How (I think) we got pregnant

First disclaimer: EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT

Second disclaimer: EVERYONE. IS. DIFFERENT.

I can’t stress it enough. You can read a million tips and tricks when TTC and none of them could work for you. There’s nothing I can do about that, though I wish I could. I am among the hated and envied couples who was blessed with a short TTC period, getting pregnant on our 2nd month of trying. I would say I’m sorry but that’s not fair – I’m so happy. Suffering didn’t have to happen to get me here and I’m undeniably thankful for that. But your suffering doesn’t make you a better or worse mom than I will be.  TTC sucks. 2 months or 2 years. My prayers are with the families who struggle. You guys are warriors. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

So I was certain it would take us much longer to conceive once we started trying. For years while I was dating Hubs people told us we would get pregnant on our honeymoon. We’re just that kind of couple I guess. But we were smart and I didn’t stop taking my birth control until January of this year.

I stopped taking my birth control cold turkey at the same time I also started taking half of my daily dose of anxiety medication. Many women, especially those who have been taking them for a long time, have a really hard time coming off anxiety medicine and they need to wean off for a longer period of time. I cut to half my dosage for a month and then quit entirely in February. It was a hard transition, no sugar-coating it. When you go so long without having creepy worrisome depressing thoughts, it’s a little jarring to have them creep up again. But you get through it. Honestly, the weirdest trick I learned was to eat tons and tons of cashews.

Cashews are one of the best sources of the amino acid trytophan among all plant-based foods. This amino acid is critical for improving the uptake of serotonin in the brain and acts as a direct precursor to the anti-depressant hormone itself. A depletion of serotonin can make us feel anxious, stressed, and just downright sad. Trytophan is found in many plant-based foods, but is incredibly dense in cashews with 1000-2000 milligrams per 1/4 cup serving. (Other good sources in lower amounts are bananas, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds, almonds and sweet potatoes, just to name a handful.)

No joke, it actually helped. And now I’m hooked on the little legumes.

Next to quitting my medications was the obvious cutting-out of the no-nos like alcohol and caffeine. I also cut down on sugary foods as much as I could. This was less hard and more just sad. But it’s common sense, and will actually make your body healthier for fertility anyway. Make like Uncle Joey from Full House and Cut-It-Out!

When TTC I highly recommend tracking your fertility with a calendar or app. I downloaded Ovia Fertility (free) and loved it. You keep track of your cycle, it helps identify your fertile window and ovulation day based on your menstrual cycle and an array of symptoms. First thing in the morning for over a month I was popping a thermometer and inputting my basal body temperature and symptoms for the day, like the consistency and color of my cervical fluid (ew, I know, but really helps). Based on your information, the app posts things in your feed like “You entered a basal body temperature of 98.6. BBT remains elevated post-ovulation if you conceived, so keep up the good work!” So it’s nice to not only keep track of what you’re doing but get feedback on what it means. Ovia helped us identify my fertile window so we knew when to do the Baby Dance (even more). We tried to have sex at least once a day during my fertile window and a day or two afterwards, even doubling up some days but mostly because somebody is rather enthusiastic about baby making… Regardless, I am certain this utility is somewhat responsible for our successful conception.

(Ovia makes a Pregnancy app too, which I’m using now and loving! A lot more simple and less cluttered than the What to Expect or Bump apps)

If there is one change we made from the first month to this month that I am certain led to conception it is … lube. We use the stuff on the regular, cause I’m not a raging teenager anymore and well, sometimes you just need a little extra help down there. I was reading up on what can keep you from conceiving and one of the top responses from doctors was that you’re using the wrong lubrication. Most over-the-counter lubes like KY are naturally spermicidal, even if they don’t say so specifically on the box, meaning they are toxic to sperm. So basically we were sending the little guys to their death every time we did the deed. There is a solution, my fellow wetness-needers! Pre-Seed. This is a sperm-friendly lubricant that helps his swimmers get where they need to go, mimicking your body’s natural lady fluids. I’m telling you, it’s actually better than the regular lubricant we used before! A little goes a long way, and the results speak for themselves – we got pregnant our first month using the stuff. Give me a mic, I’ll gladly preach the Pre-Seed gospel, y’all. Use this stuff.

Lastly, and I know you’ve heard this one before, cause Lord knows I heard it a lot… we got pregnant when I stopped worrying and just gave it to God. I finally reached a breaking point during a week with obnoxious family drama, annoying ovarian cysts and financial stress where I just said you know what? If I don’t get pregnant this month, that is OKAY. I am completely at peace about this. I refuse to let this wonderful thing just become one more stressful factor in my life. And I just let go. Once I did, sex was better. I felt no TTC stress. I started looking to the future instead of losing my mind during the “Two-Week-Wait.” I didn’t even notice it! I had come to terms with myself that I wouldn’t even take a pregnancy test unless I actually missed my period. It made me feel so much better to have it out of my hands. My wonderful loving husband repeated to me over and over that if we don’t get pregnant right now, then it just wasn’t God’s timing for us to do so. It wasn’t the exact right sperm and exact right egg to make the first child He has planned for us. And it’s the truth, y’all. You can prepare yourself as much as is necessary but at a certain point, you gotta let go. Stress is only going to prolong TTC. It felt so much better getting pregnant under peaceful conditions than it would have if I were letting myself go crazy over it.

Alright, again… EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT. I in no way am claiming to be anything even resembling an expert in the field of fertility. This is my absolute first pregnancy. But I know that when I was TTC, I scoured posts like this looking for a real authentic account of what worked for a real person. So here it is, and I hope and PRAY that something in here works for someone and helps them feel the way I do right now, with a little nugget on the way. Bless you in your struggle, and just keep swimming.

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Since we found out our little nugget is a-brewin’, days seem to be passing slower and I’ve become irrationally aware of my body. It’s both a blessing and a curse that we have resources these days to predict and track symptoms of pregnancy. I feel the slightest twinge of nausea and OH GOD NO THE MORNING SICKNESS IS STARTI- no… wait… yep it’s gone. False alarm.

Not that I’m exactly looking forward to the morning sickness days, but the one upside is that when you get to feeling strong symptoms like that its like a dead-certainty that you’re (still) pregnant. So for a neurotic dork like me, it will be oddly relaxing the first time I’m coiled over in the fetal position nibbling on saltines and screaming at my poor husband to get me some ice chips.

So morning sickness hasn’t set in yet. Today I’m appx 4 weeks and 4 days pregnant, according to my last menstrual cycle.  I have been experiencing light cramping for about a week, and I weirdly love it. Every time I feel something it’s just a reminder that something good is cooking down there. I haven’t felt a … presence … of anything/anyone yet, so those little physical reminders are about all I have to latch onto atm. I’m a bit of a loony, so I believe that when the heart starts beating and the “soul,” “spirit,” what-have-you is there, I’ll know it. I’m no crunchy-granola mom (yet) but I do have some weird aura-sensing mom-brain stuff going on. Everyone’s different.

Along with cramping, there’s been the appetite 180. For the past few months since I came off my birth control, I’ve been gaining weight like crazy (15 lbs in 2 months. Not kidding.). They say sometimes you can get a raise in appetite coming off bc that can do that. Why did no one warn me of this?! I feel like a beached whale already and now I’m pregnant?! Thankfully according to my mother, I’ll lose that weight and then some once the morning sickness kicks in. Hoo-rah.

So yeah, since I got pregnant my appetite is like…gone. I can eat maybe half of the amount I was eating before. And food either sounds ABSOLUTELY AMAZING to me or just … blah. Hubs and I pretty much never eat the same thing at the same time anymore. I’m having to snack inbetween my mini-meals which I almost never did before. I start feeling nauseous when I get hungry so I’m eating something every couple hours. I’m having aversions to most foods but I can’t even say what they are specifically because it changes every freakin’ day. All I can tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, is that I would pay $50 for a Chipotle burrito right now. Mexican… is like the new holy grail of foods. And of course we’re at the end of the month with no money in our bank account and we don’t have any mexican in the house. My mom sent me $20 in the mail yesterday and I literally started crying at the prospect of maybe going to Chipotle today.

Oh yeah, so emotions…

So pregnancy hormone levels are fuh-reeking insane. Yesterday in the span of an hour I went from fuming mad at Hubs for not helping with the dishes … to sobbing on the phone with my mom about the fact that he will be deployed for 3 months of my late pregnancy and I’ll be all alone here in corn land … to feeling absolutely nothing and not knowing what to do with myself … to laughing and goofing around with Hubs on his lunch break like nothing was wrong at all. It’s less like a rollercoaster and more like a gat-dang Tilt-o-Whirl (nausea included). And I’m barely pregnant … what is this going to be like when I’m in my 2nd and 3rd trimesters?! My POOR husband! I’m gonna run him off! He’s gonna flee for his life and leave me and little fetus alone to fend for ourselves! (Well, I’m pretty sure he would never do that. But a sane man would.)

As far as guessing the gender goes, Hubs and I are pretty open to either possibility. Our close friends and family that we’ve told are split about 50/50 so far. We’re hoping to be able to find out by at least 13 weeks because we’ll be visiting home on the 4th of July and would love to have a fireworks gender reveal. The 4th of July is my and Hubs’ favorite holiday, and we’re so excited that we have a new reason to celebrate.

I’m a nut-bar and have already purchased some baby clothes and gear on clearance and used here and there over the last couple months. My mom is a bargain-shopping superhero and has gotten us quite a lot of stuff too. Notable purchases so far:

Diaper Genie for $5.95
Aden & Anais swaddles for $19.95 (originally $35-$40)Evenflo electric breast pump – $8
Various Target & Old Navy maternity clothes on clearance for dirt-cheap prices

I’m proud of us. This is probably how we will accumulate much of baby’s things – clearance racks, consignment shops and gifts from the registry. While there are certain items I wont accept used or not on the registry (infant car seat, etc) I’m not squeamish when it comes to consignment shopping. There’s a store down the street from our house that has onesies and baby outfits starting at $0.50. Why wouldn’t you?

We call our growing fetus “Stormageddon.” If you don’t know the reference, do something good for yourself and just watch Doctor Who. Stop telling yourself it’s too nerdy for you. You played Pokemon as a kid like the rest of us, nerd, just accept the lifestyle.

Stormy is due on January 1st, 2016 – keeping us on edge about which tax return we get to write him off on. We’re hoping for 2015. Really, really hoping.

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How soon after finding out you’re pregnant are you supposed to fully believe that you’re pregnant?

I’m lounging in our art room with the window open, watching my neighbors across the street having a triple family playdate with at least 5 kids ages infant to 6 years or so. And I’m thinking to myself this is going to be me soon. It’s finally happening. A real baby is growing inside me RIGHT NOW! But for whatever reason, it’s not really sinking in. Like every 15 minutes or so I have to remind myself that I’m pregnant.

Part of it has to be that it was unexpected. Yeah we’re actively trying but between getting a new job, drama in the family, my best friend coming to visit and some weird left pelvic pain I was having a couple weeks ago I had pretty much decided it wasn’t going to happen this month. And for the first time since we started trying to conceive, I was calm. I had absolutely no anxiety about timing, about “the plan,” about not being pregnant… nothing. I was so chill. I had even decided I wasn’t even going to think about taking a pregnancy test unless I missed my period by more than one day.

Yet yesterday morning as I was laying in bed half awake half asleep, the inkling creeped into my head that I should just take a test that morning. I brushed it off initially like a ladybug crawling on my shoulder. But I kept feeling the urge to take one; void of any anxiety or worry, not even curiousity really. Just an inkling. So I peed on a stick, went to take my dogs outside and came back to the bathroom nonchalant and unexpecting as could be.

I swear it took me 30 seconds to even see there were two pink lines. And even when I saw the two pink lines, I looked at the dang directions to make sure I wasn’t kidding myself. My eyes darted from the test to the directions and back for a good bit while my brain played catch-up. To this moment I only like 83% believe this is happening. And even though I started hyperventalating and bawling my eyes out, it still hadn’t hit me. I’m pregnant!

I tried to take a video of my reaction on my phone, and its just sobby gibberish. I’m sure my child will find it horrifyingly embarrassing someday. I calmed down somewhat and tried to figure out what I needed to do. I planned how I would do a surprise reveal to my husband weeks ago, so I went about getting everything I needed ready for when he came home later that day.

Time seemed to go by incredibly slow, and I kept feeling like there was something I needed to text my friends/family, so I would instinctively reach for my phone but then realize I had to wait. Hubs needed to find out first, then we could decide when and how to tell family.

Hubs’ mom told his dad she was pregnant with a rubber duck back in the day, and it’s been the iconic symbol for their family and becoming pregnant. So I knew I would need to incorporate that into his reveal somehow. I got this inflatable duck baby bath at Target and put it in the bathtub with balloons attached to it, the pregnancy test inside, a note for daddy-to-be and a pair of little baby booties with duckies on them that my mom found on clearance ages ago. On his card on the front was a word cloud of all his nicknames over the years, and inside it said “Da-da… new nickname activates January 2016!” Pretty clever on my part I must say.

So when he got home, there was a note by the front door (and the garage door too just in case and would you know it? that’s how he came in, go figure) that said “rub a dub dub.” When he came inside I started playing Knocked Up by the Kings of Leon from the bathroom so he’d know to go in there, and I hid in the room adjacent to it. I set up the ipad to catch his face when he opened the shower curtain, and I videoed from my phone as well, coming in behind him.

Hubs’ reaction was priceless. He screamed, and started laughing – he got his huge smile on his face that I don’t think has left it since. “Really?! Really?! You’re serious!? AHHHAAA!” Got it all on video, so precious.

I think because I was so caught up in making the surprise work, I didn’t really let his reaction sink in and let it hit me that I’m pregnant and this is my baby’s daddy. Even then, it still hadn’t hit me. After the initial OH MY GOD moment had worn off, we had no idea what to do with our day other than call family and important friends and spill the beans. I knew we wouldnt be able to wait, it’s our first pregnancy.

It was fun to hear everyone’s reactions. Some people were more like “Am I supposed to be surprised?” while others were (thankfully) more “Oh my GOD. OH my God. This is AWESOME!” You’ll get the full gambit from the people you tell, everyone is different. Most people just don’t know how to react, so they will react poorly. One thing I learned from yesterday is to not let your own happiness and excitement be dictated by your friends’ and family’s reaction.

So now I’m over a day later and still trying to convince myself there’s a rapidly-growing zygote in my uterus that will likely develop into an infant. It’s kind of one of the biggest things in life I’ve been looking forward to, and it still hasn’t hit me. A friend of mine said it will sink in once I start vomiting in a couple weeks. I think that’s probably true.

So far I’ve just had pretty consistent light cramping, breast pain and some food aversions. I am craving ice cream and pickles, though I don’t know if that’s any different from non-pregnant me. I’m also craving mexican food, yogurt and ice water. I actually dreamt about ice water last night haha. I should start a dream journal.

So when is it supposed to sink in? When will this hit me? It hit my husband the first time he said “I’m gonna be a dad!” I think it is hitting me lightly in small spaced-out doses. Like when I took a second test and the pink line was even darker. Or when I calculated that my due date will be January 1, 2016 (please come early! We need the tax break!) Or when my dad told me “You’re going to be a great mom.” And maybe that is just how it will come to me, in small significant moments over the next 9 months of my life. It will come in faint quick little heart beats on my first ultrasound. In peppermint tea when I’m too nauseous to stand. In stretch marks on my tummy and lower back pain. In tiny kicks on my ribcage. In choosing a name for my first born child.

I’m honored. That’s a much better way to describe this feeling than “excited.” I am so honored.

~Baby Tolar~
eta January 1st, 2016

Left side strong side

we had a bit of a scare this week when last Wednesday evening I started having a sharp pinching pain on the left side of my abdomen below my navel. I’ve never had any pains down in my lady organ area so I was a little concerned, especially because I’m in my fertile window and if there was something wrong, could we not get pregnant if there was?

I don’t know how many times I had to repeat the phrase “pinching pain in my left pelvic area” to nurses, receptionists, doctors, etc. Since my husband is in the military, I have to go to the base hospital for my primary care which sometimes is a pain because you can never get seen when you need it. When the pain got to the point when I was getting real worried, we went to the ER at a closer hospital that I really like. We went there last fall when I had massive hives all over my body and face from an allergic reaction to our laundry detergent. (Go figure). But of course we got there too late in the evening to schedule an ultrasound until the next morning.

Got my ultrasound and they couldn’t give me the results until they were faxed to my primary care physician. So I called the base clinic and had to leave a message. They never called me back and I had to wait the whole weekend until my appointment on Monday to hear that it came back normal anyway. But over the weekend I just got to the point where I was sick of letting it get to me, and I just chose to ignore the pain. My husband and I continued to do the baby dance and remain confident. We got a lot of house work done and cleaning in preparation for Bee to come visit this week (!!!). 

And now I’m not really feeling any pain at all (besides the residing discomfort from having to get a Pap smear :(. So my best guess is it was a minor ovarian cyst. Nothing to get my panties in a twist about.

Fertile window is over now and we feel pretty confident. But after this left side pain fiasco, I don’t think I’m too worried about whether I’m pregnant or not, at least not as stressed as last month. 

We switched our lubricant to Pre-Seed, which is safe for sperm when trying to conceive. It’s remarkably good lube, and even though it’s a little expensive, I have read that many couples are successful after even the first month of using it.

The two week wait will be easier having Bee here for most of it! We have lots of restaurants we want to take her, and the weather is perfect for spending time outside. I have some gardening to do and we are installing hammock posts in the backyard this week. And she’s bringing Noodle with her so my girls will enjoy having another fur friend around.

In general I feel a lot more upbeat than I did last week. 

Repetition breeds inadequacy

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There are no words to describe what it feels like to see only one pink line when you want to see two. It’s a bleak, sinking, falling, dark pit-of-the-stomach feeling. It’s a rock in your throat feeling. It’s a feeling of complete and utter inadequacy.

I don’t care if you’ve been trying for one month or 36, waiting that dreaded “Two-Week-Wait” only to be let down is downright horrible. And the more it happens, the more inadequate you feel.

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I sat there last month on the bathroom floor, imagining myself jumping and screaming for joy after seeing those heavenly two pink lines, thinking about who I would contact first and what I would say, planning a special surprise reveal to my husband when he comes home from work. It takes two minutes. And then I’m on the floor imagining all the reasons for why we are still having trouble with fertility. Did we not do the deed enough? Did he drink coffee during my fertile window? Am I using the right post-coital position?

Can I even get pregnant?

A lot of these concerns can be laid to rest with a simple trip to an OB, I know. But being a civilian at a military hospital is like being the only white girl in Harlem. My social anxiety takes over, and I never make that call. The only thing that will get me to make that call is knowing that I’m pregnant and I have to make that call.

And then there’s Facebook.

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I have every annoucement and reveal related to my future children planned. I’m what some would call “baby-crazy,” and have proudly been so since my teen years. On my bucket list, having children has always been #1 and always will be. So when I see Miss 19-year-old with her boo-thang announcing their unexpected pregnancy I want to throw my tablet through the window and set the whole damn world on fire. On a less understandable note, I have nearly the same reaction when I see the women I love get pregnant. How sensible is that? I recognize this in my moments of clarity, but it doesn’t change anything. It’s just one more reminder that I am not pregnant. And someone else was fertile enough to be.

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And the more I see these gender reveals, baby showers, birth announcements and pregnancy-bitch statuses, the further away from pregnancy I feel. These are the words of a seasoned pessimist, take heed.

I have the fertility apps. We have the sperm-friendly lube. I take my temperature daily, and I’ve given up the sweet nectars that are beer and coffee. More than anything some days I just want to down a Prozac and a sixer of stout. Because on top of not being pregnant, we have to then suffer through the lunarly shedding of our uterine lining. It’s some truly sick punishment. I envy my college birth-controlled days.

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What day is it? CD 13 … *cough* … I mean Thursday…

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My fertile window begins today. This is the window of time in which having sex can lead to conception. We do it like bunnies from now until next Monday, when I’m likely to ovulate. Then I have to wait two weeks in hypochondraic agony before most likely breaking a couple days before my expected period and putting my faith in an early-response pregnancy test.

And pray and pray and pray for those two pink lines.

“I am half agony, half hope.” – Jane Austen