Why Can’t I Get Pregnant: How to Keep Your Spirits Up When You Haven’t Conceived
You’re only getting older and friends, family and even your social media feed keep popping up the topic ‘babies.’ Whether it’s someone announcing they’re pregnant or people asking you, “When are you going to start trying,” the pregnancy dance can be lonely, disappointing and heartbreaking.
“When you’re trying to get pregnant, every month feels like a year. It’s like every time you get your period or every time you take a test, and it’s negative, it feels like ages have passed, and you’re still not getting pregnant,” shares Michelle Valenti, mom of two daughters and author of In Due Time. “The whole TTC journey is like a mental game that you play with yourself, and you just can’t win. You can’t win at that mental game, but you also can’t not play it. You can’t make it go away. There’s just no not thinking about it.”
So, what are you to do when you can’t get pregnant? While emotions can take over, and it’s easy to cry and fall into a depression; however, there are things you can do during the trying to conceive (TTC) journey to cope with the fact it’s hard to get pregnant.
Through her TTC journey, Valenti shares a few lessons learned that could help you keep your spirits up when you haven’t conceived.
How to Keep Your Spirits Up When You Haven’t Conceived
At age 35, Valenti had just gotten married and started trying a couple of months after her wedding because of her age. It had been roughly about a year of trying when she and her husband went to get fertility tests done. The urologist saw something about her husband and said that could be part of the problem. Long story short, his health was fine. And the reality of not getting pregnant started to set in.
“That in mind, somewhere in there when we were struggling to get pregnant, I did miscarry. And it was weird because it was a pretty early miscarriage, to the point where I realized, oh what was it, I thought that it was just a heavy period,” recalls Valenti, “I just started bleeding a lot and for a long time. Yes, it was maybe a week late, and normally I’m by the clock, so I thought that that was weird, but I just had no idea. And then my back was killing me.”
Valenti had called the doctor, and her doctor said it could be a miscarry, so she took a test and sure enough it came back positive. “That was a very weird feeling, because it’s like, ‘Oh, I can get pregnant, but I’m not right now.’”
After getting checked out with her doctor, Valenti recounts how she had weird feelings because the doctor said she still can’t get pregnant, even though they just were pregnant. She said her and her husband adapted to that thought and focused on their marriage instead of trying for a baby. But it was not easy.
“We took solace in the fact that we have a solid relationship. We love each other’s company. We like to travel. So, we just shifted our focus. We’re like, “Let’s just be grateful we have each other and do something that people with kids can’t do so easily,” Valenti expresses, “Let’s just go travel the world.” But even through travel, Valenti still struggled. After sex, she would wonder if she would get pregnant. A day late of her period, she would contemplate on taking a pregnancy test. The struggle was real, and she found ways to cope with this hard path in life.
Have Empathy and Connection
Everyone has a story, and no one has a perfect life, so Valenti thought if she had these struggles there were other women other there that had similar stories. Especially women who were posting their baby announcements on Facebook. With her background in journalism, Valenti thought about interviewing women who were trying to conceive or had a baby to learn their story. She discovered many women were in the same boat. “I was like, maybe if I learn their stories then I won’t like I’ll be able to relate to them more closely, and then the things I see on social media, maybe it won’t be as hard for me to see these announcements,” says Valenti. So, the act of learning other’s stories help her cope with her and helped ease the jealousy when she saw social media announcements.
“It’s hard to remind yourself of that every day when you’re looking at Facebook, and so the act of actually sitting down with some of these people and getting to know them on a more personal level helped in so many ways.”
Connecting with someone is a way for you to share your story too. It’s an outlet to talk, but it’s scary because you’re vulnerable. But talking and listening helps.
Join a Support Group
Whether online or in person, a support group can make it easier to hear other women’s stories as well as have a place for you to share yours.
“Many people are afraid to share their trials and tribulations of trying to get pregnant because it’s hard, you don’t want to share. If you tell people you’re trying to get pregnant, you’ll then get bombarded with ‘Oh, how’s it going?’ And, they’re all hopeful, and you don’t want to disappoint them, even though it’s more disappointing for you, so then people are like checking in with you, and you don’t want them to check in with you because it’s like, if there’s news I’ll tell you there’s news, right?” Valenti shares.
A support group is a way to talk with others, and you can choose to remain anonymous. It’s also a place to discuss and express your fears, struggles and emotions.
Join Mira’s Trying to Conceive Support Group on Facebook
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If you do share with someone in your close network of friends and family, set expectations with them, like ‘don’t call me, we’ll call you’ type of thing.
Lean on Each Other
You are going through emotions, heartache, and stress. And same with your partner. It’s important to talk to each other about what you’re feeling and lean on the relationship to get you through this challenging time.
“I cried a lot. I leaned on, my husband and we leaned on each other. It’s hard because the guy is going through their own emotions about it too. They’re experiencing the same. It’s a little easier for them to put it out of mind because they’re not the ones waiting for the period to come.”
Shift Your Focus
Accepting their new reality, while painful, helped Valenti and her husband cope. When they got news that they probably couldn’t have kids, they knew they had to shift their focus elsewhere.
“It was almost like that news was a little bit more freeing because it’s like, okay. It is heartbreaking, but now we can decide what to do instead of living in this limbo of where do we go, what do we do? Let’s make a decision.” Valenti expresses.
Find Something to Look Forward To
For Michelle, she and her husband loved to travel, and that was part of their life. They traveled the world while working remotely. For some, traveling is a brief Band-Aid or just a minor distraction. Then once back home, back to reality, you’re thinking about conceiving again. For Valenti, she dove into a few projects. She focused on her project In Due Time as well as starting two businesses. While the distraction didn’t take her mind entirely away from conceiving, it helped her accept her reality and move forward. It also helped her look forward to something each day.
“It didn’t necessarily take my mind off the rollercoaster of emotions. It was nice to be productive during that period of uncertainty and to feel like I was working towards something, but it didn’t necessarily make it any easier,” Valenti adds, “They didn’t make the pain less painful, and they didn’t make the waiting any easier.”
After months of pain and struggles, Valenti and her husband finally did get pregnant. “People say don’t stress, and it’s so hard, but you know, once we finally stopped stressing and went on planning other adventures, we found out we were pregnant.” And a couple of years later, Valenti and her husband found out they were expecting again. The second time around they weren’t expecting much, but a couple of months into trying they found out they were pregnant.
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✔️ Medically Reviewed by Dr Roohi Jeelani, MD, FACOG and Lauren Grimm, MA
Dr Roohi Jeelani is Director of Research and Education at Vios Fertility Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Dr Jeelani earned her medical degree from Ross University School of Medicine in Portsmouth, Dominica. She then completed a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology and a fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Wayne State University, Detroit Medical Center, where she was awarded a Women’s Reproductive Health NIH K12 Research Grant. She is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr Jeelani has authored numerous articles and abstracts in peer-reviewed journals, and presented her research at national and international scientific meetings. A Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr Jeelani is a member of the American Medical Association, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, and the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists.
Lauren Grimm is Research Coordinator at Vios Fertility Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Lauren earned her bachelor’s degree from Loyola University Chicago, where she also completed her masters in Medical Sciences. Lauren has worked alongside Dr. Jeelani for the last 3 years, authoring a number of abstracts and articles in peer-reviewed journals, and presented her research at national and international scientific conferences. Lauren will be continuing her education this fall at Rush University Medical College in Chicago, IL as an MD candidate.
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