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If I close my eyes, I can still feel the excitement I felt when my husband and I decided to start trying to conceive. It was right after our wedding and we were eager with anticipation but naive to the idea that having a baby might not be as simple as we imagined.
I never considered that I wouldn’t be able to have a child. Coming from a family of seven children and having a mother who is one of nine, I was under the assumption that if I had any difficulty getting pregnant it would be that I wasn’t able to stop getting pregnant.
So, when I started getting hit with one negative pregnancy test after another, I couldn’t understand why. At first I was hopeful, but as time went on I started to question my ability to conceive. The possibility of not having children created a lot of anxiety for me. I started tracking my ovulation, insisted we switch to an optimal “trying to conceive” diet, and scheduling when we would have to hit the bedroom. When I look back now, I can see that when I picked up wanting to make a baby, I put down my relationship with my husband. He became a chess piece in a game I was trying to win and our relationship became one of my to-do lists which trumped enjoying one another.

WHEN I LOOK BACK NOW, I CAN SEE THAT WHEN I PICKED UP WANTING TO MAKE A BABY, I PUT DOWN MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MY HUSBAND.

One morning, I awoke early to take a pregnancy test. I had been experiencing some breast tenderness and had completely convinced myself that (yet again) I was pregnant. Alex was still in bed, unaware of what I was doing. When I got to the bathroom, I realized that there was no need for a test after-all. My period had decided to come instead. Even though I had been through this disappointment numerous times by then, there was something about this one that paralyzed me. As if in slow motion, I slid my back down the bathroom wall, held my knees into my chest, curled into a little ball and started silently sobbing, trying not to wake Alex.

Within a few moments, I felt Alex slide down that same wall, his arms wrap around me, his head lean into mine and his warm embrace surrounding my entire body. We stayed down there in complete silence, for what felt like hours. When my head did finally lift, it was met with Alex’s teary eyes looking back. It was the kind of moment where words don’t need to exist. It was enough that I knew just by looking into his eyes that he was feeling the same fear, uncertainty and worry that I was.

From that day forward, we turned back towards each other. We started laughing again, and we held space for one another like never before. We became a couple again, and together, we eventually we did make that baby.

After speaking with women who are trying to conceive on Expectful’s platform, I’ve learned that my relationship issues weren’t unique. Many women experience feeling disconnected from their partner during this time.

Once I realized how common these relationship problems were, I started to look for ways in which partners (or couples) can support one another. Below are three tools you can use to keep your relationship strong during your journey. I hope they help you to feel more connected to your partner and allow you to enjoy one another throughout this adventure.

You are only one piece of the puzzle.

A woman on Expectful’s platform once told me that her biggest wake up call during her preparing to conceive journey was when she was in an appointment with her doctor. She had been explaining to him that she didn’t know what else she could do. She was working out, eating right, doing acupuncture and taking her vitamins. She had even quit her job to reduce her stress so she could make a baby. As she stood there helpless, her doctor said “You do realize you are only one piece of the puzzle, right? Even if you are doing everything right, you only supply half of what needs to happen here.” This wakeup call helped her to not only stop beating herself up over what else she could do, but also allowed her to speak with her husband about his health and in turn they became more of team in this journey, rather than individual players. Noticing that you are in it together can allow you both to thrive and feel supported along the way.

Remember to have fun.

The first thing that changed in my relationship when I started trying to conceive is that we stopped having fun. I poured all of my energy into conceiving and felt if that attention wavered, I would delay the process even further. So, we stopped spending time together just for the sake of play. We stopped laughing, being silly and enjoying one another’s company. One night after a particularly difficult week, Alex and I shared one of the best laughs of my life, over a slow motion video of me eating a cookie ( story definitely for another time!). I’ll never forgot the feeling of that laughter as it erupted out of him and I. It was as if it had been waiting there all along, waiting for us to remember how great it feels. I made a conscious decision that day to remember to have fun with my husband. I even convinced him to dance to one song with me every day for 30 days just so we could have more excitement and goofiness in our lives. Although making a baby was a very serious topic for me, finding time just for play made me feel more hopeful and connected to my husband.

Sex and romance.

This is a touchy subject for me. Mainly because there are certain things that most women do (me included) when it comes to PTC sex. We focus on having sex when we are ovulating. We try not to have sex any other time to increase sperm count. The moment the deed is done, we throw our legs up giving gravity a kind nudge in the right direction. We research what positions work best and we plan out with our partners how they will be incorporated into today’s “session.” Lastly, depending on our emotional state, were either enjoying sex or just thinking about if this will be the time we get pregnant. Let’s just wrap this all up to say, the romance goes out the window. However, through my own journey, I found that when I stopped trying to control every last thing, I made space for not only a baby, but for pleasure. Having more pleasure in my life helped to increase the connection between my husband and me and with myself. It’s not that every “session” needs to be one of passion, but one here and there that aren’t result-driven might give you and your partner a much needed boost of love.

Are you preparing to conceive, pregnant, or new to motherhood?

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