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Pregnancy Fears: It’s Never Going to Happen

Pregnancy Fears: It’s Never Going to Happen

By Amalah

Welcome to a new, on-going series about the most common (and maybe some uncommon) fears we deal with regarding pregnancy. This is a safe space for some sympathy, comradery and friendly head pats with people who have Been There, Are There, or who are just plain scared about Going There.

I get a LOT of letters over at the Advice Smackdown. I can’t answer them all, and not just because of limited posting slots. Sometimes I read a letter and am just like, “Dude. I have NO IDEA.” Others don’t really have an “answer,” because the letter writer is really just putting her feelings down and “out there,” almost like a mini therapy session and the only response I could possibly give is an awkward Liz Lemon “there there, please no cry” and wish her the best.

The most common kind of letter like that? The TTC (Trying To Conceive) letter.

The woman so who desperately wants to be pregnant but isn’t, for whatever reason. Maybe her partner isn’t on board yet. Maybe they’ve been trying for awhile with no success. Maybe they’re debating how far they’re willing to go. Maybe she’s single and afraid of missing her chance unless she goes it alone.

And because I am not a doctor or a life coach, I can’t really offer any advice, which…you know, is kind of the point of the whole column. I don’t know what you should do! I don’t know how to convince your partner to get serious, or how to not shoot fire eyeballs at the pregnant coworker two cubicles down! And I definitely don’t know why your periods are irregular! I don’t know how long you should keep going on your own before seeing a doctor! I don’t know if it’ll take charting or Clomid or an IUI or IVF or “just relaxing” (GAAAAHHHHH SHUT UPPPPPP) or what.

A lot of these letter writers are young…at least to me (smacks gums), but they’re already convinced that they’re staring down the barrel of the end of their fertility. And if they don’t conceive rightthiscycle, it will never happen for them.

And you know what? I WAS EXACTLY THE SAME WAY.

I was 27 years old when I gave birth to my first child, and yet I’d already spent several years gripped in a terrible TTC limbo, singularly focused/moderately obsessed, angry at my body and thoroughly convinced that I was already behind the eight-ball when it came to my fertile years. Forget having the multiple children I dreamed of having before I was too “old,” having a baby was just never going to happen for me.

That particular fear was so strong I can still almost taste it, 10 years and three successful pregnancies later.

When you want to be pregnant and aren’t, everyone else in the world seems to be getting pregnant with ease. You alternatively Google “earliest pregnancy symptoms” (which cruelly and ironically overlap with “common PMS symptoms”) and all sorts of various problems and conditions you might have. You might not admit it, but you start to deeply resent other pregnant women, as if fertility was some zero-sum game where their success is an active threat to yours. And dear god in heaven if one more person asks about your plans for children or tells you to just relax you are going to straight up LOSE IT.

If you’re reading this and are still in that space…well. There’s a reason I spun this topic out of the advice column. I don’t know how to help or what you should do next. I can’t even give you a real hug or point to some specific thing I “did” to magically conceive and make it all better.

Writing about it helped. I wrote about our troubles online, as did many other bloggers who didn’t feel at home on many of the TTC message boards (which at the time were filled with posts full of animated blinking emojis and people sprinkling virtual *****baby dust***** on each other and oh my God stop stop). (Is this still happening, by the way? I feel like it’s probably still happening.) In real life I was very selective in who I confided, and some days my writing stayed private and unpublished.

If you’re still in the “I’m not getting pregnant and have no idea why” stage, I’d recommend picking up a copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Which OF COURSE has a companion app now, something that definitely didn’t exist back in Mah Day. (There are actually quite a few charting apps out there, so if you have a favorite, please give it a shout out in the comments section below!) I thought I was a pretty educated/smart lady-person but even I was surprised at how much I didn’t really know or notice about my (crazy irregular) cycles until I read that book.

If you’ve been trying for a year with no success (or are on a tighter timeline given your age), talk to your doctor. This isn’t admitting defeat or signing up immediately for expensive, invasive fertility treatments. But it is better to know exactly where your challenges are coming from, if at all possible. It’s a scary appointment to make, but knowledge is power, and at a point you do want to make sure you’re not wasting your time unassisted.

Most of all, I’m sorry. I remember how it feels, and how hard this is for you.

And that I really, really hope it happens for you.


Published November 9, 2015. Last updated November 9, 2015.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Claire

    November 9, 2015 at 9:54 am

    It has been 5 years since I found myself in this position. And still reading this nearly made me cry.

    Good luck to anyone who is trying and struggling for whatever reasons. There are happy endings out there for you – whether that be a baby or an alternative plan. They are there and they exist and I hope you find them.

    Also, my app of choice – woman log.

  • Amy

    November 9, 2015 at 10:20 am

    Thank you, for this. I’m right there. We’ve been trying for more than a year, but I haven’t had a period (or ovulated obviously) myself since March. I visited my GYN for help when I was on cycle day 127 without an end in sight. We’re about to try our first round of Clomid. I’m only 28, yet I do feel like I’m staring down that barrel of infertility. I get hopeful but then feel discouraged and a tad dumb for getting my hopes up whenever it doesn’t happen. 

    For the record, TTC boards are still EXACTLY like that and I actually got rid of an app (Glow) because the community section wad driving me crazy. 

    My favorite app is Ovia Fertility. 

    • Kim too

      November 13, 2015 at 12:28 pm

      Something I did not know about Clomid, which my GYN kept me on for a while: it can increase egg production, but it also gives the eggs a thicker “shell” to get through.  It is a first step.  I got more scared while I was on it, because, oh man, it’s not working! and it messed with my hormones. I felt like I lost precious months (I was far older than you.)
      I really recommend getting to an RE. I love my GYN, but I needed the big guns.  Once I was on the shots, I got pregnant in my second round of IUI.

  • CM

    November 9, 2015 at 10:55 am

    I find myself envious of people who conceive easily. My situation is different. My husband is getting a vasectomy reversal in early 2016 and I’m already anxious about the process. The urologist gave us an estimate of an 85% success rate for our particular case. That’s if things with HIM go swimmingly. I’m not young, I’m 35 so add on that and I find myself waffling. Wondering if it’s ever going to work. Thanks for this column. So many are going through this.

  • M

    November 9, 2015 at 11:08 am

    Yeah, mom boards on the Internet are still like that. Alternately so overly sweet and full of sugary bs that you’ll get diabetes or so nasty and judgemental you wonder what they’re teaching their kids. Blech.

  • MJH

    November 9, 2015 at 11:37 am

    And for women who have not yet started TTCing but are worried because they are 28 or 30 and there’s no partner in the picture or the partner is meh and FERTILITY IS GOING TO DROP OFF ANY MINUTE or whatever.

    It varies. You never know what your body is going to do until you try. I was convinced that I’d be one of those women who TTC’d forever and needed Clomid and IUI and would we have to do IVF? And then I got pregnant almost immediately. I was 35 and a a half. 

    So don’t give up hope that it will never happen if it doesn’t happen right now.

  • LMo

    November 9, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    This was me for the last two years. God I hated all of the women I knew who go pregnant by accident, or after only one month of trying (including my BFF, by the way). One of the things Amy doesn’t mention, but that I have been told is very normal, is the sense of isolation and disbelief that accompanies fertility treatments. I felt very divorced from my pregnancy (which resulted from IVF), because I was divorced from the actual process of getting pregnant. It wasn’t me and my husband, it was a team of doctors in a lab. There was no jumping up and down and screaming while we looked at a home pregnancy test. That was hard, and I think it’s something that doesn’t get talked about enough. It’s normal to feel isolated from your baby, and it doesn’t mean that you will love your baby any less when it arrives.

  • Diane

    November 9, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    I remember being in those early days of TTC. It’s almost like once the idea strikes to decide to have a baby it’s all consuming and if it doesn’t happen rightthissecond it never will. We had a couple of bumps in the road, between my irregular cycle and PCOS, and it just seemed like it was never going to go right. 

    It did eventually happen (little man will be 3 this April), but then I couldn’t breastfeed. Motherhood seems fraught with “I did xyz wrong” no matter what you do so take things as they come. 

    The app I used was Fertility Friend, which also had those awful message boards, even for the pregnant women. I’d STRONGLY advise against them. For me it seemed like every day someone lost a baby and posted about it to the group (I joined a “due in April” board), even up to our due date, so my entire pregnancy was spent as an anxious mess convinced something was going to go wrong. DO NOT DO THIS TO YOURSELF. 

  • Cass

    November 9, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    I’ve been in this position for far too long, TTC about 2 years now and you’ve hit the nail on the head.  The resentment, the fears etc just totally eat away at your brain and it seriously tests your relationship. I’d say the first thing to do is definitely grab that TCOYF book, I wish I had grabbed that first thing and saved myself an entire year of heartache.  I ended up going to the RE dr and down the IUI route and have been successful (6 wks today), but even then I now sit in the limbo of “please let this one stick”.

    As for apps, they all have their perks but overwhelmingly I’d recommend Kindara. Yes, people get into the whole “babydust” thing but this is the one app where the comments are comforting and not rude.  I’ve actually made a few friends there and it’s spawned Facebook groups.

    Runners up: Ovia Fertility / Fertility Friend (the paid version).

  • Lydia

    November 9, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    Yes, great topic! I am actually in this space right now for the second time around. I have PCOS and Metformin worked the first time. Hoping it will work again this time- I’ve gotten my period twice while on it, which is seriously a miracle, so something’s working.

    I recommend the Ovia app! I like that it even tells you when to take a pregnancy test.

  • Stef

    November 9, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    It’s funny, all my mommy friends (and me) are so happy to be period free for such a long time. Not funny ha ha, but because there are obviously women who’d love to have a regular cycle. I had two miscarriages in short succession and then nothing, nada for over a year. My little girl is now 15 months old and I’m curious/slightly apprehensive how the next ttc will be.
    Fwiw @LMo, I also didn’t feel connected to my pregnancy the way popular culture tells us we’ll feel. Since I got pregnant naturally I obvs can’t compare that to your situation, but I feel it’s important to point out that it’s OK not to be giddy or feel overwhelming love the second the baby is born. Doesn’t make you a bad mom/dad, or mean less love for your kiddo. Every path is different.

  • Chiara

    November 9, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    I LOVED Take Charge of Your Fertility. Such a good book. I read it years before starting to try to have babies and I loved it then and love it more now.

    I have to say, though, that the charting method didn’t work for me. Check out the Justisse method for a much more user friendly fertile sign observation system. But read Taking Charge of Your Fertility first, because it’s a very comprehensive book. 

  • s

    November 9, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    Chiming in with another vote for fertility friend (I have luck with just the free version)

  • Arial

    November 9, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    If you are experiencing infertility, google NAPRO and visit to look for a NAPRO doctor in your area.  In many cases, NAPRO is more successful and less expensive than the more invasive fertility treatments.  

    One of my babies is here today thanks to a NAPRO consult, and all it took was one inexpensive prescription for progesterone (I was experience LPD — luteal phase deficiency, which is when your luteal phase isn’t long enough to sustain a pregnancy).

  • vanessa

    November 9, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    been TTC for 4 years as a single woman using known donors. it’s so fucking hard sometimes i cannot breathe.

  • Lily

    November 9, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    My heart breaks for all the TTC sadness. It’s a really tough thing. I have an unusual kind of infertility and there’s no support for someone like me. I was lucky to have two beautiful kids with no fertility problems. Then I had to have an emergency hysterectomy to save my life at the birth of Baby #2. No more biological babies for me. I am so grateful for the kids I have, but it is heartbreaking to be sterilized at age 31, and no one understands how it feels. People tell me I’m ridiculous to grieve the family I could have had.

    • Claire

      November 10, 2015 at 7:31 am

      No ridiculous at all. I have two living children, after 3mc. I still grieve those mc even though if they had been born my living children would not have been. It’s ok to grieve what you miss while still celebrating what is here.

      I hope you will come to terms with this soon, but maybe it’s worth finding someone else to talk to about how you’re feeling.

  • Holly

    November 10, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Thank you for this Amy.  There is nowhere to vent these kinds of fears if they don’t specifically deal with fertility. I looked desperately for something years ago and found your blog instead (a very happy accident for me). My ex-husband couldn’t decide on a career (tried and quit 3 different kinds of schooling). By the time we had been married 5 years and he was finally finishing his bachelor’s degree, the economy went to crap. I was working 3 jobs and he couldn’t find a “good enough” job. I was depressed from the stress of carrying the financial load and heartsick with the ache for a child. I needed him to get his act together, but it didn’t happen. We continued to struggle financially and the marriage ended after 9 years together. I was devastated over the loss of the marriage, angry that he had “wasted” so much of my childbearing time and afraid that starting over meant I was never going to get to be a mom. My parents had kids late and I lost my grandparents pretty young, this and the possibility of fertility issues made me afraid to wait too long. I am almost 35 and I lost my Dad this year. Even though I am facing some of things I least wanted to happen, I am strangely (for now) at peace with the situation. I remarried last year to a wonderful man and we are just dipping our toes into the TTC waters. It hurts that my dad will never know my kids, but my husband is a terrific, supportive partner and I know that we will have a family, however it may happen.

  • Lynn

    November 10, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    This was a really sweet post, Amy. I read along as you went through your struggle. I went through my own. (Secondary)This made me cry and delighted at the same time. These little offering of support often mean so much when you’re in the thick of it.

  • Alison

    November 11, 2015 at 1:00 am

    I was lucky in that I got pregnant in less than a year (nine cycles, including one miscarrige.) However THREE women at my work got pregnant ACCIDENTLY during that time. And I only worked with fifteen women.

  • Shauna

    November 12, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    I endured 4 cycles of IVF (after several less invasive procedures). I now have the most amazing almost-3-month old. I was not truly relaxed EVER. In fact, around the time of the last attempt (the one that worked), we were closing on our house and I was incredibly stressed. After the transfer, I had cramping and ominous symptoms and was completely stunned when I learned I was pregnant. Then, the pregnancy felt fragile and tenuous and I was so scared. I put off the (low key, tentative) announcement until I was at about 20 weeks. My advice: 1) if you’re really concerned, do the battery of tests as soon as you can. The results will either reassure you or point you to next steps. 2) accept that you may have very angry and ugly feelings (towards your partner, pregnant friends, random ladies in the subway …) and those feelings are normal and OK and don’t mean you’re a bad person. 3) People will tell you to treat yourself and take bubble baths and blah blah. In my experience none of that is fun if your life is consumed with the misery of the treatment. So instead, offload the stuff that ISN”T fun. Your partner can shovel snow, take out the trash, deal with holiday cards or whatever. I found that skipping odious tasks made more of an impact on my well-being than a bubble bath ever could. And: HANG IN THERE.

  • Kim too

    November 13, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    This stuff does stay with you, no doubt.  My journey was relatively easy – 1 mc, 2 rounds of IUI, a beautiful little girl, then 2 1/2 years later, while I was frantically trying to let go of the my dream 2-kid family, because it was the recession and we had no money for ART and I was 43 and I had one really great kid and that was ok, a miracle jackpot of a spontaneous pregnancy and my second daughter.  And yet – that dread of menstrual blood, the counting back (well, if I get pregnant on this next cycle, I’ll be due in…) the constant awareness of where I was in my cycle – good grief.  It was like a full time job.
    Here’s the thing.  You have to surrender your ideas of control.  I was doing *everything* wrong with my second – we were unemployed and incredibly stressed, eating crap food because it was cheap and easy, and the only exercise I got was shading/picking up the 2yo.  I know exactly when I conceived, because we only had sex twice that month, and only because not having sex and removing even the remote possibility of a baby had been tremendously hard on me the month before.  We certainly didn’t think it would happen. So don’t drive yourself crazy with all of the rules, and do your best not to beat yourself up the cycles it doesn’t happen, because your brain has very very little to do with this whole process.  Love and luck to all.

  • C

    November 13, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    I had an out of town work meeting as I was miscarrying for the second time. The hotel receptionist that checked me in was 6+ months pregnant and I was so terrible towards her simply because she was successfully pregnant and I was not. I have two children now but still think about her and feel awful about my behavior.

  • Rachel

    November 13, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    I am completely there right now… We have been trying for 2 1/2 years although it seems like forever… They say to relax and take your mind off of it. HOW??? That constant roller coaster of cycles and hormones and emotions is awful and all-consuming. We are currently on our 4th round of IUI. Crossing my fingers and sending up prayers that this one works… I have been trying to come to terms with my anger and realize I have other options, but it all just breaks my heart. My BFF is now pregnant and her comment last weekend was “wow hubby must have super sperm because we were pregnant after one time without a condom.” Yeah well you know what?!?! Ugh. Trying to be happy for her, but having a difficult time not being bitter with her. 

    Such a hard process and my prayers go out to all of the women struggling right now. 

  • DJ

    November 24, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    Thank you, Amy. And thank you to everyone who joined into the conversation. I’m been looking for people who went through/are going through similar situations and haven’t found what I’m looking for on message boards. The people in my life try to be supportive – but I don’t want platitudes and positive thinking right now, I want someone to say it sucks and let me cry. We’ve been TTC for almost a year, I’m 36 and we’ve had all the tests (thank you Canadian health care system), which showed nothing is medically wrong so I’m supposed to “just relax.” The pressure to “get it on” at the right time or miss our one chance each month is overwhelming; my monthly cycles have become a roller coaster of emotions; and each passing month with no positive is agony. I know we have options and I’m trying to be hopeful, but some days it just really sucks!

  • jess

    November 29, 2015 at 11:58 am

    Yup Baby Dust is still a Thing. As is calling sex “Baby Dance” and referring to your period as “Aunt Flo” like can we be more immature? Also taking pictures of ambiguous tests and having the internet parse them amount. 

  • Katie

    December 1, 2015 at 10:34 am

    One of the things that was most stressful for me during 4+ years of secondary infertility was worrying about the spacing of my kids and watching the age gap (for a hypothetical sibling) get wider and wider.  I worried about this SO MUCH, how my kids (if I ever had another) would be so far apart in age, and everyone else has kids 1.5-2 years apart so that seems like the only right way to do it.  I’ve seen others express this fear too, along with the fear of being “too old” and thinking if it doesn’t happen by 35 you might as well just quit.  

    I wish I could promise everyone who is struggling that it will all work out and be ok, but I know that’s not always the case.  But if it helps at all, I spent all of my 30’s either pregnant or trying to get pregnant.  My kids were born when I was 30, 35, and 39.  Don’t give up.  Don’t be afraid to let go of “perfect” spacing ideas, or arbitrary age deadlines that you impose on yourself.  

    Peace to all who are struggling right now.  I know it hurts and I’m so sorry.

  • Jen

    January 25, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    My Heart breaks for all those who are struggling with fertility due to any multitude of problems. When Hubs and I decided to start trying I used, and had pretty good luck getting pregnant with the app “ovuview” and using cheap-o ovulation predictor strips by Wondfo.

    I charted both my morning temperature and used the strips for 2 cycles before we started to trying to look for patterns and then it took us 4 cycles (with one very early miscarriage) to get (and stay) pregnant.

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