Can love survive conception?

 Trying to conceive sounds like loads of fun and giggles to the uninitiated. Wink-wink, nudge-nudge, mmmmm, you lucky things you, all that fun-filled sex while you try to make a baby…NOT! The idea sounds wonderful – lots of sex, candles, romance but the reality is far from romantic.

It starts off fun, I’ll give you that. While you are still in that naïve place where you think it will all happen quite soon, you plan romantic date nights for when ovulation occurs, you giggle and laugh and hope and dream. And then after a few months, ‘date nights’ start getting filled with other things – anxiety, fear, duty. Who wants to have sex because they have to?!

An actual conversation with my husband:
 “Sweetheart, tonight’s the night I’m afraid.”  
“Oh no, do we have to tonight, I am really buggered and I am still feeling quite fluey”  “Yes, I am afraid so, but don’t worry, just be quick, in and out, shouldn’t take you longer than five minutes”. Romantic, huh?

If you are lucky, sex – unromantic or not – eventually leads to a baby and your Trying To Conceive (TTC) journey ends there. However, if you are part of the unlucky group whose sex life was clearly for recreational use only, your journey is only beginning. And what a journey that is. It just gets more difficult, more emotional and more invasive from here. Oh, and a whole lot more expensive.

Trying to conceive is damn hard on a relationship. Having been around the TTC block a few times, I’ve seen many relationships buckle under the strain. Relationships are hard enough as it is, but with the added stress of treatment and all the stuff that goes with it, well, it would challenge even the strongest relationship.

Survive the TTC tempest
There are ways to navigate these stormy seas and end up even stronger and closer on the other side.

Firstly – that age old adage – COMMUNICATE!  It is so important that you talk about what is going on inside your heads and hearts. Let him know how you feel and at the same time, let him tell you how HE feels about it.  So often men’s feelings get ignored, and believe it or not, they do have feelings.

BUT…Don’t over-communicate. This is important. I know it is on your mind all the time, but if it becomes all you ever talk about, you are going to get communication fatigue. Set yourselves a time, on a Sunday night for 20 minutes, when you talk about it. After 20 minutes, the conversation about making babies is over. This gives each of you the opportunity to say how you feel without getting bogged down in it.

Then, make sure you are both on the same page. Know his limits (be they time, financial, emotional etc) and let him know yours. How long is he prepared to try for?  How much treatment are you prepared to go through? How much money can you afford to spend? Infertility treatments are hellish expensive, you need to know what your limit is.

Added to that – talk about and agree on where the end point is. What are you prepared to do in order to have a baby? Will you try infertility treatments, or is that a step too much for you? What about adoption? Donor eggs? Donor sperm?  What is right for the two of you and your eventual family?

Decide together how you are going to face those sensitive situations – baby showers, birth announcements, family gatherings. Present a united front, it really helps.

Realise that we are all different in how we handle stress and emotion. You might want to talk about it and he might want to retreat into his cave. Respect that and find other ways to get the support you need – online support forums, face to face chats with others who are going through this and even therapy works wonders.

Lastly, and this is the hardest one – try to remember those wonderful days when you first got together. Find opportunities to escape from the constant pressure and stress of trying to conceive and just have fun. Give yourself permission to take a month off from TTC and have some wine, eat that sushi and have fun. You need to, both for your relationship and for your soul.

Good luck to everyone who is going through this harrowing journey of trying to conceive. While it can be damn tough, it can also bring the two of you so much closer to each other and create a deep bond between the two of you that will (hopefully!) last forever.

May your hearts be filled with joy and your arms be filled with baby.

Love and light,
Infertility Veteran and now proud mommy. Still (mostly) happily married!

Has trying for a baby put a strain on your relationship? What do you do to relieve the stress?

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