I’ve wanted to share this for a while; sorry it took me so long!
Before We Started Trying:
Despite having lots of talks with Joe and making sure we were both ready for this journey, I didn’t do anything too major to prepare for conception.
About 6 months in advance I went off my birth control. I wanted to allow for my cycle to regulate itself naturally. I also went off another medication I was taking. I started pre-natal vitamins (an over the counter gummy version). Lastly, I told my OBGYN that I was planning to try soon at my 1 year annual visit.
Other than that, I just lived my life.
For us, trying to conceive took about 5 months. I feel very, very lucky about that. I’m even more thankful considering that it took a month to even really understand how to get pregnant. It’s one of those, “you think you know, but you have no idea” kind of things. And once you figure out how hard it is, it kind of makes you re-think all of those pregnancy freak outs you may or may not have had in the past. Just sayin.
Some Basic Stuff to Know (but seriously, please consult a doctor for this information)
- Your cycle begins on the first day of your period
- If you are lucky enough to ovulate, it should happen once a month.
- Standard charts you pull off the internet or on phone apps would default you to a 28 day cycle with ovulation happening around the 14th day of your cycle
- Ovulation is when the egg is released
- Around the time of ovulation is your “fertile time” and when you need to have sex in order to try to fertilize the egg.
- The egg only survives for about 24 hours, and needs to be fertilized or it is no longer viable and will eventually pass as your next period
- If you fertilize the egg it still needs to implant in order to be a viable pregnancy.
- Implantation happens 7-14 days after conception
So really, there is only a tiny window each month that you can actually get pregnant, and you need to time it just right for everything to align. Eye opening, isn’t it? I always thought you could get pregnant at any time. Although technically if you don’t know when you are ovulating or if you don’t know anything about your cycle then it’s always possible that it can just “happen”.
Once I knew the basics about how to conceive, I used some tools to help. The best thing I found was ovulation predictor strips, or an ovulation predictor kit (OPK)s. I bought a bulk pack of both OPK and Pregnancy strips on Amazon. These are no frills dip sticks, but they are a bazillion times cheaper than the store bought tests. (Please read the instructions though- although they look similar, ovulation strips and pregnancy strips are two different tests and you read them differently. It also goes without saying that all brands are different so read your brands specific directions.)
Ovulation tests tell you when you are about to ovulate so you can “catch” the egg. There is a control line and a test line and when your test line is the same as/or darker than the control that means you better get in the bedroom and do it. The positive test is supposed to indicate that in the next 12-36 hours you will release an egg and it can be fertilized if you take care of business. This is your most fertile time. Is it guaranteed to happen? Um, no. But at least you know that your efforts are well timed.
The first few months I used the OPKs but didn’t really use them correctly. I assumed my cycle was 28 days and missed the positive OPK by starting to test too early and then stopping too soon. I thought maybe I wasn’t ovulating. All of my timing was off. However, after two months of charting, I realized that my cycles were more like 35-36 days long meaning that I would ovulate around Day 18, not Day 14 (and definitely not Day 11) which was when I sometimes started testing.
During the month I got pregnant, I was determined not to miss the positive OPK. I started testing as soon as 10 days into my cycle. I tested every day (sometimes twice a day when the test and control were close). And I waited, and waited and waited. It wasn’t until around day 19 that I finally had a positive OPK.
Since I was still paranoid that I was missing the ovulation, we had sex before the positive OPK (every other day or so), and then we did it for 3 days in a row once I got the positive. It was a lot, and we were both tired and drained. I knew that we could not keep that up if I didn’t get pregnant that month. I just had to try everything for at least one cycle. In the end you need to figure out what works for you and your partner. You don’t want it to become like a job. You don’t want to feel like you are using each other.
Basically what I would advise is getting the OPK strips before you even start trying, and learn your cycle. I charted mine with an iphone app called “Monthly Cycles” and I also charted what days we were having sex. The more you know…as they say.
It’s really important to remember that the same thing doesn’t work for everyone. I chatted with women who correctly used OPKs for years and never got pregnant. For some they didn’t even use OPKs and got pregnant on the first try. People told me that charting may make me too nervous and that my stress would keep me from getting pregnant. But it’s a hell of a lot easier for someone else to tell you “relax, it will happen” To anyone reading, I advise you to never say that to anyone that is trying to conceive.
I read lots of articles and even heard that my cycle was too long to have viable eggs. I can admit that I freaked myself out and over thought everything. I would analyze every symptom with the hope that it meant I was pregnant. Each month I would think I was pregnant, and then getting my period each month was heartbreaking. In the end I was blessed with a short timeframe for getting pregnant and I am so grateful for that.
I hope that maybe my tips will be able to help someone else out there. And if you have any other questions (even ones you may think are silly), please email me at FoodIRL@gmail.com. I’m no expert but I’d be more than willing to share my experience with you.
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