What I’ve Learned From Trying (And Failing) To Get Pregnant For Three Years

I rolled over in bed one night, looked my husband in the eyes and said, “Let’s make a baby.” He was totally into it and we got right to it. But after three years, multiple boxes of pregnancy tests (all negative), failed fertility treatments, and an unexplained diagnosis, we realized that baby-making wasn’t going to be a walk in the park.

  1. The strength of my relationship has been tested and proven. Aside from a trip to Ikea with your husband and both of your mothers, infertility is the ultimate test of the strength of your relationship. If one of you has a foot out the door, you’ll never make it. From the hormone-induced rages to countless nights of tears on the bathroom floor, it requires extra affection, soothing words, and so much ice cream. If you do pass this test, your relationship will bloom into something new—a beautiful reflection of your strength.
  2. Some friends are more supportive than others. Even your BFFs will have difficulty addressing your situation. They worry that they’ll catch you at an especially sensitive time when you’re barely holding it together or that they come across as nosy and insensitive. Then, there are the friends who will spend an entire lunch date complaining about their difficult pregnancy, or the tantrums their toddlers throw.
  3. Finding patience and controlling my frustration aren’t easy. I have never been known for my patience. I tap my toes and grind my teeth when someone is late and break into hives while standing in line at the post office. But month after month of negative pregnancy tests was the ultimate test of my patience. I tried to meditate and keep a packed social calendar, my nothing took my mind off of the one thing I wanted more than anything: a damn positive pregnancy test. It wasn’t until the second anniversary of trying to get pregnant, when my husband said, “I wouldn’t trade our journey for anything in the world because I’m in it with you” that I finally found patience.
  4. It’s way too easy for sex to become a chore. I’d just taken an ovulation test confirming that the twinges I was feeling meant that I reached peak ovulation. I splayed out seductively on the bed and waited for my husband to walk into the room. He was exhausted after a grind of a work day and plopped onto the bed, kissed me on the cheek, and turned on his side. Did he not notice the super sexy lingerie I was wearing? My hands wandered under down from his chest, but he pulled them up to his lips for an innocent kiss. Finally, I came right out with it, “I’m ovulating so we need to get it on pronto!” I’m not sure how anyone could get in the mood with that statement, even if it was coming from the mouth of a Victoria’s Secret model. From that point forward, we promised that sex would no longer just be a vehicle to parenthood.
  5. Giving up is not an option. I have learned to become resilient because the alternative, letting the weight of my frustration and despair take over, is not an option. I hid tears at my desk during the work day and spent evenings collapsed in the embrace of my husband, but giving up on something so important would never be an option for us.
  6. Google isn’t a doctor and definitely not your friend. You will question every twinge, craving, and headache, then run promptly to your computer to google the symptoms. You’ll get lost in endless fertility message boards to see if your symptoms match a woman that ended up with a positive pregnancy test. This is not healthy. I repeat: this is not healthy!
  7. The doctor doesn’t care if you haven’t had a pedicure in months. This also applies to your perfectly manicured lady parts. For my first few appointments, I made a point to shave my legs, get a wax, and polish my toes until one day I was just too exhausted to care. I made a joke to the nurse about braiding my leg hair and she said, “Honestly, we’re so focused on your ovaries that we would never notice or care.”
  8. Comparing your journey to someone else’s will add to your heartbreak. None of my friends have gone through any form of infertility. In fact, each of my best friends got pregnant on the first try. At first, it downright drove me crazy. In the beginning, I treated everything like a race. I was the first in my group to get married so I should be the first to start a family, right? With each pregnant friend, I felt further behind. Anytime my BFFs picked up the phone to call instead of text, my heart dropped into my stomach because I was sure there was pregnancy news. The anxiety I garnered from worrying about falling behind made this journey even more difficult.
  9. Infertility is incredibly common. Once I started to open up about my infertility, it seemed like everyone I spoke to knew someone who was struggling. The statistics are even more telling: 1 in 8 couples will have trouble getting pregnant. Knowing this didn’t make things any easier, but I suddenly felt less alone.
  10. Life is a balancing act. We all know that person who has it all: a perfect relationship, the dream job, stunningly good looks and healthy loved ones. The other 99 percent of us, however, have some form of a burden to carry, though that weight varies from person to person. As tough as it gets, I wouldn’t trade my husband for an easier journey, even when he’s cranky.
Caitlyn is a freelance writer living in Washington D.C.