10 Things Only Your Trying to Conceive Friends Understand

Knowing With Uncanny Precision Where in Your Cycle You Are

woman shrugging her shoulders with a smile, she understand what infertility is really like
Sorry I can't make it to your party next Tuesday. I'll be 13 DPO. I need to stay home and keep checking if my breasts are still sore or not. Tetra Images / Getty Images

A non-trying-to-conceiver’s menstrual cycle is broken up into two, maybe three, time periods:

  • PMS-ing-About-To-Get-Your-Period
  • On-Your-Period
  • Not-on-Your Period

Ha! We infertiles laugh at this simplistic approach.

A trying-to-conceiver is never just “on their period.” They are on Cycle Day 4.

They aren’t “about to get their period.” They are 12 or 13 DPO. (That’s Days Past Ovulation.)

And, when they are 13 DPO, they are also counting down to pregnancy test day.

What about between Cycle Day 5 and 13 DPO?  This is a time of mystery and suspense, waiting for ovulation. Will it happen? Will it not? When?

Also, don’t forget about another important time period: 7 to 10 DPO.

This is possible implantation time.

A trying-to-conceiver is looking out for “implantation” cramps or spotting, early pregnancy signs, and maybe even the coveted implantation dip on their basal body temperature chart.

To a trying-to-conceiver, the menstrual cycle is broken into dozens of Days... with a capital D.

Your Highly Calibrated Pregnancy and Baby Radar

Women and several babies sitting the grass
Oh my god... they are everywhere. Johner Images / Getty Images

Your fertile friend walks into the mall and notices the sale at Gap.

You walk into the mall and instantly spot every pregnant woman, every stroller, and every baby in a baby carrier.

Sometimes, you don’t even see the non-pregnant women.

The world is just full of big bellies and babies. Everywhere.

Like some sort of fertile plague.

Your Obsession With Cervical Mucus

two raw eggs in a bowl that looks like it's smiling
Egg white cervical mucus, not to be confused with egg whites... an entirely different thing. Daniel Kulinski / Moment / Getty Images

Now, granted, not every trying-to-conceiver is obsessed with cervical mucus. But there’s a sizable population that is.

So-called normal people are oblivious to or grossed out by their vaginal discharge.

But not you. Oh, no.

You are in your most fertile time when the discharge is especially abundant. And you know it.

So-called normal people get out the panty liners or even (don’t ever do this!) wash the cervical fluids away.

When you see EWCM (egg-white cervical mucus), you grab your partner and get busy!

You not only celebrate it. You may even take guaifenesin-only cough syrup or a supplement like FertileCM in hopes of creating more of this fertility gold.

Not sure whether your cervical mucus is fertile or not? Go onto almost any fertility forum and describe it.

Fertiles would consider that TMI. But in a fertility forum? No one will bat an eye.

The Fine Art of Reading Pregnancy Tests

Close-up of a positive pregnancy test
Is there a pregnancy test in this picture, or am I just imagining it...?. Paul Velgos / E+ / Getty Images

To fertile-typical people, pregnancy test reading is (rather) easy.

Follow the instructions on the box, and look for the second pink line. No line? You’re not pregnant.

Unless you’re a trying-to-conceiver... then you’re not done yet.

Trying-to-conceivers examine their pregnancy tests like psychics divining over tealeaves.

Don’t see a second pink line right away? Well, hold on.

What if you bring it outside in the light? Or read it inside a dim closet? What if you take a photograph of the test? Does the line show up in the picture?

And if you see a second line, you probably question it. Are you imagining it?

(A lesser-known psychological risk of infertility is hallucinations… of pink lines on pregnancy tests, that is.)

The fine art of pregnancy test photography is also appreciated most by TTCers.

After all, you need to share your test with your fellow infertiles and ask if they see a second line.

Getting a focused picture is not easy. There are techniques to learn – like placing a ring by the test window for the camera to focus.

Fertiles have dozens of photos of their kids on their phone.

Infertiles have dozens of pregnancy test photos.

The Fine Art of Reading Ovulation Tests

Woman holding a glass crystal ball
Erica gave up on ovulation tests and turned instead to crystal balls. They were easier to interpret. Eric Audras / ONOKY / Getty Images

While most  fertiles have taken a pregnancy test, few have tried ovulation tests.

The fine art of ovulation test reading requires more experience and training.

With a pregnancy test, the question is whether there is or is not a line.

With ovulation tests, there are always two lines. The question is which line is darker and which day the darker line was darkest.

(Good luck with that.)

If you complain to your fertile friends, they just won’t get it.

“Why don't you just follow the directions on the box?”

Just smile and nod.  They know not of what they speak.

The "Dildo Cam"

Transvaginal ultrasound probe with condom on top
Transvaginal ultrasounds... just when you thought things couldn't get more awkward at the gynecologist's office. Matt Valentine / Shutterstock

(If you don’t know what I’m referring to, do not Google it! Trust me, you will regret it. I’ll explain what it means in the fertility world...)

Most fertile (or formerly fertile) people are familiar with the ultrasounds done in mid to late pregnancy.

This kind of ultrasound involves squirting a bunch of goop on your belly and then rubbing a non-threatening looking device over the goop. On the ultrasound screen, you can see the developing baby.

The worst part is the goop, which is cold and... well, goopy.

Once you have a transvaginal ultrasound, you’ll never complain about the goopy belly test again.  

Trying-to-conceivers first meet the dreaded transvaginal ultrasound during fertility testing. But things get serious during fertility treatments, when this kind of ultrasound may be required daily.

You really haven’t lived until an ultrasound tech hands you a long wand, topped with a condom and a ridiculous amount of KY Jelly, and instructs you to insert it you-know-where.

After which, she takes the handle back from you and precedes to prod and jab you from the inside... all while you have a very full bladder.

Trying-to-conceivers lovingly refer to the transvaginal ultrasound as… the dildo cam.

Because... well, look at it!

If you don’t laugh, you’ll just cry.

The Fine Art of Refrigerator Organization

Woman looks into refrigerator smiling
Yes! The Gonal-F fits perfectly between the chocolate cake and the egg carton. Peathegee Inc / Blend Images / Getty Images

Injectable fertility drugs must be refrigerated.  Which poses some unique questions…

Do you put your injectables in the meat drawer? Or behind the orange juice?

Should you place them in the door, next to the jams and jellies? Or on a shelf beside the cheddar cheese?

Some people worry about guests peaking into their bathroom cabinets. You need to worry about anyone fishing for snacks in your frig.

If you have young children at home, fertility savvy refrigeration organization requires both safety and privacy considerations.

Then there is the issue of what to tell your kids.

After all, if you tell them not to touch Mommy’s medicine or not touch Mommy’s “special shots,” you may get a call from the preschool teacher the next day, concerned about your son or daughter telling her classmates about “Mommy’s drugs” and how they can’t “touch Mommy’s needles.”

The Difference Between 97.6 F and 98.6 F

Couple looking at a thermometer together
Yes! My temperature is 97.9. Ovulation is in the house. Paul Bradbury / OJO Images / Getty Images

Non-trying-to-conceivers have basically two types of body temperatures:

  • Normal
  • Fever

Here’s a conversation between normal people about body temperature:

Normal person #1: Oh, I’ve got a temp of 98.7.

Normal person #2: Guess you’re fine.

Normal person #1: Guess so...

Us infertiles have four types of temps, and maybe even five:

Here’s a conversation between a normal person and a trying-to-conceiver:

Trying-to-conceiver: Oh, I’ve got a temp of 98.7!

Normal person: Guess you’re fine.

Trying-to-conceiver: More than fine!

Normal person: … ?

Trying-to-conceiver: I think I’m triphasic! This is a great sign! I’m so excited!

Normal person: ... what?

How Much You Can Fall In Love With a Follicle (or Several)

Embryo selection for IVF, light micrograph
Aren't these embryoes adorable? That one looks just like you. Science Photo Library - ZEPHYR/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Fertiles bond with their unborn babies after they hear the first heartbeat, see them on an ultrasound for the first time, or feel their first kicks.

Infertiles start bonding way before a heartbeat is possible. We bond with follicles.

While going through fertility treatment, I asked the ultrasound tech for a print out of my follies. I wanted a picture of my pre-pre-babies.

The tech looked at me like I was nuts.

“They’re just follicles...”

Yes. And I want pictures, damn it.

Clearly, she was a fertile and didn’t get it.

But you get it.

Once You're An Infertile, You're Always an Infertile

Woman looking out window holding a baby
Even after you have a baby, you remain part of the infertile tribe. Cecilia Cartner / Cultura / Getty Images

Finally, you get pregnant. You see the heartbeat on an ultrasound screen, and your fertility specialist transfers you to a regular OB/GYN.

“Now you’re one of us!” your fertile friend says.

Except you’re not. Not really.

Pregnancy after infertility is not the same as a typical pregnancy.

Childbirth after infertility is not the same.

Parenting after infertility is not the same.

Even if your pregnancy and birth go smoothly, it’s not the same.

Sure, you’re now in the world of play dates and diaper bags.

But you’re also a bit of a foreigner. Like an immigrant, who may have learned to speak the language but always feels just a tad out of place.

It’s not all bad. Your heart is full of love for your little miracles. You know how blessed you are.

Once an infertile, always an infertile.

That’s something only your former trying to conceive sisters and brothers can understand.

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