were already a mom. I felt like I knew everything there was about caring for children.
When I became a teenager, I started babysitting for all of the families in my neighborhood. I watched children from infancy through school age and loved it! As my 20s creeped up on me, I knew that it was just a matter of time before I found the right one to spend my life with and we would begin our own family.
At 23 I bought my first home and started my career as an elementary school teacher. I figured that since I couldn’t have my own little ones yet, having a classroom full of them every day would be enough to satisfy me. Unfortunately, every year that went by, I loved children even more and my desire to have my own grew at an unbelievable rate. I even considered starting a family without a husband, that maybe things would just be a little backward for me.
I met my husband at 28 years old, but it took another 3 years before he proposed and we got married. Even then, getting pregnant, and having our big family, was a very rocky road for us.
HOw long have you been trying to get pregnant?
I think about this all the time. Teenagers are taught to protect themselves during intercourse to make sure that they don’t get pregnant unexpectedly, but the rates for teenage pregnancy are higher than ever. However, especially as couples are waiting longer and longer, and are consistently getting married at older ages than ever before, the rate of infertility and couples needing to seek alternatives ways to start a family have also grown exponentially.
It’s as if things are backwards and it’s teenagers that are meant to get pregnant and not couples that have waited for marriage. It doesn’t seem fair. After my husband and I were married, it took another 2 years of trying to conceive (TTC) before we were successful, and were even told along the way that we would never be able to have children together. We were part of the ranks of at least 15% of other couples in the United States that are diagnosed as infertile every year.
Infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant despite having frequent, unprotected sex for at least a year for most people and six months in certain circumstances. (Mayo Clinic) Many couples are in exactly the same place we were, whether they have been labeled “infertile” or not, desiring children of their own for a lifetime, only to find that when it’s time to get started, it’s not as easy as it sounds.
What ensues from that point is an endless wait for about 20-23 days every month, just waiting to find out if your efforts worked that month, only to be sadly disappointed at the end of every nail-biting waiting period.
Couples, mainly women, end up asking themselves if they are doing something wrong or if something is wrong with them. They visit the doctor, read every book on the market about fertility, getting pregnant and how to increase the chances of conception, and even consider alternative options.
Most couples jump through hoops to lay on their backs for 15 minutes after intimacy with their hips raised, to eat sunflower seeds, watermelon and all of the other recommended foods, and to change just about everything in their lives for the minor chance of possibly conceiving.
The real truth is that only about 10% of women get pregnant in the first couple of months of trying, which raises to 50% in the first six months, 70% in the first nine months, and 80% in the first year naturally with no other obvious problems.
An additional 10% will take another year to conceive, and the last 10% will be diagnosed as infertile (whether or not it's true) and will be encouraged to consider other methods for a family. Obviously these numbers are just estimates, but most women, given enough time and trying, will conceive all on their own. But I realize that this doesn’t make you feel any better. Me neither. At 33 years old, conception couldn’t come any slower.
Well, at this point, you can sit around feeling sorry for yourself, continuing to try month after month making yourself miserable, or you could also just stop worrying about it and let it happen naturally.
Chances are, if you simply continue being intimate with your significant other regularly, at least 2-3 times a week, you are keeping yourself healthy with a healthy diet and regular exercise (and I would highly suggest laying off of any medications possible) you’ll likely conceive eventually. But this is much harder than it sounds. I absolutely hate hearing the words, “Just stop worrying about it” and “You’re not getting pregnant because you’re worrying about it so much.”
When you want a family, especially as you are getting older, it’s impossible to stop thinking about it, but you CAN let go of the stress. And if all of this isn’t enough, then what? What are you and your significant other willing to consider? There are so many great options, that even I hate hearing about, that are available to you.
First, please just go visit your OB/GYN and let him or her know that you are trying to get pregnant and are struggling. Your doctor should be able to do a simple blood test to see if everything is okay. He or she may have some really simple recommendations for you to try to make your lives a little easier. If there is something wrong, you’ll likely get detailed information on all of your options from there.
Before you do anything though, read my article Struggling to Get Pregnant? I have the Answer! It's in this article that I talk to you about a fantastic book called how to get pregnant naturally, and even how to figure out what's going to to keep you from getting pregnant yourself. There's no need for doctors, pills, surgeries, etc. if you can figure it out all on your own, and she makes it easy! Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler,
One of the options the doctors will give you will include fertility drugs. You can pay as little as $100 for a medication that will release hormones that induce ovulation and make the uterus more receptive to egg implantation.
You could also have artificial insemination, where your husband’s sperm is injected straight into your body to increase the chances of your fertilization. This is one of the most common procedures for couples struggling to conceive and is typically used for couples where the man has a low sperm count or slow swimming sperm.
If it’s your husband that is experiencing the infertility or has a genetic disposition neither of you want passed on to children, you could use donor sperm and attempt artificial insemination.
IVF, or in vitro fertilization, is another procedure in which one of your eggs is fertilized by your husband’s sperm outside of your body, and then the egg(s) is implanted into your uterus. This is not a guarantee that you’ll get pregnant, but more of assistance on the doctor’s part to help you.
If it is you experiencing the infertility and not your husband, you could use donor eggs, or donor embryos, and try IVF. The egg would use your husband’s sperm, the embryo would already be fertilized from another couple. (Parents)
You could try surrogacy, usually used in the case that both partners are infertile, in which another woman carries your child for you. She could carry a donor egg or a donor embryo, or any combination of the above in order to assist you in having your own child.
Finally, there is adoption. I think most people understand the adoption process, in which you legally state, in a court of law, that you now claim a child that is not yours biologically, and/or was not conceived by your means. Many couples are able to adopt newborn babies.
Obviously there are more, but much more complicated options, but if you find yourself in need of any of those, your doctor will be there to walk you through the process, and you’ll likely know way more than I do at that point.
Just know that most of these options come at a hefty price and a very low percentage of people actually need it. Side note: After two years of trying to get pregnant with no luck, we discovered that we had been missing my ovulation week by a couple days before or after every month for 24 months. Just learning about my cycles and how my body worked (after reading that book above!), we got pregnant the very first month of trying naturally.
What hurts even more, is when conception is achieved, whether naturally or with medical help, and you lose the baby. My husband and I have now lost a number of pregnancies, because my body was struggling to actually hold on to my embryos. We could be pregnant one day, and find out after a week or even longer that I was no longer.
Of course, it’s much more traumatic than just that, but you get the point. I’ve even talked to mothers that have been 4 to 6 months along and were picking out the name of their child and setting up the nursery, only to lose the baby. We have been there as well. A couple years ago, we lost our second son at 5 months pregnant.
We've had plenty of hard knocks when it has come to pregnancy and children around here over the years, and plenty of pain to go with them. But there are never any guarantees at any step in this process. One big thing we learned is how important your diet is along the way. I'm not just talking about eating in moderation and cutting out the sweets.
You'll want to know what Toni Weschler has to say on the subject. You'll also want to check out the book . She goes into detail on how what you eat can affect your menstrual cycles and your fertility. I learned so much more than you learn by talking to others or listening to the media about what's truly healthy and what's not. if you're serious about getting pregnant, you'll want this book as well. Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition by Marilyn M. Shannon
You may not get pregnant naturally, and one of more of these options may not work for you, or even be an option. But if you truly want children, it will happen, likely in the most unexpected way. I know this doesn’t solve your pain and heartache. I’m there with you.
I only mean to give you support that you are not alone, and hope that there is a future that includes children for you and your spouse if that's what you really want. What we did was to schedule a deadline for getting pregnant naturally. After one year of trying, we gave it one more year before we considered other options. (Just before the deadline, we got pregnant on our own! Seriously read Toni Weshler's book.)
Though it doesn't make the waiting process easier, at least I knew I didn't have much longer to wait to consider something else. Because we really didn't want to have to go through the medical costs and pain that accompanies typical fertility treatments, our next consideration was fostering to adopting. Did you know that if you adopt a child you are fostering, the adoption is covered by the state?
Good luck in your efforts! To give you a little hope for the future, we now have two beautiful little boys of our own, conceived naturally, despite what all of the doctors told us, and I'm 38! We are planning our next child now.
© 2014 Victoria Van Ness