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Let's Talk Babies!

Getting Pregnant

Ovulation predictor kits are a great way for women to determine exactly when, during their cycle, they are ovulating helping to take some of the guess work out of determining when they are most likely to conceive.  The kits are also a good way for doctors and patients to determine if a woman is not ovulating resulting in a potential fertility problem.

For women planning a pregnancy and trying to conceive one of the big challenges is timing, knowing exactly when that little egg drops.  There are several ways to go about determining when you will ovulate including taking your basal body temperature and determining the consistency of your cervical mucus, however, those often still leave room for error, still leave questions.  Ovulation predictor kits take a lot of the guess work out of it and provide women with an easy method to figuring out when they are ovulating.  If a couple is having difficulty conceiving their doctor will often recommend the use of an ovulation predictor kit as the first step in determining if there are any fertility issues preventing pregnancy.

Ovulation predictor kits are easy to use and are very similar to the home pregnancy tests available on the market.  In fact, many of the same companies that produce home pregnancy tests also produce home ovulation predictor kits as well.  The kits use urine to test for LH hormones (luteinizing hormone) in your system.  LH hormones are released within 24-48 hours of ovulation.  If you get a positive result on an ovulation predictor then it is safe to assume you will be ovulating some time in the next 24 to 48 hours.  Those 24-48 hours before ovulation is the most fertile time in your cycle and the time when conception is most likely to occur.

Each ovulation predictor kit will come with its own set of instructions and since each test may vary slightly be sure to read through the directions carefully before taking the test.  If you are unsure on how to use an ovulation predictor kit or if one would be useful to you as you are trying to conceive be sure to talk to your doctor.

Plans are made to be broken, or so they say.  I don’t like when my plans are broken. I like when everything goes according to plan.  Which isn’t to say that I don’t like to be surprised by life, I do, it is just that sometimes it is nice when everything works out the way I had planned.

It has been nine months now.  Nine months of actively trying to conceive baby #2.  We are now into the realm of “if we had gotten pregnant (enter month) we’d be having a baby now.”  That sucks, there is no other way to say it, it just sucks.  Maya is going to be 3 in a little over a month.  She was supposed to have a new sibling right before or shortly after her third birthday, that was our plan.  Now, we are looking at her being at least 3 and a half, at least.

Each month that goes by it gets a little harder.  Each month the disappointment is a little harder to bare, it hurts a little deeper.  My body has disappointed me and I hate to say that because it has done some pretty awesome things for me, namely creating and carrying the perfect almost 3 year old that fills our house with her sweetness.  But, right now, it is not helping me out, it is not doing what it was designed to do, it is not getting pregnant.  So, as much as I hate to say it, I’m angry at my body, angry at myself.

Today I’m heading to the doctor.  We’ll talk all about what is going on.  We’ll talk about the fact I have been off the pill for 11 months now and actively trying to get pregnant for 9 months and yet still nothing.  We’ll talk about the things that may be behind this inability to get pregnant; my ovarian cyst, my endometriosis, my one non-functioning fallopian tube and hopefully we’ll talk about a solution, a way to make my body work.  I don’t expect this appointment to end with a magical solution, but I do hope it is the beginning of find some answers.

I expected baby #2 to come along just like baby #1 did, perfectly according to plan.  The best laid plans don’t always work out.

calendar8

I’m stuck in a waiting game I never expected to be stuck in.  Every month I wait.  Wait for something not to come, but every month it comes.  Waiting is hard, waiting isn’t fun, waiting sucks.  I’m not very good at waiting for things.

Last year as Maya‘s 2nd birthday approached Lorne and I decided it was time to grow our little family.  We decided that having another child when Maya was around 3 would be good.  So, shortly after we celebrated our baby’s 2nd birthday I stopped taking that little daily little birth control pill and began taking a daily prenatal vitamin.  I started dreaming about what it would be like to have a tiny little baby again.  I started wondering what Maya would be like as a big sister.  I started dreaming about the shape our little family would take.

After waiting a couple of months to let my body return to a regular cycle we really began trying to make a baby.  I started paying close attention to my cycle, my timing. We began the waiting game.  Each month we did our best to get the timing right and then we waited.

For 6 months we have been stuck in this waiting game.  Each month I listen to my body to see if it is whispering to me, trying to tell me something.  Each month I wait to see if I will get those telltale signs that our efforts may have worked.  Each month I wait and hope not to see that telltale sign that our efforts were all for naught and that another month has come and gone with no baby.  Waiting it hard.

When we decided to start trying to get pregnant the first time things were easy.  I went off my birth control pill and got pregnant the first month we really tried.  I hadn’t expected it to be that easy and when it was I figured my history wouldn’t affect my ability to get pregnant. I figured this time around would be more of the same.  I was wrong.

About 7 years ago I discovered I had an ovarian cyst growing on my left ovary.  A very large ovarian cyst, about the size of a large grapefruit.  The size of the cyst caused some major damage to my left ovary and fallopian tube.  So much damage that my fallopian tube had to be tied off and my left ovary is pretty much nonfunctioning.  During the surgery to remove the cyst and fix some of the damage it was also discovered that I had endometriosis.

Once I was all healed up from my surgery I started on a form of birth control pill that was known to help control endometriosis as well.  It worked for me and things were good.  I continued to be symptom free as far as the endometriosis was concerned and my doctor was fairly confident that it wasn’t getting any worse and hopefully wouldn’t impact my ability to get pregnant in the future when we decided to start trying.

4 years later when we finally decided it was time to start a family I was a little worried that my history would affect my ability to get pregnant and that it might not be a quick or easy process for us.  However, when I got pregnant right away my fears were laid to rest and truthfully I never really gave it much thought again.  It never even occurred to me that things might be different this time around.  It never occurred to me that unbeknownst to me my body may have been changing in a way that would make having another baby a lot harder than we expected.

I try to remind myself that it has only been 6 months and maybe next month will be our month and all this worry and frustration will become a distant, fading memory.  It is harder to believe that though as the months continue to tick by.  In a few months I’ll have my regular yearly visit with my OB/GYN.  If we are still stuck in this waiting game when that appointment rolls around I’ll talk to him about my fears and about what may be the cause behind our difficulty getting pregnant this time around.

In the meantime we’ll keep enjoying the awesome little girl we are so lucky to have in our lives.  We’ll keep trying.  We’ll keep waiting and hoping that this will be our month.

About half of all pregnancies in the United States are planned, meaning that the couple tried to get pregnant.   It can be an exciting time in a couple’s life, however, at the same time it can bring a lot of frustration, especially if it doesn’t happen right away.  Many people carry the misconception that getting pregnant is easy (I mean people get pregnancy “by accident” all the time) and if you don’t get pregnant right away there must be some underlying fertility issue.  That, my friends, is not the case.  For many couples experiencing a difficulty in getting pregnant the issue is not necessarily infertility, but rather is likely to be a matter of bad timing.

In any given menstrual cycle a woman has a 20% (1 in 5) chance of sperm meeting egg, egg becoming fertilized and implanting and of getting pregnant.  Not really great odds when you think about it, right?  Right.  But, you can make those odds work in your favor if you pay attention to your timing, pay attention to your body.

For the “average” woman a regular menstrual cycle is about 28 days.  Some women will have shorter or longer cycles which is why it is important to pay attention and to know our body.  During a regular 28 day cycle you can expect to ovulate on or about the 14th day of your cycle, however ovulation can occur as early as day 11 or as late as day 21.  This is where timing and paying attention to your body can make a huge difference in how long it takes you to get pregnant once you start trying.

In order to get pregnant the sperm must meet the egg, right?  And in order for that to happen you have to know when you are ovulating.  So, here is where it is all about the timing.  Your chances of becoming pregnant are greatest if you and your partner have sex in the few days leading up to ovulation and for a window of about 24 hours after you ovulate.  Many obstetricians and fertility specialists will recommend that a couple of sexual intercourse every other day while they are trying to get pregnant, this increases the odds that there will be healthy, vibrant sperm present when you ovulate.

So, how do you know when you are going to ovulate.  There are several things you can do to determine when in you are ovulating.  They including:

  • Tracking your basal body temperature. When ovulation has occurred your basal body temperature will rise.  You will need to do this for a few months in order to determine when you typically ovulate during your cycle.  Remember, once you have ovulate you have a window of about 24 hours before you lose your chance of becoming pregnant that month.
  • Checking your cervical mucus.  This involves testing the consistency of the mucus around your cervix.  As you approach ovulation the consistency of your cervical mucus will change making it a more welcoming environment for sperm.   When you are most fertile (just about to ovulate) your cervical mucus will be of an egg white consistency.
  • Using an ovulation prediction kit.  These can be purchased at any pharmacy in the same aisle as home pregnancy kits.  These kits test the LH or luteinizing hormone in our urine.  The LH levels will go up the day before you ovulate.  These tests can be a bit expensive so you may want to try the other options first before trying out the ovulation prediction kits.

85% of healthy, fertile couples will successfully become pregnant within 1 year of trying to conceive.  It is all about your timing and knowing your body.  If you know when you are going to ovulate you can plan to have sex around that time to help increase your odds.  Timing is everything.

If you have not become pregnant after 1 year (after 6 months if you are over 35) of trying talk to your doctor so they can work with you and determine if there may be some underlying fertility issue.

birth control

So many women spend a lot of time planning out their lives so that everything happens on a certain schedule, including when they have children.  However, more than half of all pregnancies are unplanned, the result of an accident, a result of failed birth control.  And we are not just talking about teenagers here, more than 30% of those unplanned pregnancies are among women in their thirties who are married and already have children. I know from the amazing number of comments I get on my Early Signs of Pregnancy and What to Do if You Think You Are Pregnant posts that many women think they are all set as long as they are popping that pill every day or using a condom or getting the shot, but no form of birth control is 100% and many times the birth control is misused resulting in reduced effectiveness.  Most unplanned pregnancies are the result of birth control, that used correctly would be 97-99% effective, being used incorrectly.

For many families that unplanned pregnancy may be a surprise at first but ends up being a blessing, but not always.  Using your birth control correctly, being on the right type of birth control for you are keys to making sure your life plays out more like the plan you have set for yourself versus a big book of surprises.  Talk to your doctor about your birth control needs and find a plan that works best for you and that you feel comfortable you will be able to use correctly and consistently.

Here is a quick breakdown of the various types of birth control, their effectiveness (if used correctly) and the common misuses of them.  Use this list when talking to your doctor about your options.

Birth Control Pill: the pill contains two hormones, estrogen and progestin, that keep you from ovulating and help keep sperm out.

  • 99.7% effective if used correctly (however in the real world it fails up to 15% of the time because of incorrect or inconsistent use)
  • The biggest mistake most women make with this form of birth control is missing a pill and not using a second form of birth control to prevent pregnancy.

IUD (intrauterine device): an iud is a small T-shaped device that is placed into the uterus and acts as a barrier to keep the sperm from reaching the egg and also thins the uterine lining.

  • Up to 99.8% effective (fails about 1% of the time in the real world because of incorrect or inconsistent use)
  • Even though an IUD is a very effective form of birth control with little room for user error the most common mistake women make that leads to an unplanned pregnancy is forgetting to check for the IUD’s string every month to make sure it is still properly in place.

Vaginal Ring (NuvaRing): a vaginal ring inserted into your vagina that releases estrogen and progestin to prevent pregnancy.

  • 99.7% effective if used correctly (fails about 8% of the time in the real world due to incorrect or inconsistent use)
  • The most common misuse of the vaginal ring involved a woman forgetting to put a new ring in exactly one week after taking the last one out even if you are still menstruating.

Contraceptive Patch: the patch is another hormone based contraceptive that releases estrogen and progestin to prevent pregnancy.

  • 99.7% effective if used correctly (fails about 8% of the time due to incorrect or inconsistent use)
  • The most common cause of reduced effectiveness with the contraceptive patch is forgetting to put a new patch on exactly one week after taking the previous one off.

Depo-Provera Injection: hormone injection of progestin that you get every 3 months to prevent ovulation.

  • 99.7% effective if used correctly (fails about 3% due to incorrect or inconsistent use)
  • The most common mistake with the depo-provera injection is missing an injection entirely or having it late.

Condom: creates a barrier around the penis to prevent sperm from entering the vagina.

  • About 95% effective if used correctly (in reality only about 85% effective due to incorrect use)
  • The most common mistakes with condoms include putting it on too late, not putting it on correctly, tearing the condom while opening the wrapper and not noticing and using an expired condom.

As you can see, most forms of birth control are very effective if used correctly and consistently, however, due to user error their real world effectiveness can at times be greatly reduced.  The key to successful birth control is using a form a birth control you know you can keep up with, meets your needs and fits into your life.  Remember to talk with your doctor about which form of birth control is right for you.

(Sources: WebMD, Babycenter.com )