6 Things People Don’t Realize About Trying To Get Pregnant

When we were in college (or high school, I don’t know your life), getting your period after a month of fooling around was the equivalent of Christmas morning. There was no better feeling than knowing you wouldn’t have to be a teen mom (without the reality show to boost you into Instagram stardom) and wouldn’t have to take care of a tiny creature that needs you all the time. Funny enough, now that some of us may be actually TRYING to get pregnant, it seems like the whole thing is, well, kind of not that easy. I wish we’d all known that back when we were ripping our hair out praying for our periods to come so that Frank the Tank from TKE wasn’t about to be the father of our unborn child.

Why is it that despite years of being careful with pills, Plan B, condoms, and the whole pharmacy aisle of family planning products for years, some people find themselves having a really tough time actually getting pregnant now that they WANT to have a kid? Here are some facts you might not know about getting pregnant.

1. It Can Take Up To A Year

Shockingly, a lot of couples trying to get pregnant won’t succeed on try number one. Although I myself am a freak of nature and this rule doesn’t apply to me (Betch Baby—out December 2019), according to WebMD and Dr. Robert Stillman, medical director of Shady Grove Fertility Centers in the Washington, D.C., area, about 85% of couples take one year to put a bun in the oven. “The average time it takes to conceive, for instance, is about six months, and women under 35 should wait until they’ve tried for a year before they consider calling their doctor or a fertility specialist with concerns.” So if you’re good with the idea of getting pregnant, don’t bank on getting it done in the first try. Give yourself six months to a year of tracking and trying before you start freaking out, k? There’s nothing wrong with you.

2. There Are No Tricks

Even though your mom may have sworn by being strapped upside down in moon boots (did we all throw up together), there are no “tricks” to getting pregnant. You know what will get you pregnant? Sperm fertilizing your egg. Boom. Magic. WebMD says, “There’s still only one way to get pregnant—by a sperm fertilizing the woman’s egg, which can happen for only about 12 to 24 hours after ovulation—approximately 14 days before the end of a woman’s monthly cycle. Ovulation sometimes can be harder to predict if a woman’s cycles are irregular. And for women who are getting older, monthly cycles first get shorter, then longer the closer they get to menopause.”

So, the big takeaway here is that even if your neighbor swore by mud masks and hypnosis, your bestie claims she was able to get pregnant because she only has sex in the morning on Wednesdays, and your mom tells you to invest in a water bed, the only thing that’ll get you pregnant is the right sperm at the right time.

3. Being Healthy Counts

Being overweight, underweight, or having little to no exercise routine (or healthy eating habits) can all affect how easy or hard it is for you to get pregnant. Today’s Parent says that being over or under weight (and anywhere above a 25% BMI) can greatly affect your chances of getting pregnant. For example, if you’re way under where you should be, weight-wise, your body may not be ovulating properly (which may explain why your periods are so irregular). On the flip side, if you’re overweight, that can affect your hormones balance, which can reduce fertility. And, while you may think that fertility treatments can help, they can actually be less effective for obese individuals. So, before you even jump into getting pregnant, make sure you’re healthy, kids.

4. We’re All Waiting Longer To Have Kids

…And that isn’t a bad thing! Having kids after age 30 means you’re out of your wild 20s stage and are (probably) somewhat more responsible. However, waiting longer means that you won’t have as easy of a time actually getting pregnant compared to your 19-year-old Mormon neighbor who seems to pop out a kid every other month.

According to The Bump, “a woman’s fertility starts to decline gradually at age 27 and then it drops dramatically after age 35. And while there are fertility treatments that can help couples conceive, they’re less likely to work if the patient is older.” So, yeah, you may see that a celebrity got pregnant at 48 or whatever, but don’t think that the rules didn’t apply to them or that they didn’t seek outside treatment or help in conceiving. We’re at our top fertility between 25-30, so once you pass that, your chances of getting pregnant start dropping each year. That isn’t to freak you out, it’s just to keep in mind if you’ve been dating the same guy for seven years and you’re about to hit 31 and he STILL won’t even talk about whether or not he wants kids.

5. Stress Is Sabotaging You

Not shockingly, the more you try and the more you don’t get pregnant, the more you’re likely to be stressed out and start feeling majorly negative vibes. You may ask yourself, “what’s wrong with me?” and feel like literally everyone around is getting pregnant in a snap while you’re a year in with no baby. A lot of fertility doctors are now recommending acupuncture, yoga, and meditation for women trying to get pregnant, since a crazy-high stress level is totally linked to an inability to conceive. “‘Some people truly have medical issues keeping them from getting pregnant,'” says Shahin Ghadir, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist and founding partner of Southern California Reproductive Center for The Bump. “‘But for others, when they relax and feel confident that they’re in good hands , things change. You can’t prove it, but I’ve seen miracles happen when people’s stress levels change.'” So do that meditation class. Go out for a walk. Book a 90-minute massage. Relaxing and trusting that you’re doing everything you need to do and taking care of yourself can work wonders.

6. Your Cycle Is Complicated

You may have thought you had a really good handle on how long your cycle is, when you ovulate, and what days you’re most fertile but, you could be wrong. Everyone seems to think that their specific cycle is 28 to 32 days long, right? Sorta. That can vary big time according to your personal genetic makeup. On top of that, most women think their ovulation date—the time they’re most fertile and likely to conceive—is exactly two weeks before the start of their period. Again, that can vary according to your cycle, which a new study helped shed some major light on.

According to Today’s Parent, the best way to tell when you’re ACTUALLY ovulating is to buy an ovulation monitoring device and check exactly when you’re at peak performance. On top of that, don’t freak out if you can’t or didn’t bone on your ovulation day. Sperm can live in your cervix for three days (I am SO DISGUSTED BY THIS), so even if you do the dirty on or around your ovulation day (especially before) you have a good chance of getting pregnant. Lastly, although your actual cycle can make you more lubed up down there or run dry depending on the month, try not to use lubricants. They can actually work against you and prevent you getting pregnant.

Images: Luma Pimentel, Unsplash; Giphy (6)

Women Need To Talk About Fertility Issues, So I’m Starting With Mine
Hollie Overton is a TV writer and producer currently working on TELL ME A STORY for CBS All-Access. She has written for Shadowhunters, Cold Case, and The Client List. Hollie’s debut thriller, BABY DOLL was an international bestseller and was published in eleven countries. Her 2nd novel, THE WALLS was released Aug. 2017. Her 3rd novel THE RUNAWAY was just released on August 6, 2019. An identical twin, Hollie grew up in Kingsville, Texas but now resides in LA with her husband, David and rescue dog, Stevie.

Growing up in a small town in Texas, all I wanted to do was to tell stories. In elementary school, while other girls planned pretend weddings, my twin sister, Heather, and I made up elaborate tales involving our imaginary friends, two middle-aged hobos. In middle school, I scribbled ideas in floral embroidered journals and wrote some truly terrible poetry. But a community production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat changed everything. I fell in love with acting and was accepted into a theater conservatory in New York City. While friends were falling in love, getting married and having children, I was laser-focused on my career. 

With that came something I never anticipated: judgment about my life choices. At my father’s funeral, extended family seemed disappointed when they learned I was single and childless. I was twenty-one. I laughed off their “you still have time” comments and focused on my studies.  After several years in New York, I moved to Los Angeles, and landed my dream job: working as a TV writer. I even published two crime novels. 

While my career was taking off, I fell in love, married David, a handsome British tennis coach, and adopted Stevie, our adorable rescue pup. We were together for almost ten years when we decided to start a family. To our surprise, less than two months later, I was pregnant.  

My first thought was, “oh crap. I’m not ready.” Then the morning sickness kicked in. I can’t say it was pleasant, but suddenly this baby was real and I wanted it. I kept imagining how it would feel to hold my child in my arms. I already knew my husband would make a great father, but I couldn’t wait to see him in action. 

It all seemed too easy…and it was. At our first appointment, David and I sat in the doctor’s office, her smile fading, her body language drawing inward as she stared at the ultrasound. She’d delivered this news before, but her disappointment didn’t sound practiced. “The fetus is too small,” she said. There were other terms I’d never heard before. Missed miscarriage. Silent abortion. None of them good. “Come back in a week,” she advised. I went home, and disappeared into a Google black hole, praying that the mommy blogs offering hopeful stories of miracle babies would be my fate.

The evening before my follow-up with the doctor, I began hemorrhaging. David found me passed out on the bathroom floor. He called an ambulance, and I was rushed to the ER. The events that followed next were the kind of brutal feminine business us Texas ladies don’t discuss in proper company. Kind-faced doctors and nurses appeared, IVs were drawn, pain meds administered, ultrasounds ordered, and tearful “I love yous” whispered. The operating room greeted me with its bright lights, and then nothing but blackness. I woke a few hours later, stitched together, but not quite whole. 

We did not immediately start “trying” (a word my sister hates, which means I have to use it!) again. I needed time to recover emotionally, and then work commitments kept me and David on opposite coasts for several months. Five months later, my mother died and I found myself consumed with grief. I’d lost my anchor, and was heartbroken knowing that my child would never meet her grandmother. 

It was soul-crushing, but we decided to start again. My OB suggested additional tests to make sure we were both healthy, and discovered several small fibroids and cysts on my uterus, something previously undiagnosed. A hysteroscopy was scheduled, a relatively simple outpatient procedure that offered up a clean bill of health. Until a week later, when I began to hemorrhage at home and found myself experiencing a terrible case of déjà vu: bleeding out, an ambulance ride to the ER, and emergency surgery. I was given another clean bill of health, and yet still no baby. 

Last year, we finally began consulting with a fertility specialist. Since then I’ve had three more hysteroscopies to remove scar tissue and fibroids. I’ve never officially been diagnosed with PCOS, though my symptoms and challenges conceiving are not dissimilar to those with that diagnosis. I’d hoped to get pregnant with IUI, but four rounds later, it was clear IVF was our only option. I am grateful that we are able to afford these costly fertility treatments, but I am learning that it is still an agonizing road, with no guarantees. 

I never imagined I’d be the leading lady of a story riddled with so many cliches. If I were writing this, my heroine wouldn’t obsessively purchase pregnancy tests each month, fighting back tears when that single pink line appeared. She definitely wouldn’t burst into tears at baby showers or stifle that bubbling jealousy when her friends announced their pregnancies or catalogued their baby’s daily accomplishments. My heroine wouldn’t resent the well-meaning (yet incredibly annoying) advice about meditating/yoga/acupuncture/cutting out alcohol/carbs/grains/dairy. She certainly wouldn’t be the type who spiraled into depression when people offered advice like “just relax,” or “stop stressing,” or have you tried going on a vacation?” It’s clear to me now that a higher power is penning this tale. 

Of all the stories I’ve written, this is by far the most difficult. But writing is my therapy. It’s how I process my experiences and connect with others. I also know I’m not the only woman struggling. There are thousands of women gathering in private spaces; sharing encouraging words and advice on secret Instagram and Facebook pages, their experiences told in whispers, not shouts. My question is: what if we did shout about it? What if we talked openly about miscarriages and IUI and IVF, about hormone injections and mood swings? What if we shared the difficulties that come with juggling your professional obligations with weekly doctors appointments and failed fertility cycles? What if we stopped being ashamed of something we have no control over? Can you imagine the freedom we would have? 

I can. It wasn’t simple, but I finally made the decision to share my experiences. It’s the only control I have in any of this.  I’ve also chosen to silence that voice, the one that kept whispering, “you shouldn’t have waited. This is all your fault.” I don’t regret the choices I’ve made. I wanted to act, and write, travel and explore the world. I wanted to discover who I was, to nurture my relationship with my husband and make sure we were ready for the responsibility that comes with bringing new life into the world. Of course, some days I’m frustrated, other days I’m angry, jealous, some days I’m achingly sad, but I am never hopeless. I truly believe that our story will end the way it was meant to—with a child of our own.

Hollie Overton is a TV writer and producer currently working on TELL ME A STORY for CBS All-Access. She has written for Shadowhunters, Cold Case, and The Client List. Hollie’s debut thriller, BABY DOLL was an international bestseller and was published in eleven countries. Her 2nd novel, THE WALLS was released Aug. 2017. Her 3rd novel THE RUNAWAY was just released on August 6, 2019. An identical twin, Hollie grew up in Kingsville, Texas but now resides in LA with her husband, David and rescue dog, Stevie.

Don’t Make Me Go To Your Gender Reveal Party

Lisa Schwartz is a Los Angeles native, actress, and YouTube sensation whose channel Lisbug has over 2.2 million subscribers. Her book, THIRTY-LIFE CRISIS: Navigating My Thirties, One Drunk Baby Shower at a Time, out now, is a collection of comedic personal essays in which she shares stories and musings about being an ambitious, modern day woman in her thirties.

Dear Stranger On The Internet, 

Before you decide to have a gender reveal party, I ask you to reconsider. Don’t get me wrong—I want the best for you. You have absolutely every right to do whatever your sweet pregnant heart desires; after all, you are brewing a baby and that’s no easy feat.

I have watched my friends struggle to get pregnant and then finally push through the pukes, the poops, and the swollen feet. You should be celebrated, you should be cherished, and you should have pink or blue sh*t shoot out of some extravagant device purchased solely to ensure that your baby’s genital unveiling goes viral. However, I ask that you take a beat to consider the people around you who have dedicated many weekends to you.

The ones who have dug into their bank accounts to get you that bread maker for your wedding that you have yet to unwrap. The friends who held your hair back at your bachelorette weekend because drinking out of penis straws for only one night didn’t seem like enough. Think of those, near and dear, who carried on mind-numbing conversations with your weird aunt at your engagement party, and then again at your bridal shower. The lifetime bestie who kept note of who got you which boob-milking accoutrement at your baby shower, and then played that horrific diaper sniffing game at the second shower your mother-in-law insisted on throwing to impress her friends. Consider your peers who are having trouble reconciling that everyone in their social circle is getting married and having kids. Keep in mind the ones who feel a million steps behind, emotionally challenged by change, and/or struggling to keep their heads above water. Think of those who have been told time and time again—not only by medical professionals, but from family members alike—that they ought to freeze their eggs regardless of the fact that they can’t even complete a dating app profile.


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Bardi had her baby! Bink in bio or betches.co/cardi

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And please remind yourself what it felt like when you were single, tasked with attending an event that made looking into a mirror more than just a “is there sh*t in my teeth?” check, but rather a deep dive into a “what the f*ck am I doing with my life?” spiral. I urge you—take a beat, and rethink having this party. 

I am not saying it’s your responsibility to take care of everyone. You certainly have enough on your plate tending to your wellbeing as well as your little bundle of joy. But ignorance is not bliss; it’s actually pure hell for a single 30-something-year-old who just discovered another wrinkle along with a thick black chin hair that miraculously popped up overnight. Won’t you consider throwing us a bone and keep the private-part discovery between you and your loved one? 

If you’re annoyed by this plea, and proceeding with your celebration anyway, may I at least suggest three things that are bound to lessen the discomfort of those going through a thirty-life-crisis: 

1. Have A Bar

Even if it’s just some kitschy Pinterest-inspired mimosa table that your former sorority sister spent all night making little tags for (oh thank you, Stacey. I almost mistook the orange juice for cranberry juice). A cheap Champagne buzz is better than a sober conversation with people you haven’t seen since high school who are insistent that there is a guy at their CrossFit that would be “perfect for you.” Kill me. Or similarly, make me go to CrossFit. 

2. Don’t Have A Dress Code

Not like you’re going to throw a black-tie event (although I wouldn’t put it past some cummerbund-loving Richie Rich to enforce such a thing). But please, don’t make everyone wear blue or pink according to what gender they think this little thing is going to be. It’s hard enough to find something I feel comfortable wearing without having a complete meltdown that ends with me naked on the closet floor, alongside every item of clothing I own. F*ck you, I’m wearing black. 

And lastly…. 

3. Let Your Friends Off The Hook

In recent years, I have come to realize the power of saying “no.” If I don’t want to do something, I don’t have to. The power of “no” is a strong and empowering thing. The power of obligation and guilt due to years of friendship, however, is stronger. Do your longtime pals a favor and give them an out. If this party is seemingly more appropriate for your family and new “mommy group,” give your old friends the “no pressure” text. Those two words go a long f*cking way. Chances are they’re going to attend, but at least they are coming because they chose to, and not because they had to. 

Or screw my unsolicited advice and do it the way you want. You are an incredibly strong woman who is doing an extraordinary thing here. Have the f*cking gender reveal party of your dreams. Just keep in mind that there may be people in your orbit who are in a less-than-celebratory headspace. Don’t be surprised if there are some eye rolls or no-shows; that’s how this pink and blue cookie crumbles. As long as you stay true to you and your heart, the rest will work itself out. I can’t guarantee your epic reveal is going to be on Ellen, but if you upload it to Facebook, I’m sure my grandma will repost it. She loves that sh*t. 

Whatever you end up doing, here’s to you and a happy, healthy pregnancy. Regardless of what gender your baby is. 


A Retired Gender Reveal Partygoer 

Lisa Schwartz is a Los Angeles native, actress, and YouTube sensation whose channel Lisbug has over 2.2 million subscribers. Her book, THIRTY-LIFE CRISIS: Navigating My Thirties, One Drunk Baby Shower at a Time, out now, is a collection of comedic personal essays in which she shares stories and musings about being an ambitious, modern day woman in her thirties.

Images: betches/Instagram; Sirio/Unsplash

PSA: Stop Reading Pregnancy Blogs

As soon as you find out you’re pregnant, the questions, concerns, excitement, and complete overwhelming emotion sets in. “What the f*ck do I do? Where do I go? What do I need to buy? Who should I call? Am I ready for this sh*t? LOL I have NO idea what I’m doing.” Because being pregnant is a highly hormonal and emotional rollercoaster (and I can say that, because I’m pregnant and my life is an emotional fairground atm), expectant women can often fall into the trap of reading the work of mommy and pregnancy bloggers. If you live in a hole, bloggers are people who sit behind computers telling you which products you can’t live without, the birth route you MUST go, and how you should start saving up for a team of doulas / the dolphin water birth you have to have the second you see a positive on your pregnancy test. They also tend to overshare in hopes of “inspiring” other moms and moms-to-be to take their advice since, after all, they’re now experts on pregnancy and parenting.

Bring on the mommy blog hate in the comments. Go ahead and @ me from the safety of your computer. I’ll be drinking this virgin martini and laughing. Here are all the reasons you need to turn off your phone/computer and stop reading pregnancy blogs.

They Have No Medical Background

I am sure there are some mommy/pregnancy bloggers who went to med school or have some form of medical degree. However, the vast majority of people sitting behind their computers advising you on what drugs to take and how to approach your pregnancy and labor have no medical training or health background whatsoever. They have their own experience to lean on and, more than likely, not much else. Listening to a non-medical professional preach about how Pitocin will kill you or how an epidural will cause your baby to go into seizure mode is basically the same as listening to someone yell at you from a street corner. It’s the same as any unsolicited advice you’d get from someone face-to-face. Spouting your opinions is all fine and well, except the scary part about bloggers is that they present themselves as some kind of expert, which they’re not. If your doctor talks to you about medications, pregnancy complications, concerns, and other legitimate issues, then, yes, ask questions and listen, because your doctor IS an actual expert. But taking the advice of an internet stranger as truth isn’t doing you (or your baby) any favors.

Bottom line: Do any of these bloggers have a distinct knowledge of your particular pregnancy? Your body? Your soon-to-be born baby? That’s a no, buddy.

Is This An Ad?

Some bloggers are better these days about coming clean in regards to which posts are ads and which are not. The key word there is “some”. You will never know 100% what a blogger has been paid to promote. It could be something as “basic” as a $1,300 SNOO which they’ll INSIST you need for your sanity and to put your baby to sleep for you. It could be doula services because you NEED a friend and advocate in the delivery room. It could be a particular brand of vitamin that claims to up your milk production because it contains a miraculous plant that our evil federal government has banned. I could go on, but I’m tired and my feet are swollen.

Unless you’re BFFs with said blogger, how do you know you aren’t just reading an advertisement? How do you think bloggers make money? Trust no one. On top of not knowing what’s being sponsored and what isn’t, many bloggers are timid about being truly honest regarding product reviews because they want to continue working with companies that pay them. I can’t blame a sister for gettin’ that money, honey, but I can blame them for not being fully transparent about any kickbacks they might be getting from a product or brand.

The takeaway: Do your own research and stop relying on Mindy and her amazing pregnancy adventure blog to tell you all about the bottles, pacifiers, and crib sheets you can’t live without.

You’re Missing Out On Your Own Pregnancy

When you’re constantly scrolling through pregnancy and mommy blogs looking for information, you’re probably going to start playing the comparison game.

“This says my boobs should be up to a C by now and they’re only an A.”

“OMG apparently I’m supposed to have the nursery built by now.”

“Oh sh*t, I guess I need to sign up for that mommy yoga class.”

“This says my dog will bite the baby if I don’t introduce him in the northwest corner of the backyard during a full moon!”

A quick Google search of mommy blogs is f*cking frightening. Look what comes up as soon as you start peeking around into the dark corners of the internet:

That’s a ton of sh*t about what not to do, what you’re potentially doing wrong, and fear-mongering language that can send an already emotional person into a tailspin. Imagine the anxiety reading “100 things about pregnancy.” Imagine how inadequate you could feel reading about someone’s rainbow and butterflies pregnancy while you’re throwing up every three hours. My sister-in-law told me at one point that she thought she had to go to the hospital because her anxiety got so bad from falling into a pregnancy blog hole. Take some advice from Kris Jenner: “You’re doing amazing, sweetie.” Try to sit back and enjoy your own pregnancy and first few weeks postpartum instead of insanely consuming strangers’ anecdotes about their own experiences.

It’s Your Body And Baby

Being pregnant myself, I can’t even count how many times I’ve been asked if I’m going to breastfeed, if I’m going to go all natural, if I’m going to get an epidural, or if I’m going to hire a midwife or doula. Those are all really personal decisions, yet everyone has an opinion about how I should go about my particular labor and pregnancy. Mommy and pregnancy bloggers do the exact same sh*t on an insane level. They can spin situations and personal anecdotes to ridiculous proportions. Take this excerpt from a blogger’s labor story. I’m not going to share the name of the blogger or blog because I refuse to give these people more readers. First, she talks about how she felt relief from the pressure of pushing, then says, “I was filled with the most intense surge of emotion. I can personally attest to the fact that this emotion is much stronger and more instant with an unmedicated birth than even one with an epidural. I instantly bonded…”

Imagine reading that and either having already given birth using an epidural, having a C-section, or being unsure how your birth will go. It sits a bit heavy, doesn’t it? Like, of course you want to instantly bond with your baby. But now it sounds like if I choose to have an epidural, I’ll lose that chance. See what you’re doing? Now you’re going to read up on epidurals and how bad they are. Or how natural birth is the ONLY way to go. Or how there’s fluoride in the water and it’s hurting your baby’s chances of getting into an Ivy League school later.

None of these bloggers know you or your personal medical history. Maybe you were “cursed” with narrow hips, and a C-section is the only way to go. Maybe you’re all about that formula life. Whatever it is, the most important part of pregnancy and birth is listening to yourself and your doctor. At the end of the day, you two (or three) know your body and pregnancy better than any internet rando.

All in all, however you choose to approach your pregnancy—do you. Don’t give in to pressure from friends, family, or bloggers about how you “should” deliver or how your baby “should” be developing. That’s for you and your doctor to discuss. Pregnancy is a super neat and sometimes scary time. Try to put down the phone (or laptop), relax, and enjoy being punched and kicked from the inside out.

Images: Kaitlyn Baker, Unsplash;