I remember the conversation well, it was Christmas 2016 and I and my wife Jen had made the decision to remove the biological goalkeeper and begin trying for a child.…it was our time! We agreed to ‘make the most’ of that particular party season. Next year there may well be a poo-ing, sleeping, feeding bundle of joy with us for Xmas dinner we thought!
Buoyed by close friends and family reporting quick fire pregnancies we were optimistic we’d be the same. In our mid-thirties, sporty and (putting the occasional large gin and tonic aside) healthy, we’d be fine. It was a simple case of commitment to the process and surely we’d get the result we wanted.
The early months of 2017 passed pretty uneventfully, we had a sketchy look at the time of the month, did ‘the deed’ and that was that. It was once the spring came around the early inner niggles began. Trying for a baby was become well ‘trying’ and even the use of that word didn’t sit comfortably with either of us. As the great Yoda once said:
‘Do...or do not. There is no try.’
Well, that’s great master Yoda…but you ever ‘tried’ for a baby fella?
We began digging into the process of getting pregnant, gaining a clearer understanding of related biology and timings. We were a team, but being members of the opposite sex this experience clearly meant different things for both of us. In terms of reporting, I would get a monthly thumbs up or thumbs down, for Jen it was something that she carried with her day-to-day. Various body responses giving hints or clues as to what may or may not be going on.
Once Autumn arrived the frustration dial had been cranked up. More bedroom time can never be a bad thing, but timing and ‘performing to hit a deadline’ can really knock the romance out of the dance. Autumn also highlighted a trip to Japan that we hadn’t got booked earlier in the year in case we got pregnant! Our overconfidence and naiveness had cost what would have potentially been fantastic trip :-(
By this time the ‘trying’ had truly become a large part of Jen’s daily life. Rather than beginning her first minutes awake with a soothing cup of tea, she instead rose early to pee on a stick and check in with ovulation cycles. Personally, I felt one of my values of ‘fairness’ had somehow been biologically trashed. I was frustrated and upset. Over dinner we both admitted how held back we both felt, this ‘trying’ was now taking over and having a huge impact in our lives.
It was here we decided to reclaim control. Speaking to friends it was clear that the ‘Facebook effect’ and hearing only a limited perspective of experiences had influenced us, We’d been naive. After all, how many people openly share the news they are not pregnant for the month. In personal conversations, it turned out many couples around us had struggled with a variety of related issues.
From now on would be making plans as if wasn’t going to happen, taking full advantage of the things we could do as a couple who weren’t pregnant. Jen did her PADI diving qualification (I had mine already) and we booked a holiday to Egypt. Where we could take control, we did, including speaking to our doctor and completing some fertility testing.
We also began to look at and get excited about the potential of adopting. We attended an information session and began finding out more about the process. We’d both always been passionate about the idea since we first met so after months of the struggle it was great to have a different option to get excited about.
As a result, we entered 2018 with a new action plan. We would carry on ‘trying’ however if by October Jen was no longer pregnant we would stop and begin the adoption process. Having both a plan A and a plan B meant we stepped into the year far more relaxed about our situation, comforted by having 2 outcomes that both excited us.
Then, the evening before flying out on holiday to Egypt at the end of January Jen reported she was late. When first told the news I remember I mentally panned it off as another misfire, however an initial test (and then another for completeness) confirmed it. Jen was pregnant. I remember that night after finding out barely sleeping a wink. It all felt surreal. As I am writing this Jen is 28 weeks pregnant and that feeling hasn’t changed.
So that's been my story so far with at least getting pregnant. I appreciate everyone’s experience with this will differ. When it comes to becoming or not becoming a potential parent there are many choices one can make, many different outcomes. What I do know is that for me the support of close friends, family and in particular, my men’s group with processing what was going during this time was invaluable.
For any couples out there about to start ‘trying’. My advice is to research some of the basics, however, plan as if it isn’t going to happen and if it does readjust along the way. That way you won’t be missing out on lost opportunities. We never know what result the biology roulette wheel is going to throw up, it would appear all the planning and coaching in the world can’t guarantee that.
If you’d like to hear more about my ‘getting pregnant’ story I co-lead a podcast called the ‘Men on Form’ and produced an episode (number 28) discussing the experience. You can download this and other episodes on one of the following podcast platforms here:
Itunes - http://bit.ly/2Men_On_Form
Stitcher - http://bit.ly/2Men_On_Form_Pod
Podbean - http://bit.ly/Men_On_Form_Podbean
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