It happens all the time and it pisses me off! People who don’t want to (or shouldn’t be allowed to) get pregnant, do, and those who want to get pregnant, can’t! Why! Why? WHY!? You see people who are unfit to be parents, juggling six kids they can’t afford, and it’s sickening. But yet an educated, mature, couple who are capable and ready to have a baby, can’t.
Then there’s this scenario, that one friend who “really-wasn’t-trying”, got pregnant so easily. She calls you with the “exciting” news that she is pregnant (while all you can think about is the fact that you’re STILL not) and it makes you want to vomit. But you still wish them the best (and the worst morning sickness) as you hang up the phone and then bawl your eyes out. I know too many stories like this, most of them are heartbreaking but many have a happy ending. So here’s the big question…if everyone’s done it for years, why is getting pregnant so tricky sometimes?
If you know me, I used to be a Biology teacher, so the science drives my thinking. And scientifically, it’s actually quite difficult to get pregnant in the sense that there is only a small window of time that this can actually happen per cycle. So, to me, the fact that this happens accidentally so often is crazy! If you ask me (and you’re reading my WIRL, so you’d obviously like to hear my opinion), I think all people should come with a switch that needs to be activated before they can get (somebody) pregnant. Maybe I can isolate a gene someday, in all my spare time, to make this happen; I AM a scientist you know, just ask my former students.
Unfortunately, I had to travel down this path. The path of aggravation, frustration, crying when my period came and not-so-fun-because-we’re-on-a-mission lovemaking but, thankfully, I did get a happy ending…my sweet baby boy Mason. So I am going to outline the steps I took to make the formal, practically forced, introduction: Sperm, Meet Egg!
Don’t try to get pregnant if you don’t have to! What does this even mean? It means have sex and enjoy it! Don’t worry too much about technical things such as “the perfect time” or “when you’re ovulating”; worrying about these details can become very stressful and it makes the process not nearly as fun. Most women ovulate (release their egg) somewhere in the middle of their cycle, day 1 being the first day of your period. So, count about 12-15 days from then and plan to make some whoopie around that time. For most people, this works just fine (and I hate you for it).
Monitor your Cervical Mucus
GROSS!! I know, it is gross but its really helpful to keep track of the changes. When you are about to ovulate, most women get a discharge that resembles, get ready… stringy egg whites! AHHHHH!!! I’ll bet you are going to go make an omelet now aren’t you. But it’s true…so if you notice a slippery, “different” type of discharge, it may mean you are about to ovulate. You may not actually see it either, it may just be a little bit more slippery when you wipe after going to the bathroom…either way, try to pay attention to it. If you ever read forums online, this will be referred to as EWCM (Egg White Cervical Mucus) – come on, get with the lingo.
Count the Days of your Cycle
OK, so you’ve gone a few months without success, now you can start to figure out how long your cycle is without too much stress/worry. Just start charting how many days your cycles last, again day 1 of your cycle is the first day of your period. Figuring out when you ovulate can be tricky because it can be different each month, so you need to know the average length of your cycle. Now some new vocabulary (see I really was a teacher!) – The first half of your cycle is called theFollicular Phase, these are the day of your period and before ovulation. Then you ovulate, or release your egg, and move into the Luteal Phase, which is the second half of your cycle. To really determine when you will ovulate, you will need to know the length of your luteal phase, which is usually (on average) about 14 days before your next period. So, for example, if you have a 35 day cycle, you will probably not ovulate on the 14th day. You will probably ovulate on day 21, because this is 14 days before your next period. So, if you were “trying” on day 12 or 15, then you would be missing the window…I hope that makes sense. Make some adjustments and then try again next month.
*If this is all super confusing to you, forget it, you don’t really need to understand any of this to actually get pregnant!
Buy some Ovulation Tests
These puppies can be expensive but it really takes the guessing game out of the situation and it will tell you if your body is even ovulating or not. Depending on the type you get (read the instructions!) you will just pee on a stick (like a pregnancy test) and you will get a positive or a negative. If you get a positive, that means your hormone levels have reached the point where your body could release the egg any second. So, GET BUSY!
If you find you do not get a positive ovulation test in a cycle, you may want to talk to your doctor; you may not be ovulating at all, which is why you’re having trouble getting pregnant!
Monitor and Chart your Basil Body Temp
Your basil body temperature is your lowest body temperature and it’s obtained during rest/sleep. To monitor this, you need a Basil Body Temperature Thermometer , it has a few extra decimal numbers on it to give you a more precise reading. To use the thermometer, you need to keep it on your bedside table and reach for it the second you wake up in the morning. It is very important you hardly move (don’t roll over and walk to get it) and put very little energy into getting the thermometer in your hand and popping it in your mouth. Because you want to get an accurate Basil Body Temperature, you will want to get it when you’re still resting or half-asleep. After you’ve taken your temperature, you’ll need to write down the number (because you’re still so sleepy, you will probably forget) on some kind of tracker to track your results. I used an app on my phone or a sheet that looks something like this from Baby Center. You will look for trends, not necessarily “spikes” and you should see the temperatures in the beginning lower than the temps at the end…this is called a biphasic chart (two phases). Once you see that upward progression with your temps, you have probably ovulated. No two cycles will be the same, so watch for overall changes and trends. Seeing the changes in your cycle on paper or on a screen may help you to see the big picture and make adjustments as necessary.
Don’t Go to the Doctor
Yes, you read that correctly, don’t do it…unless you’ve been trying to get pregnant for over a year or are having some serious medical issues. Who am I to tell you what to do, but I went to the doctor after having only been trying for six months and I was laughed at. You are only deemed the status of having “infertility issues” after one 1 year with no success. I mean you don’t really want to have the status of being infertile anyway, so keep trying other methods.
Try Supplements/Herbs/Medications At your Own Risk
I did a lot of research on this stuff, and I’m not really an “all natural” kind of girl…but I did find one supplement that I took after 11 months of trying and it was called Pregnitude. I hate the name, but I took the product for one full cycle and it may have been a coincidence, but we were successful that month! Apparently it helps with egg quality and ovulation. Each dose provides Folic Acid to support ovulatory function and quality of eggs (product packaging). I don’t get paid to talk about their product, but I am pretty happy with the success I had with it!
Some people in our world are sick and mean though; they know they can make money from desperate couples who are trying so hard and they market unsafe or ineffective products just to earn a buck. So you really need to do your research before you choose a supplement that’s right for you (if any) and double check that its FDA approved. I even talked to my gynecologist and pharmacist before I started taking something, just to be on the safe side.
Also, our men need to consider the supplements they are taking and how they can effect conceiving. Excessive amounts of protein, especially in the form of protein bars and shakes, are not recommended for men if you are having trouble conceiving. My husband was not too thrilled about this news, but did what he had to do. Some studies have also suggested that you cut back or eliminate caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and any other drug related substance. These supplement ideas might sound silly, but it’s something to think about and definitely worth considering.
After you’ve been trying for a year without success, it’s time to visit the doctor and get tested for actual infertility problems or issues. My husband had his sperm evaluated (an entire other post in itself) and luckily he had good swimmers along with good numbers! I was also tested and had an ultrasound on my “mama” organs, which came out fine. The doctors assured us we should be able to get pregnant; but, umm…Hello!, we can’t, that’s why we’re here!! So, being the scientist I wanted more tests to gain more answers.
The next test was something called a Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) and I’ve read forum after forum of people who swear by these things. Most of these tests yield “normal” results, but that’s not the exciting part. The exciting part is that A LOT of people actually get pregnant after having this test done because the test itself shoots a dye into your uterus and fallopian tubes and the radiologist can see if there is any kind of blockage or something causing the sperm and egg to never meet.
But, here’s the amazing side effect…it really lubes up your fallopian tubes so that the sperm slip and slide through very easily, making it much easier to connect with the egg! YAY! SCORE!
Go ahead, Google it. You will find lots of forums with women who say they had the test done, and got pregnant the next month! And guess what, I’m one of them! So between the Pregnitude and the HSG test, I am a believer!
If your tests don’t come back normal and there are other issues to work through, don’t panic. You have countless options to discuss with your OB/GYN or specialist…I can’t even begin to write about them all. Unfortunately, too many people struggle with getting pregnant and don’t have success naturally, but using fertility medication, drugs and procedures have lead to happy endings for many couples; so don’t give up. WIRL Project is actually looking for members to contribute about their journey though infertility treatments; if you are interested please use the Contact form to request an “invite code” and we’ll get you scheduled. Sharing your journey can be very beneficial for others and therapeutic for yourself.
My Happy Ending
Some of you reading this post may be sensitive to this issue, I know I sure was, but I wanted to share my story because I know what it feels like and I also know how confused and frustrated I was about the whole process and didn’t really have a lot of people I felt comfortable turning to. If you want to read the ending to my success story, scroll down and read on, if you are not at place in your journey where you feel comfortable reading about one more person succeeding, then don’t, but its there if you ever want it. So, scroll down to read the ending to my story…
I made an infertility appointment to discuss the next options, because we were not getting pregnant on our own; this appointment was January 10, 2013. My last period (at this time) was December 5, 2012; it had been a long cycle for me but I could not bring myself to take one more stupid, negative pregnancy test. So I went to the appointment and the first thing they asked me was, “Have you taken a test?” and my reply was, “No, and I don’t want to. I’m not pregnant and I just want to know the next step in our “process” so lets get to it”. My doctor would not proceed with the appointment until they knew I was not pregnant. My husband was out of town, and not even with me, and so I said, “Fine, but I’m not going to be the one reading it – you read it and we’ll just proceed as planned. I don’t want to talk about another negative test.”…I was very frustrated by this point.
So, I peed in a cup, handed it to the nurse, she ran the test and the doctor came in. She said, “Sara, I know you’ve been through a lot, but I don’t really know why you’re here”. And I looked at her, about to say “Please….We’ve been trying for a year, you have to help us!” and then, to my surprise, she said….”You’re pregnant! This was the easiest infertility appointment I’ve ever had – Congratulations!”. I looked at her, in shock, didn’t say a word and tears filled up in my eyes. My husband isn’t even here!!! Oh. My. Goodness!!! I prayed she wasn’t joking and the nurse, my doctor and I had a group hug.
I was pregnant, we did it!! I waited until Mitch (my husband) got home, didn’t tell a soul (except for a few cashier strangers at Target) and wrapped up a little POSITIVE pregnancy test and gave it to my husband when he got home. We laughed, cried and celebrated…we FINALLY did it!
There is hope, so don’t give up; we have our angel baby, Mason, now and all the struggle we went through was so worth it.
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