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?!

Bromelain · Pineapple Core · Trying to Conceive · TTC

If You Like Pina Core-ladas

Just kidding, this is raw pineapple here folks, not to be confused with its chilled foamy sister drink.  I’ve heard enough about the wonders of pineapple core that I figured I have to try it out myself.   If you haven’t joined the pineapple craze yet, here’s the jist: pineapple core contains Bromelain which is a natural anti-inflammatory (think: aspirin) and is supposed to help with implantation.  You simply cut up a pineapple into even pieces and have a slice a day to keep AF away!  (Well, really only a slice for every 1-5 days after confirmed ovulation – bring out those OPKs!)  

My original plan for this cycle didn’t actually work out (because, why would it?)  I was going to try a 21 day sugar detox in an effort to keep a tidy uterus this time around (no processed foods, no coffee, no WINE), but this failed almost immediately.  I wasn’t expecting to feel so low on energy, so stressed out about meal prep, and so utterly dependent on my usual sugar intake.  I also struggled because half the recipes I found for the detox involved eggs and (the irony is not lost on me): I’m allergic to eggs.  No wonder implantation hasn’t occurred! *cue comedic drum roll*

Anyway,  I came up with the genius idea that the pineapple (and its core) would be my only treat during those three weeks – until I noticed that my ovulation symptoms completely disappeared after just three days of the detox.  I panicked and stopped being so strict on what I ate and focused on just being healthy (still no alcohol until this cycle ends – I can almost see the wine at the end of the tunnel!)  CD 24 and the only sign I’ve had is a positive OPK – which, apparently, doesn’t mean you’re actually ovulating.  So, that’s fun.  Due to my lack of symptoms, I’m 99.9% sure I had an anovulatory cycle this month – which is another way of saying that my ovaries went on strike.  I don’t care if they need a break, I thought we were in this together!  (Side note: when I searched anovulatory cycle, the first definition that popped up included the line, “In the absence of ovulation, there will be infertility.”  Which is the last word I ever want to hear while TTC.)  Still, there’s my 0.01% sliver of hope that pricks at me each morning and motivates me to grab a bite of pineapple core.  

So, without further adieu, see below for the steps and amateur photos of pineapple cutting for implantation!

Step One is the easiest step of them all (unless it’s winter, then I presume it might prove to be a bit more difficult, but I’m no expert on the Pineapple Cycle): Buy a Pineapple

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Most things I read said to use an organic pineapple, but my wallet said that the non-organic will get the job done just as well.

Step Two: Remove the stalk

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This is when I immediately realized I had my work cutout for me (which is one of my least favorite sayings of all time, because to me that sounds like it’s actually easy).

Step Three: Cut the top and bottom off of your pineapple

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Shake your head at the atrocious angled ends you’ve created.

Step Four: Start slicing the skin off vertically as you go around the pineapple

This part is easier since you’re mostly cutting through the soft flesh (I’ve seen some people refer to that section as ‘the ovaries’ which is a little too close to home for me).

Step Five: Use a melon scooper (or potato peeler) to take out the rest of the “tough spots” you have remaining

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Please don’t mistake my shoddy cutting for my actual skills in the kitchen!  

Step Six: Slice the pineapple into equal sized pieces

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Step Seven: Enjoy a slice per day for 1-5 DPO (which, according to my app, actually starts two days after you get a positive OPK – probably due to the fact that you can ovulate 12-48 hours after a positive result)

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I got a little nervous about the freshness of my pineapple since it had been sitting on my counter for a week (thanks late pos OPK…), so I cut out the core to eat and froze the rest for a “does this help with implantation too?” smoothie.  Maybe it’s just the aftereffects of my three day detox talking, but besides it being a little tougher than the flesh, I enjoyed my morning core!  If pineapple isn’t your fav, there are Bromelain tablets that you can buy, or some women take baby aspirin for the five days, but there’s something about going straight to the source that made me feel like I was getting the most benefits (again, pretending that I did ovulate this month).  Like anything, I’m sure that eating it each cycle could get a bit boring, but I think it’s worth the try if you enjoy pineapple.  After all – what could it hurt?  (Answer: sperm, actually!  I’ve read enough articles that say consuming too much pineapple can cause a hostile environment, so be sure to use OPKS so you know exactly when to start!)