Book Review · Trying to Conceive · TTC

The Impatient Woman’s Guide To Getting Pregnant (A Review)

My first trying to conceive self-help book! – which is not what I exclaimed when this was first delivered.  This book sat in my shopping cart for a few months, then curled up in my nightstand for several more months.  It never felt like the right moment to start reading.  My how-to-finally-maybe-hopefully-get-pregnant book was delivered smack dab in the middle of my ectopic healing – not exactly the time that you want to read about how you too can get pregnant in as little as three months!  I decided to give TIWGTGP (not a real acronym used, but I have no desire to type that out – I’m practicing my impatience) when I was near another breaking point, which just happened to be this month.  I’m struggling with my almost one year blues, and I’m not emotionally ready for more negatives coming my way.  So I creaked open my first ever used book, was assaulted by the overwhelming scent of incense (can’t blame a girl for trying to relax while reading a book about conceiving), and gave it a go.

The Good:

  • The author, Dr. Jean M. Twenge (or, just Jean?  I feel like we’re on a first name basis now that I know the length of her luteal phase) got me hooked on this book pretty quickly because she is a PLANNER – she spoke my language!  I drooled as she used her first chapter (and later, the appendix) to list what you should be doing each month to prepare to conceive.  I’m already in too deep so I can’t take part in the ritualistic burning of birth control (not a real recommendation), but five pages in and she still had me making a note to buy 1,000 mg of fish oil (of which I’ve forgotten what it’s even supposed to help with…anxiety? Future baby health? The magic juice that will finally get me pregnant?!)  This book felt like I had written it – that is, if I was wittier and had a PhD.  She took all my feelings and put them into words, leaving me with a mental orgasm of YES, YES, YES as she described the fear and anxiety – and absolute lack of control – that creates our inner TTC monsters.
  • Jeanie (my new BFF) changed my life with this next section.  Please prepare yourself to hear the best news in trying to conceive history: stress and anxiety do not cause infertility!!!  So that’s it – I’m never reading anything else that says otherwise and I want to tattoo this on my arm to reference for the remaining months of trying.  No one’s saying that stress is good for you – so don’t start tossing up a confetti of Xanax and Prozac to celebrate your anxiety, but it shouldn’t be pinned as the reason why you can’t conceive.  This was music to my uterus, because for months I have been considering going back on my anxiety medication until we have a successful pregnancy.  There are still some hard days that I know could be avoided if I was still being medicated (I’d give almost anything to get my social skills back), but this news gave me the confidence that I can avoid jumping on the pill train, only to be dragged right off of it if I do become pregnant.  One thing to make note of is that something that could cause infertility is depression, so if you find yourself sinking a little too far into the darkness, it’s best to seek help from either your therapist or doctor (for more than one reason).
  • Another belated Christmas gift from this book: Jean mentions that “trying too hard” can lead to more pregnancies than “just relaxing”!  She banished the obnoxious “just stop trying” advice and pointed out that if you’re not timing everything correctly, you may end up not pregnant because of that, WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT I’VE WORRIED ABOUT WHEN I’VE CONSIDERED NOT TRYING.  I am not about to go into the TWW blind – it’s that kind of laid back mentality that’ll really drive you nuts.  Similar to He’s Just Not That Into You – getting pregnant when you stop trying is the exception.  Getting pregnant when you’re practicing cycle awareness and timing everything correctly is the rule (generally speaking).  
  • An additional tidbit that I found helpful was that she recommends transferring your thoughts from “I will never have a baby” to “I am doing everything I can to try to get pregnant” and even avoiding “I know I will have a baby” – which I thought would’ve been the suggested technique.  Manifesting your destiny and all that crap.  Essentially, I need to ditch my TSwift mindset of we are never-ever-ever going to conceive (doesn’t have as nice of a ring to it anyway) and accept that there’s only so much I can do to make this happen (cause relinquishing control is a total strongpoint of mine…)
  • Speaking of your mindset, I learned that I’m ruminating – which is a fun new word to describe my compulsion.  Ruminating generally means repeatedly thinking about something, but in this case it implies that you’re freakishly obsessed with thinking about getting pregnant (I had literally just mentioned this being my new OCD).  This is, unfortunately, a no-no (AND can to lead to depression which can lead to infertility), so I’m working on directing my thoughts elsewhere through meditation (VERY new to this…) and by reading books that encourage me to think about what I’m not supposed to be thinking about.  Wait a second…
  • More new words (and a new favorite!): defensive pessimism.  I am a ruminating, defensively pessimistic woman!  I flagged this section of the book to read out loud to my husband, gloating that I’ve been doing life right all along! and how a DOCTOR recommended that a smidge of pessimism is good for the soul (for example: if you tell yourself it’s unlikely you’ll get pregnant and you do – you’re pleasantly surprised, but if you don’t – it’s what you expected).  This filled me with the weirdest sense of joy.  What I had always assumed was a defense mechanism against life (why get my hopes up just to be let down?)  was actually being praised as the proper way to think!  Am I a psychologist now?  Have I missed my calling?  “Hello patient – you should just expect the worse and you’re either awesome because you’re right, or thrilled because you were wrong!”  Nailed it.
  • My last interesting take away from The Book of Jean is that she actually recommends seeking help for infertility after six months, which is a nice idea if most women didn’t have to depend on insurance requirements or referrals.  This does make me feel even more motivated to get a HSG next month though – because why should I go through one more painful cycle on my right side?  When it comes to the twelve month rule, I simply can’t stand that the entire medical field gives TTC just one huge shrug and says, “Meh, it takes time.”  But WHY?!  You can’t expect me to accept that all the first-triers or even first-three-month-triers are merely lucky (more on that later…)  I think the most difficult thing with getting help too soon (and she touches on this as well) – would be never knowing if you could’ve conceived naturally on your own.  Fertility testing early can’t hurt, but actually going through with IUI or IVF before you might need it just means more stress, more money, and no guarantee.  

The Bad:

  • She’s a temper and I am not: end of story.  Not really, but it made me wish I could temp to confirm ovulation and check for continuously elevated levels post ovulation.  Are most women tempers and I’m the only one left dependent on smiley faces and playing a game of guess-who with my ovulation date?  She also focused more on the fertility monitor (which is a cool $120, says the woman who wants a $220 ovulation watch) which made me wonder if the ClearBlue digital ovulation sticks weren’t “in” when she wrote her book.  Regardless, I was both surprised and terrified to read that many women already ovulate once they receive the peak status on their fertility monitor.  I have so many questions about how that could be possible.  Jean, girl, are you telling me I can’t even trust my OPKs now??
  • Maybe I only feel this way because I was so not interested in this topic – but there was too much focus on ways to influence gender (as in: there should be none).  I suppose I already know what gender my children are going to be, so it doesn’t quite apply to me, but it seemed like it was a lengthy chapter (and she continues it in the appendix!) that could be summed up with: no one’s really sure how you can choose to have a boy or a girl naturally.  This, plus the section on when you should conceive (ie: if you have allergies, plan your pregnancy around your allergy season – like LOL okay Jean I’ll just magically get pregnant now to avoid that), left me chuckling over how women could be so picky at a time like this.  I’m at the point where I’ll take any baby, any time (okay, that didn’t come out the way I wanted it to…)
  • Then came the entire chapter that made me cringe as Jean tried to beat into my brain how okay it is to have a baby in your late thirties or early forties.  Yes, it IS okay, but that is the farthest thing from my plan, and stop making it sound so luxurious!  She throws out comments about how it’s “easier” to get pregnant when you’re younger which made me wonder if I’ve been right all along about being an eighty year old trapped in an almost-thirty year old’s body.  (Maybe if I keep saying I’m almost thirty, it won’t sting as much when it actually happens – in a short year and a half!)  Realistically, I should be pleased that age doesn’t seem to matter all that much (does anyone else hear that clock ticking?), but it made me feel like I don’t belong in any of these sections.  Young + Struggling to Conceive + Healthy = ?
  • A little bit of huh? on my end: the guide recommends getting a sperm analysis before you even start trying.  I’m a strong advocate for investigating your fertility earlier than the year mark, but this seems a bit extreme.  I suppose I did purchase a book about impatient women, so I presume they can’t even waste the potential first few months before knowing if there’s an issue or not.  I think that’s an easy way to up the anxiety straight away – but again: impatience is a virtue in this novella.  (And you’re allowed to be anxious anyway!)  

The Ugly:

  • At one point, Jean crudely notes that she “…would have been certifiably insane after six months (of trying).”  Whoa Jean – harsh.  Maybe she doesn’t get me after all.  This isn’t to say that her feelings aren’t justified – I’ve had my fair share of months (this one included) where I state that I can’t do this anymore, but you put your big girl panties on and you keep trucking because you have to.  Still – her words opened a wound that’s never really healed.  Maybe I am too far gone for the TTC self-help book after all.
  • A frequently used term, or enough that I paused to complain about it, was “lucky cycle”.  I’ve always thought everyone who gets pregnant right away is lucky but are you kidding me?  We’re seriously going to chalk this all up to luck and say that everyone I know won the conceiving lottery, while we’re left vigorously scratching off our baby tickets?  (If those exist, I would like all of them please!)  That left me feeling like this book might as well have been called How To Maybe Get Pregnant But Who Are We Kidding This Is All Just The Luck Of The Draw Anyway.  Ugh.
  • “Are you a woman trying to conceive?  Well be prepared to tackle this all on your own!” – that’s the impression I was left with any time men were brought up.  Agreed, women bear the majority of the TTC brunt, and men are generally more laid back when it comes to just about everything (each month I ask my husband if we can try to knock him up instead since he’s so much more relaxed), but that doesn’t mean they’re not involved.  I can’t imagine the pressure of taking this all on yourself – especially if you progress into the later months.  There’s even a quote where a woman says, “Don’t expect your husband to ‘get it’ or support you – he probably won’t.”  Yikes.  Sure – they don’t have to experience the misery of symptom spotting or testing or feeling broken, but that’s not a free pass on supporting their partner.
  • The last little jab I experienced was when I cruised on to the appendix and on the first page saw a note that if a woman under 35 tracks her cycle and has sex at the right time, that the chance she’ll get pregnant is 65% – uh, what?!  How did I miss that little fact in all my reading?  And again – WHAT?!  This news should make me happy.  I can rattle off all my cycle stats like it’s my phone number, but that means I’ve dropped even further into the low ranks of women trying to conceive.  What am I missing here?

In the end, TIWGTGP left me with quivering ovaries and that bitter taste was back in my mouth.  The simple fact is: this wasn’t written for me.  The writing was casual and informative (and she’s a fan of the parenthesis-talk too!), but I had looked over one crucial key point: it’s for women who haven’t even started trying, or who are still in the very beginning.  It’s a fun read if you’re in the throes of a two week wait and want to kill time (and yes – even calm yourself down a little, because she does have some tips for that), but if you’ve been at it for as long as I have, it won’t offer you much else.  I read it at the beginning of my cycle and walked away with a slightly increased vocabulary, and two containers of fish oil pills (which I later realized were already included in the DHA in my current prenatal vitamin).  If you’re new – this is cute and probably worth the read.  If you’re not – maybe pass on it, or you could still try it out as there might be something that you discover between the covers that I missed, which might change your entire experience.  My major take away: nope, nothing’s wrong, and yet I still can’t figure this out.  Frustration overload.  

Maybe I should start drafting my TTC book: It’ll Happen Or It Won’t – literally no one knows the truth about conceiving.

Trying to Conceive · TTC

New Year, Same Me

New Year’s Resolutions are reserved for those who, unlike myself, prefer to better themselves only once a year.  My method of betterment occurs around when I’m next going to be seen in a bikini, or when I realize I went up a size in pants – again.  I prefer to dive into cleanses biannually, only to claw my way out a week later, sputtering about how fad diets are more unhealthy than carbs.  Bettering yourself doesn’t always have to do with discovering the new, thinner you but…doesn’t it?  I’m too old and set in my ways to pretend I’m going to attempt to “not overthink that awkward conversation I had five years ago” or “learn to sleep without taking a pill”.  And I’m not even going to bother lying to myself by saying I’ll stop obsessing over trying to get pregnant.  Constant pregnancy thoughts are my new OCD.

I tried to bargain my way into this New Year.  “Okay…I’ll let it be 2018, but only if you let this be The Year of Pregnancy!  But not a year long pregnancy, that’s not a thing.  Also, pregnancy for me please, not just The Year of Pregnancy…Announcements By Other People – that’s mean.  Thanks!”  While slurring over champagne and vodka waters, I quizzed my husband over how this just had to be the year now, right?  And that he had to promise to impregnate me this time, as if last year was a practice round.  This is my consolation prize for 2018.  All roads lead to the same end goal, whether it’s natural or through IVF, there should be a pregnancy this year (can we all knock on wood for me please?!).  February feels like it’s breathing down my neck – reminding me that my one year is around the corner.  It was the same reason why I wanted to dig my heels into 2017 and refuse to enter the one year (but not really anymore) mark.  Though it’s not necessarily considered a year of trying, that’ll be May now (HOORAY!), it’s still imprinted on my mind as one year since birth control went out the window and I was consumed by knowledge of cycles and sperm lifespan.  I didn’t think ‘easy’ was going to be for us, but I had hoped that ‘year’ wasn’t going to make its way into my vocabulary either.  

Since I have been on this ride longer that I would’ve liked, I have started laying out some new 2018 TTC guidelines such as:

  • You can only look at your tracking app to enter the day you get a positive OPK and the day your next cycle starts
  • Symptom spotting isn’t allowed, but you can enter any out of the ordinary symptoms so that you can learn that ‘being really hungry one morning’ does not mean pregnancy
  • Only one pregnancy test can be used per cycle.  Choose your date wisely.

2018 is already draped with pre-planned fertility appointments as well:

  • HSG in February (my doctor said I could flush out my tubes if I didn’t conceive after three months of trying post ectopic, plus – my right side does hurt every other month, so I’d like that to stop)
  • Check out the men in March (this isn’t all about me after all!)
  • Initial infertility consultation in April (cause why should I wait?!)
  • Demand IUI in May (I don’t hear a ton of IUI success stories, but it’s a step that insurance companies or fertility centers might make you take, and it did actually work for my sister-in-law on her second round, so sign me up!)
  • Cry in June, July, August, September, October, November, December if I’m not pregnant (or, if I am: hormones.)

Impatience isn’t what I’m going for – I crave order in my life, and since there’s so little I can control during this process, I have to make the most of what I do have power over.  Otherwise, I’m basically sticking with what hasn’t been working so far.  Optimism!  

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Suffice it to say: 2017 didn’t go according to my plan, including the deranged genie who thought that an ectopic pregnancy counted as my wish to be pregnant during Month 6.  Every step I’ve taken post-college went against “The Plan”.  Besides marrying my highschool sweetheart, everything else has been off.  Younger me had a plan: to be married by 25 and, preferably, on 5/10/15 (because the number lover in my squealed with delight at the multiples of five).  Baby by 28 (which, mathematically speaking, is no longer possible – even if I got pregnant right this second).  House in the suburbs.  SAHM (stay at home mom) status.  The Plan is slowly crumbling at my feet.

Twenty eight years old and I’m stuck in a basic nine to five office job, living in an overly priced box of an apartment in the city, and babyless so close to my 30s.  Here’s the thing though: May 10th, 2015 was a horribly cold, rainy day.  Our actual wedding day (the following May) was outside in the Midwest and it was BEAUTIFUL  (a combination of words that you don’t often hear).  Life didn’t give me the wedding date (or even year) that I wanted, but in exchange gave me an incredibly gorgeous day that I’ll cherish forever.  Maybe that should be enough encouragement for me to stop volleying between “this could be our month!” and then “why would it be any different?” each day.  That would be resolving to change my mindset though, and I mentioned above: too old. too set in ways.

Not to mention that just as I was deciding to accept the path that has been chosen for me, a resolution came to me, unbidden and unwanted, in the form of a text.

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A (younger) friend who told me back in June, the same month she got married, that she was going to start trying in February.  A punch in the gut even back then, knowing that she could end up being more successful around my year mark.  She doesn’t know that her suggestion came off as insensitive and cruel – that her words curled off my phone screen and constricted themselves around my heart.  This is my resolution, but I’m not ready to hand her an invitation to my pity party.  I can’t imagine being so nonchalant about trying to conceive that you don’t fear sharing your plans with everyone – to be excited and expectant when it comes to the next step in your life.  My mind has already conjured up images of tears welling in my eyes as she beams, exclaiming that she’s pregnant, while I’m knee deep in phase three of my 2018 plan.  A resolution easily made and achieved.  How can I resolve to change something when I don’t even know how to fix it?  

2018.  Either going to be my year or just a year.

Progesterone · TTC

Progester-none

What do we want?!  High enough progesterone levels to sustain a pregnancy!

When do we want it?!  Around seven days post ovulation!

I’ve officially become a fertility-based hypochondriac – which is different from my regular hypochondriacisms because in regular life I’m certain there actually IS something wrong with me and doctors just can’t figure it out, whereas in TTC life I’m just making up problems and doctors are confirming I’m perfectly fine (unexplained infertility, anyone?).  As a former math teacher, I’m fond of problems that have a straight solution.  Not getting pregnant?  Maybe that slight pain you feel is endometriosis!  Struggling to conceive?  Could be that twelve day luteal phase!  Ectopic pregnancy?  Bet that was caused by low progesterone levels!

Odds are that if you “have something” – you’d figure it out by now.  Of course there are the random few posts where women will say “I was having regular cycles, positive OPKs, and found out a year later that I was never ovulating!” and those are the stories we latch onto.  We dig our nails into them and make them our own because having something you can fix is better than just. not. working.  

So where did I come up with my newest theory?  As if I need a reason!  But this time I did have more to go off of than just blind fear.  I had at home progesterone tests!  You may have only heard about LH and hCG, but there’s also PdG (progesterone) that can affect your chances of getting pregnant (because why should it be just a couple of hormones?!).  Progesterone is important because it helps to thicken the uterine lining for implantation and so your levels will be highest post ovulation.  If you have low levels of progesterone you may have irregular cycles, experience early miscarriages, or (like me) find out that it’s an ectopic pregnancy (since my levels were at 1 when I was “seven weeks” along).  Progesterone levels should be highest between 6-9 days after ovulation.  If you’ve been in the game for a while, you may have heard about the 21 day progesterone test, but that may not be accurate for all women.  21 days is based on a “normal” 28 day cycle with ovulation occurring on cycle day 14 (14+7=21, wala!) – so for women with longer cycles, or who ovulate later, you may miss your progesterone surge if you get your blood work done too early.  

I wasn’t getting blood work though.  Why go to a doctor’s office when you can just test it yourself at home?!  Considering you can’t find the progesterone tests absolutely everywhere like you can pregnancy and LH strips, I figured they may not be totally reliable, but since I owned them I decided they were telling me the truth and that my progesterone levels were: low low low low low.  They came with my easy@home 3-in-1 pack and instructed that, like a pregnancy test, you should use them after your longest sleep, but completely unlike pregnancy tests – you don’t want to see two lines.  The first time I used these tests were during my ectopic pregnancy and they helped convince me that I never ovulated that cycle because there was a second line seven days after my positive OPK.  I used the strips again a month or so post the ectopic to see if I was back to ovulating, but there it was again: the second line.  In November I used these for days 5-8 past ovulation to see if there was any difference and…the second line kept showing up.

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So, not fully ovulating?  I’m constantly annoyed with the 12-month rule and refuse to wait while I get negative after negative only to be told later that I haven’t been ovulating and that I just wasted an entire year.  I wasn’t sure about how it works with requesting blood work for yourself though.  Don’t you need a doctor to agree that yes, that’s something you need?  I tried it out anyway and was volleyed between the receptionist and nurse while I explained yes, I get positives on LH tests, but I have what I assume are unreliable progesterone test strips and they’re always negative.  They seemed confused, which goes to show that these progesterone strips are definitely not well-known, and I had to play the ectopic card, “I think that I may have low progesterone levels and that could have caused my ectopic pregnancy back in September, so I just want to check to make sure I don’t need to be put on supplements.”  And I was in!  I was surprised when the nurse I spoke to asked the date of my last period and then counted to say the day I was calling was cycle day 21 and I could come in.  Um, no thank you, I just ovulated 3 days ago so I’d like to try to be slightly more accurate with this.  I broke it down for her and scheduled an appointment for about 8/9 days past ovulation (never 100% sure since you know I can’t handle temping!)

I was unnecessarily excited about scheduling blood work – I was getting ANSWERS!  Nothing can be more thrilling than adding another piece to the puzzle of trying to conceive!  Low progesterone levels would’ve been fine with me, because that meant I was going to be put on supplements to help us conceive, and then this whole thing would become a walk in the park!  I began to imagine that the doctor would call and say “we also threw in an hCG test since we usually do these together and, well, you’re pregnant!” and then we’d both jump up and  down on the other end of the phone and scream about how exciting this was and how I never had anything to worry about after all!  There was a shift in that mindset once I made it to my appointment though.

One of the nurses eagerly came over to me and began asking if I’ve been experiencing any spotting or cramping because “there’s always that increased risk of the ectopic”.  Which I know, but I was suddenly confused – what did that have to do with my progesterone levels?

“No, well…yes, my right side is cramping, but it’s been more vocal ever since the ectopic.”  She seemed pleased by my answer and suddenly it dawned on me…did she…did she think I was pregnant?

Automatically I changed my mind and I no longer wanted them to “accidentally” check my hCG levels.  I wasn’t ready to hear that this was another lost month – I was supposed to find that out myself on New Year’s Day!  How could they not understand what they were testing me for?  This was very clearly an appointment to confirm ovulation, not pregnancy.  

I woke up to a voicemail the next day.

“Looks like you did ovulate, your progesterone is 10.31,”…and then without missing a beat, “The pregnancy test did come back negative, it does look like you did ovulate, but will probably be getting your period in another week or so.  If you have not gotten your period in another week or so, we ask that you do take ANOTHER pregnancy test, but it does look like you ovulated just unfortunately not pregnant at this time.  But if you have NOT gotten your period in another week or so, please retake a home pregnancy test.”

Alright.  First of all.  What is this pregnancy test that you keep referring to?!  I’m confused about what she’s confused about.  Was I not clear about why I was getting this blood work?  Second of all.  How dare they test for something that I didn’t request!  That would only be okay if I actually WAS pregnant!  Now she just ruined something that I was supposed to figure out all on my own in a week!  And did she really expect I’d just accept that?  NO.  Of course I had to take to Google and see if some women have gotten 0 on their beta test around 8/9 days past ovulation and still ended up being pregnant.  She knows I’m not pregnant, I know I’m not pregnant, and yet…could I be pregnant?  No, no…probably no.  The whole reason I was going to wait to test this month is so that I could avoid crying into my glass of champagne on New Years Eve for entering another year pregnantless.  Well…cheers to an empty uterus now!  I was doing so well with this TWW too!  Keeping myself busy, not counting days, calming myself down and repeating “good uterus vibes” whenever I got anxious…even sitting there with a polite smile on my face while my troop of aunts and cousins swapped birth stories at Christmas.  A right of passage that I haven’t experienced.  What about that string on my bathroom floor that was curled at the top and looked just like a sperm!?  Are you telling me that meant NOTHING?!  

Moral of the story is: progesterone wasn’t the culprit and I’m keeping up my not-pregnant streak for the remainder of 2017.  Here’s to hoping 2018 holds either all the BFPs, or all the answers.

Holidays · Trying to Conceive

Obligatory Not-Pregnant-During-The-Holidays Post

‘Tis The Season to Be…Scrutinized By Family Members About Your Pregnancy Status.

Ah, Christmas time.  Snow, twinkle lights, and nosy relatives asking about your uterus: cheer laced with dread.  Holiday parties used to be rich in delicious food and even more delectable distant-relative gossip, but the second my husband slid a ring onto my finger – everyone’s eyes slid down to my belly.  Some deeply ingrained instinct awoke inside my family members and they developed an obsession with The Questions.  “Must. Ask. About. Procreation.”  As if I’m the last in my bloodline.  I call it the Pre-Pregnancy Phenomena: the moment when people reject all social normalities in pursuit of reproductive knowledge.  Curiosities aside, I can’t grasp the burning desire relatives have to know if I’m pregnant or trying to conceive.  Just because we’re in the same gene pool, does not mean I owe you an update on my body.

The accusations started last Christmas.  (You know, our final pre-TTC holiday where I unabashedly made comments like, “This could be the last Christmas with just the two of us!”  *Enter year-long struggle*)  I was caught drinking water at our holiday party (that’ll teach me to drink non-alcoholic beverages in public!), ergo I could be doing nothing else besides hosting a fetus.  I was able to laugh it off at the time and figured it said more about me being a wino than it did about me being watched like a hawk.  The truth is though: I was being watched, and I’ve been disappointing my audience. I learned my lesson and have implemented a strict wine-in-hand at all times policy this Christmas.  Don’t get me wrong, I love drinking my moscato, but much like trying to conceive: it kind of loses its fun when you feel forced to do it.  

“Well they don’t know not to ask you about it.” – I’m picturing my Mom saying that, but since the majority of you have never met my Mother, just imagine Catholic Guilt in voice form – that’s her.  It’s a vicious cycle of no one knows not to say anything unless I say something, but if I say something then everyone will talk to me about how their friend’s sister’s neighbor’s daughter took fourteen months to conceive – and whaddya know, it happened when she “stopped trying” too.  Swapping my secret in exchange for avoiding constant questions about pregnancy doesn’t seem like a fair trade.  Here’s a piece of myself – oh, now you’re going to look at me with pity and whisper about me at family parties?  Why it IS the most wonderful time of the year!  Please be sure to leave all events muttering about how I’m definitely pregnant this time!

People either want to hear that AHA you’re pregnant and they’re so incredibly amazing because they spotted it first!  Or that you have zero interest in reproducing at the moment, so they can back off for the time being.  No one wants to hear the in-between.  “Have we talked about having kids?  Why yes, actually we’ve been having copious amounts of perfectly timed sex for almost a year, but I guess his wonky sperm don’t want to meet with my finicky eggs.  Did I tell you about the time I actually got pregnant, but it implanted in my fallopian tube, just to really test the depths of my sanity?  Now THAT was a crazy month!”  To avoid the truth, I have to come armed with excuses and wine.  “As you can see, I am drinking this boozy beverage, but I am so not interested in having a baby right now anyway.  I want to be one of those cool, old moms!”  People aren’t quite buying the, “We still have to get to know each other better before we have kids!” after twelve years of being together.  (But when do you ever REALLY know someone?!)  Instead I’m left with, “We don’t think it’s fair that the male seahorses carry the babies, so until we can get in on that deal,  we’re not procreating!” or, “There’s enough things wrong with me, I wouldn’t be a good host at the moment.”  Which is the most truth-laced lie I’ve ever told.  

I’d like to imagine that sharing my struggle with others will feel like shedding my skin – starting fresh with new insight and hopeful words.  Instead, it leaves me feeling exposed and alone, like a one night stand.  Sharing reverse-burdens me.  There’s more weight added onto my shoulders with the knowledge that someone else out there is going to be eying my drinks and who will know that every month I’m clearly not pregnant – that I’ve failed.  What’s more is that I assume if you’re asking me The Questions, that you’re already telling me you don’t understand this experience, and I don’t want to bring you into my month-to-month world.  

Beyond The Questions (and as a result of them – The Excuses), there are other holiday events that have been bringing out my inner Grinch this year.

The Gifts.  As if my injuries needed insults, my parents requested only “family gifts” this year.  For my siblings with children, that entails creating photo albums that cover the last year of their existence and buying signs off Etsy that proclaim my parents are, in fact, the WORLD’S greatest grandparents.  For my husband and I, this means gifting them with an ornament that says our names and “Still Just Married” underneath clay figurines.  Even when I was gift hunting for my husband this year I had a black cloud looming over me, whispering how I’d much rather buy baby onesies than adult ones (because THAT’S his number one gift request this year….)  Secret Santa’s cause anxiety to roll through my stomach – because if I got assigned my pregnant sister-in-law or my baby niece, you can bet their toys and clothes would come with a sidecar of tears.  I already know that Santa didn’t give me what I wanted this year because 1 – I have no baby (I’ll let that slide this one time…) and 2 – I wasn’t able to ask for what I really wanted:

An Ava Bracelet!!!

Fertility teas!

ALL OF THE EARLY DETECTION PREGNANCY TESTS!

My husband has cracked down on the expansion of my TTC stash because he “hopes we won’t need them after this month.”  Cute, I know, but this would’ve been an opportune moment for me to amp up my OPK numbers from outside sources.

The Holiday Cards.  I think these are wasteful to begin with (that may be due to the fact that I still have a stack of Save The Dates for May 2016 in my closet), but also because I pretend to be environmentally friendly (my building doesn’t recycle, but I would if I could, ya know?) and I know that most of the cards you send end up in the trash.  Not to mention I don’t have a magnetic refrigerator so I’m confused about where to put them.  Do I like…tape them to my wall?  I think it’s time for us to embrace technology and send our cards the way the millennials intended: via Social Media and Email.  When/if/however we have children, our annual holiday picture will be sent via email with the subject line “This Is What We Look Like This Year” and an unsubscribe option for those struggling to conceive, or who just don’t want to see our glamour shots.  I didn’t develop a personal vendetta against holiday cards until this year when it started to feel like people were rubbing their families in my face “we have something you can’t have!” and trying to take personal jabs at my ovaries.  Even when a newly married friend asked for my address “just to make sure she has the correct one” warning bells went off – there’s no way they’re just sending holiday cards with the two of them, otherwise why wouldn’t she just say that?!  Oh, God, it’s going to be a pregnancy announcement isn’t it?!  It wasn’t, but I’m thinking next year I’d like to opt out of the holiday cards if we still haven’t had any good news on our end.

The Pregnancy Announcements.  The evil stepsister to Holiday Cards.

“Santa’s bringing us a baby this year!”

“We tried to hide it, but our Christmas gift is starting to show!”

“Coming soon…” *insert picture of baby stocking next to big people stockings*

Don’t get me wrong, I find those announcements positively adorable when I’m looking for ideas: I wanted to be them!  But now that I can’t, I don’t want to see it – I can’t get farther away from them.  Bah Humbug and all that.

My own dream announcement was hijacked this year.  The day we got our Christmas tree and decorated our apartment was utterly ruined because a friend of a friend posted her announcement and it was the exact same thing I was going to do; which I suppose means that in reality I’m not an original person at all, but in my mind I’m accusing her of hacking into my private baby Pinterest account.  Everyone deserves the family of their dreams, social media announcement and all.  I just wish there was a way to make it feel like sandpaper wasn’t rubbing along the edges of my heart every time an announcement comes my way.
I wish I could say with utter confidence that this is actually going to be the last Christmas with just the two of us.  That next year there will be a baby, or a bump, and I’ll find joy in the holidays again.  Maybe I won’t ever open my box of Christmas decorations to find my announcement onesie tucked into the side again – a reminder of my current near year-long failure, wrapped in pink tissue paper.  Unless this Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Future though, there’s no way to know what’s in store for me.

Clear Blue Digital · OPKs · Ovulation Predictor Kits · Trying to Conceive

Your OPKs and You: Part Deux

Previously on Unintentionally Not Conceiving: yours truly was drooling over smilies on digital OPKs and boasting about my stick aim (humble brag).  During Month 7, I wanted to update my TTC Resume with some “internet cheapies” experience (fitting since I’m a cheapie woman, which I now realized is probably something I shouldn’t refer to myself as).  Internet cheapies is a generic name for the basic ovulation test strips that you usually find on Amazon – at least, that’s what I use to stock up on most of my TTC necessities (#notanad, I just love to name drop).  These are usually dip-strips, and they follow the “if the test line is as dark or darker than the control line, IT’S GAME TIME!” rule.  

I had planned to avoid the pee-in-a-cup club considering my schedule was already filled with enough extracurriculars (member of POASA , Ectopic Social Chair, constantly being consumed by own anxiety, etc.), but the possibility of finding my new favorite CHEAP tests was too good to pass up.  I went with the easy@home brand because I’d seen that enough women use that brand without any problems AND I was able to get a box that included pregnancy and progesterone tests – combo pack, YEAH!  I had already tried out one OPK and HPT during the Ectopic Time, both of which produced positive results and caused me to find out I was supposedly around 7 weeks along with Little Sac, so had a smidgen of faith in them.  Still, I thought of my plain OPK strips the same way that I feel about my Xanax – nice to know it’s available, prooobably not going to use it unless I really have to.  And yet – didn’t really have to use them, but joined the club anyway because it’s not a true TTC month unless I’m trying something new!

I’ve found the instructions for all OPKs to be pretty straight forward, including when it comes to determining when you should start testing.  This time around, I decided to ignore the instructions (poor choice) and started testing earlier since I had an (incorrect) theory that I was ovulating early ever since my body decided to betray me.  Per usual, my theory was pure nonsense, and instead of catching an earlier than expected surge, I freaked myself out and entered “AM I NOT EVEN OVULATING?!” mode.  Cue more searches on progression lines.  

Fun little fact: the picture below is included on Amazon for the easy@home Product Overview.  

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Are you REALLY trying to tell me that this chick got her Big Fat Positive on 5DPO?!  With a cheapie?!  I’m in the process of penning a letter of complaint to the company for false advertising.  “Excuse me but…no way in hell is this a BFP at 5DPO, AND I did not get pregnant with the use of these strips* so I would like for you to cover all of my potential future fertility treatments.  Please and thank you.”

*Disclaimer: The use of OPKS does not guarantee pregnancy.  They should be used only to detect a surge in your Luteinizing Hormone which increases around the time of ovulation.  If you want to confirm ovulation, you will need to track your BBT or test your progesterone levels 7 days after you get a positive OPK.  If you want to get pregnant, you will need to find a different blog to assist you with that, as I have not found a magical way to make this happen.

Anywho.  Beyond testing too early, I began to wonder if I was also testing at the wrong time, or if I didn’t have a long enough “hold”.  All things that caused the little voice inside my head to repeatedly tell me that I was going to miss my surge, I was never going to get pregnant, and it was all going to be because I just HAD to give in to my frugal side.  Enter: testing twice a day.  

You know how sometimes you think to yourself, “I’m simply not peeing on enough sticks throughout the day”?  That was where I was at.  I already nailed down my process of digital testing during the day – the worst part being trying to sneak an applicator into the bathroom, but the whole urine-harvesting with the dip strips was really throwing me off.  Before I started wasting my digitals on double testing, I tried to come up with ways that I could use the strips during the day without heading to the bathroom with a Dixie cup in hand.  A purse would be the obvious solution (which now makes me wonder how many women who bring their purses to the bathroom are stashing cups and ovulation strips in there), but that’s just not me, and I wanted to keep what I thought was my dignity in tact.  Dignity means secretive which equals digitals up my sleeve during the day (hey, it works!) and a cup o’ pee in the evening.

Getting an empty circle in the morning and a light line in the evening didn’t ease my mind (though, to be fair, not much does), BUT I have a little trick up my sleeve (no, it’s not another applicator hiding up there):  there’s an aaapp for thaaat!  There’s an easy@home app where you can upload pictures of your ovulation strips and it’ll tell you if it’s a low, high, or peak result!  I don’t see any reason why you would need to use those specific strips with the app, it should be able to read any of the internet cheapies out there, but I felt more confident in the fact that I was using THE strips for THE app.  Plus, by uploading pictures of your tests you avoid the OPK scrapbook!  (Okay…I kept the scrapbook too!  Who knew the warm and fuzzies you could get from looking back at your line progression taped up all nice-like?!)  Looking at my taped up tests, it’s pretty obvious when I was getting close to the peak, and the peak itself was unmistakable, but with being new to the strips it’s easy to wonder what it should look like when you’re about to get your surge.  Everyone’s progressions look different though (per usual).  I’ve seen some women who have DAYS of positives, or others (like me) who shoot up to peak and then right back down (I count my first ‘low’ result as the day I ovulated, which is what the app says to go with).  Check out my comparison pics below!

The best part of all this: I got triple confirmation on peak day!!  I easily recognized the positive on the strip (yes, I am counting my own eyes as one form of confirmation), my app screamed “peak!” and (my favorite part of all) my digital gave me my smiley!  Since it was a Saturday, I was able to test with my strips and digital at the same time, so I do wonder if my strip peak would’ve looked different in the evening, but that didn’t matter at the time.  Instead, I bounced out of the bathroom while waving my tests in my husband’s face saying, “LOOK AT THESE LIIIIIIINES!”

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Per my last post on OPKs (and their instructions), you’re really not supposed to look at the lines on the digitals, but that’s like not looking in your tissue when you blow your nose (no? just me? I want to make sure it’s not an infection, guys!)  I’ve always noticed the lines getting more prominent when I’m near my peak on the digitals, but I’ve never gotten such beautiful strong blue lines!  Course, not wanting to divert from my usual schedule, that did not result in a pregnancy, BUT – the lines!!!!   

Here’s where I’m at on the cheapies vs. digital debate: If you’re going to use the digitals, just use the digitals!  I’ve now tried out both versions of the Clearblue digital tests and confirmed with cheapies that everything lines up.  If you want to save money and don’t mind dipping or (potentially) confusing lines, go with the cheapies!  OR – go with the cheapies and the app combo!  You can even find cheaper midstream tests where you don’t have to dip or pay the premium for digital results, but I won’t be trying those out – I am doooone with ovulation test experiments, I swear!  If price doesn’t matter, I would always use the Clearblue digital advanced just for the added perk of FMU (first morning urine) and it also lines up with your “Fertile Week” if you’re not using an app to help you track those days (I have read reviews where women get too many ‘high’ days, but that wasn’t part of my experience).

OPKs don’t have to add to the confusion and frustration that is TTC – find what works best for you and stick with it (and be sure to follow the instructions, they’re there for a reason)!  

OPKs · Ovulation Predictor Kits · Pineapple Core · Trying to Conceive · TTC

My TTC Arsenal: I’M BACK!

Oh.My.GOODNESS!  I had no intention of going almost an entire month without posting, but my anxiety has manifested itself into a tension headache that has lasted for nearly four weeks now.  Before you think I’m ignoring something serious again – I’ve been to the doctor, TWICE!  Once, I was given a large dose of Ibuprofen to “kill” the headache, which only felt like it was killing my stomach (I still believe it left me with a lovely little ulcer), and the second time I was told to get my eyes checked and to “avoid looking at screens”.  So…no texting, no e-reader, no Teen Mom, no blogging!  (Because we’re just going to ignore the mac daddy of all screen time: WORK!)  I wasn’t given a doctor’s note stating that I needed three weeks of PTO due to my headaches and reduced screen time, so I continued on with texting and reading on my Kindle and finishing the newest season of Teen Mom 2, and I cut out the extra stare-at-your-screen work of writing.  I did get my eyes checked and they claim I need a pair of low prescription glasses (I am quite skeptical about how they figured that out just by asking me if 1 or 2 was better for thirty minutes.  Just because one is slightly sharper than the other shouldn’t necessarily mean I need glasses, where’s the control group of my own (old?) 20/20 in this?!), but I won’t see my glasses until sometime in December, and I’m not totally sure slightly poor vision would cause my temples to burn for weeks on end.  Husband thinks the headaches are caused by black mold in our apartment, I think it’s just anxiety (and Dr. Google told me that there’s an antidepressant out there that can get rid of chronic tension headaches – why I have not been given this yet?!), but knowing our luck – we’ll both be wrong and it’ll be bot flies.  Lord help me if it’s BOT FLIES!  

Anyway, I’m trying my hardest to pretend that I’m making up the restless legs, shortness of breath, and dizziness that I’ve noticed sporadically throughout the month, and focus on more important matters: TWELVE WEEKS!  Phew, that wasn’t so bad!  

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With lefty being on deck this month (or maybe not, I don’t really know if that’s how this is working, please don’t punish my ignorance with another ectopic!) I wanted to pull out all of the tricks.  Not trying to put all my eggs in one basket (literally…), and I’m sure righty deserves a chance to redeem itself, but just saying that I wouldn’t be upset if we turned into first-triers this time around (knock on wood, salt over shoulder, other things that cause jinxing to not occur).  I decided to risk it and use the same itinerary as I had the month we conceived, regardless of that outcome.  So, either I could’ve figured out what works for us, or I could be in possession of the recipe for ectopics.  Guess we’ll find out, eh?!  Below is my trusty-but-terrifying (and very TMI) combo:

  • SMEP: If you enjoy timing everything out to a T then the SMEP is for you!  It stands for: Sperm Meets Egg Plan and is supposed to be a “proven technique” for ensuring that…well, the S has all the possible opportunities to meet with the E.  Hence the name.  A fairly simple process, you BD (baby dance) or DTD (do the deed) or BMS (basic married sex) every other day starting on CD 8, and then once you get a positive OPK, you up it to three days in a row, take a day off (THANK GOD), and then have super planned baby dancing one more day until you can go back to your normal lives.  I’ve read lots of great reviews on successful pregnancies using this method, but obviously we never really know what works when we finally get a BFP.
  • Pre-Seed: I’ve heard mixed reviews on the sperm-friendly lube (bleh), but it “helped” us that dreaded month so it’s back on the table!  If you’ve been in the TTC world long enough, you’ve probably heard about the miracle that is Pre-Seed.  If you’re new – it’s supposed to mimic your own fluids and assist the little guys in their journey upwards.  Less is more when it comes to how much to use – most women use under the recommended dosage, so follow instructions at your own risk (unless you’re really, really into water parks)!  They don’t provide you with nearly enough of the applicators and you’ll probably find yourself with half a tube left, which you can use for external use going forward if you don’t want to feel wasteful.  (Some women even “sterilize” the applicators in boiling water so that they can reuse them but I just….I just can’t bring myself to take things quite that far.)

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  • Pineapple Core: Truthfully?  I wondered if this is what caused my whole debacle to begin with, but considering there are lots of women that try this and don’t end up with an ectopic pregnancy, and after being told by my sister that my whole situation was “just one of the mysteries of life, and not caused by a pineapple” I had to wipe that from my mind.  I already did a whole thing about pineapple core in this post, so check it out if you haven’t already, and get implanting!  (Note: this round, I did learn that using a bread knife makes it a lot easier to cut through the skin of the pineapple!  My husband’s idea, of course.)

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  • FertilAid – This is a touchy subject for me, only because I feel like I’m calling out my husband, but I’m not!  This became a part of our TTC regime once Month 3 was unsuccessful (let that sink in for a second – MONTH. THREE.)  We didn’t do any sort of testing to make us decide to introduce FertilAid into our lives, just figured “the more the merrier!” and brought the pills on board.  The bottles (should) do exactly what they say – increase count and motility.  I’ve read stories where men used this after poor analysis results, and after a few months their numbers vastly improved, so that was reason enough for me.  Why wait twelve months to find out that all you needed was a couple of pills a day?  I’ve had my husband go through the ingredients numerous times to make sure there wasn’t anything funky in there, so we’re both comfortable with our decision.  I just can’t quite fully endorse this only because I don’t know what his levels were to begin with.

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  • Ovulation Predictor Kits – I wasn’t going to mention this one because I felt like it was too obvious, but just in case you wondered: YES, I’m still using these!  Especially because I lost my mind the past few months since I didn’t know exactly what was going on (but, do I ever???).  Knowing when your surge is (and estimated ovulation – unless you’re temping, then you’re lucky enough to have CONFIRMED ovulation!) matters for several of these items: SMEP, Pineapple Core, best days to utilize Pre-Seed, and for your basic sanity of seeing a positive somewhere!  A friend of mine keeps insisting that my OPKS are causing me unnecessary stress, and I’ll agree that almost every month there’s a moment when I think a positive isn’t going to happen and I enter panic mode, but getting that confirmation calms me and helps me to better understand each cycle.  

Where do we find all these goodies?  Amazon.  Or, Walgreens if I’m feeling particularly panicked about low levels of anything.  All of these items are pretty pricey (at least, according to my standards), but I can’t bring myself to remove any of them from our monthly routine just yet.  I should mention that raspberry tea has been sitting in my pantry for months now, but I honestly can’t figure out how/when exactly I’m supposed to use that.  Most of my searches result in pregnant women asking if it’ll jump start labor, while I’m over here like, “MUST BE NICE!”.  So, maybe that’ll make it’s way into my kit soon.  What’s a must-have in your TTC routine?!

Ectopic Pregnancy · OPKs · Trying to Conceive · TTC · Two Week Wait · TWW

Feeding the Monster

Stomach aches.  Ovary pings.  An extra day of spotting.  These are a few of my biggest fears (bonus points if you sung that to the tune of ‘my favorite things’ in your head).  Ovaries are supposed to take turns each month on who releases the egg, and according to the cramping and pressure on my right side, it must be righty’s time to shine.  And it doesn’t feel great.  There is no manual on What To Expect When You’re No Longer Expecting: A Guide to Surviving Ectopic Pregnancies, so I was blindsided when it felt like something was actually shifting.  Ovulation, yeah?  I figured I was being thrown a bone – now I get an extra sign that I’m actually working!  Except when I took an ovulation test (expecting to see a shining positive and smile in triumph that I’m beating the system) it was negative.  I crinkled my forehead as I stared at the strip daring to tell me that I was not currently fertile.  Do I ovulate earlier because of the ectopic now?  Later?  NOT AT ALL?!  I’m back to my anovulatory cycle theory, completely disregarding the stress and anxiety and total wrongness this caused me in August.  So much for succumbing to the process.  I tried to pull the same stunt last month – had all these symptoms that I thought meant I was ovulating like crazy and then…negative.  Took an at-home progesterone test in an attempt to put my mind at ease – negative.  Pregnancy test (I knooow….) – negative.  Can’t catch a break with the BFNs.

Why couldn’t I just let it be?  

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I will admit, I felt more (dare I say) calm during my days when I was completely free of the TTC mindset.  There was a tickle of pleasure when I first realized I had no idea what cycle day I was on, but that realization lit a fire inside me and drove me to start counting dates and making notes of my symptoms.  It’s like my anxiety synced up with my Two Week Wait and symptom spotting is inevitable.  After I caved and tested, I looked up progression lines and tried to determine if it’s possible I just ovulated, which caused the negative tests, or maybe it was going to be positive soon?  (The additional super negative test the next day said that was not the case.)  This is a prime example of why you start testing a few days before expected ovulation.  Or, why if you’re supposed to not get pregnant for twelve weeks, that you don’t test at all.  I couldn’t outsmart the toxic combination of curiosity and fear – the movement in my right side (and, I’ll be honest, an evening before when we were a little “forgetful”), left me unable to ride out the rest of these weeks in peace.  A day later my left ovary decided to speak up – a small lightning bolt of fury at what I can only assume is directed at picking up righty’s slack.  I started imagining an assembly line of eggs struggling to push through a web of scar tissue on my right side, and instead being shot over like a pinball to my left in an attempt to keep up with the timeline.

When is a pinch in my ovaries, or a simple stomach ache, going to go back to being just an annoyance rather than a paralyzing fear that an egg is trying to burst through my tube?  How do I train myself to avoid that gut-punch thought of: Am I ectopicing again?!   There are moments where I have a sharp pain and turn to my husband, wide-eyed, demanding that he remind me I would have known by now if I was bleeding internally.  On a bad day, my thoughts get reduced to two simple words: why me?  And then the parrot-like reminder chimes in, “Could be worse! Could be worse!”  Am I supposed to be glad that this is all that happened to me?  The best of the worse case scenario, yes, but grateful I am not.  It’s like a scab I keep picking.  One blip in all these months and I’m left walking through an exhibit of this moment forever.  

Ectopic Tour Guide: On your left, you can see the spot where she told her husband this could be an ectopic pregnancy, and can you believe it – they laughed.  Ah, straight ahead is the hallway where she continuously called her doctor’s office in a panic.  And if you squeeze in here, you can be in the actual stall where she confirmed both that she was pregnant, and that there was something seriously wrong happening.

Can’t I go back to being just plain ol’ bitter, instead of ectopic-bitter?

This is my fear talking.  Cycle #2 is fast approaching and through my weekly, “Happy (insert number here) weeks!” greeting to my husband, there’s a hint of dread.  Because if we aren’t successful next month, I no longer have my crutch of an excuse that we weren’t allowed to be trying.  Not to mention that if anything seems off, I’ll have the dreaded E-word looming over me, threatening to make it’s 15% chance of appearing again.  Doesn’t seem fair considering I only have a 20% chance of becoming “regular” pregnant, but I’ll let that one go for now.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m ready to jump back into TTC, I just don’t know if I’m ready for the familiar stench of disappointment that has latched onto it.  You never do know though, maybe – just maybe, I have two pink lines in my future.  Optimism, where are you?

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BFN · Pregnancy Test · Trying to Conceive · TTC

Trick or Treat Yo Self

Coping with a negative pregnancy test, or a “monthly visit” is one of the trickiest parts of trying to conceive.  Originally, I was in “treat yo self” mode when it came to starting another cycle.

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My BFNs were complemented with empty-uterus wine, flat-stomach jeans, and no-baby surgery (okay, this one is a stretch, but I did finally get my nose cauterised after Month 4 – had to stop the bleeding from somewhere, amiright?!)  I should probably apologize for that last joke, but I just couldn’t help myself!  Basically, instead of eating my feelings – I was drinking them, or buying them new booties.  This was all my attempt to have something to look forward to if I was facing another negative – at least my pant size is going to stay the same!  When we all really know that we’d trade all the margaritas and skinny jeans in the world to be pregnant (just don’t take away my carbs)!  There are plenty of other ways to cope with the loss of another month though, and there’s one that particularly caught my interest.

One woman mentioned that for every month that she’s not pregnant, she buys a new item for her unconceived baby.  That way, when she does get pregnant and eventually give birth, she’ll have all these adorable little gifts to give them.  She feeds her hope.  Doesn’t that seem healthier than having vices fill your void?  The idea of buying something baby-related with each negative does sound sweet, until you think about the possibility of devoting an entire linen closet to items for an imaginary baby.  A few months ago I read a book that centered around a woman who lived in Chicago (okay…) and wasn’t able to have anymore children (yikes…) so she kept a box of baby clothes for the child she would never have (hmm…) which eventually drove her to kidnap someone else’s baby to raise as her own (a decent plan, but even from where I’m sitting I can see some flaws in it).  I’m not saying that’ll be my future if I start hoarding wubbanubs (trust me, we want our own baby free and clear), I’m just trying to point out that, for my own sanity, this might not be the best route for me.  Plus, there’s the fact that styles change and maybe I’ll find an even cuter headband for a newborn girl once we’re actually, possibly, pregnant.  

My own question has been answered by myself, but it’s not the answer I want.  I wish I could be that woman who was able to find positivity at the end of each month and feel hopeful with the accumulation of impossibly small socks – instead, I find comfort in new clothes and boozy dinners and manicures.  Not sure what that says about me.  Selfish, perhaps?  I just can’t crush the thought that each onesie bought would continue to fill up my jinx jar (still regretting making that last spontaneous onesie purchase during my TWW months ago).  My husband had the same thought when I pitched this idea to him over dinner – I’m slowly bringing him over to the dark side!  Sure, there’s always the option to regift the items to family or donate them if we aren’t able to conceive, but that would still mean I’d have to face an extremely difficult situation of not only giving up, but giving up my box (or tub) of remaining hope.  Clearly I’m getting ahead of myself, but I didn’t get this far in life by just taking things one day at a time!

Curious to hear other BFN coping mechanisms out there (for research purposes, of course – I know I still have FIVE weeks to go).  I think for now, the only place that I’ll be storing my baby-ware is on Pinterest.

Trying to Conceive · TTC

Ghost in the Graveyard

The sun has set and all you have to light your way is the moon and street lamps sprinkled down the block.  You’re crouched in anticipation, waiting for the moment that someone will spot you and shout, “ghost in the graveyard!”; then you’ll pump your legs in the hopes that your fingers will graze one of your neighbors before they make it to base, and then they will be ‘it’.  Have you played this game?  What about The Witch Ain’t Out Tonight, or Bloody Murder?  In my neighborhood, it was just Ghost in the Graveyard, and I was never ‘it’.  In fact, I was reduced to sulking on my front porch as I whined to my mom about how I wanted to play and it wasn’t fair (girl, you don’t know what ‘not fair’ is).    

Being the youngest of my two siblings, exclusion wasn’t anything new to me, but that didn’t mean I accepted the reasons for why I wasn’t allowed to partake in the evening game: It was getting dark.  Bedtime was approaching.  I was too young.  (Ah, to be “too young” again!)  This may be a bit of a stretch – but TTC is kind of like playing Ghost in the Graveyard (or, at least it is for my current situation).  Trade out young kids for a bunch of women in their twenties and thirties, swap the ‘ghost’ for a BFP, and you have a group bubbling with nervous excitement searching for a way to become it.  Not being able to TTC  is like watching everyone play a game that you can’t be a part of.  I’m stuck on a mental front porch, wishing that I could join in.  

I do it to myself really.  I snoop around on my app, zooming in on faint lines on pregnancy tests and distributing advice like a card dealer (it always comes with a parting line of “…but it was ectopic so now I’m in a three month wait.”)  I’m further developing my youngest-child-syndrome and working on sharing issues now (but I want a BFP!) and pondering over the unfairness that is life.  I want to squint my eyes at OPKs, I want to symptom spot, I want I want I want.  Deleting the app is too dramatic of a step for me, so I hid it on the second page of a folder in my phone, hoping that having to tap, swipe, tap (exhausting!) will keep me from going straight to it.  Out of sight, out of mind, right?  And shockingly enough…it’s actually working.  There’s nothing there for me anymore – at least, not at this time.  I’m trying to embrace this break (I did say I wanted Month 7 to be my “let’s not try, try” month – I just wasn’t aware the universe would take me so seriously) and enjoy not getting worked up over symptoms or tests.  Sometimes my fingers twitch and I get the desire to see what’s going on in the TTC world, but I worry that if I go back into the threads I’ll start making mildly inappropriate comments on every post I come across.  

Poster: I’m one day late – could this be our month?!

Me: Rude.

Poster: ???

Me: …jealous.

How nice would it be to “forget” about TTC for these next six weeks?  Constantly counting days and entering data has caused me more harm than good, and I have to remind myself that I won’t be able to mentally handle keeping up with all this tracking if it ends up being a long journey.  I started blogging in the hopes that other women wouldn’t feel so alone, but maybe alone is exactly what I need at this moment.  Otherwise, all I have left is to not-so-patiently wait for November to roll around and keep my fingers crossed that I’ll finally be it!

Trying to Conceive · TTC

It’s Just a Bunch of Hocus Pocus

Almost five weeks post-ectopic diagnosis and I had to fight the urge to test.  I know I cannot be and, more importantly, SHOULD NOT be (and then realistically: was not) pregnant, but it’s pure instinct now.  Cycle Day 30?!  TEST. TEST. TEST!!!  I feel so lost without my half-year hobby.  You can take the girl out of TTC but you can’t take TTC out of the girl! (or something like that).  Now that it’s the month of All Hallow’s Eve, I can pretend to be distracted by scary movies and spiced cider (I personally recommend heating apple cider with cinnamon sticks and then mixing in caramel swirl vodka – DE.LISH!)  I have to face the fact that all the glitter pumpkins and orange and purple lights around my apartment can’t distract me from my continual countdown: SEVEN more weeks.  Not so bad, but zero more weeks is my preferred amount.  I’m aware that I’ve been horrible about keeping up with this blog – it’s so hard when all your spare time is spent devoted to re-reading every possible thread about if you really have to wait three months before TTC again (you do).  Also, what’s a TTC blog sans TTConceiver?  

I suppose I do have one other thing on my mind: WITCHCRAFT.  Nope, that came off crazier than I intended.  It’s really just a party trick plus a psychic reading that is making me severely over think life  (I shouldn’t be allowed to do things like this), but I was attempting to stick with the Halloween theme a bit.  There is no way to phrase this to make it sound magical: a ring on a string told me how many kids I’m going to have and what their genders will be.

Mhm.  Read it again if you’d like.

My coworker told me about this little trick pre-ectopic (I really need to stop determining time that way) and at the moment it felt like I had nothing to lose and everything to gain!  My husband groaned when I told him I would be partaking in this activity, “Do you REALLY need something else to think about?”  You mean besides our future children?!  Even my coworker refused to ‘run the test’ until I repeatedly lied to her face and promised that I would not read too much into it (aaand here we are..).  It’s simple really.  You loop a gold ring through a string and hold it over the flat of your hand, like so:

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(Note: apparently you need to find a ring that’s pure gold and doesn’t have diamonds because it “might interfere with your baby gender energy” or something like that, but this is all I have!)

Once the ring is stationary, it will start to move either in a circular motion, or side to side like a pendulum.  Circular = girl.  Pendulum = boy.  After I crossed my fingers behind my back and swore for the final time I am fully aware this “doesn’t mean anything” I got to view my future!  When she first held the string-ring (or, ring-string?) over my hand, it slowly started swirling and then picked up such momentum that my first child was deemed to be a “strong girl”.  Not in a stubborn kind of way (well, let’s be honest…) but in a you’re-definitely-having-a-girl-first kind of way.  Okay, play it cool, don’t act like you’re not insanely excited but OMG the hubs DID recently say he wanted to be a Dad to a little girl!  After that decision was clear, she ‘cleaned’ the line.  (You have to run your hand down the string to make it still again before getting the next result.)  This was the moment of truth.  One baby right now sounds amazing, but isn’t exactly what we have planned for our family.  The ring began to move again, this time sashaying side to side.  A boy!  A boy!  A girl and then a boy just like we’ve always wanted!  We did it, all our dreams are coming true!  Stilled the string.  Then…a second pendulum swing.  …another boy?  How’d he sneak in there?!  It appears that, according to our current (because OH do I know how plans can change!) family goals, we will end up with a third little surprise!  

This is ludicrous, right?  And yet, after four separate run-throughs, my results remained the same.  Have I double checked this with my husband?  Of course not!  I don’t want to destroy this fantasy!  Not to mention, I’m trying to avoid the potential awkward moment when the ring-string tells us that he’s going to have four kids and we have to get into an argument about the “other woman” who doesn’t exist.  The results of my other coworkers made me a bit more wary (that’s right, not the whole fact of it simply being a ring on a string though…that’s totally legit) – one who doesn’t want children will have two, one that wants many will have one.  Sure, I know that anything could happen and what we plan for usually isn’t what we get, but it still made me question this super reliable test.  

Clinging onto this absurd seed of hope, I began to worry for that first girl of mine.  Was that my embryo that we lost last month?  My coworker, without knowing any of my background (or did the ring tell her that somehow too?!) told me a story about her sister-in-law who had a miscarriage.  Apparently, the ring swung and then stopped abruptly – that represented her loss.  My Little Sac was never going to have a gender, so it wouldn’t have shown up on the string, and therefore I did not lose out on my future baby girl – or so I keep telling myself.  What is probably even more likely is that this is simply a ring on a string and not indicative of my future.  Somehow, that thought doesn’t keep me from pondering about the three babies I’m supposed to have.  Surely that means a BFP soon cause I’m not getting any younger over here!

In a second instance of desperation (I do NOT like the unknown), I may have downloaded an app where your first text to a psychic is free….yes, for all of you cringing at what you know I’m about to say next – I asked when I’m going to be pregnant.  If they’re right – you should all expect to hear some good news from me “early next year”!  When I first received that response, I began calculating the time and thinking…months 11 and 12 are still early of next year..we could still make it!  Well, they used to be.  My months are all out of whack with the ectopic and Three Month Wait – what do I count?  Do I start back at Month 7?  Is it a new Month 1?  OH PLEASE NO.

Now I can’t help but appreciate the fact that I won’t be able to conceive until the end of November or December of this year anyway – which could result in finding out I’m pregnant in early 2018.  Would you look at that – the psychic could be right after all!  Is now a good time for me to bring up that I went to a palm reader in college and was told that I’m going to have two children in my late twenties?  DID YOU HEAR THAT UTERUS?!  I’d say we’re pretty behind schedule then!

These are the things I’m stuck thinking about as I’m trying to be hopeful for the upcoming months.  Three (or two? who’s right?!) babies – must be getting pregnant soon!  Early next year?!  That’ll be here before I know it!  Simple, unrealistic thoughts in an attempt to bat away the terrifying, “What if all of this was just the beginning?  What if I have even more months ahead of me?”  Who knew the peeing-on-a-stick days were going to be some of my more sane moments…