The Trying to Conceive Paradox

trying to conceive

It started with the coffee.

I decided to switch to decaf when we began trying to conceive, but I had to scale down to half-caf to stave off headaches. I talked to my OB-GYN about it, and he said not to worry, because just one cup was fine. But elsewhere I was being told that caffeine could interfere with our efforts to conceive a baby. How to know what was right? I am still drinking half-caf, occasionally giving in to cravings for a second cup, and am constantly concerned that I’m preventing my chances of conceiving a child.

Then came the timing.

Some people say just to have sex all the time, others say only right when I’m ovulating, and other sources say you should limit it to every 36 hours. That’s right; because the sperm needs time to “recover.” So now what? Sex-a-palooza for five days straight? Sex Thursdays after dinner and Saturdays before breakfast, then Sundays during “Iron Chef?”

After that it was alcohol.

Some sources say I need to abstain entirely. What if I became pregnant that very second?! Others say I should just have a couple glasses of wine and get down to business. I’ve sort of compromised – now I drink during week one, when I know I’m not pregnant and not about to try. The guys at band practice really don’t understand why sometimes I abstain, and other times I ask “What’s a bitch gotta do to get a shot around here?”

I’m charting. But oh lord, don’t tell anyone that! Some swear it is the only way to pinpoint the very moment of ovulation. Others say I’m trying too hard. Morning temperature, cervical mucous (yuck)… I have graphs that I can look at in several different forms! But, well, it doesn’t seem to have helped just yet.

Exercise? Don’t make me laugh. Apparently, a woman’s chances of conceiving are lowered if she is underweight, overweight, or if she exercises more than 90 minutes a week. So I’m overweight, which affects my fertility, but I can’t attempt to lose any by exercising, because that affects my fertility. I feel kind of special for having found an actual Catch-22!

But the worst is hearing “Just relax.” Despite the best intentions of the person saying it, there is an implication of blame. If I weren’t so high strung… If I didn’t want it so badly… If I weren’t trying so hard… Obviously, it’s my fault I can’t get pregnant. Way to help me relax, folks! I have a friend who tells me to “just forget about it for a while.” If only she knew that forgetting about it is approximately as easy as forgetting that you are hungry or cold. I would have an easier time forgetting to get up and go to work than I would forgetting what day of my cycle it is. I’ll tell you when I can relax and forget about it – the day I get my big fat positive.

trying to conceive paradox



About Kara 3 Articles
Kara Synhorst is a high school teacher from Sacramento, CA living happily with her husband Reza, daughter Azadeh, and son Lochlan. She writes poetry to torture herself and plays bass to unwind.


  1. Oh Kara, ITS OK TO FEEL CRAZY! Last time we tried fertility drugs I actually found myself at a BBQ I was throwing talking to another mom about my mucus. No not joking, it did happen.
    Before I became pregnant with my son Seeley my husband banned eggs in the house because he thought I might try to sit on them and hatch them!
    Dinner parties became about other women giving me advice about how to get pregnant. Phone calls home became about what test I had that week (my poor stepmom did everything to try to keep me sane) and how I was feeling about it.
    Be crazy, be what you need to be to get through it. Unless you have been through it then don’t comment on it.
    I wish you luck! Sprinkles of Baby Dust all around you!

  2. Good luck to you!! Took me 2 years of fertility treatments and finally IVF to have my daughter. It’s all consuming!! Keep trying!!

  3. “Cervical mucous..yuck!” No way, it’s as natural as the hair on our arms/bodies/etc and the blood in our veins. It’s something, like all things vagina and menstrual, that society doesn’t want discussed in “polite company” so then people feel bad about something that’s biological. It’s not gross. It’s you, it’s me, it’s as it’s supposed to be.
    Lots of love!

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