We were trying to have a baby for 6 months and had no luck. That’s when the questions started. Are we doing something wrong? Is this just bad luck? Is there something bigger going on here? There was a ton of mystery surrounding why we were unable to conceive, but the only thing that was certain was that we were determined to start a family.
To my wife’s credit, she really got the ball rolling to investigate what was going on. And I think this where we often get it wrong. By default (in a heterosexual couple), it’s often assumed that it’s the “woman’s fault.” WRONG. Making a baby with a partner takes two. As my wife started going to doctor’s appointments and consulting experts I, honestly, just sat back, not thinking this could have anything to do with me. WRONG AGAIN. All of my wife’s tests checked out, however we were now 11 months into trying and still not pregnant. Now it was my turn to meet the doctor and understand my role in conceiving a child. Having gone through it, I want to share my top 5 things every partner should know about trying to conceive and infertility.
Know your partner’s cycle.
As straight guys, we spend most of our early adult years avoiding becoming a dad. That often means knowing nothing about how a woman’s body actually works and when they can actually get pregnant (hint: it’s not every day). As you’re thinking about starting a family, get familiar with your partner’s cycle as this will often dictate when you’re having sex.
It’s not (always) that easy.
We hear a lot about the first timers. Those friends who said “we weren’t even really trying.” Ok cool, well according to this study after one month of trying you only have about a 38% chance of getting pregnant, and most couples will get pregnant between 6 and 12 months. However not everyone. Including my wife and me. If it’s taking extra time, go chat with a doc.
The birds, the bees, and a reproductive endocrinologist.
After 1 year of “trying,” 12% to 15% of couples are unable to get pregnant. That was us, so we leaned on…science. Reproductive science has come a long way over the last couple decades. We started to consult and search for the best doctor for us. Finally, we found an amazing doctor at Columbia in NYC who was supportive and informative throughout our journey. If it comes to the point where you need to find medical help, get multiple opinions, chat with a few doctors, and ultimately go with the one you and your partner feel most comfortable with. You’ll be seeing a lot of them.
Support and find support.
Infertility is a journey. Not the safari vacation kind of journey. More like the stuck in the game of Jumanji kind of journey. There are twists and turns, huge emotional highs and lows, and tons of uncertainty. My wife was incredible at finding a support system during this time. She made new lifelong friends from support groups and online communities. For me, I often felt that I needed to be the one supporting her and that meant frequently neglecting to find the support I needed. And it was only in retrospect that I realized I could have used that extra support during our journey.
There are many ways to start a family.
I’ll never forget celebrating my wife’s birthday and her bringing up the possibility of adoption. We had just had our first failed IVF transfer and we were losing hope. We felt blessed when our third transfer brought us Jemma, but after multiple failures we started to learn about the different ways to start a family because at the end of the day, that was the most important thing for us.