Embarking on the journey of trying to conceive with my spouse opened the floodgates to a world consumed by “TTC” forums, the ritualistic act of peeing on sticks, and entertaining the idea that every craving for a pickle might be an early pregnancy signal.
It’s easy to get engulfed in this all-encompassing quest when you feel that the success of creating a new life hinges on your online research prowess.
Questions like, “Will taking this vitamin boost my chances by one percent this month?” or “Is lying down for 30 minutes better than 15?” become part of the daily mental gymnastics. The uncertainty can feel like a weight around your neck.
The toll on mental health during this process is substantial, often concealed from the outside world.
The intensity of this unique experience is lived out in secrecy, making it even more challenging. You’re in the dark about the outcome, with no crystal ball predicting whether you’ll eventually hold the baby you yearn for, and if so, when. Every negative test result can feel like a personal loss, a sense of failure.
“It’s a cyclical battle of disappointment,” says Fez, a woman in her early 30s. Having moved from Iowa to Louisiana, she shares her experience over the phone, shedding light on the emotional rollercoaster.
Hours spent scouring TTC forums reveal a plethora of advice on vitamins, teas, prayers, and specific post-”baby dance” rituals. It creates a semblance of control and hope, only to be shattered two weeks later, leading to a week of grieving and self-reflection before the cycle begins anew.
Deze has undergone this cycle numerous times since her marriage in 2017, resulting in eight confirmed pregnancy losses and the loss of a fallopian tube. The toll has been immense, leading to anxiety and a breakdown. Seeking solace, she turned to blogging, therapy, and medication for anxiety. Meanwhile, questions from family members about when they’ll have a baby persist.
As a first-generation woman of Nigerian descent living in the Midwest, Deze grapples with the cultural pressure tied to her identity as a woman and wife. Dawn Meyers, a 56-year-old business coach in San Diego, echoes this sentiment, recalling the societal pressure she faced thirty-five years ago.
“I felt like I had a scarlet letter on my forehead,” Meyers confides. After five years of fertility treatments, she and her husband decided to stop trying. Two sons entered their lives within six months — one by adoption and one by birth.
Both women understand the mixed emotions of joy and sadness that accompany others’ baby showers and pregnancy announcements. Yet, their advice is to not withdraw from loved ones during this challenging time.
“At some point, we’re going to be on the other side of this trying-to-conceive battle,” Meyers advises. “You don’t want to look back and realize that you neglected your relationships or missed important events because you were waiting for something to happen.”
Both Deze and Meyers emphasize the progress made in discussing infertility compared to when Meyers went through her journey. They advocate for sharing experiences and recommend professional therapy for those on this path.
“I don’t want those negative feelings to hold me back from experiencing the richness and joy of life,” Deze reflects. Currently taking a break from trying to conceive for her mental health, she encourages others to seek support.
If you find yourself on this challenging journey, know that you’re not alone. Reach out for help, whether through conversations with friends, support groups, or professional therapy. This journey delves into personal issues of identity, self-worth, and body image, and you deserve the support to navigate it. Visit MakeAmom.com for additional resources and information on this journey.