All of my life, I’ve wanted to be a mother. I couldn’t tell you how early in my life I realized it or what I did that day to warrant such a realization; it’s always been there, a tiny light growing in my heart. I just knew I would be a mother someday. I set a plan in my mind: Degree, Marriage, Babies, Author.
Of course, that’s not how life works. Sure, I earned my degree, met the man who would be my husband a year later, and married him two years after that. So, the next part should be just around the corner, right?
We knew early in our relationship we would get married, so talking about children was a frequent conversation. We both wanted the same things: lots and lots of babies. We named our potential, nonexistent children and dreamed and dreamed until they were practically real. We spoke to doctors and got clean bills of health and the green light to start trying to conceive these dream babies.
That was over a year ago. Life happens, things happen, but getting pregnant was on the forefront of my mind every single day. And how could it not be? I obsessively tracked temperatures, symptoms, and my diet. I took ovulation tests and we timed things as well as one can with the daily stress of life (and two fifty-pound dogs). But it hasn’t happened yet. If it had, I would be writing a very different piece.
Recently, I had a deep, insightful conversation with my sister, who ultimately saved me (though she doesn’t know). So here are the things I wish I would’ve known a year ago, when we first started trying to conceive.
Don’t be so hard on yourself.
I know, it sounds like an obvious one. And it’s even one that I’d been told by countless people (my doctor included). As mentioned before, we’ve been trying for a year and a half. And I’d do it all: track all the things in fertility apps, watch my diet, cut off alcohol, take the vitamins, use ovulation strips, all of it. And there have been several months where we were positive it happened. There were multiple symptoms; I was late, nauseous, etc. I even went to the doctor because I refused to believe the numerous negative pregnancy tests. If anything, I was projecting these symptoms onto myself. I was obsessing over every little twinge or soreness I felt in my body, and convinced myself it meant something bigger. And every time, I’d sob on my husband’s shoulder, apologizing that I didn’t provide. I would tell myself it’s my fault, that my body failed, that I must’ve done something wrong.
But even though I’d heard it from so many other people, my sister put it in a way that just made sense. What she said was, “these things you are telling yourself, would you ever say them to someone you love?”
“Of course not!” I’d said. A beat later, it sunk in. Why, oh why, would I say such horrible things to myself that I would never say to someone I loved? Why would I tell myself, “you’re a failure” when I know that getting pregnant is something far out of my control? My friends and loved ones who have struggled as I have, would I ever tell them it’s their fault their body can’t provide? Of course not. Because it’s not true.
Please, please, take that in.
Stay off Google.
I mean it: DON’T GOOGLE. If you have concerns, I’m sure your doctor would have better answers than an outdated Yahoo! Answers forum of people who don’t know anything about your history. Because when it comes down to it, every person is different, so every pregnancy journey is different. Even if you convince yourself it’ll bring comfort, odds are you’ll do the exact same thing I did for over a year: dig deeper and deeper on the web until you find a post that agrees with your thinking, that convinces you of something that you know deep down may not be true. I would tell myself, sure, every health and medical post says that x, y, z isn’t an indicator of pregnancy, but this one community post dated in 2008 said she had the same symptoms and she was pregnant, so I bet that’s the case for me.
All of that aside, it’s crucial to remember that you know your body better than anyone. You know deep down what’s normal for you, and what isn’t. If you’re worried, ask your doctor, don’t ask Google.
Don’t blame your friends for their blessings.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to take a break from social media. I’ve sent my husband so many screenshots of friends’ posts saying, “look, another friend is pregnant.” Sure, I’m happy for them. Elated, actually. I love all things babies, so I’m not mad at them, not really. How could they know my struggles? How could my friend know, in posting one of her happiest moments, that she would be reminding me what I don’t have? They’re not posting their happiness in spite of you, self. It’s okay to take breaks from social media. In fact, it should probably be encouraged. Be happy for your friends. But don’t think for a second they are more blessed than you. They didn’t time or chart things better than you, they’re not luckier than you, and they’re not better than you. It was simply their time, as it will be yours one day, in some way.
Tracking is NOT a guarantee.
Oof. This one was hard to swallow. Even though we’ve been trying for a year and a half, I’ve only been tracking for ten months, at the suggestion of my doctor. That’s ten months of waking up and immediately taking my temperature, charting daily bodily functions, you get the idea. You don’t realize when you’re in the middle of it what it does to you mentally. It literally became an obsession. It was always on my mind. I even had three fertility apps I was tracking things in. THREE. And each app produced different results. My point is: these are supposed to be helpful. They’re meant to help you read your body better. And they’re not always accurate. As I learned in my most recent emotional breakdown, it doesn’t matter how well you track, eat, or time your body. It is never a guarantee of pregnancy. Ever since my sister changed my perspective, I haven’t tracked, logged, or even opened my fertility apps since. And let me tell you, it’s like coming up for air.
I used to get infuriated whenever a loved one would tell me, “it’ll happen when you stop trying,” because it’d worked for them. But to me, the mere idea of not trying was unfathomable to me. How could I not try for the thing I want most in life? Then I realized: they don’t stop trying, they mean, stop obsessing. They mean that it’s out of your control. They mean that even if you think you line everything up perfectly, it’s not a for sure thing. Do you think every pregnancy that has ever happened was because the woman followed the strict tracking and dieting suggestions she saw on a blog? Of course not. I never thought I’d be able to give up control on this, but it’s the best decision I could’ve made for myself.
And that’s what I want for you. To understand that your body is different from every other woman you know. Your journey is going to be different. It’s okay to track until you understand how to read your body, but then let it go. Do not let obsessing over checking all of the boxes overwhelm the center of this process: you and your partner’s love for each other. This is supposed to be fun. And if you find yourself being overly critical or self-blaming, stop. Reevaluate. Talk with your partner.
I wish I could add at the end that I’ve done all these things and they’ve worked and now I’m pregnant. But I’m not. And I’ve finally realized, that’s okay. It will happen exactly when it’s meant to. The light inside of me is still there, flickering and yearning for motherhood. I just don’t let it consume me anymore.