If you’re struggling to conceive, talking to friends in the same boat may help you cope

Guest post by Kathryn

By: dragonflaiiiCC BY 2.0
I live in a small town far away from friends and family. We’ve made new friends there and I keep them in the loop due to my open-book personality. My closest friends that I write to know about my struggle to conceive a child, but when we returned to the city for our summer school holiday, my struggle suddenly felt like a big secret.

I didn’t want to tell people we were struggling to conceive because a) I do not want advice, b) I do not want platitudes and c) I do not want anything except sympathy on this topic. Then talk to me about other things in life, I’m still me. I didn’t tell my Bible study group because I was afraid of hearing things like “God grants us the desires of our hearts,” “Just relax about it, it’ll happen in God’s timing,” etc.

I thought I was coping all well and good with not being pregnant, but the other day I spontaneously burst into tears without warning. I was a bit embarrassed about it. When do you tell people you’re having trouble conceiving? When is the natural time to bring that stuff up? I don’t know, and I’m sick of feeling like it’s a secret. So here it is: we’re having trouble conceiving.

My partner James and I have been trying to conceive for about nine months, unsuccessfully.

For those who don’t know, this is how a typical cycle for me looks like. I get my period, we wait for about a week then start trying, then we wait for about two weeks, then I get my period again. This is what it feels like. We start trying and that’s good and fun. Then we start waiting. I notice that something about my body is ever-so-slightly different and wonder if it’s because there’s now a baby in my uterus. But no! Don’t start hoping, self. It probably won’t happen. But it might! But it probably won’t. But it might!

For two weeks. Then my period is late by a day, or I’ve miscalculated when it’ll start and things are a little more hopeful/exciting. Then I get my period. I’m a little disappointed but hopeful for the next cycle.

But that slightly-sad-yet-hopeful conclusion changed one day about six weeks ago. A very awesome friend announced her pregnancy and my reaction was off the planet! I was weepy and depressed for about a week from it. I hated being intimate with James and it was affecting my job.

We decided to take a cycle off from trying, and that was good — really good. Then I got offered a classroom teaching position for next year and we’ve decided to stop trying until April to give me a break from trying to conceive and so I can finish out the school year.

The baby wave is starting amongst friends of mine. There have been four announcements in two months on Facebook. Each time I feel a little sad that it isn’t me. I am happy for them and I wish them all the best, but it is still hard for me. I don’t want to be the kind of person who hides friends on Facebook or blocks baby-related Pinterest boards to avoid triggers… yet, that is what I’m doing.

I love my friends, but I need to not cry all the time.

If anyone feels like they want to make life easier for someone they know is struggling to conceive a child, this is what I’d suggest: please tell them if you’re also trying to conceive. When they hear happy news from you, it won’t be a shock — and they will have already been emotionally on-board with your pregnancy.

For me personally, I feel much less isolated knowing someone else who is in this struggle. A friend’s sister has been trying for a while now, and even though I’m not close with her, I am hoping and praying and anticipating her one day, maybe, finally, falling pregnant. I feel like we’re in the same boat and I’m actually glad there’s one other person in the whole world struggling with this as I am.

I wrote about our struggle on my blog, and the reception was incredible. People shared that they’d been trying, personal struggles of their own, that they’d be thinking of me. No one gave me well-meaning but awful advice. Some people who now have tiny children shared that it took them years of trying to get to that point and they sympathised with my struggle. All up, it has been a positive experience and I’m glad I put myself out there.

Comments on If you’re struggling to conceive, talking to friends in the same boat may help you cope

  1. I am so glad i stumbled across this blog, ttc for 22 months with known issues, as the months go by im feeling more and more desperate and withdrawn. I have never felt so helpless i just want to cry all the time and lately every pregnancy thats announced just destroys me and i go into a massive depression for days just recover then bang goes another one. My work colleague has struggled for five years and now shes finally pregnant at 38 via ivf worked first go which is fantastic and gives me hope and im so pleased for her but im absolutely dreading the next eight months scans, baby shower, the whole office talking babies etc all im thinking is is this going to send me over the edge and i feel so selfish for thinking this way. Its so hard trying to stay positive through this, i can really relate to all these comments its good to know these feelings are normal and im not actually going insane even though some days that could be hugely debatable x

  2. every time I see a post like this I am so comforted to know that i’m not alone, but I always seem to forget that…why does infertility feel like the loneliest thing on the planet?
    my fiance and i have been trying to conceive for about 14 months, and both are ‘normal’ according to our tests, i am in the middle of a tracking cycle to see whats up but i’m not holding my breath..at this stage i just want to give up. Enough people in my life know that we are trying so i have people to sympthise with but i don’t have anyone i can just completely let go with, my best friend is heavily pregnant, another very close friend has just told me she is pregnant (as gently as she could which i appreciated) my fiances brother and his awful girlfriend are pregnant, its just too much sometimes and my poor partner doesn’t know what to do when i have a massive meltdown. I want to scream it from the fb status updates that i am having trouble conceiving but for me it’s just not worth it and there a certain people i have to have in my life that i don’t want sympathy from..they don’t deserve to know but i guess i don’t have to tell them.
    to all the people on this post- thank you for the support you give and sorry for my huge comment it just fell out of my fingertips.

  3. I needed this.
    A lot.
    I know it will sound weird to many women out there, possibly down – right annoy a few, but at only 4 months in of trying with my husband and no success yet, I am worrying.
    I think if I had not turned 34 just a couple of days ago I wouldn’t be so increasingly freaked out. I know that worrying doesn’t do anything good and stress for sure does nothing good, but I can’t help it.
    I guess I am a little mad at the universe or something that I didn’t find the guy I wanted to marry and have a family with until I was nearly 31 and then marry him a little over 9 months ago when I was 33.
    You read these damn medical reports that womens’ fertility “drastically” drops at 32 and I’m like WTH? So some of us get punished for planning stuff?!
    To top it off, I too, just as you referred to Kathryn, have found myself blocking comments and posts by pregnant friends on Facebook. Thank you for bringing it up. YOU ROCK for being so honest. I still feel bad for admitting it though.
    I love my expectant friends. 6 announced since the middle of June that they were pregnant and 4 others in May alone.
    I will go to their baby showers and be happy.
    Yes, I am happy for them.
    But, the age old question rears its’ little head “When’s MY turn?”. Seeing every little post of their baby – bump pictures, the creation of the nursery, the ideas for the name, the reports of the little kicks, etc. start to gnaw at you a bit when you are trying and not yet conceiving. And to top it off, I used to teach high school art for 8 years and took this past year off for marriage and starting a family and I keep in touch with many former students via Facebook, many of whom are under 20 years old. You guessed it……several of them are pregnant or have had children this past year by accident (?!?!*#%!) and post pics of themselves aging in range of 16 to 20 holding up fat, healthy babies proudly.
    It just isn’t, well, fair. I am glad they are happy but when is it OUR turn? Those of us TRYING?
    So, I just appreciate having a website to read real stories by REAL women on who are in the same boat with me and oh so many others out there. Thank you for letting me vent and for hearing my voice. I hope the best for you and ALL of us out there.

  4. I read this post in feb when it came out but just saw the email pop up from the empire and thought oh I’ll read that one again.
    At the moment I’m currently sitting in the fertility clinic about to have a blood test to tell me if today is going to be the day of my 3rd insemination in our 20th month of trying, this post and all you ladies in the comments have made me feel a little but less alone today so thank you 🙂

  5. For so long the idea of being a mom has been part of my identity that I feel like less of a person without it. I hate that I depend so much on this idea, that I have such a strong image of what I want out of my life. After 18 months of trying and 1 miscarriage more than a year ago, I’m starting to lose hope. In my city there is an 18 month wait for the fertility clinic and I am devastated. I can’t imagine doing this for another year and a half, but I know I will. So many women have said it took them 5 years, or even 10. We can do this thing.

    In the meantime, we can’t forget to live our lives. Make the house payments, go on the trip. Don’t “try” but don’t stop either.

    Wishing you many happy memories and laughter!

  6. I’m 37 now and it’s been four very challenging years (in terms of managing all the emotional ups and downs), even writing that is a bit hard but a bit cathartic as its getting close to the time to let go of the ‘hope’ for a baby/child and moving on to the next chapter in life. Writing it here as I hope it might help others where there may not be the happy ending you’d hope for, in a different way the happy ending for me will be that my husband and I are still very much in love and this path through whether to have children, then trying, then contemplating ivf, then deciding not to go down that path for a reasons in part due to health issues , means it hasn’t broken us. The grief at times is large but other times I’m happy that our ending may be that family ends up being ‘ just us’. I’d recommend the resources, support and info on the website ‘Life without baby’ as an excellent support to help people going through a journey where as much as they would have loved to have children it doesn’t end up that way.

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