I grew up with the misconception that if I had unprotected sex, I WOULD get pregnant. “Trying to Conceive” was a foreign concept to my 20-something brain.
Sadly, I spent a lot of my young adult life with this same incorrect idea in my head. I knew nothing about follicular phases, ovulation or luteal phases. Women had the body parts to have the baby and men had the fertilizer. In retrospect, I really wish someone had sat down with me before my wedding night and explained to me exactly how it all worked. I always had this image in my mind of having four kids before I was 30 – I thought thirty was old. My current thirty-three-year-old, senile-mom-of-two self laughs at young and naive me…and at my misconceptions about trying to conceive.
I remember being devastated the first month after my wedding when my pregnancy test came up negative, and again the next month, and the next.
One of my many negative home pregnancy tests.Surely, I thought, I was doing something wrong. I didn’t want to let myself believe that there was something wrong with my body. After eighteen cycles of negative pregnancy tests, and one chemical pregnancy, I sought out an OB/Gyn who tested my husband and suggested I go straight to Clomid. It’s a drug commonly prescribed for those who are suffering from infertility. Not only did I not know what Clomid was, I didn’t even know how my body worked – or didn’t work. After twenty long, long, cycles, I finally conceived my beautiful baby girl.
Time for Baby #2
When we were ready for our second baby, I didn’t wait nearly as long to see a doctor. This time I had learned about trying to conceive.
- Measuring Basal Body Temperature (BBT) had become normal, and I knew how to track ovulation.
- Online bulk orders of ovulation predictor strips and HcG pregnancy test strips were no new concept.
- I knew what it meant to monitor cervical mucus and other signs of fertility, and how to use ovulation prediction kits.
With all of this knowledge and insider tips, I felt empowered. I was ready for baby #2!
I’m almost sure my new doctor thought I was a weirdo the first time I met with him. I brought him a color-coded list of questions, as well as a PowerPoint presentation on my tablet of my BBT charts.
My doctor sat there, wide-eyed, but also receptive to my concerns. I told him about how on more than one occasion I would get a faint positive pregnancy test at ten days past ovulation, only to start bleeding by eleven days past ovulation. My doctor named this problem: luteal phase defect. Essentially, my body was continuously hitting the reset button before I could have a viable pregnancy.
My doctor ran all the tests, and my husband got a more in-depth sperm analysis. I was sent in for blood work, and a hysterosalpingogram (HSG), which is fancy word for an x-ray of your uterus and fallopian tubes to ensure there are no blockages. I also started a progesterone supplement to help lengthen my luteal phase. I went in for monthly follicular ultrasounds and started back on Clomid. I loved seeing my follicles grow and I loved knowing that I had potential babies in those beautiful little follicles.
In the midst of my medicated cycles, my husband and I scheduled an annual fall vacation and decided to take two months off the medications to keep my hopeful estimated due date away from said vacation. Low and behold, I got pregnant with #2 during my first unmonitored cycle and we ended up having to bump up our vacation. My OB/Gyn called me personally to congratulate me, and so we began our journey for baby #2 with regular checks of my quantitative betas and progesterone levels to ensure that the pregnancy was still progressing as it should.
When I think about the struggles — mainly emotional — that we went through trying to conceive these perfect babies, I feel incredible waves of gratitude.
I learned about my body by accident, while stumbling onto a random online forum. If you have the desire to grow your family, talk to your doctor. There are resources that might benefit you and help you take control of your bodies.
Of course, there are always issues that require moms to turn to a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE), and undergo intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF), or to seek out adoption. But, when you’re trying to conceive, simply learning about your body can make a world of difference. I was so happy to learn that my issues finally had a name, and that my doctor had a way to help fix it.
Resources to Help on Your Journey
- Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler: This book does an amazing job of breaking down the cycle and explaining what exactly happens. Before reading this book, I always looked at my cycle as that 28-day unicorn model. My short 23-day cycle was not and is not, typical. So, simply being able to understand the three very important parts of a monthly cycle was invaluable.
- Fertility Friend App for Android, Web and iPhone: This app is my absolute favorite. Fertility Friend is not overly fluffy like Ovia or Kindara; there’s no distracting bells and whistles. It’s very straight forward, and easy to read. As a VIP member, I love having access to people who are trained to read charts and answer questions.
- BabyCenter: This website, while not as in-depth as some of the above sources, offers advice and easy-to-understand definitions. It also adds a social component with specialized boards on topics like trying to conceive (TTC), getting pregnant, and infertility.
- Resolve: The National Infertility Association: Resolve offers support for both infertility and secondary infertility. There are pages with resources and facts, as well as an online forum for anonymous peer support.