After spending six months waiting and getting ready for the process, I thought I knew everything I could possibly know about trying to conceive. I’d done my research. I’d read the step-by-step home insemination procedure. I’d had my mind completely blown by Taking Charge of Your Fertility. I knew to take my temperature every morning at the same time, I knew to chart, I knew to pay attention to CM. I knew about OPK’s and how to use them. Heck, I could even use TTC acronyms like the pros.
I knew it would take time, and I knew I’d need to cut back on my caffeine. I knew it would be a largely personal journey that I wouldn’t be able to share with anyone but my wife, that I would be both hopeful and depressed in equal spades. I knew it might take over a part of my life and I knew I would have to stay busy to get through.
But oh, the things I didn’t know, and which no book dared mention:
1) The two week wait is excruciating. Even more so than you could possibly think. It’s like waiting for Christmas as a kid, but not knowing whether or not you’re going to get that bike you always dreamed of. Except that bike is a kid and your heart is so much more tied up in the will/won’t of it. Although the first week can be full of nervous hope, the last days before your period are the absolute worse, fraught with second guessing and frantic googling to see if there is any chance you could still be pregnant.
2) Although every pregnancy is different, you are probably not a special snowflake. It is highly unlikely that a test at 20DPO will show you’re pregnant when a test at 19DPO did not. That cramping is actually probably just gas. And no, you cannot possibly have morning sickness at 3DPO. It is not physically possible.
3) On the other hand, lesbians can be special snowflakes. There’s some weird initiation phase that any lesbian who has not harbored sperm before must – apparently – pass through. This phase includes a week of off-the-wall symptoms on your first try and usually a bizarre cycle or two after said first try. The sudden heightened sense of smell on DPO 4 is not, in fact, a sign that you are pregnant. It is merely a sign of your body’s seismic shift in its world view.
4) Anything can happen. Any. Thing. You may have had clockwork cycles for the past ten years, but the moment you start seriously TTC, your body is going to freak the fuck out. This is okay. This is normal. Think of it as your body coming to terms with the idea of a baby much like you had to. You both needed time, right?
5) PMS symptoms are almost exactly the same as any purported pregnancy symptoms. I wish I had spent some more time tracking those symptoms before we started so that I would know what were false flags.
6) Just because you read every blog post / book / article about pregnancy under the sun doesn’t mean all that information gets magically sent to your partner’s brain. Sit down with them. Draw diagrams. Explain the LH surge in great detail so they know exactly why you’re so excited about a temp spike.
7) OPK’s only give you a little piece of mind. You will still wonder whether or not the line got darker today and whether or not you’re testing at the right times. You will also wonder how the heck you’re supposed to test at 2pm when you’re at work and the bathroom is communal and small. There’s nothing quite like clandestinely peeing in a cup.
8) You can’t do this without your partner, and you will either grow closer or further apart during the process. I was worried about how to involve my wife in the process, considering she can’t exactly produce the important biological stuff herself. But I was surprised to find a 100+ tiny ways she could be involved, and how much closer that brought us. Now we flail through the two week wait together, and it never fails to brighten my day when she asks whether or not it’s over yet.
9) You’re not alone. Even though you may not know anyone IRL who can understand the process you’re going through, there is a vibrant and thriving community of ladies online who are sharing their experiences and their journeys. I didn’t think I’d need that community before we started, but I have relied on you guys more times than I can count. You are my sanity checks, cheerleaders, and fellow commiserators. Thank you.
I’m sure there will be tons more to learn as we continue on this journey. What about you – what do you wish you’d known?