I highly recommend the post my husband wrote about scheduling sex to optimize the chances of conception. It’s fairly entertaining!
But on the other side of the entertaining blog posts is the emotion that goes along with charting cycles, taking temperatures and waiting month after month after month after month for that BFP (definition).
I’m no rookie in this infertility world. We’ve been at this for 5 years now. Once upon a time we bought all the What to Expect books. We used to research every vitamin and mineral and supplement. We’ve even bought a couple baby items and outfits that we wanted for when our miracle came along. That has never worked out for us and at any point one of us is ready to give up on this, even if only temporarily.
Regularly, people offer me advice. I know they have the best intentions but it gets old quick. I used to get very angry and overreact. Then I went through a phase where the minute they opened their mouth I told them all about infertility. Now I listen, nod, and only if they persist do I set them straight with facts about my condition and our history. Things I’ve heard include maybe we aren’t doing it right or maybe if we just adopt we’ll get pregnant like someone’s friend’s cousin. I think my biggest pet peeve is “at least it’s fun practicing”. (This isn’t the time for the UK English Practice (noun) vs Practise (verb) discussion, as I’m happy to follow the American rule of using only one form. I’ll save that discussion for another post).
You know the saying about how the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? Well with infertility there is no other choice – if you don’t try you definitely won’t get pregnant. Insane is exactly the state that results from your failed efforts though, so that statement is definitely true.
Over the course of the last 5 years, I’ve downloaded every app imaginable to help us conceive. We’ve had a calendar the whole time because we knew we might have problems. Like everyone, at first it was really exciting. “Baby, tonight is one of the nights” was full of promise back in 2009/2010. Now it’s a depressing sign of 5 years of failed attempts and $70,000 in highly specialized fertility treatments. Some months we don’t have the heart to even try and hit those days. Those don’t come very often, because we know you don’t win the lottery without buying a ticket. But even the months we do make sure to hit a couple of the key days, it’s not fun. After 5 years, it’s no longer fun, it’s a job. A very unsatisfying job. If you got up every day and went to a job where your boss told you weren’t worthy, you would quit. Or jump out the window. There have been days where it would be so easy to quit trying to get pregnant. We’ve had that talk at least 10 times. We toss the idea around for a bit and decide we won’t really watch the calendar. But we do. Let’s be honest, iPhone apps do all the work for you. It’s hard not to watch the calendar when you know it’s the only possible chance at a family that you’ve got and that I’m not getting any younger. Even if that chance is less than 1% when ALL the stars align, it’s still a chance.
My current app of choice is Glow. It looks pretty and if I didn’t know better I would think it would help me get pregnant. The truth is we know it won’t help any more than magic. But we’ll give it a try because it can’t hurt. No matter how pretty the app, I still dread the days we have to have sex. There’s nothing less romantic than doing a job you constantly fail at anyway. It’s not even just the days the app tells us to have sex. It’s sex in general. As someone with infertility, you begin associating sex with failure. After all, sex is part of getting pregnant, which in our case we’ve only done once in 5 years. That ended with an early miscarriage. That’s at least 60 attempts that we’ve failed. Including attempts using advance reproductive technologies (a whole new kind of romantic).
So next time you think of using the “practice is fun” comment to someone struggling to conceive, think about what your life would be like if every time you did something you were reminded how much you failed. Imagine that you keep failing at the only thing you wanted in the entire world. If you still want to say “practice is fun” be my guest, but don’t be surprised if you get punched. Instead, I suggest you try something more compassionate, like “I’m sorry you’re having trouble and I know there is nothing I can do, but if you ever want to talk I’m here.” If you aren’t close enough to offer that kind of support, why are you talking to me about my sex life anyway?