When I was in my 20’s, I had the math down pat – get married before 30, allow a year or 2 to settle down to married life, then have a baby. I figured if I got married at 27, get pregnant and give birth at 29, my child will be more or less independent enough by the time I retire at 60. The math was simple enough, but I never expected that accomplishing it would prove to be much more difficult.
My husband and I got married at 26 – 1 whole year earlier than I had planned. We didn’t really try out for a baby from the get-go, but you can say we just threw caution to the wind. After a year with no contraceptive whatsoever and no baby bump in sight, we consulted an OB for a “workup.” We did three cycles and joined the ranks of couples trying to conceive or TTC, or what Charlotte of Sex and the City referred to as “reproductively challenged.” And it really was challenging. I soon found out that OB workups are focused on the woman – I was given medicines and shots, prodded, and peeked. My eggs, ovaries, and fallopian tubes were scrutinized. I spent all the mornings of one week in the hospital just to check if my eggs were ripening. I’m not saying that it wasn’t hard for my husband because it was. Nothing kills romance faster than being pressured to “perform” how many nights in a week and then getting ourselves up in time to work.
We were not just physically and financially drained, our emotions were almost at an end as well. Trying to grasp what was wrong was tiring. Every month that I got my period was heartbreaking. Every comment of “when are you going to get pregnant,” “do you even know how to make a baby,” and “are you even trying” was like a punch to my gut, or maybe my ovaries – and we got a lot of them, in every gathering, dinner, meet-up. The worst was when a family member told me something along the lines of perhaps the only way I’ll get pregnant is if someone implanted a baby directly unto me. It was said in jest. But the last thing I felt like doing was laughing.
At the same time, no matter how many comments we received, we were alone in our journey. Everyone had theories and tips that they were more than willing to share, but no one can fully understand what we were going through.
After a year, we stopped with the workups and tried another route – we left everything to fate and faith. We enjoyed married life and at the same time, tried to limit our stress (yes, stress is normal but it can also affect reproductive health). This included me giving up my full-time office job, my husband maximizing his vacations, and both of us trying to live more healthily. To this day I don’t know if it was because of the less stress, lost weight, or sheer luck, but we got pregnant around 3 years after we went down the trying to conceive route.
My daughter is four years old, and yet we still get comments of when or if we can give her a sibling. This much I can say: we’ve always heard that words are powerful, and this holds true for couples who are trying to conceive. You don’t need to ask us if we know how to make a baby because we also ask ourselves that. You don’t need to ask us when we’ll get pregnant because it’s the mantra we repeat every month wishing for a missed period. You don’t have to joke about our sex life because sometimes, it already feels like a joke. We’ve heard it all before, so you don’t have to tell us anything again. To be clear we’re not asking for any help, as of course, baby-making is a couple thing, but all we’re asking in terms of support is for you to not make any unnecessary comments or jokes on our behalf. For couples who are also trying to conceive, know this, you are not alone. Our stories and journeys might be different, but I think the most important thing I can tell you is to never lose hope and to never lose sight of what’s important. Do what you must – whether its medical procedures or striving to live a healthier life. Sex may feel like a chore once your doctor starts you on a schedule, and yet always remember that the art of babymaking will primarily and always be an act of love. And finally, seeing your baby for the first time is definitely, definitely worth all the heartbreaks. So, heads up reproductively challenged woman. You will reach your goal as a mother one way or another and the journey will definitely be worth it.
*Originally published in momcenter.com.ph