These days, it is a place where our 22-month-old son Charlie climbs in with us on a morning while we watch the news and drink coffee. It couldn’t be further removed from how things were just three years ago.
For me personally, while my husband and I were struggling to conceive, our bed became a symbol of resentment. For all the times that a moment of intimacy had resulted in me turning my back on my husband in tears, whilst he lay there beating himself up for letting the pressure get the best of him. I began to hate what our bed symbolised; our inability to conceive, and at numerous times our inability to even do the very thing needed to do to make that possible.
I was on top of my menstrual cycle, I was regular, I knew when my most fertile days were, I used ovulation sticks – I had ovulation apps on my phone for goodness sake! – how could we possibly not get pregnant!? Well it is obvious to me now. All of these things meant nothing when the psychological pressure had gotten too much for us. It’s all well and good saying you need to be at it like rabbits on your most fertile days, but we’re not robots. Our emotions, our doubts and expectations all come in to play, and all result in a build up of pressure which, for my husband and I, would all come to a head right at the pivotal moment. So, ironically, a build-up of mental pressure led to a lack of pressure building up in other areas…
This is such a personal subject to talk about but one I am sure so many people experience. It seemed, in the end, that our inability to conceive was not only physiological, but after years of trying it became psychological. Our bodies, for whatever reason, were not enabling us to get pregnant. And our minds were preventing us from doing what all animals need to do in order to get pregnant. We were in a hopeless situation.
During all of this, our relationship understandably became strained. There were harsh words, there were tears, there was embarrassment and self-blame and we would bottle things up and shut each other out. In the end, when we did eventually talk about how we were feeling, my husband told me that it put extra pressure on him knowing that I was tracking my ovulation and so I agreed not to tell him. However, he soon came to suspect that when I instigated sex, it must be because I was ovulating! Sadly, for couples who are struggling to conceive, I think it is all too common that sex becomes for a purpose.
At times, I felt like I wanted a child more than my husband did – because I was the one in tears, I was the one showing emotion. But the truth is people deal with things in different ways and he wanted a child just as much as me. He even put added pressure on himself because he’s a man and he felt that it was his fault that he couldn’t give us a child. In our situation, we never did know why we couldn’t conceive, but my husband had suffered from testicular cancer in the past and so he always put the blame on himself.
I don’t know if people will relate to this analogy, but I would liken the situation to unrequited love. You invest so much effort and emotion in to the situation, but you are getting no result. You try and try, you keep going back for more but it seems you are getting nowhere. It can become almost obsessive and the heartbreak gets worse and worse each time.
In my opinion, communication between you and your partner is the most important thing when you are trying to conceive. Be open about your fears, your hopes and your expectations. When somebody isn’t telling you how they feel, you can very quickly construct in your head what you imagine they are thinking, when the reality can be very different. Try to be understanding towards each others different strategies for coping with the situation, and above all, support and look after one another.