The Fertility Awareness Method

sperm

I promised a friend I would do my best to explain how to start charting her cycles and tracking her fertility. I am 5 months in to doing this so I am somewhat of a seasoned professional. We have been trying to conceive again after losing Hayden ever since my birth wounds healed. I honestly did not expect it to be this hard, I don’t think we had a hard time getting pregnant before but I will admit I had no sweet clue when I ovulated or what a luteal phase was or that I could make predictions based on my cervical position. I was completely oblivious to my own reproduction and perhaps that is why we were able to conceive. All this charting and obsessing is probably not helping the baby making progress and part of me is thinking of giving up and just seeing what happens. I will say, it has been pretty empowering to learn more about my own fertility this way and understand my unique cycle patterns. This method is not only used to achieve pregnancy but also to avoid it without the use of hormone-filled female contraceptives.

Let’s get started!

What you will need:

– An app or website to document your data (I use Kindara on the iPhone but there are others out there, you just have to look,      fertility friend is supposed to be a really good one too)

– A decent basal thermometer for checking your BBT (Basal Body Temp)

– A willingness to learn the lingo (took me a long time and I am still in dark with some of the crazy abbreviations)

– A sense of humor because you will be doing a lot of weird shit you never thought you would do

Some examples of abbreviations you will need to know:

AF

Charting your cycle is really quite simple but it takes commitment.

There are 3 stages to your cycle. Follicular (FP), Ovulation (O), and luteal (LP).

Obviously your FP is the time before you O and the LP is the time after you ovulate up until you get your AF.

There are two main components to charting. First is taking your BBT (vaginally) every morning, as soon as you wake up and before you get out of bed, at the same time (within 30 mins give or take) and making sure you had at least 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep before waking. I take mine when our alarm goes off (6:30am…even on weekends!) and keep my thermometer under my pillow so I barely have to move. Moving around and getting up will make your BBT higher and give you false data. Sometimes this is a problem for me because I have a crying cat outside my window at 5am and need to let him in. My temps may not always be accurate. The second important part is checking for CF daily. You do this by inserting a finger in to your vagina and then inspecting what you find. Is there any at all (dry)? creamy? sticky? watery? or egg whitey? The important part of this is to check it a few times a day and record the most fertile fluid you find. If you are going to gather your CF from deep within near your cervix make sure you consistently do that. If you decide to check whats at the opening, keep doing that. The most fertile CF is EWCF which will be clear and stretchy (like egg whites..duh). No CF is the least fertile and then sticky and white creamy. Watery is pretty close to EWCF and is also considered to be fertile. This method takes getting used to and can seem strange at first. Once you start seeing a pattern it will be really cool and empowering though, I promise.

Unfortunately, you can only know that you have O the day after. The day after O your temp will rise at LEAST .2 degrees higher than your previous 6 temps and will stay elevated for at least 3 days. This is a rule of thumb for knowing you actually ovulated that month. If you have no temp rise in your cycle you may be experiencing an anovulatory cycle meaning you did not O- you should make an appointment with your GP to figure out whats up.

Take a look at my CY#3 chart

Attachment-1

This cycle lasted 37 days (my norm is 36) so I was almost convinced I was PG the day AF was supposed to arrive but, alas, I was not. As you can see, I ovulated on CD24 (also a norm for me). The length of my LP was 12-13 days long here, ideally you need 14 days to get pregnant and no less than 10. The LP is the time after O when your body begins producing P4 which is released from the corpus luteum during O. P4 carries on maintaining the uterus lining, it stops a new follicle from developing and prevents the uterus from contracting. With no fertilization, P4 levels fall causing the shedding of the uterus lining and, voila, AF arrives. Some temp drops in your LP are fine, in fact, there is such a thing as an “implantation dip” which is a dip in temp some time between DPO 5-10 caused by a fertilized egg implanting itself on the uterine lining – a.k.a pregnancy! If your LP is 10 days or less you may have a problem getting pregnant because your body has not had enough time to allow the fertilized egg to implant before the lining starts to shed and AF arrives.

Charting your CF can help you predict when you begin your fertile stage. Normally, your CF will become watery or EW as your approach O. This can give you a hint that it is time to start serious baby making activities. As mentioned above, you will only know you ovulated the day after, so all the hints you can get are important!

To keep track of unprotected sex little hearts below each CD are recorded. In the above chart, we timed sex perfectly for conception. We did it on all of the fertile days leading up to O and even the day after O. Sperm can live inside you for up to 7 days!!! That is pretty crazy! Your egg can live only 12-24 hours! Baby making is intricate stuff!

The biggest misconception is that you get pregnant on CD 14. That may be true for women with at 28 day cycle but for many women, our cycles vary from 21-40 days. There is no real norm when it comes to this stuff, It is still possible to get pregnant on longer cycles, what matters most is A: you ovulate B: you have sex when you ovulate C: your luteal phase is long enough to allow a fertilize egg to successfully implant. There are many other factors that can inhibit getting your anticipated BFP. Stress is one of them which may account for us trying for 5 months with no luck. If i keep obsessing about TTC it will probably take longer to actually make a baby than if I were to relax and stop thinking about it. That is exactly how Hayden was conceived. We never thought about it.

Either way, charting is a great tool to get to see the patterns in your cycle, figure out if you have fertility issues, and time sex according to ovulation. My period is due today and my temp dropped this morning on 12DPO. This probably means I am going to get a visit from AF any minute now…It doesn’t help that each month this happens I cry like a baby in DH’s arms with complete disappointment and shattered hopes. I am putting so much pressure on myself to get pregnant with my rainbow it is likely hurting my chances. I might skip the charting this month. I already know I ovulate around CD24 so my next fertile period is around Oct 23rd. I will mark that on my calendar and put the effort in but I will try hard not to get caught up with the whole thing again and see if that helps.

Hope this information was helpful for anyone curious about fertility charting.

Some resources:

https://www.kindara.com/home  (charting APP I use)

http://www.redcoralfertility.com/  (Justina gave me loads of great advice when I first began my TTC journey)

Xox

Sam

Advertisements

Bullshit and Confidence

My father once told me the secret to cooking and I have lived by that rule in the kitchen ever since.

Bullshit and confidence.

I am really not afraid to try the most unlikely ingredients together. Often this comes from needing to figure out what I can make for dinner at the tail end of the week before grocery day. Luckily my husband will try (almost) anything I whip up. I’ve served green peas and peanuts in a desert dish as a side once and he ate both his portion AND mine (that wasn’t really my best idea).

I suppose we could also call this post frugal cooking. The first step to this culinary process is to take a look in your fridge and cupboards and make note of what you have left. The most important thing is to not second guess yourself and just keep going with whatever pops in your head.

The other day I made a late lunch quickly with the remains of a long stretch between super market visits. It blew my mind!

Working from home has made me less conscientious of eating at scheduled meal times. Usually, my day begins with 3 cups of coffee for breakfast. Around 11 o’clock I am famished so I have a piece of toast of a bowl of cereal. I then work through my lunch break because I am no longer hungry and by 2-2:30 I am starving! This “recipe” was born from one of those mid day hunger episodes. Mostly all I had in the house was endless boxes of pasta and no pasta sauce. I didn’t have time to whip up a homemade sauce using my canned tomatoes so this is what happened.

Empty Cupboard Pasta Special

Ingredients you will need:

  • Mix of linguine and spaghetti (only reason for this was I  had shoved what was left of the spaghetti in the linguine box to save pantry space)
  • Sweet chili sauce
  • Chickpeas
  • Pesto (my favorite! I could eat it right from the jar!!)
  • Olive oil
  • Onions
  • Sriracha (aka Cock Sauce)
  • peanuts (preferably the last handful at the bottom that’s mostly crushed and dusty)

photo 3 (8)

Begin by boiling your pasta to your preference,  I don’t like al dente noodles so I let them boil a bit longer.

I am going to let you in on a very authentic Italian cooking trick. To know when your noodles are ready, simply take one from the pot and throw it across your kitchen at the wall or ceiling. If it sticks, you know you can remove it from the heat. If it doesn’t, make sure you remember to pick it up off the floor so you don’t end up with a gathering of old spaghetti noodles behind your kitchen table (that has happened to me far too many times).

photo 1 (11)

Another useful pasta cooking tip my father passed down to me was to run cold water over the noodles while you’re draining them. This prevents them from sticking together. They will still be piping hot, don’t worry.

photo 2 (10)photo 1 (10)

While your pasta is cooking, open up that forgotten can of chickpeas hidden behind the endless Campbell’s tomato soup stash and drain them well. Chop some onion and get your sweet chill sauce ready.

photo 4 (6)

Heat a “dollop” of olive oil in a skillet (I apologize but my cooking usually never involves measuring). Place your chickpeas in and cook on med-high heat for about a minute before you add the onions and sweet chili sauce.  Again, no idea how much sauce, just pour it over the chickpeas until your intuition tells you to stop.

photo 5 (6)

If ya can’t handle the heat skip this step. Add a squirt of Sriracha!

 

photo 2 (11)photo 3 (9)

Now it’s time to get back to your noodles. Scoop out a generous portion of delicious pesto from the jar and mix it around the pasta until its evenly distributed. Next, grab a handful of crushed peanuts. Normally I mix pesto with pine nuts and it is just the epitome of delicious. Obviously- I didn’t have pine nuts but I found an almost empty bag of peanuts…remember folks… bullshit and confidence. Your pasta will look like the picture below.

photo 4 (7)

Pour over top your chickpea mix, sprinkle a little hemp hearts and flaxseed if ya got it (I do this with so many meals and Nick has no idea). If you have children I would suggest this little trick. You can barely taste/notice it and its a great source of extra Protein, Omega 3 and much much more!

photo 5 (7)

VOILA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buon Appetito!

photo 1 (13)

…But be careful that  $#!^ is hot!!!

photo 2 (13)

I made this again for supper for Nick and he couldn’t get enough of it.  

photo 3 (10)

 

Do not despair if your cupboards are bare!

Creative and frugal cooking is simple when bullshit and confidence are your main ingredients! 

 

 

 

Walking chats

So far, my mission for change has been minimally executed. I thought about getting angry with myself over that last night but decided to give myself a break. There simply has not been enough time yet to accomplish everything I imagine will happen during this “journey back to myself”.

Yesterday I managed to cook supper after work AND do the dishes immediately afterwords (hip hip horray!?). I didn’t tackle the laundry or bake cute little pink and green macaroons like I planned to.  I did, however, take a nice evening walk with my husband and our dog. Every time we do that I always feel so refreshed and motivated for the future (even if the future only means waking up early enough to shower before work). I love our little ‘walking chats’, they make me feel safe and comfortable and hopeful. I’m not sure why.

There is something about the way the amber colored street lamps light the path before us. We can barely make out the features of each other’s faces and, either way, we’re staring straight ahead. It’s his voice that becomes clearer in the quiet and dark, like when hes talking to me in bed, that I love. In the early weeks of our son’s death HE was the only comfort I found. Here we are, 5 months later, walking around the streets in our neighborhood at night laughing and dreaming about the possibilities for our future. On our walks we often talk about our future home. The dream home. His taste is much more modern than mine but he softens around the edges when I speak of wrap around porches and white sheets on clotheslines. We both agree on a big garden and apple trees and I have come to compromise with my original plan for an old farm house. He is practical and insightful when it comes to the structural importance of a home and I trust him. We both want a goat so that’s really all that matters.

Hayden is always mentioned on our walks. I know I can tell Nick anything and he will understand. Yesterday was the first day of school for so many of my friend’s children and I don’t remember ever noticing the massive flood of ‘first day’ pictures and statuses on Facebook before now. Maybe it’s because this year I am a mother. My own son will never start kindergarten for the first time. I will never get emotional as I drop him off with his brand new lunchbox matching his brand new backpack. I will never greet him at the bus stop or have warm chocolate chip cookies waiting for him at the kitchen table. I would have been a great mom (oh gosh, here come the tears again)……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

OK. I forget where I was going with that.

Talking to Nick about these things is a greater release than talking to my computer screen about them (well, duh!).  Nick can say anything and it doesn’t upset me because I know he KNOWS. Often times to comfort me he will say, and in fact I crave to hear him say, “we will have more children”. The odd thing about that is I hate it when other people say it. I know it’s meant well and I know it’s true but for some reason it’s just one of those urking sentences people offer to condole. My own grandmother pisses me off when I hear her say it after I just finished expressing how much I miss my baby. The fact that I can have more babies does not and will not EVER replace the fact that I had one perfect son and he died for a stupid reason. That just doesn’t make sense. Pick which one of your kids you would like to have die. Does that feel good? Does it make it better for you knowing one of them will live? I didn’t think so!

I seem to have gotten off track. I think I started this post to share pictures and a recipe actually. When I start writing it always circles back to Hayden. The reason I made this blog in the first place was so I could move away from my baby loss rants. Obviously that isn’t going very well is it ?

I created a delicious masterpiece out of thin air today for lunch and I really wanted to share that.

Keep an eye out for my next post which I promise will actually be about something food related.

 

 

I am new

Everything started pointing towards doing this.

I looked out my window at the tiny weed jungle  that used to be my garden while shaking the last prescription bottle of Ativan hoping one might have gotten stuck in the rim of the cap.

I started thinking about all the really awesome things I used to do and used to love. I started remembering excitement in the smell of freshly baked Rosemary rolls and sitting on the lawn in front of a transforming wooden stool with paint all over my arms and legs. And I peered in to my bedroom. The part of my home I close off to company and require a highly trained team of search and rescue just to locate a pair of clean underwear. Laundry wasn’t always THIS much of an issue.

There is a whole pile of things that just ceased to seem worth it after my son died. Folding clothes was one of them. There were some nights I decided to tackle the mountain of laundry and spent hours washing everything and sweeping forgotten socks out from under our bed. I would put on a movie and fold everything so neatly and organize by color and get ready to finally put everything back in its own perfect place. Then a woman would go in to labor and I would freeze- holding on to the edge of the couch for dear life. A birth cry would sound out loud through the speakers and then I would give up again. Neatly folded laundry piled on to the floor. No more energy for anything else but self-pity and denial and anger.

I woke up each morning knowing I had to change. Deciding today would be the day I would start over. I would turn my apartment in to the sanctuary it needed to be for my own sanity, I would start freezing banana bread again, I would paint the bathroom walls and finally try out that shabby chic DIY tutorial on our dresser. Instead, I’d watch 7 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and went to bed severely pissed off with myself.

What happened to me?

“Your baby died”

Oh yeah..

Did I die too? Probably a little bit. Maybe a lot.

It has been just over 5 months. Freud would have an explanation for this. My Superego is saying “Come’on, get up, shake it off” and my ID is on the other end like “It’s too early, go get more wine, cry like hell and don’t worry about the expectations you have for yourself”. Neither of the voices are wrong, but they are so damn opposing! I am getting nowhere like this. I am no longer me.

I have always had my fair share of emotional issues. If I’m going to be public like this I might as well admit it all. Anxiety has been taking over my body and my mind long before I birthed my first child in to this world beautiful and dead. My palms get sweaty, my heart races, my index and middle fingers stick together as if they’ve been super glued. Sometimes I think I have a special magic organ in my stomach,  a medical mystery if ever found by doctors, that occasionally releases a pack of angry evil butterflies that go rampant inside my body. Generalized Anxiety Disorder? I think the psychiatrist just diagnosed me as depressed but that wasn’t right because I have a lot of happiness and laughter in my life. My moods are a whole other story. And I am really sorry for everyone who has been close enough to me to witness the way I turn receiving love in to a paranoid conspiracy that I must defend myself against. At one point I really thought I had BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) and even have a copy of “I hate you, don’t leave me” in my sock drawer. I’ve done the prescription drug thing off and on, I self-medicate with large bottles of wine, but I have, through the years, found more natural ways to help my “condition”. Like someone with autism, pressure really seems to work. Before my husband came along my cat used to lay right up on my chest during a little panic attack. Regulating my breathing with the consistency of his calm puurrrrr. Now I just need to ask for a human sandwich and Nick knows to throw me on the couch and put all of his weight on me until my symptoms begin to ease.

I got in to baking hardcore one summer when I lived alone. I treated my anxiety with specialty breads, cupcakes, pies, quiches and pretzels. I learned how to braid bread and the importance of precise measuring. I also put my energy in to so many useful places. At one point I was so conscientious I recycled my toilet paper rolls. I hate to admit that if you looked in my trash right now you might see CANS- like the kind you get $$ back for from the bottle depot- I know, I know, I KNOW. Before I lost my baby I always had something on the go or was learning a new skill or becoming passionate about some grandiose and strange subject. I bounced around from task to task keeping busy and singing cheerfully while I worked. I am not saying I was ever an organized person, because that wouldn’t be true, (just take a look at my Pintrest boards!) and part of this transformation I am trying to start here is to become more organized as well as get back to the person I was before my life fell apart. In my first blog I wrote about all the pieces that shattered after my Hayden died. In this one I want to write about how I am going to put them back together. “Anxiety Cupcake” is my jigsaw puzzle project!

Ripped to shreds and reassembled, I am new.