It returns

So. After all of this. And this. And this. This. Or how about this or this or this or this. Or this time or that time.

[TL;DR: The last period I had by myself, without relying on hormones or fertility treatments was in March 2015.]

AFTER ALL OF THAT… guess what came a knocking this week?

That’s right you guys, my period. It’s back. Hello bitches, did you miss me?

Even though breastfeeding supposedly suspends your period for a while. And giving birth totally messes everything up. And my history of anovulation. ALL of that. And my period’s back at just shy of seven months postpartum.

I know I’m coming off as snarky, but I’m actually really excited, for a couple of reasons. First off, it’s just another sign that my body’s getting back to “normal” after giving birth. Similar to the first time I went without breastpads at night. Or the first time I wore a normal bra again. Or when I was able to put on my real jeans again. I’ve celebrated all of these little milestones along the way to getting my body back. (And in this case, I mean “my body back” as in I’m regaining ownership of my body, if you will. I’m no longer pregnant or a newly minted mom or nursing every half hour or waking up with leaking boobs. It’s nice, to reclaim my body.)

Also, it feels really awesome to have my period back after so long without one. As I mentioned above, the last period that I got all on my own was more than two years ago. My body just didn’t want to ovulate in the meantime, so no period without fertility drugs and hormone treatments. So go ovaries! Knew you had it in you!

We don’t have plans to try for a second dumpling any time soon, but it’s nice to know that things may go a little more smoothly this time.

 

 

Your brain on infertility

I can’t quite wrap my head around it yet. I mean, it happened. The test was darker, “more” positive this morning (hey – I bought a pack of 50 from Amazon and I’m damn well testing every morning that I please). And, as my Mayo Clinic Guide to Pregnancy reminded me, any positive, no matter how faint, means that my body is producing HCG.

So yeah, I understand that this is happening, at least right now, at this moment.

But I still can’t quite bring myself to say the words aloud. Because I’m not sure about tomorrow or next week. Even my thoughts don’t quite go there. I added salmon to my salad at lunch for the omega-3’s for the — …. and that’s where my brain pauses like, not gonna go any further.

I suppose part of this could be a way to insulate myself, so to speak. As I mentioned yesterday, I tested positive very early and while, according to LMP math, I am precisely 4w1d along, there’s also the fact that I ovulated on the later side of things. Which means, technically speaking, I’m really not even four weeks along. I know this time is a very tenuous time for pregnancies and their little embryos. If something is going to happen (argh, let’s be blunt about this) I have a miscarriage, it’s like to happen in the first trimester. However, it’s even more likely to happen very early in the pregnancy….. like in the next couple of weeks. My mom had a history of miscarriages, something like five before she successfully conceived me. All of this stews around in my brain and makes me hesitant to acknowledge my status. At what point do you stop worrying about making it to the next milestone? When you make it past six weeks? Or hear the heartbeat? Or see your fetus for the first time? Or make it through the first trimester?

Another large part of this hesitation to label myself stems from infertility. As we navigated through drugs and doctor’s appointments and temperature tracking and never-ending cycles, I researched more and more and more. I’m intimately familiar with all of the statistics and the worst-case scenarios. Plus, it took us a year and a half to conceive, as opposed to the general wisdom of three months/cycles*. Because of that, I’m more used to things going wrong. It’s that status quo thing again, except this time it’s in the form of bad luck. Even though there’s no indication, right now, that I’ll have any issues – my infertility stemmed from plain-old unexplained anovulation as opposed to a recognizable issue or defect with my reproductive system – that doesn’t mean my body will be able to successfully carry/support a baby.

And what bums me out a little is that all of these thoughts are clouding together so that I’m not jumping for joy or singing from the rooftops like I thought I would be. In actuality, I don’t quite believe it’s real.

Anyway – thoughts for the day! As I try to wrap my brain around ……. er, my status. Still not ready to commit.

*It always annoyed me, the conventional wisdom of three months because what they actually meant was three cycles. Seriously, if I hunt through my archives, I’m sure I ranted about it at some point because it was a legit pet peeve of mine. Flash forward to now and I realized that, ironically, it actually did take us three cycles. Albeit, three really, really spaced out cycles with a lot of infertile time in between. Oh bodies, you’re so weird and yet so normal.

And suddenly there were two

GUYS – come over here. Shhh – gather round for I have a secret to tell you.

Yesterday morning there were two lines on my pregnancy test.

SHHHHHH – don’t get too excited yet. The test line was fairly faint (dark enough that I saw it right away but faint enough that Luffy needed explanation as to what he was looking at).

So there’s a distinct possibility that I am …. that we are …. that I could be ….

I can’t even bring myself to say it. Out loud. I haven’t yet, even to myself. I’ve ordered prenatal vitamins and the Mayo Clinic’s guide to pregnancy (Amazon Prime FTW!), but I don’t yet feel confident enough to say it out loud.

Yesterday morning, when I saw those two lines, my first thought was OMG, but I didn’t weep with joy or clap or dance or anything like that. I honestly pondered whether I should tell Luffy or not. I felt like I would just be getting his hopes up. And that’s how I phrased it too, when I told him (who am I kidding, like I could keep that kind of thing to myself for the next four or five days). I said “I don’t want you to get too excited because it’s still super early and the test line is very faint, but there’s two lines on my pregnancy test.” We hugged that grasping, strangle-hold hug that you give your truly favorite people and I showed him the test and then we sort of didn’t mention it the rest of the day – like it was the pink elephant in the room.

I suppose that’s what a year and a half of infertility does to you. I’m not overjoyed right now, I’m suspicious. I am waiting for Wednesday to arrive (the day my period is technically due) and pull the rug out from under me. HA HA. JK. AS IF*. I told Luffy this morning that I’m not ready to say it out loud because I feel like my tests are jerking me around, playing some cruel joke. I mean, it can’t be that simple, can it? It can’t happen just like that, right?

So that’s where I am right now. Suspicious and highly dubious, but oh so hopeful. Today is CD 29 but also only day 13 after ovulation. In other words, it’s still really early. Super early. Perhaps not even four-weeks-along early. Maybe if I don’t get my period this week and I get a more pronounced positive** result, I’ll finally relax and breathe and admit that I’m preg-

Eep! I almost said it!

* I watched part of Clueless this weekend and AS IF never fails to crack me up. I need to bring that back in 2016.

** For clarification purposes, the tests I have are doctor’s-office-quality, highly sensitive tests. The instructions actually warn users not to test too early because the tests are so sensitive that they can catch a chemical pregnancy. Combine that with the fact that I’m just too used to ovulation tests where the test lines need to be the same color for a positive result. Let’s just say I’d be a lot happier if my test line was the same color as the control line.

 

Seven Days and Counting

So my tracking app tells me I have seven days until I can take a pregnancy test. Seven days until I have a chance of finding out if I’m pregnant – of finding out if this cycle was the one or if we’ll have to try again. A quick google search results in several resources that say the absolute earliest you could possibly find out is about 10 days after ovulation (aka Friday), but to not trust a negative result until a week after a missed period (aka 21 days after ovulation, aaka freaking March).

I’m telling you all of this because the countdown is becoming intrusive and I’m hoping to purge my brain, so to speak.

I told Luffy this morning that I can’t wait to take the test. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’m so ready for this to be our cycle. For the fertility drugs and the peeing on sticks every morning and the temperature tracking to finally, finally, yield a result. So I’m eagerly counting down the days until I can know. And yet. I’m also dreading it in a way. Right now, I can cling to the hope that this is it, this is the one. Once I take the test, I’ll know for sure and there will be no hope. I’ll either be ecstatic or despondent, but there will be no hope, at least not for this cycle.

We went to Napa a couple of weekends ago (I think I mentioned the champagne – at least once or twice). Our friend was turning thirty. His wife is six months pregnant. We had heard, through the grapevine, that they had been trying for a while. Or, at least, the information was that she’d been off birth control for close to three years. Finally! A friend I could talk to. Granted, she’s not really a friend of mine and I don’t like her all that much, but still! Someone I could talk to, in person, and share experiences. I was eager to hear any and all stories she had, to commiserate infertility and celebrate her pregnancy. Luffy and I were talking to her when we first arrived and Luffy asked her how long it took them to get pregnant. One month, she said, they got pregnant on their first try. She shrugged off our wonderment, saying she had been tracking her cycle for years and they knew exactly when to have sex.

But, I wanted to tell her, that doesn’t mean anything. I’ve been tracking my cycle for a while too and all of that means absolutely nothing if there’s nothing to track. I felt like she wasn’t grateful enough. I mean, their first try! If we had gotten pregnant on our first try, we would have a six-month-old. I imagined what his dimples or her chubby cheeks or his dark hair would look like and I wanted to shout at her – DO YOU KNOW HOW LUCKY YOU ARE?!?!?!

Of course I didn’t. I understood that my frustration with her was misplaced. I’m frustrated with me, with my body and its failed attempts. In 16 months, I’ve ovulated five times, only three confirmed (the first two I’m assuming happened because I did get a period on my own but I wasn’t taking ovulation tests at the time). Three times we’ve diligently tracked my cycle and had sex exactly when we’re supposed to. Hopefully, third time’s the charm. We’ll know soon enough.

 

 

Civic Duty

Well that was a bit of a letdown.

I had jury duty this morning. As I’m sitting here writing at half past twelve, rather than in a courtroom, you can imagine that it went well.

True to form, I put a lot of planning and thought into my outing this morning. I picked out a particular outfit (comfortable, professional, cool). I packed a bag so that I could take a book and my iPad (which I actually wasn’t going to bring but needed it later in the day and didn’t want to leave in  my car). I packed a small bottle of water and a snack. I planned on leaving the house at 7:30, knowing that I would actually get out the door several minutes after that (which I did).

I arrived at the parking garage at precisely 8:17 this morning and found a parking space rather quickly thanks to my previous knowledge of the garage. I made my way up to the main level and followed the signs for the courthouse. I went through security and checked in with jury services then made my way through the giant room to an empty row of chairs. I had the good fortune of picking a seat that happened to be in a breezeway from the exit (it was rather warm in the jury holding room). I sat down at precisely 8:28 and congratulated myself on my stupendous planning skills (yay for neurosis and super good worrying skillz!!!!)

The civic duty video started shortly after I sat down and absolutely cracked me up. All about how being on a jury was the highest honor and so interesting and so important. Blah de blah de blah. Once that ended, a judge got up and gave another rousing speech regarding civic duty (good) and lying (bad). He actually was rather funny and an excellent speaker. Once he got done, a guy from jury services got up and went through some more instructions and then called 20 specific participants for the first jury. Off they went. It was 10:00. The jury services guy then announced to the rest of the room that we would break until 10:35.

So I went to the restroom and read my book until 10:35. Luffy pinged me at 10:40 to tell me our current favorite show was just confirmed for a second season (yay!!) and we chatted about how everything was going.

At 11:00 the jury services guy came back into the room and announced that the courts had no need for juries that day; we were all dismissed. YAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!!

So yeah, that was it. Nothing too bad or too dramatic. Didn’t even see the inside of a courtroom. Not bad for my first jury summons.

It’s not even 1 in the afternoon today and I’m already calling it a marvelous day. I got dismissed from jury services at 11am. My favorite show is starting a second season in the summer. I basically got an extra hour to read this morning (I’m almost to the end of a library book). I didn’t need to swap or sub out my exercise class this evening.

And I got a positive ovulation reading this morning.

(Like how I just slipped that in there? Wish us luck!!)

Status quo

All it takes is one. One test. One positive. One cycle. I’m so ready for it to be our one.


Something that’s really been bothering me lately, that I’ve been trying to work through, is how to overcome the status quo while we’re trying to conceive. In general, things continue as they have in the past. If a student is doing well in school, you can assume that they will continue doing well if all else stays equal. If a car maker produces excellent cars or a director makes fantastic movies, you can bet that they’re going to continue doing so. Odds are in favor of the sports team with the best record because you can guess that it will continue, for whatever reason. Now I know that this is SUPER generalized, but you get what I’m saying right? Status quo is hard to change and it’s also hard to think past. You grab the same brand of beverage or the same type of candy without thinking about it because you have liked it in the past and, thus, will most likely enjoy it in the future.

The status quo, for me, is 16 months of no progress. I’m having a hard time believing in optimistic results because my status quo does not support them. My track record is not good (two ovulatory cycles in 16 months), so the odds are against me. And thus, how can I even begin to think that this time could be it? Hell, I can hardly even hope that I’ll ovulate, much less actually conceive. (And don’t even get me started down the path of miscarriages or problems during pregnancy because I quite literally can’t think about that right now.)

Of course, this type of thinking does no good, which is why I’m trying to work through it. I remind myself that it’s true, the status quo is a difficult thing to shake. But! All it takes is one. We only need one positive to have a child in our arms. I remind myself that at the end of this journey – wherever it leads us – this will not be a defining moment for me. If we don’t have children, it will be a decision between the two of us because there is more than one way to have a child. If we do have children, the months it took us to conceive will quickly be overshadowed by their lives. I might one day recount to my daughter my difficulties in getting pregnant, but only so that she might prepare herself for the same. These months will not be part of their life story and it will not end up part of mine.

And thus, I’m tired of the status quo. I’m ready to disrupt it. I’m so ready for this to be the one.

 

 

Cycle Trackers

or there’s an app for that.

When I was on the pill, I never tracked my cycle. Why would I? It came like clockwork. And any time it didn’t, it stood out in my mind. (To this day, I still remember one time it came about 48 hours late. I was a sophomore in college. It was summer. I distinctly remember walking to my car after class, talking on the phone to Liz, going over what my plan would be if I were pregnant.)

When I went off the pill, I quickly turned to my smart phone. I knew there were cycle tracking apps – plenty of them. I did a quick scan through the list and selected one of the better rated ones and off I went. I didn’t hate it, didn’t love it. It was a very basic calendar-type app. It made some loose “predictions,” but nothing else.

After a few months of trying, without success (right around this point), I went back to the app store in search of a different app. I was looking for something to help me get pregnant. Now. (Now, I know that an app is obviously not a miracle worker, but I was also desperate and feeling so useless that I wanted something, anything, to help.) When I saw a sponsored blog post about Glow, it felt like a sign.

I quickly downloaded it and happily spent an afternoon transferring data from the old app to the new. Glow was so sleek and shiny. So much data! I can quantify every day! Wheeeeeee! It was around this time that I also started tracking my temperature and Glow made it simple to track. Plus they had a built-in user board, where women could ask questions or commiserate or even follow each other’s pregnancies (I saw several, private boards with names like “May 2015 babies!”). How nice.

But then. I discovered the downside of having quick access to communities. I could not stop reading through them and every time I did, I would leave feeling more upset and miserable than ever. I wrote this, mostly in jest, but there are underlying issues.

It’s so unfair that she’s pregnant when she doesn’t even know how ovulation actually works.

It’s so unfair that she’s pregnant and she’s clearly overweight.

It’s so unfair that she’s pregnant and she tried “forever” which was actually two months.

And over and over and over and over until I felt terrible about myself and my poor non-cooperative ovaries.

To be perfectly fair, I had no right to judge these women. And numerous women clearly thrive in the communities. I just couldn’t be there, it wasn’t for me. I couldn’t leave without comparing myself (which, again, was unfair to those ladies AND to myself). And, like an addiction, I couldn’t stop going there. In the parking lot waiting for exercise, sitting in traffic, on my lunch break. All the time. I couldn’t open the app without going into the community. Even after I made it hard for myself (hiding all of the boards), I still sought it out. I thrived on being able to give advice to other women (those wanting to know about BBT tracking) or giving my two-cents on an ovulation test reading (I have seen A LOT of ovulation tests and that one is far from positive). And as much as I enjoyed that, I would inevitably click on one that I knew I shouldn’t have and end up depressed.

After a couple of weeks of that nonsense, I deleted the app and went in search of a new one.

Ovia Fertility had good ratings and, more importantly, no community feature. I transferred my data and never looked back. In case you’re in the market for a fertility app, I do recommend it. The app makes it very easy to track numerous things like BBT and cervical position, how much you slept and what you ate, your weight and how many steps you took in a day, any symptoms (from PMS to sickness), and, of course, your period. They have an online portal that allows you to do everything you would from the app. It creates charts and reports. It’s not pink, if that bugs you. (It’s yellow, if that does.) It’s positive and cheery, but not in an annoying way. It gives you feedback on the signs/symptoms you enter.

For instance, I just logged on and saw: You reported feeling happy. It’s excellent that you’re feeling happy right now – let’s make this cycle the one!

Thanks Ovia! I really want to make this cycle the one too!