Trying to Conceive · TTC

Halfway to Hopeless

I feel stripped of my experience.  I’ve been thinking about Month 6 ever since Month 3 was unsuccessful – because this month was my next step in the ladder of stats (80% of couples are pregnant within 6 cycles).  Well, here I am at the halfway point, and instead of the overwhelming sadness I had been prepared for, I’m flooded with anger.  I’m angry that I experienced an anovulatory cycle when I was finally starting to think I was getting somewhere, angry that I was forced to waste an entire month, angry that I still held onto that sliver of hope that maybe it somehow worked.  And…I’m afraid.  What if it happens again?  What if it has always been happening?  Struggling to conceive has been a fear of mine since I swallowed down my first birth control pill at the ripe old age of fourteen.  Any time I brought it up, I felt like a weight settled at the bottom of my stomach as a warning of what was to come.  I used to think it would be my decade+ of BC to blame, but instead other worries have begun to plague my mind: Endometriosis.  PCOS.  Short luteal phase.  Thin lining.  Tilted uterus.  And then you come upon the forbidden words: Years.  IVF.  Infertile.  Am I strong enough for that?  For any of it?  I know I’m getting ahead of myself – but most of the announcements I see are after 1, 2, 3 months or….1, 2, 3 years.  Where does that leave me?     

I’m at the point now where I’m starting to dole out advice to all the beginners out there who are feeling the anxiety after their first few months, just like women did for me.  “That’s not that much time….it can take up to a year…have you tried this method?”  When really all I want to say is, “I know, isn’t this horrible?”  Because it is horrible.  We’re consumed with this overwhelming desire to create something extraordinary with our SO’s and we just. can’t.  We’re sitting here thinking that maybe we’ll make a January baby…okay February…how about March….October???….how old am I going to be?  I can barely grasp the fact that we’re already halfway to the year mark when every week feels like it’s dragging.   Six long months of dodging the dreaded question, “When are you going to have kids?”  Sometimes I feel like I’m going to shatter into a million pieces unless I scream out, “I’m TRYING!  Can’t you see?  Isn’t it obvious how much I’m hurting?”  

I’m just waiting for the day that someone says something at the wrong time and I burst open.  Like, when I went to a barbeque at my brother’s place the same day I confirmed I didn’t ovulate, and I had a mini breakdown (what is it with me crying over burgers?).  He teased that I was pregnant because I wasn’t drinking and I finally snapped, “No, actually I’m not and we’ve been trying since before you found out you’re having your second and my ovaries decided not to work this cycle so I’m having a pretty rough day, okay?!”  Stunned silence followed.  Or, at least I imagine it would have if I actually said that.  Instead, I awkwardly laughed and took a sip of his beer to prove him wrong, when the only horribly funny thing is how badly I wish he were right.  Everyone was fawning over my nephew, because he is the most amazing two year old, and they kept asking my sister-in-law about her second we-weren’t-really-trying baby that’s on the way.  I slipped inside and found my husband alone in the kitchen as I choked out, “I’d give anything to be in her place.” and I couldn’t stop the tears from crawling  down my face.  What would it be like if they did know?  It’s not as if I can say, “Please tell your son to stop being so adorable, and also I’d prefer if you refrained from discussing your second to-be-born while I’m present.”  I don’t want people to tiptoe around me for fear of offending my uterus.  So, I went with my only option: I  wiped my tears away, shoved my sadness deep inside, and walked back out with a fake smile.  

I wanted Month 7 to be my “let’s not actually try” month, but instead I have to temp and use OPKs and test my progesterone to make sure I’m fully up and running.  I felt nauseous with anxiety when I purchased my BBT thermometer – I didn’t want to do this, but the not knowing would be far worse than confirming whether or not I’m “working”.  I know I’ll find my optimism within a week, there’s always a hint of it lingering, but at the moment all I can think is: this lost month is all my fault.  My body completely gave up on me – how do I keep myself from giving up on it?

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!)

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

Your OPKs and You

When I met with my doctor for my preconception appointment (something that I had hoped would have been comparable to an experience with a psychic rather than a physician, “Here’s all my money, when am I going to get pregnant?!”), she basically told me I could go with two options: take on the “whatever happens, happens” approach for the first time in my life, or start using OPKs to figure out when I’ll be most likely to conceive.  Once we both had a good laugh over the thought of me actually going with the flow (pun very much intended) she recommended that I use the digital ovulation tests, and I never looked back.   

I use the Clearblue Digital OPKS – and yes to all you women hissing and booing  – I know, I use blue dye.  

I take the blue risk so that I can see a smiley face once a month – I need a little pick me up during these dark days.  I’m also not interested in joining in on the experience of making a scrapbook (titled my Wondfol Journey) of daily ovulation strips and comparing them until I go cross eyed to figure out which day was correct.  I get anxiety just seeing other women posting, “Is this my peak? What day did I ovulate? Am I pregnant?” and I’m over here like giiiirl I don’t know, but now we’re both stressed out.  The instructions may seem confusing if you’re not familiar with cycle days, and you’re kind of going in blind guessing on dates if you start right after stopping birth control (CD10 is recommended!), but it’s a huge improvement from comparing the color of two lines on a strip (says the woman who has never tried that herself).

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Here’s a few things I’ve learned after six  months gone digital:

  1. Peeing on sticks is, apparently, a hidden talent of mine.
  2. Trying to hide an applicator and test in the sleeve of your sweater, or waistband of your jeggings, as you walk to the bathroom at work is even more awkward than it sounds.
  3. Three minutes feels like a very, very long time to be sitting in a public bathroom stall (especially when all you’re doing is staring at a stick).
  4. A smiley is exciting for two reasons: one being that you are officially ovulating (get it girl!) and the second being that you can stop testing and SAVE THE REST OF YOUR STICKS FOR THE NEXT MONTH – two month supply turned five month supply over here!
  5. If someone tells me not to pee for four hours, all I’m going to think about for the next four hours is how badly I have to pee.

Believe it or not, but timed urination (bleh) is even less fun than timed sex – and this is coming from a girl who lists “making schedules” as one of her hobbies. There is one major game changer that comes with the advanced version of these OPKS (contrary to the negative reviews): F.M.U.  HALLELUJAH!  These tests were the upgrade that I didn’t even know I needed!  I failed at trying to turn a one month supply into two, so they’re not as wallet-friendly as the pink version, but again: we’re talking about FMU people!  Obviously, the only real con I have with these OPKs are that they’re expensive and I’m what my friends politely refer to as “frugal”, but I’ve found a way to beat the system by only testing a day or two before I’m expecting my smiley to show up (WARNING: only works with the basic digital version!).  Also, I personally don’t recommend these OPKs for anyone who wants to test multiple times a day (just from a dollar perspective), and I don’t believe they work for PCOS, but (especially for you newbies out there) I can’t help but love something that’s actually straight-forward during this process!  

Okay.  I suppose my one other con is that I’m not pregnant yet…and I need something to blame for that….

BFN · First Response · FRER · Pregnancy Test · Trying to Conceive · TTC

One Pink Line

I woke up on Test Day like a kid on Christmas morning – that is, a kid who doesn’t want Santa to visit, but hopes they still manage to get everything on their list.  I imitated self control by going to the kitchen instead of running to the bathroom when I woke up…no such luck avoiding the topic: my husband was literally making buns in the oven.  I didn’t have any, mostly because he used old almond milk in the batter, but partially out of principle  as well – we didn’t even know if my oven was bunless or not!  So insensitive.  After a week of pregnancy dreams and telling myself I’m not  symptom spotting (but really, why else would I be so emotional and irritable?!) test day was finally here.  And I couldn’t ignore it anymore because the reality was, I really had to pee.

You ladies know the drill: open the test, drop the pants, count to five, set a timer and pretend that you’re not going to look at the test until it goes off.

Well: my timer went off.

Bone white.  Stark white.  White-out white.  It was white.  Like any sensible woman I rotated the test around in the light and squinted to try to make one line split into two, but it wouldn’t turn positive for me.  My husband, the eternal optimist, managed to say, “There’s still a chance!” after his face fell at the news.  He makes optimism look so easy.  I, at least, managed to not cry until we went to the Burger Festival (a sentence I never quite expected to say).  I couldn’t blink without seeing a baby or a woman with an adorable bump, and eventually found myself standing off to the side silently crying behind my sunglasses (like an adult) as the band played a crappy version of “Hallelujah”.  All I could see was the image of the one-lined test flashing in my head.

But then – the days passed and…nothing happened.  Hope crept in slowly and cautiously and invaded my mind when I wasn’t paying attention.  I didn’t say a word to my husband because, you know, jinxing. I fell into the trap of thinking about when would I test again, would I announce to him right before work, how am I going to avoid drinking at that Bachelorette party?!  I broke my own rules and continuously searched “negative test at 11 DPO, positive days later” and ignored everything that says you should be able to see a positive on a First Response by that time.  I chugged camomile tea and thought wistfully of Xanax while trying to pretend this wasn’t a huge deal (as a part of my mind kept whispering but the negative test…). Turns out, it was all a cruel joke where my body simply wanted to remind me who was in charge.

When I found out for the second time in one week that I wasn’t pregnant, I greeted my husband with a friendly, “You know what sucks?”  I stood in the doorway and told him all about my “one day late” emotions while he insisted that he had to go to the bathroom, as if there was anything more important than discussing my cycle at 7:30 in the morning.  The conversation was over, we had already been defeated.  I’ve tried to convince myself that the only thing holding me together was that negative test, that it was a good thing.  If I hadn’t tested, I would’ve been ecstatic at the thought of being late, only to be crushed the very next morning.  But if testing early was such a good thing, then why am I still radiating disappointment?  

Trying to Conceive · TTC · Two Week Wait · TWW

The Do and Don’t of the TWW

Ah, so we meet again, Two Week Wait.  I never knew that two weeks actually consisted of 4,398 days and yet, here we are.  This is the time when I lose the last bits of my sanity and my mind can only focus on two things: reasons why I’m definitely pregnant, and reasons why I’m definitely not.  Sprinkle in talking about TTC with my husband every five minutes, add a dash of symptom spotting, and that pretty much sums up my TWW.  I’ve started to develop a “it doesn’t matter, what’s done is done” attitude about the TWW, but that doesn’t help much when your end goal is to try to find out what exactly was done (ie. did we figure it out this time or not?!).  I still marvel at the women who say, “Realized I was 3 weeks late –  just got my BFP!” as I’m sitting here constantly re-checking the calendar to see how many days I have until I can test.  What’s their secret?  How do they just “forget” when the day of reckoning is upon them?!  I’m going to be real with you, I have very little advice for how to get through these weeks (hence the singular use of ‘do’ and ‘don’t’).  I’m just an impatient woman trying to get through one of the worst parts about TTC.

The Do: Always Be Prepared

That’s right, I stole a Boy Scout motto.  It’s no use pretending I’m not thinking about if I’m pregnant (which, no technically I’m not because implantation occurs 7 DPO, so chill TF out self!), so instead I find a better way to direct my thoughts.  I make plans.  Plans about when I’ll take my HPT, how I’ll announce to my husband, what I’ll do to keep friends and family from finding out too early.  The announcement plans led me to purchase the below onesie (after my husband and I have both boldly stated we “feel good about this month” – so I’m officially a jinx-aholic).

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Is it completely adorable and will my husband (who casually asked if I was “thinking of ways to announce to him” – uh, well now I am!) love it?  Of course.  Do I now have my mind filled with images of me sobbing over said onesie every month for the next year?  Yep.

I make plans for if AF shows up what I’ll try for the next month (yes – I have a running list, including Month 7 where it just says “call sister”), and begin finding reasons why it’ll be okay if I’m not pregnant (you do have that Bachelorette party in two weeks…and think of all the deli meat you can still eat)!  This may come as a shock to you, but I’m a strong believer in the “Drink Till It’s Pink” philosophy, mostly because it keeps me living life as normal as possible and it’s a helpful distraction (in moderation, of course).  

I even check my TTC app to see what my symptoms were the previous months so that I can begin to ignore nausea, fatigue, and cramps as anything but that: symptoms.  There’s no guarantee that anything means pregnancy, so I just keep preparing for either outcome.  This all might sound crazy and not helpful, as you’re trying to avoid thinking about pregnancy all day long but…YOU’RE GOING TO THINK ABOUT IT ALL DAY LONG.  Might as well take a note from this Type-Aer and put those thoughts towards something that feels way more productive than symptom spotting for two straight weeks.

The Don’t: Google Every Symptom

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Google was my BFF for the first three months of TTC, because every time I searched something I immediately discovered that I was 100% pregnant and I should run around celebrating that cramp I briefly felt in the morning.  Google is the gateway drug to symptom spotting.  You want people to say that you’re pregnant because you woke up in the middle of the night and had to pee?  BOOM – three articles and several chat sites where everyone says that’s how they first knew that they were pregnant.  What about the other thousands of articles saying that you don’t have increased urination until later in pregnancy?  Nah, they’re probably wrong.

The best and worst thing about the Internet is that you can always find what you’re looking for – which can be dangerous when we’re talking about getting hopes up that you’re pregnant.  I used to search every little symptom (like: what does morning sickness actually feel like – because an apple and peanut butter sounded disgusting and I NEED TO KNOW IF THAT MEANS I’M PREGNANT) to the point where it started to autofill “early sign of pregnancy” for me.  For instance, I’m a grown woman who still gets bloody noses (super fun) and after I recently typed in “frequent bloody noses” Google once again autofilled “early sign of pregnancy”, and I thought, go on…

The Entire Internet: Bloody noses during pregnancy don’t occur until much later – like, third trimester later.  Get off the Internet and stop acting like a mad woman.

So, I don’t search things anymore.  As a semi-veteran TTConceiver, I’ve learned that it causes more harm than good to read into every little twinge and stomach ache.  Just keep yourself busy in other ways (even if it’s baby-related distractions) and find a way to reward yourself for all the hard work you did the previous week.

Of course, none of this applies when AF actually shows up.  You have my full permission to lose your damn mind and wallow in self pity for her entire visit.

Trying to Conceive · TTC

Are We Doing it Wrong?

It’s Month Five.  I’m technically still in the “early stage”, but when you’re surrounded by first-triers and oops-we-did-it-againers, four months of, “Are we doing it wrong?” can put a bad taste in your mouth.  ‘They’ say you can’t worry about wasting your life savings on OPKs and HPTs until you’ve been trying for a year; but in reality, I can’t think of a time that I failed at something consistently for a year and did nothing about it.  (I can also assume that whoever came up with the Twelve Month Rule never experienced the absolute agony that is the Two Week Wait).  I suppose I’m exaggerating (who? me? never!), I’m not doing nothing which is a fancy double negative way of saying that I’m doing everything.  I’ve developed an unhealthy obsession for posts about raspberry tea and primrose oil and did someone say baby aspirin?!  

Maybe TTC is nature’s new form of Darwinism: survival of the sanest!

“Failure” might not be a fair word to use after just four months, but it’s the correct feeling.  TTC is like taking a test where you get all the right answers (you’re healthy, regular cycles, positive OPKs, BD on all the right days), and yet the teacher still gives you an F, along with a handwritten note saying, “Maybe you’d get an A if you stopped trying”.  

No amount of, “Relax!” or, “It can take up to a year!” or “It’ll happen when the time’s right!” is going to make my glass half full (unless you say those things while pouring wine).   I’m too busy being surrounded by pregnancy announcements and statistics and this-worked-for-us-after-two-years-of-trying stories that I’ve started letting my glass drain.

Month 1 (Full Glass): We’re not pregnant.  That’s okay!  We didn’t expect to be first-triers  anyway.  Husband is happy, I’m happy, uterus is performing on schedule after 13 years of pills.  We’re pretty excited for two people who didn’t get exactly what we were hoping for.

Month 2 (¾ Full): Oh…that’s okay.  Sure, the positive OPK  got my hopes up a bit, but whatever, something was probably just a little off.  Month 3 will be our month!

Month 3 (Half Empty): What..the…fuck.  But I was nauseous and exhausted for a week!  Sobbing into my glass of I’m-not-pregnant-so-I-might-as-well-drink-this wine as I furiously re-check the statistics.  SIXTY PERCENT of couples are already pregnant by now, what is wrong with us?!  

Month 4 (I think there are a few drops left): Despair, heartache, more wine, more sobbing in the dark over my empty uterus (and my empty wine bottle) – which is so symbolic and beautifully poetic but I don’t care because I’M NOT PREGNANT!

Month 5 (can I get a refill?): So what should we try for Month 6….?

Trying to Conceive · TTC

Upgrading from Food Baby to Real Baby

My late twenties (umm, when did THAT happen?!) mean one thing to me: babies.  I’ve had “The Fever” since before I even knew how babies were made.  Unfortunately, as I found out in 5th grade: it takes two – and my husband just recently joined the craze.  Once we decided, “We are READY!”, we basically spent a few weeks holding hands and skipping in the sunshine while debating baby names (or, at least that’s how I remember it now).  We were so beautifully naive back then.  Now, five months later, any time we start discussing anything baby-related, I declare it bad juju and run around our apartment knocking on wood.  I mean come on, he suggested I ACTUALLY BUY the shirt I want as an announcement when we aren’t even pregnant (at least, not yet, FINGERS CROSSED, BABY DUST, TRY NOT TO LOSE YOUR MIND, FA A LA LA LA LA LA LA LA).

Alright, here’s the real issue: we ARE ready to have a baby, but I wasn’t ready for the anxiety and heartache that would follow me around like a shadow each month.  No one prepares you for this, because no one talks about it.  We chose to keep our decision of TTC (trying to conceive for your newbies!) to ourselves, and now at this point I think I’d become an over-sharer if I had told anyone.

Co-Worker: “Morning!  How are you?”

Me: “Still not pregnant!  Cycle Day 15, and I think my ovulation app might be plotting against me.  Did you know that pineapple core can help with implantation?!”

*Chews on pineapple as co-worker backs away slowly*

The ovulation app is a real thing by the way (how did anyone ever get pregnant before technology?!).  Besides the app telling me that I “drink too much alcohol” *rolls eyes while sipping wine*, it’s been one of my most useful TTC tools.  I posted this blurb out of pure frustration with “the process” and was amazed at the response it received.  I discovered that there are actually a lot of women in my same position, and whether they’re three or thirteen months in, the struggle is still very real.  We’re in a niche group that no one wants to be a part of – the “I can’t  get pregnant (yet)” group – and sometimes positivity can be hard to find.  I’ve learned that, “You are not alone.” are the four most soothing words you can hear, and that’s the message that I’m trying to spread.  

Do I hope that one day this will turn into a pregnancy blog?  Abso-freaking-lutely!  But for now, I’d like to officially invite you along for my journey, while simultaneously promising to never call it a journey again – this isn’t The Bachelorette.  Unless The Bachelorette involves more peeing on sticks than I’m aware of…?