11 Ways to Cope When Trying to Get Pregnant Overwhelms You

How to Take Back Your Life When Living with Infertility

Young couple lying on back, woman holding rose flower, thinking about how to cope with infertility
Take time for your life outside of infertility. Simon Lekias/Photodisc/Getty Images

Trying to get pregnant can quickly take over your life, especially when it takes longer than you first expected. Infertility is extremely difficult emotionally. The fertility challenged can get sucked into a whirlpool of sadness and obsession, and it's not uncommon for those trying to conceive (TTC) to even become depressed.

While we can't change our circumstances, we can change how we face the challenge.

Here are 11 ways to cope and keep infertility from taking over your life.

Don't Let the Two Week Wait Take Over

The two-week wait is a time of high stress for most women trying to conceive.

If you want to stop letting the two-week wait take over your life, you need to focus on other things and people during that time.

This is the time to...

  • plan a date with your partner
  • go on a girls-night-out with your friends
  • see that movie you always wanted to see
  • get started on some home or craft project

Your two-week wait obsessions may still linger in the back of your mind, but that's much better than letting them sit in the front seat.

Put Down the Pregnancy Tests

When you're trying to conceive, pregnancy test taking becomes a science... one that kind of ignores all the real science behind the tests.

But, a science!

Like a lab scientist, you have your supplies. (That stash of cheap pregnancy tests in your bathroom cabinet.) You experiment taking the tests earlier and earlier. You take your tests out into the sunlight, into the dark closet, under a flashlight, whatever, searching for that second pink line that just won't show up.

You're not going to like this suggestion, but... you need to put down those pregnancy tests.

Throw out your stash. (Or, at least give them to a friend to hold onto.) Resist testing until your period is at least one day late. 

As long as your life centers around pregnancy tests, you are going to struggle. 

Stop Letting Your Period's Arrival Pull You Down for Days

Most women aren't thrilled when their monthly period comes. But when you're trying to conceive, you're likely to feel upset.

Getting your period is a pretty definitive sign that this month was another failure. Whatever hope you had that this time was going to work is squashed.

If you've experienced miscarriages, getting your period may not only signal another failed cycle but also remind you of previous losses. Until I went through a lot of healing and time, periods were intense reminders of my inability to get pregnant and stay pregnant.

No one expects you to be cheery on the first day of your cycle - but don't let it pull you down for days or weeks.

You end up feeling depressed the first week of your cycles, ambivalent or obsessed with ovulating the next week or so of your cycle, and then anxious during the last two weeks of your cycle.

That's no way to live!

Remember and Reclaim What You Used to Love

The stress of infertility can get our minds so wrapped up in getting pregnant that we forget what we used to do for fun.

Get some paper and a pen and start make a list. Write down everything you can possibly think — what did you used to love doing? Feel free to even write down what made you laugh when you were a kid — why not?

If you're having trouble, call up a friend or have your partner help you out. Ask them directly what they remember doing together with you that made you smile.

See how many items you can add to the list. Aim for 50!

Then, post your list where you'll see it every day.

Hopefully, on the days you're feeling really down, you'll see the list and take action on something you wrote.

Spend More Romantic Time With Your Partner

Infertility is notorious for turning sex into a chore.

What used to be a passionate time to connect intimately with your partner may now feel like a task - one with a seemingly unattainable goal. When the sexual relationship breaks down, the every-day parts of your relationship may soon follow.

It's important to give attention to the relationship you have with your partner.

Take time to talk to each other about how infertility is impacting your relationship, and what you both need to feel more connected.

Remember that list of fun things I asked you to make? I bet several are activities you do with others. You may even want to make a new list together, featuring the activities you'd like to do as a couple.

Make Time for Relaxation and Self-Care

Taking care of yourself does not just mean eating right and seeing your doctor for check-ups. It also means making time for relaxation.

Relaxation may mean taking a long bubble bath, or it might mean turning up the music and dancing yourself silly in your living room. Relaxation might be meditation, yoga, or an art class.

There are several mind-body therapies that can help you relax, and some have been shown to improve pregnancy rates. They're worth trying!

Make Time to Acknowledge the Difficult Feelings

Taking back your life from infertility doesn't mean pretending infertility doesn't have a strong effect on your emotions.

In fact, making time to acknowledge the difficult feelings can help you feel freer and more relaxed.

One way to express yourself is through writing. Writing can be healing, and the fertility community has a wonderful blog community.

If you don't have a blog yet, consider starting one. If you have one, get more involved with the fertility bloggers.

Join a Support Group

Many couples with infertility feel isolated. It seems as if all their friends and family are getting pregnant, raising children, and moving on with the next phase of their lives.

In the meantime, you're left alone, trying to get pregnant and feeling like the only childless couple left (or only couple who can't have more kids.)

This is how a support group can help.

You'll be with other couples who really get it. To find a support group near you, speak to your fertility clinic or call your local RESOLVE representative.

Don't Be Ashamed to Seek Professional Help

Support groups are a good place to connect with others, but sometimes, you need more personal attention.

Depression, anxiety, and panic attacks are common in infertility patients. Counseling can help you work through the difficult emotions that infertility brings.

Some therapists have special training or experience with infertility, and they can also help you with making informed decisions regarding treatment and moving forward.

Therapy may also help a couple whose relationship is struggling. Or, a therapist can help a couple who can't agree on what to do next.

Let Your Friends Support You

Sometimes we're so busy trying to protect ourselves from our family-oriented friends that we forget that they are still the same people who were our childless best buddies not too long ago.

Friends and family often want to support you, but they don't know how. They are afraid of saying the wrong thing... or not saying the right thing.

Don't wait for them to read your mind.

Does your sister complain about her morning sickness too often? Ask her if she could not talk so much about her pregnancy. Tell her you would love to just chat about some new movies or a book you both read.

Let friends and family know when you just need a shoulder to cry on.

Sometimes friends and family can't support you because you haven't given them a chance - you've never told them!

Not all people are equally tactful in this arena. But chances are you have at least a few friends and family who would be great supports.

Don't Be Afraid to Take a Break

If trying to get pregnant has truly taken over your life, and all your efforts to take things back are not working, it may be time to step away for awhile.

Taking a break from trying to conceive can help you get a handle on your regular life.

I personally took a two-year break in the middle of my trying to get pregnant. It made a huge difference. It gave me the time I needed to pull myself back together and start trying again with renewed strength. You may not need as long as a break, of course.

You should speak to your doctor about how long of a break is ok. If you're over 35, time may be a factor. But you should be able to at least take a couple months off, if not several.

More on coping while trying to conceive:

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