The truth about conception: part I

Some couples get pregnant immediately. Others take longer. In ‘he says/she says’ interviews, we ask four couples who didn’t get pregnant the first time to share their conception stories with us… 

Rose and Fred have one son. It took them the best part of a year to conceive – she was 26, he was 29. They tell us how they felt about the process, what treatment they sought and what advice they’d offer to other couples trying to conceive.

She says:
“I knew that it could take months or even years but I assumed that it would happen quickly for me – being young, fit and healthy. However, I also had this niggling fear that it would never happen so probably started trying before we were really ready, just because I wanted to make sure I didn’t get too old.

Initially, I felt really excited. But when my period arrived, I was disappointed. The second month, I may have been pregnant – my period didn’t come for a couple of months – but it didn’t last. After that, I began to feel stressed and decided to have acupuncture to sort out my cycle and to help me relax.

I felt concerned that it might not happen the whole way through. I paid to have a private scan to make sure everything looked ok. This was about five months in. Everything looked fine. I also had various ‘alternative’ therapies: acupuncture, massage, homeopathy – to help me relax.

I wasn’t prescribed any treatment, but I was told that I was about to release an egg (at the scan) and to go home and have sex that night. I did – and I became pregnant.

That was in June 2013. I took the test (I’d already done about three – they were all negative) first thing in the morning; my period was probably a week late. When the second line appeared, I was shocked and delighted. I went for a run, rather than telling my boyfriend, as I wanted to revel in the news myself just for a little while.

I was so pleased that I was pregnant. Throughout the process, we would start and stop trying (deciding it was the wrong time, then deciding it was the right time), so in total it probably took about five months, but that was spread across the year. I think it made my pregnancy experience much more positive, as I felt really lucky and blessed.

I found it hard hearing about other pregnancies. I felt envious of them, and disappointed that I wasn’t yet pregnant. Also, I don’t think many people are honest about how long it takes so it sometimes felt as if everyone was getting pregnant immediately, except me. I’ve since realised this isn’t true – people are just less forthcoming when it takes longer.

People kept saying to me: just relax. I found that very frustrating as it’s hard to relax when you desperately want something to happen. But being relaxed does help, so try massage/acupuncture/reducing stress. If it isn’t happening, maybe have a scan to check everything’s ok, as polycystic ovaries and cysts are fixable barriers to pregnancy. I never told my boyfriend when I was ovulating, as I didn’t want him to feel pressurised. This meant that at least he could enjoy the journey!”

I felt satisfied that I was right not to panic about fertility. Then I felt slightly panicked about the fact our life was going to change forever

He says:
“Not sure when we started trying, really. I think it was summer time. I didn’t think it would take long. I was surprised when it took more than a month. I was relaxed about the process but slightly worried about having a baby. In terms of the process, the stress came from my girlfriend I think.

I remember feeling very confident – like it was just a case of one sex session, possibly two. If it had taken more than six months I would have been worried. I expect the more time passes, the more stressed you get and what should be a fun ‘process’ becomes quite miserable.

My girlfriend suggested that men weren’t as fertile as we thought and I might consider doing a test. I was convinced that fertility problems lay with the women and had no intention of getting checked. I didn’t do any research. I would probably have left it nine months to a year before going to the doctor.

She also gently suggested I give up drinking, like she had. I think you’ve got to be careful not to strip all the fun and spontaneity out of the process – being obsessed with timing, and not drinking for example – or you just end up with something that resembles artificial insemination, which isn’t sexy.

I have two months in my head for how long it took us to conceive – but maybe it was three. I felt satisfied that I was right not to panic about fertility. Then I felt slightly panicked about the fact our life was going to change forever.

I didn’t treat the pregnancy any differently, like being more precious about it, as we didn’t wait long. And no one else announced pregnancies before we’d conceived so that wasn’t a concern but I probably wouldn’t have minded.

For other couples trying to conceive, I’d say: relax and try to live normally. I would probably cut drugs out.”

For the next interview in The truth about conception, we hear from a couple who had IVF to conceive their son… this time next week.