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TTC: All OPK’s are NOT Created Equal

18 May

Image Source: First Response

While I was going through my first round of Clomid, I bought my first ever ovulation predictor kit.

I went with First Response since it was the brand of pregnancy choice I regularly chose every time I tested. I thought it would be relatively straight forward like a pregnancy test…one line for no ovulation, two lines for ovulation.

Not necessarily the case…

Instead, you must try your best to determine if a second line is greater than or equal to the darkness of the first line. If it is, you are experiencing a surge of luteinizing hormone (LH) and ovulation should be occurring within 24 to 48 hours. If not, you are supposed to keep testing until the surge occurs.

The first time I started taking these tests I felt like I was constantly getting positive readings, which did not make any sense. (I later learned that this can sometimes happen with fertility meds, as well as those with PCOS.) So I became the crazy girl that started keeping the tests in a baggie so that I could compare the darkness of the lines to see if I could see a surge within a surge!

I had read about the Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor that Mrs. Bee used, but wasn’t quite ready to spend the money on that yet. Instead, with my new Amazon Prime membership, I decided to buy a Clear Blue Easy Digital Ovulation Test kit where the sticks are individually wrapped and are inserted into a tester. After completing the test, you want three minutes for either a plain circle or a happy face. There are symbols to tell you the test is working or if an error has occurred and how to troubleshoot. Clear answers for a trained engineer who doesn’t like shades of grey!

WONDERFUL! No subjectivity, none of this grey area, a clear answer!

I was so excited when I first used the test and after five days of plain circles saw this:

It’s a wonder what a smiley face can do!

Have you ever used an ovulation predictor kit? 

What was your experience with it?

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TTC: Clomid Round 3 ::DING DING::

17 May

** Written in late December/early January**

This cycle progressed like the last, except this time I started out by taking progesterone to induce a period. I then took my 5 supposedly “magic” pills and waited a few days.

I decided to start testing for ovulation using a digital tester (post on this tomorrow!). Whoa! That was like night and day! I tested for a few days and got negative results even though I thought I felt some cramping that could be indicative of ovulation. On Christmas Day, I got what I was looking for:

So we got right down too it (once we got home from the family’s house of course) and then the waiting began. I was soo confident!

A few days before I was allowed to test, I was driving home from work and just started crying. I had been trying to somewhat disconnect myself from the outcome of this cycle. To take each day as it comes and to accept that whatever happens is meant to be. I had been doing a really good job with this, until right around when  my period was supposed to arrive. When I knew that the moment of truth was coming, I guess that small hope that I had been lingering felt like it might be snuffed out.. Again…

The same thing happened at work the next day. Every cramp or twinge I believed was the start of my period. An unwanted guest at this point. I also felt other symptoms that I was SURE was pregnancy related.

At Day 12 past ovulation I decided to just test and got a big resounding NO! And as evidence of my continued inability to detach myself from the outcome, I had a good cry multiple times that morning.

I feel like everyone says to have hope and be positive, but I had SO much hope for this last cycle. Felt all the things that I thought would indicate pregnancy, just to be sorely disappointed a few days later. I cried pretty much the whole day AF started to make her appearance and then was upset with myself for being upset (crazy I know, when I should just be compassionate with myself).

We’re gonna take a break from this for a few weeks since we have a trip to Vegas planned in a couple of weeks. And when we get back… well I guess we’ll decide what to do next…

TTC Break – Round 4??

24 Feb

**Written February 24th, 2012.**

After the emotional debaucle that ended Round3 of being SO SO SO sure I was pregnant and not, the doctor suggested we take a break considering the crazy amount of stress I appeared to be under (i.e. hysterical crying in her office).

The Hubs and I were fine with that! We had plans to go to Vegas in a couple of weeks to see Garth Brooks (another post I NEED to do!) and didn’t want to have to worry about when or if I was ovulating. I decided to do minimal temperature tracking and just live my life as I normally would before this whole process started (this included a couple of glasses of wine a few days a week).

I also decided to attempt some alternative methods of regulating my cycle, so I decided to see an acupuncturist. I’ll probably do a whole post on acupuncture. I went a total of four times (about every other week) and absolutely loved it! It was so relaxing. It was a time just for me, where I could lay down and have the best shavasanah you could imagine!

Right after my first acupuncture treatment, I decided to do some temperature charting. I resolved not to do it every day, but just every once and awhile if I remembered to see if I could tell if anything was  happening.

During all of this, The Hubs went for a semen analysis so that we would be prepared with the results the next time I saw my doctor in March. The first looked abnormal in that there was just barely normal volume and quantity & a few blood cells, so a week or so later he went for another. It also showed some abnormalities, but those that were different from the first test! So The Hubs went to see a urologist who told him that for the most part things looked fine and there was nothing HE could do to improve the results (i.e no blockages). He did tell The Hubs to cut back on caffeine and alcohol which he resolved to do (and has been doing ever since!) Go him!

So back to me, just before my third acupuncture treatment, I noticed an increase in my temperature. Hmm… Could I have ovulated naturally? I continued to take my temperature on weekdays to see if it was a fluke and it did not appear to be. I showed it to my acupuncturist and she agreed. Unfortunately, I missed a bunch of temps so I couldn’t tell exactly when it happened and  I wasn’t charting when we were “doing it” so I wasn’t sure if anything had been timed correctly.

Ovulation would have occurred just around the time of when The Hubs was abstaining for his test, although we may have lined things up on the one last day before the temperature spike. I figured I would wait it out and see. I was even pretty excited to see my period come! It would be so cool! My first UNMEDICATED period since before I went on birth control many moons ago!

Two weeks went by and nothing. My luteal phase is sometimes long though (when I’ve had one), so I kept waiting it out. I was occasionally getting cramps and my boobs were occasionally hurting, but nothing that I hadn’t experienced in Round 3.  I had no thought or desire to test.

Then my friend Lisa and I went jogging and I was talking about how I was feeling. I was starting to get the feeling of possibly getting a bladder infection without the tremendous pain.  This was something she felt when she was newly pregnant so she thought I should test to be sure. Plus it was 18 days passed the last possible day of ovulation. More than enough time to tell one way or the other…

That night The Hubs and I went to SUSHI where I had TWO glasses of wine. I was in no hurry to take the test as I was sure I knew what it would say. At 8:00pm I finally had enough pee to make it work. I went to the bathroom, peed on the stick, capped it, and just barely set it down (literally less than 5 seconds) before I saw THIS:

HOLY CRAP! How the hell is this possible???? Well obviously I knew how it was possible, but WHAT? The Hubs came in thinking I was screaming about a bug or the dog. When I showed him, he was like, “Are you sure? That line is kinda faint. (looking at the control line, NOT the positive line). I told him i was sure and we both just looked at each other. After all that stress and worry, this day had finally come and when we least expected it! (Isn’t that how they say it happens?)  Needless to say, I DID NOT get much sleep that night!

This was on February 23th. Based on the start of my last period, it calculates that I’m already 6 WEEKS PREGNANT! Frickin’ crazy!

My doctor is going to say that it is the fact that I was less stressed that helped this time around, but I’m CONVINCED it was the acupuncture. I’ve NEVER had an ovulatory cycle in the 8 months I was unmedicated. And was only 2 for 3 with Clomid. I don’t see her until mid-March when I’ll be 10 weeks.

We are both so excited, but still very cautious. Only close friends and family know at this point. I’m trying to keep my wits about me and continue the calmness I felt over the last cycle through this pregnancy (i.e. not worrying about every cramp or twinge). We’ll see how it goes!

TTC: Clomid Round 2 ::DING DING::

24 Jan

Clomid Round 2: 5x50mg starting October 12, 2011

After our first unsuccessful round of Clomid, we started the whole process again.

Five magic pills, ovulation predictor kits, timed intercourse, waiting for the temperature shift…

I was SURE that this time would be similar to the first and so I anticipated ovulation happening later than expected and made SURE to be diligent about timing things. Not exactly the most romantic of prospects, but apparently necessary if you want to make a baby.  It definitely is NOT like 16 and Pregnant where these girls get pregnant after their first time having sex! Maybe I can chalk it up to my super advanced age of 29!

I kept waiting and waiting to see that tell tale temperature shift which I knew was possible since it happened once before. Things should be more predictable the second time around…right???

WRONG!

After 58 days of up and down temperatures that looked more like the Dow Jones than a fertility tracking method, I resolved myself to the fact that ovulation did NOT happen this time around.

I saw my doctor again and showed her all of the data I had collected over the past few months. I told her I didn’t understand why things were working the way they should. I asked her if I should be being more aggressive about the trying to conceive process and schedule an appointment with a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) (a doctor who specializes in advanced fertility techniques).

She told me that although she would refer me to an RE, she believed we should try one more cycle of Clomid, this time a higher dosage. She was concerned that moving to the next step of a seeing an RE was  putting our trying to conceive process into a whole new ball game that based on my age and history of trying wasn’t necessary quite yet (and based on my history of anxiety might to more harm then good at this stage). She did say that if the next cycle didn’t work, we would not hesitate to take the next steps.

I had started to hope that just maybe things would work out this time, just to have those hopes dashed again!

So off I went with a prescription for Progesterone (to induce a cycle) and another for 5×100 mg of Clomid wondering why it had to be so darn hard to get knocked up!

TTC: Extreme Pleasure or Extreme Pressure?

17 Jan

During our first couple of cycles trying to conceive, The Hubs and I experienced some very stressful days (and nights!).

Making a baby isn’t always all of the fun that it is cracked up to be. It can be a very trying time where both parties feel extreme pressure and NOT extreme pleasure.

I like sex as much as the next girl, but the extreme focus that I put on it as we began our journey to baby was something I had not previously done in our relationship. Because of this, The Hubs felt like I was only using him for his sperm, which was understandable based on the way I was acting. On the other hand, I felt like every day that we didn’t have sex because of being tired or not having the time, was a missed opportunity.

To overcome this, I made a point of making The Hubs feel loved and appreciated by not just concentrating on having fun during times of potential ovulation. I realized that I needed to try and cater to his needs as well and not just focus on my own (should be one of the first things you learn during marriage, but how soon we forget!) We also tried to add some spontaneity when we could so it didn’t feel so scheduled (since I’m sure most of you know, spontaneity is not always part of the equation.) We needed to both feel like we were in this together!

Recognizing each others struggles definitely helped us to try to do what we could to experience more pleasure during the baby making process. I think the things we learned about each other during this time in our lives will be helpful even in our post-TTC days!

Has the TTC process ever caused you or your spouse any pressure?

How did you overcome it?

TTC: The Back Story + Clomid Round 1 ::DING DING::

10 Jan

**Much of this was written in early October 2011.**

So I’ve been reading some awesome TTC (“trying to conceive” for those of you not familiar with the lingo!) blogs for the past few months that have been really helpful to me throughout our road to baby so far. I love reading other women’s experiences with fertility and pregnancy and thought that maybe someone could relate to our journey. I also thought it would be a way to look back and appreciate how are journey has evolved regardless of the outcome.

Aside 1: If this ends up being TMI for some of you, you can just skip over these posts! 🙂

Aside 2: My journey is no where near as long or tumultuous as some of my blogger friends, so I apologize in advance if I’m prematurely worrying about my TTC future. Premature stressing is just my nature.

Our journey began in January, when I decided to officially go off the Pill. I knew that when I did  I would likely experience an irregular or non-existent cycle, but I tried to think positive that maybe this time would be different. You see, I’d gone of the Pill once before a few years back and had a no cycle for 6 months before going to the doctor. After blood work and an ultrasound, it was determined that some of my symptoms (but not all), lined up with Polycystic Ovarian Sydnrome (PCOS). My doctor put me back on the pill to regulate me since at the time I wasn’t ready to TTC.

Fast forward 8 months after going off the pill the second time and I still had not had a period. Definitely strange and not normal. I went to my OB/GYN and had a round of bloodwork again to confirm that my hormones were out of whack (obviously…LH and Testosterone both high). So she prescribed enough Clomid (an ovulation stimulating drug) for two cycles and was extremely optimistic that it would work. She told me to take the five “magic” pills, one a day, and then do the BD (i.e. baby dance) every other day for seven days, at which point ovulation should occur. (Romantic eh??) She also told me to use an ovulation predictor kit (OPK) and basal body temperature (BBT) to confirm whether or not ovulation occurs.

Clomid Round 1: 5x50mg starting September 13, 2011

I followed the instructions the doctor gave me to a T and to be honest, I could not tell if any of it was working. My OPK tests were constantly positive (apparently a result of PCOS) and my BBT wasn’t exhibiting the tell tale sign of an increase in temperature. The Negative Nelly in me was looking at all the reasons the drug wasn’t working…no weird side effects like nausea or hot flashes.  I thought I felt some cramping in my lower stomach, but I wasn’t sure if it was anything worth noting.

And then, right about the time of the cramping, I finally saw it… a temperature shift just like Taking Charge of Your Fertility (a highly recommended book for anyone trying to conceive) said it would happen! For the first time, my BBT chart looked… normal! Unfortunately, I hadn’t been as diligent about timing things because I had resolved this cycle to a failure. We did  do the BD once around that time so I figured we would just have to wait and see. I told myself that if I did not get pregnant this cycle, but if I KNEW that the Clomid actually made me ovulate, that it would be a step in the right direction.

In the end, I didn’t get pregnant on the first cycle, but Aunt Flo did arrive (a feat in my book!). I’m thinking positive about the situation since it means I actually ovulated (wahoo!) and that I get to have a few glasses of well deserved wine over the next few days! Then, it’s on to Clomid – Round 2.

In the meantime, I’ve been spending my online time reading two blogs that were recommended to me by a a blog friend, Shayla. And let me tell you, reading the stories of Jen at The Runner’s Trials and Sarah at The Shubox have seriously lifted my spirits. It’s so nice to read positive stories with a happy outcome!  Here’s to hoping one day soon I can join their club!

For those of you with children, did your road to baby get off to a rocky start?

Yoga for Fertility

15 Nov
Image Source: Love to Know Yoga

I haven’t talked much about fertility or trying to conceive on the blog yet. I’ve got a few posts in draft form that I’ve used sort of been using like a diary, but I just can’t seem to hit publish. I don’t know if I’m afraid of jinxing the current cycle (or in my case non-existent cycle) or if I’m afraid that I’m not ” infertile enough” to begin sharing my journey.  It’s probably more of the latter…

But this weekend, I attended a workshop where I thought sharing my experience far outweighed any shyness I may have talking about the subject on this large platform. 
I had read a couple of Babble posts (here and here) a few months ago about how certain Yoga poses can be beneficial to fertility. Now I am by no means a Yogi… I practice every once in awhile at a 24 Hour Fitness Yoga class (which some may argue isn’t even real yoga!). I would attend because I found it to be a great way to center my mind and body after a busy day. I can’t always do all the poses, but just focusing on my breath and the sensations in my body always seem to put me at peace.
In any case, I began doing some research into Yoga for Fertility, to see if there were any classes on it in my area. Lucky for me, I live in a very culturally diverse area where yoga and meditation classes abound. I found Kat Atkinson, a prenatal and postnatal yoga teacher, who also just so happens to offer a monthly Yoga for Fertility practice in Berkeley.
Now, attending something like this definitely puts me out of my comfort zone (similar to the meditation class I attended earlier this year). So it took me a couple of months of just looking at the enrollment screen before I actually paid the $25 fee and reserved my spot. I kept thinking that maybe I would be pregnant and wouldn’t need it!
So yesterday, I put on my comfy new yoga pants and long sleeve yoga shirt (I wanted to look the part! Hehe) and I drove to the Yoga Tree (formerly Yoga Mandala) in Berkeley. I got their a little early since I didn’t want the anxiety of rushing and trying to find parking over excite me. Being the first one there, I entered the studio and looked at the myriad of yoga dvds, books, and clothes being sold. A few more women trickled in and finally the doors to the inner studio where we would be practicing opened.
I entered the studio, still a little anxious about the whole process. The studio provided blankets, blocks and straps that I picked up with the rest of the women (eight in all). I was hoping that I wasn’t in for some sort of hard core yoga class, because these were all tools that I was NOT used to using!  
Kat started the class by explaining a little about how yoga can help fertility and what we would be doing in the class. We started with a restorative pose where we did the butterfly and then laid back (see below). We held it for quite awhile so we could center ourselves and create an intention for the practice. Now I’m not overly spiritual on a daily basis and I don’t meditate as often as I probably should, but I wanted to be fully present for the class so that I could retain any possible benefit from it.

Image Source: Yoga Journal

After gently coming out of the pose, Kat invited us all to sit and introduce ourselves in this comforting and accepting space. She told us of her own struggles with infertility and how she felt many of the same things that we are also feeling. She reiterated the fact that it is important to be happy with ourselves as we are, whether or not we have a child. That we are whole women, regardless.  She said that even though her yoga practice didn’t in the end result in a second child for her, the emotional benefits she has gained were SO worth it. Everyone else introduced themselves in turn – one about to do her first round of IVF, two who just completed their second rounds of Clomid without success (just like me!), three or four who had miscarried – some multiple times, and one women who want to try a holistic and clean approach to fertility after all the drugs. 

I must tell you how comforting this part of the workshop was. To be around people who understand what I am going through. To be told it’s ok to cry and release those feelings even if I’m just starting my journey. To be told its ok to have feelings of sadness and jealousy when others around you get pregnant. A few of the girls were part of a support group at Kaiser, something I think I need to look into within my own medical group. Although sometimes it’s scary to see how long some of these women have been trying without success, again the benefit of being in a group of people who understand far outweighed the fear.
The rest of the practice continued much like a normal yoga class, but the meditations and poses were all for those who are trying to conceive or are in early pregnancy (lots of opening the hips and pelvic floor!). I’m a bit bummed that I can’t remember them all off the top of my head, but Kat is supposed to send out an email with info on how to create your own “Home Practice”. She offers personal sessions with people, but she stressed that she does it only to ensure that the student can become self sufficient in creating their own home practice. She also said she is recording something for download in the New Year so that students can have a guided session at home (much easier in my opinion then doing it on your own!).
I will definitely be going back next month, regardless of where I am in the trying to conceive process and I would recommend it to others. Kat, the instructor, was awesome!

The whole afternoon reiterated the fact that it is so important to seek out others who are going through similar struggles for support and friendship. WE ARE NOT ALONE! 

Have any of you hears of or tried practicing Yoga for Fertility?

P.S. – If anyone in the Bay Area is interested, the next monthly practice is December 4th and you can already sign up if you go here.