Unbearable: I Finally Understand What ‘Stop Trying’ Means

stop tryingHaving a child is usually a happy time in a woman’s life. Unfortunately, as we wait longer to have children, infertility and trouble conceiving can become a part of the family making process. Unbearable addresses these difficulties.

In the first year of my infertility, I became especially frustrated by one omnipresent phrase in every conversation I had about trying to conceive. When I was still hopeful and optimistic, I could not stand to hear people tell me that I just needed to stop trying to get pregnant. They would tut-tut-tut and say that the stress of all this trying was making things more difficult for me. They would share stories of distant relatives who were trying to get pregnant for years, then they gave up and suddenly had four babies in a span of three years.

These comments were infuriating. I know the people saying them had good intentions, but it was a horrible thing to tell a woman who spent her months taking temperatures and counting days and peeing on sticks. More than anything, I didn’t think the people telling me to stop trying even understood what they were saying. Was I supposed to stop having unprotected sex with my husband? Because that’s how you try to have a baby and that seems like the only way I was going to get pregnant without medical intervention. And medical intervention definitely constitutes “trying.”

I’m sorry to tell everyone, I’m still not giving you a pass to tell any infertile couple that they just need to stop trying. It’s still an intensely idiotic and thoughtless thing to tell people who have every right to try to get pregnant. And more than that, it’s simply not true that if you just stop trying, you’ll magically get a baby. You want to know why people monitor fertility and visit clinics? Because those things give couples who have difficulty conceiving a better chance than they would otherwise have. Those tools are useful. The people who get pregnant will trying just don’t talk about it as much as the people who get pregnant right after they’ve chosen to adopt. The other stories aren’t as memorable. So everyone clings to those few exceptions and touts them like some unwritten rule.

So, you’re not allowed to go around telling people to stop trying. That being said, I can finally admit that as of now, I understand what the phrase means. I understand what it’s like to have hit the phase where I just stop thinking about my cycle or my tests or doing anything to consciously increase my chances of getting pregnant. I’ve hit a point where I think I might just need the break from all my trying.

To be clear, I couldn’t have stopped trying back when all of those people were telling me what a great idea it was. Back then, I was too dedicated to my cause. Obviously now, I would still be thrilled to find myself pregnant, but I’m finally able to stop thinking about how to get there. For the next month at least, my husband and I have stopped trying.

I don’t know that forgoing the fertility talk for the month will change much for us. We’ve gotten very used to the routine after more than two years. I don’t know that putting away the journal or ignoring the tests will suddenly lift some weight off my shoulders. I just need some time off.

To be honest, I really hope that I don’t get pregnant in the next month. It’s not because I don’t want a baby right now. It’s because I don’t want to add any fuel to the “You just need to stop trying” fire. I don’t want to give people one more example to rub in the face of a couple who desperately wants a child and is doing everything in their power to have one. I’ve been there, and hearing that phrase sucks. But for now, I just don’t have the mental strength or emotional capacity to keep the fertility pressure on. So for just this month, I’m going to stop trying. We’ll see where it takes me.

(Photo: Raywoo/Shutterstock)

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