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your fertility questions answered | Toolkit for TTC

Anyone who has tried to conceive for months knows the ABCs of TTC [trying to conceive]… TTC, BFP, BFN, 2WW, DPO, CD, OPK, HPT….

I have to say it’s a really interesting place to be. Everything I’ve wanted in my life, I’ve made happen. But, having a baby…you can’t make that happen in the time you want it to happen! I love working towards a goal and achieving it. I’m Type A, if you didn’t already know, BUT we can’t control everything!  I am a Christian. I do believe that Things Happen for a Reason and when the time is right.

There is still a scientific element to fertility and that’s what I’m posting about here.  What can you do to make sure that your body is functioning at tip-top shape in order to function as it’s supposed to?!

I have NOT struggled for years with infertility nor am I an MD, therefore I am not an expert. I feel for women who have had months and years of infertility struggles. Every month of waiting feels like a lifetime. There are a mix of emotions…

What’s wrong with me?  What’s wrong with us? Why won’t my body cooperate? Am I meant to be a mother?  How long will this take?  Did I do damage from all those years of birth control?  Am I being punished? And on and on….

Where do I start? I think the place to start is the book at the top of this post….Taking Charge of your Fertility. I first heard about and read this book in 2005, the year after we were married when we were trying Natural Family Planning [NFP] rather than birth control and I was learning to chart. I think it’s a great book to read and learn about your body!

I know that many of my friends have had to struggle for years. Most finally had success and have been blessed with a beautiful bundle of joy.  Others are still struggling every month. These women are a wealth of knowledge, understanding and support.  No one “gets” it unless they’ve been through it… Please share what you know in the comments [many of you already did]! I know there are many places to go to get support.  One of the best places I’ve found and been referred is fertilityfriend.com. There is a great support group there as well as charting [which I’ll talk about later.]

I really feel less crazy when I can find other people who are thinking the same things and struggling with the same things. Honestly, other girls who are obsessing just as much as I am at that moment! It’s nice to know you’re not alone!  And, there are tons of tips and tricks out there!!

There are tons of old wives tales. Some I think are more than that and others are just that.  Do they hurt? Probably not!  Maybe just your wallet or your hopes!! Please share any others that I’ve missed!  And, you can read some of my fertility posts here regarding milk, teas, fats, caffeine, cleaning products, trans fats, full-fat dairy, etc here.

  • PreSeed Lubricant is amazing!!  I have heard many women say they conceived the first month they used it!  You can get it here.
  • Grapefruit Juice
  • Baby Carrots
  • Putting your feet over your head for 15-30 minutes after…fun times!  [Add an instead cup for good measure…worked for a friend of mine!]

“Getting pregnant is all about timing.”  It’s in every book and it makes me feel so out of control every time I read that. Ugh! Timing!

There are many tools out there for helping to find the right timing.

Charting. Charting can be really beneficial to know if your body is working properly and what’s going on. It can be great for all times, not just when trying to conceive.  Many people are worried about waiting through a year of trying before going to a doctor but often if you see something wrong with your chart, the doctor will see you early, look at the charts and offer to run tests to try and better understand those charts. This will help you to get closer to some answers!!!  Don’t be afraid to go to the doctor. I know many women who have waited years to go to the doctor just to get definitive information that they wish they had received earlier.  Other women I know have gone to the doctor, added a few meds or procedures….voila! Baby!

Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKs) & Home Pregnancy Tests (HPTs) If you don’t want to chart, you can try to time ovulation with OPKs. They are cheaper here than at the drugstore.  Personally, I bought the conception packs that include the OPKs and the pregnancy tests together. The pg tests are cheaper [and no-frills] than the ones at the drugstore AND they are more sensitive…for those who start testing the day they think they might possibly get a positive….[of course I have no experience with wasted pregnancy tests…and I’m sure you won’t either! :-)]  You can get the combo kits here. [I recommend buying the pee cup…keeps it obvious for the husband to know that cup in the bathroom is not for drinking! And it’s cheap!]

What have I been doing? I, personally, have not started charting or using Ovulation Predictor Kits. I bought them. I got the thermometer out, but decided not to do it. Why? The two week wait [2ww] that happens after possible conception and until the pregnancy test…for me, is a really HARD and obsessive time. I always wonder if I’m thinking about it too much and how to distract myself. I guess I figure if I chart or pee on a stick 3x a day every day during the other 2 weeks of the month that I’ll be obsessed every single day of the month and isn’t that bad?! I guess I enjoy the 2 week break, knowing I’m not pregnant and a 2 week wait from wondering if every symptom means I’m pregnant.  That leads me to my next statement in my next section….

Advice for my friends. Please read carefully.  Do not, I repeat, do not….tell your friends if they stop stressing they will get pregnant.  Do not tell them to “leave it to God.” Or to “stop worrying about it and it will happen.” Or to “worry about that later because blank is more important now.”  Or that “I have this friend and once they stopped trying, they got pregnant.”  AHHH!!!! If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that! Stop it! It’s mean and hurtful! I’m just being real here. When you know better, you do better. I don’t think the people who say this mean any harm; they just don’t know. Now you do.  I’ve talked to many women who have struggled for years and they all tell me that this hurts them too. Stop it!

I am thankful for these months of trying. I am thankful that I can empathize with other women who are going through this time and hope to not make a mistake in my speech and hurt someone’s feelings regarding this tough topic.  I am hopeful I will not have years of infertility struggles but can empathize more with my friends now.

The flip side of this is that I am now worried when I have good news to share….how do you tell your friends who are still struggling with infertility that you’re pregnant? It’s almost a bitter-sweet thing. It is bound to happen for some of us…hopefully.  We can’t all get pregnant at the same time! I am happy for others who share their good news with me…but there’s also a feeling in the pit of my stomach…why not me?  Will I ever get to be a mother? Again, unless you’ve been there, I don’t think you truly understand.

My advice? [I did not follow my own advice a while back due to my plans to compete in the Figure Competition.] I wish I had started trying before I was ready, ready, ready!  I was ready last year BUT I set the goal to compete and I had to wait until I finished that goal to start trying.  It’s hard when you really, really want a baby and have wanted it for a while.  This experience will change out TTC plans for #2 for sure!

I have blogged many times about different foods and lifestyle choices that affect fertility and those all came from a ton of fertility books that I’ve read.  I don’t recommend you buy them all, especially since you can read my blog for the info! 🙂  Here is a lot of that info!

My favorite books. I liked the books Fertility Diet & Fertility Foods best regarding fertility nutrition.  I thought they were great!  I have already done my pregnancy research – did that earlier this year. Not sure why, but glad I got it out of the way b/c a lot of the Fertility and Pregnancy Nutrition/Fitness/Lifestyle information overlaps!  I added in Skinny Bitch: Bun in the Oven simply because they have a LOT of info in that book about natural eating and I loved it!! I suggest reading it sooner than later. I think some of the advice is a bit over the top [if you’re not going to be a vegan], but it’s all good info.  As with all info gathering I do…I take some and I leave some!

Some great advice given to me that has helped me a lot…Many women with really serious fertility problems have been persistent and after years have achieved a child.  It’s possible in most cases.  It just takes time and effort and often…money.  But, it is possible for most.  Obviously, this doesn’t apply to all, but a friend told me a story about another friend and explained her fertility problems and told me that she had a healthy child and it makes me feel better.

Please share your information, advice, knowledge and experiences to help others!! I hope I didn’t offend anyone with this post.

sandi - I got pregnant with both my children while my sister/brother-in-law were trying to conceive. It was very hard to tell them since they were settled, married, and had a stable enviroment to raise a child in…where we were none of that! (They are a little older than me, waiting until 39 to even try for a baby) We ended up waiting until we were about 5-6 months along both times. I wish I had told them sooner. They felt like we were keeping secrets and pittying them too much. They just wanted to be treated like any other family member (which is hard because I didn’t know them very well). Thankfully my sister-in-law were so involved with helping me prepare for becoming a mother that it felt like my son had two moms. Then when we broke the news of our 2nd child, when I felt like I might be rubbing it in their face, they countered with their own good news. So now we have little girls that are 3 months apart! Even though my sister-in-law is now 41 she again going through in-vetro to have a 2nd child.

Graze With Me - TCOYF is such an amazing book. I’m kinda bummed that I didn’t discover it earlier! It would have helped with so many panic episodes in HS/College and since NuvaRing messed me up so bad, I would have loved a more natural alternative. I went off BC in June and we started TTC. Little did I know that my period would go MIA for 4 months. Not fun. BUT your post about Raspberry Leaf tea got me thinking and I bought some…two days later, I had a period and I started charting!

Hope to have some good news soon and I know exactly what you mean about the 2 week stressing. I was up to 10 days with a high temp at Thanksgiving and then my temp dropped, I got my period and I threw my back out. Happy Holidays indeed.

Hopefully Christmas comes with better news and the best present ever!

Courtney F - Great post Tori! We were the couple trying and 9 other couples either got pregnant by looking at each other or it just happened. That was so hard when you are trying (having fun trying though =) to get pregnant. It took us a year and although that is not a long time in comparison to some couples, it is still a hard road to hoe. I had to work on my physical self(gain weight=more body fat) as well as my emotional and mental state. I do not wish infertility on ANYONE.
These were all great tips and advice to give to someone having a hard time.
My advice….it is not just hard on the woman. It is equally hard on the guy. But because they are men, we seem to think they have it under control.

Lins - Great post! I had a hard time getting pregnant for the second time and found it very emotionally and mentally draining. We didn’t try for my first child, but if I’m going to be honest, my husband and I had unprotected sex for years and never got pregnant, so I though I couldn’t get pregnant (also cause many drs said I most likely could not get pregnant because of my severe anorexia in high school). I’ve always had a hard time with hormone balance. I have a large amount of wasted negative prego test in my arsenal. I am a strong Christian, so I do beleive God has it under control, but having said that I’ve shed many tears over the matter. However, I never thought about saying stop stressing or when its time it will happen would be hurtful. But then I thought about when I was talking to my Dad about having another baby and he kept poo pooing the fact that the Drs said it would be hard for me to conceive and that I most likely couldn’t get pregnant again. It did hurt, and, more than that, it was just damm frustrating because I was so emotionaly drained and distraught and I wanted some recognition for that. So, now that you pointed it out, it did make me think. Also, I have a cousin that has been trying to get pregnant for years with mulitple misscarrages. It was hard at first to tell her I was pregnant, but when I truely sat and thought about it, I know her heart, and despite her struggles, I knew she would be happy for me (she is actually pregnant now and due in April, after getting her new adoptive daughter this January). 🙂
My schooling has taught me a lot about nutritional, herbal, and environmental influences. It is a hard thing, and I agree, it can be just as hard on the guys.

Emily - I really enjoyed your post. I think you really covered things well. I wanted to address your question about how to tell friends that are still struggling. I’ve been on both ends of this– the hearing the news side and the giving the news side and it’s hard either way. I found out I was pregnant after a year of trying the same day my BFF lost her baby. I waited to tell her and then when I did tell her I did it just her and with the understanding that she might not be able to feel happy for me and that was okay (she was though). So I’ll answer your question this way. When YOU find out, just let me know in an email, that way I can digest it and respond on my own time. I WILL be happy for you, but pregnancy announcements always sting a little. It’s a fine line to walk when you know and understand the pain, but I’m ALWAYS happy for people, especially when I know they have really worked for it. Hope that makes sense.

shawna [of styleberryBLOG] - good post! 🙂 infertility sucks. i don’t wish it on anyone. & babies are awesome.

Beth - Cool post Tori! Although we’re not trying yet, we will next year. Good info for going down that road when we get there. I enjoyed it! And congrats to you guys! 🙂

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