I really wasn’t going to post about this. It feels embarrassing and quite scary. I don’t know if it’s something I should draw attention to, and if it’s a case of ‘too much information’. It isn’t something a lot of people talk about – I’ve certainly not really had a conversation about it openly, and I’m only writing about it just now to try to get out of my head.
So, trying to conceive. It’s a tricky one. I’m feeling in a very lonely place with it at the moment. No-one mentions much about the loneliness of trying to conceive. And, with increased social media presence, it seems as though everyone else is pregnant. Which of course isn’t true, but it’s how you feel when you are going through the monthly pregnancy lotto. Because what is pregnancy, if not a big old game of chance?
I also have lots of friends and family who are pregnant or have newborns at the moment. I am so thrilled and excited for them, please don’t think this diminishes that in any way. But, I also feel sad as I wait for my own good news. I feel bad even writing this, as I know how lucky I am to have my wee boy. I know plenty of people don’t get the chance to even have one baby, and I’ve been blessed with The Munchkin, who I believe to be quite simply the best little human on the planet. The Husband wonders whether we should even be thinking about rolling the dice again, having been given this wee cracker straight off the bat. And he’s got a point. But I desperately want him to have a sibling (or two, shhh!). He adores other children, and watching him interacting with other kids makes my heart melt. He is a sweetheart and would make the best big brother!
We tried for ten months before I became pregnant with The Munchkin. That is not an inordinate amount of time to be trying by any stretch of the imagination, and we didn’t need any interventions to help, so by all accounts we were very lucky. But there was agony in those months. There is something so very soul crushing about the umpteenth negative pregnancy test, because you don’t have the patience to just WAIT to see if your period comes. My cycles were irregular after years of hormonal contraception, and I soon found I knew too much about pregnancy tests, hormones, cervical mucus, temperature testing, ovulation kits, charting etc. etc. (the list is pretty endless). If you don’t know what some of those words and terms mean, you are very lucky and will hopefully continue to be blissfully unaware.
I would start off the month disappointed by the appearance of my period, along with the usual hideous bad and low moods. PMS is total shit. I would also be down about the whole process of trying to conceive. ‘It’s not supposed to be like this, is it?’, I would think. No-one ever tells you it could be difficult. In fact, you spend your whole life being told you need to avoid pregnancy. You end up thinking it must be the easiest thing in the world to actually have a baby now you’ve decided you want to. Think again…I really wish someone had told me about the long-term effects of hormonal contraception when I was younger. And I wish they had told me there were a variety of other options. Did you know it can take a year for your cycles to regulate after taking the pill? I didn’t, until I wanted to have a baby and was then stuck in limbo for months.
Towards the end of my period, I would start to get a bit more upbeat and look at this new cycle as a fresh opportunity. Into week two of the cycle, and I would be getting excited that this could be the month I would fall pregnant. I would have started my ovulation testing, and would be looking out for the tell-tale signs. Temperature testing was something I did too, but found it unreliable as I was too erratic at doing it regularly. I would make sure I was eating well and taking pre-natal vitamins.
Soon enough, the window of opportunity would come and go. And again, you’re counting days. And watching for signs. But now you’re watching for signs of pregnancy. And you always think you’re seeing them. Because Mother Nature is hilarious, many pregnancy symptoms are similar to the symptoms of PMS. Your heart is telling you this is the month, and your head is starting to believe it. Your head is persuaded it’s a good idea to take an early pregnancy test (it’s never a good idea, but you ALWAYS do it anyway), and you are brought right back down to earth with a bump by the non-appearance of that elusive second line.
Undeterred, you persuade yourself it’s your own fault for testing early, and you could still be pregnant. After all, you’re still getting all these signs, aren’t you? The next day you get your period. And you feel foul. You feel upset, and jealous, and isolated, and dejected. So, what do you do? You start the whole process again, of course! (And eat chocolate. All the chocolate. Oh, and wine. Cos, you can do that, you’re not pregnant). The crazy carousel of fertility fun. It seems to be never-ending, and for some it is.
I was lucky to get my BFP (I hate that I even know the acronym big fat positive, never mind have just used it – don’t surf the internet ‘trying to conceive’ (TTC) boards, it fills you simultaneously with hope and dread). I could not believe it when it happened. You think when you are trying to get pregnant, that as soon as you become pregnant, you’re sorted. But then the new round of worrying starts…how on earth do you get to the point of actually having a baby, with everything that can go wrong? That’s a whole other ball game!
None of this is easy on your mental health. And when you have some issues in that area anyway, it can make for a whole mess of anxiety. Prior to conceiving last time, I had an episode of low mood around new year. The same happened this year. Luckily, I had my medication and coping mechanisms in place, and it didn’t take hold the way it did last time. But I did get that familiar, creeping feeling of hollowness. It’s a weird, unnerving feeling, as if you are looking at things from the outside. A numbness. It caught me off guard last time, but this time I was ready for it.
Don’t get me wrong, my low mood wasn’t solely down to trying (and failing) to conceive. I’ve had a whole host of other stuff going on, including breastfeeding hormones, weird periods, and home renovation stress (see previous post all about this here). Nevertheless, I had kind of naively thought getting pregnant the second-time round would be easier. I mean, I know it can happen, right? But all too soon, the familiar worries and anxieties are back. And it’s creeping up to the ten-month mark again. You know stress and anxiety are terrible for your procreation chances too, right? …Such a dick move. And now I also add in a dose of guilt, because I have a wee one, and I know lots of people who are trying don’t. What kind of mum does it make me, to be so desperate to have another? Well, it’s actually because of how much I adore this little guy, that I would even consider having another.
Anyway, I digress. Hopefully we’ll get good news soon. And if not, that’s ok too. We’ll deal with it whatever. I don’t know exactly what I wanted or expected the point of this piece to be. Hopefully it might be useful for someone else in the same boat to read my experience. Maybe you don’t really speak about it either, or feel like you are the only one struggling. Hang in there, and hang out here – if you feel you’d like to, share your experience below.