Tag Archives: fertility

She Says… The “F” Word (No, Not That One)

Fertility.

Sometimes I feel like having two beautiful, healthy children completely invalidates me ever talking about fertility problems again. Like I’m no longer a member of the group of people I once clung to when I was in the thick of the “trying to get pregnant” stage of my life, and again during the long, drawn-out miscarriage between my boys.

I am one of the lucky ones. But I didn’t know that was going to be the case when I was going through countless doctor’s appointments and rounds of testing and learning about things like hormone imbalances and polycystic ovaries and talking about treatment plans to do something inside my body that everyone else seemed to be able to do even when they didn’t want to. I never called myself “infertile” or claimed to be the spokeswoman for every woman going through fertility issues — I just told my story. Day by day. As it happened to me. And through sharing that journey I found websites and built relationships and connected with other people going through similar things. And it was exactly what I needed at that time to keep my head up and to keep moving forward in my own way.

Since then I receive emails regularly from women (and sometimes men) going through their own fertility story. Usually they are at the beginning of their journey, and they have questions for me about Clomid or when I decided to see a doctor or how I stayed positive when seeing negative test after negative test threatened to pull me down into an emotional spiral. Sometimes they are in the middle of their journey, and need support to keep going. Sometimes they are newly pregnant and are having trouble transitioning from the “struggling to get pregnant” crowd to the “I’m pregnant with twins and I didn’t even have to try!” crowd. Sometimes it’s people who have struggled for a long time and are thinking about options beyond pregnancy, and they just want a listening ear from someone who has faced some of those questions, even on a much smaller scale.

I respond to every one.

These emails remind me that even though I’ve “graduated”, struggling with fertility is still a very important part of my own story.

For those who are still in the struggling part of your story, I encourage you to find the resources that can act as your “village”. And try to think of stories like mine as images of hope, and not as a slap in the face. We’re all just taking it day by day. And though these days my Instagram feed is full of brotherly antics and chubby baby cheeks, it wasn’t so long ago that I was on the outside looking in.

Below are some resources from people who have reached out to me over the last few months that I thought I would share with you. I cannot vouch for the products and do not have any connection with the sites, and I know that there are thousands upon thousands of wonderful fertility resources out there. You just have to find the ones that speak to where you are in your journey.

Philadelphia Fertility Project Survey

The purpose of this survey is to learn about the social, mental, and emotional experiences of women with fertility problems. It will take about 10 minutes to complete. Your participation is completely anonymous. Women who are between the ages of 18-45, not currently pregnant, and have difficulty conceiving naturally through unprotected intercourse and/or carrying a pregnancy to term are invited to participate in this study.

In appreciation of your participation, two $100 donations have been made to the American Fertility Association and Resolve: The National Infertility Association by the research team to thank you for sharing your experiences and to benefit others who struggle with fertility problems. If you have any questions about this study, you may contact the Principal Investigator, Dr. Pamela Geller, Ph.D., or the research coordinator, Mona Elgohail, at 215-553-7121

Click on this anonymous survey link to participate:

http://tinyurl.com/PhillyFertility

 

Ferring Pharmaceuticals Heart to Heart Video Contest

The 6.1 million Americans facing infertility and their loved ones know the emotional toll associated with the diagnosis and the impact it can have on your life. A study of couples dealing with infertility found that half of the women and 15 percent of the men noted infertility as the most upsetting experience they’ve ever faced.

Last week, Ferring Pharmaceuticals announced the launch of its 2014 Heart to Heart Video Contest, which provides a look into some of the personal stories of families dealing with infertility and their journey to parenthood.

Details of this year’s Heart to Heart Contest can be found at  www.hearttoheartcontest.com. Highlights include:

  • Video: Contestants submit a creative video that captures their journey to parenthood and encourages others to ‘have heart’ through the difficult experience of infertility.
  • Theme: Have Heart, Share Hope
  • Timing: Now through August 31, 2014
  • Prize: Grand prize winner receives $10,000 and four runners up receive $4,000 toward their child’s education.
  • Website: Submissions will be collected through www.hearttoheartcontest.com.

For more information, or to view last year’s winning video and runners-up, visit www.hearttoheartcontest.com.

Key to Conceive

My name is Lindsey Elling-Thompson and I am the mother of a 4-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son. It was over 6 years ago when my husband I started our journey in trying to conceive and it was a long, emotional, difficult and overwhelmingly blessed journey. I have a heart for other women who are on their own TTC journeys because I understand the emotional, mental and physical toll not being able to get pregnant takes on a woman and her partner.

I am writing to tell you about a new product because I believe in the product’s claims and what the company stands for…offering hope and helping couples get pregnant. The company is not just about selling a product, it’s also about providing new and helpful information on the infertility front, which is why the keytoconceive.com website contains videos, articles and other helpful information. I believe this information will be helpful for your blog’s audience and maybe for yourself.

I encourage you to check out the website (http://www.keytoconceive.com/).

She Says… Pregnancy #2 Journal: Part 5

If you haven’t read Sunday’s post, please do so before reading this one. This week’s blog posts will be back-dated journal entries of what I experienced over the last 11 weeks regarding a pregnancy that will end in miscarriage.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

So that brings us to the present day. Well, to yesterday, really.

Yesterday I had what I hoped to be my last ultrasound of this whole awful ordeal. The ultrasound tech and I smiled weakly at each other, both knowing what I was there to see (or, not see). After much poking, I quietly asked, “Has the heartbeat stopped?” and she nodded. To my surprise, I felt nothing but relief. I have had time to be sad and cry and mourn, and now all I feel is an intense need to move on. Keep chugging. Try again.

My midwife saw me quickly and we talked through my three options again. Benjamin and I had decided that we would try medical management at home (that is, taking a medicine to induce the miscarriage at home) instead of waiting for nature to take its course or getting a D&C/D&E procedure. I was still scared of what it would feel like, and even more scared that I would be part of the 15% for whom it just “doesn’t work”, who still end up needing a procedure, or, worse yet, an emergency one if something goes wrong. Lots of things to worry about, no matter which option I chose.

I had originally planned to take today off of work and take the pills this morning (Friday morning). But my midwife encouraged me to taken them when I got home on Thursday and then try to sleep. The medicine can work as quickly as a couple hours, or take as long as 2 days (and sometimes even longer… like a whole week!). She said generally, though, if it’s going to work, it will work in a few hours. The earlier I take them, the earlier I can get on to the rest of my life and “enjoying my weekend” as she said. Ha.

With the pills, I had two options. I could take them orally (letting them dissolve under my tongue) or as vaginal suppositories. I chose orally, because I thought it would be “easier”, but let me tell you, if I had to do it all over again, I would NOT make the same decision! The pills took ages to dissolve (30 minutes?!) and got all powdery and disgusting in my mouth. Yuck.

I took the first dose at 5:30pm. At 8:30pm I had only very minimal cramping, so I took the 2nd dose (some people don’t need both doses, it just depends on your body). By 9:30pm I was having extreme, consistent cramping. Almost everyone had told me, “It won’t be any worse than your worst period cramps.” Well, maybe my periods have been good to me, or maybe they are all liars, or maybe my reaction to the medicine was different, but these cramps were a lot more intense than regular period cramps. I was hunched over on my couch with a heating pad and still in a lot of discomfort. I had a slight fever and debated calling the doctor’s office, since both of these things were on the “Warning Signs” list. Finally, around 10pm I popped one of the painkillers I had been prescribed as well. Probably should have done that sooner.

Just like when your body goes into labor (because really, let’s be honest, that’s exactly what my body was doing), everything softens. And I do mean everything. So the first and only real symptom I experienced other than cramping and bleeding were some pretty extreme, uhh, how shall I put this… loose bowels? Essentially I was shivering cold, having super uncomfortable cramps and couldn’t get off the toilet. Loooovely.

So, all in all, almost exactly what the doctor told me to expect. Still, it felt awful.

I shuffled to my bed with my heating pad at about 11pm. I know, I know, you’re not supposed to sleep with heating pads on, lest you catch fire in the middle of the night, but I knew I wasn’t going to be doing much sleeping and it was the only thing that seemed to cut the pain. The cramps got continually worse and my temp climbed for the next 2 hours, and finally I reached the climax. I passed the pregnancy tissue in one piece. It was actually kind of amazing to see it. I felt the same sort of awe at what our bodies are capable of as I did when the doctor held up my placenta for me to see after Owen was born. Bodies are AMAZING.

To be honest, I expected to feel a deep sadness or sense of loss at that moment. I was, in that moment, no longer pregnant. But what I really felt was an overwhelming awe for my body and what it had done and complete and total relief that it was OVER. I don’t know how to explain it, but I honestly wanted to wake Benjamin up and give him a high five. Maybe it was the hormones, but I felt so darn happy that my body had done exactly what it was supposed to do. I climbed back in bed with an exhausted smile on my face.

Over the next few hours my temp normalized, the cramps reduced and it began to feel just like I was having a normal period. I barely got a wink of sleep (I think my adrenaline was pumping and I was still somewhat uncomfortable with cramps for the rest of the night). I’m still bleeding this morning and feel like I’ve been hit by a bus, but I’m OK. I did it. I survived.

In hindsight, I probably should have waited until Friday morning to start the process so that I wouldn’t have lost an entire night’s sleep. Alternatively, perhaps the D&C would have been a simpler and more efficient way to get through the hard part. One will never know.

All I need to know now is, it’s over. And it’s time for a nap for me.

She Says… Pregnancy #2 Journal: Part 4

If you haven’t read Sunday’s post, please do so before reading this one. This week’s blog posts will be back-dated journal entries of what I experienced over the last 11 weeks regarding a pregnancy that will end in miscarriage.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

June 29th, 2012

After facing the news head on and putting on a brave face for Benjamin (over the phone, since he was still traveling), I wallowed. I went and got a pedicure in the middle of the afternoon. I ate an entire bag of cheese flavored Pirate Booty. I called my mom and cried and cried. Then I called my sister (a doctor who has experienced 2 miscarriages followed by 2 beautiful daughters) and cried and cried some more. The next night my brother called me because he had been thinking about me so much, and although I told myself I was done with crying, I cried some more. Despite not being “a crier”, I just couldn’t stop the waterworks. It was cathartic. It was exactly what I needed to do. There’s no way to sugar-coat it. This sucks, no matter how this story turns out, or how strong of a person I am.

I put myself on self-imposed “bedrest when possible”. Sometimes that meant running around after Owen and tossing him into the air a million times just to see him grin and squeal (hey, a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do), and other times it meant laying on the couch in our living room for as many hours a day as I could stand. I napped when Owen napped. I stopped working out and even walking very far in the heat. First trimester exhaustion + bedrest + fear of moving = a match made in heaven. Ha.

Today we drove up to New Hampshire for the first half of our vacation week (Owen’s daycare is closed for the week of 4th of July, so we decided to get out of town over those days we weren’t paying for school). On the drive up I tried my best to put my nausea behind me and be at peace with the situation, whatever happens.

All of the clichés are 100% true. This is out of my control. There is no substitute for time. The best thing I can do is be good to my body. This helplessness blows.

I am not nearly as Zen inside my head as I seem on the outside.

July 5th, 2012

Ultrasound day. (You know, for what feels like the millionth time). To be honest, this 8-day wait couldn’t have come at a better time. The last few days were chock full of fun, activity, good food and in-laws who couldn’t wait to take Owen off my hands for a few hours. I napped. We took walks. We went whizzing down a mountain on a zipline. We went to an amusement park. Then we drove to a friend’s beach house for a few days. We walked down to the beach and waded in the ocean. We grilled delicious burgers. We laughed at all of the silly things our 2 year olds said. In short, it was the perfect way to pass the days. They practically flew by.

And yet, still, in the back of my mind during all of these activities, was the dread. The dread of what we would see in today’s ultrasound. The scenarios I played in my head over and over again of the various outcomes. The questions of “Am I still pregnant?” every minute of every day. It was exhausting.

We drove home from the beach a little earlier than we planned so we could make it in time for my ultrasound appointment. Though Benjamin was home this time, we didn’t have time to find a babysitter for Owen, and frankly there had been enough disruption in his schedule with staying in different rooms and late bedtimes, etc., that we decided Benjamin should stay home with Owen when I went to get my results. I knew I wouldn’t be able to fully concentrate if Owen was there, and frankly I didn’t want to have to temper my emotional response knowing that he’d probably be freaked out to see me crying. So, reluctantly, I headed to the appointment alone. Again.

When I went in, I told the ultrasound tech (the same woman I had seen for the other two ultrasounds) that although of course I was hoping for a positive change, I was as prepared as possible for bad news. I know it isn’t her job to deliver that news, and I hoped that my candidness and composure would help her feel less awful having to tell me that the pregnancy wasn’t viable.

As she started the procedure, I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. After what seemed like an eternity, I asked her if she could tell me what she was seeing. She said, “I see a flickering heartbeat. You are measuring 6 weeks and 1 day.”

6 weeks and 1 day. Ouch. I had measured 6 weeks at the last ultrasound (a week ago) and by the calendar I was nearly 11 weeks along. I knew what she was saying without her having to say it.

“What is the heart rate?” I asked her. I summoned every ounce of strength to keep it from wavering. I guess there was still a tiny part of me that thought, maybe this can work? Maybe my dates are still just off? “67” she said quietly. She had said enough. I knew what the nurse was going to say. I had done my research.

Surprisingly, I was ok. I think having the information that something was wrong for so long helped me to come to peace with the outcome. I had prepared myself for “Oh my goodness! What a wonderful surprise! You are measuring 7.5 weeks and everything looks great!” and also the opposite, “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat”. What I wasn’t prepared for, though, was a continuation of this nebulous wait-and-see period. That was harder to receive than I expected.

When the nurse/midwife came in, she discussed what happens next. In short, nothing. Even though it is clear that this pregnancy is not viable, they/we cannot “do” anything until the heartbeat stops on its own. Once the heartbeat stops, I will have three options. 1) Wait and see if my body expels the tissue on its own, 2) take a medicine to induce a miscarriage at home or 3) schedule a procedure (D&E) to physically remove the tissue from my body.

But until the heartbeat stops? Nothing. I literally sit around and wait for the tiny beating heart inside my body to stop.

Wow. I thought I was as prepared as I could be for today’s appointment. But I really hadn’t considered the possibility that the outcome would be to just… wait. And do nothing. Even knowing that the life growing inside of me is not going to be growing for very much longer.

So we scheduled an appointment for next week. It feels strange and uncomfortable to be wishing that we don’t see a heartbeat at that point, but at least we will be able to move forward and try again after that. Until then, we wait.

I’m scared. I’m scared of what a miscarriage will feel like. I’m scared that it will happen when I’m at work or commuting on the train. I’m scared that it will hurt. I’m scared that it will take us a long time to get pregnant again, and now we’ve “wasted” so much time from when I wanted to have a sibling for Owen. I’m scared that my fertility struggles aren’t just a part of my past, as I thought they were. I’m scared that it will happen again. I’m scared I won’t be able to relax and enjoy future pregnancies out of fear. I’m the most scared there won’t be any future pregnancies.

I know how common early miscarriages are. I know that most women wouldn’t even have had 1 ultrasound at this point in their pregnancy while I’ve had 3, so perhaps I should consider myself lucky. I know that one miscarriage (and even 2 or 3) does not have an impact on future fertility. But it still doesn’t change the fact that this is so, so hard.

She Says… Pregnancy #2 Journal: Part 3

If you haven’t read Sunday’s post, please do so before reading this one. This week’s blog posts will be back-dated journal entries of what I experienced over the last 11 weeks regarding a pregnancy that will end in miscarriage. Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here.

June 27th, 2012

Benjamin is traveling (again!), but I didn’t want to wait too long before my next ultrasound, so I went this morning by myself. I’ve been feeling sick and exhausted enough that I’m sure I’m still pregnant, but right before the appointment I also became acutely aware of that “something doesn’t feel right” feeling I’ve had since the very beginning. I started to get really nervous about what I was going to see… or, more importantly, what I wasn’t.

During the ultrasound the tech asked again about how far along I was. Again. Shouldn’t she know this? Isn’t it on my chart? It was the same tech as last week, so I think she actually knew more than she let on. Despite the fact that I am 9.5 weeks counting from the last day of my last period, and should be about 7.5 weeks judging by the last ultrasound, she said I was measuring at only 6 weeks today. 6 weeks. That’s like turning the clock back… again. She saw a heartbeat at 97 bpm. If I was really 7.5 weeks along, that number would be dangerously low. At the new guess of 6 weeks, that’s within normal, but not stellar.

Maybe I should have been happier about seeing the heartbeat. After all, I had been waiting for that moment. But I wasn’t. It was totally overshadowed by the slow growth and “young” size.

I didn’t even have Benjamin’s hand to squeeze. I just laid there. Staring at the ceiling. Yoga breathing. Trying to silence the screaming in my head.

What does that mean? How could I only be 6 weeks along at this point? Why isn’t the baby growing properly? I honestly felt like when we saw a heartbeat today, that would finally be the point that I could let out the breath I’d been holding and get 100% excited about having a baby in February. On my 30th birthday, no less. But what I realized was that the heartbeat wasn’t my ticket out of this doubt. It was yet another dribble of information leaving me completely numb. And confused. Even more confused than before.

The tech didn’t want to go into too much detail, and I knew it wasn’t her job to answer lots of questions or give me medical advice, so I held my tongue until the nurse could see me. Unfortunately I wasn’t scheduled to see a nurse (I had scheduled an appointment tomorrow with a certain midwife who I am hoping to work with). So I had to wait and wait and wait in the waiting room for AN HOUR while they found me a nurse who had time for a surprise appointment. I texted Benjamin furiously in the waiting room to pass the time. I ended up getting the same nurse who I have spoken with on the phone since the beginning of this whole saga (way back when I was calling to say, “My period’s late but my tests are negative… what do I do?”). She was refreshingly point-blank about the reality of the situation.

“Look”, she said. “It’s concerning that you’re measuring small, if you really are farther along. But the fact is that what we are measuring is SO small, that everything could be fine and dandy, just 6 weeks along at this point. And we did see a heartbeat, which is good. On the other hand, this slow growth could mean that this pregnancy is headed for miscarriage. We really just don’t know at this point. I would say you have a 50/50 chance of this pregnancy working out. We want you to come back next week for another check. I’m sorry I don’t have better news.”

As soon as I opened my mouth to ask a few questions, the tears started flowing. Hello, old friends. I remember these tears. The ones that come when what I really want to be saying is, “What the hell? Why can’t I make a baby like a normal person? Why does it always have to be so fucking complicated? How is this so easy for so many other people? What is wrong with ME?”.

As soon as I saw that beautiful plus sign with Owen almost 2 years ago, I essentially closed the door on my struggle with infertility. I haven’t ever forgotten what I went through to make him and I certainly didn’t stop thinking of the other women I knew who were still struggling, but getting pregnant with Owen was such a joy, from the very beginning, that it pulled me right out of that downward spiral of struggle and defeat and stress and frustration. I chose to concentrate on the present and the baby growing inside me, and not to wallow in the past. I moved on. I cut ties. I erased those months from my memory. But today’s appointment brought me right back there. To my old familiar place. At the mercy of my body, probability, and a whole lot of chance.

So the wait begins. Again. In 8 days we will have another look. Maybe THAT will be the moment that I breathe out and scream “I’m PREGNANT” from the rooftops. Or maybe it will be the day that we realize that this baby isn’t meant to be in this world. And there’s not a damn thing I can do now to change that outcome between now and then.


She Says… Pregnancy #2 Journal: Part 1

If you haven’t read yesterday’s post, please do so before reading this one. This week’s blog posts will be back-dated journal entries of what I experienced over the last 11 weeks regarding a pregnancy that will end in miscarriage.

June 6th, 2012

I’m confused. Confused, but excited. At the end of April, Benjamin and I decided to pull the goalie and begin “trying” for a 2nd baby. It was the perfect timing I had planned all along (despite the fact that everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE I know with a kid Owen’s age is ready to pop with their second baby already). A 2 1/2 year age gap. Avoiding a Christmas baby. Winter pregnancy. Getting pregnant right away would have been totally ideal, but I was not putting pressure on us just yet. I was doing my best to “enjoy the trying” and put the troubles I had getting pregnant with Owen out of my mind. I was aware of when I would likely ovulate, but I wasn’t tracking myself closely or obsessing in any way. If it happened, it happened. If it didn’t, it was only our first month trying.

Around the end of May I took several pregnancy tests (starting far too early to actually get a positive… a bad habit leftover from my “will I ever get pregnant?” days!), and every time, I was a little disappointed when they were negative. After several negatives and a few days after my expected period, I put on a happy face and was ready to start again next month. It was only our first month “trying”, anyway. No rush.

A week went by. Still no period. I didn’t feel quite right. My boobs hurt and I got a spontaneous bloody nose (which happened a lot when I was pregnant with Owen). I felt a nagging feeling that I was pregnant, but was emotionally tired of taking pregnancy tests and feeling down about it. They had been negative even after my expected period date anyway. I convinced myself I didn’t ovulate this month and was frustrated that I didn’t know when to “try” again. Then, on a whim, I tested again on a Saturday afternoon before we had a party, just to check if there was ANY reason I shouldn’t have a drink.

And there it was. Or, it wasn’t. But it was. The faintest line I’ve ever seen on a pregnancy test. With Owen, the pregnancy test turned positive immediately and practically jumped off the stick screaming, “YOU’RE SO PREGNANT, OMG”. One second I wasn’t pregnant, and then one second I was. It hit us like a ton of bricks. With this pregnancy, the test whispered. So quietly I thought I was going crazy. So quietly I had to shove it in Benjamin’s face and say, “Do you see a line? Or am I making it up?”. He saw it, but it certainly didn’t feel like a cause for celebration. Weeks late, and only a barely-there line? That couldn’t be right.

It was the middle of the afternoon when I took it, so I chalked the light line up to the fact that I was well-hydrated. So I took another one the next morning. SLIGHTLY darker, but still very, very faint. Immediately I began to worry that something was wrong or it was ectopic or a chemical pregnancy or blah blah blah. My Google PhD in Fertility Issues was NOT helpful at this point. I knew just enough to scare the crap out of myself.

I scheduled a blood test for the next day. The hcg quant test came back pretty low. 108. Especially low if you consider that, counting from the first day of my last period, I was technically 5 weeks and 2 days along. Even lower if you consider that at only 14 days past ovulation my quant with Owen was in the 300’s. Instead of celebrating a positive pregnancy test, I was biting my nails over numbers and holding my breath for the second beta test (where the numbers should double… and if they don’t, it’s not a good sign). An agonizing 2 days later I got the second blood test, hoping against hope that it would be at least 216. The nurse said 350 (or something like that, I couldn’t hear her after the “3”) and I was relieved. Relieved, but I still wasn’t giddy. Why weren’t they higher? The second quant from Owen’s pregnancy was in the 1,000’s.

EVERYTHING feels different this time around.

Given that my dates are a bit funny, my doctor and I decided to do a dating ultrasound next week. If I am 6 weeks along, we should be able to hear a heartbeat. I think I’m still holding my breath for that moment.

She Says… Let’s Start at the Very Beginning

Deep breath.

Now that we know how this story is going to end, I feel like I can start to share it from the beginning. The last 11 weeks have been quite the roller coaster. I have had to turn around and walk backwards into territory I thought I had locked up and thrown away the key to on the day that I found out I was pregnant with Owen.

Apparently struggling with babymaking once wasn’t enough.

Here’s the short version of the story. I was pregnant. And while I still am at this minute, I won’t be for very much longer. This pregnancy, though it seemed to drag out for a very long time and felt for many weeks like it was going to grow into a sibling for Owen (a perfect little sibling with a perfect 2 ½ year age gap), is not going to. I’m sad. But I’m also relieved. The course of events over the last few weeks helped me see, over the many, many doctor’s appointments and tests, that this little life just wasn’t meant to be. Benjamin and I were able to come to terms with that slowly, little by little, as the information trickled in. And now we are at peace with how this has gone, and how it will, inevitably, end.

This blog began as a journal of my struggle with fertility. It was “anonymous” in the sense that no one in my life knew that it existed, even though I used my real name and even posted a few pictures. A couple of people found out about it along the way, but mostly it was my private (yet very public) place to cope with the struggle of getting pregnant. Once I got pregnant it became a place to share the joy of being a mother and the ups and downs that came along with that new title and our new life as a family of three.

Now that so many friends and family members and coworkers read the blog, it is nowhere near as anonymous as it used to be. While fertility used to be the main focus, it felt strange to announce that we were “ready to start trying” and to chronicle the timeline. To be honest I felt that doing so would add a pressure to this process that I didn’t want to deal with. I so very much wanted to get pregnant easily the second time around and be a beacon of hope for those who struggled in the past to say, “Look! This can happen to you too!”.

And I almost was.

We got pregnant the first cycle we started trying, without temping or ovulation predictor kits or crazy obsession with my internal organs. Which is pretty much the opposite of what happened with my first pregnancy. But something (ahem… that elusive Mother’s Intuition…) told me that I just wasn’t ready to share the news yet. I wasn’t ready to experience this pregnancy so publicly. I just… wasn’t.

But now, even though the “end” isn’t quite here yet, I’m ready to share it. I’m ready to talk. Because the absolute best thing that has ever come from writing this blog is the individual emails, comments, tweets, conversations and phone calls in which people have said, “Thank you for writing about this. I’m going through the same thing and it was so helpful to read your words. They’ve made me feel so much better.” If I can help even one person out there feel comforted or educated or understood, it is worth it to share this story. If I can open one person’s eyes to the fact that many more people struggle to get pregnant than they might realize, it is worth it to write these words.

Over the next few days I’ll share the journal I kept over the last few weeks.

She Says… Thanks, Sorry and Dinner

THANKS.

Thank you all so much for your thoughtful responses to yesterday’s post about postpartum birth control. You gave me some great things to think about.

For those who are interested, I am still on the fence about an IUD because of the things I listed (many of which were confirmed by commenters!). I’m still totally against the pill because of hormones and messing with my body’s natural cycles. It seems like I would be a perfect match for FAM (I’ve read TCOYF twice and temped for several cycles while I was working with a fertility specialist to get pregnant with Owen), except that while that may keep me from actually getting pregnant, it won’t keep me from worrying that I am pregnant because I would constantly be wondering if I messed up. Having unprotected sex for most of the month (the unfertile days) makes sense in theory, but accidents happen. Also, I have a 1 year old who gets me up at odd hours of the night sometimes, and I like to have a few drinks. Both of which messes up the tracking. Also, I don’t necessarily trust my body yet to be reliable enough for this method. So… that leaves me with condoms or a diaphragm. Or abstinence.

The most important lesson I learned from hearing all of your stories is that no matter WHAT option I choose, there is going to be a chance that I get pregnant anyway. Case in point: someone whose husband even got a vasectomy was worried she was pregnant! No method is 100% reliable except abstinence (this message brought to you by my 7th grade health class). But we’re not going there. So one way or another, we’re going to have to roll the dice.

That said, I have reached the point that I actually think about having and WANTING another baby. I think we want 3 years between Owen and his future brother or sister (and maybe other brothers/sisters beyond that), so we’re not quite there yet. But I have started to imagine what life will be like with two little munchkins, and I kind of like what I’m seeing. When Owen was first born I remember wondering if I would ever have room in my heart for another baby. If I could ever get to the point where I was ready to share him, and myself, with someone else in that way. Little by little, that answer is becoming yes.

Don’t get too excited. Not QUITE yet.

SORRY.

Sorry for not putting a disclaimer on yesterday’s post like “If you don’t want to read about my sex life, STOP READING NOW.” Apparently there are some people (ahem, Owen’s grandparents) who come here to read about what cute thing Owen is doing these days, and yesterday they got slammed with some info they probably wish they’d never read. Ooops. Disclaimer next time. Promise.

DINNER.

You can tell a lot about someone by the blogs they read. My first foray into blog reading was with healthy living blogs. I was working on getting into the best shape of my life, knowing that I was going to try to get pregnant, and I was looking for some inspiration for healthy recipes, workout ideas, etc. When I was trying to conceive (TTC), my blogroll was filled with others trying to conceive. Slowly some of the TTC blogs turned to Mom Blogs, and the demographics of my Google Reader changed again. I expanded into nursery design blogs to get ideas for Owen’s room. Since we bought the house I’ve added even more design blogs. And now I feel like I’ve come full circle and I’ve started adding food blogs back into my repertoire.

I love the inspiration. I see something on a food blog, and whether I save the exact recipe or not, the ideas, the flavors, the pictures are etched into my brain. When I’m at the grocery store I dig into the recesses of my memory. Someone posted a quinoa salad. What did it have in it? What about if I went with beans… I think I’ve seen one with black beans and peppers and mmmm cilantro and maybe some fresh lime juice, yes, I can just wing it from here… And then all of a sudden I have dinner.

So I have an idea. I’m thinking of posting my dinner ideas for those who need a little inspiration. I can’t promise new, original recipes or fancy dancy pictures (because, let’s be honest, I’m doing about the most I can do just to get a single blog post out every day!). But maybe at the end of each post, I can write what we had for dinner last night or something. I’ll link to recipes if I used one.

Would you be into that? Or should I leave the food blogging to the food bloggers?

She Says… Decisions, Decisions

At my 6 week checkup with my OB after Owen was born, I remember her asking me what kind of birth control we were planning on using. Ha! Birth control! I thought at the time. How ironic. I couldn’t even GET pregnant without the help of two doctors, several cycles of monitoring, lots of needle sticks and ultrasounds and drugs, so I wasn’t really worried about an “oops baby”, thankyouverymuch. And shouldn’t someone who struggled with infertility be overjoyed with a freebie, after all of that work?

Besides. I was NOT one of those women chomping at the bit to, uhh, how shall I put this delicately… get back on that horse right away.

So we I put off the decision entirely.

As you know, it took another 10 months for my period to even come back, and in that time we were using the dreaded condom method. You know, umm, most of the time. Bottom line? We were being REALLY stupid since we were/are not ready to have a sibling for Owen yet. But can you blame us? Condoms are a real buzzkill!

But something scary happened at the end of last week. After three relatively normal cycles, I was late. I hadn’t been writing any dates down because I’m trying to be totally laid back and let my body do its thing for now… but I knew I was late. The first day I chalked it up to not counting correctly. The second day I blamed it on stress. The third day my stomach was upset all day thinking about the possibility. I finally mentioned it to Benjamin because I couldn’t think about anything else. Then HE was stressed too. The fourth day we started to have some very serious conversations about the future of our family — and then stopped, because really, that was a bit premature. I did everything I could to “bring on” my period. I wore white pants. I left the house without a tampon. I told myself I would take a pregnancy test on Saturday morning. Then finally, thankfully as soon as I got to work on Friday, it came. Almost a full week late. Hence no blog post on Friday. Too many thoughts to make sense of.

I learned a few very important lessons:
1. We need to figure out a better form of birth control. I can’t take that kind of stress!
2. I have kind of long cycles, so I shouldn’t be counting 28 days like a normal human being. I should start writing this stuff down.
3. It’s ok to not be ready for another baby yet, even if it was excruciatingly hard to conceive Owen.

I am pretty much convinced at this point that my infertility was caused by using birth control pills. I essentially stopped my body from ovulating for a decade, and then expected it to start right back up again as soon as I stopped taking those little pills. Obviously that didn’t go so well. As a result, I’m 100% unwilling to put hormones back into my body again. I refuse to change what is happening naturally. I am so, so thankful that things appear to be in working order again and I will do just about anything to keep them that way. Hence the condom method. But that severely limits the birth control options available to me!

The other option I’m considering is ParaGard (copper IUD that doesn’t contain hormones). Reasons I’m scared about this method?
1. I know someone who has gotten pregnant on an IUD. It’s super unlikely, but scary nonetheless.
2. Insertion can hurt. The pamphlets say that after you’ve had a vaginal delivery, insertion shouldn’t hurt at all, but I’ve heard testimony otherwise.
3. Complications like the device perforating my uterus and requiring a hysterectomy.
4. Feeling it poking me during sex. Or Benjamin feeling it poking HIM during sex. Eww.

It’s time for a little field research. What birth control method did you choose post-partum? How do you feel about that decision?

She Says… Normal Again?

Something exciting happened yesterday.

Side note: If you are a friend or family reading who doesn’t want to know about the inner workings of my body, you probably want to skip this post.

As I was saying, something exciting happened yesterday. It was both expected and unexpected at the same time.

I got my 1st period since January of 2009. And if I ovulated (like a normal person), then I ovulated for the first time since I was, like, 17 (since the birth control that I was on made it so I didn’t ovulate for the decade that I was on it). That’s a LONG time.

I have heard that pregnancy can sort of “reset” your body after struggling with infertility. For the last 10.5 months since Owen was born, my fingers have been crossed that my period would come back. (For those who haven’t been reading long, I went off birth control in January of 2009 and my period never returned, so I had to see a slew of reproductive endocrinologists and take Clomid to force my body to ovulate in order to get pregnant).

Prior to January of 2009 I would’ve killed NOT to have my period (such a pain, no?). But this time, it was the most welcome surprise. Also, about 2 weeks prior I think I remember seeing some other signs that indicated that I was actually ovulating. Go, body!

It’s awesome, awesome news. Maybe the next time we try to make a baby we won’t have to try quite as hard. And I don’t even mind that it happened while I’m at the beach. Perhaps my fertility luck is changing, and I can be a normal babymaking person for the next round.

 

She Says… My Face is Where?

In case you are like me and you don’t generally have time to read anything other than your gmail in a day, you may not have seen the two articles that have my face plastered on them as the poster child for crazy people who post videos of themselves taking pregnancy tests on YouTube. Slate Magazine has named this phenomenon “WombTube”, and thefrisky.com jumped on the bandwagon and drew out the controversy by asking commenters “Is posting videos of your pregnancy test sweet or creepy?”.

First, I do wish that the video of me that is “going viral” had not been taken at 6:30am with no makeup. But that’s kind of beside the point.

The point, in my opinion, is that when our pregnancy test video (first posted here) is taken out of the context of our blog, I totally get why people think it’s weird. I mean, I also understand why people think that having a blog about things as personal as pregnancy is strange and self-obsessed and a prime example of how our culture has gone off the deep end in the age of oversharing.

But there’s another side to that coin.

When Benjamin and I were two young, healthy people struggling to conceive, our blog became a way for me to let out my emotions and exchange information and, most importantly, connect with other people going through similar issues. Every day I found more and more blogs of more and more women who were struggling with the same issues, and it became, for me, a source of incredible support and sisterhood at a time when I felt like I didn’t know anyone in my real life going through what we were going through. I created relationships that eventually helped me stay positive until we were able to get pregnant.

I cannot even express how happy I am that we caught that moment on video. I will never, ever be able to harness that emotion again. If and when I see another positive pregnancy test, I will never, ever have that same reaction. Until that moment, I literally did not know I would be able to have a baby. That moment was not just “Oh yay, we’re pregnant!”. It was a rush of emotions that I had been bottling up since I first went off birth control and never got my period. The stress and pain and frustration of trying and knowing that my body wasn’t cooperating just melted away.

So I can’t comment on why other people post their pregnancy test videos on YouTube for all the world to see. But I can tell you why I did. After all the time I spent cultivating and growing my community of people struggling to get pregnant, I felt that I owed it to them to share the joy of that moment. Without their openness and support and willingness to share their stories, I might not have ended up where I was in that very special moment. In many ways, I wanted that video to shine like the light at the end of the tunnel for other women struggling to get pregnant. To show them that there IS a happy ending for many people in their situations.

And as all of you who continue to read the blog know, our over-sharing didn’t stop with the pregnancy test video. We had just gotten started! Since then, we’ve shared so many other special moments with the world — even Owen’s birth. Believe me, I understand why some people think it’s crazy (hence the sarcastic undertone of the articles I’ve been featured in recently and the comments they have generated). But I would argue that it is also incredibly amazing to be able to share a story that may help others if they are struggling to conceive. I cherish every email and comment I receive that says something like, “Just reading your story has helped me so much. I had the exact same problem and now I’m pregnant!” or “You are an inspiration” or even “I’ve learned so much from reading your posts and your comments”.

The bottom line is that I wish these authors had done a little more digging than just seeing my face on YouTube. There’s a real story here, and I’m not just a crazy person posting a video of my pee on the internet for all the world to see. And, beyond that, many of the commenters said that this phenomenon is gross and TMI. My response to that? Don’t watch them! There are a lot worse things out there on YouTube, I guarantee it.