It isn’t just about getting the timing right. It’s about deepening your commitment, making big changes to your lifestyle for those you love, and letting your relationship’s past nurture its future.
You’ve made it! You’ve finally decided to have a baby. You’re about to enter one of the most exciting times of your entire life — and one of the most exhausting.
Most people don’t realize that conceiving is a lot harder than it appears. It can take several months of intense, focused effort. It’s not just about having lots of unprotected sex — it takes self-education, planning, and major lifestyle changes. If you let it, trying to conceive can consume your life.
Couples who are trying to conceive frequently struggle with stress, disappointment, anger, boredom, and self-doubt. They may withdraw from friends and lose some of the charming habits that fed their relationship in the past.
Even worse, this frustration can multiply if you’ve waited until later in life. That biological clock can start ticking loudly as the months go by, and once you finally feel confident about your decision to have a baby, there can be a strong sense of urgency to start your family.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature couldn’t care less about your timetable.
When You Can’t ‘Oops’
I know what you’re thinking: You hear about “oops” babies all the time. How difficult can it be to “oops” on purpose? You’d be surprised.
Only about 50 percent of couples conceive within five months of actively trying. The ability to conceive can be influenced by many variables, including fertility patterns, age, health problems, and lifestyle factors. It’s not just “woman stuff” — your health and lifestyle are variables, too.
A Whole New Meaning to ‘Husbandly Duties’
Couples who have been trying to conceive for more than a few months often report that the romance is completely gone from their sex life. Sex can begin to feel strangely businesslike when you have alarms and calendars devoted to timing it around your wife’s peak fertility.
Trying to make a baby can also be isolating. Sometimes it feels like everybody’s having a baby except for you, but remember that what you’re going through is a very common experience.
If it sucks for you, just imagine how hard it is for your wife. It’s time to show her that you’re in it for the long haul. The nature of your relationship is going to change, which can be scary. During this time, it’s incredibly important for you to be her biggest supporter.
1. Accept the bumps in the road. There will be times of frustration and impatience. You will both have a host of emotions — directed inward and outward. This is completely normal, and nobody is to blame. The sooner you accept this, the better. Commit to the big picture, and don’t let impatience get the best of you.
2. Engage (and stay engaged) with the process. For many women, having a baby is an all-consuming process. Show your support by being open to learning. Come to her doctor’s appointments, and be prepared with a few questions of your own. If she’s working hard to pinpoint when she is ovulating, ask questions and participate in the process.
3. Be her biggest fan. When your wife enters full “trying to conceive” mode, get ready for changes. She may focus on losing weight, exercising more, or changing her diet. Remember that she is pouring her soul into this project. Prove to her that you are on board with her decisions. If she begins exercising, join her at the gym. If she’s making another salad tonight, ask for seconds.
4. Man up and do your part. Choosing to be a father is fantastic. Actually making lifestyle changes to become a great dad? That’s even more important. If losing weight, exercising more, and quitting smoking will improve your fertility, then it’s time to get in the game. If it’s been several months, you may need to have a semen analysis. Conquer your anxiety for the woman you love and the family you both want.
5. Remind her why you married her. Your wife needs to know that you love her unconditionally — whether she is able to conceive or not. Never forget to tell her all the reasons you fell for her in the first place. These simple reminders can be the lift she needs to get through the inevitable rough patches, and they will be even more important if she learns she has a fertility issue.
6. Celebrate the victories. When you’re trying for a baby, it can often feel like there’s only one “win” — making a baby. If you have that mindset, then every day she isn’t pregnant feels like a failure. That attitude will not carry you through the many months ahead.
Remember, ovulation is a victory! Seeing a positive result on an ovulation test should be cause for celebration. Make the fertile window (the days leading up to ovulation) a special, romantic time. Flowers, chocolates, or a quick getaway can give her the energy she needs to make it through the next leg of the journey.
7. Don’t put your lives on hold. Couples get bored when they forget the things they loved to do before trying to conceive. Maintaining friendships requires a conscious effort, and those connections are important for the stability of your relationship.
Keep date night nonnegotiable. Don’t lose the annual vacation or spontaneous weekend trip to the beach. Once you have a baby, there won’t be much time to try something new as a couple. Why not take a class together or try a new activity? You can work to become even healthier and more educated as you begin your new journey.
Letting Your Life Teach You
The moment your beautiful baby arrives, he or she will start teaching you how to be a parent. All the lessons will be in gibberish, but you’ll survive.
Trying to conceive is much the same. It isn’t just about getting the timing right. It’s about deepening your commitment, making big changes to your lifestyle for those you love, and letting your relationship’s past nurture its future.
Photo: mahalie stackpole/Flickr