Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Understanding Semen Anaylsis Results

Time to share the blame! Approximately a third of all fertility issues in a couple are attributed to semen problems. It is easy to assume that if you aren't getting pregnant, it is your fault, but it is definitely beneficial to get your man checked out before starting invasive procedures or taking fertility drugs. In fact, both my fertility doctor and OB insist on a semen analysis before prescribing clomid.

How it works:
  • He collects a sample. Depending on distance from lab, you might be able to collect it at home and bring it in immediately (within one hour). They don't want it getting too cold or too hot. It is recommended you hold it against your body to keep it at the right temperature. The lab might insist he provide a sample in their office. They will give him a private room to "collect" himself.

  • Your OB or Fertility Doctor can write the orders for the semen analysis. Otherwise, he can see a urologist.

  • He might be asked to abstain for ejaculation for 2 to 5 days prior to the test. His doctor or lab will provide specific restrictions. However, they typically want you to have sex within two weeks of the test to insure the sperm are active.

What it shows:

  • The results will show if he has a healthy quantity and quality of sperm.

Normal Results:

  • Volume of ejaculate (how much semen is present in one ejaculation): 2.0 ml or more

  • pH (the acidity or alkalinity of the semen): 7.2-8.0

  • Sperm concentration: 20 million per ml spermatozoa or more

  • Total sperm count (amount of sperm in 1ml of semen): 40 million per ml spermatozoa per ejaculate or more

  • Motility (percentage of sperm that can move forward): 60% or more with forward progression

  • Morphology (percentage of sperm that have a normal shape): 30% or more with normal forms

  • Vitality: 7 5% or more live,i.e.,excluding dye

  • White blood cells (white blood cells normally aren't present in semen): fewer than 1 million per ml

Terms used to discussed results:

  • normozoospermia: results are normal

  • oligozoospermia: low sperm count

  • asthenozoospermia: poor sperm motility

  • teratozoospermia: sperm have more morphological defects than usual

  • oligoasthenoteratozoospermia: signifies disturbance of all three variables above

  • azoospermia: no sperm is semen

  • aspermia: absence of semen

Bad results, now what:

  • The information from the semen analysis will help your fertility doctor determine the best way to treat. Some situations require surgery, however drug treatments or assisted fertility (IUI, IVF) might just do the trick.

Sources: www.med-direct.com, www.webmd.com, www.wikipedia.com


Dealing With Pregnant Friends

Never do you see as my pregnant women as when you are have trouble getting pregnant. My big joke is stick with me and you will be pregnant soon because everyone I know is either pregnant, has a newborn, or just announced they are trying for baby #3.

People take different approaches to dealing with this pregnant people everywhere I go phenomena (or what I will refer to as PPEIGP). I personally found handling the PPEIGP was easier for me when people knew my story on my own terms. If I had told them about the miscarriages and surgery, I felt like, okay, it is out there. In these situations I feel mostly at ease.

However, when it isn't on my terms, I want to run and hide under something fertile. Such as last week. I was at my in-laws house for a family get together. I had asked my MIL not to tell the family about my surgery and miscarriages. She forced my hand at telling her sister-in-law. I begrudgingly gave in with the stipulation that her SIL not tell her kids and daughters-in-law. Well it was very obvious everyone knew and no one said anything to me. Awkward. Then my MIL's friend's daughters came in, both pregnant, and the entire focus of the crowd turned to kids and pregnancy. It literally gave me a headache. Everyone was saying how fun for sisters to be pregnant together. Seems my entire family all forgot I was pregnant at the same time as my sister-in-law, 2 weeks apart. This time, I just wanted to bolt.

If you haven't guessed, I am pretty much an opened book. I appreciate that not everyone is the same way. So I would recommend telling people that you feel comfortable with who can help steer conversation in such situations.

For me, it also depends how supportive a friend has been prior to their pregnancy. My best friend has been truly the most supportive friend in the world during my year of drama. She got pregnant her first shot and I don't feel an ounce of jealousy. It is really because I can still say anything to her. I can make comments about everyone in the world getting pregnant on their first shot, how insensitive so-and-so was, and every other thought I should probably keep to myself. She told me within 12 hours of getting her BFP. It wasn't like some dramatic announcement where she was trying to break the news. This I appreciated.

Tips for dealing with PPEIGP:

  • Be a hermit in moderation: It is okay to remove yourself from situations that might be upsetting (a girls night in where everyone is pregnant but you) but don't make it a habit. If you just found out your husband has no sperm and you have the eggs of 65 year old, all in the same day, take a breather. Otherwise, don't shut out all your friends because they are happy.
  • Think Ahead: Try to remember that you very well could be pregnant next month and then you would feel happy for your friends, so feel happy for them now, and your time will come.
  • Enjoy the things you can do and they can't: drink, have caffeine, eat tuna to your heart's content, plan a romantic weekend, sleep in, and enjoy a whole movie without having to take 3 bathroom breaks.
  • Stay off Facebook: This one has helped me immensely. People from high school are announcing their second and third pregnancies. Others got married 6 months ago and are already telling 300 of their closest friends that they are expecting. Also, the constant pregnancy symptom updates and polling of other moms for opinions puts me over the edge. One girl posted pictures of herself sitting on a stool in a hospital shower- part of her natural child birth. I am not making this up.
  • Fake Fun Till you Make One: When a friend tells you she is pregnant, it probably will sting. Put on a happy face if one doesn't naturally spring forth. Act the way you would want someone to act when you make your announcement. When you have time alone, get upset. Talk to your husband, mom, or your best friend. Is it selfish? Yeah. But is it completely understandable? Of course. And the three people that love you most will get it too. In my experience, moms and best friends understand it much more and I mean much more than husbands.
  • If it is too much, say something: If you have a friend that can prattle on about every detail to the point you want to stab her eyes out with an OPK, say something. Just say that you are so happy for her and her husband, but you have been having some trouble and it is a little hard to hear. Obviously you want to be there for her and know all the big milestones, but the daily play by play is a bit too hard to handle. And end with, "I am sure you understand." What can she say to that?
  • Awkward is a Two-Way Street: If you have disclosed to your friend that you are having trouble and she has a modicum of social grace, she might feel unsure of what and how much to tell you. You might be fine hearing she and her hubby had a screaming match in Babies R' Us over espresso or white furniture but knowing he is calling the fetus "schmoopie junior" could be a bit much. Have one uncomfortable conversation to avoid 9 months of them. Or just ask specific questions about her pregnancy journey so the information comes on your terms.
  • It is Okay to be Sad: You are entitled to be upset. I remember countless times I put on a happy face when hanging out with pregnant friends that had no idea what I was going through. As soon as we got in the car, the sadness would just hit me. My husband didn't get it and thought I was a bad friend. But it wasn't about them. It was about me and things not working out how I had hoped. Take the old dumping standard, "it's not you, it's me" and apply it to the feelings you are having now. In you heart of hearts, you don't really want a friend to be having fertility problems, you just don't want them yourself.
  • Keep the faith: Just know your time will come. Even if it means fertility treatments or adoption, you can and will be a mom. It just might take longer than you expected.

While pregnancy is the only known cure for PPEIGP, I am hopeful these tips can help you deal with ever-expanding pregnant population.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Can Cough Medicine Lead to a BFP?

Anyone who is anyone in trying to conceive knows the importance of EWCM (egg white cervical mucus). It is the holy grail of CM because it means you are most fertile. What distinguishes EWCM for other CMs, besides it being well timed with ovulation, is its actual physical properties. It is thin and stretchy, allowing sperm to travel more freely in its journey to your egg.

Some people fret because they don't create enough EWCM. Those who take clomid might notice their cm dries up or becomes thick, making it difficult for sperm to reach the egg. TTCers have thought of any and everything to combat such problems. One of the more interesting approaches is cough medicine.

It makes sense to me. When you have chest congestion or a cough, you take cold medicine to break up the congestion, or mucus in your lungs. There is an ingredient in cough medicine that is responsible for this: Guaifenesin. This is an expectorant that thins mucus in the lungs, allowing you to cough it up. The medicine can't distinguish between lung or cervical mucus. It works systemically, so it will affect all mucus membranes, including cervical mucus. This ingredient causes CM to thin out and become more stretchy, allowing sperm better transport through the cervix.

Not all cough medicines are created equal. Per my research, you want the only active ingredient to be Guaifensesin. I can't stress this enough because other ingredients can actually dry up CM. I looked at a ton of Robitussin and Mucinex products and they are not interchangeable. Some cough medicines don't contain Guaifenesin at all. Some have too many active ingredients that can dry up CM. Others don't contain enough Guaifensin. According to the cough medicine wives tale, you need 600 mg of Guaifensin. I could only find Robitussin up to 200mg, while the Mucinex has 600mg per dose (take 2 a day). Also, Robitussin is a syrup and Mucinex is in pill form. I personally would be more inclined to try the Mucinex for this reason alone.

After researching this, the only product I would recommend is Mucinex Expectorant with 600mg of Guaifensesin. I included a link at the bottom of this entry.

From my reading the recommended dosage is to take Mucinex daily for the 5 days before your expected ovulation and stop the day after ovulation. Typical daily doses are 1200mg for the day.

If you have high blood pressure, thyroid issues, or take medicines you think might have a negative interaction, you might want to check with your doctor before trying this approach. In general, it is a good idea to check with your doctor before taking "unnecessary" medicines.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Where do Babies come from?

I saw this funny video today posted on babycenter.com. Check it out.

The Pineapple Pregnancy Theory

Are we all just grabbing at straws? The things women attribute their pregnancies to is getting crazier the longer I prowl the boards. But by far the most seemingly-ridiculous theory is that of the Pineapple.

It is said that this tasty fruit contains an enzyme called Bromelain, that breaks up proteins that inhibit implantation of a fertilized egg. Now it is important to note that following this pineapple regime is not exclusively centered on the juicy goodness of the whole pineapple, you also have to eat the pineapple core, which contains a higher concentration of Bromelain.

This tentative theory includes specific instructions of when to eat the pineapple based on the method of conception. Here goes.

  • IVF: divide a whole pineapple into 5 portions. Eat a portion a day over five days, beginning on the day of your embryo transfer.

  • IUI: divide a whole pineapple into 5 portions. Eat a portion a day over five days, beginning on the day of your IUI.

  • Old-fashioned Intercourse: divide a whole pineapple into 5 portions. Eat a portion a day over five days, beginning on the day after ovulation.

Apparently, it is important not to eat pineapple prior to ovulation because it is acidic and can affect your CM.

I couldn't find any scientific studies centered around the pineapple-pregnancy link, but did discover yet other uses of the multi-tasking pineapple. It may induce labor, clean wounds, and tenderize meat.

I am all for non-invasive ways to help TTC but this sounds like an old wives tale. If you swear by the Pineapple Pregnancy Theory or have tried it and alas, the spiky fruit didn't result in a baby, I would love to hear.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What the Heck is an Instead Cup?

I keep seeing on babycenter.com that people are using Instead Cups to get sperm closer to the cervix in the hopes of conceiving. I hadn't ever heard of an Instead Cup.

Turns out is is a feminine hygiene product (ala tampons and pads) but it looks more like a condom with a plastic rim on it. The intended use is to insert it during your period to collect blood. You can leave it in for 12 hours.

However, industrious conceivers have found a new use. After sex, you insert the Instead Cup by squeezing the ends together it pushing it back (versus up, like a tampon). Hours later, you remove the cup. Apparently it is ridged so there is something to grab on to when removing it. Taking it a step further, some TTCers fill it will Pre-Seed to help the sperm get where it needs to go. Also, I have read people use it when they have hostile CM, to help the sperm move more freely.

I have seen the costs range from $6.75 (see below) to $12.00 for 14 cups. You would seemingly need 4 cups per month, one a day during your fertile window.

Newbies tend to border on panic attack before using the Instead Cups, because of the fear of how to get it in and even more alarming, how to get it out. Veterans say it is so easy. It might be worth a practice run. I did a brief Internet search to find first hand experiences. Someone posted that they have used it for all three pregnancies, clearly worked. Another avid fan advises that after sex, lie with you feet up for 5 to 10 minutes, then grab the cup and insert it while still lying down. Then when you wake up in the morning take it out. If you are using during the day, some advise it is only necessary for 2 to 3 hours, but no harm in waiting the full 12 hours. Another veteran added that you should insert it while still lying in bed, get up and go to the bathroom (to avoid the dreaded UTI) and then get back in bed.

As with most products, there is a slew of people saying they tried unsuccessfully to get pregnant for many months, used the Instead Cups, and got pregnant their first shot. Just another weapon in our arsenal against a BFN.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Cost of Doing Baby Business

The birds do it. The bees do it. So why does it cost me so much to try and do it? This is alarming and may my husband never see this post. I decided to calculate what it costs me to try and conceive each month. A conservative estimate is $405.

Calculation Notes: this is based on where I currently am in my quest for baby. At times, I was using 20 sticks a month for my monitor given my long cycles but now I am basing on 10 since my cycle is short. However, now I will be using progesterone and will be getting multiple blood tests at the doctors, not covered by insurance. Previously I was seeing the Reflexology 2 times a week at $65 a piece, now I see her every 10 days. Also, I am using supplies I had previously bought, but have since found better prices on products (that I have shared on links throughout the site) so in the very unfortunate event that I would need to try again after this cycle, I will have some savings there.

  • Prescription Pre-natal vitamins: $10

  • Prescription progesterone 20 day supply: $20

  • Home Pregnancy Tests (2): $20

  • Clearblue Easy Digital Ovulation Kit: $39

  • Clearblue Easy Monitor Sticks (10 of 30 used monthly): $14

  • B6 Vitamin: $3

  • Calcium with vitamin D: $2

  • Baby Aspirin: $2

  • Reflexology (3 Sessions): $195

  • Blood tests at Doctor (haven't seen bill for 3 tests last month so estimate): $100

  • TOTAL: $405

This comes out to almost $5,000 a year. I certainly have paid more than that considering my HSGs, MRI, countless blood tests, doctor appointments, costs associated with surgery. This doesn't even take into account costs that I might one day need to pay for IUI, trigger shot drugs, and monitoring. I am so incredibly hopeful it won't come to that.

I never really sat down and thought about the actual dollars it was costing us to try to conceive. We have definitely paid an emotional toll and made concessions in our lives about things we won't do (travel) or for me eat/drink (diet coke with lots of lemons, bad carbs, and anything that could remotely give me a buzz).

Looking at my list of expenses, I am not willing to give anything up. I could forgo the OPKs since I have the monitor, but I like to make sure I know when I am ovulating. I could cut back on the reflexology, but I do feel like it is helping.

The conclusion- I should buy stock in ClearBlue Easy and shield my husband from the reality of what it is costing us to get pregnant. I could just use one HPT a month, but who are we kidding, there isn't a chance in hell I could hold out until 14dpo. I might have to make a trip to a Dollar Tree. I hope there is one within city limits. I guess TTC is good practice for having a kid- they are expensive and what a bonus when I actually am pregnant. We can sock all this money away for the Pottery Barn furniture I have been using to decorate the nursery in my mind for the last two years.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Conceptionmoons- the Romantic Trip to end all Romantic Trips

The travel industry is abuzz with the new must do vacations: conceptionmoons and babymoons.
A conceptionmoon is relaxing, romantic getaway you plan with the hopes of conceiving on the trip. A babymoon is the trip you take once you are pregnant, before the baby comes, as sort of your last hurrah as a couple.

While there is a clear upside to baby and conception moons (fab trip), there are also many detractors.

Babycenter.com did a conceptionmoon survey and reported that 40% of respondents got pregnant on their conceptionmoon. What I find most astounding, and maybe this is because I have an irregular cycle, is how people were able to plan their trip in advance around their ovulation. They found couples typically spent $1700 for the trip, but felt it was worth it after an average of 8 months trying to conceive.

I came across a blogger who was outraged by Babycenter’s study. First, she pointed out that it was sponsored by Clearblue Easy and second, she felt it perpetuated the myth that if you just stop stressing, a baby will be magically implanted in your uterus.

A couple weeks ago, I saw on CNN, that a resort was offering couples who conceive at their resort a free stay the following year.

This post is quite timely for me. In April, when we found out that I lost a second pregnancy, would likely need surgery, and might have to wait up to 6 months to conceive afterwards, we decided to plan a big trip. For the last year, we had put travel plans on hold, because I assumed I would be pregnant and didn’t want to be on a cruise, doing something adventurous, or being too far away from home. When we got this bout of bad news, I told my husband that I needed something to look forward to instead of dreading those 6 months.

We decided to go on a big trip and go all out. We are going to Italy for 10 days in October. We are starting in Florence, then Venice, and ending in Rome. I cannot begin to tell you how excited we are. We figured we wouldn’t be able to take a trip like this for years. We wouldn’t feel right about leaving kids with our parents for 2 weeks and we wouldn’t want to take kids to Europe until they were at least ten and could appreciate it. Even still, it will be a second honeymoon for us.

I have already explicitly told him that I think he should re-propose to be on a gondola in Venice. I keep saying it and saying it and I think he thinks I am joking, but no, I am not. I am that sappy and needy.

Even if conception and baby moons are just the latest ploy from the suffering travel industry, what’s the harm? Worst case scenario, you don’t end up pregnant but have a fantastic trip.
As for my trip, I am looking at it like a babymoon. This will be the last big trip we take before having kids. It would have been great if it coincided with my fertile period, but it won’t. I will find out in Italy if I am pregnant. If I am not, it will be an easier blow to take when I can go wine tasting in Chianti or eat unpasteurized cheese to my stomach’s content. Plus by the time I get home, I will have only one more week to wait to try again. Of course, I would much prefer to come back with a bambino on board.

Preseed: What you Need to Know

If you spend your days learning from other TTCers how to best up your chances for conception, you have probably come across a product called Pre-Seed . Pre-Seed is a lubricant that mimics your natural cervical fluids. Unlike most lubricants, it is sperm friendly (some lubes actually kill sperm or decrease their motility even though they aren't labeled as spermicides). Pre-Seed makes the sperm's journey to the egg and easier ride. It was actually formulated to aid in conception.

People swear by it. My friend used it and got pregnant the first time. Personally, I have never tried it. It is particularly helpful for people on clomid. Clomid changes the chemistry of your CM, making it thicker and harder for the sperm to travel.

Customer comments on Amazon are very favorable but some people caution it isn't a magic baby pill. People like that it is easy to use (comes with applicator) and doesn't feel sticky. There are a good number of people that say they got pregnant their first shot using Pre-Seed . One person wrote she had been trying to conceive for 5 years, even tried clomid in vain. She used Pre-Seed and fell pregnant. Another person wrote on drugstore.com that she tried for a year, and then used Pre-Seed and got pregnant. The majority of posters said they got pregnant with Pre-Seed.

In terms of price, I have seen it cost as much as $19.99 however, I found this link for just $16.50. This comes with 6 applicators. So it seems like a month's supply.

Based on the testimonials I have read, if you have been frustrated and are contemplating more invasive steps (clomid, IUI) then this might be an easy, cheap thing to try first. Also, if you tend to not have a good amount of fertile CM, this might be exactly what you need. Based on the testimonials, I am more inclined to use it than before.

Let me know if you have used it and did or didn't have success.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Grass is Almost Always Greener

I am a pretty optimistic person. I always try to see the good in people and with my whole heart, I believe in happy endings. I always think in a movie the estranged couple will get back together, the sick will be cured, and believe that the out-of-work dad will become a millionaire.

Since my latest round of bad fertility news last week (progesterone levels crashed in luteal phase), I have been in an overly-indulgent, self-pitying, whoa-is-me funk. For the first time, I started questioning if it would ever happen for me. After going through so many obstacles, I felt like I had a clean bill of health and would get pregnant first chance I got. Since clearly this isn't the case, I allowed myself to get negative and let me tell you I was in the weeds.

And then last week, bad things started happening around me. My friend's dad died. My other friend's sister died along with the baby she was carrying who would have been born next month leaving behind two kids. My friend who lost her father has two kids. I realized I would much rather be in the situation I am in than the one she is facing.

Last Friday, I was speaking to my friend and she said that there have been many times where she questioned why is she single when everyone else is married. She thought I am a good person, I do charitable work, and I deserve it. She said she would cry herself to sleep many a night. And then she met her husband and they are perfect for each other.

I, too, have articulated the same thoughts to my husband. I am a good wife, a good daughter, a good friend, I volunteer, I am kind to strangers, so why me? Why can't I have a baby but crack heads and people who are conniving or mean-spirited are blessed with children?

I am just as guilty as anyone to think someone has it made because they have a kid. Just as my insightful friend thought all of her married friends had it made. But there is almost always more to the story. My dad, in an effort to cheer me up said, "Dana, kids are great, but they aren't the end all be all. They require work and patience. It isn't all rosy." I like to think he was talking about my sister (sort of kidding).

But he had a point. It is near to impossible to have a real phone conversation with my friends with kids. They are constantly putting me on hold to scold one of them, to comfort a crying child, or in an alarmingly quick voice say, "I have to call you back", because someone just got hurt. We don't have to worry about getting or paying for a sitter on a weekend, staying out late, or sleeping in. There are benefits to not having kids. Our approach should be to relish this time, because kids will soon be in tow.

This certainly wasn't the path I thought I would be on to motherhood, but it will make me a better, more appreciative mother. It has revealed to me the strength of my relationship with my husband, though I admittedly have driven him nuts. He always tells me we aren't trying to meet a deadline. He is right. I can't stop life to create one.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

TTC and The Toll it Takes on Marriage

While I am probably skewing the results of my latest poll by publishing this, I am struck by the resounding consensus of us TTCers. This week I asked "how on board is your husband or signficant other about TTC? "

As of the day I published this, every single respondent, myself included said, "All for it, but he thinks I am a bit crazy about TTC".

I started thinking why is this? And I realized for the first time that woman are fertile about a day or two a month. Men are fertile every single day. Right off the bat this disparity puts a lot of pressure on the woman. It is easy to jump to conclusions that there is something wrong with you if you aren't pregnant within a couple months. Since fertility is so fleeting each month for women, some of us become militant about having well-timed intercourse. I have seen much advice dispensed about just initiating and not telling him you are in your fertility window.

This doesn't fly for many and definitely not in my relationship. There is about 0 to 2% chance I could actually keep from my husband that I was peaking. And with my luck, if I were playing it all coy, he would be too tired from work and refuse my advances. Then I would have a melt down and we would end up having awkward, perfunctory, baby-making sex. So for me, honesty is the best policy. While we don't want to make our men feel like baby factories, there is a bit of planning required to get the job done right.

I have had friends text me at 1 in the morning filled with ire because their husbands wouldn't man up during their peak and this resentment spills over into their everyday lives.

Another area that causes tension is when getting pregnant is taking longer than you expected. It is easy to blame yourself and I think a lot of woman fear their husbands will blame them. Also, some men are very resistant to getting a sperm analysis or even IUI or IVF because they want to physically deliver the sperm.

Finally, the next area of baby-making tension is financial. The idea of starting a family can be daunting for a man. In addition to another mouth to feed, big decisions need to be made, such as should one of you stay home with the child, day care or nanny, public school or private school, bigger car, college... I could go on and on. This pressure tends to way heavily on the minds of our husbands.

Here are some tips to keep things harmonious while trying to conceive:

  1. Manage expectations: Have a discussion that TTC can be a long process. Both agree that you will give it a set amount of time before you start getting tested (i.e. 6 months, 1 year, etc) and getting crazy with the whole process.
  2. Set a game plan: Determine if it came to it, what would you both be comfortable doing. Discuss Clomid, IUI, IVF, Surrogacy, and Adoption. If you both know you are want a biological child more than anything, than you can feel more secure you have science in your corner. If on the other hand, you know both of you prefer to have a child naturally, but if it can't happen, you are both happy to adopt, that can take a lot of pressure off. Are you comfortable with twins? Triplets?
  3. Don't forget your marriage comes first: When you got married you weren't handed a certificate entitling you to a baby. You married your man because you loved him and enjoyed his company. Don't look at your husband as a means to an end.
  4. Give him a science lesson: explain to your husband that there is a fertile period and a short window of time each month. Unless you normally have sex every other day, just leaving things up to "what happens happens" isn't going to make the zealous TTCer comfortable. Get commitment upfront that your DH is willing, tired or not, to have sex during your peak times.
  5. Spare the details: guys don't want to know you have your period, your egg has been released, and you are having cramps. Keep some boundaries.
  6. Make a budget: look into how much day care/nannies cost in your area. Scope out some furniture you like on the web and talk to friends to see how much preparing for a baby cost. Look at your salaries and see what you can afford (staying home, day care, nanny). If you can show by the numbers that you can afford to have the baby, it might put his mind at ease.
  7. Laugh with each other: Learn to laugh at how crazy you get about TTC. If you can both laugh at it, it will ease the tension.
  8. Accept that it is different for you: Even though you both want a child, odds are you want it more than he does. You are willing to do whatever it takes, and he has no problem skipping a month. He isn't going to be mopey for 3 days after you get your period. It is just different. Don't judge him for not caring enough, it is a battle he can't win.
  9. Enjoy being just a couple: Go on that fabulous vacation you haven't had the chance to take or something more local like dancing or cooking classes together. Go to concerts or fancy dinners, because pretty soon you will be paying a babysitter for a night out on the town and you will fill guilty dropping the kids at your mom's for two weeks so that you can tour Europe.
  10. Tell him what you need: Guys don't necessarily know how to make it better. If they say, "it'll happen one day" we think they don't care enough and if they say "I can't believe it didn't happen this month" we think they are insensitive and doesn't he know that is only going to make me feel worse. Tell him what will comfort you, "There is no rush, it will happen, we will have our baby". My husband asks me, "does it really matter if we are 50 or 51 when our child goes to college?" That is a good perspective because right now it seems so dire, but when you project the situation 20 years in the future, it doesn't seem like such a big deal.
  11. Tell your husband what kind of dad he will be: Help him share you vision by telling him what a great dad you think he will be. I picture my husband being a great little league coach. We often fight over which subjects we can help our kids with in school. Though we are both academic nerds, Greg was admittedly a slightly, and I mean slightly better student. As such, he feels he is better equipped to handle history, math, and English. I was relegated art and music. Neither of us want science - our shared least favorite subject.

Now I just need to practice what I preach.

What tips do you have for calming the craziness and keeping the peace while trying to conceive?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Implantation Signs: Dips and Spotting

Although roughly only a 1/3 of all pregnancies start with implantation bleeding, it is one of those signs that TTCers love to over-analyze.

Bleeding before you period could be taken as a bad sign (short LP, low progesterone, hormone imbalance) and a dip in temperatures could signify that progesterone is losing its battle with estrogen and your period is on its way.

Perhaps reading into luteal phase spotting or temperature declines helps ease are minds during the TWW.

There is however, scientific evidence that some people do experience implantation signs. Implantation is defined as the fertilized egg attaching to the uterine wall.

Here is the what, why, and when.

Implantation Dip:
  • What: A drop in temperatures during your luteal phase
  • Why: Progesterone is the predominate hormone in the first part of your luteal phase. It causes your body temperature to go up. During the course of the luteal phase, estrogen kicks back in, causing temps to decline, but if implantation occured, the corpus luteum is rescued, and progesterone is back in charge. This brief balance of power causes the temperature dip. It is typically defined as at least a 0.3 drop in temperature for just one day.
  • When: Typically 7-10dpo (this is an average so could be earlier or later).
  • What else you need to know: Just because you have a temperature drop during this time frame, does not mean you are pregnant. Charts that have temp dips are more prevalent on charts resulting in pregnancy versus just ovulatory charts. On the flip, just because you do not have a dip, does not mean that you won't be pregnant. According to a study by fertilityfriend.com, the most common days for a temp dip are 7-8dpo and 23% of pregnancy charts had an implantation dip.

Implantation Spotting (AKA implantation bleeding):

  • What: Light spotting for a brief period of time during the luteal phase
  • Why: A result of the fertilized egg burrowing into the uterine wall
  • When: Typically 8 to 12 dpo
  • What I need to know: Like luteal phase temperature dips, spotting in the luteal phase does not mean you are pregnant, it is just a pattern more common on pregnancy charts than ovulatory charts. If you don't have implantation, you still have a great shot of being pregnant. Implantation spotting occurs in about 1/3 of pregnancies. Typically it is pinkish or brown in color, although it could look like blood. It is lighter than menstrual bleeding. It generally lasts for one to two days. Often it is mistaken for a period because it occurs close to the time your cycle should start.

I haven't found research about what comes first, implantation spotting or implantation dip. I looked at myriad charts in fertilityfriend.com's chart gallery and what I discovered was often they occured the same day. Implantation dips were more likely to precede implantation bleeding.

Once the fertilized egg implants, it starts creating HCG, the pregnancy hormone that pregnancy tests check for. I have tried in vain to find a definitive answer as to how soon you would get a positive pregnancy test. From what I found, it runs the gamut from 2 days to 1 week. The majority of sites say wait at least 4 to 5 days. The agony of waiting!

I would love to hear if you had implantation spotting, dips, and how long you needed to wait to get a BFP!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Natural Gender Selection: Choosing the Sex of Your Baby

I have heard old wives tales about choosing your baby's gender and the TTC chatrooms are all a buzz with phrases like "The Shettles Method".

Personally, I am of the mindset of just wanting a healthy baby. I really don't care if I will be picking out my child's wedding dress one day with her or see him pitching for the Cubs (my husband already informed me if we have a left-handed boy, we are paying for private pitching lessons).

I know some people really care. I have a friend now that is really upset she is having a boy. Obviously she is thrilled to be pregnant but just wanted to buy frilly clothes. A lot of my friends say they wouldn't know what to do with a boy. Another good friend of mine was over the moon about having a girl but her husband is sorely disappointed.

Lucky for me, neither of us care whether we have a boy or a girl. I see all over the net people ending their signatures with "hoping for blue" or "thinking pink". If they would broadcast such stake-in-the-ground statements, then they are likely trying to do gender selection at home.

Here is what I found out.
- The Shettles Method
- This is built on the premise that female sperm is slower than male sperm, but
hardier. It can survive more days without fertilization. Male sperm is quick
and is racing to get to the egg. However, it is built of weaker stock and
can't live as long without being fertilized.
- Based on these purported facts, have sex several days(2-4)before ovulation for a
girl, since the male sperm will die off and all that is left will be female
sperm. Have sex on ovulation day (preferably within 12 hours of ovulation)so
the male sperm beat out the female sperm in this fertility footrace.
- Doctor Shettles, who created the method of gender selection, claims he has a 75%- 90% success rate (seemed like a large range to me)

Aside from not finding any scientific proof to back this up, I would find you need to be pretty patient to use this method if your heart is set on having a girl. You would have far fewer opportunities to have sex and conceive a child. I saw a study on in-gender.com and it ranked the Shettles Method a C- for accuracy having a girl and D for having a boy. It did say that you are likely to take advantage of your fertility when practicing Shettles for a boy (since sex is well timed with ovulation).

Thursday, September 3, 2009

HCG Levels in Early Pregnancy

During the two week wait, we are often tempted to test early, but there is always the fear of being completely disheartened by a false negative pregnancy test.

I came across this info on http://www.fertilityplus.org/ that lists out the average HCG level by days past ovulation during the TWW.

I have to question this data though, because that would mean the majority of pregnancy tests would detect pregnancy at 10dpo. Most home pregnancy tests detect HCG levels of 25. This does make me think more about testing early. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How Many DPO can you Experience Pregnancy Symptoms and Indicators?

There are few things as exhilarating as interpreting little nuances in your body as signs of pregnancy. The question remains, is there any merit to these signs so early in a pregnancy?

Researches suggest most people don't experience signs of pregnancy until the 5th or 6th week. Most active TTCers start over-analyzing everything at what would be 3 or 4 weeks, if they were in fact pregnant.

According to fertilityfriend.com, implantation, or when the fertilized egg burrows into the uterine wall, typically happens 7 to 10dpo. This is an average so it could be earlier or later. The website contends some people might have implantation signs such as:

  • light spotting around 7-10 dpo (implantation bleeding)

  • a second thermal shift (i.e. triphasic chart for those tracking temps) that occurs between 7 and 10dpo. Note of caution, I once had a clear triphasic chart and was not pregnant.

  • Implantation dip or a single temp drop for one day between 7 and 10dpo

I than found the pregnancy-symptom obsesser's dream on countdowntopregnancy.com. They have charts were you can look up a symptom, like cramps, and see when pregnant people (their members) experienced these symptoms. From their sample of users, the most common early pregnancy symptoms as follows:

  • Fatigue/Exhaustion: I have experienced this, but during the fifth week. I had to come home from work and sleep for 30 minutes before cooking dinner.

  • Mild/Dull Cramps/Pressure: some experience cramping as early as implantation (6-12 dpo). This includes twinges and pinching/pulling. I have experienced these twinges and the nurse said it was the uterus expanding.

  • Constipation or feeling bloated

As much as I want to believe in these signs, I have not been accurate in predicting my own pregnancy chances. Take last November. It was our first cycle trying after the miscarriage the previous August. I was about 10dpo when we flew home for Thanksgiving. On the plane my breasts hurt so badly, I was actually holding them. I took this as a great sign because the first thing I noticed in my previous pregnancy (during the 5th week was breast pain and heaviness). Then on 11dpo my chart started a triphasic pattern. I was also absolutely exhausted and was taking naps everyday. I ended up having a 19 luteal phase (should be 14) and I wasn't pregnant. I was shocked. Now if you take my last pregnancy, I didn't record one pregnancy symptom but ended up with a BFP.

One of the main reasons for confusion is that the hormone, progesterone, is present both before you ovulate and in pregnancy. Both pregnancy and menstruation can cause breast pain, cramps and fatigue.

What has been your experience accurately or inaccurately predicting pregnancy based on early symptoms?