Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The one where I talk about trying to conceive

In the 8 months that Dan and I have been trying to add to our family, we've told some people about our endeavor. This may or may not have been a mistake. I don't really think so, because it's been great having the support of friends, but it also opens us up to people's opinions. Which, if you haven't heard, are like assholes. It also opens you up to the suggestions and comments of people who just don't know better. That's fine, people aren't educated in conception most of the time, and I know a lot more than I sometimes wish I did.

Let's cover what I do know.

- I know it can take a healthy couple 12 months to be successful at conception. A full year. Heartbreaking when you're wanting something so badly, but at the same time, completely normal. Also, allow me to preface the rest of this post now that I understand that we have not been trying for a long time. It feels long, because we want it, but I understand that it's not.

- I know that there's only a 20% chance in a given cycle that conception will occur. That's for a healthy couple with perfect timing. Let's do math. There's an EIGHTY percent chance we won't get lucky in any given month. What does this mean? Getting pregnant is difficult.

- I know that "perfect timing" means insemination must occur in a - at most - 4 day fertile window beginning 3 days before ovulation and ending the day after.

- I know when I ovulate. This is helpful because I'm not constantly wasting pregnancy tests because I think I'm late. It's also mostly helpful because I know my plumbing works at the basic functional level.

- I know that 28 day cycles with ovulation on day 14 is more often than not a myth. Trust me, this was the biggest thing to shock me when I started reading up on fertility and conception. I'm pretty sure we were all taught this little formula in 8th grade health class and it's simply not true. If you're a "textbook" cycler, spare telling me so.

If you want to put all these concepts together to see just how miraculous it is that any of us are here, go to Youtube and search for "The Great Sperm Race." Wait, make popcorn first. Then go to Youtube. You're welcome.

I also know that people just don't know what to say at times, or they say the oddest things. While trying to be helpful and supportive, people's "advice" is often misguided.


"It'll happen when it's meant to" or "Maybe it's just not the right time." I really dislike these statements. Conception has nothing to do with all being right in the world. Obviously, or my cousin wouldn't have 4 kids by 3 baby daddies. Her life is chaos, and there was surely never a right time for her to have children, and yet she has them. I know some people are also delving into the religious aspect of this one, indicating a certain deity's plan. While comforting for a believer, it's just aggravating for me.

"Just get drunk and have sex." Yeeeeah, no. If that were true, I'd have about 8 babies by now. If you know what I know (above) about timing and all that good stuff, it's all just coincidence that you or your friend went out drinking and came home and drunkenly seduced your husband and your kid was born 9 months later. In fact, all of it is chance when you think about it. Who's to say what worked in a given cycle when there's an 80% percent chance against you every month? People who never had to really try for a baby say this a lot. My cousin also probably says this.

"Well if your mom/sister/aunt had no problems having kids, you won't either." Fertility isn't like eye color. My mom's ability to have kids has no bearing on mine.

"Stop thinking about it and it'll happen." Yes, it's true that stress can affect fertility. Allow me to tell you why. Stress can delay ovulation. Your body will withhold from ovulating because it feels that the elevated stress makes your body a less than ideal home for a fetus. Illness and travel have the same effect. If you don't ovulate, you can't get pregnant. Once you ovulate, however, your chances of conception and implantation occuring are no less than an unstressed person. Secondly, if you can tell me how to stop thinking about it, I would. Gladly. Baby rabies isn't fun.

Side note: telling a couple to "just start the adoption process and it'll happen hahaha!!" is even more obnoxious. Just don't do that. For the reasons above and also because if they're at the point where adoption is up for discussion (which they may not have shared with you), they've probably exhausted every option, along with a lot of money and time and emotion, to get pregnant. While some couples opt for adoption quickly, others don't, and they spend thousands of dollars on hormones, testing, and procedures before coming to the realization that it just isn't going to happen. Either way, there's a lot of emotion wrapped up in the decision, so joking about it is just lame.

"Well, maybe you're pregnant right now and you don't even know it!" Ummmm, if it's before I'm late, I can't argue with you on that one, because I could be. But this one is especially fun when I've just started a new cycle, and I'm sad, and get I tempted to show you my stock of tampons as evidence. When I say "no, really, I'm sure I'm not," just take my word for it.

"You should do _______. It worked for ______." Again, someone else's ability to get pregnant has nothing to do with my own. What "worked" for one person won't necessarily work for me. In the end, the only thing that works is sperm meeting egg and embryo snuggling in and growing. End of story. And even if something does "work," think of trying to conceive the same way you'd think about weight loss. The same thing doesn't work for everyone.

I'm not trying to rant and rave at anyone who's made the above statements. I probably made them myself before I knew some of the things I know. I'm just in need of a good vent. I understand that people just say things because they're excited for us, just like people asked how wedding planning was going and then how married life is. I get that. I guess I just felt a need to let out what frustrates me about this.

Eight months have probably made me a little jaded. The intial "squeeeeeeee!! We're gonna have a baby!" from the first cycle has turned into "I hope this is it" ::sigh:: As we approach the one year mark and possibly having to face testing, I understand the need for more compassion and thought in my comments to others. You never know what they're wanting and waiting for. I guess I just hope that with my little vent, others will have some compassion and thought as well.


Mrs. B said...

Bravo! You summed it all up so well :)

JMJE said...

I guess conception is one of those things where people get awkward and dont' know what to say or think they are really smart and say things that end up being annoying. So all I will say is good luck!

BrownEyedGirlsMom said...

I think that's why I just try to sit and listen and not offer any advice - b/c I have been there - not exactly there - but I have been at the point of wanting a baby and it not happening exactly when I wanted it too. Know you can always vent to me that I will try not to say anything stupid!!

Shana said...

I have three things to tell you...none of which are an opinion, I swear.

1) I'm sure I've also said some of those idiotic things to people at some point or another. It's sometimes so hard to figure out what to say. This year, on the anniversary of the death of a a friend's baby I had no clue what to say and told her so. She said that was actually the perfect thing and made her feel so much better than anything else. So now I've taken the approach that saying nothing is always better than saying something stupid.

2)As for the complications of conception, until recently I had no idea. The whole 20% chance of getting pregnant clue. A friend had an IUI procedure done and it was so exact in the timing. She went to the doctor constantly and around the time of ovulation, she went twice a day so they made sure they did the insemination at the perfect time. After she explained the whole thing to me I was shocked. It's got to be so exact it makes me shocked that people ever get pregnant by accident.

3) My sister in law went to the doctor because of her stomach the other day and she found out she has multiple ulcers. The doctor told her she has too much stress. He told her to stop thinking about the things that cause her stress. Right...because it's that easy to shut off your brain. So I understand that you can't just stop thinking about babies.

Good luck to you guys.

Athena said...

It must be really frustrating when you want something so bad and you're waiting for it to happen. It's crazy that so many teens get knocked up when the odds are so small. I really wish you lots of luck, don't give up yet,try not to stress out too much (easy to say I know) but venting always helps.

Dee Stephens said...

So with you on this post too. If one more person tells me to relax I'm going to SNAP!
Like my therapist has said.. you can be relaxed all you want but if you're not ovulating IT AIN'T going to happen.