Book Recommendation – ‘Eight Dates’ by John Gottman

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today I’d like to share a book with you that my husband and I finished reading through together a few weeks ago – Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by John and Julie Gottman.

I would HIGHLY recommend this book for anyone married or in a serious relationship – it doesn’t matter if you are newlyweds or have been married for a long time, you should check out this book! My husband and I have been married 11 years, and we found the book to be a great way to foster meaningful and intentional conversations about our relationship.

The book is organized into eight sections. The idea is that for each section you’ll read the chapter and answer some reflection questions on your own, then later go out on a date with your significant other to discuss your answers together. Your goal for the conversation is to listen to your partner, validate what they say, and ultimately “build respect, empathy, and a profound understanding of each other” (p. 5).

Ironically, since we read through this book in the middle of the pandemic, we did not “go out” for any of our dates. We had all of ours at home after we put our 4-year-old to bed. Even if you’re stuck at home, you can find ways to make the dates fun (cook a special meal or dessert, dress up in fancy clothes, sit outside in the backyard… be creative!)

The topics addressed in the eight sections include:

  • trust and commitment
  • conflict
  • sex
  • money
  • family
  • fun and adventure
  • spirituality
  • goals and dreams

There were so many things I loved about this book:

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So You’ve Decided to Try to Get Pregnant… A Saga

What does a woman go through when she decides she wants to try to have a baby?

I can only speak for myself, but in general, I would say she goes through a lot. Different women have all sorts of different journeys as they step into this process, but I thought I would chronicle my journey of trying for baby #2. It has helped me process my feelings, and perhaps will resonate with others on a similar journey. The following are journal entries of significant dates and events throughout this process – it was how I was feeling at the time, not right or wrong feelings, just feelings.
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7/15/19
Today is July 15, 2019. By the time I post this draft, if I ever do, it will be a much later date. This is in part because it’s a little too fresh for me to share publicly. I’m taking time to write today mostly to process my feelings on the matter – but as I think about the purpose of my blog, I really want to let people see inside my mind and be able to experience what I’m feeling. I know I’m not the only person who has ever felt this way, so maybe some of what I write will speak to you and be something you can empathize with. If not, maybe it will at least give you a bit of an idea of what a woman might go through when she decides she wants to try to get pregnant. My experience certainly does not fully encompass everyone’s experiences, but I think it’s worth sharing. Thanks for reading.

Today is July 15 – it was day 30 of my cycle, and I had been waiting to take the pregnancy test I bought a few days ago. I told Dean I was 90% sure I was pregnant – I could tell. I had been feeling slightly nauseous for the past week, and I had even had spotting the day before – which I attributed to implantation spotting. I had planned on taking the pregnancy test this morning, but when I took my basal body temperature upon waking up, there was a drastic drop from the sustained high temps. I had gone from a 97.8 temp to a 97.1 in twenty-four hours. If you’re a BBT charter, you know that’s a big shift. You would also know that a temperature drop can signal that your period is about to start. I told myself that maybe it was a fluke, but I decided not to take the pregnancy test since I knew what it probably meant. The bleeding started a few hours later.

The first time Dean and I ever tried to get pregnant (before Calvin), I experienced the same thing. I had totally convinced myself that I was pregnant, but that time I confidently took the pregnancy test, and was shocked when it resulted in a single line instead of the positive plus sign. I felt like I had experienced a loss, even though I had never truly been pregnant, I just fully expected to be.

It’s a weird thing to feel like you’ve lost something you’ve never really had. I know this feeling does not compare to the experience of having a miscarriage or loss of a child – I have a hard time even fathoming the level of pain and loss on that scale.

So here I am, not actually on day 30 of my cycle, but back to day 1 – starting over again. Attempting to get pregnant is a huge waiting game – you wait for the right window of fertility (which is a bit of guessing game) in your cycle, hope that your attempts go well, and then you have to wait a few more weeks before you can find out if you succeeded or failed. Because that’s kind of what it feels like if you don’t get pregnant: failure.

I read something the other day that said only 38% of women will get pregnant the first month they try, and this number refers to women actually trying to time intercourse correctly for the purpose of getting pregnant. This percentage increases to 68% over 3 cycles of trying – but that still means almost one third of women actively trying for a baby won’t get pregnant even after three months.

Those numbers are both discouraging and comforting to me – discouraging because I know my chances of getting pregnant right away are slim, but comforting knowing that the majority of women are experiencing the same thing. Why am I holding myself to an impossible standard and feeling bad for not getting pregnant on the first try? This is my perfectionism kicking into overdrive and rising up to an unhealthy level. I know that and recognize it for what it is, but yet is is still hard to let go of.

Hopefully I will have the courage to post this soon – it might not be until after pregnancy is achieved and has been announced – though some have called me “brave” for writing and sharing about such sensitive topics, I typically only share when the bad times have passed, not while in the midst of them.
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