Prev Next

Trying to Conceive: When to Freak Out When You’re Not Expecting

By Amalah

Dear Amalah,

My husband and I have started seriously trying to have a baby, and, like every other couple, assumed it would come more easily than it has. Naturally, I was going to get knocked up on the first try, and why the hell would I have spent all these years avoiding pregnancy if that’s not how it works? Flash forward to reality, and we’re on our 6th month trying to conceive (and I know a lot of people have tried a lot longer than this and I’m relatively new to this, so please don’t roll your eyes at me) but so far it just hasn’t happened.

I have been charting the past few months and although the sex hasn’t reached that “only for a purpose” stage, at times it is really the only reason I am into it. The first month of this project I got sucked into some of *those* trying-to-conceive websites, you know the ones: every woman who posts is on her first month “TTC” and oh my god we totally got pregnant on the first try, and oooh baby dust, and omfg I got the bfn and I hate AF!! And everyone is all smug and clearly lying about how the process has been going, b/c hello, there is no community in which 75% of the women are pregnant within the first two months. Breathe.

Anyway, I learned quickly enough to get the hell out of those chat rooms, but I still have a couple of nagging thoughts implanted (ha! no pun intended) from reading too many posts.

1) Is preseed really the only way to go? clearly, KY is not a contraceptive and plenty of people have had “oopsies” with it that it is possible to get pregnant while using it, but should I stop? Is this really a factor? Or is that just crap to sell a different product and scare chatroom readers into swearing they don’t use it?

2) Is there any truth behind the ‘ooh so totally take robitussin!’ myth, (you know, because it thins our your mucus) or are these women just really dumb? B/c fully 100% of the women who use it swear it works on the first try, so it must right? Because coincidences don’t exist?

Ugh, I guess I’ve just reached a point at which I need to hear that it’s ok to still be this far along and still trying. The first month aside, the last few months I’ve been fine, but realizing it’s been six months has sort of freaked me out. I’m 26 and my husband is 30, so we still have a lot of time to work on this, and I’m not at the point where I’m ready to turn to fertility treatments, but I would love to hear your thoughts on this, and honestly? I think it would help to read a super snarky piece from you on how ridiculous these hyper-competitive conception “communities” are.


(How’s about a nice fluffly fluff piece for Friday, huh? Oy.)

When Should You Start Worrying?

OK, first, you do need to take a deep breath. Six months is still VERY MUCH in the realm of “normal” for conception. It is the point where some couples (usually those on the older side of the fertility jungle) opt to get some diagnostic testing done, but I don’t think that’s really necessary for a young couple just starting to chart and obsess and throw things at the TV when they rent Knocked Up and OOPS! LOOK HOW EASY THAT WAS! HA HA.

And I completely understand your ambivalence — we’ve been actively trying for about a year now, although technically we haven’t done a damn thing to prevent pregnancy (other than a few months of breastfeeding, which as those communities will tell you: OOPS! HA HA.) for the past two years. And I’m STILL not ready to turn to fertility treatments.

Currently, we’re still having sporadic conversations about what we should do “about the baby thing.” These conversations never really go anywhere or lead to a plan — we just kind of acknowledge that this sucks and change the subject. So look at you! Proactive and writing to advice columns! Waaaay ahead of me.

Preseed, Robitussin, and Charting — Oh My

So let’s address your specific questions, neither of which I have any firsthand experience with, so yeah, this is gonna be super-informative:

preseed.jpg1. Preseed. Never used it. I always assumed it was one of those “can’t hurt, might help, so why not” sort of things. (There are a lot of those in the fertility world, as you’ve seen.) For us, the constant “baby thing” hanging over the bedroom is a mood-killer enough, so the idea of having a bottle of that stuff on the nightstand seemed like a bad idea. FOR US.
If you would like a little TMI, we got pregnant using a random lubricant that was quite possibly purchased at a store that maybe sold a lot of things that sort-of require AA batteries. Or so I’ve heard. Ahem.

2. Robitussin. Also never used it. Unlike the Preseed, this one actually seemed like it could hurt, because non-recommended dosing of OTC medicines is kiiiiiind of a no-no, regardless of whether you’re a responsible married woman attempting procreation or a teenager chugging it behind the bleachers attempting intoxication. Like you, I gathered that the “OMG it totally worked!” stories were probably a lot of coincidences (since most of these women didn’t have any diagnosed medical condition that was preventing pregnancy, and were all just waiting for the luck of the cycle draw).

3. Charting. Personally, I’m done with charting — I never could make heads nor tales out of my temperatures and my ridiculously irregular cycles. With Noah my cycles just mysteriously leveled out to 30 days for about two months and OOPS! LOOK HOW…SO VERY NOT EASY THAT WAS. This year I’ve had quite a few 30-day cycles but no positive tests, only to have my next few cycles drag on for over 40 or 50 days. So I managed to scrounge up a used Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor from a kind and generous reader and I’m giving that a try.

Of course, she didn’t have the instruction booklet anymore and I was too lazy to look it up, so I just found out I was using it wrong. Am so dumb. But hey! That means this will be my first NON-DUMB cycle! A fresh start! Everything will be different now! THIS IS THE MONTH OF DIGITALLY COMMANDED SEX THAT YIELDS RESULTS!

(Other than, you know, boring old orgasms. Pfft.)

And while we’re on that subject — even if everything is fine (perfect 28-day cycles, robust manly sperm, exquisitely timed boots-knocking — you’ve got about a 25% chance of success each month. 25%! Throw in something even remotely wonky and that percentage plummets even further. And the sad fact is that a lot of us are a little wonky. We get stressed, cycles get long, there’s a bum egg or two, our husbands don’t remember their multivitamins. Then there are the more serious conditions that no amount of babydust (bleh) or pineapple (blehbleh) or “just relaxing” (BLEHBLEHBLEH!) can fix. But you know, we all cross that bridge in our own time, with some of us hanging out in the gift shop a little too long. (Look, honey! A “Bridges of America” coffee table book!)

More From AlphaMom

Pregnancy Fears: It’s Never Going to Happen
How Prepared is Too Prepared to Have a Baby?
Natural Fertility Boosters

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

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.

icon icon
chat bubble icon