why it took us a year to get pregnant

When Graham and I made the conscious decision to start trying to get pregnant, and start our family, we were both very excited.  We were finally married, had just bought our first home, Graham had started his position in his new office, and I was now at home full-time with my business {in the top floor of our house that we had just finished into my studio}. 

We thought it was the perfect time for us to start growing our family {we both wanted a lot of kids}, but it hadn’t even crossed our minds that not only would it take us a year to actually get pregnant, but then we were not even guaranteed anything after that point.  When we started trying, we literally had {in part} started trying that particular month because, if we were to get pregnant sometime in those next couple months, then it would be during my slow work season when the little one arrived. 

Boy, we are now definitely passed the point of trying to schedule a pregnancy based on my work…..and I wish we hadn’t gone into this journey with such naivety.  Not only is getting pregnant one battle we had to defeat, the pregnancy itself is a battle we are still trying to overcome.  For now, I will let you in on how we won the “getting pregnant” fight.

That first year definitely started off with such a great deal of excitement, that it ultimately just lead to harder and more difficult disappointment as each month passed us by.  But, this is something that SO many people struggle with.  And the worst part is that it is commonplace not to share what is going on, so the couple struggles in silence {we were that couple at first}. 

I know exactly what it is like to stare at that BFN {Big Fat Negative} each month, praying that the second line starts to appear.  I know what it feels like to discover AF {Aunt Flo} has arrived and that the hope for that month is over.  I know that it feels like someone slapped you in the face and punched you in the stomach when you find out others are expecting.

A few months after starting to try, we were becoming extra-sensitive to the question about having kids.  Plus, because we were starting to have a hard time with it, it seemed like everywhere we turned people were having babies.  Of course, we had been asked about kids plenty of times in the past, and we had celebrated plenty of arrivals with friends before, but it didn’t bother us until we were actually struggling ourselves. 

None of our family members knew in the beginning that we were trying {and struggling}.  So, at family gatherings, even if it was just an honest question from an aunt or uncle about when we were going to “give our parents grandchildren”, we decided to continue to play the card {just like we had always done in the past} that we were actually NOT trying yet and that we would have babies when we were ready to do so.  But, it proved to become too much.

So, finally, we filled our siblings in on the fact that we were trying {and had been for a few months}.  I can specifically remember when and where we told each of them.  The reason I can remember is that it actually renewed a bit of the excitement for us.  They were excited and happy for us and that made us a bit more excited and happy again! 

However, at this point still, we decided not to tell our parents.  It was clear they were already dreaming and hoping for grandbabies {and soon}….just like all of their brothers and sisters were celebrating, and we never dreamed it would still take months after telling our siblings to get pregnant.  But, for the time being, it was nice to have a bit of happiness about the possibility of being pregnant soon and also to have others to talk to about all of it. 

Not having to rely on just ourselves to deal with some of the emotions definitely made those gut-punching feelings happen a lot less often.

Fast forward to having tried for a year.  Our parents still do not know we are trying {well, they probably had a clue by this point…but we had not specifically told them personally}.  It was also getting harder to continually give disappointing news to our siblings…..it had become clear that their initial excitement for us had turned to just trying to help us through the constant disappointment.

Finally I made an appointment with my OB to discuss what testing we might need to have done in order to try and determine why we were not able to get pregnant after a year of actively trying.  We filled out all of the necessary paper work and my OB sent all of the infertility testing requests down to the lab.  We walked out with all of the directions on what to do and when to come in…..I was to wait for my next cycle to start and then there were specific tests to do on the 3rd day after my cycle started, the 5th day, etc.

This was when we told our parents what was going on.  We told them we were trying, but that it wasn’t going as we would have hoped.  Not only had it been a year of dealing with the emotions of not getting pregnant, we were now faced with the fear and anxiety that the test results could show us to never be able to have kids.  I hated the fact that instead of just allowing our parents to have excitement about the thought of their family growing, they immediately just felt bad for us.  I hated that we took that excitement from them.

After seeing the OB, and telling our parents that we were just waiting for AF to arrive to start the infertility testing, my cycle didn’t show that month and we found out we were pregnant.  I have never felt as relieved as I did when I shredded that infertility testing documentation.

Now, it was certainly not just “luck” that we were able to get pregnant.  Once we were pregnant, and knew it was none of the common infertility issues {such as a problem with ovulating, etc}, I was able to pinpoint the reasoning behind the past year of struggling.

My gosh darn hypothyroidism.

I realize the advice I am about to give will not work for everyone…..if you are struggling trying to get pregnant, there could be a number of reasons why, and you should talk to your OB.  But, if you have hypothyroidism, maybe trying some of the following will be the magic ticket for you.  Or, if you are just starting out, maybe some of the following tips will prevent you from spending an entire year of your life struggling like I did.

I will also make the point that once we figured out what we needed to do while trying to get pregnant with hypothyroidism, it took us only one month of trying the second time, and three months the third time to get pregnant {however there was a lot of thyroid struggles in-between trying, which is why this process has been about three years long….I will hit on that part of our journey later}. 

So, although I am happy in the fact that I can say it does not look like we have to battle to get pregnant any longer, it did take us a long time {with a lot of frustration and sadness} to figure it out how to get to this point.

If you remember in yesterday’s post, I mentioned that part of the reason I found out I had hypothyroidism was after I had a few wonky cycles, even while being on the pill.  Well, the wonkiness was because of the fact my thyroid had stopped working correctly.  But, after getting things straightened out, and taking my Synthroid daily, my cycle while on the pill was like clockwork.

So, when I got off the pill to start trying, it was no surprise after that first month {even when not getting pregnant} that AF arrived right on time.  But then going forward, my period arrived later and later.  As most of us women have been taught by textbooks, your cycle should last a total of 28 days…..on day 14 you are supposed to ovulate {and this is your chance at getting pregnant} and then 14 days later your period should arrive.  When my cycle reached a total of 52 days at one point, I knew something was up.

The appointment that I had with my OB to discuss the infertility testing around the one year marker was not the first appointment I had with her.  Once my cycles got so crazy weird, I went in to see her. 

She recommended I start charting.  Although I had “abnormal” cycles, I could still get pregnant as long as the timing was right.  To determine the right timing, for me, my OB recommended charting. 

Still, at this point, none of us could see into the future {and know that I would not be “normal” when it comes to pregnancies}, but at this point she said that when a seemingly healthy 25 year old is actively trying, they like to wait a year before looking into infertility testing.  But, charting was something that could be started immediately, and is something she recommended to anyone {“normal” or not} to do when they are actively trying to get pregnant.  She also made it clear that the information I charted would help us out with infertility testing, if the time came.  More data is always better when it comes to the medical world.

So, I dove in.  I did a ton of research and reading not only about charting, but about reasons for my wonky cycle.  Since I had my thyroid regulated with medicine, I never thought about it being the culprit.  I had actually assumed that it was something with taking the birth control pill for so many years.  But, my OB started to keep a closer eye on my thyroid {and being a bit more strenuous in regulating its levels knowing that I was actively trying} and I started charting.  The two together seems to have been my golden ticket combo.

Now, I do still have wonky cycles, even when my thyroid is considered in the normal range.  I never ovulate on the same day of my cycle, and my cycles are never the same length.  But, with charting {and making sure my thyroid is under control}, like I mentioned above it did not take us hardly any time to get pregnant the second or third time.

What is charting, you ask?  Basically, you monitor your basal body temperature daily, you chart your cervical mucus {here is the info I was referencing in my very first post when I said you should probably move on to another blog if you are not comfy with the how the female anatomy works}, and you use OPKs {Ovulation Predictor Kits} to predict your ovulation day.

One of the best resources I found to help me with charting was a website called FertilityFriend.com.  All you have to do is enter in your information daily and it does all of the charting work for you!  I have learned enough about my own body, and my own cycle, that with all of the information I chart, I seem to have a really good idea on when I will ovulate and have the best chance to get pregnant.  Even if you do not want to do ALL of the aspects of charting, you can chart just one aspect {for instance, just tracking your temps every day} and you will still be able to develop a pattern for your cycles.

For those that know me, however, I never do things “halfway”….I knew I would get the best result, and the quickest, by charting ALL of the pieces.  So I just did it that way from the get-go.  However, I am not going to sit here and say that I enjoy charting….I do not.  How can any sane person say they “enjoy” checking and monitoring their cervical mucus?  So, I can certainly understand not wanting to take it all on at once.  But, I do recommend at least starting with charting your temps.  You can always add the other pieces of charting in later if you feel up to it.

There is also a ton of information on FF that you can read to learn more about charting and how the different aspects {temp, CM, etc} relate to your cycle.  Therefore, I also recommend using FF as an information resource, not just a way to gather your information.

I have charted for a total of 25 months.  I did not chart during the months we were not trying {immediately after the miscarriages, for instance}, but feel free to check out my charting history here.

Another piece of advice I can give to those that are actively trying, that will actually save you some moolah {and something I wish I had found sooner} is to get your OPKs and pregnancy tests off Amazon.  I can highly recommend using the Wondo strips for both the OPK option and as a pregnancy test.

When I purchase mine, I usually purchase the combo deal that has 40 OPKs and 10 pregnancy test strips {I feel it is the best bang for my buck on how I chart….no pun intended there}.  I usually purchase a set of 2 of the combos {so I end up with 80 OPKs and 20 pregnancy tests} to save a bit on shipping…..no, I do not have a surplus, I am actually out right now! 

 

 

What are Wondfo strips?  They are basically the inside testing strip found within those REALLY expensive tests most people use {First Response, etc}.  After doing some research, I also found that the Wondfo pregnancy strips are actually rated to give you a positive pregnancy test result with less hCG hormone in your urine than that of a Clear Blue Easy digital test, for instance.

The main reason I use the Wondfo strips is because I can use them often….since they are literally only like a quarter a piece, I do not feel as guilty using them a bunch…..this is especially helpful when you are trying to get a positive OPK to know when you are ovulating.

Once I get what I believe to be a positive test result on either an OPK or a pregnancy Wondfo strip, that is when I take the uber-expensive digital test, just to confirm.  But, another piece of advice.  Get the digitals off Amazon as well!  They are much cheaper this way!!

These are the ones I purchase:

 

           
 

Maybe you are just starting out trying to get pregnant.  Or, maybe you have been dealing with the emotions of not being able to get pregnant for a while.  I hope that either my story, or advice on charting, or both has given you a renewed sense of hope.  If you have any specific questions about my own personal experiences, please ask {see the Contact Me page at the top of the blog for my email address}!  I would be happy to share any additional details about charting, etc.  Like I said earlier, I have spent a TON of time researching and reading, so this post really only does hit the tip of the iceberg.

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