Since we started our TTC process, we’ve cultivated our own little community of support and made some very dear friends in the process. One of those couples of friends started TTC this past month, and it made me remember just how maddening the first time can be. As I consoled my friend and gave her the best reassurance that I could that it would get better, I remembered wishing that someone could have told me exactly what to expect and that the first time is really so much harder than every other time. I think it has to do with the fact that, of course, everyone wants to get it on the first try. How to do you maintain that balance of remaining positive and optimistic but not too hopeful at the same time? The short answer is you don’t. Sorry. It’s a roller coaster. The best you can do is try to focus on taking it day-by-day, or even hour-by-hour, knowing that, although that first month is the hardest, it does get easier, and you are not the only ones made completely neurotic by this process.
Unfortunately, no one can prepare you for how you will feel at the exact moment that you try to make a baby for the first time. For most of our community, a lot leads up to that moment. For Linda and me it was happy, scary and touching all at the same time. I dispelled some of my nervous energy by creating a comfortable little ritual that I thought would help to make the process feel a bit more calming and romantic. We bought a pleasantly scented candle and deemed it “the baby maker,” since that would be the only time that it was lit. I tried to meditate and do some deep breathing while I visualized fertilization taking place. Hey, it can’t hurt, right? Those small rituals really helped us until we got through the initial anxiety and I knew what to expect.
However, that was only the beginning. I think it’s pretty safe to speak for both my wife and myself in saying that immediately after the first insemination we both became a bit crazy. I’m not sure that any of my thoughts during that 2WW could have been louder than the constant, “AM I PREGNANT YET?” When I wasn’t wondering it myself, it was only because I was wondering if she was wondering it. Did she think my boobs looked bigger today? Was she thinking about peeing on a stick yet, too? Between nervously going to the bathroom looking for implantation spotting and googling pregnancy symptoms, the questions were plaguing me. Any little sensation or feeling in my body was second guessed. I counted the hours down till the time that we could legitimately take an early pregnancy test. You are supposed to wait until six days before a missed period to take one, and on that morning I bounded out of bed and into the bathroom. I’m not sure we’ve ever stared at anything so intently in all our lives, but the second line never appeared. That first negative really hurt a lot. No one can really prepare you for the impact of how that feels. I believe that one of the biggest mistakes that we made was not having enough foresight to plan for more time together after that first test. Linda had to leave early that day for a business trip and we tried to squeeze the test in beforehand. I did not expect to be as upset as I was and then she felt horribly guilty for having to leave. On top of all that, it didn’t occur to us beforehand that we were planning to test on Mother’s Day. It wasn’t our most brilliant move. Warning: Baby fever WILL cause severe cognitive impairment. Be prepared!
The problem with those tests, though, is that “negative” doesn’t necessarily mean “negative.” It really means “negative or still just too early.” So you keep taking them. It’s easy to get addicted to them. As one of my friends recently pointed out, it’s entirely possible to get caught up and spend half of your annual salary on the little buggers. All so that you can drive yourself crazy wondering if that line is really there or if you’re just seeing things. I don’t think I could have done it the first month, but since then we have outlawed HPTs each month until my period is actually late. We found it to be much less stressful. When I did get my period that first month, we also needed a little time to grieve that. It’s typically not a happy occurrence anyway, but that month it felt so much more painful and cruel. We were both very disappointed and we tried (but didn’t completely succeed) not to take it out on those around us. It was probably a good thing that we had to wait another two weeks for our second try, because emotionally I’m not sure that we would have been ready much sooner.
It really is a mean twist of fate that this time is so stressful while alcohol is off-limits. Luckily for us, that first month we had tickets to a beer festival a few days after we knew for sure that I was not pregnant. It gave me something to look forward to either way. If I was pregnant, I would happily be the designated driver, but when I wasn’t I got to enjoy some really yummy beer with friends. It was a happy accident that time but it’s something we’ve tried to plan each month since. We made a “baby bucket list” of things that will probably be more challenging to accomplish after I become pregnant. They are mostly little, inexpensive excursions but each one is enough to look forward to if we face another negative result. I still feel like we make progress that way. Everything we cross off brings us closer to becoming parents.
By the time month two did roll around, I was able to feel optimistic and a lot less nervous. An unsuccessful month is something that no one wants to have to go through, but it does help you to realize how much of a thick skin you may have to develop to make it. Optimally, having a good support system, planning to give yourself more time to get through potentially tough moments, and creating something to look forward to are things that helped get us through. Each subsequent month that we have tried to conceive, it has gotten easier.