Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Maybe Baby?

Wow you’re pregnant??? Was it planned????

First of all, please let me assure you that this is an exceedingly rude and inappropriate
question to ask somebody, on many different levels. There’s just really no graceful way to answer it and quite frankly, it’s none of your business. Obviously, this is directed to coworkers, acquaintances, or not-so-close friends who do not normally have such intimate conversations with you. Having a girlfriend express excitement and then ask “if you had been trying or if it was a surprise” is, in my opinion, a completely different approach and one that’s appropriate, in my book.

(Obviously, this is a very long post, and although I feel that it’s a useful one, if you aren’t interested in hearing about the “before baby” parts, or if you are a guy or at all squeamish about “girl talk”, it will probably be very tedious and boring to read, and I suggest you find something more entertaining to do with your time. Otherwise, read on!)

Moving on, I would like to divulge to this blog’s faithful readers that this baby was in fact very much planned. Anybody who knows me and my scheduling/organizing/OCD tendencies will not be surprised by this. Luckily, Steve felt the same way, and we are both not among the “let’s just try for a few months and see what happens” crowd. I wanted to feel as in control of this process as much as possible, and especially knowing that I partake in the occasional cup of coffee (or 3 before work every day) or in the occasional cocktail at night, I wanted to be aware of when I should be abstaining and when it’s okay to imbibe, “just in case”. Also, if there was some medical reason that we weren’t able to get pregnant, I wanted to find that out as soon as possible and be able to tell my doctor exactly what’s been going on. Many fertility specialists will choose not to move forward with treatments until you’ve been trying for at least a year, and quite frankly I wasn’t willing to “just try” for that long!!

Once Steve and I were on the same page about when we would start trying, we started doing research about what we could do ahead of time to increase our chances of success.

The first step we took was to go off the hormonal birth control, which we did in June of 2009. The general medical opinion is to go off BC (birth control) 3-6 months before you want to start trying, although it is possible to get pregnant your first cycle off. So we had a tentative “start” month of September, although we ended up starting to try earlier. I also started taking prenatal vitamins every day.

We also ordered a book called “What to Expect Before You’re Expecting” , which was a very informative and easy read. Although a lot of it was common sense, it was helpful to read and have all of the information organized in one place. I would recommend it. The other book that we ordered was “Taking Charge of Your Fertility”. This book focuses heavily on what some refer to as “natural family planning”. It’s a method in which you learn to track your cycles, observe the signs of ovulation, and use your knowledge of your body and cycle to either avoid conception or to try to conceive. This enables you to not use hormonal birth control. I decided to use part of this process and to “chart” my cycles. Although I did use TCOYF for reference and to get the basics, I ultimately used more online resources and guides in learning how to truly chart.

Charting can be a very useful tool, whether you are TTC (trying to conceive) or TTA (trying to avoid). A woman can ovulate at ANY point in her cycle, so unless you know for sure when you are ovulating, you could TTC during the wrong week and not have any success for a very long time, even though there’s no medical reason why you can’t. Or if you are TTA and you assume you’re ovulating mid-month, when in fact you ovulate early or late, you might have a surprise on your hands!!

I chose to chart using my basal body temperature, which is your base temperature as soon as you wake up. I bought a special Basal Thermometer at Target ($10), which is more accurate than a regular thermometer, and necessary when charting because it measures to the hundredths, vs. just one decimal place. I set an alarm so that the time I took my temp every morning was consistent (important!), took my temperature, and then fell back asleep until it was time to get up for work. I then logged my morning’s temperature into a free software on www.fertilityfriend.com, which took the tedium of tracking my charts on paper away, and also enabled me to update my chart anywhere that I had internet access. This was useful if I forgot to log it in before I left for work or if I was on vacation and didn’t want to bring a paper copy.

People who are interested in charting or other natural family planning processes can learn more about them much more in depth in places other than this blog (because I do not pretend to be an expert, by any means), but essentially, tracking my temp every morning enabled me to see a pattern in the rise and fall of my temperatures, and to better pinpoint the exact day of my ovulation.This proved very useful as I was in fact ovulating later than the “normal” window, and I also realized that there were a few timing issues going on internally that I was able to help self-correct to some extent with various vitamins and supplements. I also fully credit charting with our eventual success, because for various reasons my December cycle was very irregular, and we were able to catch my almost 3 weeks late ovulation because of the behavior of my temperatures. Having 6 months of charts also proved very useful during my first doctors’ visit. Normally they “date” your pregnancy from the date of your last period, but since my December cycle was so off, according to their calculations, the baby should have been almost 8 weeks along, when I knew from my chart that I was only 4 weeks along. The doctor was impressed when I was able to bring a copy of my charts to her, and she was even more impressed when the dating ultrasound we got at 7 weeks confirmed my chart’s conception date exactly, right down to the day.

So needless to say, I highly recommend charting to anyone who is TTC! On a side note, I still have all my charts up on fertilityfriend.com, and am happy to share the link to any of my girlfriends who are thinking about charting and want to see how mine looked. I don’t care to post the link publicly as it contains pretty intimate information, but I know how helpful it was as I was learning to be able to see completed charts and to compare patterns. So…if you want to see, just ask!

To make up for all the words, here’s a picture. Our 7 week ultrasound!

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