My family know I’m trying to get pregnant. My friends know I’m trying to get pregnant. Some random strangers probably know – yet god forbid we actually talk about it.
I’m quite an open person and if the lady behind the checkout counter hinted at the topic, I’d probably share too much information, but it baffles me that there is still this taboo of not sharing the struggles of trying to conceive with one another.
Before making the decision to try to become parents, I couldn’t tell you a single thing about the subject apart from the very obvious ‘sex makes a baby.’ Two years later, I genuinely feel like some sort of fertility expert, and regularly drop abbreviations like TTC (trying to conceive), AF (Aunt Flo – period), BFP (big fat positive) and BD (baby dance) into daily conversations with complete strangers on the Peanut app.
Starting from school
At school you are told to expect a monthly bleed, shown how to put a condom on and quite rightly have it hammered into you to always use protection. Off you go with your paper bag full of goodies and you do everything possible for the next 15 years to ensure no ‘accidents’ occur. (I mean, I’m pretty sure at one point I thought you could get pregnant if you shared a hot tub with a guy!) It was only when I decided to have a baby that I had to google ‘how to get pregnant.’
I’m amazed that as a 34-year-old woman I had no idea how my own body actually worked, what has to happen each month in order to conceive and how so many things can have an impact your cycles. On top of that, I naively thought I could stop taking the pill after 15 years and expect a perfect 28-day cycle to bounce back immediately.
You are told none of these facts as a young adult, and although it’s important to prevent unwanted teenage pregnancies, I strongly feel that we should be informed, in the right way, that sometimes having a baby can be extremely difficult.
Trying to conceive is hands down the most stressful thing I’ve ever done. I thought planning my wedding consumed my brain and took over my life, but this is a whole other level. I’m not exactly a relaxed or laidback person, so deciding that I wanted something and not having any control on when it would happen was something I had to try and deal with.
A new daily routine
My daily routine now consists of taking my temperature before even getting out of bed, peeing on ridiculously expensive sticks and monitoring my cervical mucus. Then there’s the strict monthly sex timetable, which is entered into our joint calendar for good measure.
Your life quite quickly turns into a two-week waiting game; you wait for your peak ovulation date and ‘baby dance’ like mad when it comes, this is followed by the dreaded two weeks wait and it’s during this time that I have found myself on Google. One classic search recently was ‘can sperm fall out when running?’ – if you’re wondering, the answer is of course no!
My Peanut app is heavily used during the two-week wait. I find myself symptom-spotting EVERYTHING and searching for posts from people in similar situations, all the while preparing for the inevitable arrival of ‘Aunt Flo.’
Although I joke about the Googling and the TMI sharing on Peanut, it is quite shocking to see how many women there are, who are clearly so desperate to become parents that they need to share irrational thoughts with others on a social media platform. I feel really lucky that I have a friend in a very similar position to myself, and we constantly share details of our ‘journey’ with one another.
But for a lot of women, something like Peanut will be their only support network, and while I think it’s a brilliant platform, there’s nothing quite like chatting to an actual mate over a glass of vino.
We are now in the process of being referred for further investigations. Getting to this point has been pretty confusing to be honest, and it’s clear that from the first GP appointment the whole process depends on the individual you see. As I mentioned, I have a friend in a very similar situation and our NHS service so far has differed greatly, even though we are from the same area.
Making fertility a mainstream topic
If this topic was more mainstream then maybe I would know what to expect at each stage, instead of being in complete limbo waiting for whatever is next.
I understand it’s a sensitive subject and of course not everyone wants to open up about trying to conceive. Perhaps this is because once it is put out there, you feel like you’re failing if it takes longer than a few months. Perhaps you don’t want people to know the amount of effort and work that you are putting in trying to get pregnant. Or perhaps you are just sick and tired of people saying things like ‘your turn next?’ or the classic ‘just relax and it will happen’. I swear, if one more person tells me to relax, I might kick them!
For anyone reading this that is trying to conceive, I’m confident we will all get out ‘BFP’, one way or another. And in the meantime, next time a friend asks how you are, consider telling them you’re in your two-week wait and full of hope, or that Aunt Flo has just arrived and you would like to sink a bottle of prosecco immediately.