Couples on the road to parenthood can avoid burnout by anticipating detours in advance and learning how to determine when it’s time to re-plot the route to getting pregnant.
When it comes to having a baby, most couples imagine that if they just do what comes naturally, the details will take care of themselves. Most of the time they do, but sometimes they don’t. We’ve all heard the statistics that as many as one in six couples struggles to conceive a child. That doesn’t mean that the initial excitement of starting a family should be compromised. But it might mean taking counsel from a pair of familiar axioms: “Hope for the best,” and “Be Prepared.”
Trying to Conceive: The Beginning
There’s no better time to examine your expectations than at the start of your journey. Often, when we anticipate this chapter in our lives, we imagine candles, romance, and “voila!” instant conception. In fact, it can be a rude awakening to realize that conception often doesn’t happen on the first, or even second, try, and that magical sparks don’t necessarily ignite into instant creation. One client, frustrated after just a few months of futile attempts to get pregnant, wryly joked that intimacy in her marriage had shifted from the spontaneity of recreation to the demands of procreation. It’s easy to see how tensions can rise when time together is dictated by temperature readings and ovulation charts rather than being in the mood.
So, before you even get started, you and your spouse need to acknowledge that it may take a little time to get pregnant. Although it makes sense to keep track of your cycle, it’s even more important not to lose sight of yourself and your partner. Keep the lines of communication open, and make conscious choices to add variety and humor to your time together.
For most couples, conception will happen in a few months, and whatever stress was associated with the effort will quickly be forgotten. But some couples will find that nothing happens, even after many months of trying to conceive. The rule of thumb is that it’s a good idea to seek a medical opinion after you’ve been trying to get pregnant for about a year. In the best-case scenario, doctors quickly determine what’s been holding things up, and offer an easy solution. The challenge arises when things aren’t so simple, and a diagnosis of infertility leaves you faced with a decision about how to move forward.
This is the point where many couples, in their eagerness to achieve their goal of having a baby, run the risk of leaving their emotional selves in the wake. There are now so many ways to diagnose and treat infertility that it becomes easy to get trapped in a cycle of doing rather than feeling, especially when feelings are painful. But resisting the grief that naturally comes with the diagnosis of infertility can lead to bigger problems down the road. If you and your partner receive the “I” diagnosis, stop and take some time to absorb what this means. Don’t suppress your feelings in an effort to protect each other. Set the ground rules now for open and honest discussion as you move forward.