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…

Basal Body Temperature · BBT · Trying to Conceive · TTC

An Insomniac and A Thermometer Walk Into A Bar…

Tracking your BBT (Basal Body Temperature) is no joke.  I felt like I was Basically Being Tortured (see what I did there?) while I was charting my lowest body temperature each morning.  The goal was to have official confirmation that I am (usually) ovulating, and I was going to achieve that by trying to catch a temperature rise the days following my next positive OPK.  I honestly had zero interest in introducing a new way to monitor ovulation into my life, but after the persistent comments of, “You have to track your BBT!  There’s no other way to know that you definitely ovulated!”, and my never-ending anovulatory cycle, I decided to give it a shot.

I stumbled upon a bluetooth BBT thermometer (keep in mind – you can’t use just any ole thermometer) that happened to come with a BOGO box of LH/hCG strips – score!  I would’ve gladly gotten an Ava bracelet instead so that it could track my temps throughout the night, but from how many times my husband said, “Two hundred dollars?????” I got the impression that an Ava bracelet was not in my future.  So, I settled for a slightly-less-expensive thermometer instead.  I thought I’d be able to exclaim, “AHA!” once he got annoyed of it beeping every single morning, but since this comes with an app, my phone vibrated once my temp was taken and he was none the wiser.  (Thank goodness, because I’d hate to wake my sleeping-like-the-dead husband.)  Another perk of charting via bluetooth was that I didn’t have to make any sort of effort to track my results – which is my favorite kind of tracking.  I could do the entire process without opening my eyes – turn on thermometer, unlock phone (where app was already up and waiting), lay still until phone buzzes in 3 minutes, turn off thermometer, “go back to sleep”.  It seemed luxurious and totally doable…and then I immediately regretted everything.

I was already turned off by the BBT number one rule: take your temperature at the same time everyday after at least four hours of sleep.  It sounds easy, it should be easy (like TTC, right?!) but my insomnia and I are lifelong friends and it was not about to let a thermometer get between us.  I told myself I was going to take things slow – there was no need to pressure myself to temp at times that I didn’t feel comfortable temping, but then my OCD chimed in and reminded me that there’s no point in doing something if you’re not going to do it right.  Casually tracking my BBT the minute that my alarm went off in the morning was no longer an option.  Most days I’m up before my alarm even is, and there are usually only a few hours of sleep preceding my final wakeup .  I needed to find a way to make this work with my already sleepless nights, so I searched for answers.

The advice that I found online for all the temping insomniacs out there: Set an alarm for 3:30 AM when you are most likely to have gotten four hours of sleep.

Uh, what?  Hard pass on that…but my mind already locked in on the time.  I didn’t need to set an alarm.  Every morning between 2:00 and 3:00 AM I snapped awake with my own internal alarm blaring, “You have to temp right this second or everything will be ruined forever!”  The anxiety of temping each morning rooted itself firmly into my system and no matter how many times I told myself, “It’s not a big deal, you’re just trying to see a pattern, if this doesn’t work it’s okay” I still ended up jolting awake as if from a nightmare.  I even made a deal with myself that I only had to do this for three weeks – that as soon as I confirmed ovulation, I’d never have to put myself through this again; but remember the last time I tried to do something for “only” three weeks?  (I’m looking at you 21-turned-3-day sugar detox.)  

I lasted one week.

I was left with headaches and fatigue from forcing myself awake, and it was my husband who finally told me I had to stop.  The risk of getting another BFN and thinking it could’ve been from all the stress of temping far outweighed my desire to confirm ovulation.  This wasn’t my shortest relationship by any means, but it was still harder than I expected to break up with my thermometer.  I’m currently sitting here gazing at it – wondering if we can pick up where we left off, but knowing it’s too late.  Things will never change between us.  Now it’s back to it being just me, myself, and Insomnia.

Contrary to what you may think – I’m not totally anti-temping.  If you’re a heavy sleeper and don’t normally wake up until your alarm goes off, I’d say give it a try!  I think it’s a great way to gain additional insight into what your body’s doing, but keep in mind there are still other things that can affect your readings.  If you decide to temp – be aware that you’ll need to avoid the following:

  • Drinking – well, I’m out (again)!  I started worrying about drinks with friends while I was temping, didn’t they realize how selfish they were being by inviting me out?!
  • Breathing With Your Mouth Open – I use a mouthguard (very attractive) most nights because clenching my teeth is another favorite stress reliever of mine.  I ended up getting stressed about being stressed because I didn’t want to use my mouthguard for fear of it popping my mouth open.  Vicious cycle.  
  • Being Too Hot – Anyone else wake up with the sweats in the middle of the night?  No?  Maybe it’s just me because I’m SO FREAKED OUT ABOUT MISSING MY TEMP TIME!
  • Being Too Cold – …was that fan always blowing directly on me?  Uuuugggghhhh.
  • Movement – Seriously?  So, should I have been sleeping with the thermometer propped in my mouth and my phone slipped under my pillow for immediate access?
  • Stress – I feel like this one’s an oxymoron.

Like all things in TTC – temping comes with rules, and even though rules are my favorite, I couldn’t follow them.  I suppose peeing on sticks really must be my strong suit after all!  Good luck to all you tempers out there – I hope you’re having a much easier go with charting your results than I was!

PS – here’s the thermometer that managed to wreak havoc on my sleep in one measly week.  It doesn’t look like the Destroyer of Dreams, but don’t let its size fool you!  

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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?