Wifey Wednesday: When You’re Trying to Get Pregnant

Dealing with Infertility in Your MarriageIt’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you all can link up your own posts below. Today I want to talk about trying to get pregnant: how to make it more likely, and how to keep the sexual side of your relationship fresh when there’s all this pressure to conceive.

My husband and I never really had trouble getting pregnant. We were in our early to mid twenties, which likely helped, and we tried for a total of 5 months, and conceived 4 times. I miscarried my first baby, then had Rebecca, then we were blessed with Christopher for just 29 days, and then we had Katie.

But even though it was relatively easy for us to get pregnant I was still stressed by it. I wanted a baby so badly. And so I went from someone who wasn’t all that interested in sex (I thought sex was way overrated in my first few years of marriage, which I explain in The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex) to someone who wanted to make love all the time because we desperately needed a baby.

It ticked my husband off a little bit, I think, because he was feeling used. Yes, he wanted a baby, too, but there were just all kinds of emotions running high. Do you really want me? Or do you just want the baby? Are you being honest when we’re making love, or are you pretending to be excited so that I won’t feel badly? And so on, and so on.

I can only imagine how difficult it must be if you add months of not conceiving to the mix. If you are walking through that, I am so, so sorry. I know I would have been a wreck, and I’m so sorry that you’re experiencing this. I won’t say that I pretend to understand, though I do know what it is like to lose a child. But that desperation must be really difficult–combined with the feeling that sex isn’t even intimate anymore. It’s just a means to an end

So I’d like to give you a few things to think about during this period in your marriage that will hopefully help you move forward.

1. Understand the Fertility Cycle

Just because you don’t conceive in the first few months does not mean that you are infertile. I have plenty of friends who took several years to conceive–but then went on to have multiple kids. Sometimes it does just take longer than others.

At the same time, understanding your fertile times can help you get pregnant. On Monday we were talking about how NOT to get pregnant, but getting pregnant just means doing the opposite. You still figure out when you ovulate, but instead of abstaining, you have sex!

A few key things to remember:

  • Pregnancy is most likely to happen when sex PRECEDES ovulation by 18-48 hours. It’s not that you WON’T get pregnant if you have sex right when you ovulate; it’s just that you’re more likely to if you have sex right before. Then the sperm are in exactly the right place when the egg shows up. So tracking yourself for several months so that you know the telltale signs of when you’re about to ovulate, and the approximate date of ovulation, is so important.
  • Having sex a whole bunch of times in one day doesn’t necessarily increase the chances of pregnancy. Why? Because the more you have sex, the more sperm the guy has to produce, and generally the fewer sperm he releases each time. So once a day honestly should do it. Some studies have even shown that if you make love TOO often you reduce the chance of pregnancy. So don’t try going five times in a day; pay more attention to timing and pick the right day instead.
  • If you want to understand all of this better, the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility is highly recommended by my blog readers!

2. If You Have Fertility Problems, The Stork can Help

The Stork Fertility AidIf you’ve been doing this for 6-8 months and nothing really is happening, you may want to try something to make pregnancy more likely. Most doctors, though, don’t start any kind of hormone treatments or IVF treatments unless  you’ve been trying for at least a year. And IVF, of course, runs the risk of multiple pregnancies and has a higher risk of birth defects.

There’s a new product out called The Stork which is natural, involves no drugs, and doesn’t need a physician (except to write you the prescription). They approached me and asked if I’d write about it, and in looking into it I thought it seemed to be an excellent option. They’ve jumped through all the regulatory hoops in the U.S. and Canada, so it’s totally legitimate. What I really like is that it doesn’t mess with your hormones, it doesn’t cost that much, and it looks like you can have success on your own, at home.

The Stork Conception System is indicated for assisted insemination in instances where low sperm count, sperm immobility (like they don’t swim very far or very fast), or hostile vaginal environment has been diagnosed. The system (cervical cap in a condom-like silicone sheath) is used to collect semen into a cervical cap, and then deliver the cap to the outside of the cervix as an aid to conception. It is to be used at home following physician instructions. You can see a full video for how to use The Stork kit here.

And it’s not gross or anything; it uses a tampon-like applicator and tampon-like removal kit. You can find more information and order it at The Stork store website (although you will need a physician’s prescription).

3. Keep Laughing Together

Look, this is a tense time in your relationship. You are worried about conceiving. You do wonder if you’ll ever have the family that you yearn for. And sex certainly does become stressful. Then we have the tendency to blame each other–or ourselves–if we don’t get pregnant.

So make sure that you carve our time just to laugh together. Find a new hobby you can do together. Once a night do something silly–like play Jenga or watch a stupid movie. Go out and get ice cream. Do the things that you used to do! Don’t make your whole marriage about getting pregnant, because you are more than that.

4. Give Yourself a Break in the Sex Department

If you are just “going through the motions” right now, that’s okay. It really is. In every marriage there will be ups and downs and there will be more stressful periods than others. If you’re going through a stressful period and sex has lost its spark, don’t beat yourself up over that. Just realize that it is just for a time!

If you want to try to give back that spark, there are a few things you can do. On the days when you aren’t fertile anyway, use a condom. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but then you know that you’re not having sex to try to get pregnant–you’re truly just making love to be with each other.

I know some websites will say give yourself a month or two where you’re not trying just to get back in the groove as a couple, but I know that I myself would never have listened to that advice if I were desperate to get pregnant. Maybe that’s not realistic for you, either. But saying, “I know this is for a time, and I know we’ll have a great time soon!” is honestly okay.

Another thing to try: Do other things sexually. Keep kissing. Keep touching each other. Don’t make it all about “the deed”, and that shows “I still want to be with you!” Maybe even spend some time bringing each other to climax in other ways so that you help each other relax, and you show each other: I still want to have fun with you.

5. Remember that God is in Control

I said this on Monday, too, in relation to coming to terms with getting pregnant if you don’t want to. But it’s even more true here. Walking through this is tough, but you are walking through it together. Lean on each other, but most of all lean on God.

Kate Battistelli, mom to the singer Francesca, wrote a great post a few weeks ago on how she had to yell and deal with God when her desires for a large family weren’t met. Here she is on “When Everything Falls Apart“. I think you’ll like it!

This post was sponsored by The Motherhood and Stork, but the opinions are entirely my own.

Christian Marriage Advice

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Link up a marriage post in the URL below! I’ll choose two to highlight on my Facebook Page, likely ones that relate to what I’ve been talking about lately.

The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

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  1. This is something that we are facing right now. We tried off and on for 13 years and when we least expected we got pregnant. The sad part is we miscarried at 8 weeks. We have been trying with the aid of medicine for the past year and I know that we both have gone through the emotional ups and downs and he felt used early on when we first went on the medicine. We have a doctors appointment next week to discuss possible next steps. Thank you for this post and the giving me something to discuss with my doctor. God is in control and His will will be done and that is what I remember each month.

    • Wow, I’m so sorry for your long journey. I know that God may have something else incredible for you–adoption, other opportunities, whatever–and I know that those things will end up being satisfying in a way that you didn’t dream, but in the meantime I can just imagine how this hurts. I do pray that you will conceive, and that God will keep bringing you peace in the midst of the stress of it all.

    • HI. I am SO sorry about your loss and your struggle. I too have lost at least 2 babies. It is NOT easy. God IS with you and will bring you peace and hold your hand through all this. Hopefully you will get some great answers at your Dr’s appointment! God Bless….

  2. This is such a hard thing that I know first hand. My husband and I have been married for 16 years. We adopted two children and had one biologically with medical intervention (seven years of failed interventions before success). We have tried without success since. We want a big family and can’t afford to adopt more (and we’re getting old!).

    I can’t say I have any tips other than to talk about it. The month my son was conceived, my husband was hurt and didn’t want to. I was hurt that he wouldn’t do “his part” after all the poking and prodding I had gone through. I nearly strangled him! I cried, we talked, and thank goodness we both realized that prescribed sex simply isn’t always going to be fun no matter what measures you take to try and make it that way. Because I know pretty close to exactly when ovulation happened since I took a shot in the hind end to make it happen – I can say with 99% certainty that he was conceived that night. The night my husband took a stand.

    So my number one piece of advice is to own and acknowledge that it isn’t always going to be fun when you’re trying for a baby. Keep talking, keep laughing, and endure it together.

    As for the product mentioned, I don’t know what it costs but we essentially did the same thing using a menstrual cup. There were no male factors involved in our infertility but after so many years of trying you take every boost you can get!

  3. Your advice is usually so well-reasoned and well thought out that this paragraph took me by surprise.

    “If you want to try to give back that spark, there are a few things you can do. On the days when you aren’t fertile anyway, use a condom. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but then you know that you’re not having sex to try to get pregnant–you’re truly just making love to be with each other.”

    It’s not just counter-intuitive but also seems to ignore a lot of relevant factors. It is much less pleasing for men both physically and mentally to use a condom. There are also religious objections that some Christians have to the practice. Why would you advocate something that has no material value in helping a couple to conceive, objectionable to some Christians, and is less pleasurable for the man?

    • Anon for this one... says:

      Because for some of us, that worked.
      When we were trying to conceive #3 and it seemed to be taking forever (it wasn’t, but compared to the first two it was), there were nights when we used a condom – just because it meant we were “not trying tonight”. It made the sex about US, not about a potential future baby.

      Like most of Sheila’s advice, this particular item is not for everyone. But it’s in a paragraph of “ways to give yourself a break” – and it is one way, and it is a way that worked for us.

      • I appreciate your comment and experience but I have to confess that I just don’t get it. I don’t see how altering the act during the infertile times in an unnatural way helps you to conceive during the fertile times. They are totally unrelated.

        • Anon for this one says:

          You’re right- in some ways they are unrelated. Using a condom in the times when you are not fertile is not going to help you conceive.

          But sex is about so much more than conception. It’s about connection. It’s about intimacy. It’s about loving and being loved. And if using a condom to show that “this is about connecting, not about a baby” takes the pressure off and lets either (or both) people relax, that’s a good thing.

          Yes, a condom changed how sex feels. So does what stage of my cycle I’m at – but I don’t make my husband wait until my “best” day. So does being in the third trimester of a pregnancy – but we still found ways to make it work even though it was never going to be the “best ever” or even anywhere close.

          There are times when sex being an incredible physical experience needs to take a back seat to sex as emotional connection and expression of love.

  4. You wouldn’t think we struggled with this, seeing how we have 4 kiddos now, but we did for a long time. Twice, we found out through hormone testing that I had a pituitary tumor that had to be removed! Talk about God’s sovereignty!! Both times, after having it removed, we were able to get pregnant some time after that! Wow! Sex can become monotonous when you want a baby SO bad. It’s like all you think about when you are together, thinking, “maybe it happened this time!” It was really hard to get out of that mind set, To tell you the truth, it was when we totally let go and gave it ALL over to God that we got pregnant! There really is something to be said about letting it go. One time, we had been doing infertility treatments for a whole YEAR with NO success. I really felt God was telling me to give it up to Him and quit trying and my hubby said he had been feeling the same way. Man, oh man, was that the HARDEST thing to do, but I did it. I cried over it, but gave it up to God and just quite trying and thinking about it. Well, let me just tell ya that 4 months later, found out that we were pregnant!!!! There are more stories to tell, but that is just one example of God’s amazing work in our lives!! God is SO good to all of us all the time. We just have to remember that on this journey of life…. God Bless!

  5. thanks, Sheila.

    I especially needed to hear #3 today. We aren’t wanting to conceive (4 is enough for us!) but we are in a stressful time because of other things in life, and it is so true that we need to remember to laugh together.

  6. We are in this situation ourselves, we’ve been trying for nearly 2 years now and I have really felt the stress and pressure of it all. I found myself freaking out over each ache and cold at only the thought that I might be pregnant. I became overly cautios with everything, even sex, making sure that I didn’t get UTI and of course, at some point my husband felt this and we had some arguments. It took a while to really get him on board with the whole process of timing sex but now he sees that it really takes some work. What I learned is that the wife shouldn’t take it all upon her to get pregnant, if your hubby is not walking the same pace, slow down until you reach the same pace. I know it’s very hard to trust God when time is ticking and your heart literally aches for a baby, I should know as I am also struggling with this, but I once read a quote that said Work as if everything depended on you and pray as if everything depended on God, which I would say fits this too – do everything you and let God do the rest.

  7. Learning how to chart my fertility was such an eye-opening experience for me. I had no idea all the ways my body was telling me things. I wish they taught that sort of thing in school… I really don’t understand why they don’t. It’s definitely something that I am going to teach my daughters about.
    Sarah @ Little Bus on the Prairie recently posted…Manual Labor – Noah’s UpdateMy Profile

  8. Yes! This is us. This is so us.

    We’ve been trying for 6 months, technically. We stopped using birth control, then used FAM to avoid pregnancy for three months… decided to try to conceive, and then my cycles went all wacky. I haven’t ovulated in the 6 months we’ve tried. It’s so frustrating, and it’s hard to feel sensual at all when you’re angry with your body.

    My husband has been great at reminding me that God is in control. His mantra for me is, “God’s got this. It’ll happen when it happens.” That’s so wonderful and so frustrating all at the same time.
    Little Wife recently posted…Ministry Is Worth the SacrificeMy Profile

  9. We don’t technically count as having fertility problems yet… We got pregnant 4 months after we got married. It was quite a shock, and we were a little unprepared for the news at first. We got used to it though, and had just told our families when I miscarried at about 7 weeks. It was one of the hardest things either of us has ever been though. We’ve been married 3 and a half years now… I’ve been totally off birth control for a year now. I wouldn’t say we were “trying” but we haven’t been not trying either. It makes me scared that maybe I can’t carry babies or something. We’ve decided that we’re going to actually start trying as of this month, but I have to admit, I’m really nervous! Thank you for this post. It really was just what I needed to hear! :) Please pray that, if it’s His will, the Lord blesses us with another little one, who we get to keep for longer this time.

  10. We battled infertility for many years, did IVF 3x and spent all our savings in the process. After our specialist started suggesting donor eggs, or eggs from my sisters, we decided enough was enough and pursued adoption. We now have 2 incredible sons, ages 6 and 7 years.
    However, there are aftereffects. I am still taking anti anxiety and antidepressant meds as a result of the stress this put on our marriage. My husband has still not fully dealt with our inability to conceive our own children, and as much as he loves our sons with everything he has, he still yearns for a biological child.
    Infertility is probably the biggest, hardest thing I have ever had to deal with in my 41 years. The loneliness, isolation, raging hormones(which make your moods swing all over the place) and anxiety is something few people can understand. I wanted to be pregnant, to have a swollen belly, and I needed to deal with that loss, to grieve the loss of my dream, the loss of the opportunity to go through childbirth and ooh and aah over a baby – pointing out the characteristics inherited from the union of my husband and me. I can remember lying in the bath in the dark, sobbing, pleading with God, to allow us to conceive. I was confused that God had allowed this. My friends were getting pregnant around me and I was still counting days and lying with my feet up on the wall every time we made love. Making love was stressful. It contributed to us drifting apart in our intimacy for many years.
    I think that until you have experienced infertility, you CANNOT understand the loss. Every treatment we did which resulted in a non pregnancy, was like a miscarriage. It was the closest I’d ever come to being pregnant and the 2 weeks waiting were a mixture of hope and terror. Friends insensitively commented that they ‘take a wide berth around me’ when I was injecting myself with a daily regimen of hormones and stimulants. I had welts from the injections sites on my lower back and thighs. It was painful physically and emotionally. If you know a friend going through this, be there, and stay there. Don’t give your opinion, but be prepared to listen and console. That’s what I needed.
    Thanks for this post, Sheila, this is more about what to do while trying to conceive, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what to do when you absolutely cannot conceive – what do you do after the infertility struggle, when it hasn’t worked and you have had to give up, either for medical, emotional or financial reasons?

    • That’s a hard one just because I haven’t walked through it, and so I really don’t feel comfortable giving advice on it. But maybe I’ll see if I can find someone to write it for me who has gone through it? There are just some really sensitive subjects that I don’t want to write on because I’d feel like that was too much of a “pat answer” since I haven’t walked it.

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