writing

Trying to Conceive: from Hopes, Dreams, Prayers, and Wishes

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Wade and I were both in our twenties and thought getting pregnant would be the fun and easy part.  For years, we had always been so careful. After a few months of going at it like bunnies, I was shocked and a little scared when I didn’t get pregnant right away. By Christmas, I was starting to freak out.

Grabbing a couple of my favorite Christmas cookies and a mug of hot chocolate, I joined my sister, Leah, on the couch at my mom’s house.  “They’re having fun,” I said, nodding toward my niece and three nephews playing a video game together.

Leah took a bite of her cookie and nodded. “When are you guys going to start having kids?”  

Wade and I had been married for six years and this question came up a lot.

I shrugged my shoulders. “We’re working on it, but nothing’s happened. I’m starting to worry that something’s wrong.”

“No,” Leah took a sip of her coffee and sat back. “Don’t worry about it yet. It took Mark and me about a year of trying before I got pregnant with Courtney.”

I took a sip of my hot chocolate. “I didn’t know that.”

“Yeah, you only have a window of a couple of days when you ovulate, so you have to get your timing right.”  

“What? Only a couple of days?” All those years of being so careful and there’s only a couple of days that you can get pregnant? Are you kidding me?

Leah took another sip of her coffee. “You didn’t know that?”

“No,” I said, feeling really stupid. “I must’ve missed that part of sex ed.”

My sister, Natalie, came in and joined us on the couch. We quickly changed the subject. Natalie and her husband had struggled with infertility for years before adopting their two boys. The topic of pregnancy was still a touchy subject and we did our best to avoid it when they were around.

In late January of 2003, I consulted my OB/GYN at my annual appointment. “Is infertility hereditary?”  

“Well, that depends.” Dr. Mitchell said. “In some cases it can be a genetic issue, but that’s not very common. Why?”  

“My sister had some infertility issues. She never got pregnant, even after multiple fertility treatments. I’m wondering if…”

He looked at his chart. “Did your mother or any aunts have any fertility issues or anyone else in your family?”

I shrugged my shoulders. “Not that I know of, only my one sister. My other sister has two kids…and all of my aunts and cousins have children.”  

Dr. Mitchell asked, “And how long have you and your husband been trying to conceive?”

“About four months.”  

“Well, you need to be really trying for at least a year before getting too concerned.” He jotted down a note in his chart.  “But, if it makes you feel any better, you could track your Basal Body Temperature to see when you are ovulating.”

“What’s that?”  

“It’s your temperature during sleep. Before you get out of bed in the morning, you’ll need to take your temperature. If you can, try to do this at the same time every day and write it down somewhere.  When you see your temperature spike, it means you’re ovulating.”

After that appointment, I went straight to the pharmacy and bought the best digital ear thermometer I could find. I made a calendar and taped it to the back of our medicine cabinet door and wrote down my temperature every morning.

When my temperature would spike, I’d think, Yes!  This is it!  I would kiss Wade and say, “It’s go time!”

Since we knew I was ovulating and our timing was good, we’d be certain I was pregnant. A couple of weeks later, we were proven to be wrong.

Then, my body started to toy with me. I’m typically very regular and can count on my menstrual cycle coming every 28-29 days. That is until we started trying to conceive.  I’d be a few days late with my hopes up and go buy a pregnancy test. I’d read the instructions carefully, take the test first thing in the morning, and beg for the two lines to appear.

Please God, please, two lines, baby, come on, two lines!  

When the time was up, only one line would appear and my heart would fall.  Typically, by the next day, my period would start and I would be in tears.

Our lives began revolving around my ovulation cycle.  Ovulation tests filled my bathroom. I bought urine tests, saliva tests, continued checking my temperature every single morning and turned something that used to be fun into a chore.

We tried just about everything. Wade was a good sport and would help by propping a pillow under me and I would lie there with my legs in the air, hoping gravity would do its magic. I even searched on the Internet “how to get pregnant,” which led me to take cough syrup and add whey to my food. Nothing seemed to work.  Each month was another disappointment.

By spring, friends and family started offering advice.  My mom bought me a Native American fertility bracelet, a dreamcatcher, and went to some psychic, who told her that I was “getting up too fast and that we needed to have sex at night and not get up until morning.”

My aunt said, “Pretend you’re teenagers and do it in the backseat of the car.”

A friend suggested, “Try different positions. Who is usually on top?  Maybe you need to switch it up.”

Another friend offered, “Try doing it while standing on your head so gravity takes over.” Now doesn’t that sound like fun?  Yeah, we didn’t try that one.

“Have sex every other day for at least three months,” my cousin with three kids said. “That worked for us.”

The most common advice we received was, “You just need to relax. You’re trying too hard.”

Most of the time, I would smile and try to change the subject. Wade is a really private person, so he’d make an excuse to leave the conversation, if not the room.  

“Does everyone need to know our business?” Wade asked. “It’s embarrassing!”

“They’re just trying to help. Their intentions are good.” I broke down in tears. “Why isn’t it happening, though?  I thought we’d be setting up a baby’s room by now.”

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