How do you manage the monthly highs and lows of trying to conceive?

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My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for about seven months now. I know the only way to get pregnant is to have sex, and I love boffing my husband, but making a baby is always in the back of my mind.

It’s hard to hit the end of the month (begining of my cycle) without a week of hoping I’m pregnant followed by depression because I’m not. If my period is late then we both get so hopeful, and when I’m not… it hurts all the more. Here’s my question: how have others coped with the depression that comes with not being pregnant (or not having a child) when you really want to be parents? — Courtney

What helps pick you up after finding out that you’re not pregnant or presently unable to fulfill your family expanding dreams?

Comments on How do you manage the monthly highs and lows of trying to conceive?

  1. I don’t know the answer, but I, too, go through this rollercoaster of emotions each month. You’re not alone.

  2. It took us 20 months to conceive. I had an irregular cycle to begin with and knew it would be difficult. After 7 months, my OB put me on Clomid, which brought a whole new level of ups and downs because of the surge of hormones (plus, it just made me feel kinda sick). I did that for 6 months including 1 unsuccessful IUI. I then switched to acupuncture, which always made me feel rested, but was stressful because it’s not cheap and not covered by insurance. After 18 months of TTC, I stopped TTC – no acupuncture, no fertility drugs, no charting…BUT I did have an HSG to see if my tubes were blocked. that week hubs and I did the deed (as recommended by my OB) and lo and behold 6 weeks later we FINALLY got a positive pregnancy test. (that was one year ago this week).

    Ultimately what made me feel better was staying physically active. I couldn’t make my body have a baby, but I COULD make my body run faster and longer, and get stronger with yoga. I really threw myself into being fit and it did keep me distracted (somewhat).

    Good luck!!!

    • ^ this. We had a miscarriage in January – a result of being freshly off my IUD, on steroids and pain meds from a significant shoulder injury, and not really taking care of myself (I think). Every month we get the negative test is another month to make myself healthier and better.

      • Please don’t blame anything you did or didn’t do for the miscarriage. There are lots of unrelated reasons and simply genetic reasons that a specific zygote doesn’t survive. The next zygote will be a different combination of genes. I know it’s corny, but I think of it kind of like “the stars align” except “the genes align.”

    • ARGH! Acronyms!!

      TTC = trying to conceive.
      IUI = International Uterus Investigation? Ideally Ukrainian Infants?
      HSG = Highly Sexy Grandmas?

      🙂

    • This really inspired me. I’m going to try and adopt this attitude a bit more. Lately I’ve been finding myself afraid to work-out or not eat enough just in case I am pregnant, which is kind of a ridiculous way of looking at it. Thanks so much!

  3. Wow, talk about timely: we’re going through this RIGHT NOW. It’s been difficult; my spouse has been fairly easy-going in regards to not being pregnant. I, however, find that I’ve been doing the “Ooh, maybe! MAYBE! What?!? I’m NOT? *cursegrumblesad*” dance on repeat over the last few months. As I write this, we just found out that we’re not pregnant yet again – but this time, for some reason, I’m able to be a little more philosophical about it.

    I wish I could put it down to meditating (although I should meditate) or finding more patience (although I should do that, too), but this time it’s just not as big of a deal. It’s probably because I have school coming up and a bunch of other stuff to focus on … maybe that’s it. My spouse jokes that I have the attention span of a 3-year-old on a sugar high, so perhaps the distraction of other stuff is enough to make it less immediate.

    Either way, I feel for you. It sucks, going through every month (we’re charting, too, so sometimes it feels like a total chore – and then no reward at the end of it) waiting and hoping and thinking “Oh, this could be it!” only to find out that no, it’s not. Sending good vibes your way.

  4. my partner and i are three cycles in and currently in the “waiting to find out if we’re pregnant” phase as opposed to the “waiting to try to inseminate” phase . . . either way, its a heck of a lot of waiting.

    i wake up daily at 6:30am and take my temp, update my chart and had been going about my day. however, i decided that i was going to start doing affirmations in the morning with a brief meditation to not feel like days were just ticking on by in all this waiting. i printed a list of affirmations and made a “welcome baby” sign for the space where i spend 10 or so minutes in the morning. now, i just sit there in the mornings doing affirmations and thinking about welcoming my time to be a parent. maybe it sounds cheese-y but it helps me not feel controlled by the conception process when i’m able to “affirm” these things into existence.

    if anyone is interested in my affirmations, email me and i’m happy to share. otherwise i’m trying to remember that regardless we are already heading down the parenthood journey and this is merely the beginning.

    baby wishes to you!

  5. I cant help here. I had to have two procedures done six months ago that have left me completely infertile. I was twenty three when I found out. Im twenty four now. I am fortunate enough to have an excellent partner who says he doesnt care, and loves me no matter what, but I know that he really wants to parent. We are too young to apply for most adoptions. That seems strange to me. That if I gave birth to a child myself I am considered more than old enough to raise it and provide for it, but when it comes to raising one that someone else couldnt take care of my age is called into question. Doesnt seem fair. We are currently knocking around the idea of fostering, which has been a goal of mine for many years. But ultimately for us the painful and depressing question isnt WHEN will we become parents. Its WILL we become parents. And HOW will we become parents.

    • The age thing gets to me too. My husband and I are 24 and 22 and want to adopt, but that same issue came up for us too. Mindboggling, considering that, yes, we’re more than considered old enough to have our own children.

  6. Apart from being each other’s support, and taking the time and giving yourself permission to be sad, I can’t say how I coped.
    We tried for 6 years. That’s 72 occasions of “Oh no, not again”. It doesn’t get easier, but there is a hump where you relax into a sort of acceptance, put down the charts, stow away the thermometer and accept that it may or may not happen. And then decide if you want to go for the whole intervention, or just leave it. Or just pray.

    It’s hard, but don’t lose sight of the most important thing – your well being. If “trying” is trying your emotions and your sanity, you need to take a break. Your body and mind won’t be done any good by falling to pieces every month.

    Love.

    *Side note – currently 27 weeks pregnant, so it does happen after that long for some – without intervention.

    • This comment reflects all my experiences as well.

      Part of things feeling emotionally easier for me was not putting things on hold mentally as much each month. Obviously, everyone’s comfort levels will vary, but the monthly highs/lows got easier when I allowed myself a glass or two of wine during the second half of my cycle.

  7. It took us almost 2 years to get pregnant. the first year involved lots of charting where I diagnosed my own issue – my luteal phase was too short! Thank you “Taking Charge of Your Fertility”, an amazing book that every woman should read. My regular GYN checked it out and indeed, my progesterone levels were low. At the one year mark I started visiting a Reproductive Endocrinologist who prescribed me progesterone so that I was “normal”, and then though we had all of the tests and nothing was wrong, it took a year for us to get pregnant (via injections and a second IUI after the first failed). I’m the kind of person who won’t take a painkiller for a headache, so taking the step was a big one for me. In the end, I wanted to know what was going on in my body (knowing that gave me a lot of peace of mind too). I’m thankful I have good health insurance coverage and live in a state that mandates coverage for fertility services (also, that I was old enough to see a doctor so soon – the younger you are the longer you need to wait for insurance to cover it).

    I found acupuncture very relaxing over the whole period. It helped to have someone whose job was to know and care about my situation. It made me more aware of the care I was taking (or not taking) of my body. Also exercise as someone mentioned.

    I really enjoyed the book “Inconceiveable” (forgetting the author now) – humorous, educational and gave me hope. She mentioned support groups (Resolve) that you may also find in your area. I found that I had created my own supportive community of family, friends and health providers that filled that need for me though.

    It is hard when you are in the middle of it, but many people eventually do have success. ‘It happens when it should’ they say – sometimes with intervention and sometimes without. Just be honest about your feelings, and take or get the help that you need, when you need it. You are not alone – there are so many people going through this silent ‘disease’.

  8. I went through this, too. I think I was under too much stress and wasn’t taking care of myself. I was also putting too much pressure on myself to get pregnant. It was kind of like the old saying, “A watched pot never boils,” only it was more like, “An obsessively charted vajayjay temp never spikes.”

      • While I got a “surprise” pregnancy, I was 3 months away from Metformin treatment.
        I have no clue why I got pregnant, and would never put it down to “we stopped trying” – because we didn’t.

        Some of the most disheartening advice was when people who were pregnant/had children told me to “stop trying, it will happen when you’re ready”. I’d been ready for years! I was as ready as I could be!

        • This drives me nuts! If we’d stop trying, we would never have sex during the right days (for some reason we always get in the mood before and after my fertile days) and therefor would never get pregnant. We’d like to get pregnant and therefore must “try” If there is a medical issue then “not trying” or “relaxing and not worring” will not help PERIOD

  9. We’ve been trying since Nov. 2008. After several rounds of Clomid, Femara, and five IUIs, we took a break this spring. Or rather, my husband took a break, because, like you, boffing *can* always lead to pregnancy, and I always sort of hope. But taking the pressure off for a few months did help our relationship (and bank account).

    I cannot recommend exercise enough. I decided that if I wasn’t going to be round from pregnancy, I was going to be flaming hot, which is always a mood enhancer.

    We’re starting with injectibles and IUI my next cycle, but I am going to continue to have other “projects” and things to focus on so I am not all consumed. And I’m not an obsessive charter, which I think would make me even nuttier to be honest. Make some art or write about it, but try not to dwell. Ultimately we are at the mercy of biology.

    Best of luck.

  10. How did I cope? Not well at all.

    We tried for 3 years without ever getting a positive pregnancy test. Did the HSG examine a PP talked about, went on Clomid for 7 cycles and Metformin for several years. Nothing, nothing, nothing. And while we were waiting for funding for IVF to be announced in our province, we got pregnant. But we lost the baby. And again and again. 3 losses in less a year. Absolutely heartbreaking. Now we’re 18 weeks pregnant and hoping that this one will last. None of those pregnancies involved any drugs or procedures, oddly.

    Having a good support network is important. People you can talk to about the problems, as personal and difficult as it is. I let my family know because I know they’ll be there for me no matter what, same with my close group of girlfriends. It also meant that people were a lot more sensitive to our situation and could avoid topics and change subjects if they knew something bothered me (and lots did).

    It also helped to take on a hobby that I could immerse myself in, keep busy, keep my mind on other things (man did I discover a love for canning!).

    Just don’t be afraid to talk about it. More people experience problems than you realize once you start opening up to people.

  11. i did a lot of yoga to relax. i used yogaglo.com, they have a meditation section, one of them is focused on embracing the feelings you are having and making space for them in yourself rather than letting them consume you. we were trying for 6 cycles after waiting one cycle after mirena iud removal.

    i also found a group of ladies on babycenter who also had their mirena iuds removed around the same time.we just had our first pregnant group member give birth last friday and we still have a few members trying to conceive. most of us have charted, at least half have had miscarriages or chemical pregnancies or both. but anyway, it’s awesome to find people who are in a similar situation so you don’t feel alone in your journey.

    i’m currently 22 weeks along and i totally feel for all my ladies still trying. one was about to quit trying when she suddenly got baby fever again 🙂

  12. thank you for this! i just posed this same question to a friend last week. not only are we on the the five-week up-down-up-down of “let’s do this!”/hurry up and wait/crossing fingers/etc, but the last week has been an even crazier subset…my cycle was a week late (though i was testing negative) and it started a day before i went to the doctor for another issue. while there, they had me test again, and i was told “surprise! you’re pregnant…at least, you *were.*” soooo…the last few days have been a crazy up-down of “yay! oh, wait, don’t get attached yet, it might not stick,” and ultimately we found out yesterday that i lost that one. =/

    soooo…yes. any advice on surviving this up-down emotional ride = greatly appreciated!

  13. All of the above are so helpful. Since I’m a lesbian and my partner and I couldn’t just boff and make a baby I really faced some other challenges in addition to having a short luteal phase and most of the other stuff mentioned. Online groups were really great for venting and seeing that I wasn’t the only one and that my situation wasn’t that bad compared to what could be. The Bump was a good one. After a year (which felt like FOREVER!) of trying the old fashioned lesbian way-at home- and some unsuccessful IUIs at a clinic, switching known donors, running around the city with live sperm!! and one horrid miscarriage later we have an awesome baby girl. It will happen!!! Hang in there.

  14. I cried and got drunk. Obvs not the best way to cope with things, but that’s what I did. It took us seven months to conceive our son….in those seven months I had an ovarian cyst and a very early miscarriage. When I finally got (and stayed) pregnant, I developed pregnancy induced hypertension at 30 weeks and became pre-eclamptic at 38 weeks. Oh, and my kid was breech. My body pretty much said “SCREW YOU BITCH!!” The whole making and growing a baby process sucked for me, but my son is awesome. I know I am very lucky and I hope everything works out for you.

    • I also cried and got drunk a lot! A highly underrated coping mechanism!*

        *not recommending actual alcoholism

  15. I feel your pain 🙁 We tried for two years before my husband was diagnosed with azoospermia, and I am in the midst of my second try with IUI.

    I get through it by journalling (well, more specifically, blogging, but I haven’t published it for anyone to read yet).

    Pouring out all of my worries and troubles helps me calm down and cope, and prevents me from sharing inappropriate information with people who neither need, nor want, to know. And it saves me from having only one topic of conversation to discuss with my husband.

    Plus, it’s cheaper than therapy 🙂

  16. I called my mother in tears. Or sobbed to my boyfriend while he held me. Or sat at my husband’s feet and just put my head in his lap and let myself be completely useless for a few minutes. And then I would take a deep breath, remind myself that infertility clinics don’t even talk to you unless you’ve been trying at least a year, and thought of new things I could try next month to make it more likely to work.

    I do think that it is a cruel trick of biology that you are guaranteed to get such disappointing news when you are at your most emotionally vulnerable and erratic (if you are a PMS sufferer anyway). I mean, I was prone to depression during my period even when I didn’t have a reason.

  17. The hardest thing for me is the fact that I can’t tell anyone about how it feels besides my husband. I can either keep it all to myself, or go nuts on the babymaking forums, which I try to avoid. (Read: stalk obsessively without commenting.)

    We have very little money and we currently live with my father and stepmom, even though in a year we’ll be doing well. So I don’t tell people we’re trying for fear of being told we’re idiots. I’m turning 29 in a couple of weeks, and yet, his family loves to tell me about how it’s perfectly fine to wait until your late thirties to early forties to start trying. That’s not comforting, and it’s not what we want – why not try now when we have a decent shot at doing things without intervention? Ridiculous.

    This might be a little TMI, but I found it really helped this month to have sex at totally not-fertile times for me (read: during Aunt Flo’s visit). Nothing was gonna happen, but so what? It was fun, and that’s really all that counts. My husband is terrified of our sex life being altered by babymaking, and I don’t blame him – it’s hard not to get clinical about the whole thing.

    • Perhaps also TMI, but once we’re out of the potentially fertile time, we make a point of indulging in some of the sexy things we like to do that can’t result in babies. It keeps the trying part from getting stale, and helps pass the time we’re waiting to find out if we’re pregnant.

  18. I have so much respect for anyone dealing with this situation. I’ve known family members and friends struggle to conceive, and seen how difficult it is for them. My own plan was to wait until I was a little older to start our family. When I got pregnant last year at 22 it was a real surprise, but having people close to me try so hard to build their families made it a simple choice to keep our baby. Our little girl is 13 weeks old, and the most beautiful thing in our lives. I know that the next time we have a child it will probably be much harder, and I hope that the experience of being a mama will make me strong enough to get through it.

  19. I did not find tracking my BBT to be helpful at all, just another stressor, another sign that something is wrong. Also, Clomid gave me terrible mood swings to the point that my husband hid any sharp objects. Femara has worked much better. In addition, I talked to my OB/GYN about my depression and got scripts for antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. Don’t be afraid to seek psychiatric help or find a support group. You shouldn’t have to suffer mentally through this process.
    I try to focus on the things that I can control like someone posted earlier (running faster, learning new yoga poses, finishing books and knitting projects, etc.) and things that help build my self-concept. I am not just someone TTC but also an artist, a cook, a good friend, and so on.
    Unfortunately, I do not have insurance that covers infertility/fertility treatments. Nor do I live in a state that mandates it. So, another thing that has helped me cope is getting involved politically to increase coverage for the many people struggling with this most basic human drive.

  20. I totally feel you on this one. I’m there myself. We tried for 9 months before I finally got pregnant, only to miscarry at 9.5 weeks in early April. We’d seen a good heartbeat and everything so it was a total shock. 🙁

    We’re back to trying again and the disappointment each month is now magnified by the fact that we were successful once. It doesn’t seem fair that we got over that huge hurdle of getting pregnant in the first place, only to lose it and end up back at square one.

    I just try to stay as optimistic as possible. I know I can get pregnant without intervention, at least, which I realize is a huge blessing. I exercise, I eat well, and I try to get plenty of sleep — those things make me feel better in general, as well as keep me as healthy as possible for baby-making.

    Good luck!!

  21. Know that your baby, whether it arrives in nine months or two years, or whether you conceive it or adopt it, will be the exact one you always should have had. If you don’t get pregnant one month, that simply means your exactly-right-for-your-family baby isn’t ready yet. When the time is right, that little energy will join you.

    • Just wanted to let you know that your comment touched me deeply, and I might actually write it down somewhere so I don’t forget it.
      I even sent it to my husband so he doesn’t forget it either.
      It’s not that what you said is completely new or different from other things I’ve read – perhaps it was the wording, or perhaps I just read it at the exact moment that my brain needed to process that info. Whatever it was, thanks for putting it out there. 🙂

    • I think you need to be really careful with who you say this to though – some people may find it wonderful and comforting. Personally, I find it dismissive of the psychological facts of infertility, and the difficulties of adoption.

      After 2.5 years of trying and only 1 pregnancy (which ended in stillbirth) we are exploring our options; Fertility treatments: they won’t touch us with a 10 foot pole due to my thyroid issues. Adoption: we aren’t eligible for a variety of reasons (not married long enough, no family members from that country, not in our province long enough etc). We just don’t know if we *will* ever have a baby, through whatever method. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen.

      To each their own, just…make sure you know your audience.

      • Yes, this. Some people don’t believe that partners or kids or friends are fated to be together, or that there’s a grand plan for us that we just have to wait for. So some people may not find that statement comforting.

        I’m 20 weeks pregnant with a son–my son, the son I’ll love, the son I’m exited to be having. I don’t and can’t think of him as the son I’m *supposed* to have, because my system of beliefs doesn’t really include that concept.

      • While the concept of “it’ll be the right one for you, it’ll happen when it’s meant to” is a great mentality to have, I fully agree with considering the audience. With one miscarriage and a few months of trying under our belts, I’ve found that – even though I know whoever is saying it is trying to be supportive – I absolutely loathe people telling me stuff like that. I know it’ll happened whenever and however it happens and I just want to be angry for a bit that this time wasn’t the time it happens.

  22. First when people tell you to relax it’ll happen tell them they dint know what they are talking about. That made me more stressed. The amount of anxiety neccesary to mess w your system would leave you a wreck. We were lucky we hit the jackpot on the second month of trying BUT I wanted to be pregnant a whole year before So even though we weren’t actively trying I wanted it soooooo badly. It turned out the hubby was even more stressed and while I thought let’s just aim for everyotger day isn’t that fun he felt like it was becoming a job, and felt alot of pressure. I know we are so lucky to get it so fast but I felt like I was trying for the whole year prior because I wanted to be a mommy so bad. The only people you will ever get the support you need is from ladies who have been there or are there. Good luck

  23. It took my husband and I 14 months to conceive so I know how you feel. Especially being in our 30s you start to worry something is wrong or maybe you waited too long. All I can say is keep trying-if after a year you’re still worried go see a specialist to ease your mind. I know it’s tough especially when people you know say they got pregnant right away or were able to plan it all out. Everyone is different and sometimes these things take time. Stay positive…it’ll happen!

  24. Knowing that even if we did get another period to show, month after month, it gave me a whole month more to love my husband dearly for his support and sexual attraction to me. I did cry a few times, but I used a code phrase to communicate when he would ask me what’s wrong: the usual. Then we would do something fun to cheer us up without having to talk about it all.

    Someone has mentioned this above, but making love at non-fertile times is just as important, and takes the stress out of sex. It keeps you from always associating it with baby-making, which in turn helps you both feel awesome about still loving each other physically.

    I read the book Body, Soul, and Baby recommended on this website, it helped a lot with journaling (which I am not usually prone to do) and mindfulness practices. I also read that 6+ months was standard for most women if they had been on BC for a long time (3 years for me). This made me feel better about having patience with my body.

    Finally, we had close friends who went through infertility issues/treatment a few years before and shared their experience with us. The husband was upfront about telling us to relax and not try every single day of my possible ovulation, since the guy needs to recharge his stores, etc. He had learned it from his own experiences. Needless to say, shortly after his visit we became pregnant, and they will be the godparents.

    Best of all, know that no matter the outcome, you have already started on the path to parenthood with your partner, by deciding to try consciously at all. If our physical bodies don’t cooperate right away or at all, this does not make us any less of a candidate for being a parent.

  25. From above: “making love at non fertile times” – so so so true. And don’t forget the fucking too! 😉

    Don’t stop planning your life. Plan vacations, plan adventures, plan wine and cheese evenings. Live your life without thinking “I can’t do that because I might be pregnant in 3 months”.

    And love each other lots.

    • This, yes. It’s the “Don’t leave before you leave” mentality that’s really helping me focus on what I *am* doing right now while we’re still trying, rather than the hypotheticals that we both want so badly for the future.

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