Fertility. I’ll admit it wasn’t a word I thought much about when I was younger. Growing up many of us are taught all about how to prevent getting pregnant. Barrier Methods, Oral Contraceptives, Abstinence, etc. So many available resources to prevent pregnancy. What they don’t teach you is that getting pregnant, especially when you are trying to conceive, can be really difficult and incredibly stressful.
I will also be honest that with my first, trying to conceive wasn’t traumatic. We tried for about 3 months, peed on a stick and that was that. Never did I think that the second one would be different. I had stopped breastfeeding 4-5 months prior to trying, I had my regular periods back since about 3 months postpartum and my child was 18 months old. I used to consider myself not just Type A but Type “Triple A” and I had a plan.
I wanted kids about 2 years apart, but I also wanted my body to heal and recover. I thought we started trying around the right ‘time’.
My doctors told me in the beginning not to ‘try’, just have intercourse 2-3 times per week and don’t track anything. However, my periods were so regular that I couldn’t help but track. And ‘scheduling’ intercourse 2-3 times a week wasn’t always in the cards with a toddler. Month after month of that period showing up, I started to get concerned, frustrated, emotional. “Just wait a year” everyone says. I talked to my doctor and they recommended and HSG. A procedure where they inject dye into your fallopian tubes under x-ray to ensure that there aren’t any clogs. This procedure itself can increase the chance of conception. I had it done and still nothing.
I tried dieting, maybe I needed to lose weight. That didn’t work. I tried ignoring what I ate and gained a bunch of weight. I tried exercising more and then less. I went through the Nutritional Therapy Practitioner program and tried a few things to fix underlying foundational issues but still nothing. Finally, after about 16 months of trying we met with a fertility specialist and also a local naturopathic doctor.
The fertility specialist eased my concerns.
They ran some tests and noted that while still ‘okay’ my ovarian reserve was a little lower than expected for my age (30). The specialist told me that he’s “amazed anyone gets pregnant” because of how wonky the system is. (The egg literally floats in your abdomen before the fallopian tubes scoop it up!) But, we had options. Knowing they were available made me feel better, not enough to take them yet, but confident they were available.
I learned from my naturopath that I still had some pretty significant blood sugar regulation issues. From my nutrition education, I know that blood sugar dysregulation is directly related to struggles with fertility. It took a lot of work, a variety of supplements and some specific diet changes. By the end of working with him, I was no longer in the fog that I had grown accustomed too and had assumed was just part of being a parent. I felt better than I could remember. We continues to try to conceive but we still weren’t getting pregnant. So I called my fertility specialist and we went with our first option (about 19 months after starting to try to conceive).
Technology is impressive. They can track everything. We did a round of Clomid with some other various supports, went through the 14 day wait and BOOM – still not pregnant. Do you know how trying it is to keep getting your period every month when you just want to be pregnant? It’s like your body saying:
“F*ck You” – not only are you not pregnant, again, but here we are hemorrhaging out of your vagina with cramps, bloating and mood swings.
So we prepped for round two, only there was a little challenge – I was traveling to Nashville for a women’s business conference right around mid cycle and we weren’t sure if I would be home with my husband to fulfill the timed intercourse duties, so we all decided to postpone it another month, no big deal. I had a blast at the conference. Drank more that weekend than I had in probably 4 years. (IE I had 2-3 drinks per night, the ‘lightweight’ I am.). Two weeks later, my fertility nurse called to remind me to tell them when I got my period so that we could get started on the next cycle. Hmm…I checked the calendar…I was due the next day. Too early to test. Waited another day, started getting anxious. (I’m a serial tester, I don’t recommend it, but these strips are a steal of a deal!) One day late – rare for me – so I peed on a strip. Was there something there? I couldn’t tell, ugh, had to wait another day. Let’s be honest, I tried again about 12 hours later. Then again the next day, and there it was, the line, the line that means my HCG levels are high enough to signify a pregnancy. I couldn’t really believe it at first. Could I really be pregnant on a month that we really didn’t try?
Called the doctor, got the blood tests and subsequent ultrasounds and 24 weeks later, I’m still pregnant. My doctor told me that although “they didn’t do much for me” (which I disagree) that I should share my experience. With fertility comes shame and I know I had a lot of that.
“What was I doing or not doing to decrease my chances of getting pregnant?”
The answer is nothing. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I wouldn’t say that anything I did or didn’t do helped me get pregnant. I think that getting healthier *for me* was a huge part. Knowing that I had options, and therefore decreasing the stress of it all, was impactful too. My heart goes out to every couple trying to conceive – whether it takes 2 months or it never happens, it’s an emotional time. Everyone tells you just to relax, which is impossible. They often say that the month you stop trying you’ll get pregnant. Honestly, we had a few of those (months we didn’t ‘try’) before we were successful.
My advice? Don’t put your life on hold while you try.
I did that the first year. I wanted to pick up home care clients but I didn’t want to have to stop seeing them so soon if we got pregnant right away. I wanted to quit my part time steady job, but wanted to have guaranteed income if I became pregnant. So I held off. Eventually I decided to follow my desires. I started working in early intervention (home care for kids) and then finally I quit my job. I began to focus on me and my needs. I started meditating and made choices with me in mind first. My life no longer became a focus of “what can I do to get pregnant”, because I knew I could call that fertility doctor at any time. I counted my blessings for the awesome daughter I already had and decided that I would be happy if our family remained the same. We got a dog. The month after I quit my job (and 2 months after the dog) was the month we got pregnant. How’s that for timing? I still have some time to go before this little one comes into the world but I know myself better now. I know that I have to come first. Only I can put myself first, and the better I am and the better I feel – makes everyone else around me feel better, too.