I often do my best thinking in the middle of the night when I am up nursing my son. Last night, I was reflecting on how this is my favorite time with him, in the dark early morning hours, snuggling belly to belly. I bring him from his bed to mine, we lay silently, eyes closed, and share some precious bonding time. It occurred to me that this practice is time limited, and we only have a few months left. Of course there will be other special ways that we will connect once he is fully weaned, but I will miss this.
That thought reminded me of a commercial I saw recently that pulled at my heartstrings. It’s for laundry detergent and says something like “you will have a child forever, but a baby for just one year.” It’s kind of stunning when you put it that way. What a short time we have with our snuggly little babies before they are precocious toddlers. When we get to hold them close and carry them before they are off and running on their own. When we get to make choices for them and protect their environment, before they head off into the world beyond our doors.
From there I mused on how everything in this process has a time limit on it… except trying to conceive. Pregnancy is 9 months, give or take a little. Babyhood is one year. But TTC is unknown. It could take one month. It could take one year. It could take several years. Therein lies the frustration. You don’t know when it’s finally going to be your turn. You get your hopes up every month, but in the back of your mind you are wondering if it’s foolish to be hopeful again.
I have a dear friend who is going through this process now, and I’m reliving the ups and downs of that uncertainty with her. I’m realizing again why waiting is so hard. You don’t know how long the wait is going to be. Once it happens, you’ll look back and know at what point you were on your journey today. Were you halfway through? Or on the verge of getting the most exciting news of your life? There’s no way to know but to keep moving forward.
So, having been there, what advice do I have for her, and for others who are somewhere along this TTC road? Here is the best I have to offer:
1) Fight to stay positive
My friend is much better at this than I was. But I will learn from her now and for the future. For as long as you can, keep your attitude optimistic. This might require therapy, yoga, or a daily Starbucks treat. Whatever it is that keeps you positive and peaceful, do it. Which leads me to my next piece of advice…
2) Nurture yourself
Now more than ever, you need to honor your body, mind and spirit. Be selfish. Trust me, you will miss the days of being able to be selfish. There is no better time to do that than while you are trying to conceive and then pregnant. It’s a sacred time and you are asking a lot of your body. Treat it as such. Do things that feel good, physically and emotionally.
See yourself as a parent. See your baby. Think about what life will be like when he or she arrives. Think about what kind of parent you want to be. Plan for your future family. I truly believe in the power of visualization to make things happen in and around you.
4) Appreciate your partner
It is easy to get lost in the “task” of trying to get pregnant. It’s easy to become so focused on what you want that you don’t have that you forget what you do have. Remember who you’re in this with. Let them know that you want not just to have a baby, but to have a baby with them. Make the most of the time you have as a family of two – enjoy the things that you can do now that you won’t be able to do later (go out to a nice restaurant, go to a movie, stay out past 7 o’clock, etc.).
I will end there, so as not to risk sounding like I have it all figured out. Clearly my advice comes with the benefit of seeing the struggle in retrospect. I admire everyone who is traveling this road with all the grace they can muster. My heart is with you.