There is nothing that can make you feel more alone—or stressed out—than trying to conceive. While you might have spent the better part of your youth doing all that you could to not get pregnant, when you’re ready to build your family and the going gets tough, it’s normal to have anxiety. Though TTC can feel exhausting, frustrating and lonely, the CDC estimates that more than ten percent of all couples will struggle with fertility—that’s 1 in 10 partnerships. Whenever you’re feeling discouraged, take a read of these inspiring stories.
Got Pregnant In: 2 years
Their Story: After getting married in 2001, Ashley and James began trying to conceive. “When we first started trying, I was obsessive and bought many pregnancy tests even if I knew my period was coming,” says Ashley. “We probably spent hundreds of dollars on tests. We viewed making love as work, and it took the pleasure and enjoyment out of it.” Eventually they went to a specialist and discovered that James had a low sperm count, so the couple faced the possibility that they may never have children. “I was at the point that I didn’t even want to get out of bed some days. I was so depressed,” she says.
The Positive: Ashley had a moment of clarity. “I just kept telling myself that when the time was right we would get pregnant,” she says. “It’s hard, and you often think that there’s something wrong with you, and there really wasn’t.” Much to the couple’s surprise, they got pregnant a few months after resigning themselves to the idea of being childless. Daughter Natalie was born in September 2003. They recently received another surprise: twins due in August, conceived without the couple even trying.
Got Pregnant In: 10 months
Their Story: Amy and Lucas planned on getting pregnant within three months of going off birth control. “Every month, around testing time, I would either start my period or get in a hurry and take a pregnancy test before I started. Each month was more discouraging than the last,” Amy says. “I remember estimating what my due date would be every time. I tracked my ovulation and temperature on an app I had on my phone.”
The Positive: After six months, Amy’s Ob-Gyn started her on the fertility drug Clomid. The Browns decided they deserved a vacation and booked a cruise four months out to celebrate their first anniversary. Amy began her fourth round of Clomid (with an increased dosage) the month of the cruise. Amy had been tired before the cruise, but she and Lucas enjoyed their time and, once home, she took a pregnancy test. She was pregnant! “The challenge of waiting and being patient tested the strength of our marriage, and it made us closer and more grateful for each other and the gift of life,” she says. Baby Boy Brown was born July 2011. Looking back, Amy says, it’s no wonder she wanted jalapenos on everything she ate on the trip!
Got Pregnant In: 15 months
Their Story: When Melissa and Thomas Murph began trying to have a second child, they assumed it would be as easy as it had been when they’d gotten pregnant with their first baby, daughter Dakota. “We wanted to have another child, timed so they would be three years apart,” says Melissa. But every month she got a negative pregnancy test result. “I would cry and pray,” she says.
The Positive: The Murphs decided not to seek medical assistance and accepted that they may not have any more children. “I tried to stay positive by telling myself, ‘At least I have a baby already. Some couples don’t even have one,'” she says. Soon after the couple began to come to terms with what they thought was their pregnancy fate, Melissa noticed she didn’t feel well and that her period was late. After having endured 14 negative tests, she assumed she wasn’t pregnant. Yet she took one more test and, finally, got a positive result. She took two more tests before she was convinced enough to share the news with Thomas. “We both cried,” she says. Baby Cheyenne was born in July 2010.
Got Pregnant In: 17 months
Their Story: Six months into trying, Jen discovered she wasn’t ovulating. Her doctor prescribed Clomid but she went six more months without ovulating, and then saw a fertility specialist. Several tests and pills later, still no ovulation. “It was so disheartening and frustrating, and although I tried not to blame myself, it was tough not to feel somewhat responsible that my body wouldn’t cooperate,” she says. Jen and her husband, Marty, took turns being strong for each other. “I made the decision to let myself cry and to be angry and sad the day of and the day after getting one of my many negative pregnancy results. On the third day, I forced myself to once again start thinking positive and regain all the hope I could muster up,” says Jen.
The Positive: Seventeen months into the process, Jen ovulated. “It was Mother’s Day morning when I got the blessed smiley face on my ovulation test,” she says. “I cried! I was so excited that for the very first time we at least had a chance to get pregnant.” Later that month she saw something else she’d been waiting for: a plus sign on the pregnancy test. Marty and Jen welcomed their daughter, Rya, to the family in January 2011. “Weird as it sounds, we are grateful for the trial and hardship we went through trying to get her here,” says Jen. “It makes us appreciate even more what an amazing miracle it is to have her with us now.”
Got Pregnant In: 5 years
Their Story: Dana and Chris had no luck for a year after Dana went off birth control. Then they started fertility treatments, including Clomid and intrauterine insemination. She took breaks from the treatments, but the couple never stopped trying to conceive or taking pregnancy tests. “The low point came every time one of my sisters, my friend, etc., announced that she was pregnant,” says Dana. “During that five-year period, three of my siblings conceived, and my brother’s wife actually conceived twice.”
The Positive: Dana kept a journal, which she found helpful. “No one could ever make me feel better when we were trying to conceive,” she says. “It’s an exhausting process and it’s very stressful on the relationship.” She had tested negative roughly 60 times; then one day a work acquaintance, Heidi, who didn’t know Dana’s plight, called with a message from God. She said God told her that Dana was going to have a girl. The Hernendezes were on a fertility treatment break, but were still trying, and two weeks later Dana tested positive. This meant Heidi had called two days after conception. Baby Heidi was born in May 2008.
Got Pregnant In: 21 months
Their Story: Sarah and Brian tried and tried to get pregnant. “Month after month, I would get negative tests, which was so frustrating,” says Sarah. “I started charting my cycles every month with no luck. I tried cheap ovulation tests with no luck and one month even got a false positive on a pregnancy test, which was so sad.”
The Positive: Surely there was an infertility issue to deal with, Sarah thought after 21 months of trying. So she booked an appointment two months out and kept up hope that she’d be able to get in sooner through her office’s waiting list. Two weeks before her appointment, she had a strange physical sensation and then received a positive pregnancy test result. “I took about eight more tests before I believed it, and eventually got blood work done at the doctor’s to confirm it,” she says. “I feel really blessed with how lucky we were, and have always loved the thought that maybe my canceling my appointment allowed another woman in my shoes the opportunity to get bumped up.” Her son arrived in May 2011.
When they started trying: “In February 2012, though I had tried for years before that with my previous husband,” says Tia.
What they discovered: “After many misdiagnoses, I was finally told in February of 2014 that I had PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). In addition to having a very high level of estrogen, which hinders a woman’s ability to conceive, I hadn’t ovulated in years.”
What they tried: “We tried every imaginable approach to conception: acupuncture, chiropractic therapy, acrobatics (an abundance of headstands happened in our bedroom!), ovulation tracking, basal temperature monitoring—you name it! But then we were prescribed Clomid—it was a game changer! I took my first round of five pills on May 7 and had my first positive pregnancy test on June 8.”
Their best advice to other couples: “Play with each other. It’s such an emotionally taxing experience to struggle with pregnancy. Pregnant people, kids, products for all things baby are literally everywhere, in your face all the time. It can be overwhelming, but focus on what you do have: a spouse who is willing to go at this really difficult thing with you. Talk about it. Seek support from those you trust. Embrace how hard you’re working to achieve what you want. The process of conception struggles can resemble grieving. Feel your feelings. Believe in the impossible. Trust your gut. Brace for the hormonal changes. Be kind to yourself.”
When they started trying: “Because of our ten-year age difference, we started soon after we got married in November 2010,” says Chelsea.
What they discovered: “I wasn’t ovulating or getting a period, so it was close to impossible to conceive.”
What they tried: “We went through a lot of inconclusive testing—to this day, the only answer we’ve actually received from a doctor is ‘you have really bad luck.’ After many failed drugs, we decided to take a break while we moved from Milwaukee to Charlotte, N.C., and as they all say, the day we stopped, I had a positive pregnancy test. Unfortunately, little did we know, that would be the beginning of another long journey. From that point—August 2012—we were able to get pregnant, but not stay pregnant. I then had two miscarriages before having a successful, full-term pregnancy and delivering my daughter in October of 2013. We’ve had two more miscarriages since then, and we’re still looking for an answer.”
Their best advice to couples: “It’s a very stressful and emotional time, and after all that I have been through, I am still a firm believer that ‘everything happens for a reason.’ My husband and I agree that this is the most difficult and frustrating thing we’ve ever dealt with. Spotting at seven weeks is a disappointment that can’t be described unless you have experienced it—I wouldn’t wish it on my own worst enemy. But, remember this: you will have a baby and when you do, all the pain and heartache are totally worth it.”
Norva and Soji
When they started trying: “In late 2010, I was the mom of a 10-year-old girl, and my husband and I had unsuccessfully been trying to have a baby for more than three years,” says Norva.
What they discovered: “We had a couple of miscarriages but I wasn’t able to carry to term. It was then that I started having unusual symptoms, like pain during urination, lower-abdominal pain, and a growing tummy. I was shocked when I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in my right ovary. It was removed and I went on to have chemo in 2011, and like many, I lost my hair I also went into menopause during the treatment, and was told that if my period did come back, I may be able to have a child after two years.”
What they tried: “We tried the rhythm method and ovary stimulation via tablets, but it wasn’t successful. We still don’t know what caused us to get pregnant, but four months after treatment, I was called back in for more tests, and my oncologist suspected that my cancer was returning. However, the great news was that I was actually pregnant! I successfully gave birth to my second daughter and returned for my first regular check-up when she was four months old. At my second check-up, we discovered I was pregnant yet again, and since then, I gave birth to another beautiful baby girl. My oncologist jokingly commented that chemo was like fertility treatment for me!”
Their best advice to couples: “Make sure to talk to your doctors and let them try all of the tests. It is frustrating, but will be more helpful than anything else. Once you have all of that clear, try not to stress about it because without realizing, it affects your body and can also affect the quality of your relationship with your spouse in a negative way. If you can, put the idea of wanting to get pregnant out of your mind for a minimum of six months and just relax. Do something different—throw caution to the wind! Really enjoy this period, and of course, have sex and let nature take over.”