I Worried About My Marriage When I Couldn’t Get Pregnant

I know my husband loves me.  We’re one of those couples that even though we drive each other crazy on a regular basis we know we’re both in it for the long haul.  We argue over the little stuff like crumbs on the floor or lights left on in the living room but we support each other when it comes to the important things, like making time for each other’s physical and mental health, for giving each other attention when needed, for being there as a shoulder to cry on when things get tough.  I never thought I’d have any reason to question whether or not we’d make it.

An unexpected reason to worry emerged.

We were ready to start a family about a year after we got married. At first, we weren’t concerned that I didn’t get pregnant right away. Starting a family is a big decision, so a couple of months bought us some extra time to settle into the idea.   The idea quickly took root in our minds, but not in my body.  The months passed.  Then the years.

Over and over, I replayed a conversation in my head that I remember having with my husband years ago, early in our dating life.

“I want enough to field a soccer team”.

“You want eleven kids??”

“I want as many as I can have”.

Even as a nineteen-year-old college student, my husband talked about wanting a family. Other than making sure the light switches are off when no one was in the living room, having a family is the one things I knew meant the most to him.  So, how could he be happy forever with a wife who couldn’t give him a child?

I started to have serious concerns about whether he could stay with me if we were unable to conceive, or if he did stay with me, that he would never be truly happy.  He didn’t do anything to perpetuate either of these ideas, but the anxieties wouldn’t leave my mind, nonetheless.  I’m an anxiety-riddled worrier, and this situation expounded that.

Each month that passed was a devastation.  Each failed cycle was a punch in the gut.  Each month that we couldn’t even attempt to conceive, due to med complications, recovering from miscarriage, or waiting for ovarian cysts to subside, felt like an eternity.

The stress that comes along with infertility isn’t due to failure from an individual cycle, it’s the from the compound effect of repeated loss and the looming dread that it’s never going to happen.  Not this month, not next month, not ever.   With all the media attention that showcases women in their forties and fifties having babies, and all the technological advances making IVF more accessible, we sometimes forget that science isn’t magic. That not everyone ends up with that particular happy ending.  That “it’s never going to happen” isn’t just how it feels, but is sometimes how it really is.

Some people can’t have children because of chance, because of genetics, because of and medical mysteries.  For us, luck was on our side.  I don’t believe we became parents because it was meant to be, and I don’t believe it happened when it was meant to happen, I think we ended up becoming parents because we were lucky.  That, and the correct cocktail of ingested and injected meds, and the healthy dose of applied science that worked out in our favor.

The rational side of me knows that we would have figured out how to navigate a life without kids and that we surely would have been able to make it, despite plans working out differently than we had an anticipated.  My rational self thinks hat maybe it could have made us even stronger in the end.  The overly emotional side of me is beyond thankful that we have our two beautiful girls, not just because we get to watch them and learn from them and love them, but because we have two more reasons that make me wholly confident again that we will make it.  Two fewer reasons to over-analyze and fill my mind with self-doubt.

I worried about my marriage when I couldn't get pregnant. #niaw #startasking

I worried about my marriage when I couldn’t get pregnant. #niaw #startasking

It’s National Infertility Awareness Week.  Does your insurance cover infertility treatments? Does your employer allow it’s employees to utilize infertility treatment without fear of termination?  Does your state provide legal access to a multitude of family planning options? Do your friends and family support those who struggle with infertility?  Do the candidates you are voting for?  It’s time we all start asking these questions.  Even if we have our own fertility resolved.

 

 

 

A Comprehensive Pre-Pregnancy To-Do List

A pregnant woman

A pregnant woman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pregnancy preparedness: Things you’ll want to do before you get knocked up – in no particular order.

1.  Start telling strangers in line at the grocery store and strangers you’re connected with on social media that you are pregnant and that you are  planning to formula feed.  Take notes when they give you loads of valuable advice about infant feeding.

2.  Stare at your naked self in the mirror and pinch the flabbiest part of your belly.  Sneer at it in disgust. Then, try to imagine that your flabby belly will never again be this toned.  Pat your (soon to be thought of as toned) flab and tell it you’ll miss it.

3.  Google childbirth worst-case scenarios.  Develop extreme anxiety.  PANIC.

4.  Stock up on your favorite seasonal treats, since you don’t know what will be available when you crave it most.  DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT eat your Thin Mints.  You will need them later.  TRUST ME. Scavange boxes from your friends and family if you can.

5.  Drink copious amounts of vino.  You’re really gonna miss this stuff.

6.  Attend a natural childbirthing class and ask questions like, “What is the herbal equivalent to an epidural?” and, “How many six packs do I need to drink to help my milk come in?”

7.  Keep a box of tissues in your purse at all times.  When you want to be pregnant, everyone else around you will become pregnant. Teenagers, nuns, your eccentric uncle.  EVERYONE.

8.  Go to yoga.  You’ll need the core strength to sustain a healthy pregnancy, delivery, and recovery.  You’ll need the breathing exercises to offset the breast-feeding advice, childbirth horror stories and immaculate conceptions going on all around you.

9.  Kegels.  Yes, you need to do them.  Start ’em now.  Do them in the car, do them at work, do them when you empty the dishwasher. You’d better get used to multi-tasking.

10.  Drink more wine.  Relish it.

11.  Research baby products and read each and every review.  Buy fifteen books reviewing the products and then buy three more books reviewing the reviews. Create an elaborate wish list.  Go register for products and get so annoyed with the process that you just scan the first two items on each shelf. (*Note – those choices will work out just fine).  Pass along books along to the nearest pregnant sap.

12.  Sex it up.  If you’re struggling with conception, sex will quickly turn into a chore you have to complete in between laundry and online banking.  Once you get pregnant, your husband will worry about poking the baby.  Right after having the baby, you’ll worry about breaking your pelvis.  When the baby is older, you’ll both choose sleep over sex.  It’ll be a couple years before you’re both in the mood (and that’s when you’ll start trying for your next baby).

13.  Read up on the importance of infant schedules and sleep training.  Try to do 100 pull ups, walk across hot coals, and hold your breath for 4 minutes under water.  These three tasks will better prepare you for the inevitable realization that carefully planned schedules and techniques won’t work out for you in any way, shape or form.

14.  Start slathering on the cocoa butter.  If it doesn’t prevent stretch marks, it’ll at least smell like coconuts and make you think of the beach.  Once you’re pregnant, keep using it but know that you’ll feel less like a Hawaiian Tropics girl and more like a beached whale.

15.  Start spending time with other people’s kids.  Their whining, incessant chatter, tantrum throwing and disgusting drooling will prepare you for what is to come.  Let me remind you that evolution has programmed us to love our own so much more than our neighbor’s.  Don’t be afraid, your own will be amazing.  A science refresher is always valuable.

16.  Relax.  Because we all know that unlike ovulation, balanced hormones or healthy uterine linings, this is the true key to conceiving.

Any other advice for those who want to be parents?